Life of a Page
One page of a picture book undergoes many changes and edits before the artist decides that it is finished. Each little change is like an experiment to see what works. This section follows the life of one page from idea to final artwork. The featured page tells the story of young Tony Sarg's chicken contraption and appears on page 9 of Balloons Over Broadway.
A little bit changes with each new version of this page. What do you think was the most important change?
Each page starts with notes and brainstorming about what will be included in the book.
Thumbnail sketches can be used several times throughout the process of creating a book to decide where pages will go in the overall design and order. Note that this thumbnail sketch was early enough in the book's development that it refers to the book by a different title: "Serious About Play"!
Picture book dummies are rough drafts of the book. They are important for authors and illustrators to get a feel for what the book might look like when it is put together. Dummies are also a way to show the developing book to other people for feedback and ideas.
In this early dummy, the chicken contraption didn't even have a picture yet. Instead, it was only a few sentences of written story. See the sticky note that asks about having the chicken contraption illustrated.
Here you can see several other versions of page 9 from different dummies. Melissa Sweet tried many versions before making the final art.
Even the finished art is sometimes not final. These two final pieces were edited together and the text was added digitally to become the page that you can see in the printed book (displayed at the top of this page).