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Balloons Over Broadway, Melissa Sweet, and the Engineering of a Picture Book

Life of a Page

Photo of Page 9 (Click to Enlarge)

The Published Version of Page 9 (Click to View)

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?




Research Notes on Chicken Contraption (Click to Enlarge)

Notes on Tony Sarg's Chicken Contraption (Click to View)

Notes and Brainstorming About Chicken Contraption (Click to Enlarge)

Notes with a Sketch of Chicken Contraption (Click to View)




Each page starts with notes and brainstorming about what will be included in the book.









Thumbnail Sketch (Click to Enlarge)

Thumbnail Sketch (Click to View)


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"!






Dummy of Page 8 (Click to Enlarge)

Early Dummy of Page 8 (Click to View)

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.




Nearly Final Art for Page 9 (Click to Enlarge)

Nearly Final Art for Page 9 (Click to View)

Final Chicken Contraption for Page 9 (Click to Enlarge)

Final Art of the Chicken Contraption (Click to View)





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).