In the second semester, we had to come up with a readable sequence of images. Mine eventually became a picture book about a lonely coot who learns to make friends.
I’m happy with the outcome, although I know there’s lots about it that needs work. I think I need to work on making the characters more relatable. I wanted the coots to have blank expressions because I thought it would make them funnier, but it does make them look a bit vacant.
Sketching from life contributed to the project a lot. For example, I really did spot coots strolling amongst the daffodils, and that went into an illustration. And the whole thing is inspired by just watching the waterfowl jostling and squabbling all day.
Although the characterisation is not quite there yet, my teachers warned against making the birds look just like observational sketches, and I think I’ve managed to make them more lively while still keeping them quite natural.
You go through lots of versions of the story as you develop it, and usually the drawings are pretty rough. It’s good to make mini-books (dummies) because you get a feel for the page turns and the rhythm of the action, which you wouldn’t always get from a flat storyboard.
Many of the waterfowl are initially resistant to Coot’s charms…
But could a whole flock of coots win them over?
The story is a bit cosy, but for a very first attempt at making a picture book, I’m really proud of it. I’ve learned loads and also identified areas I need to work on, which are both good things. Hooray!