Surprise Monday : Week 4 : Composition

Welcome to Week 4 of Surprise Mondays! First of all let me say, I can't believe it's already week 4!! It's gone very fast, but I got a lot done this week so feeling good. I have one more double page spread to do, and then a few single page/spot illos and then I'm finished with the roughs!

This week I thought I'd focus on composition by taking a double page spread from storyboard to rough, and discussing why I made certain decisions.

As I talked about in my previous post, I start off with very quick storyboards that are only a few centimetres in length and take me about 30 seconds each. I might do upwards of 20 of these as the composition comes together. This spread is of a little boy who has just emptied his toys onto the floor, and his mum gets down a book for him to distract him.


I knew I wanted this illustration to take place in a kitchen. From this perspective we feel very far away from the action.

I brought the viewpoint a bit closer in.

I wanted the little boy Thomas to be more the centre of attention, so made him a bit bigger in the frame.

This is getting better, Thomas is more important in the spread because he is closer up, we are getting some good perspective in the cupboards, but they are leading our eye to the fridge, which is not very important in the spread! (maybe if the fridge was featured in an illustration later, this would work as a 'foreshadowing', but that isn't the case here)

Change of perspective to see if this works - (text in the bottom right hand corner) - this is nice as the cupboards lead our eye from Thomas to his mum, but then there's just a big hole at the end where we fall out of the illo. no good.

Tried a 'galley' style kitchen. This is good. Our eye starts at Thomas, leads into the illo, and then back out to the mum. The kitchen feels enormous though!

Brought it all in a bit closer. Feeling good.

Took out the cupboards in the upper left to make a bit more room for text. This is working! Time to go to the 'rough' stage.


I print out a page template that has the exact dimensions of the book pages, and start where I left off with the storyboards - I sketch everything in very lightly and loosely, focussing on the major elements.

I start sketching in the characters more, and some of the angles. I have decided to go a bit 'quirky' with the angles and not worry to much about exact perspective. This has been a lot of fun and has let me be a lot freer when sketching.

This part was interesting. In all my storyboards, I had the mum reaching up to get a book down for Thomas, because that is what is in the text. But when it came to draw it, I couldn't make it work - it didn't seem right to have her back to us. I erased and redrew, erased and redrew, just couldn't get it right. As soon as I turned her around and drew it like this, it was obvious. And now it's got this nice playfulness of the boy giving her his toy and her giving him the book.

Done! Added a few details of his toys on the ground and trees out the window, but not much more at this point.

Did a few little fixes in Photoshop - I moved Thomas more into the centre of the page, and made both him and his mum a bit bigger.


Well I hope this has been interesting/of some use to you out there? Or this is just way too much information? Please let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to talk about in this process too.

Have a great week!