Juan Uys

Picture book progress report


Over the past 8 weeks I spent some time on the Polly picture book illustrations.

I’ve done about 14 pages, with about 18 more to go. Here is the first page:

a page from the Polly Picture Book

Here are some of the things that happened:

  • I redrew a bunch of things
  • I overdid some of the pages, then had to pare back (“kill your darlings” and all that)
  • I redrew the trees most of all
  • I created custom brushes with which to speed up leaves and branches
  • I’m on version 4 or something of the branch brush that I like
  • DW said I take too much inspiration from PBs she can’t quite put her finger on and that I should be more original
  • I started getting ideas for a Polly universe, complete with computer games and Internet treasure hunts — Peppa Pig franchise, watch out!

Most of all I realise that I’ll never be happy with the end product but that sometimes you have to say “this is it” and move on to the next page or character.

What’s next?

I’ve got a copy of the yearbook and might go the agent/publisher route quite soonish if only for the feedback. Meanwhile, summer holidays are over and I have to do some more of that computer programming bread & butter stuff I’m expected to do. DW also has loads of ideas for editing the words and have been slicing and dicing away, so the text might completely change quite soon (although the narrative and characters will stay intact).

I might (almost definitely) also talk to a designer to help with flow, placement, typesetting, etc. (The font, line-spacing, etc in the sample isn’t final and it just so I know what the text for the page is when I work on it.)

There’s an element of “magic” or “otherness” that I feel is missing from the pages. Whether it be a novel illustration style, or something in the background you only see on your tenth re-read — I don’t know. Hopefully I’ll find it and incorporate it.


Regardless, I’m giving my WACOM tablet a good workout, and having a blast in the process!

And just so you didn’t think I was going to show you only one page, here’s some more:

more pages from the Polly Picture Book

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