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The Thumbnail VS Final Art of a 2-Page Spread

Seals & Jellies - final version | copyright Crystal Smith

Seals & Jellies - thumbnail version

You can see in the photos above, the original thumbnail idea (digital sketch) for the two-page spread compared with the final of of the jellyfish, seals, and kayak.

It's crazy how the illustrations evolved over the course of the nine months it took to create all the art for 'Maybe A Whale'. I had some definite ideas in my head when I did the thumbnails and first submitted them to the publisher. Some of the ideas survived...and other didn't. (More on that later!)

One thing that was in the page design from the beginning was an underwater shot! I love underwater photography, especially when it captures the light on the surface of the water and the light streaming down through the depth of the sea.

But where do we put the text?

From the placement of the seals and jellies in the thumbnail, I obviously assumed the text would go on the right hand page and be white. Figuring out where to put text without hiding it, but also without breaking up an image too much, is a challenge in kids books.

Then, it turned out that the text had to be black, not white!

So, I moved the text to the opposite page and juggled the other elements. I also had to lighten up the left-hand page to show the words clearer. Then I focussed on high contrast and deep colors on the whole right-hand page.

Overall, the page design was better with these changes. I like the composition of the piece, the negative spaces, and I was able to better position the seals to guide the viewer's eye around the two-page spread.

Keeping it light at night

I want to mention that having all black text in a book that has 90% night scenes was a bit of a challenge. I had to add quite a bit of light to some of the scenes in order to allow for the text to be seen. However, I think ultimately it helped because otherwise those pages would have been too dark and I wouldn't have been pushed to add in so many light spaces in the designs.

This is one of my favorite pages in the book. The colors at the bottom right corner are completely west coast ocean and the jellyfish swarms (smacks) remind me of my own experiences paddle boarding on the coast.

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