Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Monthly Meeting – November 2021 : Author Meredith Davis and Author-Illustrator Emma Virján



At the November Zoom meeting, author Meredith Davis

Emma Virján

Meredith Davis

and author-illustrator Emma Virján demonstrated how writers who “can’t draw,” indeed can successfully create a picture book dummy to aide the book-writing process. Emma had previously taught Meredith the skills necessary to get her imagery ideas down on paper, so together they showed meeting attendees the basics of illustration deconstruction. Here are some highlights.

The Background
– A book dummy is a rough, scaled-down sample made of folded paper
– Thumbnail sketches are small, simplified drawings representing or summarizing what the final illustrations might be
– Stay open-minded to all the possibilities
– Remember: the illustrator, art director and editor will change things, but your dummy helps your process 
Creating a Book Dummy …
  • – actually changes the way your brain thinks
  • – can dramatically influence your text and final product
  • – helps decide page turns and informs your writing
  • – is for your own private use (and perhaps your critique group)
How to Draw Thumbnails
1. Shapes
  • – Draw simple shapes to represent a subject: square, oval, circle, triangle, etc.
  • – Deconstruct any form to a simplified shape … for example, a squirrel with ears, paws and a tail becomes simply an oval 
2. Horizon Lines
  • – play with different horizon line placements
  • – create action/perspective by altering the horizon line
3. Perspective
  • – use perspective to create compelling illustrations
  • – consider viewing a scene from another angle, such as overhead
  • – angles/diagonal lines add drama and action