I like to show kids the many stages of creating a picture book, starting with the storyboard. After I show them the published book, I share the piles of sketches and they paw through and compare them to the final product. I get great comments during that session, like my favorite, “I like the red dinosaur – your editor was wrong!”
Anyway, for the storyboard, I work small, with the text in place (blurred here to protect copyright). A storyboard is a great tool to consider size and scale, which in this case, is a challenge because I have giants in a square format! Storyboards can also help deal with scene changes, pacing, placement, and action without spending too much time on details. Can you see all that in this storyboard?
Maybe not! It’s just an artist’s personal tool, but a good lesson for writers of picture books. See? You don’t have to know how to draw – just do this to see if your story works in the format.
This happens to be a 24 page book with pages saved for vocabulary and activities, but usually picture books take up most of the page-count. And they are usually 32 pages, with the illustrations starting on page 3 at the earliest.
For e-picture books (which we now know Maurice Sendak says are S***! – Colbert interview, 1/25/12), I’m noticing many illustrators break from the traditional picture book format and spread the book out to lots of extra pages. I’ve seen several examples that lose the magic because the creators felt compelled to keep going. Maybe they should have used a storyboard! But that’s a subject for another blog post…