Before I begin work on a book, I ask the publisher to print me ‘layouts’ of each page, at the actual size, incorporating the appropriate text. I can move the words around, but this indicates how much space I need to allow. I sketch directly onto the layout sheets in pencil, designing how I think the page might work and trying to capture the images that are in my head.
Above is my first sketch for a page from Giddy the Great. Giddy Goat has just climbed the Empire State Building, but is missing his friend Edmund. So he sends him a letter, by pigeon post.
I don’t necessarily draw the illustrations in order, and had previously been working on a drawing of Giddy climbing the Eiffel Tower. Which is why I accidentally drew the pigeon postman flying home from Paris and not New York!
Luckily I spotted my mistake: you can see my note at the bottom. The penny finally dropped as I added in the tiny Giddy climbing down the distant Empire State Building, which of course didn’t fit the rest of the picture.
This is how it should have looked:
(Illustration from Giddy the Great published by Orchard Books)