Thursday, May 14, 2015

Character Bibles - Discover Your Story

One of my favorite speakers last summer at the 2014 SCBWI LA Conference
was the amazingly talented, inspiring and funny lady: Judy Byron Schachner.

(Author and Illustrator of the popular SkippyJonJones Books)

The name of her talk was: Thinking in Pictures: My Storytelling Process. 
She shared with us how she finds the story by creating a character bible for her books:  

The example character bible she presented was from her new book
Dewey Bob, Dial Books for Young Readers (Available September 8, 2015)

The basic concept is to discover your story and characters by collecting:
  • reference photos
  • sketches
  • unusual ideas
  • sayings
in a:
  • random
  • non-linear
  • no rhyme or reason
sort of way.

This process appealed to me because I am a non-linear thinker. Through experimentation and by collaging different illustrations, ideas and design elements together, the characters and story evolve visually.  

I couldn't wait to get home to get started on one of my own manuscripts. I experimented with many different techniques and styles so that I could discover the characters and setting that fit with my story.
Below are some of the images from the pages from my character bible for I AM Goose!

Choose any size sketchbook. This is a  6"x 8" sketchbook. Next time I'll use a larger one.
I filled it up and ran out of room so ended up using paperclips and extra pockets to fit all the sketches.

I tested out lots of different styles and techniques for Goose.
I made notes on the medium used and jotted down what was working and what was not.

 More sketches and test palette for Rabbit, Pig, Dodo, Chicken, Squirrel and Pig.

  Color sketches with more of the characters. 

 I clipped out old photos of old buildings, sample palettes and played
with sketches and washes for the setting.

These are some of the pencil sketches for the characters. 

This has been a great learning process for me. My tendency is to finish off every detail in an illustration. But when I look back through this character bible, I realize that the loose sketchy images are my favorite. My next step will be to finish the storyboard, dummy book and final art to get it ready for submission.
Thank You  Judy Schachner for sharing your process at the 2014 SCBWI LA Conference
Dorothia Rohner enjoys illustrating and writing 
stories for children that combine nature and the magic of imagination.
Twitter: @dorothiar
Instagram: @dorothiar


1 comment:

  1. That is awesome! I totally want to flip through your character bible. I loved Judy's keynote too at the conference! I love her approach to character design.