From Sketch to Book: Laura Wood

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Laura Wood, photo by Josep Monros.

Laura Wood, photo by Josep Monros.

Laura Wood’s work can be found in picture books and magazines (and as the header illustrated logo on a certain, ahem, children’s book press’ blog :). By day, she likes to go in her studio to draw animals and little people. By night, she likes to put her dancing shoes on and lindy hop under the stars. There are three different places on this planet she calls home: Bristol, UK; Melbourne, Australia; and Treviglio, Italy.

No matter where she is residing, you can locate Laura’s awesomely fun illustrations (and super cool maps!) in Lucy in the City: A Story About Developing Spatial Skills What a delight talking to Laura! Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us a little about your background. What led you to become an illustrator? It took me a very long time to understand that I wanted to become an illustrator. Before that, I was very unsatisfied and miserable in my professional life. Waking up on Mondays was a real struggle. I was working as a video editor and I was surrounded by people who were truly passionate about their work. I wasn’t, and I was feeling incredibly guilty about it… this made me revaluate a few things. I decided that life was too short to feel like that every day. It took me a while to gather enough courage to quit my job and enroll in a 2 years Illustration course. The hardest thing was to communicate my decision to everybody I knew. I was so afraid they thought I was going nuts. Now I’ve been doing this job for three years and so I’m grateful I made that decision. I don’t fear Mondays anymore!

How were illustrations in Lucy created? What materials did you use?  I like to create my illustrations with a combination of graphite tools and a digital drawing tablet. From the very first sketch to the final line, I really like the hand-drawn look of lines done by hand. However, I paint everything on the computer. I do so since I find it very practical, especially when clients ask me for changes. In order to give a less flat and digital look to my work, I like to use organic textures and paint with textured digital brushes.

Tell us about your process. I usually start sketching ideas in my sketchbook. If I’m working on a book, I would create the characters first and then a storyboard. After that, I would work on some tight sketches to present to the editor. Once those have been approved, I finalize the sketches, drawing everything by hand using pencils and a lightbox. Then, I scan my final images and import them into Photoshop where I start painting. I like to work this way, mixing the traditional feel of the pencil with the digital easiness of the software.

Storyboard, Lucy in the City

Storyboard, Lucy in the City

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Sketch from Lucy in the City

Final art from Lucy in the City

Final art from Lucy in the City

What was fun or surprising about the illustration process?I must say, the illustration process is always surprising. I usually start with a vague idea in mind, but I never really know what I’m going to end up with, when I start sketching. Things usually develop along the way, and sometimes it’s actually difficult to decide when to stop. Personally, my favourite part of the illustration process is the painting. Once all the planning and drawings have been done, I can finally start painting. I can spend hours lost in an image, painting away while listening to music or interesting podcasts. Planning an illustration can sometimes be a bit stressful, instead I find this bit of the process very calming and relaxing.

What was your favorite book as a child? Do you have any favorite illustrators? As I child, I was a very avid reader. I remember spending entire days just reading and reading…I loved authors like Roald Dahl books, Bianca Pitzorno, Lindgren Astrid, Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. I don’t remember having a particularly favorite book, but I do remember selecting my books based on how much I liked the illustrations (I still do that sometimes…!). I guess I’ve always been a very visual person! Also, I definitely have a few favorite illustrators! If I have to pick some names from the best of the best, I’m definitely can’t have enough of Quentin Blake, Richard Scarry, Beatrix Potter and Mary Blair’s work. Talking about more contemporary and younger talents, I’m totally in love with the work ofJ ulia Sarda, Isabelle Arsenault, Chuck Groenink, Meg Hunt and Clotilde Perrin.

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