At last night’s SCBWI Illustrators Schmooze we had demonstrations of ways to make dummies for our picture books. In November our yearly Illustrators Day is coming up, with a chance to display our portfolios and dummies for editors and art directors. I am re-working a dummy for my latest project and looking back at past ones, as well.
The level of finish in a dummy varies from one artist to another. I’ve seen extremely rough ones to something that looks like an actual book. When I studied with Uri Shulevitz the dummies he showed us, and had us make, were extremely rough. Some editors and agents like a dummy with completed sketches, close to what the final will be. Others are OK with very loose sketches showing you have thought of where the text will go and blocking out the action, pacing, page turns and rhythm of the book. As a beginner you should always include two to three finished illustrations and perhaps the cover. You can photocopy your finishes and glue them into the dummy. Keep a backup copy when you submit your dummy, in case the editor or art director or agent doesn’t return it to you.
In previous posts (June 23-25) I have directions for a dummy construction I use for most of my dummies. Two of my favorite books, which have helpful chapters on picture book dummies, are Writing with Pictures, by Uri Shulevitz, and Illustrating Children’s Books, by Martin Salisbury.