Creating a Spread

31st August 2015 - By 

Every storybook needs a good story and some good illustrations can help bring a story to life while also explaining aspects and concepts that may not be covered in the text itself.

Even after the stories and illustrations are completed there is much to be done before stories can be published. The process below shows what happens after you send your student’s text and illustrations. You don’t need to be too concerned about this but it may provide some assurance of how work can be transformed.

You can also download an Information Sheet to share with your class (link at the bottom).

Stage 1: Stripping the text

The text is first converted to a plain text document with all formatting removed. This ‘cleans’ the text up by removing unnecessary characters and spaces that are not usually noticed in Microsoft Word but that can result in the text looking messy in the final book.

The text is then checked for spelling and ‘copy-edited’. Copy-editing involves checking the text for inconsistencies and ‘alien concepts’. An alien concept is something that might not be easily understood by children living in different places. Grammar and punctuation is altered to ensure stories are consistent.

Stage 2: Layout

The choice of layout is determined by:

  • The amount of text and the space available for illustrations
  • The likely age of the audience the story will appeal to
  • The style and quality of the available illustrations

Usually a rough version is tried first by placing the text alongside the original scanned illustrations onto pages. This helps identify if further work needs to be done with illustrations, for example manipulating characters into different positions and expressions or combining multiple illustrations to form a new one.

Stage 3: Scanning illustrations

Smaller, simpler images can be scanned with an actual scanner but most illustrations are ‘scanned’ by taking a photo. This may be done at school or by me if you choose to post over the original copies.

Four important factors for photographing artwork:

  • The light must be good. This means not too dull or so bright it glares or reflects while ensuring no shadows shade the illustrations.
  • The camera must be steady. A tripod is best to ensure photos are not blurred. The darker the light, the steadier the camera must be.
  • The quality of the photo must be at a high resolution (this means checking the camera is set to take photos at the best quality possible).
  • The photo must include the whole of the illustration. Be very careful not to crop the edges from drawings!
  • Too many illustrations and too many photos are better than too few.

Stage 4: Digital edits and enhancements

With the text tidied up and the illustrations scanned, the illustrations can be digitally manipulated to fit with the story.

Colours, shapes and positions can be changed and illustrations may be tweaked or improved but the aim is to keep them as recognisably the work of the original artist while also making them look as brilliant as possible.

The King in the image above has then been digitally cut from the original scan and then his posture and facial expressions have been altered to suit the story.

Stage 5: Typesetting

The final stage is to select an appropriate typeface for the text and decide how to place it on the page alongside the final illustration.

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