1. I need the musician in the foreground looking dynamic.
2. I need his bat friend close by, also looking dynamic, but I also need him to stand out from the rest of the bats on the page, which I'm trying to do by giving him his big ears and a green scarf to match his composer friends (not obvious in the sketch, but it's there in the finals).
3. The text has to have a space of its own, front-and-center with no interference from background objects.
4. The composer and his orchestra of bats need a solid setting while giving the audience in the background room to be seen peeking out of their windows to witness the strange show on the rooftops of the town. This took a lot of time and erasing. It was the hardest part of the drawing and still isn't finished. You can see how I went back and forth deciding what exactly to do with the buildings, how I wanted them to stack behind each other, while trying to keep it all at a relatively believable perspective.
5. I kept in mind that this scene will have night fading in one area of the spread and dawn breaking at the other, so I'm already thinking about colors and shadow and how that will affect the composition (though I don't have it all worked out yet.)
6. I left room for the musical notes to wind through the spread. You can see in the last photo that I've only sketched out the ribbons where I plan to add the notes once I've finalized the placement of everything else. The musical notes can take hours to pencil in, so I save them only if I'm sure about the rest of the image first, so I don't have to do them over more than I need to.
7. I had to remember that this is only the pencil version! I still have to transfer the drawing to watercolor paper for the pen and ink wash and then scan that image into photoshop for color and lighting. So I can't get to attached to the expressions and details here. I'm going to have to do it all again on a different piece of paper.
I like laying the process out for others to see that illustrating isn't just painting. There are so many elements that need to come together to make a spread work and then again to make a book work as a whole. I've published before with much simpler ideas and color schemes, but I'm really pushing myself to have more layers with this one. It's been fun ... but, as you can see by the dust marks in some of the photos, so much erasing!
These photos were taken in order over the course of about 5 hours or so (with interruptions, of course - because it's Christmas break with hungry teenagers).