A couple posts ago I described how I experiment with a lot of different picture ideas by making speedy little thumbnail sketches. In a long-form picture book like Dinotopia, the final illustrations have to stand on their own as separate paintings, but they also have be part of an overarching story. A lot of time goes into planning the story, both in the form of a written outline and a storyboard sequence.
Once I have a lot of picture ideas that are starting to click, I sketch each one onto a storyboard blank. These storyboard blanks are custom-made layout forms that I print on card stock at about ¼ the size of the printed page.
It takes about 80 of these cards to make up a single Dinotopia book of 160 pages. I display them all at once on a slightly sloping wooden display board that covers a wall in the studio.
By keeping the storyboards on separate cards it’s easy to add or delete a page. I keep tinkering with the sequence all through the production of the book. This whole procedure is similar to—and inspired by—the way animated films are planned.