Picture books, like animated films, video games, or graphic novels, are sequential art forms. Each painting is part of a larger statement that unfolds across time.
In The World Beneath, the second Dinotopia book, I planned the sequences with a color marker storyboard, which I mentioned in a previous post. I also made a few pages of tiny oil sketches to establish the range of colors for each sequence. Each sketch is about the size of a postage stamp, and they’re juxtaposed so I can see how one color scheme will lead into the next.
In film, this kind of overall color planning is often called "color scripting."
I planned a few individual paintings more comprehensively, with color sketches about the size of a postcard. I mixed up a gamut of colors with a palette knife and laid them down quickly, almost abstractly, without thinking too much. This painting was intended to be a night scene lit by firelight with people and dinosaurs, but I wasn’t sure of the details.
Here’s another variation on the idea of an evening ceremony, this time with a skybax. This is one of many ideas that I explored in sketch stage that I later abandoned.
By this time I had established which of the paintings seemed worth working up to a larger size, and I developed those images a little more. These oil sketches are each about 1.5 x 4 inches. Juxtaposing the little sketches helped me to think of not only of the individual painting but also the adjacent sequences.
Gallery of finished paintings from The World Beneath, link.