Most of the time involved in creating a book like Dinotopia goes into the final artwork. Here’s my work chart for Dinotopia: The World Beneath (1995). The book has 160 pages, with a painting on every page.
I did most of the artwork from September of 1993 to January of 1995. I set myself a production rate of ten pages per month, or one finished page every three days on average. That page rate includes the research, maquettes, posing, drawing and final painting. If I wanted to spend more than six days on a double page spread, I had to buy time by doing another piece faster than that.
There are a dozen or so paintings circled in red. They are the larger and more elaborate paintings, such as Garden of Hope (p. 73) or The Excursion (p. 70-71), which were released as art prints. Those images stood outside the narrative and did not include the main characters. I had finished most of these “anchor paintings” before starting this production schedule. Those paintings took longer, roughly one to three weeks each.
Before starting this final artwork phase, I planned the book in outline and storyboard form. After wrapping the art in January of 1995, I wrote the final text. I wrote the text last because many new ideas developed while doing the artwork.
I enjoy working under pressure, and I love having a large task like this, which focuses my mind like nothing else. I’ve found that if I set a specific goal, I can accomplish far more than if I just waited for inspiration.