Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers has been home to award-winning literature since 1864.

Next up in our Picture Book Parade, is Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray, illustrated by pandagun. Here, we see some of Ken’s process—make sure you check out the final product in stores tomorrow!

In Ken’s words:

Image 1:  I first make random doodles in my sketchbook and work with a favorite. My process is organic, and I rarely follow through an original idea.

Image 2: In Photoshop I design the birds, and whatever basic ideas come my way. I originally wanted a branch in this spread.

Image 3: Here’s the near final spread with the children. The kids were introduced half way after the initial dummy book was prepared!

Image 4: Again, an example from the old sketchbook!

Image 5: I first made space for another bird…

Image 6: then changed my mind. This is an example of how I design the space with the text in mind. Rita Gray’s writing is vital, so in spirit and visual cue requires a good design. This is something new for me because you rarely see text as an on screen, cinematic element. I change my mind again, and try Wood Thrush alongside Robin.

Image 7: I want Robin to get her own spreads, but I need to have Wood Thrush in this spread (I ran out of pages). I decide not to have the birds compete against each other by placing a larger Robin coming from the corner top. Her dark value hides her in the shadow, so at first look the composition is about Wood Thrush. After closer inspection, Robin becomes dominant because of her scale and shade.

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