I was never the teacher’s favorite in elementary school art class. The preferred students were the ones who could draw a bone that would make a dog salivate- that wasn’t me. My stick-men weren’t fashionable in the least and I couldn’t even pass them off as skeletons prescribe to take calcium supplements. As far as I was concerned, drawing was never my thing and it never would be.
Shortly after the release of my latest Nick and O-Zone book, I pondered on the idea of taking some of my written scenes and drawing them out. However, I couldn’t imagine myself drawing anything more than a simple top-down map to give my readers a better visual of the environments my characters were traversing. So, I decided to pass on my illustrator duties to a relative who was more than happy to help out. I ended up with some amazing drawings but I still wasn’t content having to rely on someone else to put my visuals on paper. I was stumped and put illustrating on the back burner for nearly a year until I finally got the urge to pick up a pencil and draw.
My wife thought I had taken a frying pan to the side of the head. I hadn’t even toyed with the idea of drawing since I was twelve-years-old and I certainly didn’t have any clue how to start. A few deep breaths later, pencil met paper and out of the deep corners of the universe came the ability to draw my own scenes and characters. First it was scratching, then lines with lots of erasing, and within a few days I was experimenting with depth perceptions and movement- who would have thought! I wouldn’t go to the extent of entering my work in a drawing contest, but I can now convey a scene from words to a worthy illustration, which is more than I could have asked for.
When I write fiction, scenes pass through my mind like I’m watching a movie. Every word that reaches the page is derived from a pre-conceived visual interpretation that is the source of life for my writing. I’m sure a lot of you will understand what I’m describing- you either write the way you talk (like this blog post) or you kick back with some imaginary popcorn and write from the images flashing through your head.
If you’re like me and you’ve never been a good illustrator, don’t give up just yet. Start by drawing out a few scenes from your favorite manuscript and let it flow out of you naturally. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll have added another powerful tool to your creative arsenal. A previously hopeless case like me is living proof that miracles are possible!