Category Archives: Storyboards and Collaboration

From On-Line to HANDS-ON: Let’s Draw Stories!

Register NOW for Joy Chu's hands-on workshop, Illustrating Books for Children, Wednesday evenings 6:30-9:30pm, 6/28-8/21/13,, ART 40011. Immerse yourself!

Exercise your art chops!

Summer Solstice! What could be better after a full day’s work (or sunning & surfing — hey, we’re in San Diego!), or sight-seeing around San Diego, than hunkering down, and drawing pictures with other passionate story-tellers?

We’ll do hands-on drawing-and-sharing, in class, in person, at the beautiful UCSD Extension campus in La Jolla, CA. Examine the latest picture books, plus a few timeless classics. And address aspects of the current children’s book market.

Join us!

Class:        Children’s Book Illustration – ART-40011
Instructor:  Joy Chu
Dates:       June 26 – August 21  (9 meetings)
Day:           Wednesdays
Time:         6:30pm – 9:30pm
Location:  Extension, Room 128

Required books: 

Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books (paperback) :: Uri Shulevitz   ISBN: 9780823059355

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals (paperback)
:: Ed Emberley   ISBN: 9780316789790


Don’t delay, sign up today!
Purchase textbooks @ UCSD Bookstore,
or at  Register now.
Ask about ART 40011

Fee:  $250 / $275 after 6/10/13


More about my upcoming UCSD Extension Class!

Since I’ve been receiving numerous emails with questions about my upcoming online class at UCSD Extension (January 7-March 9, 2013), I thought it would be good to combine them here.

Q:  Can you give a little more info on how the class is structured?

Our goal will be to zero in on the book dummy itself, in terms of telling a story with utmost clarity.

We will explore the most effective ways of communicating story through images.

I must stress that this will not be a drawing class per se — in the sense that there will be no time to apply any drawing details, nor tight rendering.

In my experience, students (and many pros) have a tendency to focus lovingly on completing details and minutiae prematurely (before fully plotting the entire story), creating exquisite but static compositions at the expense of the whole. The story itself becomes incomplete.

By keeping our drawings simple, we will avoid becoming a stuck car tire, spinning mud.

From “Dies Kind Und Der Katze” by Bachér & Berner

Nailing key points like character creation; pacing, creating drama; graphic shapes and their importance; rhythm; making judicious use of white space. These are just some of the issues we will address.

Early study for Lydia, the protagonist in Matthew Cordell’s “hello! hello!”

We will be identifying art media (so many possibilities) used in today’s picture books, both traditional and digital. See a style you like? Ask about it!

And there will be plenty of sketching!

From “Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug” by Newgarden & Cash

The book dummy is the most important stage in the creation of picture books. Analogous to drawing architectural floor plans before building the house itself, this is the stage where all creative decisions on the picture book are made.

With your completed floor plan (the book dummy), you can move on to experimenting with the art media of your choice upon completion of this class.

This is why all drawings for our class must be done simply. We will complete three book dummies in nine weeks. In other words, stick figures are totally smart & OK!

All students are required to have an active library card. Everyone must borrow, read and share picture book selections, based upon a given theme for that week. Nowadays, any library book can be reserved online for later pick-up.

“Dancing figure” (above) © Christophe Niemann
“Librarian” (below) © Debbie Tilley

In addition, everyone will be required to have a  photo-sharing account, like Flickr , Picasa, or Photobucket to store images. This is where rough sketches would be uploaded. Students link images to display direct onto the class blog or discussion boards. This is to insure we do not over-tax UCSD Extension’s servers, as images take up far more memory than text.

All class participants will have access to:

(1) A Discussion Board, where everyone shares thoughts about the weekly theme, as well as technical tips (Example. Best ways to create low-resolution scans and PDFs; recommended links).

(2) A Group Blog, provided for this class only via UCSD’s Blackboard software. Students will be divided into critique groups. Each group will have its own Group Blog, to ensure ongoing feedback and support on works-in-progress.

(3) Class availability, 24/7. You can work on assignments anytime. Just remember that new lessons will be posted every  Monday morning!

Q:  Can you give a little more info on how the class is structured?

Every Monday, there will be a new Announcement summarizing the lesson plan plus assignments for the week. Assignments must be completed and uploaded every Sunday @ 11:59 pm. Each new class week begins on a Monday.

Q:  Will we get to share our work with other students?

Definitely! In fact, this is a must, and a major feature of this class! There will be critiques, discussions, and opportunities for feedback  throughout the course. Rules and guidelines for procedure and protocol will be distributed.

Q: Will you be giving feedback?

Yes!  I will be reading everyone’s comments —- with an eye towards encouraging everyone’s mutual support. And I will jump in as appropriate.

I will also list specific times when I will be online live to address immediate concerns.

Most importantly, students must have high speed internet to participate. To test your equipment, go here. To preview and sample our class’s online tools free, go here.

Questions? Post them below (‘Leave a reply’)! I look forward to meeting you, and building our Creative Online Community. Feel the buzz? Register here.

Think you can’t express anything with stick figures? You’d be wrong! Click here and enjoy!



Course title:  Illustrating Books for Children (ART 40011)
Dates: January 7th – March 9th, 2013 (nine weeks)
Fees: $275  (early bird special: $250 if enrolled by 10 Dec 2012)
To register: 858-964-1051;


Storyboards and collaboration

We examine the process of story-telling via the iPad and picture book paradigm, with author/illustrator Mike Austin and his agent, Rubin Pfeffer.

4. Take us through the steps in transitioning from bookmaking to iPad parlance. Did you “play” with many other apps, while creating additional sketches and ideas?

Mike Austin: It took a lot of noodling to get the pages working in a way that made sense for the iPad.

Various character studies of Milo the cat

Various character studies of Milo the cat

I had to condense most of the spreads into single pages, split some spreads into separate pages, and then think about how Milo, the mouse, and all the other little pieces were going to interact once animated.

I looked at bunch of other apps to see how they handled page structure, pacing and animation which helped a little. This is all new to me, so I had to figure it out as I went along.

It was a very complicated puzzle, and incredibly time consuming, but I think the next one will be much easier.

Rubin Pfeffer: My first app also. I always think of picture books as experiential reading. This is a story app.

Creators using the new technologies now offer readers many other ways to experience the story.

I’m not saying that digital apps replace picture books. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Digital story apps are a different medium, with different outcomes. Not better. Different.

We often said (to ourselves) “just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it.” We tried to stay true to the goal.

Any “taps” and surprises should happen to further the story line, and not just to “wow” ourselves or the readers.

Assorted sketches, notes, storyboards for "Milo"

Assorted sketches, notes, storyboards for "Milo"

5.  You then worked with Sequel Digital, a digital design and development group. Would you take us through what it was like working with them? Were there many revisions along the way? How many people were in your Sequel Digital team?

Mike Austin: Rubin put me in touch with Ken and Sharon Streger at Sequel Digital. It was just the four of us:  Rubin, me, Ken and Sharon.

We had most of our meetings via Skype video.  It was really a fun way to work together. I live in Hawaii, and they’re in Connecticut. So we would set up a video chat around 8 am my time,  2 pm Eastern.

Sharon would email me pdfs of the storyboard with a list of agreed upon actions, sound effects and narration typed out for each screen.

Storyboard with lists and notes

Storyboard with lists and notes

I would print it out and use that as my guide, scribbling notes to myself as I went through each piece of the puzzle.

Rubin Pfeffer: Yes, Sharon kept the chaos in order.  She was command central, knowing what kind of additional materials, illustrations — “assets” —  would be required of Mike in order to make anything move or appear.

She is an excellent designer as well, and had an immediate affinity to Mike’s graphic style.

Sharon’s notations were the “to do lists” for Mike and for Ken Streger. Sharon mapped it out on paper. Ken built the systems that make the app perform.

Storyboard refinements for the cover image

Storyboard refinements for the cover image

Mike Austin: We’d nail down the lead-in animations (the animation that occurs when a new page loads).  Once the lead-in animation ends, then the reader can begin exploring the page.

We figured out how many “clickables” we could have on each screen, and whether or not they enhanced or supported the story.

Detail from script for title image

Detail from script for title image

I had a lot of crazy ideas like the walls flying apart, stuff spinning around, etc., all happening at the same time.  Ken had to keep reminding me that if you have too many big complex things happening at once the program will crash.

I had to think smaller, less complex sequences — although there is one screen that fills with scribbles. Ken and Sharon made it work brilliantly.

Once we decided what could be “clickable,” we had to figure out the different animations that could occur for each clickable.

For example, the sailing picture on the wall in the first screen has several possible animations. Tap and the mouse jumps up from the boat.  Tap, and the octopus pops up and shakes the boat.  Tap, and a whale pops up, and lifts the boat with his spray.

More script notes for actions and corresponding sound effects

Script notes for actions and corresponding sound effects

6. What was the time frame between presenting your book storyboard to Sequel Digital, and completing all the final pieces for Milo?

Mike Austin: We had our initial meeting around the middle of August, and were ready for final testing around the end of November.

For a few weeks I would get up at 4:30 a.m. and start drawing, and usually finished around 10 p.m.  Regardless of how busy I was, I always made time for a short surf session in the middle of the day.

More handwritten notes, post Skype conference

More handwritten notes, post Skype conference call

Joy Chu: You completed all art and animation within two months (of 2010)?

Rubin Pfeffer: Because Mike’s storyboard was so sound, and we intended to keep this beautiful and effective by its simplicity, we had a pretty clear idea of what the app would be when we began.

That, and Mike’s focus, plus Sequel Creative’s clear directives, enabled this to get to the market as quickly as it did.

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