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Creating a world where humans and raccoons live in harmony – “The Family Business” Children’s Book

A fully fleshed-out world of a children’s picture book can be as complex and sophisticated as any stories out there. It’s up to the artist to make the world as lived in as possible – and a character on its own. That’s what I try to do when I work on any story. What you show is just as important as what you don’t show.

In the previous post, you saw some of the references and inspiration for creating the character design. I took the same steps when I created the world of “The Family Business.” 

  • I’ll use the manuscript to determine what scenes to show on each page and spread. Sometimes the editor or art director might have an opinion on this (because it affects the page breaks, surprises, and the story’s pacing).
  • As the pages are designed, a major focus is the composition of each page (placement of text, characters, backgrounds, perspective).
  • One of my goals for this fun book is to make each page dynamic, fun, and exciting. Here are examples of some very early page compositions. The drawings are loose, and quickly done with just a few details. It’s not uncommon to create many variations of the same scene.

Now let’s look at some detailed examples.

The Opening Scene: Meet The Raccoon Family... action!

This is the very first scene in the book. We recognize Lucky right away and his place in this family. It also establishes the world, the raccoon’s house, and its place in the community. The early sketches were not to the correct dimension of the book (still to be determined at this stage of the process).

Before After

The Tape Measuring Scene... Action!

In this scene, Lucky asks Pop to join in on the Family Business. So Pop pulls out the tape measure to ensure he’s just the right size! I’ve always envisioned Lucky’s house to be a treehouse but one that’s filled with amenities we enjoy – big windows, furniture, and accessories. 

Before After

So it might look like a night and day difference but it took many revisions and tweaking. I’ll show you a couple more in-between images below. You can see how the sketch is refined and a colored version is created. Once the colors look good, texture, shading, and color adjustments are made to improve the image.  Can you spot the differences?

Farmer Ollie's Orchard... Action!

In this scene, you can see how the image dimension changes from thumbnail/spread to a single page full-bleed image. I personally like the raccoons riding the pull cart but it didn’t survive the cut. What do you think?

The Family Business World Art

Now that you have a general idea of the process, let me share some more juicy interior art. I love how this book turned out and I hope you do too! Make sure to share and get your own copy.


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