Yifat Fishman Illustrations & Thoughts

Building a scene for a new story

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I think I know where the story is going but I’m sure it will surprise me at the end. Being able to go back-and-forth between the illustrations and the text is an interesting process. Some days I’m more wordy while on other days I feel there are things I need to figure out visually. It’s a very dynamic process and I like it because it’s never boring. I’ve written a synopsis which gives me a good idea about the main points in the story that I will need to address in writing and illustrations, kind of like a road map to main events. But it doesn’t mean that things are set in stone. Quite the opposite. I’m very interested to discover how it will turn out. I think the story evolves in a deep place within the writer, a place that is not entirely visible like a statue hidden within a block of marble. We got to do all this work to get it out of its hiding.

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Rocking third revision

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I dread the sight of an empty work space, so I cultivate a healthy pile of drawings on my drawing desk at all times. There should be something waiting for me in the morning to discover and think through a cup of coffee. Presently I’m going through a third revision cycle of illustrations for a book. It’s always exciting for me to have fresh new ideas that replace old ones, it’s an interesting process of discovery and a steady learning curve.
The more I work on images for a story the better I get to know my characters and their illustrations become more lively and fun to create. In the beginning I find myself struggling to form vague ideas into believable and lovable characters. Some times I have a good idea where to start and other times it helps to see how a character behaves through several drafts to form better ideas about her appearance.


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Pacing bears

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What’s behind this illustrator’s artistic choices? Let’s share some ins and outs of picture book making. When drafting my storyboard I planned ten spreads of full page illustrations, that is one large picture painted on two joined pages. And five spreads with spot illustrations, which means two pages featuring an assembly of several small scenes. Like this one, and the one below:

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When there’s a lot to say visually I may chose to break a scene into several small pictures. Perhaps I want to show that the character is doing more than one thing at the same time, or show a sequence of events that are connected, and since there is a limited number of pages in a book those events will group together on one spread.
Also there is the matter of pacing, which is a prominent element of a picture book. Several small scenes on one spread will read slower than one large scene. They may serve in building up anticipation to whatever happens next. They may create a sense of urgency or tension. And then the next page may be a full spread where the riddle is solved or possibly something big or dramatic will happen that is a result of the former hyperactive spread.

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Praises for tracing paper

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Lately, I’ve become fond of tracing paper. It may have something to do with childhood memories of working with it in elementary school? or was it later, in college? probably the latter. I use tracing paper for transferring a sketch to a linoleum block, where the tracing paper’s transparency comes in handy as it can be flipped over for the image on the block has to be a mirror image of the original. I’ve also used tracing paper for quick sketching and positioning elements of a picture before deciding on a final composition. And then, I started using the tracing paper for trying out color schemes for an illustration.  It’s so handy. A quick rendering over the pencil sketch with rough pastel is just so satisfying. Then combining all the layers together, the pencil drawing, the print and the colored  tracing paper, eh voila! The planned illustration becomes tangible. And I can’t wait for the print to dry so that I could draw and paint the final art.

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So, going back to this print. With the pencil sketch completed I wanted to move on to printing a section of it. As this spread has three spot illustrations combined to  one scene, and since it took me a while to decide on the composition, I wanted a fast reward. So this time guts called the shots. The linoleum carving and printing were all one day’s work. My right hand protested but I could still eat a snack halfway through the work, using  my left hand, if somewhat awkwardly, so on with it until the work was done.

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