Scarlett, Starlet

From first sketch to printed pages: see how I created the illustrations for Scarlett, Starlet


This was the very first sketch I drew of Scarlett leaping. The scale changed and she looks better in colour, but the essence of Scarlett was there from the beginning.

This little parlourmaid was nearly there from the first sketch, too – she just needed to be polished up a bit.

This picture comes halfway through the book, when Scarlett finally gets to dance on a real stage instead of just for her adoring mum and dad. I really wanted to capture Scarlett’s enthusiasm. To me, this first scribbled drawing was just right – all flailing legs and arms. You can see Scarlett loves dancing and throws herself utterly into it, but perhaps isn't entirely technically polished. However the drawing couldn't go in the book as it was – it was tiny, too rough and smudged and the proportions were all wrong. I had to work from it to make a more finished illustration.

I lost a little of the movement in the final artwork, but it’s not too bad. Scarlett’s left arm was rather long in the pencil sketch and shortening it changed the dynamics, but I feel the diagonals in the picture inject movement and energy – the enthusiasm is still there.

These were the only traditional art materials I used in the book – a bottle of black Japanese ink and a black pencil crayon my kids were given in a colouring pack on a JAL flight. With the help of Photoshop, every line, colour and pattern came from from these two.




I made this pattern by dipping a ragged old brush in the Japanese ink, then twirling it on the paper. Once I’d turned the black ink red in Photoshop, it looked a little like red roses – perfect for the pattern on Scarlett’s pyjamas.

Once I’d finished the illustrations, the text need to be added to the pages. Here I am in the HarperCollins Sydney offices with book designer, Hazel Lam (she’s the one in the middle) and Publisher, Chren Byng. We are looking at where Hazel has placed the type.


Once the design was finalised, the pages and cover were proofed. I checked the print proofs to check all the colours looked as I hoped. They did – phew!


The files were then sent to the printers, and at this stage the sales reps from HarperCollins got busy, travelling around the country and showing new books to booksellers. Here, sales rep Kathleen is showing an unbound BLAD (book layout and design – pre-publication sales material) for Scarlett, Starlet to staff at the Ellison Hawker Bookshop and the State Cinema Bookstore, in Hobart.