Inside the Studio with Annelouise Mahoney brought you in partnership with Two Lions
The Children’s Book Review
Annelouise Mahoney has worked in animation for DreamWorks, DIC Animation, Sony, and Saban Entertainment. She has also worked as a colorist for Marvel and Image Comics on such series as Uncanny X-Men, Generation X, and others. This is her first picture book, and it was inspired by the depths of her daughters’ friendships and the many ways they are brave, especially with someone on their side. She loves to explore the forest, can’t resist a cave, and has a lot of love for all those named Julius in her life. Annelouise lives in Southern California with her family.
Inside Annelouise Mahoney’s Studio
I write, sketch, and paint in my home studio in Southern California. My studio space is a carved out nook of our home. It was once a den-style living room but now functions as a studio space I share with my husband. I have a small light table I bought back in college that I still use. It fits nicely in this space, along with my computer and drawing table. Our studio also serves as a creative gathering place when I’m working and my daughters want to visit with me. There is no door and they know they can come join me at any time. It’s very common for one or both of my daughters to come and sketch while talking about their day or events we have coming up.
I love having a bookshelf near me while I work. I rotate books because they don’t all fit in this space, but I feel I need to have them near me. I adore children’s books, especially picture books; they bring so much comfort, wonder, and possibilities. I often will make a stack to revisit, and usually have a hard time deciding which ones need to be put away to make room for new ones.
The only work I put up on my walls are the projects I’m working on. I use the wall to spread out and see everything in one glance, which helps me focus.
Annelouise Mahoney’s Creative Process
It has taken me some time to come to terms with my process. I had to accept that I’m messy, and most creative when I don’t stick to one sketchbook or paper size when I’m playing and figuring things out. I really enjoy the dreamy part of the beginning when everything is just loose and I’m getting to know who my character is, and what their story is about. I collect all my scattered ideas and sketches into a binder and slowly make sense of the world I’m creating.
When I have a sense of the story, I begin small thumbnail sketches and see how they look in a small picture book template. I’ve learned to avoid the words at this stage and focus only on the visual narrative. When the words sneak in, I jot them down on post-it notes. Eventually I use post-it notes to rearrange a drawing, or add to what I already have, as well as try out the verbal narrative of the story. This part of the process takes a long time for me. It’s figuring out compositions and looking for how to express a feeling. I’m also looking for areas that may be repetitive and looking for the most interesting way to show the story. There is a lot of experimenting happening at this stage.
When the story feels like it is coming together, I scan the sketches into the computer and make the images bigger in Photoshop. I’m looking for more specific information I can give to each spread, making sure the compositions work within the trim size, and I add the text to create the first draft of the picture book dummy. This dummy stage will then repeat as I go through revisions with my agent and then my editor, until the story is fleshed out and polished. Once the story is polished, I begin all over again with small thumbnails but this time I’m focusing only on color.
For Julius and Macy: A Very Brave Night, I made a color guide to help me navigate the color choice for each spread before going into final art. I found this part extremely helpful because I was painting in watercolor and I had to know how I was going to approach each painting. I then repeated the process of scanning in the tiny thumbnails in Photoshop and making them much bigger to fit into the book template. I was interested to see where I was going to focus on adding details and how the images read in the true size of the book. I then went on to cut sheets of watercolor paper a little larger than the print size and painted each page in watercolor.
I scanned each page into the computer and used Photoshop and my Wacom tablet to set each painting into the picture book template provided by my publisher, Two Lions. Once all was scanned in and touched up, I sent the finished files to my editor, Kelsey Skea, and art director Merideth Mulroney.
Learn more about her at www.woodlandabbey.com.
Facebook: Woodland Abbey
Instagram: Annelouise Mahoney
About the Book
Julius and Macy: A Very Brave Night
Written and Illustrated by Annelouise Mahoney
Ages 3-7 | 32 Pages
Publisher: Two Lions | ISBN-13: 978-1542007160
Publisher’s Synopsis: An enchanting woodland tale about bravery and friendship from a debut author-illustrator.
Julius and Macy like to play heroes. Julius pretends he’s the defender of the forest, while Macy has a quieter strength. When their snack disappears one night, they decide to track down the only one who could have taken it―the Night Goblin. They both have to be brave in their own ways, and they ultimately discover that the real thief isn’t anything like they imagined.
With its endearing characters, this gently told tale reminds us that we each have courage within us and that kindness can make all the difference.
“Watercolor illustrations further the text’s magical qualities by adding important details, such as the solitary nature of Sherwin’s home. Softly glowing with campfire and starlight, this tale is an inviting bedtime story and a gentle ode to kindness.” ―Booklist
Buy the Book
Discover more books like Julius and Macy: A Very Brave Night, written and Illustrated by Annelouise Mahoney, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Bedtime Books, Bravery, Forest Animals, Friendship, and Picture Book. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.
Bed time books are a wonderful way to connect with your children and ease them into a wonderful peaceful sleep, carrying your voice into sleepland with them!
Bedtime stories are a great way to calm the children and send them off to dreamland. They also get ready for bed without all the fooling around knowing a story will be read.
All the watercolors are so well done!
Bedtime books are a must have at our house. The kids are now avid readers and love reading the books out loud to us.
This is so cute and I love the illustrations. Reading at bedtime is a special time to share with my girls.
I’d love it for my kids.
We love bedtime stories.
What an enchanting story and an aspiring lesson that there is more than one kind of hero.
I would love to share this book with my sons.
My grandsons would love this beautiful book. Bedtime stories are so soothing and give the children good dreams and a wonderful sleep.
my nieces would love this!
Oh, my nephews would love this one! And bedtime stories are so important because not only does it install a love of books & reading, but gives comfort & closeness to both child & parent!
I think bedtime books are important its a bonding experience for kids. But also its relaxing to the child helping them to wind down .
Love to add this book to my classroom library
I love a well illustrated children’s book. My grandkids can’t wait for bedtime stories
I love these children’s stories, this one sounds so fun.
I like to read my granddaughters a story at night that they can dream about the adventures they can have.
Would love to add this to our library!
Would love to add this to our library!
This looks like a good book!
to add to my collection
I would love to read this with my granddaughter. She loves bedtime stories and the graphics in this book are beautiful
Bedtime stories help children to distance themselves from the turmoil of their day so that they can relax and fall asleep l
Great bedtime story
I love to share with the kids about being kind and bedtime books are a perfect way to talk about it.
My students would love to have this book in our library and I would love to read it to my classes!
Love finding out more about the author and would love to share this with my students
Early readers make lifetime learners.
Grandkids love these books.
I would love to win this for my grandchildren.
Bedtime books are so important. As you read they start to relax, you get that special time alone before they fall asleep. I read to my seven children everynight. It was that special ritual that instilled a love of books and reading. The younger grandkids would love them. Thank you for the opportunity to win.
This looks like a beautiful and adorable book to add to my collection of children’s books to read to little ones.