Inside the Illustration Process of Inner with Aleksandra Szmidt

October 2nd, 2021
Explore the behind the scenes of the illustration process of Inner with the fabulous illustrator, Aleksandra Szmidt!

I clearly remember even when I received the manuscript for this book - I was delighted! The story is so beautiful and the message is important. The book is about a little girl who is looking for meaning in the world, trying to get answers from friends she meets during her journey. But in the end she realises that she already possessed the answers. 

I took this book very personally because I think it’s really important when we realise that we know most of the answers to the questions we are asking and sometimes we just should trust our inner gut. 

Cleteisha has crafted a wonderful and touching book that will help many children understand themselves better. 


The process is similar for every book I illustrate, however the inspiration and creative output is unique and very different for each project.

My first step is to start to work on the character design. To be able to “feel" the book and to imagine a world through the main characters eyes, I need to know who the main characters are, what sort of personality they have, and what their hopes and dreams are. I then start to imagine how they behave, what they look like, and what they like to do. This part of the process really helps me immerse myself in the imaginary world, so that I can then draw the story-world that I imagine.

After the character sketches are approved, the next step is to start to work on the storyboard. For me it’s the most difficult and important part of creating a book. I sketch the whole story in small thumbnails and decide how each scene and action will be connected. For many people storyboards are very rough and general, but in my case they are always quite detailed. The downside of this approach is there could be a lot of changes on this stage, but the advantage is I can communicate exactly how I see the story being visually brought to life.

The third step is creating roughs – more detailed and "clean” sketches at actual size. For me usually it means just cleaning up and redrawing the already detailed thumbnails. 

Step four is my favourite stage – the colouring stage! Here the fun begins! After all the concentration and experimentation involved in the connecting and design stages, comes the part where I can relax a little and be creative with colour, lighting, and shading instead of outlines and form. I think this stage is the favourite of many illustrators. My colour illustrations can often look quite different from the approved sketches – I naturally just see everything better in colour. I know many illustrators are amazing at sketching, unfortunately that's not me.

Step Five – if it’s possible I always prefer to leave creating the cover artwork until the end. After all the time I spent with the characters and the manuscript, I can feel what should be on the cover and what would work the best.

I just want to add that the editor and the art director are always a huge help for any illustrator. In this case Verity Clark was irreplaceable. Thank you Verity for all your assistance and design! You’re the best!

We would like to say a big thank you to Aleksandra for giving us this wonderful insight into Inner!
You can find Aleksandra on Instagram and on her website.

Grab yourself a copy of Inner through the link below.


Follow a young girl's journey as she questions the universe about the secrets of life. Can she find her inner calm to discover the answers she seeks?
Purchase Here

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Tags: book, children, indie author, how to, Illustration, kids, Kids Lit Art, kidslit, picture book, self publishing

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