The making of Sounds! by Tatyana Devaeva, Elena Erlikh, Alexei Lyapunov

Overview   Process  

In 2008, the author gets a letter from the head of the illustration department telling that it would be good to conjure up a children’s book—we’ve got many illustrators, the publishing house is growing, but we lack plots and ideas. In a rush of inspiration, the author comes up with an idea—to make a book about sounds and words. The first word that starts it all up is “buzzes”: a fly, fridge, wires, telephone, head, etc. The art director approves, so we set up to work.

Choosing an illustrator, putting together a list of words. The initial list contains twenty words divided into two groups: quiet and loud (the book is supposed to be called "Quiet and Loud"). The first illustrator makes sketches. It is not an easy task—you need to put together a number of examples of a word's usage without making a picture look like salad. The author and illustrator exchange e-mails trying to populate the scenes and squeeze everything in; the art director makes his comments.

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And then—Bam!—financial crisis. The project is frozen.


Several years pass. The project gets reopened and tested for viability. The idea still seems promising. The art director decides to give a chance to other illustrators—Lena Erlikh and Alexei Lyapunov. The list of words is reduced to ten verbs.

The illustrators get down to work, and the book starts to bloom. The stories come together, new plots appear. The illustrators work fast: make sketches, cut out characters, put together pictures and take photos.

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Finally the illustrations are ready—it’s time to put the book together. There are not so many words now, and the list is not divided into quiet and loud words, so the book gets a new name—"Sounds!" We start to work on the title page and the table of contents.

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The cover goes through changes.

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Deciding to decorate the cover with hot embossing. Preparing the file.

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Throughout the whole time we’ve been thinking about the hints—whether we need them or not. Opinions are divided. Finally the art director decides in favor of hints, and the typesetter racks his brains over how to place them so they would be visible but not spoil the pictures, chooses the type and the font size.

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Finally, finished. Color proofing and preparing the book for print. Ready in less than five years!

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