Chuck Galey

Author • Illustrator • Teaching Artist • Speaker

Sketchbook Doodles- Early Autumn, 2015

The Creative Process- Hidden Pictures

Have you ever wondered how the Hidden Pictures puzzle pages in Highlights for Children Magazine were designed?  I’ve been working with Highlights for over 15 years designing those hard to find object pictures.

These days, I’ve traded in all my tracing paper, pencils and pens for digital.  I work on a Wacom Cintiq HD 22” touch screen.  Like most other businesses these days, the art and publishing industry has gone digital.  Sometimes, I’ll work in traditional watercolor as I have shown in previous demonstrations, but for client work, I’ll work in a digital medium.  As it turns out, clients prefer having a finished digital art file that they can then import into their layouts and work with.  The art directors I work with work on computers, too.

In the first stages of a Hidden Picture, I always think of a concept for from a child’s point of view.  What’s going on their world?  School? Backyard activities?  New places to go and discover?

An interesting tree can provide the
muse for a hidden picture drawing.
In the picture above, I thought it would be fun to draw this old tree trunk that I saw while walking in my neighborhood.

A quick explanation about how sketching and improving the drawing works is in order.  Usually, I fist make a quick sketch on a piece of paper.  Then with a  piece of tracing paper laid over the sketch, I improve the drawing by revising the lines and shapes until the line drawing looks great.  The tracing paper represents a second layer of the drawing.

A digital drawing program, like Painter 2015 and Photoshop, works the same way.  However, with a Wacom Cintiq, I use a stylus that acts like a pencil, pen or brush on the artwork.  The sketch below demonstrates the various layers that I use in preparing a finished digital drawing.

Tracing over a sketch is an easy way to revise.

So, I begin to sketch out the tree trunk in a blue pencil line on a bottom layer.  The blue pencil acts like a light sketching tool where I can go back and rework the drawing to improve it.  Why a blue pencil?  Back before digital publishing, blue pencils were used because the camera that would photograph the line art would not be seen or photographed by the camera and thus would not show up on the negative.  So, I still use a blue pencil because I’m used to it.  Also, the dark gray pencil of the revised sketch indicate a revised area of the line art.

The blue line sketch makes it easy to revise.
The next layer provides a gray pencil revision sketch.
The tree trunk pic is used as reference.
I continue with the revision until I think it looks great.
Hidden objects reveals themselves... sometimes.

I’ll choose a yellow color to mark off what I think are well hidden objects.  Sometimes, I have to redraw a shape to make sure it works in the prevailing picture.

Since I am working in digital format, I create a digital file called a JPEG, a digital image format that most digital cameras use, of the sketch and the sketch with all the hidden objects highlighted and named.  I then upload them to the Highlights working website for editorial approval, revision or rejection.

If this submission is accepted, I will make the revisions required and go to a finished art file where the art is prepared in more of an ink style of line art.

So that’s how a Hidden Picture is designed and executed!  It still doesn’t make it any easier to find the hidden objects, though.  There are always well hidden!

Click here to go back to the Sketchbook Doodles home page.