The all important opening scene- part 4 (final colours)

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve shown the process of developing the opening scene of Last Viking. I covered the first roughs, some more developed ideas, and the final pencils.

I’d gotten up to here:

final pencils

and now this week: the final colours.

My first go wasn’t too bad- but the night-time panel wasn’t dark enough. It seemed like early morning, and Josh would (should) be asleep by then 🙂 I wasn’t sure about the colours in the day-time panel either. But I liked the blur of colour from the left-hand panel across the gutter.

The light is too bright, almost like a spotlight, or a UFO

When I had tried colours for a few pages, I started to see that sometimes it looked good if just a few things were coloured in, and other parts were left white. So I tried that. And I darkened up the night-time panel.

I added in an off-white background colour to the right-hand panel because it looked a bit stark against white

Here’s another variation, with a stronger contrast in the left-hand panel, and a plain white background on the right-hand side. I removed the gradient of colour from the left to right page as I couldn’t get it to fade evenly using the digital watercolour brushes.


Next, I lightened up the left-hand side, and fiddled with the placement of the right-hand panel for the millionth time 🙂 This is the final version I sent to Fremantle Press.


Then our wonderful book designer Tracey Gibbs suggested some changes to the placement of the text, which really worked. The text I’d had on the left, in the light of the nightlight, wasn’t easy to read. So Tracey suggested moving it over to the right-hand side. Plus, she changed the alignment of the punchline to right, so it stood out from the rest of the text, and led your eye down to Josh and Wolverine.


Here’s a closer look at the left-hand panel.

p2 closeup

In the first post in this series, I talked about the things an opening scene needs to do:

  • it introduces the main character/s (who)- Josh and Wolverine, their relationship, the sorts of things they do together
  • it introduces the main problem or conflict (what)- Josh is afraid
  • it introduces a world (when, where)- Josh’s bedroom
  • it sets the emotional tone (via the writer’s voice and the illustrator’s pictures)- a mix of humour and sensitivity

The final responsibility of the opening scene is to hook the reader in. Hopefully it will achieved that. I can’t wait to share the actual book with you… not long to go now, about 7 weeks or so 🙂

Author: James Foley

James Foley makes children’s books for children who read books. If you’re a child and you’re eating his books, you’re doing it wrong. His books include Brobot, Dungzilla, Gastronauts, Chickensaurus, Toffle Towers, My Dead Bunny and There's Something Weird About Lena. James lives in Perth with his wife, 2 kids, and a labrador. He is a massive Marvel movie nerd and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta/youtube @jamesfoleybooks, or at .

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