The Last Viking Returns

Progress Report

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This past week I have been finishing off those new ravens and slotting them in to the pencil outlines already completed.

I went from roughs like these…

raven-fixups-p23 rough

to neater outlines…


which I then shaded with 2b pencil and scanned…


…and finally, dropped into the scene. I edited them a bit more with photoshop (adjusting levels and using the burn tool).


This week there have been some intense discussions about a pivotal scene in the book. Norm and I, and our patient editor Cate, have realised that the scene is not working as we’d originally hoped. The text and the pics aren’t gelling together properly. We’ve been throwing lots of ideas around, trying to make them stick, but it’s been like oil and water so far… we’ll get there soon.

Months ago, before I started the final artwork, Cate said something along the lines of, ‘pages often need to be redone because they don’t work- be prepared for that’. Seems it’s an unavoidable part of the picture book process. It can be disheartening when a scene that you’ve spent a lot of time on doesn’t work. But it’s been a blessing too, because Norm and Cate and I have had to try lots of alternative approaches and stretch our creative muscles. Testing the alternative approaches has taught me a lot more about how pictures and text interact – as well as the potential pitfalls to avoid next time.

I’d show you a snippet of the scene, but we’re still working on it 🙂


Author: James Foley

James makes books for courageous kids. His books include 'The Amity Kids Adventures', 'In The Lion', 'The Last Viking'. A couple of these books have won awards. People have also bought copies, and for that he is grateful. His new book 'The Last Viking Returns' is out now. Follow James at , @James_R_Foley on twitter and instagram or at

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