The Fix-It Man – My Illustration Process

February 27, 2017 | Announcement, Illustration | 4 comments | Author:



The moment I read Dimity’s manuscript I was connected. The visuals of the characters, scenes and sub-stories came with such ease that my initial concept roughs were almost completed before the contracts had actually been signed!

My first concept sketches on sticky notes.

This post-it note layout was my map, I then moved on to larger to-scale size images where I really worked out the sketched scenes.


First rough sketches done on A4 size paper


I like to lay all the pages out to see the flow throughout the pages and also note any inconsistencies. Like which arm had fallen off Tiger!


Some scenes didn’t go any further….

Sometimes having too many ideas makes it hard to choose, that is where having a team really helped.


This is how I keep all my roughs, easy to find when working on final artworks.


All my sketches passed through our fab team at EK Books, and once everyone was happy with them, I then worked on the final roughs at 100% finish size. These pages were scanned and sent to the art designer, who placed them with the text layout to make sure everything worked together well.

Final rough sketch drawn to 100 percent size.


Once all the final roughs were approved, I was able to start on the fun part – PAINTING!! I like to stretch all my watercolour paper (so it doesn’t buckle once dry, so important for quality scanning)

My studio always looks messy, but I like to think of it as organised chaos!


Under painting the shadows


Adding some colour – layer upon layer


A close up before pencil work


Almost finished!
Comparing to the final rough – what’s missing? Her pyjama love hearts of course!


The Front Cover – I have placed the eraser to get an idea of size!


Once all the illustrations are complete, I packaged them all off to the courier to be delivered to New Zealand for scanning, then it is all up to the amazing team at EK Books to complete the project.

The absolute best part of this entire process is receiving the advanced copy…  Now to get organised for the Book Launch!!


You can read more about the book launches HERE

Buy your copy HERE


  • Avatar Dimity Powell February 27, 2017 at 11:45 am | Reply

    I won’t ever be able to describe how perfect your pictures are at telling the story of The Fix-It Man, Nicky. A picture tells a thousand words and all of yours are beautiful. So happy to be sharing this experience with you. May there be many more!

  • Avatar Kathy Mashburn March 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Reply

    I love The Fix-It Man! Thank you and Dimity Powell for this beautiful book! Sharing the process was very interesting and inspiring! Be blessed and Happy Launching!

    1. Avatar Dimity Powell March 21, 2017 at 13:03 pm | Reply

      Hi Kathy, thank you for your kind comments. We are indeed enjoying some truly beautiful launches for our book. Nicky and I have experienced nothing less than bliss working together on this. I hope you get to enjoy one day soon, too. Dimity

  • Avatar Sandy Flett May 04, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Reply

    I love this book too! I read the Fix-It Man at Mary Ryan’s at Milton , Qld where it was proudly on display under a ‘ local’ heading ! Such an amazing theme beautiful written and I agree – the water colour paintings by you , Nicky , are divine ! Hoping as an upcoming illustrator I can do as well one day .


About Nicky Johnston


Nicky is a children’s book author and illustrator. Read more about Nicky HERE

Professional Member of:

Style File

Style File Portfolio
The Style File Illustration Portfolio
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
Australian Society of Authors
Books In Homes