February 20, 2024

How a Cover Is Made: SLJ’s Series Made Simple


Illustrator Brian Biggs documents the evolution of a School Library Journal cover in his latest blog post. Biggs, who did the cover art for the just released Fall 2011 edition of Series Made Simple, SLJ‘s supplement on series nonfiction, reveals the steps in his process, from initial sketch to finished art.

[Biggs’s new picture book Everything Goes is reviewed by Fuse 8 this week]

Biggs’s initial sketches were pencil on paper. After approval of the image by SLJ art director Mark Tuchman, the artist scanned the final and colored it in Photoshop. About 95 percent of the art in the magazine is created digitally or is at least a hybrid of hand-rendering and digital, as in this case, says Tuchman.

Editors are also involved in the process. Series editor Chelsey Philpot approached Tuchman suggesting a theme of astronomy based on the recent bunch of titles in that subject area. They then, together with Editor-in-Chief Brian Kenney, hit on the idea of astronauts, reading books, of course.


Bucking the digital trend is Harry Bliss, who did our November cover below.  An old-school artist, his work is sketched and painted by hand.





Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com, @kishizuka on Twitter) is Executive Editor of School Library Journal.


  1. Hi Kathy, Brian Biggs is a great illustrator. I am also glad to see that we haven’t yet abandoned the human element in drawings when it could so easily be done with computer. I like the hybrid approach as well but the evolution seems to be toward more antiseptic and sterile digitally grafted art (which I suppose isn’t bad). I am more of a fan of the hand! Thanks for psoting this

    Take care,