• Tulika Publishers

The Colour Thief is here! Q and A with Sandhya Prabhat

Hot off the press, this picture book is a riot of colours which have a story to tell! The Colour Thief by Stephen Aitken and Sylvia Sikundar, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat, is a rich visual extravaganza set in a timeless place somewhere in the mountains. We spoke to the illustrator for a peep behind the pages.

How did you get into illustrating for children? What about it appeals to you? I've illustrated and animated as a professional for adults and children, on different kinds of projects. However, children are the wiser audience, I find. The younger a child is, the more limited his/her vocabulary is thought to be. Therefore, an illustration's job is to tell those parts of the story that words alone, cannot. I find this really challenging and exciting. A child who finds a book boring, will unhesitatingly dismiss it. So I feel doubly responsible, designing and drawing for these brutally honest readers.

The Colour Thief is your first book with Tulika. How was your experience of working on it?


I was given complete creative freedom to design the book, its characters and colours. Moreover, with ace storytellers and editors working on the team, creative discussions were great fun! It was a very fulfilling experience.

The pictures of The Colour Thief are vibrantly alive making it seem like they are leaping off the page. What is the process you follow to illustrate a book? What considerations guide it?

The main character, the Giant, almost instantly took form in my mind, once I read the story. I couldn't wait to draw him. After discussions with the team, I came up with ways to treat colour, and black and white, since this treatment would be important in the storytelling. The script also had notes on how colour was to be envisioned. I was also advised to look at hilly Indian landscapes and villages for designing the city and characters. The project began with a lot of momentum since it was just the type of story I love, and it all came together really nicely very soon. Did you at any point in time feel blocked while illustrating this book? How did you overcome it?

I did not! What do you do when you are not illustrating or animating? What does your daily work routine look like?

I try to read in my free time. And then I do these excellent things: eating, sleeping, cleaning, worrying and looking forward to more drawing.

Sandhya Prabhat is an independent animator-illustrator from Chennai, who works between India and the USA. She has a Masters in Animation and Digital Arts from NYU. She draws for children’s books and graphic novels, and animates for TV, film and short videos.

June 13, 2018