June 18, 2024

Let's Talk Illustrators #292: Estrela Lourenço

I am so pleased to share my interview with Portuguese author-illustrator Estrela Lourenço! Today we're talking about her hilarious and all-too-relatable picture book Walkies: A Dog's Tale and how the book is an ode to man (and woman!)'s best friend. Enjoy!

About the book:

On a gloomy, dripping, rain-boots-required kind of day, Kid is ready to stay inside, warm and dry, and play video games. But to Dog, Kid's arrival home means only one thing: it's time for WALKIES!

Outside, rain means puddles to splash in, mud to splock in! Tiny ears perked up, tail a-waggling with joy, Dog bounds through the park, Kid in tow. Playful action sequences, bold facial expressions, and vivid illustrations all drive this wordless tale, transforming a dreary afternoon into a boisterous adventure.

While at first doubtful about the experience, Kid's attitude brightens, buoyed by Dog's playful antics and the surprises and wonder to be found outdoors. Before long, thanks to Dog's positive energy, Kid doesn't think it's such a bad day after all. In fact, it might just be the best!

Check out the endpapers:

And check out the book trailer!

Let's talk Estrela Lourenço!

LTPB: Where did the idea for Walkies: A Dog's Tale come from?

EL: The idea for Walkies was first inspired by a walk with my dog Chewie, our seven year old Smooth Collie, but it is really an ode to most of our walks together and why they are so important in my day to day life. On that particular walk I was feeling a bit down and overwhelmed (I can’t really remember why) so I went for the usual lunch walk with Chewie in our local park. As I had to stop for Chewie to sniff the trees, splash in the mud and take in the view, I started to slow down in my own head. Slowly I was feeling more present in the moment, and taking in the environment around me - that was making me feel better as the walk continued - and made me realized that these walks are not just for Chewie to stretch his legs, but they are a daily mindfulness exercise I’m very grateful to have twice a day.

LTPB: Can you talk a little bit about the visual evolution of Walkies? As you got to know the characters, how did your illustrations evolve?

EL: I usually have a very cartoony style and for this book, I really wanted to simplify the characters to a more graphic and also tactile approach. I wanted their expressions to continue to read well, but for their shapes and colors to shine more for this story. This is because I would like to show I can work in this different style, and to have a story theme that is a little more serious than the books I usually work on (which I’m very grateful to do so). All three characters came out quite easily onto the paper, which is unusual for me. I usually try to draw different variations to see what works best, but for Walkies it felt like I knew exactly what I wanted to draw. It was harder for me to work on the backgrounds with a different style to my usual, I tried but did not enjoy the process at all, so I tried to just adapt my own background style to a more painterly one.

LTPB: What did you find most difficult in creating this book? What did you find most rewarding?

EL: I always struggle to try and tell a story from a child’s point of view. I still feel like a very new writer and I’m so grateful to have gotten Walkies out into the world. But the most difficult part was to make my story more relatable to my main audience, which is so important when trying to write picture books. My main character used to have a main conflict which was more in the adult realm, and my ending was a little off the main theme so I’m very thankful to my critique group, my agent, my editor and art director who were instrumental in helping me make this book the best it could be. The most rewarding part was to draw entirely for fun and with no pressure. I really wanted to experiment with layouts and page turns that would work for the story, but that at the same time, were purely fun to draw! I really enjoyed the whole process, from the experimental thumbnails to the final painterly art.

LTPB: What did you use to create the illustrations in this book? Is this your preferred medium? How does your process change from book to book?

EL: I firstly use paper for my thumbnails, I honestly cannot skip this step. My thumbnails are usually almost unreadable to others, but they are very helpful to me as I try to experiment and see what works best for the story - this stage is hard as much as it is the most fun to do. My thumbnails are so small and scribbly that sometimes I even forget what I drew (if I only see them months after I drew them). I then sketch my entire book dummy on Procreate, on my iPad. I love how it still feels like a sketch book because it is so portable and I can just sketch on the go - I also love the iPad Pen. After many revisions, I do the linework still on Procreate (as I love their default pencil brush) and then move to Photoshop on my Cintiq for my Flat Colors and Final Art. The reason why I do this is because I prefer to work on a big screen for my colors, and because I have absolutely no limit on the layer count - giving me the freedom to change my palettes and values easily as I move along. 



flat color


This has been my process for quite a few books, the only book I have done solely on Procreate was When an Elephant Hears No written by Dazzle Ng (Page Street Kids Jan 2024) and the reason was because I had just become a first time mom and as I slowly went back to work to meet my deadlines, I started painting on my iPad as my daughter slept her naps on my lap. The palette was decided very early on so I could keep my layer count to a number my iPad could easily handle.

LTPB: What are you working on now? Anything you can show us?

EL: I’m working on a four board book series I sold to Sourcebooks last year and I am incredibly excited to see it out in the world! One of the main characters (Peek) was first drawn for my oldest daughter’s bedroom before she was born and it has been pure fun to work on. It’s called Peek & Boo and here’s the book description:

Playing with the popular game “Peekaboo” readers are invited to help Peek search for Boo in each book, as the small guinea pig gets up to all sorts of hi-jinx hiding from his bunny-friend.

The other two books I’m currently working on are still underwraps so I can’t show much more than a few sneak peeks I shared on social media - one is a follow up from When an Elephant Hears No written by Dazzle Ng (Page Street Kids, 2024) and the other is called It’s Taco Knight! written by Megan Maynor (Harper Collins - Clarion, 2025).

LTPB: If you got the chance to write your own picture book autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it, and why?

EL: Oh, that is a great question! I would LOVE to have Chris Chatterton to illustrate any of my books (nevermind an autobiography) - he is an amazing artist and I look up so much to his color work, his very sweet character designs and visual storytelling. I would also love to have a Portuguese illustrator called Raquel Costa who just had her debut picture book as an author/ illustrator coming out last month called 25 Mulheres - she is amazing at portraying women and of creating very interesting layouts that really help telling the story behind each character.

A massive thank you to Estrela for taking time to answer some questions about her book and her pup! Walkies: A Dog's Tale published last month from Page Street Kids!

Special thanks to Estrela and Page Street Kids for use of these images!

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