The creation of Have You Seen Dinosaur?

This week David Barrow took over the instagram feed for Bounce Sales and Marketing—the team who sells Gecko Press books in the United Kingdom.

Have a look at what he got up to, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Have You Seen Dinosaur?

David Barrow with a lamp on his head

Post 1

Well, hello. David Barrow here. I’m an author and illustrator living in Kettering (right in the middle of the UK) and Bounce Sales and Marketing have kindly asked me to take over their Instagram feed for a day. I promise I won’t make a mess and leave it as I found it.

This month we’re celebrating the release of my latest picture book Have You Seen Dinosaur?, lovingly published by the wonderful Gecko Press. So in honour of this event I’d like to invite you into my studio.


It’s situated at the bottom of my garden, built from an old outbuilding previously used by Kettering shoemakers to make shoes from home. It’s warm, has internet, and is my happy place. Come in, come in! The studio is full of nick nacks that I’ve collected over the years and it’s apparent that I am obsessed with skulls and skeletons. It’s not normally this tidy. I have cleaned for the occasion.

David Barrow with his family

When I am actually allowed in the house, I live with my lovely wife Jo, our son Teddy, and a cat named Harold (who was almost called George Michael but sadly it wasn’t to be). Luckily, they both share my obsession with all things picture books. We have loads.

I hope you enjoy having a nose around, and I’ll see you in the next post.

Post 2

Today we’ll be talking about my new book Have You Seen Dinosaur?, which is the follow-up to my debut picture book Have You Seen Elephant?

Have You Seen Dinosaur and Have You Seen Elephant sitting on a table.The gang is all back, Elephant, Boy and Dog. This time they’re looking for something slightly bigger. But despite Dinosaur’s size, it’s genuinely more difficult to spot the creature in the big city that they now find themselves in.

It took me a while to find the story for Have You Seen Dinosaur? (6 years to be precise). I loved the characters from the first book so much, I felt that I needed to do them justice if they were ever to return. I was overthinking it. However, once I started making doodles in my sketchbooks the idea to go BIGGER came pretty hard and fast. And then, as with Elephant, it was great fun thinking of absurd situations in which to hide Dinosaur.

Sketchbook with early concepts for Have You Seen DinosaurAfter that everything happened quickly. I roughed out a few compositions and these didn’t really change much throughout the whole making of the book (which never happens). I didn’t know why I’d left it so long!

As a few people have already noticed, the city is based on several around the world. Specifically, New York, London and Paris. I know London and Paris quite well, but I’ve never been to New York. So, if anyone would like to send me there on an observational drawing excursion, I’d obviously be very grateful…

Scroll for some VERY rough initial scribbles and some early roughs that made it into the book.

Early sketch of Have You Seen Dinosaur 1 Early sketch of Have You Seen Dinosaur 3 Early sketch of Have You Seen Dinosaur 2

Post 3

Sketchbooks. I love sketchbooks.

I find drawing from life so beneficial. The things I observe; characters, colours, lighting, atmosphere, all inform my work in some way or another.  My favourite place to draw is pubs. I love pubs. I may love pubs more than I love sketchbooks. It is interesting to see how the extreme low lighting and limited colour palettes that I experience in pubs transfers into my illustrative work.

Sketchbooks are also amazing places to play, experiment with medium and make mistakes! As you’ve seen, many germs of ideas for my books were born in sketchbooks. For a much more comprehensive delve into why sketchbooks are so important, check out my old mentor’s @profmartinsalisbury Instagram account. He’s the expert.

Scroll for some moments in sketchbooks over the years (including the origin of our protagonists).

Three sketchbooks lying open on a wooden table A sketch of two people at a cafe table Two sketches of people inside A sketch of an Elephant Two spreads of sketches depicting Elephant and BoyPost 4

Making pictures. If you’re like me, you’ll obsess over other illustrators’ techniques. I love seeing how things are made.

Rather than me explain my “workings out” to you, I’ve made a little video chronicling my process for Have You Seen Dinosaur? The way I do things changes from book to book. I use different media, different mark-making. But the journey remains similar.

Watch out for an appearance by the huge spider that lives outside my studio. She’s been there for a couple of months, continually gorging on unlucky insects that fly into her impressively constructed web. I’ll miss her when she’s gone.

Post 5

Well thank you very much Bounce Sales and Marketing for inviting me over today. I’ve had a lovely time and I hope I wasn’t too much bother.

Have You Seen Dinosaur? is out now, available anywhere where books are sold. I’ll leave you with a quick animation of how I put a spread together, featuring a supporting cast of thousands (erm… six), as well as a couple of other hiding dinosaurs.

Come and say hello over at @davidbarrowillustration where I post sporadically about picture books, sketchbooks, progressive rock, favourite watering holes and several other interesting subjects. And feel free to ask questions.


Image of Boy peering out from behind Dinosaur's legs on museum stepsImage of Dinosaur and Bird among skyscrapers

Have You Seen Dinosaur? is available from all good bookstores and on our website. Play hide and seek in the city with a boy, his animal friends and a dinosaur that’s surprisingly hard to spot. The brilliantly interactive follow-up to international bestselling picture book, Have You Seen Elephant? 

Have You Seen Dinosaur cover