Category: children’s illustrator

Posts Tagged ‘children’s illustrator’

A Farmyard Tale


After 20 years of working as a commercial illustrator, the most common thing I have been commissioned to do, is various kinds of farm yard animals in varying styles: from computer 3D, to watercolour, to mixed media. Thats closely followed by jungle themes, sea creatures, pirates and princesses!……….it does make me reflect that this really is quite a dreamy job – I get to be a kid every day!

My latest children’s book was no exception. Based on the concept that I had done for this particular publisher the previous year, the book was a leprello – an accordion fold. In this case, it was 12 pages long, printed double sided – 24 pages in total. The brief was really very open, I didn’t even have any text to follow(mainly because it was for a French publisher, so I could easily have misinterpreted it)!………just a short suggestion of what could appear in the story. The internal spreads focused on the activities you might find going on indoors on a farm: milking, making cheese, mending machinery, pressing apples etc. The content of the external spreads concentrated on scenes outside: the duck pond, pig stye, harvesting, vegetable patch etc. Unlike briefs from educational publishers which are very prescriptive, this picture book allowed me the freedom to indulge in creating some humorous scenarios, which always makes the process more fun and the final product is a truer expression of you as an illustrator.

As with all children’s books, I will have to wait for some time to see the finished product – probably a year – can’t wait! I made an attempt to video the process of creating one section of illustration – done over roughly 8 hrs, it was a 1 gig file! So I have done some brutal editing and cut it down to 3 mins!

Children’s Book Cover

Toy Box Tales

I thought I would share the process behind creating my latest children’s book cover. I always start with a sketch – you can’t beat using a pencil, but I tend to work on tracing paper rather than cartridge paper – a trick that I picked up while working in a greeting card illustration studio some years ago. It eliminates the need for a light box – you can overlay the tracings and tighten the imagery up as you go along. I still find this traditional way of working much more natural and fluid – the graphics tablet came into play once the final sketch was scanned in – then the colour was added.

Photoshop is so versatile, I use it everyday on all of my imagery. In this case I have multiplied the pencil layer and then worked underneath it – adding in blocks of colour to each object and then the tone/highlights. I duplicated some of the final toys/objects and then filled them with a flat tone which was them multiplied to create the shadows + a little gaussian blur to soften them off. Finally came the texture – I keep a collection of images that I have taken on my camera for this purpose. I chose ones that reflected the qualities I was trying to evoke – in this case, a slightly worn/used feel that could be applied to some of the toys and box.

Check out the short video that I have mashed together from stills saved a intervals throughout the process.