Illustrating a book

Recently I was asked to illustrate a children’s book. Nothing official, just for fun. I thought it sounded like an interesting challenge. After all, when I was 6-8 years old, I want to be an illustrator when I grew up (seriously, I even used that exact word ‘illustrator’, although none of the kids in my class understood what it meant)! So, I decided to start with just one sample illustration for this book, because for all I know my style might not be what the writer is looking for. Last weekend I created that sample illustration and I thought I might take you through the process!

First, the book. It is a picture book (around 2500 words) for kids approximately 6 years old, according to the writer. Personally, having read the manuscript, I think it might be more like 3-6 years old. The story revolves around moon rabbits and earth rabbits. The sample illustration I made features the protagonist earth rabbit, looking up at the moon at night. I started out with a quick sketch:



As you can see after I’d done the top sketch, I realised that I needed to draw the rabbit in 3/4 profile, so I drew that below the initial sketch. Next to the 3/4 rabbit is an inventory of the different shapes that go into the rabbit. It will become clear why this was relevant to me.

The next step was to execute this sketch in water colour. Great plan, except it failed horrendously. The resulting painting was something an average 5-year-old might be pleased with. So I scrapped that and went for my other two ideas, which are closely related. The first one I did entirely on the computer, going for a kind of digital scrapbook style:

Bruintje kijkt naar maan


I was pretty pleased with the background, feeling that it came out the way I had pictured it. However, I also felt that the rabbit might be more interesting if I made it out of polymer clay and inserted that into the digital background. So I did:

Bruintje kijkt naar maan fimo


I quite like both versions, so I did a quick poll among friends and colleagues and found that they all went for the polymer version. I agree, I suppose, because it really makes the rabbit pop out and gives it a kind of 3D feel. Plus, I am still for 95% a traditional artist, so if I go digital for an artwork I like to combine it with traditional. 🙂

I sent both versions to the writer, and she was very pleased with them. She also favours the polymer version, so now I’ll be creating another 14 or so illustrations in the same style! Fortunately, since the polymer clay is unbaked, I can probably mix&match different parts for different illustrations, saving me some time along the way!

So, what do you think of my illustration?


Oh, in other news, I’m currently on a 1-week vacation (my summer vacation) and I hope to start writing a new novel in the next couple of days. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about Zoe, a kick ass 16-year-old whose mission in life is to lose her virginity before the apocalypse gets her. Unfortunately, she has rather high standards for that special boy, making the quest a difficult one!

2 responses to “Illustrating a book

  1. Lovely. De klei maakt het origineel en zorgt ervoor dat het er minder ‘doorsnee computertekening’ uitziet en laat het konijntje echt uit de achtergrond naar voren komen. Leuke cartoonachtige kind-stijl, Jammer dat het met aquarel niet lukte. Veel succes en ik hoop de andere tekeningen ook nog te mogen zien 🙂 x

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