Children’s Book Brief – Experimenting with materials

Some of the work that I produced whilst experimenting with gouache and other materials.


For part of my research and development for this project I decided to experiment with gouache paint as I thought it may improve my images because the colours would be brighter with gouache than watercolour.

I started by testing the paint by doing some blended backgrounds on brown paper. I also used a conte pencil to add trees in one of the images.

old man
Old man in woods. 

I then drew out one of my pages to see what it would look like in colour. I used gouache paint and then went over the old man character with a conte pencil. I think this image worked well, I was concerned when I did the page plan that this page would look too busy but I think that it works well to convey the fact that the character is deep in the woods. I think this image could be improved by making the space between the trees darker in order to add depth to the image.


forest background.jpeg
Gouache and Conte pencil 

After testing this page with gouache I decided to test the page that would go opposite it. The idea for this page is that it would have a simple image for a background with a square of bordered text on top of it. My first idea was to have a colourful background with a row of trees at the bottom of the page. I liked this design but it didn’t fit with the other page. I decided that the page with the text on it should look the same as the page opposite. I decided to make the background dark with the colourful trees covering it.

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Gouache trees 

I started by doing this with gouache. I used less water with the black paint in order to make it darker. This didn’t work the background still isn’t that dark and it looks flat. The trees don’t stand out against the background either. I then decided to use acrylic paint for the background as this would allow me to create a much darker and consistent colour.

I think that this second attempt using acrylic looks a lot better, the trees really stand out and the background looks a lot more dense. I think that using acrylic with the gouache works the best so in order to improve the image of the old man in the woods I will redo it using acrylic for the background instead.

acrylic trees
Acrylic and Gouache 





Children’s Book Brief – Book Layout

The page plan for my illustrated children’s book based on the story The Singing Bone by the Grimm Brothers. this is for the children’s book brief.

After deciding how the characters would look I moved on to the flat plan layout of my book. I started by deciding on the format of my book. i have chosen to make a square book as it will allow me to do double page landscapes and I think that a square book will be more appealing to children. The text that I will be using for my book is the original text from the Grimm Brothers that has been translated. Once I had decided on what version I was using I read through the text breaking it up into different pages. I then drew out my ideas for each page. I decided to vary the layout with some pages being double page spreads and some pages just being text and some just an image. I thought that this layout would make the book more visually interesting and it also allowed me to incorporate the whole text as the story is quite long.

IMAG0099IMAG0101I was quite happy with how well the layout flowed so I will not be re-dooing this page plan but I will be doing a colour version of this to show how the book would look in colour as a whole as colour is quite important for a children’s book. I am not too happy with some of the pages but I would like to test them in colour first to see what they’d look like. I like the continuation of trees throughout my book, for example their inclusion on the endpapers, I think that it helps to bring the whole book together and that it also helps to make it flow visually. To improve it I think that the characters need to be brought to life more, on some of the pages in the book they look too wooden and not alive.

Children’s Book Brief – Characters

Ideas and developmental work for my characters for an illustrated story based on the tale The Singing Bone.

Once I had experimented with the materials I had chosen to use I decided to improve my characters. I liked my original character designs but I felt that they looked too flat and not very expressive. In order to improve them I decided to make clay models of my characters because in the book, I want them to look like models sculpted by hand.

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I used air dry clay to make the little brother, the big brother, the king, the princess and the boar. I only used simple tools to form these characters.

Once my models had dried I was able to use them to draw from. Drawing from these models allowed me to improve my character designs as I was able to make my sketches look more three dimensional, this process also helped me to include more character in my designs, making them look more alive.

I used a conte pencil on brown paper for these images. I chose brown paper because it gave the images more warmth than white paper would and it helped to make them look more primal like the images and sculptures that inspired them.

I then added colour to the sketches of the characters using gouache paint. I tried to give each character their own colour so that they were easily distinguishable from each other. I chose simple colours for the brothers as they come from a poor farming family and I wanted to reflect this in their design. For the king and Princess I chose rich colours to reflect their royalty but I still wanted them to look like they were made from materials from the earth to keep with the theme of primal sculptures and figures. For the Princess I tested a few different colours, I tired an orange colour but this turned out too similar to the brothers, I also tried a blue colour but this made her look to cold in comparison to the other characters. I think that the contrast from the conte pencil and the paint helps to make the figures look more lively and expressive because of the rough, smudgy lines.

Children’s Book Brief – Trees

Some ideas on how the trees and forest will look for the illustrations for the story The Singing Bone.

The forest is quite a big bit of the story, The Signing Bones, that I have chosen to illustrate for this brief, so I decided to draw out different versions of trees in order to decide what design to use.

I started by drawing out some simple designs, some of which were inspired by trees from some of the books that I looked at at the beginning of this project.

I then chose one of the designs I liked and incorporated it into an image that could be used to illustrate the story. I used watercolours to paint the sky and the ground but added the trees using a fine liner pen .


Children’s Book Brief – Initial Ideas

My initial ideas, sketches and paintings for an illustrated book based on the tale The Singing Bones.

After doing some research I started doing some sketches and paintings of my ideas for a children’s book based on the story The Singing Bone by The Brothers Grimm. I started by drawing some ideas I had for the forest.

I then started to do some sketches for the characters, taking inspiration from Shaun Tan’s book The Signing Bones and primal cave art.

This research inspired me to create simple characters that looked primal and solid. I tried to simplify the human form as much as possible but still make the look recognisable and relatable. I added colour with watercolours. I wanted to make the characters look like they had been carved out of wood and stone in order to make them look more primal and prehistoric.

I then did some quick paintings to test the characters in the environments I wanted to include in the book. These paintings were inspired by the book The White hare by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Anastasia Izlesou. I tried to imitate the blended watercolour backgrounds which allowed me to try something different.

After doing these images I decided to try and redesign the older brother as I don’t think he looked very human and he didn’t really resemble the younger brother. To redesign him I looked at Inuit carvings and primal sculptures of the human form. I then quickly sketched out some simple designs based on the images that I looked at.

After drawing out these simple forms multiple times I came up with two ideas, I then drew these next to the design of the younger brother so that I could compare them.

Children’s Book Brief – Artist Research

Some artist research that I have done for the Children’s Book Brief.

Anastasia Izlesou

For this project I have already looked Anastasia Izlesou’s work in the book The White Hare but I have decided to research her work further as I really admire her use of colour and the way she suggests forms in her work using water colours.

Anastasia Izlesou – Bristol

I like this painting of Bristol University because of the use of colour which is not limited and I like the way the dark purples and blues of the shadowed areas contrast with the light yellows of the building. I also like how the colours bleed into each other, they aren’t separated by lines. I like the way that the shapes within the building and in the shadow areas are suggested by the different colours used and not just defined by pencil lines or separate blocks of colour.

Anastasia Izlesou – War Horse 

This illustration is for Michael Morpurgo’s book War Horse. In this piece I like how the watercolours have been used to add texture and atmosphere to the image, and how the purple clouds look ominous. I also like how they contrast to the ground which looks muddy and slimy because of the colours used and the texture because of how its been painted.

From looking at Anastasia Izlesou’s work I have been inspired to use more colour in my work and to use it more freely by not separating colours from each other with lines. I have also been inspired to mix my own colours more which will improve the colour palettes in my work. Her work has enabled me to use water colours in a different way by blending then together and using them to create interesting textures within my work which I haven’t really experimented with before.

Anja Uhren 

Anja Uhren is a freelance illustrator originally from Germany but now lives in the UK. She has illustrated another book in the collection Shadows and Light by Nichola Davies which The White Hare is a part of.

Image result for mother carys butter knife
Anja Uhren – Mother Cary’s Butter Knife 

This is one of the illustrations from the book Mother Cary’s Butter Knife written by Nichola Davies. I like this piece because of the range of shades of blue and green used which creates the feeling that these characters are at sea. I also like the way that she has outlined the people and other bits of the ship as its not as noticeable as using a black outline and it doesn’t separate the different colours so obviously. I also like how she has used colours to add texture to the image and to make the boat look faded and worn by the water.

Image result for mother carys butter knife
Anja Uhren – Mother Cary’s Butter Knife 

I like this image because of how she has used contrasting colours to add shadow to the image. I also like how she uses colour to suggest parts of the image, the whole thing isn’t painted which allows you to imagine how the rest looks.

Anja Uhren’s work has inspired me to keep in mind the phrase ‘less in more’ when doing my work and to leave some of it to the imagination of the viewer. Doing this will allow me to try a technique I have never considered before.



Children’s Book Brief – Research

Initial research for a children’s book brief.

Image result for shaun tan the singing bones

Image result for shaun tan the singing bones
Shaun Tan – The Singing Bones

For our latest brief I have been researching different illustrated books. One of the books that has inspired me is The Singing Bone by Shaun Tan. I was originally interested in this book because it included one of the stories that we have been given to illustrate for this project. This book inspired me because of the simple primal sculptures that are used to illustrate each story. I think that the primitive forms link well with stories because of how old they are and because they carry a simple moral lesson. The solid forms of the people and animals in the book help to make the story more tangible which enables you to become more immersed in it.

Image result for the white hare nicola davies

The White Hare – Anastasia Izlesou



One of the other books I have looked at for this brief is The White Hare by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Anastasia Izlesou. I really liked the use of watercolours to create the mystical landscapes in this book, and the different textures that it creates. This book has inspired me to try something similar which would also allow me to develop my use of colour.

Image result for through the woods emily carroll

Image result for through the woods emily carroll
Through the Woods – Emily Carroll






Another book that I have looked at is Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. I looked at this book because of the way the text is incorporated into the illustrations and how it becomes part of the image. I also like the font used as it fits with the style of illustrations and the genre of the story.