Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Art Lesson: Developing Personal Style and the Creation of a Children's Book Part 1


How has your week been going?

I took a trip to the library this week and browsed the children's books while my kids looked through their own choices.  (Having kids is a good excuse to get to be a kid again sometimes.
Of course, it's just probably good for all of us once in a while.)

There are so many different styles and art mediums used in children's books.

I have been working on some illustration ideas for my children's book.

Let me just clarify right now that I have never had a children's book published.
It is a dream of mine and I thought how it might be fun to share my efforts here on this blog,
realizing that rejection is a big part of it, but also that successes don't come unless the effort is made toward it. 

I took a class on writing children's books a few years back and hope to utilize it finally,
God willing.

With that, you may find a mention of it and a lesson now and then from it
because I love the fact that blogging helps keep me going in this crazy dream.

And I am glad you are here to come along with me as I wander down this unknown road.

 Up until now, I had some ideas floating around in my brain,
but nothing ever solidified into a story,
until a few weeks ago when this story came,
and I sat down and wrote it down.
I read it to my children and they loved it,
so I decided to start with this idea, 
being that my oldest is usually pretty blunt with giving me the truth
and she seemed to like it the most.

Now I would like to work up some pictures for illustration ideas.
I do realize that publishers often want to tie in a different illustrator for books they are interested in,
but I am hoping and praying my work might have a chance of facing the world together.

Anyhow, on to the lesson.

The main character of my book is our cat Moon.

I need to come up with some possibilities of drawing our cat in a kids' book friendly way.
I realized looking at those books that kids' book art is different than regular art,
friendlier, more colorful.
For now, I decided to sketch Moon out and get to know what he's like in shape and texture.

Sometimes, when I struggle with something,
I find that more detail is needed on the tracing paper sketch until I can get it to where I want it to be.

Because I wanted the original image to be transferred lightly onto my good paper,
I just used the pencil I was drawing with to rub onto the back of the image,

flipped it, and traced it so that it would very lightly transfer.

I used my fine tipped copic black liner to start outlining the image...

 and continued.

 Once I got the basics down, I decided to attempt this first sketch with my copic markers.

I used a light yellow in the eyes, might have been buttercup yellow.

 I used cool gray 7 to highlight some of the lighter areas of the black fur
and for his nose,
and then added the black for the darkest fur.

When working with black or dark colors, I always start with the lighter color and carefully work to the dark.  Lights can always be darkened, but darks are a bit harder to bring back to light. The colorless blender is great at picking up some of the dark color, but it has it's limits.

Skin white was used first on the lightest parts of the basket.

 I then used a lighter gray, I believe it was Neutral Gray 2,
on areas of the white fur.
 Rose Red was used in the ear with one of the lighter grays for shading.

For the shading and darker sections of the basket, I'm fairly certain that I used a color called 
Light Suntan.

I could barely keep my eyes open any longer, so I ended at this point.

This image was a good practice but I don't think I like it for a possible book illustration.
It is not the look I am happy with,
but I think it is a start.

I know that my sketch book needs to come out as well as my camera for more poses from Moon,
but I also know that every bit of practice is helpful in making progress.

I worked up another image on paper from my tracing paper sketch that I may try with either paints or colored pencils.

Perhaps I will try colored pencils along with copic markers.
We'll see.

 Finding one's own sense of style can be quite a challenge.

Thanks for coming along with me on the start of this fun journey.

I hope you can continue to develop your style and chase your art dreams as well.

*Yesterday I typed in "Children's book illustrations" on google and found quite a wide variety of illustrations and came up with quite a fun selection of images.  I followed one to an illustrator who uses computer to do much of his artwork, but his technique of sketching to get to know his subject matters was very helpful to me.

If you are interested, you can read it here.
(I do not know much about this illustrator, but am just sharing this post because I thought it helpful and think his artwork is incredible.)

Linking up to these fun blog parties:


  1. This post was so interesting. Good luck with your book!

  2. Really enjoyed this posting/lesson. Thank you for the link also.

    I do have a question about the colorless blender. Is it also made by copic, and if not, could you tell me what you recommend? I have looked in some of the stores and have not seen 'colorless blender' per se.

    Also, do you use your colorless blender with all mediums or just these markers? I thought I remembered you mentioning this before when you shared on colored pencils. Thanks, so much for your help and input. Glad to see you are finally heading toward doing an illustrated children's book. ☺

    1. I have a separate colorless blender for the copic markers, a copic colorless blender, and a prismacolor colorless blender for my prismacolor pencils. I love the way the colorless blender works for the copic makers: it is great for blending, but also for pulling up some of the color. The colorless blender for the colored pencils is not quite so magical or effective on the colored pencils, at least that is my opinion of it, but I have not used it enough to really make a hard and fast judgment of it. It just was not as responsive when I have used it, not as remarkable as the copic marker one is on the copic markers. I would not mix colorless blenders, as the copic markers are alcohol based. The prismacolor pencils are wax-based, as far as I know. Not sure how they would respond.

  3. Hi. This is the first time I have read your blog. I was just browsing and happened to take notice of the drawing that looks sort of like an outline and says "His name is Moon." I just wanted to let you know that I think it's perfect the way it is! Of course I am 33 years old, but I did just watch Ratatouille the other day.........and I don't have any children.....:)

    1. Well, thanks so much for that. I've been stumped on my pictures for the book these past couple of weeks...want to gather some of my favorite book illustrators together and decide on the style I like best and practice from there; but your comment about which cat you preferred is very helpful. I will work on that style next...and do we ever grow out of enjoying such fun movies as Ratatouille? I sure hope not! :) Thanks for the fun comment!


Thanks for your thoughts! If you have a question, I'll try to answer it.