Characters and accomplices

Ever wanted to illustrate a book?

Find or research online some really good examples of children's book illustrations, some of the most famous and brilliant include Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola), Oliver Jeffers (How to Catch a Star), David Roberts, David McKee (Elmer) and Catherine Rayner. Use them as a springboard for your ideas!  One of the best and easiest ways to put together your illustration is in the style of Lauren Child who uses collage to stick all the elements of her drawing together at the end. You can even use Blu Tack to stick on all the drawings you have done so you can move them around and re-use them of different backgrounds.

Step 1 : Design a main character...

One silly and fun way to do this is to take a selfie or a photograph of a family member, print it out in black and white, then using a black pen draw over their features in an exaggerated way, perhaps make the eyes bigger, move the eyebrows, make the nose smaller and the mouth thinner. Draw a silly hairstyle, then cover all the real features you don't want to see on your photo using white paint.

It might look a bit weird but it can be a good starting point for a cartoon character. Draw it out again with a silly body and colour it in.  If you find this difficult you can always copy the style of one of the illustrators you have looked at.

Step 2 : Time to think of a story, you might want to tell a mini story in one illustration, or if you feel more ambitious create several pages. If there is an adventure what props might be needed? The objects in children's illustrations are often slightly simplified, as you can see from these examples...

Step 3 : Accomplices...Who else is in the story?...Friends and pets?  But are there foes...monsters, dragons?  Again, base your drawings on either real creatures or friends and try to exaggerate their features.

Step 4 : Backgrounds. Like Lauren Child, a really effective way to make a scene is to collage together printed photographs, big painted areas and crayon or coloured pencil drawing; even sticking on extra pieces of collage like string or tissue paper.  For example, use the illustration below as a guide but add your own might paint a piece of paper with really fun blues and whites for sky and clouds, and then another piece with lovely greens and greeny yellows and browns.   Rip up the blue sky coloured paper into medium sized bits and stick it along with blue tissue paper on a big piece of paper. You could then get a photograph of grass and chop it into squares then reorder it onto the ground as the grass. Cut out your brown and green painted paper into leaf shapes and add them to an actual stick for the trees.

Otherwise you can design and draw as much of the background as you like.  Use inspiration to help you if you are struggling.

Step 5 : Set out your characters, the accomplices and props along with any other elements of the scene around them onto the background.

A collaged background
A great jungle scene

The Island of Blowyernose

Another collaged background with crayon elements.

Materials : Paper, card, pens, drawing materials, paints, glue, Blu Tack.

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