A while back, I worked hard to learn about illustrating in a “children’s book style.” I really studied up on it. (See below for the links to the posts I wrote on my progress.) This week I wanted to do a cutesy illustration of a boy with a box of chocolates and a little girl. I first bought a box of chocolates – we all need a little chocolate, right? Then I had my ten year old, pose with the chocolates under his arm and then as the opposite figure. I didn’t want the illustration to be realistic, but I figured having some reference photos would be helpful.
I went straight to my watercolor paper (taped down on a board), and drew with pencil. I didn’t like it at all. My son looked more like a man than a boy, and there was nothing cutesy about the illustration.
I remembered how drawing something over and over, can really help me arrive at the results I want. So, the next day I pulled out my sketch book and did several versions of the little couple. I remembered the things I learned from observing children’s book illustrators:
- exaggerate features – like big eyes or wacky teeth
- color palette – stick to 3 colors
- kids – small bodies, big heads
Following this advice, I made the heads bigger and rounder, and the bodies smaller. The illustrations definitely looked cuter.
I went back to my watercolor paper, erased the original illustration, and started over, following the style from my sketchbook.
I thought a heart behind them would really emphasize the theme, so I painted a pink heart and a red background. Then I used my pen to create the ink outlines, using the pencil lines as a guide. I waited a bit, so I was sure the ink was dry, and erased all the pencil. I thought about the color palette I wanted. Instead of using blue from the tube, I added pink to it, to mute it, and make it work better with the pinks and reds.
I’m happy with the results, especially compared to my original illustration.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Lots of love from New York! And if you are also in the Northeast – stay warm!
Other posts I’ve written about children’s book illustration style: