Children’s Book Project

Apart from the odd competition, this semesters work is going to revolve around a children’s book that I am attempting to write and illustrate. It would be nice to have it ready for entry into the McMillan Book Prize, but as i’m fairly new to this, we’ll see how it goes.

My style of art has always had a degree of “cuteness” about it. To start with, it used to annoy me, as it was (and still IS, I haven’t given up yet!) my goal to become a graphic novelist, and cute doesn’t really fit in with Adamantium claws and symbiotic suits (unless you count X-Babies I suppose, and who does…). I used to blame an over-exposure to cartoons, which along with caffeine, are the only vices I pursue with any vigour, but with new cartoons such as Adventure Time and Regular Show being cute, but with a darker, more satirical edge, it seems there’s a market for children’s stories with more bite, and my tutors agree with me – not to mention my one tutor has been trying get me to draw a children’s book for ages 😛

The basic plot of the book revolves around the natural rivalry between two young boys, escalating into an argument about who’s brother could beat the other’s brother in a fight; with the stories of the older brother’s brawling abilities transforming into ridiculous claims of vampire and werewolf heritage… amongst other things. The bones of the story are likely to alter over the weekend, as after chatting with my tutors I realised I was doing far too much explaining in the text AND the pictures, and not illustrating enough action, which is where all the fun is, but I thought I would share my work so far so you can see it start to take shape.

Technique – Layered Glass

Wanting to do something different this time, I thought I would try out a technique I first experimented with during the first year. Basically, the idea is to separate your illustration into foreground, mid-ground and background, and then sandwich these layers of illustration between layers of glass, stacked one on top of the other so that when you look down on it, you get a real 3D sense of depth. The more glass layers you use, the greater the sense of depth. To help explain what i mean, here’s a handy diagram I knocked up:

and to give you an idea of what it looks like, here’s the paper cut-out I did in the first year of Pinocchio getting swallowed by the Whale…

(Warning: File has not been re-sized and is LARGE)
As you can see, the blue/green tint of the glass gives the illustration a great sense of perspective, and while I’m sure the same effect can be replicated on a computer easily enough, I’m not quite there with my digital skills yet. By adding blue tinted transparent layers between cut-outs in Photoshop, you do get a SENSE of how it might look, and that’s what I did with this experimental, snowy scene:

If you look at the colour of the snow on the road, you can see how it would appear underneath four layers of glass thanks to the blue-tinted layers. The snowflakes and glow around the lamps were obviously added by a digital paintbrush here, but could just as easily be replicated by a regular paintbrush and some real paint on the top layer of glass, then wiped off when it’s time to shoot the next piece.

The scene itself is copied from an image found on Google – here’s the two side-by-side:


The two main of the story are two young boys currently named Jonny Thompson and Tommy Johnson – they are the exact same height, age and weight, their names are similar and they even LOOK similar – people are always getting them mixed up and it drives them crazy. I’ve tried two slightly different methods for the boy’s cut-out’s, and neither are quite working for me – the hard line of the fine-liner used on Tommy is too harsh, whereas the softer coloured pencil used on Jonny looks a bit rough and unprofessional. I’m still tinkering with these two, but this is what they look like at the moment:

Similarly, I have done some quick cut-outs of a Vampire and a Werewolf, just as practise, but I’m pretty pleased with them, so I’ll include these too:

This project is going to take up most of my time over the next couple of months, so if you like what you see here be sure to stop by from time to time, and I’ll try and keep the blog as up to date on the project as I can 🙂



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About christofurr

I am an Illustrator currently in the third and final year of an Illustration For Graphic Novels course at Glyndwr University, Wrexham (UK). I do all kinds of commission work, from poster to portraits. Fell free to have a nose around this blog and any of my other sites - be warned, Twitter updates may be totally and completely irrelevant and naughty - and please feel free to contact my email address with any queries about my work :)

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