Friday, 28 December 2012

Exercise: Children's book cover Animals from Around the World

This exercise asked us to produce a cover illustration for a childrens book cover to make children select it from the shelf. The target market is 7 - 11 year olds.
The book  "Animals from Around the World"  is a natural history book which suggests to me the book is knowledge based perhaps something like a reference or encyclopedia type book.

I began by doing some internet searches to look at different styles of illustrating animals. I considered what animals and how many would be appopriate to include on a front cover design and looked at different styles of illustration some which were almost cartoon like representations and others which were more accurate representations. I also felt that the books that were more educational seemed to have actual photographs on the front cover with text as opposed to being an actual illustration.

Bearing in mind the brief which was to make the cover modern, appealing and different from the usual offering, I experimented with different styles of illustration and with composition in my sketch book. I decided to work to an A4 size format for ease of viewing and to work portrait.

Immediately, I began to think of having a globe with animals going round it although there are numerous variations of this idea already available in different formats.

I then thought about just doing some detailed realistic illustrations of animals and arranging them around a page with text.

Other ideas from this sketchbook stage included having a sort of silhouette style outline of a lion/ animals ( I initially thought a lion as its seen as one of the major animals) and having a sunset.

Taking these ideas forward I produced illustrations in pastel for the sunset idea and watercolour/ pencils of the globe and animal ideas.

I then took my selection of works to photoshop and explored the composition further.

For my globe style illustration I thought a blue background would work to bring out the image and I kept my illustration style quite loose.

The one with the more detailed drawings I found it hard to unite the image and thought it looked a bit disjoined as I struggled to find something in the background that would bring it all together.

The silhouette image was working better but I thought that perhaps the lion on its own didn't accurately represent the book so I added in an elephant and giraffe and used photoshop to enhance the colour of my pastel drawing.

Experimenting with font positioning - think the bottom one kepts the title together.

Having produced these I wasn't entirely satisfied and remembered that from the last assignment my tutor had suggested that my style was coming through in some of the looser watercolour style drawings which I produced by just drawing with the brush. I also was thinking about some of the other illustrators I have been looking at including Jill Calder, Christopher Corr and Laura Carlin and thought perhaps some simplified representations of animals might be more modern and fit the brief.

Christopher Corr

Online image accessed 28th December 2012 Available from

I produced illustrations in this style and then placed them in photoshop with no background colour and actually think they look quite strong. Although, I would be really grateful of some pointers from my tutor on the success of this sort of work.


Another idea which I wanted to have a go with was producing a more type based illustration with animals or animal print incorporated to the lettering. I produced an initial line drawing and struggled to think how best to colour this. I settled on watercolour and pencil although once I get a proper chance would like to try colouring digitally in illustrator. My initial thoughts about the colours to use were bright and bold but to avoid stereotypical colour choices for children I limited my palette as I had done in my previous mock ups using oranges, yellows and blues with some small accents of other colours.
I thought this was reasonable successful but if I was to choose a final piece I would say the looser style mock up would be my preferred choice.

Overall, this was another useful exercise at exploring different types of illustration appropriate for purpose and in considering how to compose/ unite a final cover.
I think with time and experience obviously my ability to produce a more professional piece will improve but I think that the exercise was fairly successful in sticking to the brief and coming up with some interesting ideas/ alternatives which are eye catching.

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