Assessment Piece 9 continued - Working for Children (Revisited)

I chose to revisit this exercise because this is the area of illustration I am most interested in and I wasn’t happy with my original outcomes.

Early Reader 5 - 7

Tutor feedback had asked me to explore use of scale and depth of vision to guide the reader to the main character, so my starting point was to use thumb nail sketches to try out different compositions that took this into account more. I started with the same composition and just changed the size of the characters to create the depth but felt a lot of the characters would be very hidden which led to the idea of making the parade curve round. This meant that the main character could still be large at the front but we would still see the other characters who are also an important part of the narrative. Once I had decided on this composition, I thought about the setting. I had used a town in my original illustration because that is normally where festivals take place but I wanted to think outside that a bit more and I thought setting it in a park could provide more creative opportunities. I also felt it may work better in creating depth.

Once happy with the composition I started to design some new characters. I felt that the original ones were a little to similar to each other. I also wanted to include some of different sizes to create interest.

Having plants and trees in the composition gave me the opportunity to try out some gouache techniques including layering and overlaying.

I then started to think about colour options which was an area I wasn’t confident about in the original illustration. I had felt that they were too saturated and obvious so I tried out a more limited palette for this new version.

When it came to illustrating the trees however, I had the idea of putting balloons in the trees and it didn’t seem right to have limited colours. Instead I used a range of bright colours but kept them from being too saturated and used grey to offset the colour slightly.

I created all my elements separately because I wanted to use what I had recently learnt in photoshop to assemble this illustration digitally. It also enabled me to draw the characters on a larger scale than they would appear in the final artwork. As I did with the trees, I used a range of colours but kept them slightly muted.

When it came to the background for the final artwork I had a real struggle for two reasons. One was getting the colour right. I didn’t want it too bright because I didn’t want to detract from the characters so my first attempt was mostly in grey tones. When I tried this behind the other elements though it looked too dull and the tree trunks just blended in. It didn’t evoke a festival feel. The image below shows my second attempt after I had added more green to brighten it up.

My third attempt was much brighter which worked better. I used creating it as an opportunity to try out different techniques, strokes and media out together. The second reason for me struggling with the background was because I found making sure I got each part in the right position so it made sense when placed under the other artwork very tricky.

This is my final illustration. I think I have achieved more depth and use of scale to lead to the main character. I wonder whether I should have made him bigger though or made him look directly at the viewer as he did in my original illustration. I am happier with the colour and I think it still evokes the feeling of joy in a festival parade.

Pre school 3- 5

Initially I was going to keep the firefly character that featured in my original illustration and change the composition with my tutor’s comments in mind. I also intended to use outline and flat colour. Once I started my thumb nails though I realised that I wouldn’t find it easy to depict light with flat colour.

So I decided to change the character. I thought about this age group and thought about animals they would be familiar with. A rabbit came immediately to mind, then other woodland animals such as a squirrel, owl etc and I had the idea of them being part of a fancy dress festival parade. I jotted down ideas for the characters before sketching them. I wanted the rabbit to be the main character and be a play on a magician’s rabbit. He would be leading the parade making magic as he goes.


I wanted a different composition to the illustration for the 5 - 7 age group so I decided to go for a more linear composition with the characters walking from left to right or vice versa. I sketched a couple of thumbnails then had the idea of using transparent film to work out the final composition. This worked really well. I was able to try characters out in different orders and flip the image from left to right. I found it a quicker process than outlining them, scanning and digitally removing backgrounds etc. The only downside being that I couldn’t experiment with sizing quickly as I would if I were working digitally.

  1. Thought rabbit and squirrel are too similar in height to be next to each other.

  2. Owl too low.

  3. Mouse too high

  4. Leaping action of the fox lost in this position.

  5. Owl too low again.

  6. Mouse too high again. Try flipping direction.

  7. Final

I also used the transparency to place a woodland setting behind the characters to further develop the composition and tried different sizes and shapes of trees etc.

Because of my struggle with colour in the festival picture for the older age group, I ended up scanning and colouring digitally. I wanted to try out different palettes, ultimately choosing an autumnal woodland palette.

When I drew out my visual I made a lot of changes in terms of composition to create depth and learnt a lot in the process. There was a lot of negative space in this digital version so to combat this I brought some of the tree trunks forward and made the ones in the foreground wider. I made the plants in the very foreground much bigger and less detailed due to the younger age group.

To render the final artwork with this age group in mind, I wanted to try flat colour so I chose gouache as the primary medium. However in choosing to do the background first, I felt that flat colour would detract from the depth I had created with the composition. I needed some gradual darkening towards the back and up towards the canopy leaves at the top. I also wanted to create some shadowing in other areas. I have used flat colour in some areas and have tried to keep my tonal and texture work to a minimum in order to maintain some simplicity for 3 - 5 year olds. I think the image does evoke festival which is a big improvement on my original illustration. I feel that this illustration out of everything I have produced in Key Steps is most indicative of my emerging style.