So, here we are in 2021 (sorry for the late start with the blogging – it’s been a crazy year already)! We’ve made it through lockdown and finally things are slowly going back to normal. Shops are opening up, businesses are resuming normal practice and you may be feeling inspired to start a new project like selling your art, learning to swim or… publishing a children’s book (wink wink)!
In this blog, I’ll be talking to budding authors who have finished writing and are now in search of an illustrator to make their stories come to life! It can be a daunting stage of the process as it’s where a lot of time (and money) is spent, so I want to give you a little breakdown of what book illustrators like me DO and DON’T DO. These points should help you prepare for this exciting commissioning stage and make the right decisions for you and your book.
What illustrators DO…
Illustrators are a creative bunch! We take care of the look and feel of your book by using our skills to develop scenes, characters, page layout and more, to attract your audience as they browse the bookshelves. We bring the story to life and ultimately tell your story visually. Click through the slide to find out more…
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What illustrators DON’T DO…
There are some tasks that aren’t for your illustrator, but should rather be completed or initiated by your publisher (if you have one), your proof-reader/editor or yourself. Click through to find out how to delegate certain tasks and what you shouldn’t expect your illustrator to do for you…
What illustrators Dont Do
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Of course, all freelance illustrators have their own ways of working but these slides contain common practices amongst many. I pride myself in being as transparent and helpful as possible to all of my clients, so if you have any further queries about what I do and don’t do as an illustrator, please get in touch. I work with new authors, as well as experiences ones, on books targeted at early-readers all the way up to early teens.
I’m so excited to announce that my debut children’s book is now on sale! Growing up, I’ve always loved writing fantasy stories and poems, so this was an opportunity for me to delve into my imagination again and create a story for children and families to enjoy…
Written in prose and poetry, My World – Mackilli & Seeva’s Switcheroo is a magical story about two young aliens from opposite worlds; Mimpal and Stiplop. Mimpal is calm and dark with rolling hills but not much to do, whereas Stiplop is bright and busy with tall buildings and angular shapes.
One day, Mackilli, who lives in Mimpal, stumbles across an unusual rock on his way to school, which turns out to be an amazing portal into Stiplop. In the portal, he discovers an intriguing alien called Seeva and they are envious of each other’s world, so they wish as hard as they can to switch places.
Overnight, they magically switch worlds and, although it is a very strange experience for them, they each have a sense of belonging because they both have something a little different about them.
Mackilli and Seeva each have something about them that makes them stand out from the other aliens in their own worlds and they’ve hidden it all their lives. After experiencing opposite worlds, they find the courage to be proud of their differences and agree to show them off from now on.
This book helps children (approx. aged 5 – 9 years), who may feel a little different from their peers understand that their differences are what makes them special and with 36 pages of vivid illustrations, I aim to entertain, inspire and boost confidence!
We all may feel a little alien sometimes, but that’s OK. As Seeva says “my differences are what makes me, me!”
Meet the characters…
Mackilli is a brave and inquistive character who has a cute gap in his teeth. He is grey with patterns all over his body, including his special mopspots.
Does your child have something unique about their skin or know someone who does?
Seeva is an intelligent, chatty and independent alien with big green eyes, two noses and four ears! She wraps her hair because she feels self-conscious about her grey afro which she calls her ‘grey-tness’.
Does you child have hair that is different from their peers?
This is a massive step for me and I’m very proud to have been able to self-publish my own book after illustrating many other author’s books. Please support and let me know what you think by leaving a review.
I plan to write more in this series and potentially some merchandise to accompany the story, so please do stay posted by joining my mailing list or following the dedicated Instagram page: @mackillaandseeva.
If you would like to buy wholesale copies, would like me to read the story at an event or want a signed copy, please do get in touch.
I’ve been a professional graphic designer for just over seven years but always had a creative mind from a very young age. I grew up loving to dance, write short stories, paint pictures and sketch animals and fictional characters.
When I left college, I decided to enrol in a Graphic Design Foundation Diploma at the University of Arts. I then went on to do a degree in Dance and Media Cultural studies at Kingston University where I learnt more about the theories and strategies behind media production and marketing. This degree opened my eyes to different techniques for advertising, animation and brand development and I fell even more in love with graphic design during a design module.
Fast forward to 2016 and I entered a design competition for Film Africa, where designers across the world were tasked to create artwork for the front cover of their programme. The above artwork was my submission and I was selected by industry professionals to be one of the top three designers! It then went to a public social media vote and I came second place.
Seeing as this was my first attempt at bespoke illustration, I was extremely proud of myself and my passion for illustration (portraits in particular) grew, leading me to start designing my own collection of greeting cards.
What is Illustration?
Illustration us a strand of design that can be broadly classified into two categories: traditional illustration and modern illustration. Traditional refers to hand-drawn using pencils, pens, paint and paper etc, whereas modern illustration, which I do, is created using software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on a computer – although my work often does start off with a pencil sketch.
Illustrations are pieces of imagery that accompany text to aid understanding or visualisation. They could also simply be purely decorative and used in anything from books to magazines, annual reports to posters, video games and films. Illustrations are an effective way to communicate with readers in a creative and visually descriptive way – as they say… an image can paint 1,000 words!
What’s my style?
Many illustrators have their own unique style of working and drawing. For example, the work of Quentin Blake, Matt Groening, Dr Seuss and of course Disney, are all recognisable simply by their illustration styles.
Over the years I have experimented with a few different techniques to create the portraits featured on my greeting cards and gifts. These include:
Polyvector triangles – A time consuming but extremely detailed, decorative and effective technique, great for close-up portraits.
Free-hand digital – Starting from a hand-drawn sketch using a digital pen. This gives the artwork a traditional feel but with a lot more creative flexibility.
Vector illustration– Block colours and shapes put together to create recognisable features with simple shadows and highlights.
No matter the technique, my personal style uses bright block colours and I tend to embellishing the portraits with shapes and patterned backgrounds, which I believe has given my items their signature look and feel. I also like to use a range of different black and asian skin tones and hair styles to make my brand as representative as I can.
Children’s character design
I really enjoy working on children’s books and creating dynamic and expressive characters, so recently, I decided to start developing a style of character that I hope will be recognisable as a ‘Leanne Creative character’ in the future…
Meet my LC family! They will be the basis of my children’s characters (unless the client requests otherwise, of course) going forward. I wanted to create a black family of different ages that can be adapted to the client’s needs but can still be recognised as my artwork.
Here’s the break down:
Crescent eyes – They are simple but effective in portraying different emotions. They also portray an openness and positive engagement, which many children respond well to.
Button nose – It was important to me to capture black features and the nose is one of the them. The rounded shape and shadow above, I believe captures this.
Low ears – This was a cute a playful feature I thought would relate the characters to each other.
I really look forward to developing them further and working on more books and characters.
If you are interested in working with me, feel free to drop me an email and we can start to bring your ideas to life!
Written by Leanne Armstrong
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