I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect tools for the job, guys. The absolute very best way to bring together my love for offline art making, the control and easy reproducability(is that a word?) of digital media, and the super cute childrens books illustration work I see in my head…
This week I’ve been experimenting with a new workflow for kids art, and I’m pretty dang excited with the result!
Sketches first. Sketches always.
As much as I love playing with paint, and as cool as the work is sometimes when there’s no roadmap, I can’t deny all of my projects that start with a ton of sketching always turn out stronger.
But this time, instead of taking the sketch to a cleaned up pencil stage, or to the light table for super clean ink lines, I scanned in my sketch and brought it into Photoshop.
Once I had my rough drawing in Photoshop, I used it as a guide and I went crazy painting digitally.
One of my favorite things about working digitally is the amount of control it gives the artist over the childrens books illustration. I’ve got about a billion layers going in this file, and my little unicorn guy’s moving pieces and parts (arms, legs, and tail) are actually all separated out as well. I did that because my husband and I are currently obsessed with sending each other ridiculous animated gifs via text message, and the idea of this little guy lazily strumming his ukulele just makes me really happy.
I also like how keeping everything super separated in Photoshop lets you get really specific with colors so everything just… goes together. And if you decide your childrens books illustration needs a jewel toned background that your alien in a UFO is now blending into… You can just add a color overlay layer style and make that little green guy pop off the page!
I have so many kids book ideas, guys, anb this one’s getting pitched to some literary agents for sure. What I would love to see happen is for this to become an alphabet book, with a different ridiculous alliteration story on each of the 26 pages.
This childrens book illustration is probably going to get shopped around before that book I have written up about Phil’s alligator dream simply because I feel like I’ve really landed solidly on a style that makes me super happy. The alligator dream book, I tried doing a bunch of layouts for it as super clean vector art in Illustrator… but it never felt like home.
Then I did a couple of the layouts for that book idea on the light table… and it was obviously missing color but it was really missing soul.
This U is for Unicorn art style.
This I like.
What do you think of the art style for childrens books illustration?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
(I’d love even more to work with you on a children’s book, hint hint.)