In search for example children’s books I have been to the local Llandaff North library to review the short narratives and illustrations.
I picked out four books from the children’s books section that I was drawn too from the imagery and titles of the books.
The MOG book I immediately recognised for its acclaimed story work and illustrations. Although I didn’t know the Welsh language I simply used the heavy use of imagery to understand the story to which I could make good sense of being the irritating yet loveable and heroic MOG cat that he was in this story.
This research was targeted towards combatting my areas of difficulty around designing my front and back cover, copy right page, fonts and word and image layouts.
I was also taking inspiration for future work on self writing another story for my future children’s book.
This book entitled ‘When I coloured in the World’ written by Ahmadreza Ahmadi and illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi was a beautiful read and experience. I loved the repetition and the act of inspiring change with ideas and action. This is a book of shining hope and empowering the reader to take control and take action.
The illustrations were colourful and extraordinary. This book layout employed a separate page for text and image. This way I could really take in the meaning of the words and the image into two experiences in harmony with each other. I came away feeling particularly happy from reading this book that is important for both children and adults to encourage a healthy and happy mental health.
Another book that I really enjoyed and thought was a simple and a relatable book was called ‘RAIN’ written by John Usher and designed by Genevieve Webster.
It is interesting to see the collaborations of authors and illustrators asI have interest on forming such future partnerships myself.
I loved this book because it reminded me of the pain of my severe boredom as a child stuck indoors because of the bad weather. I liked how imaginative the ideas of how much fun there is to be had out of playing in the rain as the child expressed to his granddad who sensibly had them wait to go outside until the rain had stopped. The joy in the water left over by the rain had been worth the wait in the end and it had been a rewarding experience for both reader and character.
From this research I have gathered an idea of formats that can aid me with my own childrens book development.
The images below show my experiments with combining my working images from my self-written and illustrated children’s narrative combined with my hand drawn text.
Front cover experiment:
Spreads from the story:
From printing the spreads out onto A3 paper and seeing them as they would be in the rough scale as they would be for my final children’s book and worked into a dummy book format as shown below.
I was able to see problems with the readability of the text and it had an untidy and disorganised structure about it. With challenging compositions that can be easily disorienting despite my inventiveness with the use of the space with my images.
I realised that from here and from the agreed feedback that I had received from various people who I had approached with this dummy book. I needed to make the text much more readable and professional which turned my interest to sourcing examples from the local library and with using software to produce such text as offered on InDesign and Calligraphr (an app that can transform hand writing into a downloadable typeface) for the inside story.
I have also been reflecting on how my original page concepts from my storyboard worked with images that fitted text outside of the images rather than mixed in with them. I explored mixing them with the images as it is very often used with contemporary children’s books and I have enjoyed the two working as one.
However this simple layout idea is something that I want to experiment with as it is how I originally planned it following the time of my research and admiration of such separation found in classic children’s books such as A.A.Milne’s Winnie-the- Pooh series that call for more contemplation of the image.
My latest influence has been the wonderful work of Quentin Blake. I have returned to the library and have taken yet again great fascination into Quentin’s book named ‘Words and Pictures’ (2000). From here I have been studying Quentin’s use of visual language. I have been looking at the way how Quentin uses his limited materials and have admired Quentin’s casual use of drawing and wash of watercolours and inks.
Below are some regularly looked at pages from the book:
Quentin draws upon his energy he masters in line and it is this playfulness and unashamed casualness to his imagery that I wish to continue as he has done into the world of finished results.
I feel that I meet someone really fascinating in Quentin’s images. It is under the condition’s of enjoying the images for himself that I wish to go about making my own images. As I sense that I am speculating in on someones personal love to this insistent habit.
Using this research my idea’s on my colour palette have been more easier. I swab colours from various of Quentin’s images and take them into play with my own images. The image below is approached with a fluidity and rhythm of painting. I enjoy making brushstrokes that remain visible in the work and leaving places unfinished. The ink drawing is particularly a place where I get to have more control but I let loose on creating expression with it and I very much enjoy the fun of creating this materials own take on this layer of impression. I can really do what I want with it! I also use a blunt conte pencil to create soft texture for webbing. Texture is something that I want to work in as important tool in my ingredients at play in the image.
I feel the result of this image is a successful one. The textures and the collaboration of mixed media is well-balanced avoiding the sense of an overworked or underworked image. This image has depth in the exploratory landscape of muted layers of colours. The wash helps to create an attractive transparency that preserves my movements with my materials. This has evidenced my impression of each detail of the form. I intend to take more of my storyboard into this continued method of making.
Having had a tutorial with Ameila, I was suggested to study Edward Ardizzone’s use of visual language to address my next step into developing larger editions of my latest page plans to consider colour strategy planning and clearer imagery.
Looking at Ardizzone’s work I can see how the quality of line draws out the definition of the imagery. A mix of broken line for detail is used and solid line is used for the important framework of the scene with the boy’s body being the most concentrated on and therefore results in a powerful tool for the audiences attention to follow Ardizzone’s direction.
The materials would be a dip pen and ink according to Amelia who really recommended this tool to my explorations and the distinctive wash of watercolour.
I can see how the texture of crosshatching is also very alluring to the work of the image. This creates a contrast to the relaxed surrounding features of the line work and draws us in with this new and surprising energy.
I can also see how a rich tone of colour is also used to draw attention to the main features of the work being the people. This attention to the character is also intended for how I visualise the approach to my own work. Ardizzone’s tools of magnetising the eyes to the people is something I desire to experiment with very soon.
“There is a little world at the end of my pencil,” Lobel once said. “I am the stage director, the costume designer, and the man who pulls the curtain.”– (Source: https://hyperallergic.com/108036/behind-the-scenes-with-a-beloved-childrens-book-illustrator/)
I had purchased the book ‘Frog and Toad All Year’ by author and Illustrator Arnold Lobel. I have read this book shown below and have studied Lobel’s story writing as well as the techniques of his image making. The images below highlight my pages of key interest.
About the story writing:
I love the contrast of the characters personalities being extrovert Frog and Introvert Toad this draws me to desiring to get to know how each take different approaches to their activities. I also like the playfulness on simple and renowned problems related to each chapter of season. For example winter brought danger and summer brought melting ice creams. This makes their experience a realistic and relatable interpretation of real life. Lobel dives deeper imaginatively into these simple situations and creates activities that these characters get up too in accordance to each situation. Lobel invites empathy to each of the characters through the kind and loyal friendship of these two loveable and clearly inseparable characters.
About the illustrations:
Like I had pointed out about the work of Edward Ardizzone, Lobel uses a similar approach of drawing out the main features of the work from the environment with the quality of line. A denser line is consistently used for the work on the characters that shows where Lobel has targeted the points with the most concentration into the work as he wishes for his audience to spend as much time as he did into admiring the life of the characters. These more solid, detailed and bold line maneuvers compare to the flexible and loose language of the dreamt world around them. Cross hatching is also used to hook out attention with texture as well as bright tones of colour that stand out from the muted natural settings.
Looking at the mixed media work of Luke Best has been inspiring as it relates to the thinking and making I am employing with my own mixed media project. Best’s use of space was pointed out to me by Anna who encouraged that I play with this in my own practical research. Impossible layouts in the composition is a design that works really well for Best and works to create the depth and therefore invite into the expansion of space that is created in the image. What I like most about Best’s work is the control of the image using stamps of solid colour to direct the important features of the interesting environment of the work. I like how there is a lot going on using layering and different materials and techniques and how this is all harmonized with the pull of the solid colours that tug us to where Best want’s us to focus on. I also really like the process of layering that is used digitally.
Interestingly Best creates a landscape of experimental exploration of media in his juxtaposed utility of media and this helps to give it a sense of adventure and escapism. An attribute that I’d like to occupy and stir within my own images.
On my recent trip with the Level 6 Illustration group to Bath and Bristol. I followed my teachers recommendation and explored the gallery book shop in Bristol. In the book shop I searched for inspiration. Their was a wide variety of illustrated books filling the shop and the top prices were in respect of the artists income so with this in mind I set out to pick a book to purchase.
From my encounter with the many artistic books I particularly liked the short narrative of the ‘Stone Soup’ story written by Cas Willing and illustrated by Paula Rego. The book is presented in a simple word and image layout using a consistency of a couple of sentences that lives on the left page and a full-page image that fills the right page. Similarly this is how I envisage my layout for my 32 page children’s book as I recognise that our eyes rest on the right page longer than they do on the left. This is an interesting topic that was agreed and discussed in a useful tutorial with Dan Peterson.
Another inspiration has come from my fascination with the mixed media of Rego’s image making. I enjoy the way how she builds her images with a layout composition that brings a sense of depth. Depth is something that my practice needs to retain as it is a powerful tool that divulges the attention to be pulled inside the world of the stories. The layers in Rego’s work allows us to visual explore a world of textures and applications of colour through the foreground and trails of objects in the scene that lead us to the background. This way the visual exploration of the image is eperienced for longer and allows for the imagination of the audience to be challenged and therefor evoke contemplation over the work.
Images of the book:
Images of internet research on more of Rego’s work: