Day: April 19, 2014

Children’s book covers – review

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When making my own book I always struggle making my front cover as I tend to make it too simplistic or it doesn’t look appealing to the viewer. I went through this book and picked out the covers from various books that I found attractive and would pick up at a book store to look at further:

Front Cover
Children’s Book Cover, 2003, Written by Alan Powers.

This is the front cover of the book about front covers! Guess what, it is filled with front covers!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Page 33.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1993, Written by Lewis Carroll, Page 33.

This is illustrated by Tony Ross who also wrote Stone Soup which I enjoyed reading as a child. It is very colourful, all based on the colour blue and he has has used ratio and perspective to create the effect of Alice being really big and can’t fit nicely anywhere. With characters hidden in the background to give a sense of what the story holds.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland created by Lewis Carroll, Page 33.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1907, Written by Lewis Carroll, Page 33.

This was illustrated by Arthur Rackham, a totally different take on the story. Alice is beautifully drawn using block binding for a gift book edition, she is isolated and is staring right at the viewer which could be seen as a little intimidating.

A Child's Garden of Verses written by R.L. Stevenson, Page 35.
A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1948, Written by R.L. Stevenson, Page 35.

Eve Garnett illustrated this one and it shows sentimentality with the flowers in her hand and the expression on her face. Again an isolated figure not giving much away about what is inside the story, we only know with the type above but otherwise you wouldn’t know what the book would be about.

Written by R.L. Stevenson, Page 35.
A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1966, Written by R.L. Stevenson, Page 35.

I picked this cover out as I find it really intriguing as the animals are boldly drawn and have a weird stare to them. Illustrated by Brian Wildsmith he uses bold distinct colours that tend to represent the animal. The animals are clearly not accurate but are drawn in an artistic way, looking like they have been drawn by a child. The kings in the background are more neatly rendered and stand out from the animals, if he created the kings in the same way I would have thought everything would blend into on blob of colour.

In the Night Kitchen, Written by Maurice Sendak, Page 91.
In the Night Kitchen, 1971, Written by Maurice Sendak, Page 91.

Illustrated by Maurice Sendak he uses bold shapes and colours, although he uses shades of darkness and lightness to show depth in the scene. I couldn’t see what was going on in the scene until I read the little caption underneath – the boy is in an aeroplane made out of dough and is flying over New York. For me personally I like the image but I think it isn’t clearly readable on what’s going on.

Hildilid's Night, written by Cheli Duran Ryan, Page 99.
Hildilid’s Night, 1973, Written by Cheli Duran Ryan, Page 99.

I like this simple black and white drawing with the yellow bold text. Illustrated by Arnold Lobel, the scene looks like she is scared running away from the moon suggesting the topics linked to full moons are werewolves. It would make me pick up  the book as I want to know what happens to her and the story behind this scene.

The Enormous Crocodile, 1978, Written by Roald Dahl, Page 119.

Illustrated by the well known illustrator Quentin Blake, he has used both sides of the front and back cover which creates another scene in itself. I could do this for my book but I feel like I simple front cover with a simple illustration on the back would work better as it’s a small square book and I don’t want the look of it too be overpowered by a large image.

Dutch paper, Page 15.
Dutch paper, Page 15.

I have seen books where they don’t have a scene or a main character at all on the from cover and all there is a blank or patterned book. I find the patterns have to be beautifully created or have a simplicity to them for me to want to know whats inside of the book. I don’t this style would suit my book, I need to grab the viewers attention straight away and not let them get bored of the first image they see.

The Roly-Poly Pudding written by Beatrix Potter, Page 27.
The Roly-Poly Pudding, 1908, Written by Beatrix Potter, Page 27.

Another classic that many people know,  illustrated by Beatrix it shows a scene where the nice are making dinner out of the cat. I found this scene quite scary with the facial expressions and the body positions the characters are showing. I like how there is one main scene in the centre with type above but then there are smaller line illustrations placed around the scene. I think it shows what is to come inside the book but without giving too much away.

Three Aesop Fox Fables written by Paul Galdone, Page 29.
Three Aesop Fox Fables, 1972, Written by Paul Galdone, Page 29.
Page 122.
Where’s Spot? 1980, Written by Eric Hill, Page 122.
Page 123
Five Minutes’ Peace, 1988, Written by Jill Murphy, Page 123.

All these three book include the main character in the scene. Three Aesop Fox Fables illustrated by Paul Galdone chose one character out of all the fables and focused the image on the personality of the fox. Eric Hill illustrated Where’s Spot? he has used flat line and colour drawings on a white background to highlight the main character and objects within the scene. I think this style wouldn’t suit the cover of my book as the drawings inside wouldn’t be the same as the front and would look odd. Jill Murphy who illustrated Five Minutes’ Peace has used the opposite to Eric and placed the main character on a dark background using light colours to highlight character.

From looking at this book I have realised there isn’t a set layout or design you should use when creating the front cover, you can create a exciting scene or just focus on a main character. After looking through my book I decided to use an image within and the use a small element of an illustration to place on the back. This was the outcome:

Front Cover


The book being called Bon Appetit it shows the fish looking at the worm thinking that could be their dinner yet the fisherman is also getting his dinner whilst lounging in the boat. The worm in the back cover carries on the theme of  fishing and it doesn’t overpower the front cover. I am pleased with this front cover and if I would change it I think I would spend more time in developing a new scene.

All Images from:

Powers, A., 2003, Children’s Book Cover – Great book jacket and cover design. London: Mitchell Beazley.


Day 5 of challenge

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So today is the day I send off my book to the printers! I have finished bang on the day I need to so hopefully it will come on time. I have already been with blurb and I know they can take a while to deliver so I decided to try Lulu as it says they do fast delivery and they are cheaper then blurb so I thought great!

How I was wrong… it seems easy at first and I uploaded all my separate images as they don’t allow double paged spreads but then every time I tried to go to the next stage an error would come up and I couldn’t access all the work I just uploaded. It took me about an hour to load everything and so I did this 3  to 4 more times using different files and I still would get this error message. I tried all day and so I logged off and they said they were doing maintenance!

So I went back to blurb and they were easy and simple – download a software where you can just plonk your work on in order and then order your book. The delivery date is the 30th of April which is two days past the deadline but they said it can be delivered before so I am just keeping my fingers crossed they deliver it before! I paid for the quickest delivery as well which isn’t cheap! It’s just a waiting game now…

Day 4 of challenge

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I have got two days to finish the last two scenes of my story boards and create the little fiddly bits like the title page and front cover. I will also go back over my other images to see if I need to add anything else or to tweak little mistakes. 9am is the time I started again and I thought I would produce these two images within a few hours as I produced 5 in a day before but how I was very wrong! It took me all day to finish these two off, I don’t know if it’s because of the pressure I placed myself under or if these scenes were just more technically more difficult. Here is one of the scenes I produced that day:

Pages 21-22


I found this scene really difficult to get my head around as the colours had to be careful picked. I chose red for the background where the pans were but it overpowered the lettering and looked terrible. So I chose blue – linked with the ocean and it calms the scene down. I also had to be picky when picking the colours for the delicious smell – green or brown would make the smell seem horrible and wouldn’t fit the topic, I didn’t want a strong colour as it’s meant to be the steam coming off the food containing the nice smell. I went for a cream colour which is similar to the fish and potato colour. I think it works as it’s slightly opaque making it not heavy and thick.

I looked at this book which is on my next blog called Children’s book cover – Great book jacket and cover designs by Alan Powers. This was so I could see as a collective the best and bad books covers over time. From there I can design my cover, I may re-design a new image or simply use a page from my book which can work just as good.

I worked from 9am to 10pm on this day with two 15minute breaks and of course dinner! A girl has got to eat! I had finally finished my extra bits of work including changing some of the previous scene. I had finally completed the book! Woo! Now all I need to do is send it to the printers, easy right…

Day 3 of challenge

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I woke up and thought I have only got 3 days left to finish! Crumbs! I better get cracking, I started bang on 9am and began filling in the images. This was the development of one of the scenes:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.01.26

A clear blue line showing the centre of the page – I don’t want to make the mistake twice! Starting to add the basic layers of the table etc.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.57.02

Adding colour, I am trying to keep it vibrant but not making the scene too icky with colours. Using a limited colour palette can really help and using tones which are similar/compliment each other can make the image.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.18.03

The final image, I wanted the table to feel traditional yet modern. The angle is obscured and not head on, I think is how I generally work as I like to go from an awkward or obscure point of view. The items on the table are clearly showing that he is about to go fishing, I think maybe the background is too white and needs a little colour to add more depth.

After day 3 I have produced 4 more scenes using the same process for this image, drawing the basic outline and then filling it in with digital collage. I have worked from 9am to 8pm with two 15minute breaks and tea time so it’s been a loooong day staring at a screen. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be the same.


Day 2 of challenge

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Day 2 of the challenge and I am raring to go. I worked out I have got to produce roughly 2 -3 images a day to try and be finished by friday (today being monday). So far so good! I haven’t put any layers in, I have just drawn out the basic lines for a few of the scenes:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 16.56.29

The fisherman going down to his boat.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 16.56.38

Laying all his equipment out on the table with a list he is slowly crossing out. I want this book to be purely illustrations without text thought as I find text can dominate scene like this and make it looked crammed.

So after drawing out scenes all day I was quite pleased, I had drawn about 3-4 scenes which I would then fill in tomorrow. I won’t be showing all my images as I don’t want to give the story away too much!

Setting a challenge

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So, after my concept panel I had a few days off just to rest my brain. This turned out to be a week as many birthdays and other activities came up over the week and so I had lost a weeks worth of work although I could have not done anything to change this. After that week I thought I would set myself a challenge and create a 32 page children’s book based on the original theme of frustration, using my other book Bon Voyage as the base.

The deadline for this semester is Monday 28th April which is earlier than the past 3 years which was in May. This meant I had 2 weeks to create this book however, after the concept panel one of the tutors said they didn’t like the paper I had used to create the mock up book for the last story but they didn’t give me anymore information. After researching into what children’s books paper should be I found a few people saying it’s different for each book but on average it’s about 140gsm. For my book I had used 120gsm but the way I made the book I had to stick the papers back to back causing it to be twice as thick. So for this book I wanted to get it officially made. This meant I had to try and get it delivered before the monday – I will have to finish the images and send it off for production a week early. So I have one week to make it – The pressure is on!

To start off with I had to create the storyline which can be hard if you have a mental block, luckily I didn’t and here are a few initial sketches:


Even the basics I had to grasp as these are the building blocks of making a good and believable story. For example to get the rowing boat the right way round.

The initial sketches for the first page – I tend to sketch in detail for the first few images and then the rest become relaxed as I know what each scribble means interns of objects.

I have created the basic layout for the 32 pages, I am determined to stick to the average 32 pages for picture books, I always go over and it becomes expensive. This is what happened with my last book Bon Voyage, it had 40+ page which I had printed out and made myself but this cost £30+ and the tutors didn’t even say anything positive about it so I thought I am going to save time and money by getting it properly made and have less pages.Here is the rough layout of the storyboard. The story is based on a fisherman tackling the seas and cargo ships to get a fish for lunch but when he returns home there is a surprise.


So after Day 1 of the task I have thought of the storyline and have created alternatives scenes for each double page spread. This allows me to crack on with drawing the scenes on the computer tomorrow.

Catch Up

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So far I have created my children’s book about the mini rowing boat travelling across the sea of cargo ships. During the making of the book pages I thought I would make a mini movie of the boat scene. I can’t put it on here due to the restrictions but here is a link:

Here is the photo of my finished book.


Front cover – When making the front cover I altered the size making it bigger than the pages as it has to fit around the spine. However, I didn’t realise that the spine was going to be double the size I estimated meaning that the front cover was just short of 0.5mm which was irritating. I could go back to the printers as they were shut and I wanted to show it for monday’s concept panel. So I carefully measured all the way round taking off 0.5mm around the edge and then sticking the cover on making sure the white edge was even all the way round. To be honest I was quite pleased with the outcome! Yes it’s not ideal but for a (expensive) mock up book it’s not too shabby!


Thick pages due to the pages being stuck back to back. Usually I would make a smaller mock up book printed form my own printer but as there were over 40 pages I thought this would be costly on the ink and so I went straight to the professional printers. From making this mock up book I realised that the main character was smack bang in the centre of the centre crease which is a big no no! This has definitely made me realises it is all ways better to make a really rough mock up book so you can see the mistakes before hand. Luckily the way I have made the book you don’t lose the character but if made properly you would definitely lose the character.