Adding Text

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As mentioned last time I was going to include text and I was going to look at other books to see if their typeface would suit my style of work. The three books I chose were:

  1. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  2. The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
  3. The Rabbits by Shaun Tan

Each book had a different style but I felt that they would work best.

The Gruffalo:


It looks like a set typeface, I tried to search the name of it but could not find it. Anyway, it is clear and precise with the excitement of the flicks and curves of the style suiting the storyline. Some speaking parts are set in italics so the reader can differentiate between who’s talking. As my book only has one talking character I could place their speech in italics and so the reader will know when it’s speaking and when it’s the story and may be inclined to put a voice on for the character.

The Red Tree


A different style, looks more hand written which I like as it interlinks with the illustrations. Very few words explaining the scene and it isn’t in a grid, straight line system which allows it to breath and float along with the illustrations. The text content is exaggerated with the size of the font and positioning e.g. this image makes you say wonderful things in a happy tone but as you carry on the sentence your voice drops and becomes quieter like it is disappearing into the distance. I think I would like to incorporate that into my scenes, allowing the reader to exaggerate the sounds of words preventing the narration to be a monotone speech.

The Rabbits


Again another text that looks hand written, looks like it has been carved into the page. All the text is uppercase and when speaking to a primary school teacher she commented that when the children learn to read they are learning about punctuation, upper and lower case letters. If I chose this style and kept the uppercase letters it may confuse the reader or it may be hard to read as I would have more text than this example. Also, this type suits this style of illustration whereas it may look clumsy with mine. So why did I pick this, well I just liked the hand written factor and that the text isn’t white or black, its yellowy cream which softens the appearance. I must consider this when typing my text.


So after looking at these styles I would ideally want to hand write my text to see if it works but I do not have enough time to write it out and then cut each letter individually on photoshop. I would consider doing this when I will develop this book further to refine it after hand in. So I decided to stick with a specific font, I didn’t want a loopy one or a extreme style as I want the text to be seen but at the same time blend in with the illustrations. Similar to The Gruffalo, a clear font that can be easily read and have the correct punctuation etc for the reader to learn. This is what I chose:

Page 7-8

Its called Perpetua on photoshop, and I think it is a clear font that has a subtle character to it similar to The Gruffalo book. When incorporated in the whole scene:

Page 21-22

It blended in beautifully, and I chose to not use black as this would be too harsh against the soft illustrations. So I chose a colour from the actual illustration which was a lightish brown, now it interlinks perfectly. When positioning the text I made them follow the wobbly borders of the illustrations and so it flowed but when it came to larger paragraphs I placed them on straight. This is so it didn’t look like I just plonked them on the page without considering the flow of the scenes.

The scene below shows text in the trees, and I have emphasised some of the words and positioning of the letters to allow the reader to experience the feel of the word when reading it. For example, squeeeak  I have made the s small, increasing the letters in size emphasising the noise is becoming louder. I have also italicised a few words within the main text to highlight certain strong feelings e.g. he felt even more hungry. To show he isn’t just a little hungry, her is excruciatingly hungry.

Page 11-12

Overall I am happy with the outcome of the text as I was worried that I would not be able to pull it off s I have struggled in the past. I would definitely consider using more time when incorporating text and experiment more with colours, style and positioning but for now I think this is a good base template.



Donaldson, J., 1999, The Gruffalo. London: MacMillan.

Tan, S., 2013, The Red Tree. Sydney: A Lothian Children’s Book.

Marsden, J., Tan, S., 2012, The Rabbits. Sydney: A Lothian Children’s Book.


Mini artist research

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The artists Eric Ravilious and Micael Rosen where mentioned to me and so I thought I would explore their work a little more. I had already heard of Michael Rosen as he is a successful children’s picture book author and illustrator but  haven’t heard of Eric Ravilious before.

Eric Ravilious was a book illustrator, wood engraver, English painter and designer. He captured the Englishness in his paintings in-between the wars and also worked with Wedgewood for a short period. For more information on him visit:

I was directed to him as my work is trying to get the same softness as he has achieved in his work:

Beachy Head, 1939, Watercolour


It was said that he used to paint layers upon layers of thin watercolour until the colour was deeper enough. When he used to run out of time to finish the painting, instead of rushing it was claimed he would spend evening making notes about the colour of nature and then return in the day to finish his work. This is very meticulous way of painting compared today where one can take a photo and finish it off wherever they are.

Furlongs, 1934, Watercolour

He achieved the texture in the fields by stippling or in other works like the Beachy Head, the sky has faint white strokes which is achieved by delicate scoring of a corner of a razor blade. This is detailed and elaborate illustrations that have had a lot of care and time put towards them. I would love to get to this standard but again I would need more time. However, what I can take from this is, is if I take care in building my layers up when painting then I might be able to achieve some softness in the drawings. Also I am using a different medium to Ravilious but I am starting to use the pastel pencil like a watercolour by using my paint brush on the pencil first instead of putting pencil to paper. To gain some added texture and detail I then use the pencil on paper to achieve a rough texture.


Micael Rosen

I am looking specifically at his book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.


The front cover does not give a lot away, all you know is that these are the main characters which are a family and that they are going on an adventure but you don’t know where, or what they are going to encounter.


It is interesting that the pages that have repeating text are in grayscale. This allows the next page to have a dramatic effect when your eyes are flooded with colour and large text describing sounds. Originally I was going to place the Jay’s, Stoat and insects memory in grayscale to show it was a past memory but as the storyline developed I took out a lot of those scenes so it wouldn’t have worked as well as this book. The only word that is repeated throughout is grumble but this works best in bold bright colours. If I were to create another book with sounds I would consider the way Rosen has manipulated the colours to create a bigger impact with every turn of the page.



Dramatic woods and interestingly he has made the backdrop darker and the foreground lighter, many illustrations of the woods do the reverse. The text is very prominent in a large box with the illustration as the backdrop.



I love this scene! It’s very clever because when telling a story I always assume you have to go forward with the scenes but here he has gone backwards as they have mistakenly left the door wide open. Creating tension as the bear is approaching quickly. A clever concept and it is exactly the same scene but just the characters are changing. You can imagine the gut dropping feeling when they realise and they try and get tot he door as fast as possible to close it. Also I noticed the borders are wobbly similar to my illustrations and it does create more movement in the scenes although they have used a light brown to highlight the box whereas I have left it.


It is interesting looking at two completely different styles of illustrations but for my work they interlink nicely. Ravilious’s work shows the depth, softness and texture you can create with building up watercolours. Whereas Rosen shows the movement and flow you can gain from using various techniques to illustrate a story. Both illustrators use a sense of traditional medium allowing the subtle mark making to create the depth and not overcomplicating the scene, which hopefully I will achieve in my own work.



Oxenbury, H., & Rosen, M., 1996, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. London: Walker Books Ltd.

Ravilious, E., 2011, Research Point: Eric Ravilious (1903-1942). [internet] Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2015, 11.33am].


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In a tutorial earlier on in the semester I was told maybe not to create a story board which would help my images to be not so rigid. However, I felt that I couldn’t work without one, I needed the guidance however small it was so I created a secret mini one:


Very rough and sketchy but this helped me a lot, as I could design the images around the storyline and I would create too many pages that I would then have to edit out. Although saying that and I may contradict myself here but in the future when hopefully I will have more time to create a picture book I will have another go at not having a story board. This is because I want to experience creating work with no boundaries and then in the editing process (which has been to short for this term) I will be able to merge ideas together or create better work.

Since the last time

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So I have worked my stupidly hard to try and get my final illustrations finished. I have worked from 6am to 11pm and I feel like my work has improved quite a lot working with pastel pencils and I have found techniques that use the pastel to my advantage. Here are a few of my favourite final images:

Page 5-6

The squirrel is waking up from his dream where he is hungry and starts looking for food. I placed a acorn Weevil into the seen to create an talking point as it is an unusual insect. I broke up the scenes to show different areas he looked.

Page 9-10

Here the squirrel is talking to the Eurasian Jay, the Jay explains to the Squirrel what happened when he heard a scary noise. The growl sound is the stomach of the Jay and is hand illustrated to allow me to emphasise the noise and add texture. The images are in photos to represent the past and shots of a moment in time.

Page 21-22

The Squirrel hiding from the Stoat as it has chased him all around the forest. As soon as the Stoat has gone he climbs a tree where he finds some ripening acorn nuts. In all my scenes I tried to add depth and interest where you want to study the illustrations to look at the detail. I made the character so that it was directly and interacting with the viewer when hushing them, creating interest for the viewer.

Overall, after looking at Eric Ravilious and Michael Rosen’s work, I feel like I have captured a tiny part of the adventure and excitement Rosen brings to his works and the softness/ vibrancy Ravilious creates when using watercolours. I could improve a lot more but this is definitely a path that I think I could take and succeed in.

Showing development

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I find showing my development of a piece of a work quite hard as it is not shown in set stages and is constantly changing. Therefore I am going to show one scene that has changed in different stages so you can get an idea of how I work.


So the images above and below are many sketches of the scene where the Jay is remembering when he heard a strange scary noise whilst trying to eat some acorns. I like generating different sketches as I can pick and choose which works best and then merging them together to create a rough final image.P1130011

After much deliberation I chose the following layout as I felt it emphasised the sound well whist keeping the flow of the story.

P1130018Above was the first main drawing and as you can see the text is large in the centre of the page and there are small thumbnail photos of the story unfolding. I picked photos as this tends to be a tool that we use to look at to remember moments in time and as the Jay is remembering a moment in his life I thought it goes hand in hand. I drew the Jay so it was flying towards the acorn and was increasing in size and then reversing the motion when it had been scared by the noise creating a full circle. I also highlighted it in black fine line as I thought this would be best to show the image but it didn’t and made it feel clumsy. The text is bold cap locks with spikes to show the power and rumble of the noise. It is very straight and as this was the early stages of development I was soon told that I needed movement in my scenes which I capture in my thumbnails but not in my larger drawings.

I felt that the first drawing could be improved by changing what was inside the photos and the way the noise was drawn. I felt the bird flying towards the viewer was hard to draw and looked funny and so I changed it to a side profile. The growl was re-drawn as the previous image was too blocky and I wanted it to flow. I kept saying the word out loud over and over and allowed my hand to flow with the noise. After having a crit, it was decided that the growl noise was better than the previous design but still wasn’t scary enough and was too smooth. Also, it seemed to be set in a set grid and didn’t have much movement as previously mentioned in other blogs.


This was the next developing scene, the growl now has spikes (as previously drawn on original idea) on the letters which gives a more menacing look whilst still keeping the flow of the sound. I erased the top three images and replaced it with the foot and beak of the Jay picking up the acorn (overlapping onto the previous page linking the flow of the pages) as at the time I thought this illustrated the motion of him picking up food and then hearing the noise to which he flies off scared. However, after having another crit it was felt that the image didn’t communicate efficiently enough and I had to explain what was happening in the images. The image was being read as the Jay is looking up at the giant feet which was hard to work out and the text was too straight and had no motion.

P1130014So I changed the bottom of the image to him flying away with the nut lying in-between two branches as the Jay had dropped it. I made it incredibly simple (as this was a suggestion in a previous concept panel) with the Jay picking up the nut at the top, it hears the sound and then the bottom image is him flying away scared. However, after another crit it was decided this was too simple and didn’t create enough excitement. Also, the birds feet was still hard to decipher and so I decided to take it out completely.

P1130016So I went back to the second original design which I thought I wasn’t going to do at the beginning. I placed the photos more tilted so it didn’t look gridlocked and added the spikes to the text as this worked. However, after another crit it was decided that the text was still too straight and needed to be emphasised to create a more atmospheric and flowing scene. Also the images could be slightly smaller to allow the noise to intertwine with the images.

P1130013Before I changed the scene I had already painted a previous design and I wanted to experiment with the colours. I chose to incorporate blue within the text to interlink with the dash of blue on the Jays wing with the noise. The spikes were grey which shows danger and has a sharp edge to the sound. I reversed the colours so the spikes were blue but it did not look right and so I chose this colour scheme.


This is the final design of this particular page. I have changed the shape of the noise by curving them along the page and added letters to the word to emphasis the sounds within it. Keeping the flow of the type allows the word to role of your tongue and I will be drawing the spikes back onto the letters to still give it a menacing look. The photos are still slightly angled and are smaller allowing the noise to breath. The images within the photos sometimes break the boundary to create interest and avoid sticking to rigid guidelines. I think this looks a lot better than the first image and so I am happy to start adding colour. I have not done this yet as I am still working on the other scenes, as I want to finish the all scenes and lay them out making sure they flow. After that stage is complete I will incorporate colour.

So as you can see there are constant little tweaks as well as large ones and this blog would never end if I explained everything but when you reach the “end” (designing a scene never ends just constantly tweaking) I find it is good to look at your original design to see how far you have gone and achieved. Also there might be something on the original design that you missed that could complete or improve the final image.

Incorporating Sound

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Another scene completed that uses a sound as the main focus, with the squirrel leaping away in fear. The wobbly lines of the sound grumble, is to show the movement and feeling you can experience when ones stomach is hungry. I painted this image using pastel pencils and using the specific colour palette. I tried to create as many finished images I could for my tutorial.P1130005

From my tutorial these are the pointers I picked up on:

  • Knock the colour of the branch back in this image
  • Use the watercolour paper as it has smoother finished
  • Draw larger images slightly smaller and then blow them up as I tend to lose the detail when I draw things too large
  • More details in the leaves
  • Make grumble text slightly darker

P1130009Here are the next sketches of some pages which look completely different to the final piece. I wasn’t too sure about adding a narrative and how to go about to it, so I asked my tutor and they suggested looking at text in other books and seeing if any would match the style of my work. From there I could just copy the font but maybe use a different colour instead of black as this again is too harsh for my style. I was also worried about how much text to add because I do not want this to dominate my images, a suggestion was made to maybe just use a symbol to express a moment instead of using words all the time. I knew that I shouldn’t put text straight onto the main image as this could create complications when editing work later on. So I am going to create the narrative when I have completed the final images and finished editing them.

Size of the pages

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Before I started to create some images I thought it would be wise to create a colour palette and so I don’t go over bored with the colour system. I was initially going to select three or four colours but then I decided to separate the colours into sections as there are so many layers. P1130008

I tried to pick colours that are natural and close to the colours of the forest. I avoided black as this is too harsh and as I am not using any black outlines would stand out too much and so I have gone for dark greys and browns. I had never done a colour palette before but it definitely helped as it focused my style even more.

The original drawing was slightly too big and the drawings weren’t as clear and so I was experimenting with making the single  page smaller and trying to fit the double page spread on one sheet of paper. The colours are working as they are very similar tones and some colours I will put throughout the book like the Jays flash of blue and so the book flows.P1130004 P1130003

I found trying to fit the whole scene on one page difficult as the drawings were hard to include detail as the tip of the pencil was too large and so looked clumsy. Reducing the size of the page on a single spread allows it to be big enough to add detail but not too big to be clumsy. I am sticking with a slightly elongated square as I find the sound can fill the page and be the centre of the page. Although the first image is the style I want to achieve throughout the book, I feel like some of the images are not working and do not help to tell the story.