My name is Rachel and I have just completed assignment 5 for the Illustrating Children’s Books Diploma Course. I found it to be the most difficult so far. Especially as I love working in colour! I had no idea at the beginning of what the final scene may look like. 

I started out looking at library books and  taking photos of real life objects for inspiration. We had just had Halloween which was helpful! I just drew anything linked to the theme I could think of. 

I wrote a list down of anything that could be possibly included in the final pieces and annotated the poem too, then began sketching these things. I also drew my cats and trees from life. 

I wanted to loosen up so used some old wallpaper rolls and did some large and  very loose ghost shapes with ink on a very wet ground. I used an air duster spray to move the ink around into tentacle like shapes. 

I have a very small 4” square sketchbook I keep in my bag so I can use on my lunch break or whenever any ideas pop up.  I started to develop a composition by splitting pages and drawing thumbnail sketches of different ideas.  I did a few in my little book too. I then roughly sketched a layout up and scanned it into procreate to develop. 

You can see on the video (scroll down) that the final design changed quite a bit during this stage and I kept going back to the sketchbook, especially  for the girl as wasn’t happy with her look till the end. I took photos of my daughter posing behind curtains to help with this and scanning more sketches in to trace digitally. 

The  moon-bathing witch and her reflection was my favourite part to do. Drawing my own feet in the sketchbook and making them look “witchy” the reflection is actually me! My daughter took a photo of me laying down and I sketched it and scanned into procreate.  

I designed the left half first, then I flipped it over in Procreate and used it to plan the layout for the right half, making sure everything had an opposite in shape and tone. 

I wanted the final image to have a lot of atmosphere and tonal contrasts. I really liked the “imagination” in the last stanza so apart from the witch, a lot of the scene is actually the girls imagination. The tree shadows looking like reaching hands and the fence and a creepy figure. 

I really enjoyed this and learned a lot  it was definitely a challenge! View the video below of the full process.

Rachel Pesterfield
Illustrating Children’s Book Diploma Course

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