I was very fortunate few months ago to be chosen to illustrate some parts of an educational workbook designed for schools to use in their curriculum.
Here is their website: mindmyeducation.com
The book is aimed at children around 9 or 10 years old.
Their goal is to create…
…a map and guidebook that empowers young people to guide their own learning through the Common Core, bringing teachers and families along for the journey.
This is a very nice goal to work for.
Illustrating for children is so great; I notice now that the projects I have managed to receive for the last 6 months are all very interesting and usually are very educational since they are made for kids.
Here is the work process:
Every week, or so, I receive 2 exercises from the workbook with a clear suggestion of the illustration and the text that should fit into the scene.
I always start by reading the brief to try and understand it in all its nuances.
The first exercise I received was to illustrate a family from Samoa: a father, his 9 year old son, and his 5 year old daughter. The kids would sit on the living room carpet discussing a terrific book that the oldest is reading, while the father listens to the discussion in the background.
The concept here was to express the importance of reading and discussion.
Few things I feel I should mention:
I was explained that the choice of the Samoan family was related to the concept of the whole workbook that follows around the atlas to share many points of views from many different cultures. An idea I find personally fantastic as I have always noticed that, as in many other fields, we mainly tend to see characters clear skin in children’s books.
Secondly, to illustrate someone else’s idea is not my preferred choice. But here, I found there are many advantages! For example: the instructions. They were clear and inspired. And even if at first it felt that I was leaving my imagination the side, I eventually realized that it speeds up the process of creating the first drafts immensely. And if you agree with the brief, then all is for the best, as it was the case here.
Finally it was a great experience to go out from my comfort zone! As I thrive to become a professional illustrator, I should definitely try different things; my rule of thumb being that I need to feel inspiration. That can be the deal-breaker no matter the offer…
I must admit that I asked my husband -the geo-geek- about the exact location of Samoa! So when he told me that it was in the Pacific Ocean and that they had a rugby team (he was deep into the rugby world cup at the time!), I started to sketch out the kids to see which one would fit the best with what I had in mind.
Here you go:
After that, I turned to our friend google to research the look of a simple and modern Samoan family as the brief was careful to instruct. As usual, I drew many drafts on my sketchbook then chose my favorite. After the choice made, I scan the draft in high resolution, open in Photoshop and start a light coloring around the lines from my beloved pencil. I used a great brush that simulates an ink-like texture since the brief wanted a black and white result for the workbook, which I admit was again a great idea. It is so great to work with people that have such a precise idea of what they want.
The result gives a contrast, and great freedom given by the scale of grays. And I admit I LOVE black and white. I really find myself in it and manage to easily produce on my ideas. Whereas colors can produce doubts in every steps of the way…
Here is the first & second illustration:
I really love of the grandma on the phone:
Eventually, as I had been told, work can bring more work and I was called on by them for other exercises to draw for. See some of them below:
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Check them out, they are awesome!