Category: Childrens Illustration


‘The Yummy Creamy Cheese” – Book Jacket

This is the first of 2 books i have written and illustrated whilst at uni. This book isn’t written in rhyme but is a ‘play on words’ full of interesting sounds and tongue twisting sentences that encourage children’s vocabulary and speech. At the same time the book is all about how we shouldn’t take something that doesn’t belong to us, and what can happen when we do! it also brings up the issue as to how children choose to deal with their anger….as the cat in the story has 2 definite choices…you have to read it to see which one he chooses!!

The illustrations were created using 2d cut out images and then building 3d sets , placing them in there, lighting them to create interesting shadows and then photographing them. It was a totally exhausting but very worthwhile experience where i felt i learned so many skills such as photography and layout and composition as well as colour choice and balance. I also took the book through the whole process of printing which in itself was quite a challenge!

The book is a 32 page picture book, which i hope to find a publisher for in the near future, I feel that because of the way it is illustrated it offers something a little different to the world of children’s books, and the children that have read it have given really great feedback, so fingers crossed that i can find a  publisher who also thinks the same hey?

The birds sing the cat to sleep, while he is guarding ‘The Yummy Creamy Cheese’!

‘BANG BANG BANG popped the piles of pongy poo!!’ (from the’Yummy Creamy Cheese’)

 

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I have just submitted my entry to the Macmillan Children’s book competition where i managed to get 8 double colour pages done, a book jacket, end papers and title and copyright, but still need to do 4 more doubles now to finish by sunday so i can send it off to Blurb to get a really professional mock book done for my final university assessment in a couple of weeks – so the pressure is still on for now!!

Here  is an example of one of the pages in the book

Image from ‘Brenda the Misunderstood Witch’

The story is about a witch that is judged because she looks scary, and is green and hairy etc, and it gives you a surprising insight into her world, and details what she is really like.It is a book that aims to teach children to not ‘judge a book by its cover’ and to be more accepting of others (which i think is really important especially in this modern day world where the boundaries of race, creed and culture become merged). I think it is important that children’s books carry some sort of message, as children are really influenced by what they see and read, and i tried to make the main character as loveable as possible so that the children would be drawn to her.

Other books that i have written also carry messages for children, and as i am now coming to the end of my degree i would like to continue with my work to Masters level where i would like to continue to look at the role of the book in children’s lives with reference to their personal development and also how they interpret colour and image…exciting stuff i think!! :0)

What a lot of work it was to get the entry submitted to Macmillan for this years Children’s picture book competition!! The guidelines were a 24 page picture book, plus end papers, book jacket, title and copyright page – at least 4 double final pages (mounted and presented properly) and all labelled and presented as perfectly as possible and then sent by courier to London to be entered into this years competition.

 

This is a very prestigious competition and has many entries from colleges and universities all over the UK, competition is tough, and the research i have done seems to make me think that Macmillan are looking for ‘traditional’ illustrators that use a lot of traditional media (which would rule me out altogether as i use mixed media that includes digital media as well).

I think that the whole experience of entering Macmillan was invaluable…i now know how to book bind perfectly and can make a pretty good mock book that wouldnt look out of place on a bookshelf in a store, i now know how to cut perfect mounts (which is handy as we will be doing lots of this for the graduate show in a couple of weeks.) and more than anything i have learned how to get a massive amount of work done and how to achieve what i needed to achieve in a set time scale (not an easy feat when you have lots of other things to do at the same time!)

So it’s in!! and the image below is the mock book from the outside…it is a story about a green and hairy witch called Brenda!! – now all i need is to find a publisher!!!!!

My Macmillan entry…finally finished!! 🙂

As i am now looking at using this technology (in a very rough format i have to say – not Disney standard) i need to research the use of the ‘multiplane’ camera that Disney created. Just watching the video below (from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d4-AUwkKAw) is amazing! I love to see traditional techniques, there is something really special about Disney’s early work.

As i watch this i can see endless options for illustration, although there are many obstacles to be overcome – reflection from the light, the camera, how to light it, how to soften the light etc. One of the tutors has advised me to use either a white sheet or tracing paper around the glass and to form a tent and then to light it from the outside – as i am intending on doing the photography outside i will be using daylight so hopefully this will help.

Other people’s work that i will be looking at are  Clive Whalley, who uses this techniques with paint, and also Edward  Westons Peppers’ who uses white plastic tubes to take the photos in which gives a lovely soft light to the images.

Many more posts to follow!

image by Karen Cheung, taken from her home page http://www.karencheung.co.uk/ 6/3/12

 

Karen started out studying zoology at Cambridge, but found that she enjoyed drawing animals and doodling instead (bet her parents were pleased about that!! lol) she then decided to do a second degree, this time in illustration (bet this pleased them even more!!) but the results of her studying was that she got a first class honours in illustration at bristol UWE, do ity must have been the right decision hey?

She made a film whilst at uni called ‘headache hotel’ which she showed us, it was created from simple lines, but i often find these the most appealing, rather than the digitally coloured ones – this can be seen on her website   http://www.karencheung.co.uk/animation/animation.html, as well as other anomations that she has done.

This film enabled her to send it off to the BBC to the animators of the year award, where she got short listed, and it was then played at animation festivals all over the world.

In her final year at uni she said she started panicking about what she was going to do and started drawing lots of weird things like dead things, she mentioned that you shouldn’t do what you don’t want to do if you aren’t passionate about it, and concentrate on what you do want to do.

She wrote a book for children whilst at uni called ‘sheepless’ which she entered for macmillan and she won. The book was made using mixed media, she said she used pencil, ink,acrylic, watercolours and crayons – anything she could get to hand really. Her book however didnt get published as they thought it was too gory, which really makes me question what the Macmillan Picture book competiton is all about as i have seen a few that have won it and not been published…is this not part of the criteria for judging it, are they not supposed to look at how it appeals to children? Because if they dont then what exactly is the point i wonder?

Karen did say that she wasnt a very confident person (as she stood in front of a couple of hundred students in the lecture hall) and that she did go to London to knock on the doors of design agencies to try and get work, but she admitted that she didnt push it.

She made a short film in her final year ‘welcome to the zoo’, and after graduation she had a degree show in London in a gallery, where her agent ‘Jelly’ were next door at the time and they saw her work and contacted her a few days later offering to put her on their books. This was in 2006 and at the time they were quite a new agency. She did say that this agency is not appropriate for children’s illustration though and mentioned one called plum pudding.Karen said that to get work as a children’s illustraot you really need to be able to show mock books you have already done.

She recommended that when you put your portfolio together you make it concise, and that you don’t put everything in there, as it then looks like you dont know what you do and what your strengths are.Whens he finished uni her tutors told her to go to studios, and so she went to 10 and showed her show reel.She made sure she had her website up and ready for them to look at.One of the studios sat and watched it with her and they were called ’12 foot 6′, they then rang her and asked her if she would do charcters for paramount comedy channel, of which of course she agreed.They wanted her to do animation but she didnt know how to do flash, so they actually sat with her for an hour and taught her – amazing!

Karen has worked for quite a list of clients, which are listed on her website but they include Paramount, Virgin Central, Virgin Media, Bookstart and a lot of car companies for some reason. I am wondering if this is what happens when you have an agent and let them find the work for you? Karen said she pays an amazing 30% to her agent, but she thinks this is worth is as she then doesn’t have to deal with money and fiances, she doesn’t have to speak to the clients, or go out and get the work, and she thought this was good as she wasn’t very confident. I really wanted to say to her though, don’t you think if you did deal with these people ou would become more confident?

At the end of the talk, which was very interesting, Karen spoke to us about getting work after uni.She said that when you are at uni you get advise from the tutors, but to take it with a pinch of salt as this is only their opinion, and it is also important to listen to other people about your work.Keep playing at your work, don’t get too tight, allow yourself to have happy accidents as they can take you down a new path! Be critical of yourself , and keep asking yourself if this is the best way to do something.

She talked about self promotion saying that you should be brave and approach people (this surely was meant to be tongue in cheek after she had said how un confident she was earlier?) turn up on doorsteps, and don’t take it personally when you get turned down as it happens a lot.

She also has a store on etsy, which she makes soft toys, but doesn’t earn much from it, she also does xmas cards, and she is on twitter and uses companies like spoon flower and envelop to make cushions.She also does Helfa Gelf as well. She keeps her hand in and does Life Drawing, and does a print making course at Yale College, and she says she tries to do a drawing every day!

 

 

This was an interesting, but certainly not the most thrilling lecture ever. Necessary though for the minefield of issues and legality caused by copyright in today’s creative industry, so it was good to clarify a few points.

Copyright is determined by the ‘Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988’ and protects the creator from having their work used, or copied by another person. It gives the creative holder the right to be ‘identified’ as the creator, and protects their skills, their labour and their time – however this only covers ‘original work’.

Copyright comes into force as soon as the original piece is created, you do not have to apply for it, and however my issue with this is that you need to be able to prove WHEN you created it, not just the fact that you did create it. There have been cases where people have designed something and it has been taken by some big company and they have produced it as their own, but the creator has found it hard to prove the date they created it and also when you are up against a big company that probably has a team of lawyers you either need a lot of luck or a large bank balance to be able to bring it to court and win.

 Myth 1 – that copyright can protect your ‘ideas’ – unfortunately no, as they are in your head, it HAS to be recorded. It has t be a tangible piece of work. It is a shame as someone recently took one of mine, that I had told him or her about, the lesson there has to be to keep quiet until you have actually done it or created it – not matter how trustworthy the person may ‘seem’.

Copyright can be so complicated as well; it does also give you ‘moral rights’, paternity rights, and the right to be identified, even if you do allow someone else to use it. It also gives you integrity rights as well – this can stop someone using your image in a negative way.

All work created AFTER 31st July 1989 is covered by the law mentioned above, the copyright for work before that date belongs to the person who commissioned it. (However even now, if you are EMPLOYED by someone to do some work, the copyright belongs to them, not to you as the employee. I came across this when I wrote courses for colleges whilst employed by them.

 Myth 2 – that if you send the work to yourself in a sealed envelope that can prove the date of creation. This will NOT stand up in court as you could have tampered with the envelope. It would count though if you sent it to a solicitor, but there would be a charge. My inclination would be to scan it or photograph it, and attach it to an email and send it to an alternative email address to prove its date of creation.

****something is copyright for the whole of your life plus 70 years after you die***

 Myth 3 – You can use 10% of somebody else’s work without it breaking copyright – the answer to this is NO, it depends on the quality of what you are using not the quantity, so if it is core work/material then you can’t – and I suppose if it wasn’t ‘core’ you wouldn’t want to use it in the first place would you?

 Myth 4 – everything on the internet is public domain and free to use.

The answer again is that no, it isn’t, and the same rules apply. The problem can be though that the internet can be a fantastic marketing tool and so sometimes we have to take the risk of people doing screen shots and copying work in order to get our names out there.

You can try to protect your work by creating ‘low res’ images or water marking your images – but to be honest I have a friend who told me that he could access any image and remove any water mark, on saying that though it does give people extra work to do!

 

How do we protect ourselves in the industry from having our work taken?

It is important to check the terms and conditions really carefully in contracts, as they can be very confusing. Janet gave us an example of someone that had illustrated a range of children’s books, and when she checked the contract carefully she could see that they wanted her to hand over the copyright to the publishers. At the time she was new to the industry and wanted to get her name known so she thought she would take the risk and agreed. Unfortunately though the company then went out of business, and of course her copyright had gone with them. It took her months to persuade the company to hand back her artwork and assign the copyright back to her so that she could get her work published by someone else.

Janet said that if you are going to sell the copyright the person buying it should pay a LOT for it!!

The BRIGHT AGENCY recommends that you never sell the copyright – there are different options _

 ‘Buy out –  – this is where the whole of the copyright goes from the illustrator to the company, and the company has total control over what it does with your images.

 ‘An exclusive all media license’ – this is where there is a ‘defined’ scope of usage for the images, that is decided by the 2 parties and there will also be a time limit to this license where after that all rights return to the illustrator.

 The Bright Agency recommends that you license your images for 3 – 5 years only.

Useful addresses

www.copyrightservice.co.uk

www.cla.co.uk  (licensing agency)

www.aoi.com   (association of illustrators)

www.dacs.org.uk   (design of artists copyright society)

 

The lovely, and very talented children's illustrator and writer - Lynne Chapman

Due to an immense pile of work it has taken me a month to get around to writing this up!! I visited the exhibition on January 28th this year, to see the ‘picture this’ exhibition, and also because i knew that Lynne would be giving a talk about illustratinf children’s books. To save time i will just post the work i have created on this for my professional development file…..

LYNNE TALKING ABOUT ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS:-

HOW TO MAKE A BOOK LESS SCARY –

‘Bears on the Stairs’ – Lynne talked about the fact that she needed to draw scary images for this book but was concerned as it was a ‘bedtime’ story, and so she needed to make them ‘more rounded’ – she did this by adding baseball caps etc to the bears.She talked about how she tried to not make the bear character too ‘looming’ as this would be too scary for kids. She did however make him a little bit sinister, as he sat at the top of the stairs, she gave him a toy car to sneakily play with!

Lynne mentioned that using colour was also a way of making the image less scary, and she also added pictures of the ‘family’ on the walls of the staircase , so that of the child is scared by the image they can be reassured by looking at the picture of parents etc.

USING BOY OR GIRL CHARACTERS –

As the words of the book didn’t dictate as to whether the child was a boy or a girl Lynne originally did the character as a little girl, she changed this though as she said that she realised that boys won’t read books where the main character is a girl, but little girls will read books about where the main character is a boy – and so to sell more books she changed the character to a boy.

HOLDING A CHILD’S INTEREST WHILST READING –

Lynne said that she would create images where children could ‘find things’ whilst they were being read the story, and she would also invent extra characters to slip into the story, that allow the story ‘to go along’ – for example, and extra companion for the character perhaps.

In the book ‘ Bears on the stairs’ the incidental character that ran alongside the story was a cat, and the character enabled lynne to add in jokes and funny images (for example the cat pulling faces at the bear)

THE PROCESS OF PUBLISHING-

Lynne detailed the process of publishing by initially showing us her roughs and thumbnails, which she would eventually work up into A4 size roughs, or an A3 spread. She would then send these roughs to the publisher, who would then go through the work with a fine tooth comb, and would decide what they like and what they don’t like – usually without the illustrator being present.Lynne also mentioned that as an illustrator you usually don’t meet the author either, until yu go to the publishers party!

The publisher will then send through to the illustrator a list of things that need to be changed. She gave us an example from ‘Dragon’s Dinner’ where  Lynne had initially created 2 x single page  illustrations – one of the dragon asleep, and one of the dragon awake, and the publishers wanted her to create 1 x double page illustration of  the dragon, showing it to be half awake. She did re create this page, but still feels to this day that the dragon looks as if it is dead!

Image from 'Dragon's Dinner - illustrated by Lynne Chapman

Lynne commented on the fact that it is usual that the colour of the text in a book is always black, this is because of when it is translated – so this also impacts on the illustrations, and in the picture of the dragon in the cave, the cave couldn’t be black as then the words wouldn’t show, so it had to be purple instead. Lettering that is not black is possible, and is used in children’s books, but it costs more money to print.

The next step is that Lynne would send back the changes to the publisher and they would then show them to the author. Lynne commented that the publisher would possibly filter out 50% of what the author says. She would then finally do the finished art work.

LYNNES STYLE OF WORK –

Lynne uses a pink paper to draw with her pastels, she uses one that has a ‘good tooth’ so that it can easily hold all the pastel medium that she uses, and she chooses pink over white as she is not so bothered about the background paper showing through  then as pink looks better, and has less of a glare than white, pink also adds warmth where as white can be very cold.

She then traces up her images onto the pink paper using her lightbox, so that everything is in EXACTLY the same place as to what she has agreed with the publisher (of course this is an interesting point, the fact that you cannot now start making changes, but have to do what is agreed) – another reason for it being in the same place is that the gutter has to be exactly where it was so that images such as faces don’t end up going into it.

She estimated that it would take her 2 full days to work on and complete a full double page spread, and 3 months to do all the work from start to finish (but that is because she is experienced – I can see it taking me a lot longer!)

Lynne advised to NEVER draw the words ONTO the artwork because of translation (and at the end of the day publishers are very interested in ow many countries they can sell the rights of the book to).

Someone at the talk asked her how she initially got work as an illustrator, and she said that she took her portfolio round lots of publishers to show them her work, but she also took with her an article that she had done for a magazine that featured an image of ‘singing dogs’ – it just so happened that the publisher she showed it to was looking for an illustrator for a book on ‘singing cats’ and they decided there and then to give Lynne the work (amazing stuff!!)

SIZE OF WORK –

Lynne always works bigger than A3 and then crops to A3 because it is easier for her to create on a bigger scale because of using the medium of pastels and also she has to bear in mind posting the final art work off to the printers. Although she could quite easily hand deliver the final images if the publisher was in the UK, a lot of printing is done in China as it is cheaper, and so of course this has to be posted – and images A3 and less are easier to send.

She did warn as well about writing the words ‘art work’ on the packaging as she had a friend who was an illustrator who sent her final images to China, and did this on the packaging, and it never arrived!! She had to redo all of the work – there are thoughts that maybe the work could have been stolen by someone that thought there was valuable art work inside?

QUESTIONS FOR LYNNE –

Qu – How long does it take for your books to hit the shelves from start to finish?

Lynne –  it takes about 16 months to 2 years from start to finish (this makes me wonder how I am going to eat within that 2 years!!) Lynne said that because it is such a long time she often forgets how to draw the characters, and as she likes to go into the schools to promote the books she always draws them on the flipchart – so when the book is published and distributed she has to start practicing  drawing them again!!

Lynne also draws in EVERY book that she signs, which I find incredibly impressive!! – here is my signed copy!

Inside my signed book! - illustration by Lynne Chapman

Qu Do you ever show your work to children to check whether it is right, and to see if they like it?

Lynne – No, because I am really a 7 year old myself! (Love that answer!!) – however it does help for you to see what you think is funny and what children think is funny tend to be two totally different things!

An AMAZING and totally enjoyable day!! – thank you Lynne x

One of the prizewinning episodes of 26 adventure stories made for small children and animated by the Danish paper sculptor Thok: 1960. For more information go to www.halasandbatchelor.co.uk

Great stuff!! amazing what you can do with a piece of paper – has given me some ideas now! And if you look at this, done in 1960, and then compare to other animations that are done nowadays i can honestly say i have got more enjoyment watching this one!