MerryDay Goes to School Week 3 assignment : children's book illustration


So we have come to week 3 of Make Art That Sells class already! There are 5 weeks altogether and everybody began to say how much they would miss this class after the school ended and already talked about doing our own weekly assignments after that which I would definitely be in! :D The class weekly schedule (mini exercise on Monday, main assignment on Wednesday and deadline by Sunday) is really effective and it would be a good strategy to succeed whatever we dream of if we can make it into a habit :)

In week 3 we focused on the most anticipating turn-out-to-be-so-tough subject, children's book illustration. I love beautiful books and have been collecting children's picture books for some years already. I actually have a facebook page sharing lovely books I collect. So this topic really excited me.

The lesson began with introduction to children's book market. The main focus was on characters realization. A picture book wouldn't be attractive to readers if it lacked charming characters. Here came the mini exercise on Monday. I had expected to have some kind of animal-drawing practice but never thought of drawing snails. It really surprised me (and other students). But snails we drew and a lot!


It's interesting that all the snails we drew were in cuteness direction. We actually had a hint of what would be the main assignment with Monday's other mini exercise, to do hand lettering of 'The Snail and the Rose Tree'. Still, I was a bit stunned when I read the story of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snail and the Rose Tree. The main assignment was to design and illustrate a book cover or inside spread of the story.

I was stunned as the story was quite gloomy and seemed too philosophical to understand at my first read. It took me a deep breath then rereading to actually grab the sense of the whole story. The whole cuteness of snail was changed into grumpy and moody one. Luckily, we were allowed to do whatever we interpreted. So I focused on the rose tree's happiness instead.


I said this turned out to be so tough as I had never illustrated a complete illustration with settings, characters, background details before. I got stuck with the tree sketch and just didn't know how to go from there. At the time, other students already started sharing their works in progress and they really intimidated me. I spent a night agitated with my single sketch but luckily I woke up the next morning with fresh energy and was able to continue on my own work :D

I remember once I talked with my friend who had already been a children's book illustrator that I would want to practice drawing more of background details. So I took this opportunity to draw as much as details as I could. Click on the first image above to see the details on flickr.

This assignment is very challenging for me as although I did a lot of book covers, I never did inside spread of children's book before. It's very hard to tell the story and draw little details. I think you can tell how proud I am when I can finally complete it :)


What I have learned from this week's assignment :

• Don't compare your work with other's. This is a general rule in artists' lives. We know we shouldn't but sometimes we just can't help ourselves comparing. Just admit to yourself that it's natural and go on with your work.

• Be persistent. I thought the tree sketch would never work but deep in my mind I felt that it could. So I persisted. I realized after that that it's just a matter of adding and tweaking things around. You just have to have some endurance working extra hours :)


I think my moody snail and the overall spread could have been developed more if I had more time. But for now, it's good enough and I'm really happy about it :)

That's the end of my week 3. This week, week 4, is about Wall Art. We get to do abstract art which I have never done before. Excited already! :D

Thank you for coming. I hope my class progress could inspire you in some ways. Have a merry day :)