The Process of an Illustration. 'Five Little Ducks'.

This is the finished illustration I recently completed.
It will be  published under the imprint Nelson Cengage Learning and the book will be called PM Oral Literacy Finger Poems Little Books: Poems About Numbers and Vehicles. 

I thought some of you might be interested in seeing the how I did it, so here is the step by step process of these cute little ducklings in the making.

I have different methods and styles depending on the  artwork I am producing, no two jobs are ever the same and editors all have their own different approaches to commissioning artworks. So this is an insight as to how I went about this particular illustration job.


To begin with the editor gave me a PDF of the page layout with the text placement, and a detailed brief of what they required.
They asked for a mother duck at the head of a line of ducklings walking in an area with lots of interest. 
The scene was to be brightly coloured with a fun and interesting landscape. 
It was important that the ducks could be counted easily, and that the last duck should not look like it was in any danger.
They wanted the colours and shapes of the animals and plants to be fairly realistic, with an engaging style that would appeal to very young children.


So this is what I came up with:





This is the rough I presented for approval.
It was drawn in Photoshop using an electronic Wacom tablet.
I prefer to produce roughs on the Wacom tablet because you can easily make changes, enlarge and reduce components of an image and move sections of the drawing until you have everything precisely positioned the way you need them.

Once the rough was approved I scaled it to the size I wanted and printed it out.
Because this painting required a lot of detail I chose to make it quite large. I had to print it out in four A4 sections which I joined together over the light box. (How I would love an A2 printer one day !)
Using carbon ink paper placed underneath the rough copy, I traced the image onto the good artists paper.
I used Arches Aqaurelle smooth, heavy weight, water colour paper; which I stretched on masonite board using artists orange masking tape. 
If you don't stretch the paper or tape it down, it will buckle and warp during the painting process.
Once I had transferred the image onto the artists paper I began by painting the background first.

I wanted to achieve a soft painterly texture, so I was careful to keep my brushstrokes loose and not over mix the colours on the pallet, I didn't want it to be flat and bold.
Whenever I am painting or drawing I always have reference material nearby, either on my pin board or in this case on my iPad.

Here's a handy tip for a paint pallet you never need to clean.
Cover a white plate with glad wrap. When you are done just throw the old gladwrap in the bin and get a clean sheet.

This is where I stopped with the painting, even though I would consider it only about 80% complete.
At this point I took a high res scan and finished the artwork in Photoshop.

 On the left you can see a close up of the hand painted illustration, and on the right you can see the subtle differences I have made for the finished digital version. 
The finished artwork was sent to the editor electronically in digital format as a PDF.
I have allowed a 15mm bleed around the artwork and included crop marks.
The designer will place the text in house.
And there you have it, 5 Little Ducks on their way !.