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NaNoWriMo Day 22 - Illustrations

Friday 22nd November – Illustrations

I respond best to visual learning styles. I’m always looking for pictures. Whether it’s a pre-existing landscape just begging to be photographed, or the words of a writer on the page calling out to be transformed into art.

I’m not the best artist in the world, but I can make a decent attempt at drawing. But the hardest thing about illustrating a book is pleasing the author, while the hardest thing about having your own work illustrated is relinquishing your hold on it.

So, what I tend to do now is wait to be asked to illustrate things, or else I illustrate my own stories. Over the last few years, I’ve offered to illustrate people’s favourite poems for National Poetry Day, and this year I had my first published illustrations in “Rosie Jane and the Swadgrump”. When we launched the book in the school, the thing which most impressed the children was how I’d managed to do the characters' hair(!) and how I’d reproduced the same character, from scratch, in every picture. Their awe really gave a newbie like me a massive confidence boost! This was the first time I’d shared any of my digital graphics with the world, creating most of the pictures in strong, bold colours using the computer’s shades rather than my own.

One thing I’ve learnt (although, not always done!), is not to fill a picture. Look at the needs of your audience, and the needs of the illustration itself. Sometimes, empty spaces aren’t blanks, they’re vacuums which draw the reader in.


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