“The Little White Cat” children’s book illustration is the third assignment from my MATS A class (Make Art That Sells). This part of the course is targeting the “children’s book” market, something I’m very keen to do more of in the future, for which we’ve all been given a mini exercise to draw all kinds of cats.
It’s so important to show the character’s persona in children’s books so I started out drawing all kinds of different cats from different positions and angles.
Every time I need to draw a “cat” I always think about my cat “Mimi” in Taiwan. He is my first cat and just like one’s “first born” of the family, he is very special and irreplaceable. Before he came into my life, I wasn’t a cat person at all. In fact I was always a little bit scared of cats and felt they can be unfriendly and somewhat creepy. My husband and I had a cat for a few years but he was an absolute turd of a cat, really horrible personality, so after a few years of fighting with him (the cat, not husband!) he had to go. Mimi on the other hand is absolutely lovely. I resented Mimi a little at first when he came to my home for the first time as he couldn’t stay away from me. Every time I watched TV he would either lie on my and sleep or want to play.
I guess this was because my parents weren’t at home much and he was only 1 month old when he came to my home, so naturally just like a child, he needed lots of love and care and I was the only one there for him. Now he isn’t a little kitty anymore and instead he is a huge old fat cat. He is nearly 17 years old (his birth date is 20th May 2000) and he weighs around 8.5kg (he’s half Maine Coon). The last time I saw him he was healthy and active but fingers crossed he will stay that way for a very long time.
But back to my assignment, I decided to illustrate a book cover for this assignment. The main character is the white cat who was a princess but when she was cursed she became a white cat. When she first appears in the book, she is wearing a black veil which you can see in the illustration. Because she was a “pretty princess cat, I thought she should look very special. A few years ago I went to Bali with my husband and parents. My mother bought me a cat’s statue and the cat statue had beautiful flower patterns on it so I decided to draw some pretty patterns on my white cat character to make her look more special.
One of the biggest challenges is how to illustrate the white cat character to be very feminine but I think I nailed it. I’m really pleased with how it looks and especially as I’ve only had male cats in my life. During the process of creating the Little White Cat illustration, I searched a lot of female cat photos while sketching and kept saying to myself “you’re drawing a female cat!” in my head when I was drawing. I think that helped a lot.
Apart from making a book cover, I also created a few different patterns with the white cat character illustrations which you can see below. The red background white cat pattern (I called this collection of patterns “My little white cat in red”) was also featured on the Redbubble website homepage which I just put on. If you are interested in my products you can have a look at my Redbubble and Artrookie websites. Both websites have my works on different kinds of products.
“The Tell Tale Heart” book is one of my favourites from Edgar Allan Poe. If you know one or two things about me then you know I’m a big fan of horror, creepy and scary films, novel and stories. This contrasts greatly with my illustration work which is happy, colourful, cute and fun. I think besides creating these happy and colourful art works I need something to keep me in balance and I also think these scary and horrifying stories keep me excited. I guess that’s the biggest reason as to why I love these dark scary horrors.
“The Tell Tale Heart” story is about a man (his name never been mentioned in the book) who is a bit crazy and delusional. He is seriously disturbed by the old man who lives with him, especially the old man’s eyes and eventually something terribly wrong happens between the crazy man and the old man… I can’t tell you too much about the story just incase anyone still wants to read the story.
So I initially took the title “The Tell Tale heart” as my main inspiration. Because I love drawing human organs. I think all the organs, no matter human or animal’s are all beautiful. I have never see human organs in person. But I have see plenty of animal organs in person and even hold some of them in my hand before as I was a professional chef for many years and butchery is a must skill even thought I still have lots space to improve myself in butchery. So I have seen a lot of hearts, lungs, brains and stomaches…of animals in my life. When you see an “organ” as an object. You will feel very different about them.
My favourite organ to draw is definitely the “heart” because it has many different veins, muscles etc. I also love the shape of it. So I used Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” as one of my book cover project story to allow me to draw something dark, creepy and different compared to what I do most of time. So I can explore the other side of me and present something different in my portfolio. I also can use my human organ drawing in my portfolio.
If you want to give this story a go, I recommend you purchase it from Penguin Books. They have this “Little Black Classics” series books. It’s not expensive, very light weight and it’s pocket size so you can bring the book anyway you want. I often read book on the bus so this “Little Black Classics” is wonderful for me! “The Tell Tale Heart” is one of the stories.
Anyway, I hope you like my book cover illustration and design and hopefully one day some one can commission me to do a book cover for them. I will be really happy about that.
“Julie & Julia” is one of my favourite films. I first watched this film after I discovered the actual book written by the same author, Julia Powell. If you know a little bit about the film or book, you know the story of the film and book is about American TV Chef Julia Child and French food. I didn’t know who Julia Child was before the film came out but to be fair to myself I was born and raised in Taiwan, not the US or UK, so I think it’s fair that I don’t know who Julia Child is. It’s just like if I talk about “Fu Pei-Mei“. You’ve possibly never heard of her but she is our equivalent of Julia child of America and Delia Smith of UK. She ran her own cooking show on Taiwanese television for 40 years and published numerous cookbooks.
I’m in my middle 30’s and I started my illustration career just four years ago. It’s a very competitive industry and as well as this, for almost ten years I have also ran my own food blog. Food blogging is also a very competitive market so sometimes I feel like my life is not going anywhere and it can be frustrating. I’m not daring to compare myself with the author but I like this film because it makes you feel like if you believe in something maybe everything will be ok. It’s something that will make you stand up and try again after you’ve had a bad day, work has fallen through or whatever. That’s why I like this kind of film because I need to have something to help me believe I will be “fine” with my own life.
That’s why I decided to illustrate and design this book cover. Not only do I really like the story, I also like that the book is full of really delicious foods. I used a similar style of illustration for another book cover I created called “Toast“. I illustrated not just one dish but many French foods that had been mentioned in the book itself. Food has always been one of my favourite things to illustrate so I really enjoyed the process of illustrating this book cover and it’s food. I have illustrated English, American, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and even Mexican food before but never French food until now.
I illustrated not just one dish but instead I illustrate many of French food that been mentioned in the book itself. Food illustration is always been one of my favourite thing to illustrate. So I was really enjoy the process of illustrating this book cover and it’s French food. It’s very different kind of food for me to illustrate. I have illustrate English food, American food, Chinese food, Korean food, Japanese food and Mexican food in the past but I have never illustrate French food before. So It’s great because I can illustrate different kind of food. It’s always a good practice for me to illustrate different kind of food. As you’ll see I also illustrated plates, a wooden spoon and a tea towel as well as the food itself.
When I was studying in the HND illustration course, one of my teachers gave us a project to illustrate and design four book covers from Roald Dahl‘s book “Kiss Kiss” short stories collection. This was the first time I had read a Roald Dahl story.
Before I read “Kiss Kiss”, I thought “Ah! Roald Dahl’s books must be child friendly but he wrote a lot of great stories for children!”. But after I read the first couple stories from this book it was mind blowing. First, these definitely aren’t children’s stories. The stories in “Kiss Kiss” are quite creepy and scary and involve stories of the dark side of humanity, murder and even cannibalism. This book is very easy to read so I had no problem understanding it even with my English. The length of each story is perfect as well, as I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read for myself as I have a four year old daughter. So this kind of short story collection is perfect for me as I also love films and books that contain horror, serial killers etc. A lot of the time when I’m illustrating cute and happy things I’m actually watching horror films at the same time.
So recently I started a personal “book cover illustration and design” project and I decided to go back to illustrate some of the stories from “Kiss Kiss” in my current illustration style. One of the book covers is based on another short story collection from Roald Dahl called “Someone Like You“. I also wanted to use this project to prove that I can illustrate something more mature, dark and less happy.
The stories I choose to illustrated from Roald Dahl’s book are:
For this book cover, I decided to illustrate a lamb leg, if you’ve read the story you know the “lamb leg” actually plays an important role in this story. I made the trimmed part of the lamb leg look like a silhouette of a lady to try to engage the read. I decided to illustrate a raw lamb leg because I’ve found a lot of people are disgusted when they think about “raw meat”. Some people even feel extremely uncomfortable to touch or smell raw meat – it’s almost like a kind of raw meat phobia. I used this kind of uncomfortable feeling and phobia to build up the atmosphere of the story.
I decided to illustrate a black mink coat right after I read the story. This story is about adultery and betrayal. I illustrated a black mink coat just like the one in the story. It’s my first time illustrate a mink coat and they are not the easiest thing in the world to illustrate! I had to look for a lot of fashion illustrations from other illustrators to figure out how to illustrate a mink coat and the most challenging was creating the right texture. I used a lot of “wet paint brush” in Adobe Illustrator for this mink coat to try to get the fur texture and I used a bright red colour for the background because it has an alluring look. The colour red also means “seduction and forbidden to me”, it’s very sexual and it contrasts perfectly with black.
This story is about bees, a creepy father, a worrying mother and a very sick baby who refuses to eat anything. I decided to illustrate a baby sitting on the floor with lots bees on it. I didn’t illustrate a “face” on the cover as quite often adding a face can damage one’s imagination. If I see a face on a cover and don’t like the face or don’t think it’s believable, this will instantly make me want to not read that book. So to date I haven’t drawn a person’s face on a book cover.
Another creepy and uncomfortable factor I used for this book is bees. I suffer from a little bit of “Trypophobia” so a lot bees crawling on a baby creeps me out. That’s how I got this book cover idea from. If you’re curious about Trypophobia, an excellent article about it can be found over at babbleout.com (here is the link for that article: http://www.thebabbleout.com/health/fear-of-holes-trypophobia/)
I use different parts and cuts of raw pork as inspirations to create this book cover illustration. A lot of people feel uncomfortable around raw meat and blood and this gives the cover a creepy factor.
Earlier this year I set myself a self-initiated project which entirely focused on book cover illustrations and designs as I have to date not been hired to make anyone book covers.
When I was an illustration student I always liked any book cover illustration and design projects that we were handed and I’ve been in discussions with a couple publishers about creating book covers but so far nothing has come to fruition. While I’ve been published twice (soon to be three times) for my cookery one of my big illustration targets is to illustrate a book cover and get it published.
So as a workaholic I spent months illustrating and designing 12 book covers and this biography, written by Nigel Slater, who is a famous British food critique and cookbook writer, is one of the books I illustrated.
I have to admit before watching the movie “Toast” (The same name as the book), I had no idea about this book and little idea about who Nigel Slater. I mean neither of these as negatives but I don’t watch British TV (don’t have time) and Nigel Slater isn’t known in the East. If I do watch any TV shows I use either Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. But the movie was really moving and touching so I decided to use this book as one of the 12 stories/books I illustrated for this project.
One of the interesting things about this book is there are no chapters in this book. Each short story is titled by different kinds of foods and all the stories are related to food. For example, Nigel thought the smell of bread and butter pudding is the symbol of love and hugs (bread and butter pudding is one of my favourite dessert in UK! The smell and the taste of this dessert always puts a big smile on my face.), his dad’s famous trifle, grilled grapefruit is the symbol of class, he had a fight with his mum over the mincemeat for mince pie just a day before she passed away…
This book is an eye opener for me to classic British food. I’m originally from Taiwan and in Taiwan we don’t know much about British culture (it’s generally thought everyone speaks like the queen and everyone drinks afternoon tea with their pinkies in the air. How wrong are we?!). I only got to know UK and British culture once I moved to the UK nearly 10 years ago and while I worked as a fine dining chef for much of that time, the restaurants I worked in focused on fine dining rather than normal home cooking. So as a foodie and former chef I just really enjoyed reading how he described each food and how those foods related to an important event or experience in his life. I can completely relate as a lot of my childhood and growing memories were related to food as well.
Due to the sheer number of delicious and interesting foods in this book it was really hard for me to choose which ones should be on the cover so instead of choosing one I illustrated many different foods for the cover. These foods represent life stories and memories related to the writer.
I really enjoyed illustrating these foods and this is the first time I’ve not only illustrated food but thought about their surroundings as well. So when I illustrate each food I’m also thinking about what it will come with, for example patterned clothes distinctive dishes and cutlery. I had great fun illustrating all these foods and can’t wait to illustrate more food like this in the future.
Because I enjoyed illustrating this book cover so much I even decided to print it out on A4 notebooks and to sell them in my shop on etsy. Unfortunately I’ve had some problems setting up a shop on Etsy as I don’t have UK nationality and they won’t accept a Taiwan passport (or any Eastern ID) to verify my identity so they won’t let me use their direct payment service. But once this has been remedied and my shop is bac online I’ll announce this notebook on my Facebook page, twitter, Instagram and blog. So please stay tuned!
The notebook is A5 size and the paper inside is blank paper because I like to use blank paper. I feel you can do much more with blank paper than rulered paper as you freedom on your page. The cover is 400gsm card and I’m really pleased with the supplier I used because the notebooks printed out exactly how I wanted them to look. These notebooks are £5.50 each excluding postage so if you’re interested please contact me by email.
This Robert Burns poem cover design project is one of my self initiated projects and I wanted to use this opportunity to sharpen my book cover design and illustration skill as I haven’t had a chance to design a book cover for a long time. This is a real shame as I have always enjoyed designing and illustrating book covers a lot.
I always think of a book cover as the book’s face. How you make your book stand out amongst the millions of other books on the bookshelves is very important as it will really help the book sell. So I think a striking book cover design is a major part of marketing a book.
As you may know I worked as a chef in a five star hotel in Edinburgh and every year during this period there were always a lot of tourist groups that came out to have a Burns night celebration and Burns supper in the hotel. Robert Burns’ poem “Address to Haggis” is always the highlight of the event. Of course if you know a little bit about the traditions of Burns night and it’s celebrations and supper you will know “haggis” is a very big part of it. The title is a dead giveaway and Robert Burns will always be associated with haggis.
Robert Burns used this poem to tell people how much he loves haggis and how haggis is really good for you. I have to admit on the funny side of things I didn’t quite understand most of his original poem (hey, English is my second language) so I had to find a translation online but it’s a great poem. So I illustrated a plate of potatoes with neeps (turnips) and a giant haggis on top. I also illustrated a big jar of gravy on the side and a little bit of berry for garnish. Haggis, potatoes, neeps and gravy are also forever linked together.
As you might notice I always create very colourful illustrations so this time I decided to set myself a challenge. This was to use only three covers to complete the cover. I spoke to Eleanor Crow who is the designer and illustrator for Faber & Faber books and she kindly gave me some visual reference ideas. She mentioned an illustrator called Edward Bawden so that helped me visualise this project. His work helped me visualise food in just a few colours and seeing his work gave me ideas for creating this cover.
I chose a brownish colour which I feel matches the colour of most haggis’. Blue and white always reminds me of the Scottish flag and the blush pink softens and lightens up the whole cover. So that’s how and why I chose my colour palette.
On the back cover I illustrated another plate but the food on the plate has nearly gone which is symbolic of Robert Burns’ love and appetite for haggis. I’ve always thought an empty plate equals how delicious your food is and how much you enjoyed the food you just had.
I hope you like my book cover design and illustration and also hope one day you will see the book cover I illustrate in the book store. The most important thing is if you are in Scotland tomorrow I hope you enjoy your Burns night and Burns supper! (Don’t forgot to have haggis and whisky! )