“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.
United States of America Map illustration. Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on my latest map illustration which is an illustrated map of the United States of America. As you will know there are so many states in the USA so it took me quite a long time to do all the research and sketches for each element that you can see on the map.
At first I was going down the traditional route of searching for typical tourist attractions in the USA. But after I discovered a very fun, cool and pretty awesome website called “Roadside America” I decided to change the whole direction of my research. This website shows a lot of “unusual places or landmarks” for each of the different states of America. So I found a lot of really cool landmarks and attractions from this website including the giant pink pig Floyd, Big blue whales, watermelon water tower, giant molar, giant coffee pot building and milk bottle building…
I have never been to the United States of America and I’m really desperate to visit there one day and even take a road trip with my family. Apart from some of the famous and traditional tourist attractions I really want to see the fascinating quirky and fun attractions. How cool is it to see a building in the shape of a giant basket or coffee pot?’ That’s how I thought during the process of creating this map illustration.
I also included some agriculture, architecture and of course I can’t miss my favourite thing in the world; ‘Food!’. One of my favourite things to do when I travel is taste the local food. I’m not talking about typical hotel food, I’m talking about real local food so I also illustrated a lot of food that each state is famous for. For example, Florida is famous for it’s key lime pie, Michigan is famous for it’s cherries and cherry pie and huckleberry pie comes from Idaho. I remember when I watched American films and lots of films always talk about “pie” and they sound really delicious. This is something I definitely have to try when I finally visit America and maybe I can also illustrate an American pie map.
My computer is a little bit old now so it’s starting to struggle a little when working on this kind of project. With the USA having 50 states I wanted to choose at least 1 or 2 things to illustrate to represent each state. So that’s at least 100 illustrations and all with a lot of detail, so you can imagine my computer and I had many words (me shouting and my computer beach balling). Below are some key elements illustrations I illusted for this United States of America Map illustration.
I hope you like my map illustration of the United States of America and perhaps you will want to travel to the USA to see these fun and cool attractions just as much as I want to.
America map illustration
Every time I illustrate a map of a country it always teaches me so much about that place before I visit. For example, now I know there is a fruit called paw paw. Tennessee is the birth place of candy floss and people call people from Alaska “sourdough”. All of those things made this project so much fun.
When I was a little girl I was really into a book (and game) called “Where’s Wally?” and I think this has slightly influenced my map illustration. My maps are very busy with many small details so people like me can have fun trying to find different things. Including all these details also invites the viewer to look at the map for longer so they can find out famous things about their country that they may not have known about before.
Below are some of the detail images from my United States of America Map illustration.
The buildings in the above section of the USA are just so cool. There are buildings that have the shape of a coffee pot, a milk bottle and there’s even a teapot shape building. How aesome. Those buildings look like they should only exist in a Mr Men book but they do actually exist in the real world. There is even a building in Connecticut that is the birthplace of the hamburger but sadly it doesn’t look like a hamburger.
There is also a sweet corn water tower and a giant coffee pot water tower. People are so creative and fun in the USA. I personally just think a water tower is just a water tower. They usually look very boring, grey and they are just a metal tank in the sky and that’s it. But I found so many cute water towers in America through researching the fun and quirky attractions of the USA. So I have illustrated four water towers which are, the sweet corn water tower, giant coffee pot water tower, watermelon water tower and peach water tower. There are so many more water towers I really want to illustrate but I’m afraid if I try to illustrate most or all of them then the map will become the ‘United Water Towers of America’.
This has also been the first time I have had a chance to illustrated different tribes of Indian-American people and also an Eskimo girl. I really enjoyed illustrating these characters and would love to illustrate more in the future. I know these people have played such an important and huge part of American culture so it wasn’t fair and also a shame to not illustrate them in my map illustration.
A must see along the famous “Route 66” is the blue whales slide in a lake in Oklahoma. The sunflower state of Kansas has supposedly the best BBQ ribs in the USA and Kansas is also famous for The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, sunflowers and of course BBQ ribs. There is also a wagon building in Nebraska.
So that’s it for this map illustration. It was a lot of work but I absolutely love it and have printed it really huge for my home. Working on this project has really enlightened me on what an interesting and awesome country the United States of America and one day I really want to travel around the USA and visit as many of the sites I have illustrated.
Earlier this year I was commissioned by the Royal Botanic Garden here in Edinburgh to illustrate a series of illustrations for their upcoming event called the “Survival of the Smartest” which was basically a children’s glasshouse adventure trail.
This is one of those “bucket list” projects that I’ve wanted to work on. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, or RBGE as I’ll call it from now on, is one of my favourite locations in Edinburgh for my family. Chris and I both love the gardens and Amelia loves charging around there and if we were to renew our wedding venues in Edinburgh (want to do this when we hit the 10 year mark) then the RGBE would be our instant first choice.
I also love drawing anything to do with nature, whether it be flowers, trees, plants, animals or whatever so I have always dreamed of being commissioned by the RGBE. So when I got their email I was over the moon.
Working with the RBGE was a lot of fun. All of the people I worked with were super friendly and lovely. I got multiple free access to the Glasshouse for drawing and sketching. They even picked some passionfruit for me to eat in the Glasshouse. The photo below shows myself and the copywriter Sarah eating passionfruit. I never even dreamt of eating fresh delicious fruit directly from the Botanic Gardens. Before I was always worried I might get arrested or at least thrown out of the gardens if I touched any plant especially in the Glasshouse. But they actually welcome people to touch their plants and feel the different textures.
So far I am still waiting for the official launch date for this event. The event was due to be launched during the summer but they had a big event when the largest flower in the world, the “Titan arum” blossomed. Apparently the flower smells like rotting meat when it blossoms so I didn’t check it out but still, it was a big event that brought in a lot of people. Then we had the Fringe festival for which everything, and I literally mean everything, gets put to one side. So fingers crossed everything will be put on display in the gardens really soon, I’m so excited!!
I illustrated a series of illustrations for a small booklet, two different poster illustrations and a billboard size illustration. The illustrations below are just a few examples from this project. You can see all the illustrations by visiting the Botanic Garden Edinburgh and walk through the trail in the Glasshouse. I believe the booklet is free and full of fun facts about plants and activities so don’t forget to get a copy. Just a note but I loved the paper and texture they printed out the booklet on. Usually booklets will use a coated paper but they chose un-coated paper this time which has a lovely texture. I will post photos after this event has launched and I will definitely visit and take more photos to show everyone.
This is one of the poster/billboard size illustration I created for this project.
At the end of 2014 I was working on a really exciting picture book project with Edinburgh Zoo. I was asked to create a picture book based on a real life character “Darren McGarry”. Darren is the head of the animals at Edinburgh Zoo and he has a very busy life amongst the animals and almost everything related to the animals at the zoo will involve him. The most amazing part of his life is he even lives in the zoo!
After a couple meetings with Darren I decided to write and illustrate a story about Darren’s daily life but with some funny twists. When I met Darren at Edinburgh Zoo he struck me as a person who really cares about and loves the animals. He is very respectful of the animals so he didn’t want to see the animals with any clothes or accessories on them and he doesn’t want to see the animals characterised either (for example he doesn’t want to see the animal talking and acting like a human. Instead, he hopes to see the animals acting normally in their normal environments).
So here is how the story goes. Darren woke up really tired and sleepy and no one knows why? He tried to find places in the zoo to have a nap but all the animals kept interrupting him. He isn’t angry or upset about this and so fulfils all the requests from the different animals and the reader will finally find out why he woke up still tired and sleepy in the morning.
It’s very tiring be a parent and sometimes even when you are so tired your child asks you for things and you still have to meet their demands. Darren made me feel like this with his animals. He loves and cares for them and needs to fulfil their needs and living in the zoo he will care for them no matter what the time or the outside conditions are. He will alway be there for the animals. Sometimes as parents we will feel a bit annoyed when we can’t just sit down quietly and have a cup of tea but no matter what we will still get up and look after our demanding child. I think this is the feeling I want to create for my story.
So below are some of the pages from my picture book. I hope you will like it.
In this post are a few animals I have illustrated for a Taiwanese Children’s interactive/activity book that I have talked about elsewhere. I photographed literally dozens of different illustrations but of the animal illustrations that I created these are some of my favourites.
According to the publisher, this book will be published and printed out in 6 months time so hopefully I will be able to see this book at some point around August.
I have illustrated a huge amount of animals in the past four months. Before this interactive/activity book I worked on a picture book project with Edinburgh Zoo. The story was about a main who lives in the zoo and is the head animal keeper which I will blog about very soon. That was a really fun and interesting project or owkr on.
I keep hearing that other illustrators usually get 6 months to 1 year to “finish” a book project and not moaning at all but this is never the case with my work. I usually get a couple months but it keeps things exciting and busy and my clients have always been really happy with my work.
So the following images are some of the animals I illustrated for a children’s interactive/activity book. Hope you will like it.
Cat, dog, poodle and sheep illustrations:
Milk cow, bull, pig, Moorish idol fish Illustrations:
Clown fish, Palette Surgeon fish and rabbits illustrations:
Recently I was contacted by a publisher in Taiwan to see if I could illustrate some colour insects illustrations or an upcoming Taiwanese children’s interactive/activity book. I illustrate the insects below for this children’s book and this is the first time I’ve illustrated any kind of insects.
I have to admit that even though I’m from a “bug” country (Taiwan is tropical so we get really BIG insects) I really don’t like them so I was a little apprehensive about this project at first as my research would involve looking at insects really close up, but it was actually a really fun project. Fortunately my style isn’t desperately realistic (as in photorealistic) so I could inject a lot of colour into the illustrations.
You can see from the insect illustrations there are pink butterflies and longhorn beetles, orange locusts and beetles, green caterpillars and green mantis together and more. The idea of the children’s book is children match up the animals by colour.
So that’s this interesting project done. I illustrated even more insects but these were some of my favourites and aside from a few goosebumps during research I’m really happy with how everything has turned out. Even more important the publisher were really happy. At the point of posting this blog post the book is still being designed at the publisher’s end but when it’s been published I’ll update here again.
Butterfly and Longhorn beetles, locust and beetles:
Spider and beetles, bee and more beetles:
Caterpillar and mantis, dragonfly and ladybird:
These two insects illustrations are from the another page in this book. The idea for this page is to ask children to point out which animals are different to others (they mix butterflies and longhorn beetles with chameleons in the same frame).