During the summer I had a couple meetings with an independent book publishes based here in Edinburgh called Birlinn.
Over the last few months we’ve been continually discussing the idea of publishing an illustrated Chinese/Taiwanese cookbook, something which I really want to do, and possibly an illustrated Scottish recipe book. But they also gave me a small task to do for another potential book which was to illustrate two double spread illustrations for one of their upcoming children’s books all about a panda travelling around Edinburgh.
As you may or may not be aware pandas are pretty big news in Edinburgh with the two pandas that reside at the zoo, Tian Tian and Yang Guang. Before I say anything about the book I must mention that I really love pandas so this small project was really great fun to work on. I’ve visited the two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo and while I lived in China for just under a year I went to the Panda Sanctuary in Chengdu where I saw literally dozens of pandas and even a newborn panda (so tiny!) which was awesome.
Back to this project though, as mentioned the story is about a panda’s adventures around Edinburgh. If the book does go ahead there will be multiple double page spreads each based on several lines of text. I took two of these sections and used them to create the illustrations below.
The first shows a panda that went to the Botanical Gardens and climbed up the trees, had a look at the lights from Calton Hill and also went shopping at the woollen mill. The other shows the pandas going for a swim in the forth. I actually had some reference material for the Forth Rail Bridge as my husband photographed a pre wedding shoot for a couple at South Queensferry and as part of this took a panoramic style image, so using his photo as reference the bridge was really easy to draw. As well as the pandas swimming in the forth and the forth bridge in the background I illustrated a seal, some fish and crabs to try to create a happy fun atmosphere.
Right now at the time of writing this blog I’m not sure what’s going on with the book. Publisher’s in the UK at least take quite a while to make decisions (not complaining at all btw, in fact working with Birlinn so far has been a great experience and they are some of the nicest people I’ve met in the UK to date) so I’m still waiting for a yes or no from them. Despite the wait and whether or not I’m asked to create more illustrations for this book I really enjoyed working on this project.
I love pandas (incidentally one of my favourites movies is Kung Fu Panda) and maybe I’ll do more panda illustrations in the future. So wish me luck and if everything works out as hoped I can have fun creating many more panda illustrations.