So when I found out Make Art That Sells was running a children’s book course, I was really excited and signed up for it. The course is a bit pricey and very intensive though. It’s a five week course and you have to complete mini exercises and publish one, and sometimes two pieces of work every week. Almost the same time I signed up for this course I got my first children’s book publishing deal from my home country, Taiwan. Ironically, all the Snapchat work started at the same time as well so after a relatively quiet summer last year, my work went absolutely mental and I’ve been so busy it’s taken until now (a good few months later) to blog this.
So I thought this course would be a perfect opportunity for me to “warm up” my children’s book illustration skills and get me into the “zone”. This course was a real “eye opener” for me, it helps you to build up characters, emotions, environments, every you need to illustrate a children’s book in just five weeks.
The first thing when you start this course, you have to choose one story from 3 options written by Zoe Tucker, who is one of the course teachers and is also an expert in the children’s book publishing business. I chose “Pet Problems” as my story to develop in this five weeks course.
My main character is a little girl called “Eleanor” who really really wants a pet. She lives with her mum and dad in the city centre in a skyscraper building. So the story is about her looking for the perfect pet! I like the story and it sounds fun! In the first week we have to think about what she looks like, what kind of clothes she wears and what her accessories area…etc. I always want to illustrate a little girl who looks a bit like Curly Sue from 90s. So my “Eleanor” has really super curly hair and I like red hair. I think red hair is fun and cool and that’s why my Eleanor has red, curly hair. The age of my Eleanor is about 6-7 year old. That’s why you can see she has missing tooth. I use some of my daughter’s accessories and clothes as my inspiration for “Eleanor. You can see from first image.
In the second week we started to explore the “emotions”. I illustrate Eleanor celebrating her birthday with her pets but that week was actually my birthday week, so I illustrated a “birthday” scene to celebrate my birthday.
The third week, we illustrated different movements for our main character. I illustrated Eleanor doing different activities with her parents and animal friends. For example, Jazz with an elephant in the park, playing with a sea lion in the bathtub, etc.
Fourth week we are doing “spreads/environments”. I illustrated two different spreads, one is an elephant and Eleanor watching television together in her home but the elephant is huge so he took over almost the whole house. the second image is playing jazz with the elephant in the park. I had a lot fo fun illustrating these two spreads.
I never completed the fifth week assignment as I was too busy with all the commission projects I had going on at the time. I booked the course months in advance thinking I would be quiet enough to do it but I recommend if you want to do this course, really do try to clear your schedule as much as possible. I’m sure you know but the more time you have to put into your work and courses, often the results will be better but my clients and work will always be my priority and time didn’t allow me to do both.
I think I would take this course again if I have the money and time in the future. You learn a lot from this course and you can really create a lot of beautiful work for your children’s book portfolio.