Creating playful scenes

When coming up with ideas for illustrations for book ideas, we often sketch rough ideas of what the characters look like, what they are doing, the environment the book is set and the world they inhabit. We come up with lots of designs. Often our sketches are quite unrefined at this stage, scribbling down lots of ideas for scenes and characters. Later we start to think about layout and perspective and creating an intriguing atmosphere.

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We love to experiment with creating intriguing and playful environments, thinking about if its a cold or hot enviroment, what season is it set in, is it night time, who lives there. We also like to think about what colours we want to use. Sometimes its a lot of bright colours, like greens and oranges and yellows, to create a really vibrant scene, full of life. Other times we use just one or two colours, like blues and greys, to create a cold wintery environment.

Little brother and sister sitting in their bedroom

Little brother and sister sitting in their bedroom

Sketchbook

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One of our favourite things about illustration is creating and drawing characters. We reference from lots of different photos and practice drawing different poses and facial expressions. We love giving our characters different personalties and making them come to life.

We experiment with adding colours to the characters clothing, using only a few colours gives our characters a nice feel. We use simple line work to create detail and texture, especially in the hair and on the clothing.

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How we design and make our character paper puppets

Often when we design characters for children’s books, we come up with little extra designs for paper toys, activity sheets and paper puppets. We base the puppets and toys on characters that we have designed and think of ways we can make them engaging and interactive.

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One of our favourite things to make are paper puppets. We draw our characters out a few times on paper and pick a character that we think would work well as a puppet with movable arms and legs. We draw the full character out on to some paper and then we trace the arms, legs and body separately onto some card. To add colour to our character we usually use coloured pencils and collage. We then cut the body, arms and legs of our character out. We make holes in the top off the legs and arms and attach split pins to the body.

Below is an activity page for children to make their own finger puppets. We use collage on the characters to make them more intriguing and playful. We also create activity pages for children to create their own animal masks, party packs and 3D paper objects.

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