Today I am delighted to welcome Nicola Killen to the blog with a special guest post on the illustrative process behind her lovely picture book, ‘Ollie’s Magic Bunny.’ This gentle story tells the tale of a little girl whose bunny is brought to life by a magical breeze of blossoms. Bunny runs off with Ollie in pursuit and she finds herself caught up in the most unexpected of adventures. But when bunny finds himself in trouble, Ollie has to be brave to make sure she returns him safely home. Wonderfully endearing, its a child’s dream come true that their beloved toys come to life and this tale is filled with joy and magic. The use of a muted palette gives this tale a soothing, gentle feel making the story a really comforting read. Exquisitely illustrated with peek-through cut-outs which invite the reader to join in with Ollie and her bunny on this delightful adventure.
Hello, today I’m writing a little bit about the process of creating the illustrations for my new book Ollie’s Magic Bunny.
Firstly I thought about how Ollie would look. I tried lots of different costumes with different head shapes and noses, and also different tummies. It wasn’t long before she had a white fluffy tummy and was wearing yellow wellies!
Once Ollie’s bunny costume had been decided, I started to work on story ideas. I always draw VERY rough storyboards initially. Some of them are so rough, I’m not sure anyone would be able to tell what was going on apart from me! But when the story takes shape, I try and make thumbnail pictures which are neat enough to show to my publisher (and you)!
The next stage is to work on slightly bigger roughs. For this book, these roughs were about one third of the actual size as I found this was small enough to keep everything loose, but big enough to get most of the detail in. At this stage, I tried to work out how the die-cuts would fit into the story too – I’d like to say that I have a scientific system for this, but it’s definitely more a case of trial and error!
Harriet, the designer I was working with, placed these sketches, along with the text, into the layout for the book to check that everything fitted together properly. I then made full size roughs so that I had accurate drawings to base my artwork on.
I painted the pictures using black ink with watercolour brushes on to cartridge paper. I cut stencils out of paper to help paint some of the bigger textured areas, while other elements I did freehand. Some of the stencils were pretty big and took a long, long time to cut! This picture shows one I made for Ollie’s Christmas Reindeer.
Depending on the size of the picture, painting all the layers of ink took between one and three days. I then added monoprint linework using a hinged piece of paper to make sure it was in the right place. This can be a difficult process and leads to lots of mistakes and blobs of ink (on me as well as the paper)! I’m always very grateful that the mistakes I make can be rectified in Photoshop later!
All the artwork was then sent to be scanned before I added the colours digitally. This was quite quick on the pages where there was only small areas of colour, but took several hours on the more detailed pictures, especially those with lots of leaves!
I hope that gives you an idea of how I made the illustrations for Ollie’s Magic Bunny. I’m not sure which part of the process is my favourite, but it’s probably a close call between drawing the initial storyboards and painting the artwork!
Thanks to Nicola for this really fascinating guest post I’m always intrigued at the different processes illustrators use when creating picture books.
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts.
‘Ollie’s Magic Bunny,’ is availably to buy now online or from any good bookshop. Thank you to Olivia and Simon and Schuster for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.