In August 2021, I was on holiday, between my second and third year of my Bachelor of Science in Education. During this break, I got to experience a glimpse of the freelance life: I pursued a big project that required hundreds of hours of work, I tried to be more active on Instagram, I built great relationships with great illustrators and I researched a lot about the different ways to monetize my art. In this research, I got interested in illustrating for publishing houses.
So I gave myself a challenge. An exercise. In the manner of a #DrawThisInYourStyle: re-illustrate some pages of a book, keeping the formatting of the text.
So, I used the book “Lucie et les Lucioles” by Arnaud Moine and Mayalen Goust (ed. Chocolat! Jeunesse, 2009), whose story touched me a lot and whose graphic style was completely different from mine.
For this project, I gave myself 3 constraints. 🖍️
- Do not use black.
- Make a colour gradient between the pages.
- Illustrate an older, less shy Lucy, around 10 years old.
My preliminary work was to describe, page by page, what I liked about the original book, then to copy the manuscript and replace the text on a blank Indesign document and finally, to compose a storyboard for the whole book, to establish my own progression in the story.
I then chose three successive pages that illustrate Lucy’s journey through the forest. I found them particularly interesting as they show the passage of her state of mind from curiosity, to worry, and finally, to fear.
I had a lot of fun with the shapes in the forest, with the dramatic lighting, and with Lucie’s facial expressions. I tried to vary the silhouette of the trees, while linking the illustrations together with details like the bushes or the gradual appearance of the fireflies…
One point I really enjoyed working on was: the colours. I tried to have a rather fluid colouring process that was different from my usual one. ⭐
Finally, several weeks after finishing these three double spreads, I decided to illustrate a cover, choosing to highlight the path that Lucie must take, through the forest, to reach the top of the mountain.
I took this moment to reflect on what this little experience had taught me.
After illustrating these few pages, I realized that I particularly liked this way of working, rather than, for example, creating original illustrations to sell on an online shop, or illustrating for the sole purpose of publishing on my instagram feed. I found that the working from a manuscript imposed just enough constraints to allow me to be creative without getting too hung up on it.
So after that, I started my publishing house research: I made a huge spreadsheet (hyper-top-secret) with all the publishing houses I like and how to contact them.
Three months later, I made the choice to stop my degree, and officially declare myself as an artist-author. I am slowly laying the foundations of my career, including investing my time in creating my website, building my portfolio and committing to writing articles for each of my favorite projects, like this one.
Thank you very much for reading this short first article. Although it wasn’t a huge project, and it’s only a fictional training exercise, I feel like I’ve changed quite a bit because of it. I’ve finally taken my illustrations seriously, and I’ve realized (it’s about time!) that I have the skills to get published one day.
Links to continue reading…
Another illustration exercise, this time based on an original manuscript… by me!
Links to explore…
Mayalen Goust’s Instagram (original illustrator)
Arnaud Moine’s Instagram (author)