Here’s a recap of another assignment from Lilla Rogers’ course: kids’ books! Like most illustrators, I’ve always wanted to illustrate picture books, so this assignment was really exciting. We were to design either a cover or a spread for the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Snail and the Rose-Tree. (I’ve included the complete text of the story at the end of this post.) The assignment also included some hand lettering.
Before we were given the full text of the story, we had to do some sketches of a snail character that kids could relate to. I tried out ideas for a “cheerleader” snail, a nerdy snail, a tough-guy snail, and a punk snail. I played with facial expressions, and how the characters might interact with one another.
After working on different concepts for the snail, we were given the text for the story. The story itself is a bit gloomy, so I wanted to lighten it up through the illustrations. Making the curmudgeonly snail into a punk snail made a lot of sense. (And it didn’t hurt that I had just gone to the Punk show at the Metropolitan Museum!)
Next up was the hand lettering:
What about the rose-tree? How to make it a character?
I like how the rose-tree is irritatingly cheerful, and how the snail is having none of it—very much the way they relate in the story! Now, to pull all the elements together:
Here’s the first version in color:
I like the color palette and how the lettering came out, but the composition feels a little weak. Also, the way I’ve drawn the rose tree doesn’t relate well to the way I’ve drawn everything else. Here’s how I addressed all those issues:
Better, but still not quite on the mark. I went back to the brief, and came across a list of important things to keep in mind for children’s picture books:
- great characters,
- in well-developed environments,
- expressing emotions.
Aha! The characters aren’t in a world of their own, so I added an environment. I also put a subtle face on the sun.
Thought I was done, but I realized that the two main characters have to relate to one another, and hint at the story. I also decided to go with a more disdainful expression in the snail. Here’s the final version:
Just for kicks, I tried my hand at different expressions of the rose-tree:
So much fun! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this process. Please share them in the comments.
And now, as promised, here is the full text of the story:
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