Today I am sharing how I created the first full page illustration for a children's book series about a family of red foxes who live in the woods near the mountains. This is the first time I have ever illustrated a book so it has been a bit of a steep learning curve and I am still learning as I go. I'll be telling you a little bit about the project and why I'm creating these illustrations as well as some info on my creative process and lots of process pictures for this particular illustration.
The working title of this book is Fairfield Foxes Through the Year and it was written by my sister-in-law Katie Schofield. We are partnering up to create this book that will hopefully become a series of children's books covering a range of topics. This book is about the different seasons and months in a year. The book follows the family as they do different activities throughout the year, while explaining what happens in each season and month in a fun and creative way that young kids can understand. This illustration that I am showing you here is for the month of June and the family is running out into a mountain meadow that is green and in full spring bloom.
I created this illustration with watercolor paints, black ink pens and white goauche.
Here is the sketch. I drew this out a couple of times on regular paper before I got it right, then transferred it to the watercolor paper. I like to use 140lb cold press watercolor paper and I usually buy Canson.
Here's just a couple layers of paint. You can see in the back of the table there I have a piece of watercolor paper with paint swatches on it. That's my color palette that I always try to plan out before a painting. It's especially important with these illustrations because I want them to be consistent since they will all be together in a book.
Here's a little progression of how the smallest fox was created. Pencil, a couple layers of watercolor, then some black ink line-work. I added some more detailed color afterward as well.
Now all of the foxes have gotten their ink details.
I think this was the most nerve-wracking step, besides the first wash of color. Adding the green grass without getting into the details of the foxes is a challenge. You want to keep colors pure when working with watercolor because they are transparent, so when I accidentally clip the side of a fox with green that dulls the orange so I try to avoid that.
The background of the hills in front of the mountains and the trees is now in. I wanted to keep that relatively light and not too saturated to show distance and give the focus to the foxes. That's also why they and the flowers are the only things that are outlined in ink.
A detail shot with some new colors starting to come into play with the flowers and other life.
The foxes have some brighter, deeper color now and the sun is painted. You can spot a bee grabbing some polling from a bright yellow flower in the foreground and a butterfly contemplating the delicious-smelling flowers.
Ta-da! And it's complete! I hope you've enjoyed seeing all these steps and hearing a bit of my commentary on the process. I'd love to get some feedback from you. What do you think of the book concept and the illustration style? Would you buy the book when we complete it? Let me know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org