Cover design and illustration for the children's book called Magic Wand Tales

Magic Wand Tales

 Magic Wand Tales children’s book

After four months of continuous work, one of my projects is finally complete and has now been submitted to several publishers. My children’s book is based on the magical world of a witch’s cat. A great project that stretched my illustration and design skills to the max!

The first part was obviously writing the story which is done in a poetic style. This did make the task more complex, but my decision was based around my research. From birth onward, any child lucky enough to be read to will have heard a lot of poetry. Nursery rhymes and picture books with rhyming texts are all poetry which makes them perfect for reading aloud.
Following the inner tunes of verse helps the reader to make their reading aloud dramatic and fun – so it is no surprise that the listener will love it too. There is a lot of poetry to enjoy including novels written in verse, which have a special magic all of their own, so it made sense to go down this route with my children’s book.

The Magic Wand Tales children’s book contains 11 illustrations and a map all of which basically took up most of my time on this project, the writing was actually the easiest and quickest part! There were a few glossary terms and challenges that I came across so I decided to share this all with you.


the characters

To really bring the story to life, the characters need to have depth. The use of clothing, colours, textures, facial features and expressions plus posture all give each character a personality of their own and something that adds more interest to the story itself. This also helps the reader/ viewer to “engage” better with the story line scenes and emotions.


the layout


The next step was breaking down the story line to create a storyboard of 11 illustrations, this process shows what parts of the story are best to illustrate and which way was best for the layout of the illustrations, such as: spreads, one page, vignettes, spots etc.

  • spread – illustration that spans both pages

  • spot – illustration is a small free-floating motif, usually with no background. In picture books spots are particularly useful as visual addenda to the main narrative.

  • Vignettes – illustrations with faded or loosely defined edges. The loose edges incorporate the white of the surrounding page to give the image space, lightness and draw the viewer into the scene.

  • Bleed – refers to the part of an illustration that runs off edge of the page

  • full bleed – an image that fills the entire page and is cropped by the trim

The illustration below shows how white space is used to help focus on detail and a key-hole view of a drama about to unfold in the thought bubbles.

Magic Wand Tales example of a "spot" illustration
Magic Wand Tales example of a “spot” illustration

Below is one of the illustrations that show a full spread layout, and being as the image “runs of the page” it is also a ‘full bleed‘ – both suit this illustration due to it being a landscape plus it opens up the image creating a sense of space.

Magic Wand Tales children's book illustration example of a spread page (minus text).
Magic Wand Tales children’s book illustration example of a spread page (minus text)

I always start of with pencil and layout paper to sketch out the rough of the artwork. Layout pads are great for working out artwork because they consist of semi transparent paper and once the sketch is complete I can flip the paper over and view my work in reverse this process helps to show if the illustration is “balanced”. It’s quite amazing how an illustration can look fine one way, but when viewed in reverse can look totally wrong, so it’s best to check as you never know when the artwork will need to be flipped for possible future uses.

Once the client (or myself) is happy with the artwork, I ink the outlines especially if I’m colouring the artwork digitally as it gives a solid outline. I then use a flatbed scanner to scan the artwork, saving the file as a PDF which I then transfer into Photoshop (I will do a tutorial on this process in my next blog).

I do also use traditional methods such as watercolours, gouache and inks, but I do find that the digital process allows for more freedom such as making amendments and colour adjustments, plus when it comes to reproductions such as printing I can provide the printer with the exact colour profiles or HEX codes so that they get a perfect colour match.


making the map

Being as most kids love maps, I decided to add one to help the reader understand the layout of the story setting. As a child I loved making treasure maps and I expect most kids still do. This also encourages children to engage in the reading process with the use of visual ques. I originally created this design in Adobe Illustrator using “Harmony Colour Palette” this provides colour matches using the colour wheel so that all the colours work well together, it’s an excellent tool and well worth using as it saves a lot time with colour matches. Once the flat artwork was complete, I exported the file as a PSD into Photoshop. This process saves all the layers making it easier for me to add clipping masks for textures and effects. This converts the “flat design” into a “rich design.”

Well that’s all for now folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed!

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