4.3 A children’s book cover


The brief was to work up three ideas for a children’s natural history book entitled ‘Animals from around the world’.

Keywords from the brief:

  • For children (aged 7-11)
  • Full colour front jacket
  • Three ideas as coloured client visuals
  • Include information about size, format and where type will be positioned
  • Note the design decisions you made



I carried out an internet search of similar titles aimed at the same audience to get a feel for how other illustrators and publishers are choosing to address this audience.

Generating ideas

I worked through a mind map to formulate the three different visual approaches that would end up being carried through into the final client visuals.

Mind map from A5 sketchbook

The three different ideas can be summarised as:

  1. Composite image – featuring one animal from each animal category; Invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals
  2. Facts – incorporating ideas of scale, interesting/surprising and hopefully memorable/engaging facts
  3. Narrative – the idea of the hunter and the hunted. Needed to be mindful of the audience

I felt that that these concepts were strong enough to pitch at a client along with a good set of visuals.


I created thumbnails for the last two approaches but the nature of the first composite image meant that it really made itself and it didn’t generate a thumbnail.

Thumbnails from A5 sketchbook

Client visuals

I used the same process for creating each image.

I collected reference material from the internet including pictures of the animals and their habitats. The illustrations had to be factually accurate.

I built basic versions of each image by digitally manipulating the reference materials. Decisions about subject and viewpoint were made at this stage.

I then used a light box to create line art from the reference images and scanned these into Photoshop. I found that creating several different layers of the same image by picking out different detail is an effective way to add expression and texture into the digital image.

Approach 1 – Composite image

Work in progress pictures01

A3 colour layout 01 – Composite

Approach 2 – Facts

Work in progress pictures02

Book cover colour visual02
A3 colour layout 02 – Facts

Approach 3 – Narrative

Book cover colour visual03
A3 colour layout 03 – Narrative

What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I like the approach of creating a layout using reference materials and then creating line art using a light box.
  • I think the three different concepts give a nice range of options for a client to consider.
  • I finally figured out how get a really clear black and white line art layer in Photoshop.

What I could have done differently/better

  • I could have spent more time and consideration on the typographic elements but they weren’t really the focus for this exercise.


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