Researching illustration styles

At first I wondered if I would do cartoon-like characters for the stories. I must have looked at hundreds of styles over the past month. After trying a few styles, I fell back on art school pen-and-ink techniques, aided and abetted by having some fun with watercolor.

The more naturalistic images from the fifties and sixties had some appeal, but I didn’t want to draw every bit of fur and feather. I wanted them to look like the real animals, which meant researching thousands of images to find photographs that I could adapt and draw from to create the characters for the stories. I already knew what they looked like. Sometimes I was able to find a photo that was close. Often I exaggerated the curves, the poses, or made the eyes just a little larger than ‘natural’. Still, a month later, and a sore hand-and-wrist I have around 80 images sketched.

The next step is coloring them for the first book. There are ten stories written. I’ll share some of the images here s they are finished.

Hope you like them.

A dancing bird for children’s story

Brolga by Ria Loader
Brolga Dancing by Ria Loader Copyright 2016

As long as I can remember, I have loved images of Brolgas. They are a crane-like bird that lives in marshes and on the plains. One of my favorite images is from Sidney Long called Spirit of the Plains. It has a woman with pipes, walking through long grass, followed by a dancing set of Brolgas.

When I find a good reproduction, I’ll share it with you. Meantime, I am enjoying playing with the intersection of pen and ink sketches and watercolor wash.