October 11, 2019

A Study of White Space

I have always admired full-page children's book illustrations where the illustrator is able to cleverly incorporate the white of the page into the picture. I feel like sometimes I tend to over-illustrate, filling every square inch of the page with color and line so, recently, while I was working up ideas for the Prairie Writer's and Illustrator's Day illustration prompt, I challenged myself to try and incorporate more white space into my illustration. This challenge started with a trip to my local library to find some examples of the look I was trying to achieve. I found three beautiful books that creatively activate the white of the page, here are some examples of the pages I was looking at:

The Very Very Very Long Dog written and illustrated by Julia Patton. I have a soft spot for long dogs and the illustrations in this book were so lively, fresh and bright.

I love how Patton chose to leave the street (something that is traditionally very dark) white in this image.

Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes written by Anna Kemp and Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie. In these illustrations all the color lives with the characters really helping to emphasize what's important.

The way Ogilvie leaves the staircase and rail white is so clever and leaves a great place for the text.

Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia and Lauren O'Hara. This book utilizes the flat white of the page to stand in for a snowy forest floor. It creates a whimsical and graphic vibe that I really enjoy.

The way the white is used to emphasize the characters on this page is perfect.

My challenge was to create an illustration based off of the prompt "Competition was fierce but Rowan was Ready." After playing around with different competitions and sports that Rowan could be participating in, I decided that I wanted to draw her at the beginning of a go-cart race. As a kid, I loved to craft and often took over our unfinished basement with gargantuan box forts and other cardboard creations. I thought it could be fun to have the competition that Rowan was in to be in her imagination instead of literal. Designing the carts out of boxes and having the "competition" as her toys is hopefully a fresh take on the prompt and a relatable experience for any creative kid who's ever been told to go play on their own.

I used the white of the page to represent the floor and create a nice place to stage the prompt text. Having the floor so light also let me really pull back on the intensity of the color and contrast of the background living room elements and keep the viewer's focus on the race.

If you liked this story, here's some more stuff to read:

American Folktales Process Blog

This is a series of illustrations I created based on the Folktale Week prompt list put out in November of 2018. The idea was to create and post one illustration based on a folktale every day for a week. Instead of picturing the more popular European folk and fairytales, I wanted to make pieces based on North American folktales. In American folktales, subjects are rugged and wild; cowboys, lumberjacks, pirates, and outlaws. At the time the Americas were being settled, the world had a very negative association with witches and magic. Because of this you see much less of a focus on witches and spells. Instead, American folk tales portray people with larger than life personalities and great senses of adventure.

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Character Design Challenge

Take a deeper look into the characters I created for Hayden Aube's character quest and find out how you can participate!

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Fierce or Fluffy?

See the process behind the creation of this misunderstood beast as I go from concept and first sketch to completion.

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