Illustrating a Children’s Story, Part 3


This is part three in my series of posts about illustrating the Three Little Pigs. Please also read:

Some decisions

The whole point of this entire project is to create a promotional piece to send to children’s book publishers. With this goal in mind, I think there are several skills that should be showcased clearly:

  • CHARACTER – Unique design, consistency, and clarity of expression.

  • COMPOSITION – The ability to put a story in book form.

  • NARRATIVE – Visually telling a story that is clear and succinct.

  • STYLE – What makes you different from all the other illustrators out there.

Some people have suggested that I play around with the story a bit, but I’ve decided to keep my version of the tale pretty traditional. Sure, it would be fun, but my goal is not to show how wacky I can be, but to highlight the skills I’ve listed above. The story will still be new and fresh IF my efforts are solid.

A few more character designs

When I draw pigs, I have a tendency to make simple round heads and round bodies. In the brainstorming stage, I discovered a different style that I liked better, using a single shape for the entire body. This is a lot more flexible, making it easier to create different and cuter pig characters.

For the wolf, I struggled a bit for a while. With a little experimentation and good feedback, I was able to come up with a general design that I liked. He’s skinny and sleazy, and looks somewhat like a cross between a rat and a dog. Also, I received a comment the other day that my animals tend to look too Disney-ish – a critique that I’ve gotten before – and I thought that this design was a nice and quirky way to go.

3pigs Pigs1 3pigs Pigs2 3pigs Wolf 3pigs Characters


Because I am using this series of illustrations as a promotional piece, I am limiting the story to merely eight pages. Anything more than that will be too daunting and not worth the time. By keeping the story small, I won’t have to do an enormous amount of painting, and the booklet will be easy to print and put together.

Mapping out the story in such a short amount of space was a lot harder than I expected. Having a really popular story that virtually everybody knows helps a lot. I drew lots and lots of thumbnails, many of which were very simple and messy. But at this point, I am only worried about myself being able to decipher them.

3pigs Thumb1 3pigs Thumb2 3pigs Thumb3

3pigs Thumb4 3pigs Thumb5

Rough Layout

After getting a few ideas down, I went ahead and made more detailed thumbnails. This is the layout that I have so far.

3pigssketches01 3pigssketches02 3pigssketches03 3pigssketches04 3pigssketches05

It’s a good starting point, and I’m enjoying some of the expressions and designs, but I will most likely be tweaking it some more. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions. If you don’t think I am highlighting any of my skills/goals strongly enough, please let me know!