Anatomy of an illustrated book

Illustrator Heather Hunt takes us through the journey of constructing images for the book Kiwi: The Real Story.

heather hunt illustrator kiwi the real storyIllustrator Heather Hunt takes us through the journey of constructing images for the book Kiwi: The Real Story.

Nose to the grindstone
I worked 8-12 hours a day for nine months working up the concept by hand first, then pushing ideas around the screen.

Initially I spent some time trying a variety of media for the artwork – such as pencil, pen, charcoal, ink, gauche and digital.

I resisted working exclusively in digital media (a lot of digital art is a bit too slick and clinical for me) but after some experimentation I became confident I could capture the wonderfully wild, raw, feistiness of this character with vector points.

kiwi: the real story bookSole method
I worked exclusively in Adobe Illustrator – for other projects I use a combination of hand drawing, digital drawing and PhotoShop collage.

Letting go
As with any media, there’s a point where you let go of the original concepts and allow the media you are working in to have a voice too. I had real fun being quite cheeky with some of the tools and options in Illustrator – the pine trees are a good example of this.

Deliberately playful
The way I have used Illustrator has been deliberately playful and many elements in the illustrations have a scribbly, accidental and ‘elementary’ look to them.

Poetry in motion
Once the poem was drafted I worked up rough concepts for each page by hand, then I used these as a basis for developing my illustrations digitally.

I was conscious throughout the whole book of keeping a sense of ‘the hand’ in this work. It was important to maintain the loose, wild and energetic feel of the hand-drawn character.

Hand-eye co-ordination
Using a drawing tablet meant I could literally continue to ‘draw’ with my pen onto the tablet. It took a little while to get used to drawing and looking at the screen – not my hand – as I the real story book