Exercise: Working for children


“Collect as many examples of imagery for children as possible. Group the illustrations you’ve collected into the target age groups. Include at least one image for each age group”.

  • Pre-reader
  • Pre-school
  • Early-reader
  • Established reader
  • Older age groups

Below I have organised my findings into titled galleries:


Pre-school (3-5)

Early reader (5-7)

Established reader (7-9)

Older age groups


Take two of these age groups and, for each one, go through a process of brainstorming around at least one word chosen from this list:

  • Festival
  • Scary
  • Wild
  • Growing
  • Journey
  • Sad
  • Family
  • Discovery

I wanted to choose the age group that I am familiar with in my my own children and the ones in which I feel illustration plays a big part in visualising a story.

My two chosen age groups where:

Pre School (3-5) and Early Reader (5-7)

I started by brainstorming my chosen word “Wild” for the pre school age group.

I then started brainstorming my second chosen word “Journey” for the early reader age group.


“Pick an animal appropriate for each age group and brainstorm to identify themes, images and ideas pertinent to your age groups”.

I started by looking at appropriate animals for my age group of (3-5)

I researched further into character in other books and within my original research. I created a gallery of photos of animals that I think grab the attention of the intended audience.

Looking at the characters from published illustrations, the artist nearly always exaggerates the body parts and characteristics of the animal. Anthropomorphism plays a big part in children’s book illustration. The humanisation of the facial features and body language allows the artist to communicate their story to the audience better.

I also clipped some images of potential animals that I feel fit into the intended age group.

I decided to choose a Mouse as my animal for the age group 3-5. Mice/rodents, have always been a prominent creature choice for children’s books and have appeared in many illustrations. Their curiosity, size and cute features can be moulded to fit many different narratives.

Next I created a quick brainstorm of my chosen animal to try and create some ideas for a narrative.

I then cross examined both brainstorming exercises to try and create a single sentence that could be used as a narrative to create an illustration. Below are my attempts at creating a scenario, character and story to an illustration.

  • Mouse lost on the moon, try’s to find way back home
  • Mouse searching in the wild for a magic tree
  • Friendly Mouse helps a Cat search for its family in the wild
  • Curious mouse ventures into the wild for an adventure
  • Small mouse scared of the wild bit finds a friendly fox

I found this process to be quite helpful, and by pulling keywords from the brainstorming exercise, I was able to flesh out some creative ideas to help with my illustration.

To start my illustration, I did some rough thumbnails of my chosen character and some layout ideas. From my previous brainstorming, I though a “Journey into the wild” would be a fitting story for a tiny brave mouse.

My sketches leaned towards a small character in a big world, a visualisation that is popular for my intended age group. I remembered a scene from “A Bugs Life” when the lead character sets off on his adventure by holding onto a dandelion and letting the wind take him. I also looked into small field mice and how they can sit on wheat without snapping the stem. Both of these ideas are seen in my character development.

For colours, I looked at previously published work and notice a pattern of warm, dry pastel colours. They give a deep vibrant colour and allow the illustrator to create warm and inviting images which resonate with the intended audience.

These are the colours I chose to create my illustration. I wanted a good contrast between the sky and the earth, and I love using gradients, so the first two colours really compliment each other. I then needed my character to pop and be the visual centre focal point, so I chose a beautiful contrasting blue/teal. Knowing that my character was going to be standing on corn, I chose a golden colour, and for the silhouettes, a darker shade of the pastel pink.

For this age group I didn’t feel like I had to use realistic colours for all of the image. My mouse being blue allows the character to stand out and as he was already exaggerated in proportion I thought it fitting to experiment with the colour.

Below is my chosen thumbnail that I created my final image from. I wondered if I should have gone with my other idea, but as I got a little stuck, I’m hoping to revisit this after feedback and work out some other ideas. I was also a little sceptical about having the mouses back facing the audience, but I felt that it invites the reader into the viewpoint. You are looking at what the character seeing, and maybe it suggests a sense that you are about to go on an adventure with them.

Unfortunately to a saving mistake after flattening the image, I lost my linework for this image. When I reopened the image from cloud documents, my image had been compressed to a single layer. This was unfortunate as I was keen to show more progression on this piece.


I enjoyed this exercise but unfortunately ran out of time to explore other the other age groups. Compiling the age groups was more difficult than I imagined with most preschool and pre-reader books falling into the same pile. I feel my illustration could visually stand alone, and the image would speak to the audience of the intended age. I think the colours and text I have used fit in with today’s children’s books and I could see the final render working as a publication.