I’m working on a 5th grade History book for BJUPRESS. The designer and I have been going back and forth trying to zero in on the style for the book’s interior illustrations. Thought it might be interesting to give a peek at the thoughts behind the book’s illustrations.
Initially, I wanted to do something stylized. The argument was that the illustrations would give the readers some space to enter into them and handles for their imaginations to grab hold. So here are two ideas about what that might look like. One’s a rough sketch of a soldier at Valley Forge. The other more finished illustration is of a younger G. Washington during the French and Indian War.
They didn’t feel right. The Valley Forge guy in particular was a bad fit. It could work if the account of Valley Forge was heavily narrative or if the age were younger (3rd grade perhaps), but because these were 5th graders and sensitive to being “talked down to,” and because the illustrations have to serve interesting textual callouts, the style needed to feel more precise. Also, another problem emerged. Humorous illustrations about abstract things look too similar in style to serious/concrete things.
The more literal style (above on the right) allowed the comic illustrations (below) a separate voice.
So it’s still rough, but we’re finding the illustration look for the book.
The aspiration is for the styles to look related, but more like cousins than brothers. It’s an exciting project, and I’m enjoying the preliminary discoveries, but I can’t wait to get into the guts of it. Hope this was interesting.