Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday 21 September 2019

Consistency in a series from an illustrator’s perspective

Alyssa Bermudez, Hobart based illustrator, shares illustrator's insights into the challenges of representing characters that appear over multiple stories. Discover two very different characters in Amelia Chamelia and Lucia the Luchadora.

As an illustrator, it is my job to create the images that help enrich books for children. When I first receive the text for a story, my initial process involves reading it over and over again. I sit, lay, walk and drive with the text in my mind for a period of time to start putting together a visual narrative. This visual narrative is inspired by the text of course, but it also goes beyond that. It is a non verbal language that adds another layer to the story that the text doesn’t explicitly say. This perfect combination of text and additional visual narrative is the great achievement that any children’s illustrator strives for. 

After the initial stage, I start imagining the characters and the world they live in. For the Lucia the Luchadora series, their family heritage was front and centre for me as I began the process of their visual depiction. I set out to find cultural references and colours to inspire their world. For the Amelia Chamelia series, I tried to figure out how to make her stand out yet also be relatable to other eight-year-old Australian girls. Before any pencils hit paper, a lot of research and thought was involved. I feel as though I truly know the characters before I start to draw them.

To provide consistency to these characters across multiple pages and books is also a unique challenge. While they need to look like the same person with the same proportions, their body language and emotional range needs to be as diverse as the readers themselves. Amelia Chamelia faces a huge challenge of public speaking when she is assigned the role of narrator in the school play. Her best friend Willow also faces a fear of heights during the school swimming test. Portraying these very real emotions in visual form can help engage early readers along the journey. 

Creating consistency in style can be an interesting challenge too, especially when illustrating a series. Lucia the Luchadora set the style for the sequel, but I still tried to introduce new colours and characters into the culturally rich world they live in. Amelia Chamelia is simple black and white interior illustrations, so even though the artistic style doesn’t change throughout, the characters and expressions are diverse. 

Each book is an exciting opportunity to explore style, consistency and nuance of character for visual storytelling. An illustrator’s work is never over! Stay tuned for more of my illustrated books coming soon including My Singing Nana! 

Alyssa Bermudez
Children’s and commercial illustrator
T: @bermudezbahama 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Alyssa thanks for sharing your creative process of illustration.There is a lot of aspects to consider and while every illustrator would have an individual approach it is interesting to read how your characters are developed. I suspect that being a successful published illustrator is not for the 'fainthearted'.