February 3rd Thursday - The elephant that wanted a friend

  • Hello everyone!

    I had an idea for Feb 3rd Thursday and while trying to develop the story I ended up writing a short story! It is about an elephant who falls in love with the shadow of a mouse (with the mouse's tail misleading the elephant by looking like a trunk)

    I have written the whole story and plan to do about 6-8 illustrations for it. However, I would like to do the first illustration for my 3rd Thursday entry. It would be when the elephant first sees the mouse's shadow and is ecstatic to have met another elephant (he lives in a zoo).

    However, this "scene" turned out to be a lot more tricky to illustrate than I anticipated!!! For the mouse to be casting a big shadow, I think the scene should take place at the end of the afternoon, when the sun is low. Or have an alternative light source... since they are in a zoo, I thought maybe there could be some spotlights on the ground or something. Than the mouse has to be hidden from the elephant but his shadow clearly visible. Also, I am not sure wether we should see the mouse or just the shadow (I feel like kid's would love to see the mouse and then be "part of the secret")

    Anyway! I'm brainstorming a little "outloud", I hope this make sense!

    Here are the two thumbnails (on like 2 dozens) that I like so far. I will do a bunch more, but wanted to see if any of you had other ideas (since you always do!!!)


  • SVS OG

    I'd definitely like to see the mouse and be in on the secret. This'll be a challenging piece from the sound of it and I'm looking forward to see how you pull it off!

  • I love love love the concept! I think it'd be a good idea for the mouse to be hidden from the view for the first picture and then "revealed" to let the viewer in on the secret in the second picture - kids love surprises as long as they don't go on too long, so I think that'd be fun. I can't wait to see this one!

  • SVS OG

    This is a really fun and interesting concept! I think it would make a great actual book too 🙂

    My first thought, is that designing a successful piece for 3rd Thursday is subtly different from designing a whole book, because ideally for a 3rd Thursday the piece works on its own (ie for 3rd Thurs & portfolio work I would show both the elephant and the hidden mouse) so the audience gets the punchline/secret....because 'elephant falls in love with mouse's shadow' is much more fun than 'elephant falls in love with elephant's shadow' ...so that showcases your excellent ideas better!...but if I were doing a book, I'd do a page-turner surprise with the mouse revealed soon but not right at the beginning. Perhaps your 3rd Thurs could be the 'reveal' page.

    Yeah, I would probably lean towards having a spotlight source of light, rather than the sun...because the sun would have to be really low, and it's not sunny every day. Unless you wanted to make a big deal of that in the plot ..eg the elephant only sees the shadow at sunset and concludes that his love must really love sunsets and hate the rain/cloudy days...though that could work too! But image-wise probably easier to set it up if it's a spotlight.

    Also if it's sunset, there would still be people/visitors about and perhaps they would scare the mouse if they saw it... Whereas if you had a spotlight, you could say, perhaps, that the mouse comes out in the evening and does a little dance in front of it, like it wants to be a famous mouse dancer or something (need a reason for it to stand by the light so much...though maybe you have that already figured out in your plot..)

    Here's another idea for your thumbnail...if you did something like this, the mouse/shadow could be more high contrast, and the elephant less so, a little light glowing onto his face would be fun...


    ...but just an idea for you! Looking forward to seeing whatever you decide on 🙂

  • @Dulcie Thanks for the ideas!

    My story (it's actually more like a little poem) takes place all in one day, so the elephant sees the shadow, is really happy, talk and laugh with the mouse/elephant and then notice the shadow has disappeared. So that is why I thought of low sunlight, but it could work with a spotlight too (but then the spotlight would have to be turned off at some point haha)! I have to do some more sketches to really figure out the best way to illustrate it! I really appreciate you taking the time to do a thumbnail, I love the idea of the shadow projecting on a wall!

  • Definitely tricky to do but I absolutely love the idea!! Super creative and cute. I think Dulcie's idea and composition reads really well and tackles a lot of issues you might come across as you work. Excited to see your finished piece!

  • Ok! So I made a bunch of other thumbnails (I am actually watching @Will Terry creative composition class so I really went haywire on thumbnails!). I came up with one that I liked and then imported it in photoshop and made several slight variations on it and came up with these 3 possibilities (they are extremely rough, the background will show some other animals in the distance and the fencing of the enclosure).

    #1 copie.jpg

    This one is my favorite, and this is the "flow" I am going for

    #1 fleches copie.jpg

    However, I am not sure about having text in the middle... is there a law against that ?!

    Here are the other 2 possibilities

    #2 copie.jpg
    #3 copie.jpg

    I don't really like #2 because the elephant would be covered in the shadow of the tree... That's why I used a stump for the other version

    Any thoughts ?!


  • Still on thumbnail...

    I tried to simplified the composition as much as possible... I think I like this one..

    Alfred - 3rd Thursday - NGLandry.jpg

  • Very rough sketch!

    Alfred - 3rd Thursday - NGLandry 2.jpg

  • Here is where I am at with this, my sketch is still rough but I added basic colors to see if it works. The sky won't be that pink, I still have trouble adjusting colors on my cintiq. Any comment/critique on the composition/construction would be appreciated before I dive in and start the final steps!


    Alfred - 3rd Thursday - NGLandry 4.jpg

  • @NoWayMe I think this is a super cute idea! It's a really fun way to play with different sized shapes, big and little, etc. I also like the unexpected friendship idea. Kuddos to you for coming up with a whole story idea! I think it'll be a good way to practice and get portfolio work together.

    At the moment the composition is leaning very heavy on the right side. Something Will Terry mentioned on someone else's WIP was to have characters on the left looking right, that way your eye naturally moves into the picture. I think you're composition is getting there, but it needs a little work to distribute the weight.

    I also feel like the shadow from the mouse isn't reading like an elephant. I think if you look at Dulcies sketch of the 3 circles, (the head and two ears) that it's reading more like an elephant. I also grabbed a couple images from online to show what I mean. Good luck!

  • @Shannon-Perkins Thanks Shannon! I will definitely rework the shadow! I will also try to improve the balance! Good call. I was thinking that having the text in the lower left corner would be enough, but I probably need to add something more...


  • @NoWayMe I hadn't actually thought about the text, I typically look at artwork as stand-alone illustration, so it might work with the text in there. I would still flip the image to pull the eye the image, but I'd play with the text in there and see if it balances out.

  • SVS OG

    It's looking nice @NoWayMe! I like the background with the animals, it’s got detail but it’s not distracting.

    There is one thing that I wonder about... the mouse needs to be hidden for it to make sense, but at the moment he is only just hidden, and the elephant can almost see the top of his head…to me it needs to be really clear-cut that he definitely can't see the mouse...maybe move him over a bit where the bush is higher. I agree that the shadow really needs to be convincing for this to work. I would be really tempted to try and recreate something with Play-Doh and an anglepoise lamp, if it were my piece, to see what shadows look like at that angle and try and get a reference picture to work from.

    PS. I just remembered something! There is a children’s book called The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler, it has a scene at the end where the mouse frightens the Gruffalo’s child by making its shadow look really huge…I don’t know if Julia Donaldson books are popular worldwide but here in the UK they are HUGE, so popular. I had to wait till my son was asleep but I sneaked up and got the book, here is a scan of the scene:


    Obviously it is different but maybe you could take inspiration in some way, for making the shadow look right…you could even have the mouse in a tree branch, if the low-light+bush situation proves really hard to get right.

  • This is where I am at right now! Still a lot of work to do! Any input appreciated!

    Alfred - 3rd Thursday - NGLandry 6.jpg

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