Is this children’s booky enough in style? Still figuring out style.

  • Hey everyone, this is a random personal work as I work on my style and skills. It just came from a sketch I kept playing with as I was having fun. I’m new to Procreate so I’m letting myself play. I was wondering if people thought this was along children’s book illustration lines or am I getting off track? I’m finding I’m enjoying losing line work and it looks maybe less typical children’s book style. I’m coming from an oil painting background and that influence is coming out. If I think about it maybe some of my favourite illustrators don’t use line, Marco bucci comes to mind but then he’s a master of brushwork and pretty much everything lol.
    Anyhow any feedback on whether this is children’s booky enough or getting off track is appreciated. I used curves near the end and wonder if I made it too dark also. It was maybe a little washed out.’s looking slightly darker and also blurrier here on the forum than it does in Procreate or on my saved image. No idea why! a little frustrating....

  • @Coley hello Coley! Why illustrations for children should be with line work? I think, as long it conveys an atmosphere (and your illustration does!), it is working!

    When I go to bookshops, all the books in the front shelves are those with a strong unique style. The fact that you come from oil painting is definitely an asset! Use it!

    My fav children book illustrator us Elise Hurst and she now does her illustrations on big canvas (like a painting). The paintings are photographed later for the editing of the book. It is probably way more unpractical and it takes longer than usual illustrations (especially digital work) but the outcome is uniquely great!

  • @Coley There's definitely something magical that literally draws me in to follow your dragon. I think this is similar to your last work which got pretty far if I remember correctly. As for the styles I have seen floating around for children's books I didn't read yours as a children's book right away (children's illustration yes- like what might be found in a frame-style wise but story wise -yes) because I have become accustomed to "the floating around ones" -that is of course not to say yours wouldn't work- I agree with @Julia =).

  • Moderator


    It's all about context.

    Howard Pyle, for example, illustrated books for young people. And no one would argue his work wasn't appropriate.

    His work certainly wasn't an example of the "stereotypical children's illustration" that has evolved today. You know what I'm talking about: big heads, no joints, primitively "rough" rendering in a variety of methods and mediums, generally flat picture planes without depth, and lot of color. And cute. Everything must appear cute to the adult eye.


    Be brave. Lean into your strengths and the skills you already have. Remember that visual storytelling using illustration is a VAST field. With many MANY age groups in children's illustration that relish an incredible swath of illustrative styles. Not all illustration for children needs to cater to what we think is preferable for early-elementary stages. Picture Books are only part of the market of children's illustration.

    I think SVSLearn is about visual storytelling as a whole, not just about Picture Books. Will, Lee, and Jake have that particular publication mode in common as one of their strengths, but they all do visual storytelling outside of that arena as well.

    There is a place for everything. I have to have to have to believe that. You may feel your work may not appeal to the "average" children's illustration consumer, so what can you do to wield your skills and produce something you do think might be more appealing? It doesn't mean starting over. It means shifting your weight. That's all. Don't we have enough average? 🙂

  • Moderator

    This is super sweet. I agree, you don’t need line work to make a good children’s illustration. 🙂

  • Honestly I'm struggling a bit with the style debate internally because while it seems that style is something personal, there's definitely an "in" style that the majority of the books on the shelves today seem to be following. You can look back and see that there are definitely popular trends through the decades, so it's nothing new. I imagine there are many artists that adapt their styles to match where the trends are going. While I'm wondering if my own style fits the trend, I also wonder if I should even care? Should I adapt to make it look popular? And if I don't, will I just be limited on potential projects?

    @Coley I also feel your pain between seeing it differently after you get it out of Procreate. I can't seem to get it to match no matter what I do. Most of the time I'm taking it to photoshop before I call it complete because it absolutely loses some of it's vibrancy on the export. The format doesn't seem to affect anything either weirdly.

  • Moderator

    @jdubz @Coley Procreate Issues

    I have this quandary myself, and I use Procreate almost exclusively.

    I am NO expert on image resolutions or screen resolutions. But one thing i can say is that the screen resolution on your iPad is different from the screen resolution on a monitor. So what looks crisp and richly detailed on an iPad can't look the same on a regular computer monitor--it's not the same. An ipad display has 264 pixels per inch. It's my understanding that a regular monitor has 72.

    I do all my images in 300dpi, as I hope that eventually when I'm done I'll have something that might hopefully be desirable as a print. In my experience, when I export the image to anywhere else, the file is normally absolutely huge and I have to reduce it to such a size that the details always seem blurry...

    I don't know if this helps at all, but I feel your pain. I'm just knowledgeable enough of the image size dichotomy to be dangerous, but not enough of an expert to offer any kind of advice to fix anything... I hope this information helps. I wish I could offer you some better advice.

    That being said, when I export an image from Procreate to my camera roll or to my desktop, I always use photoshop to re-save it as an image for the web. If you go to File > Export, or > Export (Legacy) you will find options for saving your image in the best resolution possible to share on these forums. The maximum resolution you can upload is 2500 Kilobytes (if I am not mistaken), and even then it won't appear at it's full size in the thread itself--you'll have to click the image itself to see the full-scale file.

  • @Coreyartus The resolution hasn't been the issue for me so far, it's always in the colors. iPads operate on IPS panels, so matter what you'll probably see some loss when you go to most normal monitors which are using TN technology. But even when I look at the post on the actual iPad the colors are not the same.

  • SVS OG

    What I see is a dinosaur with a wonderfully perky trot and two kids hiding behind a tree to spy on him, full of wonder. What could be more children's book-y than than that? Also, I think the little blurry shimmers in the background contribute to the magic. I know what you mean about the lines, but seriously, if we all start adapting our work to stereotypes just because we think that's what art directors want, where will we end up?

    Have you ever heard of Thomas Locker? He had a whole children's book career based on his oil paintings of landscapes. Nothing typical about them. Honestly, I thought his people were not as good as his landscapes, but his skies and color--oh my! Those by themselves make his books worth buying!

    Anyway, there are only two things I notice that I would change if this were my piece (not that I'm an expert!): The dinosaur himself has a very nice sense of volume, but with all the sunlight filtering in, I think the cast shadow should be a little darker, especially near his feet, and possibly you should modify the position slightly based on the direction the sun is coming from. This would establish him better in space. I might give the trees a little more roundness too, especially the one in the back. I see that you have established a hierarchy of focus in where your sharp and blurry lines are, but I'm not sure it's working 100% yet. I get why you're doing it, though!

    The other is that is seems to be missing some of the yellow range. I didn't stick it into Photoshop to look at the distribution of values, but they don't bother me. Maybe the grass could be a little lighter and have some patches of yellow mixed in where the sun hits? Just an idea...

    I really like the concept. This reminds me of standing quietly in the woods and seeing a deer, only way better!

  • This is a wonderful illustration! The story telling element is definitely coming out and I think the primary thing! Style trends will keep on changing with time but if the story isn't intriguing, nobody will want to read it.

    I totally agree with everyone else. Your wonderful oil painting techniques are definitely showing in this and I think you should consider it your biggest asset. It's definitely children's booky 🙂 it's easy to doubt yourself based on what sells (I'm guilty of it too) but no matter how much I tried doing what I think others want, the more I struggled in creating art that I actually enjoyed. It's always good to experiment but for the right reasons. If you feel like this style is what makes you happy, push boundaries and be the best you can in this style! 🙂

    Speaking about the illustration itself, There are a few things that can be improved like the cast shadows. (I totally love the Bokeh light effect though. That is just brilliant!) And the girl in the foreground is merging with the tree bark. Overall I think it looks fantastic!

  • @Coreyartus thanks so much! I wasn't aware of this and this is the first sort of complete image I did in Procreate. I'll try it in Photoshop and fiddle around. Good to start learning this early! thank you so much,t his was helpful 🙂

  • thanks so much everyone! I really appreciate the comments!

    @Coreyartus your words were pretty inspirational to me 🙂 I don't know where I'm going to end up with my , likely something in between realism and more typical children's book style, who knows but I'm feeling better about just being myself now 🙂

    @LauraA i will look up Thomas Locker, thank you! Thanks for the notes on the piece, I will look at playing around with some of those things when I bring it into photoshop.

    @Neha-Rawat thanks so much. I loooove your own style sooo much and if i could transform into you , I would lol! But we all have to be ourselves. Thanks for the kind words and inspiration!

  • @Coley I can’t quite tell if the dragon is on the ground or in the air a little? I really love this the atmosphere and colours are super-nice. I also have the blurry issue with Procreate and so far haven’t found a way around it, I think it may be something to with the size of the canvas when you begin the project? Still searching for info’ on that!

  • @Coreyartus thanks for the Procreate information, I’ve been having this exact same problem!

  • @Rachel-Horne yes the cast shadow is too light, I’ll have to fix it . Thanks 😊

  • @Coley I love how you illustrated the dragon. I think I want the girl to be peaking from the tree in the foreground so I get a sense that it's from her perspective. And it gives you more opportunity to show more of her character/storytelling. I also wonder if you should add some rim lighting on the dragon's head/neck? But yes, the could definitely be in a children's book.

  • I really like the texture on this a lot, especially the background, grass and dragon, and it looks children-bookish to me for sure.

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