Make Art The Sells: A lesson on not judging a book by its cover

Week three of Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells course was all about Children’s Book Illustration. This is the week I was looking forward to least, but in the end the one that held the biggest surprises so far!

I’ve never considered Children’s Book Illustration for my work, I didn’t think my style was literal enough and I’m not super familiar with the market. My contact with children’s books is pretty limited although I have fond memories of Where The Wild Things Are and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs from when I was a kid.

We were given a text, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snail and The Rose Tree, an odd, somewhat uneventful fairytale about a grumpy,Ā supercilious snail who tells a happy, optimistic rose tree just how mistaken her world view is. We were given the choice to illustrate either a cover or a spread from the story. I toyed with a spread for a long time, even starting a design in a comic book format, but in the end I chose the cover, it felt more poster-like which is something a little closer to my comfort zone! And here is my finished cover:


I knew the key to this project was going to be the expression on the snail’s face so I spent the early part of the week working on capturing as many emotions as possible, a massive learning curve in itself. Once I felt I’d cracked the look on his face I moved onto designing a whole big world for him to live in. I wanted to create something that would really stand out on the bookshop shelf so I went with lots of bright, contrasty colours (shocking from me I know) and loads of texture and detail.

I had great fun adding all the little characters including some confused sheep and little colourful birds – which have been placed carefully to help flow the eye back to the title and authors name. And although it is mostly created out of flat vector shapes I’ve added hand drawn elements like the rain drops in the sun beams and the multiple patterns in the rose petals to give texture and depth.

The Rose Tree also has a voice and personality in the story so I gave her a face, created out of her interlocking petals – something that you might not spot the first time, I hope it’s one of those little details that help keep the illustration fresh even after many a bedtime read! Sorting the typography was much more in my comfort zone and I had great fun with it. It was all hand drawn then vectorised and tweaked in Illustrator to get the shapes perfectly imperfect before adding the same colours and textures as the matching elements in the illustration. However, the most fun was adding the ‘illustrations by Sam Osborne’ line – it’s a thrill to see it even if it isn’t real. Yet.


I’m really pleased with my final design and pretty surprised with the result, especially as I was convinced at the start of the week that this market wasn’t going to work for me. Just shows you not to judge anything before you’ve given it a go!

, , , ,

8 Responses to Make Art The Sells: A lesson on not judging a book by its cover

  1. Lesley Todd June 26, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    That’s brilliant! Love it when designers push themselves out of their comfort zones. You can still clearly see it’s your style. So full of energy, perfect for kids I’d say.

  2. Asmaa June 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Such a lovely and vibrant book cover! i’m for sure buying this one for my kids.. šŸ˜‰

  3. Patternbooth June 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Maybe you’ve found your calling. Brilliant cover.

  4. April June 29, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    I love the color on the cover! It feels like a visual vitamin and eyeball caffeine. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Katherine June 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! The use of patterns throughout your work is amazing and definitely draws your eye to it (just like what you wanted). Good job!


  1. What I Read This Week: July 5, 2013 | The Hipster Home - July 6, 2013

    […] Week three of Lilla Rogerā€™s Make Art That Sells course was all about Childrenā€™s Book Illustration. This is the week I was looking forward to least, but in the end the one that held the biggest surprises so far! by Sam Osborne […]

  2. The Make Art That Sells Journey - Sam Osborne Sam Osborne - July 10, 2013

    […] Week 3:Ā This week was the one I looking forward to least, but again I pushed on and ended up have a blast. I’m super pleased with the snails expression and love all the texture and details in the simple graphic shapes. You can read more about the design process for this in the post I wrote after week 3. […]

  3. Month in the Life: Sam Osborne July - Sam Osborne Sam Osborne - August 6, 2013

    […] got to get out there and enjoy it! The start of the month saw the end of Lilla Roger’sĀ Make Art That Sells CourseĀ and I finished with a design featuring memories of me and my best friend driving the 2CV down to […]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

Hello, would you like to add some colour to your world?

Subscribe to my mailing list and every month you'll get a FREE colourful wallpaper design to brighten up your computer, phone and tablet.
Sign up now below: