Carousel Book: Circus Animals

One of the best books I have produced is the carousel book, or Japanese star book, on the theme of fairgrounds. I decided that I wanted to do circus animals as I thought I would be able to create an interesting and fun book.

After drawing out designs for my animals, I cut them out of ink coloured paper, easily creating full colour textured images.

My book has ended up being rather nontraditional shape for this type of book, as mine is a tall, narrow, portrait book as opposed to a more traditional landscape book.


I have kept the background constant to keep the focus on the animals themselves. I think the fact that some of the animals stick out outside the boundaries has added more depth to the illustration, something that was perhaps lacking due to the narrow shape of my book making the 3-dimensional nature of carousel books almost nonexistent.

Japanese star books form a star shape when looked at from above and below, although because of the nature of my illustrations, mine only does this prominently on the bottom.



Encyclopedia of Fantasy Beasts

I decided to create an encyclopedia about mythical creatures as this was a subject I knew a fair bit about and could have some fun with the illustrations. After looking through lists of some different creatures I decided I would do:

  • Basilisk
  • Cockatrice
  • Dragon
  • Kraken
  • Leviathan
  • Pegasus
  • Unicorn
  • Werewolf

I chose as in alphabetical order in they bear similarities on adjacent pages; IE, Basilisk and Cockatrice are cousins, Kraken and Leviathan are sea monsters, and Pegasus and Unicorns are horses.

Each image is paper cut from ink stained paper with details added in black and white pen. The illuminated letter at the beginning of each title is also cut from paper and embellished with pen.

I have decided to keep the text a mixture of “serious facts” and small comical notes; for example, i have included in depth facts about dragon biology but also notes referencing video game developers Nintendo and a song from 1978 by Warren Zevon.

I wanted the overall feel of the encyclopedia to be like a travelers journal so have aged the paper using coffee and handwritten all the text. I have also included smaller pencil sketches to highlight parts of the text.

I feel that overall the book is successful but some pages are more successful than others. When the pages were bound some of the text was too close to the edge of the page and has been cut off.

Text cut off by the binding process

Despite this, however, the book has the journal like qualities i was hoping for, especially with the faux leather cover I have bound it in. The jagged edges on the cover and worn nature of the faux leather has given the book the ancient, old feel I envisioned at the start of the project.

Simple front cover

The book has been successful however if I were to make it again I would type the text to keep it uniform, make sure to leave a margin on the sides of the page to stop text being cut off after binding and add card to the cover to give it some form of stability.



How to Catch a Ghost

Given the task of creating a “how to book, I decided to make a book on how to catch a ghost. After discounting a few more serious sketches about how to catch a ghost I thought I would be keep pretty lighthearted and fun as some of the illustration I had been coming up with fitted more with the notion of it being for children.

After sketching out my final illustrations, I decided I would make them using paper cut. I photocopied pages from a book of random imagery and textures, as well as objects and clothing, to create backgrounds for the images. By over-copying  and doing them on the black and white setting, it created a grainy effect similar to old horror movies; an effect that added to the theme in a subtle way. The ghosts are made using tracing paper which has given them an eerie, translucent quality.

I feel that some of the pages are more successful than others. The most successful and interesting pages are “Snare ’em/ Cage ’em” and “Bottle ’em/ Bag ’em”; this is mostly because of the interesting textures and overall composition of the pages, as well as their simplicity. The least successful pages are probably “Hook, line and sink ’em” as the textures in the background are too dark to see clearly and just looks like dark grey, and “Rope ’em” as the number of times I had to copy the texture to get it right has left it particularly grainy and has drastically reduced the background quality.

I decided to add a cover to the book. The front cover image is an unused image from a project from last year. I decided to keep the back simple and added a little ghost in the vein of an icon.

This was one of my more successful books. This might have something to do with a) having more freedom in the subject matter and b) keeping the media and image making techniques constant through out the book.

Library festival brochure cover 

I decided to add a page of text as the background as I didn’t want to distract the viewer from the main illustration but felt there needed something behind the image as both a secondary tie in to books and library and also to make the background a least a little bit interesting.

After trying a few different text I settled on a page from E H Shepherds “A World of Winnie-the-Pooh: Tigger is Unbounced” as I felt the main target of my illustration was children and Winnie the Pooh is a well known childrens character but also know by a lot of Adults; also the font is large and legible but also non-distracting.

I think the text would go in the lower corner of the front page (see image) (image will be folded along the centre (dragon face on front and children on back))


Library festival brochure cover

After success with some similar characters in a previous project, I decided to focus the illustration on books rather than Hereford and sketched a “book dragon” as an idea.

I felt this could become a colourful bright illustration that would be attractive to both children and adults.

I chose to cut each of the dragon individual book scales out of paper I textured using ink. The dragon underbelly and book pages in his tail are from an old dictionary. I added a second child, both of which are also made out of the texture paper and now have to decide on a background as I have gone off the idea of just having sky behind.