Category Archives: Featured Projects

The Ways Of The Wolf – Illustration Process

With all of the final artwork from my new book ‘Ways Of The Wolf’ completed and with the publisher (Wren & Rook), I have permission to share a little bit of it. So, I thought I’d write up how one of the spread illustrations was created, from sketch to final artwork.

As the illustrator for a children’s book, the first thing you receive from the publisher is the manuscript and any art notes that the Editor wants you to be aware of.

After a good read, I start sketching and gathering reference material. The Ways of the Wolf is a non fiction book and so, although my work is stylised to a degree due to the materials I use, everything in the book has to be accurate.

I’ll scribble a few ideas down very loosely and once I’ve settled on what I think would make a good composition, I’ll send a less scribbly sketch to my Editor. I try to do this quite quickly and only send one, rather than a bunch of ideas for the spread. I find that this makes the whole process more efficient, as the Editor can give quick feedback on my initial thoughts that in turn gives me a lot of information on how best to steer the direction of the artwork.

Here’s the first sketch that I sent in (I usually throw a bit of quick Photoshop colour on to the drawing too, just to give an indication of the lighting and mood):

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The feedback that I received was that we were too tight in on the wolves and that we needed to show more of the beautiful habitat in which they live.

A note on feedback: Never dismiss feedback! It’s fine to push back and express your views in a respectful way if you feel strongly about the direction of an illustration, but Editors know what they are doing and they will probably know far more than you do about the market. When working with a good Editor or Art Director (as I was on this book), be open, as their thoughts and feedback will always elevate the Illustrations.

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This approach was approved, but my Editor wanted me to pull back even further so that the wolves weren’t so much of the main focus, really planting them in their environment.

Here’s what we decided on and this is pretty much as detailed as I get with client roughs. I’m lucky that I work with clients who trust me and my medium – occasionally, I’ll draw up some of the details more accurately to work from, but I generally work out the details as I cut and paste my scanned textures in the final collage stage:

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Approved, with just a little note from my Editor to give a little more room for text.

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And so, here it is, the final artwork for the spread:

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Sometimes, I’ll add a few extra elements in to the piece that weren’t in the sketch. Elements that perhaps tell a story or add another dimension. See if you can spot this little guy below in the finished spread above.

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I’m very proud of this book (I’ve loved wolves since I was a little kid) and have loved working with the lovely people at Wren & Rook. I’ve just signed the contract for the next book in our series too and can’t wait to tell you what the subject of this one will be!!!

‘The Ways Of The Wolf’ will be published in October 2017 by Wren & Rook.

Working on this project also inspired the first pin in my wildlife Pin Club series too – click the image below to learn more about my enamel pin series and to sign up to the club.

Wolf pins will be shipping out to club members and pre-purchase customers in the first week of February.

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Dinosaur Construction Kit: T.Rex – Illustration Process

Around 12 months ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Egmont to see if I’d be interested in illustrating a dinosaur book they were developing – illustrating dinosaurs, er, yes please!

As the book is now out (released last month), I thought it would be a good time to share a little on the process of creating the artwork for the book.

The Cover:

After receiving the script for the book, the first thing I was asked to work on was the design/look and feel for the cover. After researching what would be our competition on the book shelves, I had a clear idea in my head of what I thought might create a strong brand for the book series (this is where my background as a graphic designer comes in handy).

Rather than working on numerous ideas, I thought it would be more efficient to run this initial idea by the art director first – luckily they loved it.

Below is the initial sketch and the finished cover (if you look closely at the finished cover, you can see a sneak peek of the cover for book two too).

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Spread Roughs

The next step was to take the script (and notes from my Art Director) and draw up some quick rough sketches for the 9 spreads.

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Based on feedback, these were then amended and drawn up a little tighter.

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Once approved, I added some quick Photoshop colour behind my sketches for final approval, then we were ready to jump in to the final artwork.

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Final Artwork

Here are the first three finished spreads from the book – you can see that even once the roughs have been signed off, slight tweaks like the sky colour and other elements of the layout still sometimes need to change as the book evolves.

Sometimes major changes may be needed and if you have a great Art Director (which I did on this book in Faith Booker from Egmont), you have to trust that they know what they’re talking about. Every suggestion that Faith made, resulted in stronger spreads and eventually a stronger book.

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T-Rex Model

Paper engineers blow my mind. I’m so in awe of what they do and the model that comes with this book was no exception.

Following the cover, the model was the next phase of this project and illustrating a flat surface that will be folded to create a 3D object is always a tricky thing, requiring such a different mind-set (because you aren’t creating the edges of your artwork and every edge needs to include bleed – which can look a little weird when you’re working on it). Luckily, having already designed the look of our T-Rex on the cover, the process of Illustrating all of the parts of the model ran more smoothly.

As challenging as this part is, it’s equally rewarding to see the final model dressed in your illustrations – my kids loved this part too as they got to play with models prior to publication.

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Couldn’t resist sharing this photo – my little boy Samson (age 2), particularly got in to the spirit of things when posing with his model 🙂

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This book is part of a series and I’m happy to say that book 2, with the mighty Triceratops as its star, has already been Illustrated and is with the publisher preparing to bulldoze its way on to the bookshelves sometime next year.

Here’s a sneak peak at the star of the show…

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It was such a joy to work on these books with Egmont from start to finish and enabled me to tick a box on my illustration wish list. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Illustrating dinosaurs!

I’m also thrilled to say that our T-Rex book made it in to the shortlist for the Junior Design Awards ‘Innovative Children’s Book Of The Year’ too!

The December 2013 Desktop Wallpaper & Print

With this new December 2013 desktop, it marks 3 years since I started creating and releasing them – this is probably the longest illustration project I’ve ever stuck to!

These desktops have been an important part of my work – giving me a space to experiment with new ideas without a client looking over my shoulder, and also enabling me to share a taster of some of the client jobs I’ve been working on at the time.

To celebrate, I wanted to do something to take the project to the next level and also tie it in more with our endangered animals website, Then There Were None.

The Plan for 2014

So, thanks to my lovely business strategist wife, I have a new plan!

Each month I’ll be releasing:

Week 1: The desktop to download, freely.

Weeks 2 & 3: Prints of the desktop; on sale for a limited time until they become extinct forever.

Week 4: One unique, hand embellished and signed version of the print.

This Month’s Desktop

Without any further ado, here is the December desktop available for immediate download…

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Please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

With the print that will be available in week 2, I’d like your help to decide which one goes on sale…

I’ll be adding these 2 prints to the Jonathan Woodward Studio Facebook page and asking you to vote there. Alternatively you can leave a comment with your vote here on the blog.

The two prints are…

Polar Bear Family

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Polar Bears & Narwhals

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The Story So Far…

I also thought it would be fun to take this opportunity to gather all my previous wallpapers together in one place and see how they’ve changed and progressed over the years…

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Spring Fling 2013

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In October last year, I was contacted by designer Tim Bremner on behalf of Spring Fling, Scotland’s Premier Arts and Crafts Open Studios Event, to Illustrate the wrap-around cover for their 2013 event brochure.

I explored a couple of different directions, but in the end we went with grasshoppers in different colours so they could be used as a branding device to denote the different routes on the open studio tour.

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grasshopper rough

Once the composition and Photoshop colour rough had been approved, I moved straight on to final artwork and began collaging the grass…

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…before individually collaging each of the grasshoppers.

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All of the grasshoppers and the grass were then pulled together in Photoshop, where subtle shadows were added beneath each of the grasshoppers to ground them in the scene.

Spring Fling 2013 Book Cover

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The Illustrations were also used on both the guide map and in the Spring Fling app too.

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The whole project was really fun to work on, with great clients and art direction throughout. Special thanks to designer Tim Bremner and Spring Fling project manager Leah Black.

Here’s what designer Tim had to say about my involvement in the project:

I worked with Jonathan recently for the first time on the brochure cover of the Spring Fling Arts Festival. Having made contact with Jonathan my first impressions were that he was very friendly, enthusiastic and pro-active right from the start.

Once we had agreed on which direction to take, everything went very smoothly and he went straight to final artwork without any further changes.

Jonathan fulfilled the brief perfectly and the client was very happy.

Featured Project: The World Association Of Zoos & Aquariums Commemorative Poster

I was recently commissioned by the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums to Illustrate a commemorative poster to help celebrate their 77th Anniversary.

Other than receiving a list of species to include (some lovely ones I’d not collaged before so I knew it was going to be a fun project), I was given full creative freedom to create the design. After scribbling down a few initial ideas, I decided to make the ’77’ out of trees and then have the creatures interacting with it.

Below is the initial scribble of a sketch and a neater version with rough Photoshop colours that I submitted for approval.

Once approved, it was time to move on to the final cut paper collages – here are a few work in progress pics…

The main body of each of the Illustrations were created using a traditional cut paper collage technique with a few final details being added digitally afterwards (mainly details that would be too fiddly or time consuming to do digitally as I was on a deadline for the work).

Below is an example of one of the collages before and after the digital details were added. This crocodile was probably the one that was enhanced digitally the most, as I ran out of the magazine clipping textures I needed for the tail detail.

Below is a selection of some of the other final creature Illustrations.

And finally, here are the final Illustrated posters (portrait and landscape formats) along with a cover graphic for the WAZA Facebook page.

…and the WAZA Facebook cover graphic

This has probably been my favourite job to date, not only getting to collage a number of my favourite creatures, but working for a great client that does great work for conservation around the world.

The exciting thing from a marketing point of view is that WAZA will be using this image throughout the rest of the year while celebrating their 77th Anniversary (including at their annual conference in Melbourne, Australia later in the year) – which means my name and contact details and a copy the poster will be going out to 300+ top zoos around the world (couldn’t wish for better exposure to my target market than that :).

“Jonathan designed a stunning illustration to celebrate WAZA’s 77th Anniversary. He worked very hard and very quickly to design a beautiful image that has exceeded our expectations.

This illustration followed us during months, as a beautiful poster but also as a design for our website and a cover for our newsletter.

WAZA was honoured to have this beautiful illustration and is very grateful to Jonathan.

We really hope that we can work together again in the near future!”

Carole Lecointre – World Association of Zoos & Aquariums

I also have prints of the WAZA posters for sale in my Society6 print shop, with 50% of all profits going to WAZA.

Next on the drawing board is my very first children’s pop-up picture book for Quarto Children’s Books. The contract has been signed and page roughs are already in progress. I won’t be able to show any of that finished work for a while, but watch out for a few sneaky snippets here and there on the blog and a new feature project when I’m able to show the final book.