Art Illustration Jeff West Projects Sketches

Meatballs short story illustration

Project brief

Commission by independent author Jan ten Sythoff to illustrate two of his children’s short stories. Meatballs is about a boy who makes friends with an alien. Jan provided the manuscript and some ideas for the composition for four illustrations. We delivered the final document design as a PDF with the text and full-colour artwork layout.

Cover design artwork and title text for Meatballs
Cover design artwork and title text for Meatballs

Style and composition

I used a digital line and watercolour style, a classic and easily understood medium for young children. The loose delivery which children can emulate appeals to me with the ability to show light and shade to make illustrations come off the page and into the reader’s world.

This medium has some transparency and allows the replication of three-dimensionality that bring images alive.

The author had given us a brief including potential compositions at strategic points during the story. Additionally, he provided some background to some favourite things of the child who would receive the gift of the packaged story. The child was also the [human star] of the book, so I endeavoured to include as many visual references to beloved characters or activities.

Naturally, the text also dictated initial ideas for the illustrations. Wonderful descriptions of the alien character, Squark (with features such as three eyes) his spaceship (with features such as a toilet) and incidetal highlights, including the love of Lego.

Design process and workflow

I worked with traditional sketching, pencil and paper to finesse the compositions to the point where they could be used as references for the final digital renders. The roughs were scanned and imported to Photoshop where the watercolour paint tools ewere used to colour the illustrations. Adobe InDesign was used to import the text and insert the images alongside to complete the layout.

Squark character drawn in pencil as a reference to the final artwork
Squark character drawn in pencil as a reference to the final artwork
Digital watercolour of Quark character
Final artwork from the sketch Squark the alien offering up a magic stone to the reader

Final artwork and layout

Jeff West

The J in the FayJay world

You may also like