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  • Madeleine Allcock

Improving your illustrations

Changing just a few elements can really make a difference in how an illustration is read, including the feel and intended audience. Let's take an example of a recent image created to represent the experiments and science involved in home-brewing.

The original image makes use of Halloween colours to represent the time of year, and the cute lab rat characters add to the feel of a story taking place. The flasks, beakers and testing equipment all add to a sense of chemistry and science, as do the notes labelling key equipment used in cider-making.


Currently, I'm updating my portfolio to include more home and lifestyle illustrations, specifically aimed at women. This image didn't quite fit with the rest of my work, both in terms of colours used and subject matter.



By tweaking colours, removing the characters and replacing some of the flasks with more flowers, this illustration is transformed from children’s/educational to lifestyle/home. The italic handwriting adds to a sense of "home made", while the remaining beaker still nods towards the chemical reactions involved in the process.


And there we have it! Two very different pieces, one suitable for children's or educational publishing, and the other suitable for lifestyle or food editorial projects.


BONUS: Check out my sketches for a closer look at how I build my illustrations.

First, I looked at all the equipment needed for cider-making, plus objects that lend themselves well to science, such as the microscope and test tubes. I redrew the bubble syphons and microscopes a few times until I was happy with the shapes.

I can then move objects around to my heart's content until I find a layout I'm happy with! I didn't use the microscope in the end, but I can save it for a future project (I call this advance problem-solving)!

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