Friday, December 11, 2009

Spaghetti pictures!

I read somewhere on the internet (and I am embarrassed to say I can't for the life of me remember where I read it) about a craft exercise to do with small children and spaghetti It sounded fun so I decided to give it a try.

Very simply all the exercise involves is boiling up some spaghetti and when it is soft give it to your children to make pictures out of. You can then add paint to your creations.

I made my own spaghetti picture while the kids were making theirs. I really loved working with a different material, it led me to creating a picture in a new kind of style.

When the pictures dried the paper went all crinkly so I don't think these types of pictures would really work as illustrations in a book. However, the pictures that result from the exercise could be taken and used as inspiration for illustrations in a storybook.

The first picture you see here,of a cat, is mine. The second is by my 4 year old daughter and is a spider and different letters of the alphabet. The third picture is an artwork done by my 2 year old son who became very inspired by the whole process.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

'Doodle' illustration exercise

Today I thought I'd share with you a 'doodle' illustration exercise.

I have been having a 1:1 Create A Book For A Child class in my home. Today we played around with different creative exercises. The purpose of doing these exercises is to get the creative juices flowing and let go of needing to be right.

Here is a simple but effective doodle illustration exercise.

Step 1:
Take a piece of plain paper and put a couple of haphazard lines on it.

Step 2:
Create a picture out of the lines.

Below you can see photos of my student's (Hanna) and my doodle exercises.

This exercise is really fun and only takes a few minutes. Why not try it out yourself?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why not doodle your illustrations?

Have you ever thought about doodling your illustrations into being?

If you are not sure what I am talking about check out these inspired videos below. I found them on a wonderful website called Milliande Creativity Club.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A creating a book for a toddler class at home!

Today I held my first ever 1:1 storybook class at home. At least it was kind of 1:1, the woman I was teaching had her lovely toddler with her.

The class worked really well, we played with creating a storybook and the little boy Neo played with my children's toys. Everyone was happy.

When I teach people how to create storybooks the first lesson is always spent looking at storybooks, brainstorming storybook ideas, choosing an idea and a story structure and then we get going writing the story!

I usually recommend the book is no more than 13 pages long (other wise it is easy to feel bogged down if you are not used to illustrating) and for toddlers I recommend you simply have one sentence on each page and write the story with the child as the main character. This makes writing the story relatively easy! Maximum 13 sentences!

If you know the child you are writing for well a simple description of how they start their day or what happens when they visit Grandma are examples of easy and effective topics. Your child will love being the main character of the story and having his or her own experiences celebrated.

Here is a peek at our 'work space'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Collage illustrations experiments

Today I want to share with you my collage illustrating tips and to offer you the chance to take part in my online Create A Book For A Child course for a very tiny amount of the usual cost. I need some guinea-pigs so you would be helping me out.

But first I'm going to chat about making collage illustrations...

The other day I went with my family to the City Museum here in Gothenburg. The museum was holding a creative day for children and provided the children and their parents with pens, paper, glitter, glue etc... to use our imaginations and get creative.

I jumped at the opportunity to do something I have been meaning to do for ages, play with making collage illustrations.

Below you can see what I came up with.

Here I simply drew the shape of a car on some patterned wrapping paper I liked and then cut out the car shape. I wanted to have different colored wheels so I drew two circles about the right size on some yellow paper and cut them out. I then simply glued the shapes to a piece of blue paper!

I used the same technique with the image of this boy (my son Joel by the way). I drew a very simple boy shape first on some yellow paper, I then cut out the head, then the body, the legs, the feet and the hand shapes. I wanted this boy to be colorful so I took the cut out body shape and traced around it onto the patterned wrapping paper I liked and proceeded to cut out the body shape from the patterned paper. I repeated this with all the different shapes using different colored pieces of paper. When I was done I glued them onto my page to make up the shape of the complete boy once more.

I had a flash of inspiration with the fish in water collage. I simply cut out strips of silver paper and stuck them in a messy fashion to my page. I then drew very simple fish shapes (with the help of my daughter), colored them in, cut them out and then stuck them to the page so they 'swam' between the silver strips. I really like this one and so does my daughter!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween fairy princess!


Life in our household was very exciting this morning as my children got to wear dress up clothes to their kindergarten today! A Halloween treat. My daughter wanted to go as a fairy princess (a little bit of a surprise because she usually prefers monsters) however my 2 year old son wasn't interested in dressing up at all!

I thought I'd share with you photos of the fairy princess who left the house this morning plus an illustration to accompany it. (I also thought I share with you a picture of the same little person being a monster!)

Happy Halloween!!!!

And if you like the sound of creating a book for your little one don't forget to check out my new website!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A handmade birthday card for my son!

My son Joel turned 2 on the weekend!

I love it when my kids have birthdays, they always provide such a great excuse for celebrations and the children are always so excited.

On the eve of Joel's birthday I realized in all the preparations (we had 2 parties to prepare for, both on the same day! What was I thinking?) I had forgotten to buy him a birthday card.

Of course, the obvious solution was to make one myself (infact making him a card is something I would like to have planned to do anyway). So, at around midnight, I sat down with my paints and paper and created a personal birthday card. I was quite tired and didn't have loads of time to plan the card but I thought it would be fun to have an illustration of him surrounded by some of the presents he was going to recieve and by a couple of his favourite things. The chair (if you are wondering) was included because it was one of his presents. Joel recieved a big grown up 'high' chair to sit on at the kitchen table. This chair was to replace his baby high chair, as he had made very clear to us that the baby chair was not for him any more as he is no longer a baby!

I plan to always make personal birthday cards from now on. They are so much fun to make and mean so much more than a card from a shop.

Meanwhile my husband was busy cutting out number 2s from coloured paper and hanging them from the ceiling.

Finally we fell into bed and I am glad to say Joel had a great birthday and both parties were a success- although we were all complete zombies come Sunday!

Anyway, here are photos of the handmade card.


Oh, and another very exciting bit of news I almost forgot to share with you... I have literally just launced a new website. Create A Book For A Child This is a Create A Book For A Child courses website. So, if you are interested in taking a 5 week online course to learn how to create a personal storybook for your little one, please check out my new website. And please check it out anyway, just for fun and let me know what you think! I appreciate honest feedback.

To visit simply click on the following words... Create A Book For A Child and of course tell all your family and friends ;)

Create A Book For A Child

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creating storybooks for children- a slide show!

Over the past few weeks I have been teaching a group of amazing women how to create children's storybooks.

I thought you may enjoy some photos of them at work and of their works in progress.

Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Somestimes it is the imperfections in an illustration that make it perfect!

When I illustrate it is more important for me to have fun and actually do it than to produce a perfect storybook.

If I were to be writing and illustrating storybooks to be professionally published there is no doubt I would spend a lot more time writing, rewriting and perfecting my illustrations. However, for the purpose of writing a personal storybook for a child I think the perfecting and getting it right element isn't at all important.

I also think that very often it is the imperfections in the illustrations that can make them feel alive, fresh and unique. So often when I am illustrating I make a lot of mistakes and so often I find that the mistakes work as a blessing in disguise. The 'mistakes' often push me me to find perhaps more unusual and creative solutions than I would otherwise.

An example is in my storybook "Sometimes Sofia Gets Angry When..." I was just finishing off the second last illustration when I realized I hadn't left any room for the text. To solve this I just added the text in a slightly different way. I'm not sure how successful my solution was here but it was fun to do. Below is the illustration so you can see what I mean....

I was reading the other day about the illustrator Quentin Blake. You may know him because he illustrated a lot of Rhoal Dahl's book among other things. Anyway, his illustrations are so fresh and inspired and they don't look at all 'touched up' or perfected and that is the charm of them. Ofcourse he is a genius but he is also an inspiration. I really suggest you stop by his website and have a look

So, what I am saying is you can't ever get it wrong! And, as you probably have guessed my philosophy is 'just have fun!'.

On a slightly different note, I did finish the illustrations for my books "Sometimes Sofia Gets Angry When...". I invite you to take a look.

Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Painting an illustration- a video

I have just made a video of myself painting an illustration for "Sometimes Sofia Gets Angry When..." for those of you who may be curious about my painting process (or perhaps just a laugh at my expense!;)). This is really for those of you who are not trained artists but would like to see a simple way anyone can create illustrations using watercolor.

I suggest 'fast forwarding' every now and then if you just want to get a quick glimpse of how I work.

By the way, I thought I was looking at the camera lense... it didn't turn out quite that way....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A new story, "Joel is so grown up..."


As you may have noticed most of my stories are about my daughter Sofia. I have been meaning for a long time to add to Joel's collection of stories. Over the next few weeks I am teaching a 'How to write and illustrate a storybook' course and thought I would take the opportunity to do the homework I set my students and create a new storybook- this time for Joel.

The first week's homework was to write the story.

Here is my first draft.

Joel is so grown up...

This is Joel.
Joel lives with his mummy, his daddy, his big sister Sofia...
and his cars.
Joel is very grown up.
Infact, Joel is so grown up he can drink from a cup without a lid.
Joel is so grown up he can wash his hands all by himself.
Joel is so grown up he can put his shoes on all by himself.
Joel is so grown up he can go down the stairs all by himself.
Joel is so grown up he can put things in the bin all by himself.
Joel is so grown up he can choose his own bedtime stories.
Joel is so grown up he hardly needs any help from Mummy, Daddy or big sister Sofia at all.
But sometimes, when he decides, it is quite nice not to be so grown up...
And have a big cuddle with Mummy.

I have allocated one sentence for each page for this particular book. It looks like the book will be 13 pages in all. This is a good number of pages as it is few enough for me to realistically complete the illustrations within a few weeks.

The next step I need to complete in order to finish my homework is to draw a rough sketch, an idea of the illustration I would like to have on each page. I'll show you my work in a blog post in the next few days.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Using leaves and flowers to create illustrations!

This week I have to admit I haven't added a new illustration to “Sometimes Sofia Gets Angry When...”, however, I have something else to share with you which I think you may enjoy.

The other morning I went for a walk in the forest after leaving the little ones at nursery and was getting inspired by the nature around me. I collected some leaves and flowers with the idea I could somehow use them to make some paintings with the kids.

When the little ones got home I got out a big piece of paper, the water colours and told Sofia and Joel about my plan.

The plan was to:

Put the different leaves and flowers on the paper.

Paint around them with different colours.

Make pictures out of the resulting shapes.

This was really fun for all of us. We couldn't find the paint brushes so used cotton bud sticks instead. I have taken photos so you can see, I took them with my mobile phone camera so appologies for the quality.

I thought this would be a really fun way to create illustrations for a storybook. Create shapes by painting outlines around things and then making the shapes into pictures to illustrate your story.

Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A new illustration every week and "Create A Book For A Child"

A couple of bits of news today.

Every week I am adding a new illustration to a book for my little girl. This book is called "Sometimes Sofia Gets Angry When...", a little further down in this post you will find the illustrations including this week's addition.

My other news is that I am in the process of changing the name of my social network from Piggy Publishing Adventures to Create A Book For A Child. Even though I love the name Piggy Publishing Adventures (and I am still keeping the name to use later) I realized it doesn't really describe what my social network is about. It is not really about becoming a published author but about creating something unique for your child for the pure joy of it.

I am still in the process of sorting out changing all the URL details etc... But I thought I'd let you know of the change and if you have any feedback would love to hear it.

Anyway, here are the illustrations... enjoy...

Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Have a great day.


Friday, September 4, 2009

A picture from my daughter

This morning when I left Sofia and Joel at their nursery there was a piece of paper on Sofia's shelf. Sofia had drawn a picture for me.

I have never seen Sofia draw with such attention to detail before and I just really loved the image and couldn't resist sharing it here.

Another new illustration add to the book!

I am very proud to say I have completed another illustration this week. Would love you to have a look!

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A new illustration for my storybook

As I mentioned in my last post I have given myself a challenge to complete an illustration each week for a picture book I have written for my little girl.

Here is a slide show of the illustations so far...

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Finishing the illustrations for a storybook- my challenge

I wrote a book for Sofia called ‘Sofia gets angry when’ about 18 months ago (this is a great theme for a storybook for a toddler, they think it is hysterical). I started illustrating the book about 12 months ago and I am disappointed to say it is sill lying unfinished.

So, I have given myself a challenge to finish illustrating this book and I have decided the best way of ensuring I get it done is to make a promise to you that I’ll add a new illustration each week whatever happens.

Today I have put photos of the illustrations I have already completed little further down in this blog post.

Next week I will be adding my next completed illustration for the book and inviting you to have a look.

If you would like to join me in this challenge and each week write or illustrating something for a book idea you have let me know by popping by my page and we can help hold each other accountable and inspire each other.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A picture book guide to writing an illustrating your first storybook for your kids.

I have just added my first ever video to YouTube.

Here is my picture book guide to writing and illustrating your first storybook for your kids.

Some of you may have seen this before.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A fun, easy way anyone can illustrate and write a storybook in a back to front kind of way.

I've discovered a really fun, stress free and fast way to write and illustrate a storybook. The secrets are creating it in a back to front kind of way and splashing watercolours haphazardly on a page.

Here is the result (I have put images in pairs, the first is the result of me splashing colours on paper and the second is what I did next...).

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

I had great fun playing around with text to make the images into a story. Below is what I have come up with so far.

I'll explain how this book came to be. If you find the method appeals to you I urge you to give it a go and share the results with me on Piggy Publishing Adventures.

I love water colours and decided to play around just putting them on the page, creating miscellaneous shapes and colours with no thought to creating a 'real' picture. This was really fun and quick to do. It took me less than 10 minutes to create 5 images. The hardest part of doing this was avoiding painting familiar concrete objects. This exercise is great antidote for someone like me who has a habit of wanting to 'get things right'.

My next step was to (a day or two later) ask myself 'what do I see?' when looking at the images and then to draw a sketch onto the picture outlining what I saw. I knew I wanted to make a children's picture book out of the images so when I looked at the second image I started to wonder a little bit about what kind of story could evolve and once again asked myself 'what do I see?'. I tried to keep a story idea very loose, but wanted something to guide me, and something my children could relate to and enjoy. So, I simply decided this story would be about a monster (both my children love monster stories) and then let whatever happen happen.

Looking at my interpretation of the images now, it is clear to me the pictures that came to mind are a reflection of what is in my life right now. The green circle in blue became a swimming ring in a lake, which makes sense to me as it is summer in Sweden and much of our time is spent swimming in lakes with swimming rings. Fish also feature in this story, which is not surprising considering we recently gave my daughter an aquarium with three fish for her 4th birthday. So, you are probably starting to get an impression of how this works. The great thing about this is that the images that naturally came to mind are everyday things my children can relate to and enjoy.

Once I'd finished sketching the things I imagined over the watercolour images, I scribbled down a story. As the pictures are kind of nonsensical I thought a silly kind of story would fit perfectly. I know the story and the images could do with some work to make a storybook with a clear totality etc... but for now I am very happy with the results.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Playing around painting words on a page.

I have been playing around with painting words on pages. I ended up writing/painting what I thought may work as a headline for my website Piggy Publishing Aventures. To be honest the style of presentation didn't really work for that purpose but I did have fun painting the words and I have a feeling I am on the edge of something... you know, a kind of feeling this style will lead to something... but I'm not sure what...

Maybe you have some ideas...

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Monday, August 3, 2009

The first time I thought I could write and illustrate my own children's picture book.

I never considered writing and illustrating storybooks for children until I started reading picture books to my own child. I found it so refreshing to see how simple, beautiful and completely effective they can be.

The books that first ignited the thought that I could write and illustrate personalized books for my little girl were the Sam series of books written by Barbro Lindgren and illustrated by Eva Eriksson. This series of books are about a little boy called Sam (or Max if you are reading them in their original language, Swedish) who has very every day adventures.

The books are written with so much humour and love I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. My daughter, who was a toddler when I first read them to her, also fell in love with them. She loved to read about someone who had the same challenges as she did and that was when the idea came to me that I should write and illustrate a picture book just about her, one in which she could recognise her own life and experiences.

And so I did.

And of course I can’t recommend enough the process of writing and illustrating a book and then the absolute joy of sharing it with your little one. Yes, this is where I get all gushy so I’d better stop here.

Oh, and by the way, my little boy who is 20 months has also just discovered the joy of the Sam books and it is just as much fun reading them the second time around.

For those of you visiting my blog for the first time, if you would like to read a couple of the books I have written and illustrated for my children please click on the title of this blog post and you will be taken to my free Create A Book For A Child membership site for inspired mums, dads, grandparents and teachers who like to create books for their children.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A video introduction to me, Nina Aksell. A bit about my life.

The other day I made my first video for the internet. I made it to publish on my website Piggy Publishing Adventures as an introduction to me, a bit about my life so far. I thought you may like to have a look too.

Find more videos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Monday, July 13, 2009

Me and my kids.


I realized my blog was looking a little dull and that you may like to see a couple of photos of me and my kids to get a bit more of a glimpse of who I am.

These photos were taken a few weeks ago here in Gothenburg, Sweden.

How to find your illustrating style when writing and illustrating your first picture book.

For those of you visiting this blog for the first time this post is part of a series here about how to write and illustrate your first children's picture book. This is really meant to be a little course for amateurs who would love to write and illustrate a picture book for the children in their lives. I reccommend you have a look at my earlier posts here if this sounds like something for you.

In previous posts you can also read some of the books I have written and illustrated for my little ones.

So, here goes...

How to find your illustrating style when writing and illustrating your first picture book.

a) Now it is time to really have fun. This is where you get to go back to nursery and play. If you can remember just drawing/painting without any worry about the outcome, just to have fun, then that is the state of mind if would be great for you to have while you play with discovering your illustrating style!

b) You can start with having a look at drawings and paintings you and your child may have done together. When you look there you will see you already have a style! And your child probably thinks your illustrations are great!? If not great at least fun or funny.

Hint: The quality of the illustrations is not important, what is important is that you have fun. You can also go through this process while your child doing their art at the same time.

c) Now get out some of your children’s art supplies (whatever is close at hand), clear a space at your kitchen table and play around with drawing/painting/ cutting and pasting. Have fun, go for it. Don’t worry about end results, right now you are just playing to find the illustrating style that works the best for you!

Here is a list of examples of materials you may think about using to illustrate your book.
- Children’s water colour paints
- Children’s coloured pencils.
- Crayons.
- Paper (white and coloured) to draw, paint on.
- Plain copy paper to do sketches on.
- Pencils and erasers
- Newspapers and magazines for cutting out.
- Old wrapping paper for cutting out and sticking.
- Fabric
- Printed out photos of you and your kids.

Hint: If you find yourself stuck have a look at styles of illustrations in your children’s picture books for ideas- some of the illustrations you may be surprised to find are incredibly simple. And once again, if stuck the simpler the better! You can even draw in the style your child draws if you find it all too much.

d) Have a look at your artwork and decide which style you will use for your first book. In my opinion it should be the style you enjoy the most.

e) Now that you have decided on a way of illustrating it is time to play around with the look of your main character (if you have one). This character’s qualities will need to be relatively consistent so that the child recognises him or her in each picture. Once again, play around for a while. No need to rush a decision.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My favourite childhood storybooks

For a while now I’ve been meaning to write a post listing my favourite childhood picture books. Until today I could only come up with two, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss (both of which I read to my children today).

I remember nursery rhymes and songs (I loved and still love singing).

Nothing else really sprang to mind and I wondered if it was because my parents didn’t read to me often (but I do have an impression they read to me and my brother every night) so I didn’t think that was the reason. Maybe I was just to young to remember? Maybe I just needed something to jog my memory?

So, today I decided to see if my memory would be jogged and looked at a list someone had made up of popular picture books from the 1970s and 1980s and suddenly some memories started to flow in.

Here are the picture books I loved,

The Flower Fairies Series by Cicely Mary Barker.

I was so in love with these books. The idea of a fairy world and the beautiful illustrations completely hooked me. I remember daydreaming for hours about how wonderful it would be to be a fairy.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck by Beatrix Potter (and the whole Beatrix Potter series).

I was also in love with these books. The illustrations were completely magical to me and the idea of the animals living like humans was very appealing. I had guinea pigs, cats and a dog myself and I used to imagine us having conversations together.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.

I remember I loved the rhymes and repetition. I remember The Cat in the Hat was the first book from which I could proudly read each word by myself without an adult even present. I was never too keen on the illustrations, they were a bit too wacky for my taste but non-the-less I loved the rhyme.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

I loved the characters and the beautiful simple sketches. The Disney version the kids see today feels like a betrayal to me after those lovely illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne, illustrations by E.H.Shepard

I loved the poems and illustrations and the feeling that I was so close to the characters.

Lastly I must not forget The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This book was wonderful to me, to watch the journey of the caterpillar, to be able to repeat the words myself, the colours, the originality yet simplicity of the illustrations… a truly wonderful book in my opinion.

So, thank you, thank you, to the authors and illustrators of these books! You added a lot of joy to my childhood!

I also remember vividly being fascinated and frightened by classic fairytales,

Little Red Riding Hood (although I don’t remember which version)
Hansel and Gretel (probably the Brother’s Grimm version)
Snow White
The Three Little Pigs
The Ugly Duckling y Hans Christian Andersen

I haven’t introduced my children to these fairytales, not by any conscious choice but now I am looking at them I am not sure I am in any rush to do so. I remember the stories vividly and the pictures that accompanied them but I also remember feeling frightened of adults and the world after hearing these stories. I won’t do too deep a psychological analysis of myself (who knows where I may end up!) but for now I think my kids are doing ok without these stories.

I would love you to tell me about your favourite childhood books. I wonder if you share with me?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ramblings, children, stories, storybooks and being a mother

Today’s blog post is going to be different. My mind is ‘rambling’, so I thought I’d test out a rambling stream of consciousness post today...

My two greatest passions are children and stories. What I would love is, for everyone who wishes, to have the chance and support to express their creativity and tell their stories. As I love the simplicity of children’s storybooks and their way of usually looking at the bright side of life (as children do) it is through children’s storybooks I have found a way to mix my two passions.

By mixing the elements of children and stories into children’s storybooks written by the everyday person so many huge bonuses appear. In writing a children’s storybook you get to create something for your child that they will probably cherish forever; you allow yourself to slow down and give a little nourishment to your soul, your child has a story in which her life/fantasies are recognised as important. The process of writing and illustrating a children’s book is very creative and takes one away from the commercial world where so many are trying to sell you their ideas of happiness. The readers of the stories have the chance to learn about other people and cultures from the non-threatening perspective of childhood.

My background is as an actress and theatre director. Now that I am mother to two small children I don’t want to go away and work many hours as an actress and director but I still want to be creative and create stories. Writing and illustrating storybooks for my children allows me to use my craft when I want, it allows me to be creative without external pressures, it allows me to revel in the joys of being a mother, it allows me some time for myself, it allows me the chance to connect with my children in a unique way. It also allows me to be an unashamed amateur.

So, today I am rambling.

The other part of the ramble in my head is about the environment and this financial crisis. How can I set up a business and run it in a way that I feel is ethical? I want to run a business that focuses on the human spirit rather than on consuming things. I think a business in which people are encouraged to explore their creativity through creating children’s storybooks is a good solution... I hope....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How to write the story for your picture book

It is really hot in Gothenburg! I grew up in Australia so you would think a Swedish summer would be a walk in the park. Unfortunately my English skin is still very English and pale (and full of freckles) and so I am fading... But saying that, I have a new blog post here (so I musn't be suffering too much).

For those of you visiting my blog for the first time this blog post is a continuation of a series I have posted here on 'How to write and illustrate a picture book for your kids' A guide for beginners. If it sounds like something fun for you I encourage you to take a look at the other blog posts.

I’ll start with a little disclaimer. You may have realized already my advice on how to write a children’s story is not particularly technical or academic. What I am describing is just the most fun and practical way I have found for a beginner to write and illustrate a story.

a. You have chosen a theme and a story structure you and your child will enjoy and now is time to put some words to paper (if your book has words that is…). This is where the real fun starts. In a notebook or on a spare piece of paper write down your story. Watch and take note of the images that flow into your head. If what you are writing makes you smile you are on the right track.

Hint: Don’t worry about getting it right you can rewrite later (and there is no right or wrong for the purpose of this exercise). Just have fun and whatever happens.

b. Ok now it is time to break up your story into sentences on pages and to do a little sketch of the image you would like to have on each page. Your little sketch need only be of matchstick men. Play around, write, re-write, draw and re-draw. Have fun.

Hint: Try to keep your book to fewer than 13 pages! If it is too long you may loose interest in illustrating it and your child may loose interest in reading it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How to write and illustrate a picture book for your kids (a picture book guide for beginners)

Last night I thought I'd do what I've been meaning to do for ages, write and illustrate a picture book outlining the simple steps you can take to write and illustrate a story book for your kids.

I had already done one very rough draft so I didn't start from scratch but it still took a little time (especially as I had a toddler with a temperature of 39.9 degrees who still thought it was fun to run around at 12.30pm!)

I would love you to take a look and let me know what you think. It is still a draft.

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

If you like what you see here don't forget to check out my social network site

Friday, June 26, 2009

Putting some water colour onto simple sketches

Summer is finally here (we wait a long time for it here in Sweden!) and it is lovely. I am taking my little family swimming in a lake 'tonight'. Sofia wanted to go swimming in the night time as it sounds exciting. However, it is light here until 11.30pm so she probably won't notice the difference.

Anyway, back to books! I have added some colour to my sketched book ‘My Daddy’ and invite you to have a look. I literally painted some watercolour over my sketches and it took me only 20 minutes. It was fun, easy and quick.

If you like the look of this technique I would really recommend it to those who are short of time.

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A wonderful interview on the benefits of books for children.


I just read an amazing interview on a blog called Playfyl Learning. The post is called What to Read and When by Pam Allyn. In the interview Pam Allyn speaks about the positive impact books have on children and how to make the most of them in your family life.

You can find the post at

I am so new to blogging that I don't know how to link back properly to the blog yet- so please forgive me!

Creative Mum

How to find a structure for your children's storybook

a. Have a look back at your list of books your child loves to read and go to your child’s bookshelf (or to the children’s section in the library) and have a browse through the books.

b. Can you identify how the authors have structured their stories? Here are structures to look out for:

i. Repetition (i.e. Where is Molly’s Panda? Is it... is it... is it...).
ii. Rhyme (i.e.The Cat in the Hat).

iii. Plot driven stories have a clear beginning, middle and end with a hero or heroine who has an obstacle they need to overcome (i.e. books in the Winnie the Pooh series).

iv. Factual theme based books are focused on themes such as counting, the alphabet, tractors, fish etc...

v. Wordless books for the very little ones some books are simply theme based with pictures and no words (i.e. red things, blue things, green things).

c. Now choose a story structure your child enjoys and you feel comfortable and confident you can replicate yourself.

Congratulations you have chosen your story structure!

Hint: For your first couple of books keep your story structure very simple. If creating your book at any point ceases to be fun, make it more simple!

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to find an idea for your picture book.

1.Write down the names that first come into your head of the storybooks your child loves reading the most.

2. Write down the things your child is most enjoys doing, playing with, learning about.

3. Now have a look at your book list. Are there any themes emerging i.e. monsters, dinosaurs, everyday stories about children just like them, stories about an animal who has the same everyday experiences they have, counting, colours, cats, fish, fantasy adventures about princesses…

4. Have a look at your second list. Are there themes that cross over between the two lists?

5. Now choose a theme from one of your lists. Choose a theme you know both you and your child really enjoy. Congratulations you have chosen your theme! (I told you it would be easy.)

Hint: If you find yourself worried about your ability to draw or paint the characters for the theme you have chosen take a moment now to think back to the times when you have sat with your child and drawn these characters together. See, you can draw! That can be your style. Your pictures need not be much more sophisticated than that (and I bet your child thought your drawings were great!) so, let go of that worry. And anyway, no one need see your artwork but you and your family if you are really shy.

Here you can read the second book I made for my little one. You can see the theme is simply the things that Sofia loves... Feel free to use this theme yourself. It makes writing your first book easy and fun to do.

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to write and illustrate your first children's storybook

How to write and illustrate your first children’s picture book

I thought over the next couple of weeks I’d give you some tips on how to get started writing and illustrating your first picture book for your kids.

There are a few simple steps to follow:

1. Find a story idea
2. Find a story structure
3. Write your story
4. Divide your story into pages and start sketching in some illustration ideas.
5. Find your illustrating style.
6. Decide on the physical look and size of your book.
7. Illustrate your story.
8. Publish your book on
9. Bind your book
10. Share you book with your little one!

Tomorrow I’ll show you an easy way to find a story idea.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Storybook sketches

The other day I was sitting at the table in our living room with Sofia and Joel's drawing paper and pens and pencils were front of me. My husband and the little ones were busy building a cubby house. I started to do a sketch of the cubby house they created, then an idea for a new picture book came into my head and hence the book 'My Daddy' took form.

Here are my sketches...

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Idea to finished children's storybook within an hour?


I realize that probably the number one reason many people don't finish writing and illustrating children's storybooks for their kids is because of a lack of time.

I know time is a major obstacle for me. Each page I illustrate has, up until now, taken me at least an hour to complete. So, working at that speed (with always so many other things to do on my list) I haven’t ended up creating many finished books.

Today I decided to see if I could get over this obstacle of time and actually get a picture book written and illustrated for my little boy Joel within an hour. That is from idea to finished product within an hour.

Did I succeed? Yes and no.

I succeeded in writing and illustrating a whole book within an hour and 20 minutes, which I thought was pretty good.

And the quality of the book? Well, let’s just say it was really fun to ‘turbo create’ a picture book and I am very happy with the result. I wouldn’t say it was a beautiful piece of art by any means but I did have fun and my kids thought it was really good. At least my daughter loved it, Joel was too busy playing with his cars to sit down and read it with me all the way through.

Well, you can decide for yourself. The book is called ‘Joel Loves Cars' and is here for you to read.

Maybe you will get inspired and set aside an hour and a half to write your storybook from start to finish? I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun doing it (not to mention your kids will love having a book written just for them).

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The first book I wrote and illustrated.

Find more photos like this on Piggy Publishing Adventures

Writing and illustrating storybooks for your kids.

For me there are few things more enjoyable than writing and illustrating picture books about and for my kids.

I am not an illustrator or a published children’s author (at least not yet!) but I discovered the joy of writing and illustrating books for my little ones a little over a year ago. In fact, I think the impetus was an overwhelming desire to do something for myself and to have a creative output. My daughter was two and a half and my baby was six months old, so if you have children you have probably experienced the craving for something other than changing nappies and playing the games they made up.

This time I wanted to play and the way I ‘played’ was by writing and illustrating a couple of books about and for my little girl. I wanted to capture all those quirky little things that she likes and does before she grew up and I forgot them. I wanted her to be able to read a book in which she was the main character, in which she was celebrated. I wanted to create something that would not only mean something to her now but would bring her joy in many years to come, something that hopefully she will share with her own children.

And so I did.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to write and illustrate stories for your kids. You get to be the child in kindergarten again. You get to play with the crayons and paints. Nobody is judging your work, your little ones will love it because it is for and about them. And the surprising thing is that when you write from your heart and draw from joy the books that result are fantastic. You seriously do not need to be a wonderful artist to do this. You can draw stick figures if you fancy or you can use photographs or pictures cut out from magazines. There is no right and no wrong, which is incredibly liberating.