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Blog Step By Step: How Author Nikolas Ilic Illustrated and Wrote 'Animal Opposites' & 'Animal Shapes'

Step By Step: How Author Nikolas Ilic Illustrated and Wrote 'Animal Opposites' & 'Animal Shapes'

By Nikolas Ilic | Author, Guest Blog, Illustrator

Step By Step: How Author Nikolas Ilic Illustrated and Wrote 'Animal Opposites' & 'Animal Shapes'

Emmy award-winning production artist Nikolas Ilic shares how he went about creating his two new picture books!

Hello! I’m Nikolas Ilic and I am delighted to give Young Writers a little inside glimpse on how I went about illustrating and writing Animal Opposites and Animal Shapes!


When I set out to illustrate and write these books the main thing I wanted to capture was a sense of silliness and to bring a smile to the reader! If I could look at the drawing and either laugh or smile that was a success for me. Once I completed a first pass of the book in writing my first step would be to thumbnail out the book and to explore different possibilities for each page. In this stage the writing would influence the illustration and sometimes the illustration would affect the writing as well, it was a natural collaboration between the artwork and the writing which was really fun to explore!

Final Artwork

Once we had approved pages to start illustrating, I would go about each page the same way when making the artwork and break them down into steps.

Step 1- Shapes

I would first start with flat colours and block in the shapes for the character. Once I am happy with those shapes I move onto the next step. (See Image 1 below)

Step 2 - Lighting

Next, I would add a textured lighting to the shapes and shadows to ground the character to the page. (See Image 2 below)

Step 3 - Details

In this step I add the details of the character, the whiskers, the glare in the eyes and nose. This is where the character's personality really gets defined! (See Image 3 below)

Step 4- Final Touches

In the last step, I add the final details to the illustration. Now I'm thinking how I could add to the illustration even more? Maybe I can add a prop to the scene to give the character even more personality. Perhaps adding more texture to the character and details to have them stand out more on the page? Anything that can make it even more fun! (See Image 4 below)

And there you have it, a finished illustration! I hope that you enjoyed the small behind the scenes glimpse of how I worked on Animal Shapes and Animal Opposites, and maybe even inspired to create some illustrations of your own!

You can follow Nikolas on Twitter here to keep up date with his future work!

Published: Fri 17th Feb 2023

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