Thursday, 13 June 2019

Guest Post: Illustrating Sophie Johnson - Ella Okstad


I'd love to give a warm welcome to Ella Okstad today, who has written a great post about coming up with the initial illustrations for a new picture book series and to share some of her early sketches! I'm very much a fan of Ella's style and it's one which I admire and would love to be able to emulate!

Illustrating Sophie Johnson - Ella Okstad

When I first read the Unicorn Expert it was instantly clear to me how Sophie would look. As she is a self-confessed expert on unicorns and a detective genius it was very important to capture this in how she moves and behaves. For the Unicorn Expert, the publisher sent me a link to a John Lewis Insurance commercial video to describe her personality which I felt was really on point.

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I wanted her to have a simple stripy dress and a couple of thin legs. This way it would be quite easy to mover her around. Her face is dominated by a large pair of round glasses which gives her an important look; she is, after all, an expert and it also makes room for lots of different expressions.




Whereas Sophie's look came quite instantly, the real Unicorn was a little more tricky. At first, I imagined it to be quite flamboyant with a more horse-like body and a long wavy tail and mane. Then after re-reading the text and sending a couple of emails back & forth, we decided to go with the chubby quite insecure type of unicorn. It is, after all, seeking unicorn advice from the world's best unicorn expert!




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In Detective Genius, Bella the dog is always there with an attentive look keeping an eye on Sophie. She is the true detective!

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The guinea pig from Unicorn Expert can be spotted a couple of times in Detective Genius. Have another look and see if you can spot it hiding in the pages!

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Review Links

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius







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