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HAPPY HARRY’S WORLD TURNS UPSIDE DOWN

Children’s Book Artwork

We worked with author Nicola Ferris and Publishing Company Bear Press Ltd to produce the character design and artwork for the children’s Book Happy Harry’s World Turns Upside down. 

The ink sketches were created with the purpose in mind of providing a colouring activity for the reader.  15 separate line drawing were developed featuring a range of characters and scenes to show Harry’s friend’s, family and home life.

A Must Read!

Written in lockdown, this book is a dedication to children, whose lives were turned “Upside Down” by COVID-19 in 2020.

Happy Harry’s World Turns Upside follows Harry as he tries to adjust to this strange new world he finds himself in. The rhyming story helps to provide children with a vocabulary to express how this time has affected them while also giving adults the opportunity to have this conversation with their children. 

On the cover image, Harry looks to be the right way round while the whole world is upside down behind him.  This idea of viewing Harry’s whole world is reflected in the almost ‘fish-eye-lens’ roundness to the hill and the buildings in the background. This is his perspective as a child on the global pandemic and how crazy and different the world seems.

For Harry and many of the readers, the feeling that everything else is topsy turvy is reflected by his dizzying upside down appearance to indicate that it is Harry who will be feeling emotionally  upside down in the story. Even seeing this book cover on a shelf will make you want to turn the world the right way up again and have Harry simply be doing a cartwheel instead of giving the appearance that he is merely hanging on. 

The iconic rainbow highlighted in the story, seems to appear like a colourful smile underneath him and happily reflects the idea that there is a way to get through these strange times if we keep looking out for those little bits of hope.

The cover’s final intention is to present a hopeful and optimistic view that indicates the ultimate message of this story will be one of hope for Harry and the reader

Why the world was created…

The illustrations were created for the book ‘Happy Harry’s World Turns Upside-Down’; a children’s storybook dedicated to helping young children understand the confusion and change that occurs when their world has been turned ‘Upside down’ by Covid-19.  The intention behind the book was to provide a practical vocabulary for children to help them talk through how the pandemic has effected them. 

The interior illustrations of the book provide a visual gateway into Harry’s world which allows children to see the parallel between what is happening in their own lives and what has happened to Harry in the book.  

Some of the comparisons that were important to draw out from the story were the hustle and bustle of life in Harry’s community before the pandemic in juxtaposition with how quiet life becomes when he has to stay indoors.  The children can see their own lives reflected in Harry’s as he is separated from friends, isolated at home and his whole world seems quieter and different.  

These highlighted moments in the story capture Harry’s uncertainty and confusion and help children identify with what Harry was going through so that they can be encouraged to be open and honest about any fears and anxieties they might have.  

All the interior images were to be drawn in an outline format to provide an added activity for children by inviting them to add colour to Harry’s world and bring it to life.  This additional purpose and function within the illustrations is one of the unique features that makes this story stand out as a useful resource for families and schools as it gives children yet another way to interact with the story.

The only exception to the black and white interior were the vibrant colours used for the iconic rainbow images. This creative decision helped highlight the moment where you see the rainbow appear in the book.  This is a moment of hope for Harry and indicates the beginning of how he starts to adjust and interact with the world around him again by drawing his own rainbow to put in his window. It is Harry’s way of looking forward with hope and so the images also indicate how children can look forward with hope and expectation for when they can go back to school, be with their friends and celebrate when it is safe to be together again.

What was the process to creating this work?

The process of creating the book illustrations began by first understanding the character of Harry and the world he saw around him.  Harry was described to me as a happy, funny, lively child who liked to have fun with friends and was close with his family.  He was full of energy so when the pandemic hits we see that his life is turned upside down. 

Using Harry as my starting point I began by creating initial sketch work on his character to capture the style that I would use for the rest of the book.  This included a warm and friendly community which can be seen in the rounded aspects of the characters and the close-knit look of the exterior shots of the buildings. Part of this community feel was to be inclusive of other nationalities that would be part of Harry’s life to show how the pandemic effected everybody and not just Harry’s family.

Pencil sketches were created for this ‘family’ of characters including Harry’s mum, friends and a few additional characters. While the design of each character had a similar style, I wanted Harry to have a unique look, so one of his iconic features became his hair.  His hair is this wavy, messy styled look that is unique to him in the story. It helps him stand out, but also gives children more opportunity to colour in and make every strand a different colour if they want to. 

Initial hand-drawn sketches were then completed for the layout of each of the interior images based on key elements from the story at that point. Special attention was given to a few small details in the background that highlighted aspects of Harry’s character and life and also gave children something to discover as they noticed these little ‘easter egg’ items hidden in the images.

Once the main sketches were completed they were then inked using a black ink 0.3 Staedtler  pigment liner with some of the exterior lines of the characters done in the thicker 0.5 or 0.7 to make the character stand out more with distinctive sections created for colouring in. 

The images were then scanned into the computer for a final touch up on Photoshop.  At this point colour was added to the rainbow on any of the pages that featured that design.

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