Alex T. Smith

Children's Books

Children's Books // Professional Category Winner

 

The Hundred and One Dalmations

Comissioned by Sarah Malley for 60th Anniversary of Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians

 

Brief

The brief was to create new illustrations for this classic book ready for it’s 60th Anniversary. I then set myself the brief of giving the book both an update, and keeping it true to it’s mid-1950s publication date. I wanted to make it fun, but also not shy away from the emotional and dramatic moments.

 

Materials

A mixture of pencil, pencil crayon, charcoal and chalk pastel on paper, and then a tiny bit of digital tweaking and fiddling about in Photoshop.

 

Research

The book was published in 1956 so I wanted it to have a feel of that time – especially in the clothing the human characters wear, so I spent some time looking through my fashion history books. I backed this up with some Googling – especially to make sure I have the dog breeds all looking correct.

 

Process

I worked very closely with the book’s designer – the brilliant Mike Jolley – to decide where the illustrations should come within the book and how they can help tell the story and move the narrative along, and whether they should be spot illustrations, half pages or full page images.

I then worked on some very loose roughs before moving onto final artwork. I drew this all out using pencils, erasers, pencil crayon and chalks etc then scanned them in to Photoshop where I tidied them up a little and did a few bits of minor digital enhancement.

 

Resistances

The book is one of my favourites, and also the favourite of an awful lot of other people, so I put myself under quite a bit of pressure to not disappoint them or myself.

 

Insight

Challenging yourself is a great learning experience, and reimagining someone else’s story is a real honour and can be great fun. I also realised that there are an awful lot of dogs in this book…

 

Distractions

Other projects with deadlines looming. Author events and festivals to go to. My own three dogs and their enthusiasm to “help”/sit on my lap all together when I’m trying to draw/ steal my pencils.

 

Numbers

101 Dalmatians and more spots than I could possibly count.

 

Afterwords

Working this closely to a text that you really love is an interesting experience. You have to look at it with fresh eyes and can be surprised by what you see. There are many more moving scene and bits of wisdom in the book than I remembered which I loved discovering, and although somethings in the story are very much of their time, the exciting adventure and the sly humour still hold up. I hope my illustrations will too!

represented by Arena Illustration

arenaillustration.com/portfolios/alex-t-smith

 


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