When I was a kid I remember being terrified by an image from the tale of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. It was hunting me at the point that I used to keep that particular page always far away from my eyes, turning the book and keeping distance from it. Only now I realise how much an image can affect a kid. I could say that images are not only a media between text and reality, they can be alive through imagination, and this is a great power kids are capable of.
However, as an images lover, illustrations and visual products in general still have a great impact on me.
I visited my local library to get more familiar with children illustration, which has evolved quite fast since I was a kid, obviously giving space to digital images.
I could distinguish the five main categories given by the exercise brief:
The first is the one of the patterns, simple shapes, textures and colours, clearly for the youngest.
A second category sees the introduction of characters, simple drawings, still featuring textures and bold colours but accompanied by a simple text, often teaching some very basic lessons like numbers, the names of colours and so on. Very often the brief stories contained in those books are moral lessons.
With the third category the illustrations start to be more articulated, more detailed and more accurate, with shading and with a larger variety of colours. The text is also much more detailed, taking the shape of proper tales.
A fourth category sees a more mature approach to the images, which are giving more and more space to the text, now completely mature, only different in subjects from the adult one.
For the category older age groups I think the main illustrated subject becomes the comic book and the graphic novel.
I thought it was not always simple to distinguish the categories, and also I think the impact the illustration is having, really depends from the personality of a kid (If I think that I was very interested in some of the books it really makes the theory just a theory!).
I chose to work on the preschool category and on the established reader one.
I brainstormed on some of the words given by the exercise and then chose the ones which inspired me the most.
I matched a couple of animals per category and then combined them with the chosen word, recording some ideas in thumbnails.
In the end I selected two images: An elephant walking on a very poorly stable bridge, symbolising the word journey and a angry wolf patrolling the forest at night, for the word scary.
I used a different approach for the two images.
The preschool images is treated in a less realistic way, not only in the shapes but even the action is practically impossible. I think to make the characteristic really extreme in this case conveys the message: a journey might be not always easy and pleasant, it can be really dangerous, but it is always going to bring you to something good.
The established reader image features a more realistic situation, even though the colours are probably not responding to reality.
I am satisfied with the outcomes, I think they are communicating what they are suppose to. However, regarding the technique, I believe the wolf illustration is better than the first one.
I think colours have a huge impact on children, far bigger than the one they can have on an adult.
I don’t think it is correct to generalise and think that full colour is always the right approach with kids. I think even monochrome can have a major impact of them, influencing their mood. To conclude, I believe the combination of colours is far more important than the variety.