Illustrating Four-Legged Therapy

This latest project, Four-Legged Therapy ( Department Store For The Mind ) was a really lovely one to work on. Essentially, it's a contemplative collection of first hand stories telling us how pet owning and spending time with animals can contribute to a happy life balance and sense of mental well-being. There were all kinds of creatures to depict from the stories including cats, dogs, goats and Lamas. As is typical when working with publishers, there is always quite a tight deadline and so it's pretty necessary to get cracking and quickly work out what's going to fit nicely with the word content in terms of style and expression. The initial pen and ink drawings were coming out a little too detailed giving a slightly serious and visually heavy feel so we realised what was needed was to try and get as much expression into the animals while using as few lines as possible. Things to avoid were over anthropomorphising the faces or creating something that's falls into a kind of ' cutesy ' category. There is a good example where everything came together, in the illustration of a terrier. He is leaning to one side and looking as if he might be listening empathetically. I had to take away a few of the fur lines from his face to achieve the right expression. The deer was another favourite. The page design started off as a group of animals but was pared back to a single doe to maximise impact. Katie Steel at Supafrank conceived the design of the book and I love her choice of subtle pastel shades and the animal print borders she created. Four-Legged Therapy is published by aster books - Octopus in October of this year.