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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Working For Children

Here is an exercise that I felt excited for on first glimpse. After rereading the brief over several times, I felt as though I understood it less. I complicated the exercise before even tackling it, which really slowed my process down to begin with. Not only that, but I seem to struggle most drawing animals, at least in the early stages of creating a character from them, and when having to put them in different poses. I heavily rely on reference to help guide me in the design process, but not all is from real images of the animals, though I do collect those images as well. I tend to see how other artists tackle them and collect a library of different shapes and expressions to help work out how to give an almost human life to it. Usually it is the nose and mouth that causes me the most stress, where the snout protrudes out and the bottom jaw connects. How do I get expression looking like the animal but also with character?! I think I fluke it at the best of times, so heres to a magical fluke in this exercise.

My understanding of the key points are:

  • Collect imagery aimed for children

  • Categories the images in the age groups listed

  • Select 2 age groups and brainstorm based on words provided

  • Pick an animal for each age group

  • Create imagery of animals engaged in word

  • Be consistent in style for all content

  • Are age groups recognisable?


This is certainly an area I could do with better understanding. Age range for children illustration. I sometimes forget that not all cartoons automatically make it suitable for children of all ages, even if it seems young to you! There are definitely key features for the different ages, yet some I'm never quite sure where it falls.

I do have an interest in children's illustration. I've always adored animation, with cartoons playing on loop all the time. Spongebob, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, just to name a few! and even now, I still watch cartoons!

So the first stage was interesting. I found a website that would be my go to during this exercise, and it helped massively! Pretty much cover all animation and books with the age ratings recommended for each. I was able to search the classics that I grew up watching, and still find comfort in viewing today.

This helped a lot as a reference / guidance when creating animals for the age range. It help to know what level of detail went in to each age group.


I decided to circle Scary and Family for a spider diagram, with the focus on Established Readers and Pre-School. To help a little with understanding the ages, I did a search for what might be common fears for each. My suspicions were that the older children got the more complex their fears got, even if they are only trivial as an adult (still scared of wasps, so some fears don't disappear). But that also goes for becoming an adult, you can still get scared of something! This felt like a really cool word to get to know the age range and the styles.

Useful website for lists of fears per age:

I can definitely relate to some of those in the list thats for sure. Even up until late 20's would I have a bizarre night terror where I would see a huge spider crawling centimetres away from my head. The genuine leap out of bed happened several times! Weird how I always knew where to find the light switch when half asleep in pitch black. Anyways, I was happy with the brainstorm.

I then made a start on the Pre-School age group. I listed a few animals in the brainstorm but in the end went for a puppy dog. I felt it suited the age range right with the energy of a puppy!

During sketching these I got distracted watching two baby badgers playing with each other in a video online, so naturally this inspired a quick doodle as well. It's super cute, but maybe something to save for another occasion. I had decided that little pup would be scared of the dark.

I just wasn't sure on the background, did I need something there or not? I tried putting him in a dog house but I felt I los the puppy look in these later sketches. But, I loved the expression. It just needed a tweak here and there.

I went back to a different doodle in the sketching sage, brought him froward and went straight in with paint. I used acrylic (as it is always my go to medium) and began scratching paint in. I decided to keep the background simple, so I could really express the darkness little pup was surrounded by. I used a stiff brush to get a nice textured look in the background. Something I felt was important for Pre-Readers. I chose a nice deep blue mix rather than black.

I placed little pup to the right of the page to give a sense of space beside him as he looked over his should it in the darkness. He felt safe when stood with his bowl at night, it gave him a sense of purpose when he was awake which would distract him from the dark behind him. He would pretend he didn't know it was there, despite shaking in his fur!

To throw a spanner in the works I decided to go for a yeti; something that wasn't mentioned on my list but somehow I was inspired to go with it. I felt it would link nicely to the imagination that an established reader might have. I thought mythical, monsters and fantasy would be a hit for the readers that like all things weird and wonderful. I began in the same way I always do. Sketching! I wanted to play with shapes like I did in the educational strip exercise. This was a new way of working, or better still, a new way of thinking. Before, I would never really consider a shape and filling it, so this felt like a great learning curve, and one I think helped to generate ideas for character.

Once I had gotten to the face at the bottom left, I was set. I felt like I had my character.

I wanted this big guy to be frightened of something silly like, a sheep! My thoughts there were that they may share a similar coat. I liked the irony in this concept, the big yeti being scared of a small sheep eating grass. I thought there could be a cool story behind it that may spark the imagination of an established reader.

So this age range, it was clear that really th stories they had didn't come with big full colour illustrations, unlike the pre-readers. So I thought that it would require more of a dynamic flow to it. above I sketch just a few concepts for potential layout. Perhaps it would be the cover?

SIDE NOTE - I sadly didn't get around to filling in a background, but I will have this ready for assessment


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