Diversity | 21 July 2015Meet Lucy, Illustrator of Atlas of Adventures Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Hello! I am Lucy Letherland, illustrator of Atlas of Adventures. Which adventure would you like to go on? I have always wanted to visit Norway and see the Northern Lights! I think they’d be a very magical sight. It was fascinating researching this adventure and looking at all the beautiful shapes the lights make. I also love the look of the glass igloos. I reckon they’d be a lot of fun to stay in – although I don’t think I’d get much sleep! I’d be too excited watching the glittering night sky and trying to keep an eye out for any woodland critters! During the day I’d have lots of fun playing in the snow and taking reindeer sleigh rides through the Norwegian forest. Go to Sleep under the Northern Lights What was the starting point on your page for each adventure? My starting point for every page was always the background. I’d begin by researching each adventure very quickly and intensely – looking at lots of pictures and building up an idea of the place in my mind. Once I had all that information stored in my head I’d piece together a backdrop. By starting with the background first, it made it easier to decide where I wanted things to be; I could then set about filling in the rest of the scene with lots of characters and other points of interest. It also helped me to establish where the main action should taking place at the forefront of the scene, and what things could be hidden at the back for readers to discover later on. How do you draw your characters? I try and get my initial ideas down very quickly and roughly, so my characters often start life as just tiny pencil scribbles on a page. From there, I’ll re-work the drawings until they begin to look more life-like and whole. I rarely work in sketchbooks as I find that I get too precious about them, so instead I draw straight on to loose sheets of paper that I can scan in easily. Once my initial sketches are complete, I transfer them on to watercolour paper and colour them in by hand with ink. Each small character is drawn separately, and then pieced together at the end on my computer. Working digitally is really helpful at this stage – I can experiment easily with the size, positioning and layout of each character on the page. Which adventure did you find the hardest to draw? Funnily enough (being a Londoner) I found the ‘London Eye’ very hard to draw. Buildings can be tricky things to illustrate, and this adventure was full of them! There was also a lot of detail to include on each building, especially Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The perspective was also quite difficult to get right. There was so much of the city I had to include in this image, and it look me a long time to piece together a (relatively) accurate map of London that would be instantly recognisable, and make sense to the reader. See the Sights from the London Eye What’s your favourite animal in the book? My favourite animal is the grizzly bear in Alaska. This was one of the first things I ever drew for the book, so I have a slight sentimental attachment to him. I particularly like his snow-shoes and his slightly goofy expression. I also like the fact that he’s not very good at fishing. He’s too busy thinking about his delicious ice cream to notice the two fish waving underneath him! Dog Sled with Huskies in Alaska Could you describe your typical day? I like to be up early with a strong cup of tea in hand. Then I’ll sit down at my desk and make a list of the day’s tasks. If I’m at the start of a project, I’ll spend the morning focusing on coming up with ideas and doodling on loose sheets of paper. I’ll then work these rough images up on my light box until I’m happy, and colour them in with ink. Once I have finished all my drawings for a particular piece, I scan everything in to my computer. I’ll then spend the rest of the day editing and playing around with layout until the whole image has been pieced together. I also find I work well in the evenings when late night inspiration hits. It’s nice to work when the pressure of the day has ebbed away and everyone around you is sleeping! What’s the best thing about being an illustrator? Drawing stuff for a living and getting away with it. An idea falling into place. Silence. Unlimited tea breaks. Wearing slippers to work. Nice feedback from strangers. Getting a laugh. Doing what I love. What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator? Sneaking self-doubt. A pallid complexion. Too much time spent talking to the cat. Rapidly diminishing social skills. Days where I can’t draw a thing. Ink stains. Bad posture. If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be? Lost! Any other tips you could share? Don’t compare yourself to others too much. Try and have confidence in what you do – it’s what makes you unique. Always make time for your personal work, even if it’s just some quick doodles at the end of the day. I often find this feeds into a commission later down the line… Keep a journal handy and write stuff down. Go outside: study people and their behaviours. You never know when inspiration will strike! Most importantly, have fun! Check out Lucy’s books here: Atlas of Adventures Atlas of Adventures Activity Fun Pack Buy from an Online Retailer Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.