Dear Little Deer, Are You Tired Yet?
by Anastasia Photiou

For Print and Web

Author, Layout & Storyboarding, Illustration, Graphic Design, Book Cover Design, Editing

 

Software used: Procreate, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat

Background —

Creating a bedtime story picture book for children ages 4-6 and their guardians.
 

Problem —

Children almost never willingly go to sleep at night, feeling restless and energetic which tires the adult who already had a long day at work and handling responsibilities. 
 

Goal —

Create an exciting and lulling picturebook that is read fast so that the child falls calmly asleep and the guardians can enjoy the rest of their evening.
 

Approach — 

Drawing from own experiences and attempting to use a methodological storytelling process that slows down the rhythm of the book and encourages children to fall asleep with its lulling words and night-time inspired images.

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STORYTELLING.

Creating the story and writing the verses of the lullaby was a task that I never did before. The goal was to slow down the energy of the children but to also engage them in a fantasy adventure, so a fine line between quick and slow intonations, movement and stillness had to be achieved.

CHARACTER DESIGN.

The very first thing I did was to make some character designs after researching and drawing mind maps based on the nature of my protagonists. Below are the mind maps I created for 3 of the characters:

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After I had a general idea of what qualities and characteristics, I wanted my protagonists to have, I selected the ones most relevant to the story and applied them to my character designs

Over the course of redrawing the characters it altered significantly, my sketching became a lot looser and I was not as fussy about the facial details anymore, while keeping consistent with their clothing and accessories.

‘Getting the main character right can indicate ways to proceed with the whole book.’ (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019, p.283)

ENVIRONMENTS.

Each character has their own ‘home’ environment which represent the fine details that fill in and complete the different characters. This helps the child to put together a more complete idea of who this character is, what they like, what they do in their spare time, who their family is and so on.

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‘When it comes to place or setting, some description is essential for children. They shouldn’t be swamped, or their interest will slacken […] it is your duty by them to produce a rapid, vivid picture, with enough details to nail it in their minds.’  (The Way to Write for Children by Joan Aiken, 2020)

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SIDE STORYLINES.

Much like with my animation background where we use side storylines to add humour and comic relief from the main storyline, but also to build rapport between the different characters that would otherwise not get the chance to interact. I allowed some silly storylines that are communicated to the viewers through visual means and are specifically targeting the children who are observing the pictures when the adult reads the story.

 

For example, Dear Little Deer is chasing a firefly, and is then seen to have captured it in its mouth. Later in the book, you see Dear Little Deer’s ears functioning like a beam, when meeting the Mermaid, because of the trapped firefly’s glow. This side storyline adds to the funny element of the story and its purpose is none other than to make the child observe, laugh and fabricate another hidden storyline.

GRAPHIC DESIGN, TYPOGRAPGY & BOOK DESIGN

‘[..] Pages of a book are there to be turned, and the turning can be unpredictable and adventurous. Book design is important, along with everything else.’ (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019, p.283)

I decided on a rectangular layout that would allow for landscape pictures, setting the scenes and establishing the environments during the introductions of the many characters. The decision to choose a landscape format had to do with my knowledge that when the page would be turned, every time Dear Little Deer and Silver Shining Star would discover a new character, the reader should immediately be amazed by the depth of the new environment.

I even played around with different ideas of how I could best use this format, and I found that if the book is rotated it allows for long portrait illustrations that add height. This technique even adds to the idea that the physical picture book does not only offer an experience and a story, but is also a sort of children’s toy, that is multidimensional and can be rotated, flipped, reversed, read normally and also sideways.

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The typography I wanted for the audience of this book was to be as simple as possible, so that it can easily be read by young children.

To counteract any possible reading difficulties of younger readers I typeset the entire text to almost double spacing between the lines of the text and steered away from using italics or heavy weight fonts.

Lastly, I decided that it would be best to set the format of the text in short sentences that look like a poem and help with rhyming couplets when read aloud. A protocol of typesetting for children I followed strictly was to

‘Keep line lengths short, and don’t put too much text on a page. Dense blocks of type can be very intimidating to young readers.’ (Strizver, 2020)

The text appeared in negative spaces of the illustration where the illustrations and colours were not intrusive or distracting and was then coloured in with complementary hues to add a fun and playful touch to the overall image

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BOOK COVER DESIGN.

The book cover needed to visually communicate the calming nature of the story and outline the magical friendship between the two characters.

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