Category Archives: illustration news

World Book Day 6th March 2014



If you work in publishing, or you have children, you cannot miss the fact that today is World Book Day!

With events all over the country in bookshops, schools & libraries World Book Day is big news!

As an avid reader and lover of all things book, it surprises and saddens me how many people do not read for pleasure and Oxford University Press’s Books Beyond Bedtime report highlights this fact.

It revealed that many parents stop reading with their children from the age of 7 – when experts believe that just 10 minutes a day can make a dramatic difference to their educational attainment.

With Reading for Pleasure at the heart of the new National Curriculum introduced this term, this nationwide research involving nearly 1000 parents and school children aged 6 – 11  found 44% of 7-year-olds are rarely or never read to at home. This is despite the fact that nearly half of ‘reluctant readers’ of this age said they would enjoy reading more if their parents read with them.

According to Unesco (the United Nations agency which promotes knowledge), the biggest single indicator of whether a child is going to thrive at school and in work is whether or not they read for pleasure. Young people who read outside of class are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age.

So if your not in fancy dress today, or taking part in a promotional activity, why don’t you make a nice hot drink and curl up with a good book?!

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in design news, illustration news


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How to Illustrate 2 Simple, Popular Styles

How to Illustrate 2 Simple, Popular Styles

In this post there are two simple step-by-step tutorials of how to illustrate a cartoon style and a more realistic style…


Step 1 – Draw your sketch


Have some fun with this, if you get what you want on paper the first time then great but don’t be afraid to experiment.

You can exaggerate features when drawing in this style, notice how the positioning of the features in the sketch are normal but I have played around with the sizing. The eyes are massive but the nose and mouth are tiny, the face shape itself is angular with a very pointy chin.

Step 2 – Start to ink your sketch in Illustrator

Once you are happy with your sketch, transfer it into Illustrator, you will want to put the image on a locked layer which is set to ‘template’ with a transparency of 50%. You can name this layer ‘sketch’ if you want.

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This now means you can ink your sketch clearly on a layer above this one.

I started by drawing out the outline of the hair, and then started adding in the features, jawline and neck, all using the pen tool.

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The tapered effect was achieved by altering the ‘profile’ of the pen stroke within the stroke palette.

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Step 3 – Colour

Create a third layer inbetween your sketch layer and inked line layer.

Transfer the shapes you created from the line layer in order to colour block your picture.

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 10.46.33

You can also trace under the lines you created by locking the line layer, this is how I drew the whites of the eyes and the purple colours of the mouth.

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Step 4 – Adding details

cartoon style

You can see here that I have added gradients, shadows and highlights in order to make the artwork not look so ‘flat’, you can really be creative here and use your imagination in order to create your cartoon character! All of these extra details were added on the 3rd layer.

‘Realistic’ Style

Step 1 – Choose your picture

For this style you can either draw your face as in the previous tutorial or use a photo. As long as you have the rights to the photo I would suggest this option as the end result is usually better.

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 14.50.04

Step 2 – Illustrator

As in the cartoon tutorial, place your photo on a locked template layer with a transparency of 50%.

Step 3 – Inking

For this style, we are going to be using coloured lines as they give a softer, more realistic effect. The black lines work for the cartoon style as they make the image stand out or ‘pop’ off of the page, with this style you need to consider the skin tones, shadows and light a little more.

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 15.45.34

It is easier to ink the drawing using a bright colour so you can see what you’re drawing, in this case I have used red as it really stands out.

Step 4 – Colour

Once you are happy with your lines you can turn them the correct colour and also create a third layer for you to start the main colour up.

It is a very similar process to the first style, its just a case of creating an image that is as close (as you want) to the original photo as possible.

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 15.55.44

Step 5 – Adding details

At this stage, you can add a lot of nice detail. Again I have used gradients, shadows, feathering, transparencies and also blends to get a good skin tone and feathered effect with the hair.

Realistic_StyleWe hope that this has been an interesting and useful read!

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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in illustration news


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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in illustration news


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Our 10 Best Illustrations of 2013

Presenting a list of the 10 illustrations we are most proud of from the past 12 months…

ScholasticAlice in Wonderland Smoking Caterpillar


This is a fun artwork that was drawn for a series of books comissioned by Scholastic. It included many other characters from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and also ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, but this was by far our favourite!

RaintreeDinosaur Infographic


When we first saw the brief for this infographic we initially thought ‘thats a lot of dino for one artwork!’, but they were so great to draw that when it was finished we ended up quite liking it, however busy it may look!

RaintreeDiagram of a Collision


This is an excellent example of some of the more technical artwork we create here at HL Studios. Another job from Raintree, this artwork shows an aerial view of a motorway collision.

RaintreeReduce, Reuse, Recycle


An infographic from Raintree that represents the mantra ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ in quite a cartoony yet striking manner. We decided to feature this as it is a rather unusual style of artwork, and we’re always happy to show off the diverse range of styles the studio is able to produce.

RaintreeAnimal Abilities


Animals are great to draw, fact! We had lots of fun with this series of artworks, and this one is a particular favourite in the studio. It’s actually rather relaxing to draw animals (depending on how tight the schedule is of course!) and this artwork is a nice example of the range of different creatures we get the chance to illustrate.

Pearson OxfordBlack and White Villa


This illustration has been chosen as it is a fantastic example of how an artwork can still be brought to life even if it is drawn using black and white. The perspective on the building is also very well done and therefore deserved a place in out 10 Best Blog.

Pearson Oxford ‘Church


This is one of two artworks that were created for Pearson Oxford. It is a lovely example of how a simple cartoon style can still be used to portray a serious subject. There are some nice uses of shadowing, and the blends used for the brick work give a great perspective on the whole piece.

Pan MacmillanDanubia Map


We take a lot of pride in our cartography skills here at HL Studios, and this map in particular is an amazing example of what our illustrators can produce. The level of detail in this map is beautiful and absolutely deserved a place in this list.

MacmillanShanghai Waiter


This piece is a collaboration between a few of our illustrators, it has been chosen for this list as it demonstrates how well the team works together whilst also showing off both techincal and figurative styles.

Cambridge University PressAnne Boleyn


An artwork for CUP that was an absolute joy to illustrate. Again it is a straightforward style but capturing the likenesses of famous faces is always good fun to do.

We hope you have enjoyed this post, don’t forget to keep an eye out for more creativity from the illustration team in the future!

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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in design news, illustration news


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Realistic 3D Paintings Of Aquatic Life

from The Graphic Design Blog.

Worth a follow for the fabulous examples of artwork that crop up from time to time.

This artist begins by painting the fish (using acrylics). He tries to use as little paint as possible, then pours resin into the bowl and continues to illustrate it layer by layer to create a sense of depth; thus creating the illusion of the fish swimming in water. I want the bucket of goldfish for my house, my cat would love them!

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Click to follow them, or to follow us 😀

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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in illustration news


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TOP THAT! Combat Fliers project

As Production Manager here at HL Studios, you never quite know what type of project will land on your desk.

One day it can be a six level series of ELT titles and another it can be making up paper aeroplanes to check the position of new artwork… which is exactly what happened to me this week!

TOP THAT! Combat Fliers is a children’s book containing 13 amazing plane designs to construct and fly. We are re-designing the cover, the pages and making sure that the markings on the models match their real life counterparts. I don’t think I have ever known a job to be so fought over in the studio!


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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in design news, illustration news


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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in design news, illustration news


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