You are going to go batty for this glorious book about the often maligned and overlooked mammals which are bats! I have been a huge fan of Charlotte’s work since reading her stunning ‘The Bee Book’ which highlighted the beauty and importance of our buzzy little friends.
This absolutely fascinating book is packed with more facts about bats than you ever knew were possible! Learn about how they communicate, where they hangout and how they can hang upside for hours on end but humans can’t. Did you know that the biggest bat, the giant golden-crowned flying bat, has a wingspan of over five foot, whereas the smallest (the bumblebee bat) is about the size of a large bumblebee?
As with all Milner’s books, there is a strong focus on the ecological issues which help our planet in ways I hadn’t thought about. For example, they help pollinate flowers and disperse seeds, help protect crops by reducing pest levels and reforest previously barren areas.
Very sadly, in some areas bats are in decline but this wonderful book gives its readers tips on what they can do to help their local bat populations.
Now, I am thrilled to be able to share the illustrative journey Charlotte went through when composing her beautiful illustrations for ‘The Bat Book.’
From Charlotte Milner:
1. Rough page layouts
My illustrations always start off as pencil sketches. I use reference images from books and websites to look at while I draw. When I’m happy with a drawing then I can start to add colour.
I like my illustrations to have a degree of accuracy so that children can get a picture of what animals really look like. But I also try to give the animals a bit of character to achieve a more friendly style. This can be a challenging balance to get right and it will often involve doing sketches over and over again.
I like to colour the images by painting as well as using digital techniques. I will scan in painted shapes and textures which I layer up digitally to give the illustrations more of a hand painted feel. I love working with paint but find that using photoshop to change colours and edit images is a a helpful part of the process when you have a deadline and things might have to be changed last minute.
When the illustrations are finished a consultant checks them to see that they are accurately representing the species. With ‘The Bat Book’ I got called out a few times for adding one too many fingers in the bone structure of the wings! So even the small bats in the backgrounds have been checked to see that they’re wings are correctly drawn.
A lot of the time when we see images of bats they are super up-close picture photographs, which aren’t particularly flattering to bats! I hope that children and bats will find the illustrations appealing and that they’ll help people to understand why these animals are amazing creatures that need protecting.
I’m sure that after those insights into Charlotte’s illustrative procedure, you have a new understanding as to why a stunning picture book can take so long to create! Thank you so much for sharing, Charlotte.
*Many thanks to DK books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. Be sure to visit the other stops too*