Inspired by salvador Dali
The devil really is in the detail when it comes to children’s illustrated books like Bug World...
Two of Nick Harris’s most complex projects were the Dragon Quest and Bug World puzzle books. Each project saw him painting intricate doublepage spreads that were full of action-packed imagery. For young readers, finding key details in the images creates the story in their imaginations. Nick took us on a tour of a strange spread found in Bug World.
The story is set in a theme park where giant, genetically mutated insects escape their enclosures when all the systems fail. Reading it, the child is challenged to find the necessary tools to reinstate the security system before the creatures escape from the park. The imagery was created by laying watercolour washes directly over the inked line. The drawing was done first in pencil straight on to hot press watercolour board, which is pretty resilient to repeated use of the eraser without significantly destroying the surface. The mechanical elephant-walker was in the brief, but the design was left up to the artist. “It afforded a nice opportunity to introduce a bit of Dali. His spindly-legged elephants from Swans Reflecting Elephants are a wonderful bit of surrealist escapism,” says Nick. Two science boffins, who are responsible for looking after the park, and a hapless window cleaner are left to face the ravaging insects. The latter repeatedly finds himself in tight scrapes that he has to escape from. Humour is an invaluable tool for engaging young and old minds alike. The main images were originally created at around 125 per cent of the required size. This is done to help deal with the necessary complexity of the compositions. This extra scale was a boon for Nick in is artistic process, enabling him to create an extra-busy image just packed with fine detail.