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The mermaid who couldn't. Cover design. Mermaid and sea creature underwater. Childrens' picture book illustration

Cover illustration, The Mermaid Who Couldn't

written by Ali Redford

The Mermaid Who Couldn't is a children's picture for children age 4+. Although aimed at those who have experienced early childhood trauma and perhaps ended up in the care system, this is a book which will help any child understand feelings of shame. The book uses metaphors to show how children can find a sense of self worth.I wanted Marianas journey to be reflected in the illustrations. We initially see her lurking in the deep, dark ocean lit only by the luminescence of underwater sea creatures. Mariana makes her way from dark to light and back again as she learns how to love herself and trust others. I had a lot of time to play and experiment prior to beginning the finished version and spent some of that time producing tonal studies of the storyboard so that I could be sure of getting the right contrast between light and dark in the finished version.

The Mermaid Who Couldn't

Mermaid in deep dark oceon with scary octopus and little deep sea creatures. Childrens' picture book illustration
Tonal study storyboard for a childrens' picture book story about a mermaid who finds her voice and new friends. Children's picture book illustration.

Tonal study

Character design sketches of a mermaid. Childres' picture book illustration.
Mermaid caught in a net and being thrown back into the ocean. Childrens' picture book illustration.

Character sketches and finished illustrations.

mermaids singing together. mermaids racing with dolphins and diving for pearls. Childrens' picture book illustration

More character design. This time I wanted to figure out exactly how I wanted Mariana to look before and after her transformation. I absolutely loved her swirling hair with beautiful brush strokes in this one, but unfortunately this turned out to be incredibly time consuming trying to get this right in the finished illustrations and I had to abandon it. I was relying on a spontaneity and looseness with the brush strokes which was difficult to then conform to the overall shape of the hair.

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