Illustrator Duncan Beedie has been drawing since he could first hold a felt tip. His first solo picture book, The Bear Who Stared (Templar) was nominated for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, and since then his colourful, busy illustrations have brought a variety of characters to life. Here he describes the techniques and approach he used in creating a key scene in I Really, Really Love You So.
I Really, Really Love You So by Karl Newson is not your average ‘love’ book. As it’s our follow-up to the mightily silly I Really, Really Need A Wee, the text rattles along with the endearing Bush Baby returning as the protagonist, with one major difference: this time around, she isn’t desperate for the toilet – she’s desperate to show her love for a certain someone.
As with the first book, I Really, Really Love You So gave me the opportunity to draw the jiggly-wiggly Bush Baby in a number of bizarre scenarios, thanks in no small part to the author’s delightfully bonkers imagination. The particular illustration I have chosen to describe sees our lovestruck primate displaying the lengths they would go to in order to profess their love – by wrestling a crocodile and piloting a raft over treacherous seas, of course!
Naturally, this page was going to be a fairly dramatic one, so it gave me the opportunity to go to town with the composition and colour palette. My first rendering of the wrestling vignette was a little more conservative in nature, as I wasn’t sure how far I could push it. I opted for the characters to be dressed more like college or high school wrestlers from a substandard American teen drama. But it was widely agreed that we should go all out, so those outfits were replaced with the sort of sartorial razzmatazz you would expect from an 80s TV wrestling extravaganza – purple leotards and dyed pink mullet wigs and all!
The larger image on this page is the rafting scene, so I had plenty of space to conjure some drama – crashing waves, brooding skies, and a giant kraken puckering up for a big old sloppy kiss. I love seafaring films and TV dramas, so wanted to emulate the derring-do of Russell Crowe’s Capt. Jack Aubrey from Master and Commander, but in a much sillier fashion, obviously.
All in all, this page is very much an example of ‘more is more’ – not something I usually abide by in my illustrations, but in this case it was called for. The absurd drama is offset by some more refined moments throughout the book, lending the story a more balanced dynamic, but this image was certainly the most fun to produce.
My final artwork is all produced digitally. As an erstwhile animator I still use animation software to do the bulk of my drawing (Adobe Animate – formerly Flash – to be precise). I then export the flat colour images into Photoshop to add texture, brush highlights, and overlays to give the image more depth and detail. It’s a convoluted method that could probably be streamlined, but it’s served me well for the last decade or so.
I Really, Really Love You So by Karl Newson, illustrated by Duncan Beedie, is published by Little Tiger, 978-1801044080, £7.99 pbk.