Rookies Tamira and Kirsty desperately want to become illustrators, so they join presenter Alex Riley in sketching out what it's like to be one.
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-We push our rookies hard. They see the good...
-How cool is this!
..and the downright astonishing.
We give them glamour.
Show them excitement.
Get their hands dirty.
Put them under pressure.
Make them laugh.
All so they can experience their dream jobs.
Today's rookies will have their pens,
pencils and crayons at the ready as they try to doodle into the world of
Let's go all over the workplace!
Who wouldn't want to be an illustrator?
Not only do you get to draw for a living but you get to dive into your
imagination and create fantastical worlds.
You can dream up mountains, forests,
castles and rivers and populate them with dragons, unicorns,
spaceships and giants.
The possibilities are endless.
Hi, I'm Kirsty and I want to be an illustrator.
I love drawing gymnasts, because I do gymnastics.
My favourite illustrator is definitely Nick Sharratt.
Hello, my name is Tamira
and my dream job is to become an illustrator.
The absolute dream for me is to be at a book signing
with beaming children smiling at me
and having a line that goes out the door and just...
that's my dream.
It's a local one for Tamira today in her home city of London.
Kirsty's travelling there to join her, and Alex of course.
So Kirsty and Tamira, I hear you want to be illustrators.
I want to be an illustrator that
-illustrates children's books and magazines.
-What about you, Tamira?
Greeting cards and books but also non-fiction books as well.
So Kirsty, was there a moment where you thought, "Yes, that's it,
I want to be an illustrator?
Well, I like reading Jacqueline Wilson,
books and as soon as I finished reading Diamond,
Nick Sharratt's illustrations were just amazing and I thought,
that's what I want to be.
Right, I see. And Tamira,
what skills do think a successful illustrator would need?
Well, creativity and imagination.
You have to be resourceful and just use
all the materials you have to make something amazing.
Let's see what your parents think about your artistic ambitions.
Whenever she has time, she makes lots of mess around her room.
She's cutting, drawing, painting, colouring.
I think she needs to learn how to organise her works, because, yeah,
it's quite messy.
Kirsty's really active.
She really loves gymnastics and swimming.
She'll play any sport going.
So to get her to sit down for a few hours and actually concentrate and
finish a project, she's going to find that challenging.
Right, so, Tamira, you're quite messy, and quite disorganised.
How's that going to work when you become a professional illustrator?
I think all illustrators can be messy
at some times but it's just the mess
creates the art, I think.
Really? Kirsty, you have trouble finishing things off.
I think if it's really, really, really important,
I would finish them off.
-If you're getting paid!
-Yes, if I was getting paid.
OK, well, shall we get on with our first assignment, then?
Illustration has been around as long as books.
Take the Lindisfarne Gospel, produced around 700 AD.
by a monk called Eadfrith from Northumberland,
its posh title is An Illuminated Manuscript.
It's doesn't light up, it means it incorporates elaborate lettering,
drawings and borders on every page.
Not your average picture book, then.
They didn't use paper.
It was made from parchment, which is dried animal skin.
It was German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg
that really cracked the process, though,
when he invented the first printing press in the 15th century.
This led to mass production of books,
meaning ordinary people could
own them for the first time and the monks
like Eadfrith could rest their pens.
It's time to meet our first mentor.
Ruth Jackson is a greetings card illustrator.
She uses pencil shavings to sharpen up her designs.
She's been illustrating greetings cards for five years.
That's a lot of pencils!
Today just happens to her birthday.
Happy birthday, Ruth.
-I've got you a little card there.
-Oh, that's so kind.
Thank you very much.
-I just wanted to get your professional...
-Oh! Oh, goodness...
-'Happy birthday, have a paw-some day.'
-I love it.
-It's a cat.
Yeah. Very clever, that's very clever.
Paw-some. It sounds like awesome.
-Yeah, stick to the day job, Alex.
So what's our assignment?
OK, well, today you're going to be making some of your own greetings cards
and you're not going to be using pencil shavings.
You're going to be using...
Beach glass, or sea glass.
It's glass that's been turned around and washed around in the sea.
And the cards that you're going to be making today are going to cover all
different occasions, so you have to see if you can think of some ideas.
-Shall we get started, then?
So, have you had any first thoughts?
So, I'm thinking about having them like balloons,
and having these as the actual balloon
and then having the string going down.
That is a really nice thought.
You should definitely try that.
Kirsty and Tamira can let their imaginations go in this task
and turn the glass into almost anything.
I did this one, "Happy Mothers' Day to a classy lady."
Oh, yeah. That's so nice.
And such lovely writing.
-Shall we start putting some of them down onto actual cards?
OK, so let's get started.
Hi, guys. It's me, Ricky, the Art Ninja.
I'm going to give you my three top tips on how to become a good
illustrator or artist.
Now my first tip is observation.
Look around you and really take everything in.
The more you learn about the stuff that you're doing,
the more you know about the objects that you're painting,
the better your art will become.
The second thing is to have fun.
As long as you're having fun, it will be a good piece of art.
And finally, you've got to do it and you've got to finish it and you've
got to start showing it to people,
because you're going to get it all back, get a bit of praise.
Make you feel happy, and that's what it's all about.
-Shall we have a look?
-OK, shall I start here?
-It's really clever to put them all together and
almost like a mosaic.
That's very sweet, so we've got a little boy crying tears, massive,
massive glass tears!
And then the really cute earrings.
I love that. That's so nice.
I think your mum would be very happy with getting that.
They're great. Shall we have a look at yours as well?
Now that is such a different thing to do, isn't it?
So you've got the sea glass and you thought about how it's translucent and
you've tried to see if you can read through it, and you can.
And that's great. So this one,
I think it's interesting that you've tried drawing on the sea glass and I
think perhaps you need to try different pens,
cos they are bleeding a bit, aren't they? This one's really sweet and simple.
And I think this one, which is really,
really pretty but would take a long time to make and it's quite heavy,
you could perhaps think about photographing that.
-Great range, rookies!
Cards for almost every occasion.
I thought the assignment
was a great way to introduce myself to illustrating.
I never really realised that designing cards was actually
illustrating, so now that I know that,
I think I'm going to give it a go.
I think the best part was making our own cards
and just experimenting with
all the different materials.
Tamira, I think you're obviously totally natural at this
and your designs are really, really nice,
really effective, really simple.
Kirsty, I loved your designs.
I thought they were really fresh and you really looked at it
in a different way.
With a better idea of how to illustrate greetings cards,
the rookies head for the zoo.
The zoo? This is about illustration, Alex!
Now I bet you're wondering why I've brought you to the zoo
-when you both want to be illustrators.
Yeah. It's all to do with a piece of advice that we've received from
somebody who you both admire.
So have a look at this.
As well as drawing from the imagination,
try drawing from real life.
It's a really good way to improve your drawing skills
and to learn how to observe the world around you.
Excellent advice there.
Now a lot of children's books obviously feature animals in them,
so where better to come than London Zoo
to find loads of different animals
that you can sketch?
A self-confessed doodler, our next mentor,
Nadia Shireen, always aspired to draw for a living.
After studying law and working as a music journalist,
she finally took the plunge and now she's a fully fledged children's
author and illustrator.
Time for her top tips.
So my first top tip is to have fun,
because if you're not enjoying yourself when you draw,
you can kind of tell in the drawing.
It's all stiff and horrible. Which leads me onto my second top tip,
which is draw lots, all the time.
Always have a sketchbook with you and a pencil.
I use mine so much that mine's broken.
And my third top tip,
you need to do some other jobs as well to earn a living!
Don't be afraid to be diverse.
By that, I mean, think about
using your illustrations in lots of different ways,
maybe in packaging, or maybe in newspapers, magazines,
so think big.
Nadia illustrates her tips for being, well,
an illustrator, of course.
If you don't have fun drawing, it'll show in your pictures.
Draw lots and lots and lots!
Always have a pencil and sketchbook with you.
Be diverse. Have another job up your sleeve.
Think how else you can use your illustrations, like on packaging.
How do you get inspiration if you're having one of those days?
It's a good idea to put my pencil down, go for a walk, clear my head,
and maybe I'll get an idea or just, you know,
it goes back to that top tip
of being in a really relaxed frame of mind.
What's the order of drawing?
Do you do it on paper first then do you do graphic design?
Everything starts on paper for me.
I'll draw up characters in my sketchbook and then maybe later on,
I'll experiment with different materials, coloured pencils, paints,
on the computer and kind of mesh everything together.
What's our assignment?
We are going to wander round London Zoo and observe
the animals. In your head,
you might think you know what a penguin looks like
and you just draw a penguin, but actually,
we're just going to look at the penguins and notice how they move,
and just try and take some notes, visual notes, in your sketchbook.
Taking inspiration from the penguins,
the rookies are diving straight into their sketchbooks.
Look at me, all clean, all clean.
Oh, wow! Look at that. Look at those amazing shapes.
He's not shy, is he?
But when you actually come and see them in real life,
you see them interacting, it might spark off a story idea.
We are all looking at our sketchbooks a lot.
Just look at the penguins a bit more.
Else it's so easy to start drawing what we think a penguin looks like
as opposed to what a penguin actually looks like.
-Now the rookies are at the comedy pelicans.
Oh, it's shivering.
Looks like Elvis.
Oh, they're all coming in for a snuggle.
This is the cosiest thing I've ever seen.
You know, when I sometimes draw cartoon lions,
the whiskers are coming out like this.
What's interesting about that,
is you can see how the whiskers have kind of got this curve.
So I'm literally just jotting that down.
Female lions do all the work.
Oh, here we go!
-Here we go.
-Get all the food.
Ah! Look at that.
No sketchbooks allowed for at least a minute.
Let's not have our sketchbooks out.
-Let's just watch the tigers.
Great advice, Nadia.
Illustrators need to have good observation skills so they can notice how
animals move and translate that behaviour into their sketches.
OK, we are allowed to open sketchbooks.
-He's very cute, isn't he?
-You're missing the cub.
-He's going to climb up the tree.
-Don't worry about that.
-Look at the cub.
Too fast to draw, though.
Too fast to draw, but that doesn't matter.
The important thing is to look at it
and notice how it moves and its characteristics.
Do think they have to wear scarves in the winter?
Be a lot of knitting. Aw!
-It's coming out to say hello.
-Come and say hello.
So this is what I quite like doing. When I don't feel like sketching,
just kind of looking at them and imagining what they feel like.
Making up little stories for them.
But if you really look at each spot,
you can see a bit of black in the middle.
Yeah. And they go lighter on their legs.
Yeah. If you don't have any coloured pencils on you,
you can always just write that down and say, brown spots,
black in the middle. They are just the strangest.
This is so much fun. I would like to be here all day.
Why don't we have a little look through our sketchbooks?
This can be a bit of a scary moment, because you kind of want to go,
"No, this is rubbish, don't look at this, don't look at this one."
But try and remember, there's no such thing as a bad drawing.
Even a drawing that doesn't look how you want it to look,
you still have learned something.
Your kind of brain and your hand has learned how to deal with a shape.
So, what we need to do, really, is just flip through our sketchbooks,
have a think about which animals you've enjoyed drawing
and we can look at developing those a bit more
into characters that we can use in the book.
The rookies are illustrating away and developing their sketches from
earlier into characters that could be used in a book.
You're already drawing animals doing funny things, which is brilliant.
I love it.
Is that a penguin doing pull-ups?
Professional illustrators often work in much the same way,
refining their doodles as they go.
Can I have a nosy and see what you guys have been doing?
-I've done those.
Some kind of penguin sports day going on.
It was funny to see them hanging about.
Penguin surfers. Love it!
Is it like the penguin Olympics?
-How about you, Tamira?
Winter scene and a penguin in a tux and a schoolboy lion,
and cooking pelican.
-And a giraffe being a tree,
acting as a tree and a giraffe, fanning with a scarf in the wind.
Because you were wondering about
how long it would take to knit a giraffe scarf. Quite a while.
The pelican, looked like it couldn't move around very well.
So I thought a scooter probably...
-It could go and get fish from the fish shop
-in the little basket there.
-This was a lemur, playing a little guitar.
I think you've all done a great job.
Very impressed and I have to say,
I've noticed that you both naturally put your characters in a kind of
narrative position, by which I mean, yours is surfing,
your penguins are in a winter scene,
you're actually creating stories
without having to write any words and
that's a huge part of what
children's book illustration is about.
So well done.
I think the hardest part was trying to draw the animals,
because they were moving about like...
They didn't stand still, apart from the penguins, which were posing.
The hardest part of the assignment was
when we had to adapt what we drew at the zoo
to make our own characters, but if you really tried to put some
life into them, you could successfully do it.
Tamira, you're such a natural storyteller
and I really enjoyed seeing that in your drawings. I'm so impressed.
If I had any advice at this stage,
it would be don't be afraid to look up a bit more.
You spent quite a lot of time today looking at your notebook.
Kirsty, I really loved the way that when you saw the penguins,
you almost immediately saw this gang of gymnastic penguins.
It was hilarious. Have a bit more confidence in yourself,
cos you're doing some really great stuff.
Time up at the zoo but the rookies are
staying in London. Goldsmiths, to be exact.
They've come to this prestigious college to meet their next mentor.
So now you've designed some fantastic characters.
What are we going to do with them?
What about putting them in an actual children's book?
And even better, to mentor you through the whole process,
we've got one of the best loved children's authors in Britain,
Michael Rosen and he's worked with some of the best illustrators in the
business, including Nick Sharratt, Quentin Blake.
Michael Rosen is Professor of children's literature at Goldsmiths.
He's also a poet, performer, broadcaster,
scriptwriter and author of over 170 books
on everything from farting fish to Spollyollydiddlytiddlyitis.
Whatever that is!
Michael, speaking from an author's point of view,
what would your three top tips be for illustrators?
Well, the first would be to take risks.
Don't think that you've just got to do exactly what the words say.
Here's a picture Quentin Blake did for me.
I did a poem about a little boy who drops a baby.
Now, you know, that's a bit sad, maybe, or a bit awful,
but in actual fact, you see what Quentin's done.
The baby's ended up with his face down in some dog food.
Now all that comes from Quentin. It's nothing to do with me.
That's just his joke.
So I love that. I love that that's what happened.
The second thing I'd say is
that it's really difficult but you have to
make the character be the same person all the way through the book.
So if you take The Tiger Who Came To Tea,
you got to have it so that the tiger doesn't turn white in the middle of
it, you know, it's an orange tiger
and then I think my third one is keep the eye busy.
So here we've got Look Back by Trish Cooke and Caroline Binch.
Look, that's a whole page there and one, two, three, four, five.
There's five pictures, so every time you open the page,
you don't know where the pictures are going to be.
That keeps the person looking at interested.
Michael's top tips are, one, take risks,
illustrating the details which the author hasn't mentioned can add an
extra twist. Two, keep your characters consistent.
Your audience need to recognise them after all, and finally,
keep the eye busy.
Think about how you lay out your pages
and the journey they take you on.
How do you choose an illustrator for your book?
Mostly, I don't.
In the end, the publishers decide.
If you're a writer, you have to accept that.
So how close do you have to work with the illustrator?
I hand it over, so with We're Going On A Bear Hunt, they said,
Helen Oxenbury would be just right for that.
People say to me, why is the bear sad?
And I say, I don't know.
I didn't do the bear.
All that comes from the shape of the bear.
People say the bear looks sad.
Just by drawing somebody going...
Except it isn't a person, it's a bear, which seems to me incredible.
How can you make a bear sad?
Well, if you're an illustrator, you can.
OK, what's our assignment?
Well, it's really a bit like the bear.
Can you draw something or somebody or an animal that has got feelings?
NARRATOR: To help, Nadia has a pot full of emotions
for Alex to act out and the rookies to draw.
-What do we notice about his face?
Oh, good eyebrows. You're looking at the eyebrows there.
OK, hold it, hold it.
-Shouldn't be too difficult!
Now have a look at Alex's head.
Is it straight or is it at an angle?
It's kind of tilted onto his hand, isn't it?
What are you noticing about these different emotions?
What bits did you find you're changing?
It's the eyes, isn't it?
So much is in the eyes.
I'm so angry.
I'm angry about this whole thing!
-How you doing?
-Pull up a chair, have a look see what you're up to.
Angry. I like embarrassed, where the lip...
Out the side, like that, isn't it?
A lot of eyebrow work you've done here, I can see.
You've got slanty eyebrows up and around the eyebrows.
This one, he looks bored and sad at the same time.
Very good. Lovely.
-Can I see yours?
Yeah. Sad, pool of tears.
Yes, oh, smoke coming out of your ears.
That's obviously taken from you.
Yeah, I think so.
A little bit of face flushing here, very embarrassed.
Even better, you've managed to spell it right.
That's the hardest bit about embarrassed, I always think,
is how to spell it! Oh, well done, folks.
Hi, I'm Axel Scheffler,
I'm an illustrator and my top three tips would be, number one,
to draw a lot and to practise a lot.
to be curious about other people's work and to look at lots of
books and paintings and art, and number three,
is to be patient and to be courageous,
to show your work to the people and to the world.
So what we're going to do is,
you know all those brilliant animal drawings
that you did and we went to the zoo?
We're going develop them and give them each a spread.
A spread is two pages.
The rookies need to think about the drawings in the context of a book,
visualising how they'll sit on the page,
what Nadia called the spread.
What colour should the penguins' feet be?
This is the fun bit. This is where you get to decide what your penguin
looks like so it's up to you. They could be pink,
or blue or yellow.
Remember, the rookies' artwork will be made into their very own books,
so there's lots of concentration at the table.
So are you ready to show me what you've done?
Have you ever seen Gymnastics Penguin?
'Everyone else was the same.
Old and boring!' Sounds like me!
I love it. Great character.
The butterflies presented the medals.
Yes, they would.
He won gold.
The others look a bit sad.
The beak down, that's right.
Lovely, well done, brilliant.
Collected and calm Gerald and he's a sort of lion man.
-He lives in an amazing place, by the looks of it.
Am I allowed to run my fingers on the corrugated sky?
Lovely. And here, we have two sides, one giraffe.
I can't fit myself.
so he's a giraffe with sort of problems with his personality.
-There's a lot going on here.
We've got a pelican who is setting his sights on distant parts.
Lovely, well, there's some incredible scenes there.
Will they perhaps live together at some point?
-Later, do you think?
-They might cross paths.
-They might cross paths.
It's good isn't it? Very good, the pair of you.
The hardest part of the assignment was trying to convey some
emotion into the characters when all you can do is just do a few marks.
I've never actually done a storybook or a storyline before
with my drawings in, so I think that went really well.
Well, Kirsty, I think you did a fantastic job.
I loved the characters and you've got a nice story there.
I suppose it could have been a little bit of tension,
a moment in the Olympics,
where we wondered a bit more as to whether our hero penguin
would win or not.
Tamira, your book is amazing.
It's quite deep in a mystical sort of way
and there is always a place for that.
Now if you were thinking about a book,
maybe you would want to get a link somewhere,
just to link them up bit more.
The rookies have been on a creativity campaign,
illustrating greetings cards,
and meeting top mentors who trained them in drawing for observation and
But after this emotional roller-coaster,
have they got what it takes to make it as top illustrators?
Tamira, I think this comes so naturally to you
and I'm sure you'll be a very good illustrator.
Tamira, I think you really could be
an illustrator of a very special kind,
somebody who paints things that aren't immediately obvious.
They make us ask questions.
I definitely think you could make it as an illustrator.
You've got a really bold, confident approach.
Work a little bit on expression, and you're there.
Kirsty, I thought you had such a fresh approach
and I'm sure that if you chose to pursue it,
you'd be a great illustrator.
Kirsty, you could be an illustrator.
You've got a great sense of how the pictures go on a page.
Kirsty, I think you could definitely make it as an illustrator.
You've got a really innate sense of storytelling.
It just comes really naturally to you.
So, Kirsty, do you still want to be an illustrator?
Yes. Now that I've seen everything, I really want to do it.
-Tamira, what about you?
-I don't think so.
I'm joking! Of course, of course I want to be one!
I think there's nothing else for me to do on this earth.
Oh, hang on. What's this?
Oh, look! It's your books!
How about that?
All the rookies' hard work has paid off.
Their characters have made their way into an actual book.
They're good, aren't they? And they look very impressive.
So would you like me to sign them for you?
-Wouldn't mind, honestly.
No trouble at all. It's OK, it's OK!
I've got a pen and everything.
Can you transfer what's in your imagination onto a page? If you can then you could become an illustrator. Rookies Tamira and Kirsty desperately want to do just that. They join presenter Alex Riley in sketching out what it's like to be an illustrator. They meet up with a greetings card maker to get some creative ideas and make their very own cards. A trip to the zoo is next to observe how animals move and to observe their expressions. Writer Michael Rosen pops up to give some advice on their work before setting them the task of making their own illustrated books - the end result is amazing!