Writing a brief Pt2

Following on from my research stage in Pt1 https://emclemmieoca.home.blog/?p=520
Let get started on the creative brief.

This time I wasn’t going to make picking an illustration in which to write this brief any more complicated than it needed to be, I felt needed to jump right in and no overthinking. So I sat down in front of my children’s bookshelf and started pulling books out, randomly. Yes, when comes to children’s books I do indeed judge a book by its cover, it is one of the main things that draws me to a book!

I found in my hands one of my all-time favorite covers, an illustration by Lucy Richards for Julia Donaldson night monkey and day monkey!

While unintentionally I managed to pick a piece that would have a lot of research to access online, while Lucy Richards isn’t majorly online, really just the basic of her work, background and twitter, I have access to a vast amount of information which Richards would have being able to use in order to complete her brief.
Firstly Julia Donaldson at the time of this book has just started making a name for herself and so has Axel Scheffler, in fact this pair have done many interviews both together and on the topic which give me great insight into what goes on behind the scenes. While its important to realize Donaldson and Scheffler are indeed a dream team, not everyone would have the level of trust between the two in their career.

It is wonderful that they can speck so openly about working with each other.

“We never really meet to discuss anything. Julia will write a book and send it to her editor, who then passes it to me to illustrate. Julia sees my sketches and makes comments, but we don’t usually interfere with each other’s work, so it’s fine! “

Axel Scheffler
Interview with scholastic

I do wonder however wonder how Richards would have felt working with Donaldson with her being the first illustrator to work with her other than Scheffler in 2002, would this have given her more pressure! however during the time, Donaldson would have just started to make her name, maybe the pressure in the early days wasn’t as bad as would be today. When I think of Donaldson books Scheffler and later Monks comes to mind. While I think both illustrators have a familiar feel in their work, reality is their style is unique to them.
So I would have thought Donaldson editor would have picked Richards for her style and not to mimic the style of Scheffler. I also would think The Gruffalo, Monkey puzzle, room on the broom would have given Richards a bit of a starting point in terms of research.

The Guardian youtuber
Axel Scheffler

I wanted to look into possible mediums and I came across this little gem of a video with Axel Scheffler actually working on an illustration of the Gruffalo. While I was leaning more traditional mediums I was thinking night monkey, day monkey may have been thicker paint such as gouache or acrylic and the fact Richards on twitter she stated that she likes and uses acrylics. I was now torn as the textures are very similar she could have actually used watercolour to create night monkey, day monkey, maybe thicker dryer brush, not as watered down. I think I need to experiment later on with scanning different paints with techniques in and working digitally myself in order to get better at recognizing what and how other artist have created work.

I felt great joy to see Schefflers sketchbook and early designs of the Gruffalo!
This was one of the highlights of my research, seeing a “master” at work like this.

This is going to be quite hard in some ways, as it would be easier to write a complete new brief based on the text without seeing the image. It’s like going backward almost from a finished result! A result we know what works! BUT never the less this will be an interesting little exercise.
On one page in my sketchbook, I started to break the image down almost so I could work out the most important element that is very likely would have been in the brief.


I also experimented with the style in gouache, while it may seem like I use gouache a lot it is actually a fairly new medium to me! so still learning the ropes. This was a good mini side challenge for me, I’m still getting down blending techniques and how wet works best for me with gouache.
I highlighted core areas was the monkeys and night and day which I believe would have been expressed strongly in a good brief.

The Brief

I’m wondering if you are available for a job for us, If are able to design us an illustration for a book cover for the latest book from the Julia Donaldson the creator of the Gruffalo, titled night monkey, day monkey. The book will be publish by us, Egmont press who are the largest specialist children’s book publisher in the UK, we have commitment to inclusivity, ethical publishing standards and an investment in debut talent.

We are contacting you as we think your style and technique is suited for this job, we’re looking for a design that plays on the monkey by day and money by night.
Possibly having an image that shows both night and day.
We would really like something that shows the monkeys are different but really they’re the same, so something along the a difference in appearance, we welcome any that ideas that you may have.
The monkeys need to have individual personalities
The target age group is pre-school and will something for families to read together.
Sizing we are thinking for print size 10×8

We would like to leave some spacing around for the title etc
Colour palette to suit theme of day/night and jungle (Blues/Greens)
We ideally would like to see a rough draft as soon as possible and final completion in a couple of weeks.

Let us know if you are able to do this and if you have any questions

I’m aware it’s not likely just asking an illustrator for just the cover on a illustrated children book and will be asking for the whole book, I’ve just taken the “cover” for the purpose of the brief exercise.

I also wasn’t sure if first contact brief or more formal brief, so I went with a first contact and included a quick brief to see if Illustrator could take on the project and what it involved.
I guess like most things it would depend on the situation how formal / informal a brief is.


I am still very inspired by watching the video on you tube of Axel Scheffler working on an illustration seeing his sketchbook and a possible brief that Richards would have gotten I was keen to do something of my own.
I’m thinking if follow this brief as it is, I’m limiting myself by the works of Lucy Richards so I need to mix it up a little, So thinking of sticking to night and day theme, but instead of monkeys and a jungle have a moth, butterfly and urban scenery for a background.
Using both Scheffler and Richard as an anchor in terms of style and technique.


I was always aiming to do this to be fairly quick, as it is about me exploring Axel Scheffler technique and also lucky a week ago for Christmas I got some Ecoline mixing colours (liquid water colours) so now is as good as time as any to test these, so bit of mark making on the go!
Firstly I put together a collection of images on pinterest for both a simple mood board and reference for both moths and butterflies. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/clemmiee/oca-emmas-study-board-and-collections/night-moth-and-day-butterfly-moodboard/.

After setting up the mood board in my personal sketchbook I draw some moths and butterflies and following some thumbnail sketches of both ideas and possible layouts.


Firstly I sketched on a rough sheet, using a lightbox traced on to watercolour paper. I inked the lines of just the moth, butterfly and the post box. After I wanted to keep the white very white, so I used drawing gum to mask these ideas, such as the eyes.
I was ready for the background, I did a little test in my sketch book and honestly I know I needed more practice, this is something I will work on more within my sketchbook and in my illustrations.
Using two tones of blue I tried to create a gradient effect from night to day, the end result I wished the day side was lighter or maybe the darker side a few tones darker yet.
I added the postbox, the reason I added this in the first place is for contrast and give a sense of size to the moth/butterfly.
While I wanted to create the moth/butterfly true to their colours and marking, thinking of contrast within the image I felt that be best to give a solid colour such as green and purple. As I had to mixed purple from the red used in the letterbox and blue of the darker sky, I’m little worried that the contrast isn’t as defined as the moth green, hoping with the yellow of the sun and adding more black to the lines I’m able to overcome this.

Once image was dry I removed the drawing gum, overall I’m liking the image however some of my intention are missing such as the twirl circle almost from the moth and butterfly, is that lack of the white dots and movement lines?

Thinking I need to work on more and experiment with what I envisioned, It is risky as I’m not sure it will work, I will scan this stage in so I do not lose what I’ve done and then add the extras.


After scanning, I’m leaving as this is for now as I like the organic element without any touch up.


While I found it easy to think of things to ask, I didn’t find it easy to write a brief.
I had to put myself into the mindset of the person asking for the brief to help me get started. It was also hard as didn’t want to be too detailed based upon the final result so felt a bit like I was “play acting” this exercise a little. Resulted in me needing to go back to my comfort zone and drawing/painting. I think it some ways this exercise while actual objectives was understandable to point it was almost “easy” it actually pushed me the most out of all the exercises so far. I knew as soon as I read the exercise and picked the illustration what I needed to say but was very stuck in how I could say it.

Research, references and notes

Web links
Night Monkey, day Monkey – https://www.egmont.co.uk/
Interview with Axel – https://clubs-kids.scholastic.co.uk/clubs_content/1489

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