Knowledge and skills
- Reading for pleasure
- Wider reading
- Building on others’ ideas
Children’s book illustrator Becka Moor talks to us about finding her style and getting inside the characters she draws.
Did you draw as a child?
All the time! My biggest enjoyment as a child was watching cartoons and doodling on bits of scrap paper, in pads, books and even my homework diary (tut tut!).
How did you develop your distinctive style?
I have spent a lot of time experimenting with different techniques, gone through a lot of ‘awkward’ phases along the way until I finally felt comfortable with my style. I think it takes a lot of practice mixed with trial and error in order to figure out how you want your style to evolve and how you want it to represent you as an artist.
Which were your favourite children’s books and illustrators when you were at school?
A firm favourite book series of mine is ‘Brambly Hedge’ written and illustrated by Jill Barklem. I could spend hours poring through her books, getting lost in all the little details. I remember reading Elmer by David McKee a lot at school and also The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.
At school what job did you want to do when you were older?
Funnily enough, it never occurred to me that illustrating children’s books was a career option. I wanted to become a primary school teacher and read names aloud from the register all day long. That was my idea of a fun job!
What’s your favourite medium to work with?
This is a tricky one. I didn’t start off working digitally at all. I worked with ink and watercolour, then I went on to work with collage, then I tried my hand at gouache, then I tried everything I could get my hands on all at once until I discovered a Wacom tablet. Since then I have preferred to work digitally. I still keep a sketchbook and make my own textures that I scan into the computer, though.
How do you decide how the characters will look?
I like to sit and think about the character’s personality for a little bit. Do they have a cheeky side? Are they neat by nature, maybe they’re a bit messy? Do they like dancing, or playing sports? Once I’ve figured that part out, I know what expression they ought to have and how they will move. I really enjoy working with different expressions. Sometimes you just need to change the eye shape of your character or give them angry eyebrows and you’ve altered their appearance.
Have you ever thought of writing and illustrating your own book or do you prefer to illustrate other people’s stories?
I love illustrating other people’s stories because you don’t know the challenges you will face. For example, I’d be tempted not to include a horse riding a bike, viewed from the front if it were me writing the text but you never know what to expect from a script written by somebody else, which can be both exciting and a little scary. Having said that, I have written a couple of stories for picture books and would like to explore that a bit more in the future should the opportunity come about. I’d also like to try my hand at fiction for older children one day, as I’m a bit of a rambler.