Portfolio One

Illustrator & Artist

. the wind in the willows .

Usborne Publishing | 2012

I have been working on a re-telling of the classic 'The Wind in the Willows', written by Kenneth Grahame. It was a real pleasure to illustrate the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger. My approach with the artwork was to employ water colour techniques with pencil, whilst implementing a muted colour pallete.

“...trees crouched nearer and nearer and holes made ugly mouths at him on either side. Everything was very still now. The dusk advanced on him steadily, rapidly, gathering in behind and before; and the light seemed to be draining away like flood-water. Then the faces began. It was over his shoulder, and indistinctly, that he first thought he saw a face..."

. pinocchio .

Pop-Up Book | Templar Publishing

'When they arrived in Play-land, Pinocchio and Candlewick couldn't believe their eyes. Children were everywhere, eating sweets, going on rides, laughing and clowning around.'

Follow the adventures of Pinocchio as he seeks to become a real boy. Originally written by Carlo Collodi, this version is re-told by Anita Ganeri. This is my second pop-up book for Templar Publishing and one which Im really proud of.

The planning and process that goes into combining the paper engineering with the illustrations is something that I thoroughly enjoyed working on with the designer Andy Mansfield.

'Pinocchio jumped into a boat and began rowing for all he was worth. But he didnt get very far before he rowed straight into the wide-open mouth of an enormous whale'

. S is for snowman .

Zondervan Kidz | August 2011

This Alphabet book follows a small family, including their pets, through a variety of Winter and Christmas time activities. The book forms part of Zondervan’s seasonal alphabet collection. I'm a snow-sort-of-person so I really enjoyed illustrating the winter scenes in this story.

. alice in wonderland .

Pop Up Book | Templar Publishing

'Sitting on a large mushroom nearby , was a plump, very smartly dressed caterpillar. "Who are you?" said the Caterpillar, sternly. "Im not sure, sir," replied Alice, shyly. "I've changed several times since breakfast."'

I was approached by Templar to help work on a new series of extravagant pop-up books that incorporated sound. Lewis Carroll's classic is, for any illustrator, a real opportunity to get stuck into the surreal environments and variety of strange and wonderful characters.

This version is retold by Libby Hamilton and designed by Andy Mansfield. Follow the white rabbit into Wonderland, have tea with Mad Hatter, paint the roses red before coming face to face with the Queen of Hearts.

'She noticed that the sides of the hole were covered with bookshelves and cupboards, and old maps, and pictures hung on pegs. Down, down, down she went.'

'"Here!" cried Alice, quite forgetting how large she had grown, and knocking over cards and chairs as she stood up.
"Oh No," said the King. "Rule forty-two: all those more than a mile high must leave court."
"I'm not a mile high," said Alice"'

. the sandifoot folk .

Self Promotional | Unpublished

These days most of my personal illustrative work is usually restricted to my sketchbook. The idea for the 'Sandifoot Folk' originated while walking in my local forest. These day-dreams have slowly grown into a host of varied characters, the sketchbook and stories continue to be a work in progress. Hopefully I will have more time to spend developing this world in the future!

. Children's poetry.

Kingfisher Publishing | Book Jacket

A book cover design and illustration for a compendium of children's poetry, chosen by Michael Rosen.

The idea of using the image of a book as a flying carpet was one which had been floating around in my sketch book for a while. I felt it fitted the brief perfectly, a metaphor to transport the children into a new exciting world. The bird’s eye view also allowed me to incorporate lots of details into the cover.

. winter shadow .

Barefoot Books | 80 Pages

Winter Shadow, written by Richard Knight, is the story of Maria who lives with her grandfather in a small mountain village in the snowy north. The tale follows Maria as she discovers and raises a lonely wolf cub.

The commission instantly appealed to me. Firstly it was a story which was aimed at older children, therefore the imagery had to be slightly more sophisticated. And Secondly, it blended the interaction between humans and animals against a wintery environment.

"There was something so still and calm about her face. Something that reminded me a little of Shadow..."

It was important to develop the characters; the grandfather had to be tough as well as kind. Just as the wolf had to be playful as a cub, then as an adult, more mysterious and dangerous.

'Shadow arrived in our lives unexpectedly on a cold winter's day and I loved him more than anything else, except perhaps for Grandfather himself. We lived in a small mountain village far away from the world beyond the flood plain, and we liked it that way.'

. book covers .

Oxford University Press | Faber & Faber | McGraw Hill | Kingfisher Books | Houghton Mifflin

Here are a selection of some of the more successful book covers I have illustrated for children.

The brief for the ‘Stories for Five Year Olds’ book cover, was to create an imaginative design that incorporated the number five. My concept was to make the ‘five’ stand out as a yellow submarine in a decorative underwater world (in homage to Ringo Starr).

I always have fun illustrating animals for children. I enjoy the challenge of trying to give them human and humorous qualities, but still retain their animalistic form. Some of the covers and imagery on display will hopefully support my claim.

'There, in the night, where none can spy, All in my hunters camp I lie, And play at books that I have read, Til it is time to go to bed.
So, when my nurse comes in for me, Home I return across the sea, And go to bed with backwards looks, at my dear land of story-books.'
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Richard Johnson Illustration | All Content and Images Copyright of Richard Johnson © 2011