A fox in the forest

Week 3’s assignment for the Children’s Books market was either a cover or an interior two-page spread for the Aesop fable “The Fox and the Crow.”

I did some terrible fox sketches during the mini, and a few attempts at lettering, but the project didn’t really come together until I decided on a setting for my illustration.  So I researched foxes.  It turns out that while red foxes to live in Texas, they aren’t native species. So while I could have used some of our scrub and mesquite (and I considered it for a while), it might work better set somewhere else.  And my Flickr account is full of gorgeous forests in Japan, where the red fox has been for centuries and inspires fantastic folklore there already.  So I took a few elements from my Japan photography and pulled out a couple of other animals to be in the picture: a litter of kits, a gecko, and a dragonfly.  Then I went to work.

Here’s the progression:

The lettering gave me a bit of a headache as well, but after some false starts I decided to just find an appropriate font and smooth out any rough edges manually.  Mom pointed out that kids these days aren’t learning cursive, so I edited a few letters to be more printed, and gave each letter a bit more “brush” flourish.  Then I toned the color down from pure white to a cream that echoed the forest floor and the cheese in the crow’s beak.

And here’s the final piece.