Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

GDS 273/274 Illustration I & II
Project 11: The Illustrated Novel


Instructor: Liza Wynette


To develop conceptual thinking skills. To develop a personal illustration style. To apply composition and illustration skills to an illustrated novel.  

Secondary objectives

To utilize the Adobe Creative Suite as an illustration and production tool. 


You have been invited to submit sample drawings for an upcoming book illustration project. The client is a book design firm which has a contract to design an illustrated version of a novel that will appeal to high school students. The design firm will pay for 28 hours to produce five sample drawings meeting the specifications listed below. Keep the budget in mind as you develop the concepts for these illustrations.

Specifications for the five drawings are as follows:

  • One drawing should be a quarter page in size
  • One drawing should be half page in size
  • One drawing should be full page
  • One drawing should be a full title page to include title and author’s name
  • One drawing should be an initial capital to be used on chapter-opening pages

In addition:

  • At least one drawing should be in black and white
  • At least one drawing should be black and one flat color
  • At least one drawing should be full color
  • The proposed page size is ten inches square

1. Research for inspiration: Research illustrated novels from the library. Consider visiting the teen section at a public library and bookstore. Scan your favorite examples and publish your research on your personal process page for critique (be sure to caption each image and cite the source). Be prepared to explain why these examples are successful. 

2. Marketing research: Choose a novel that you've enjoyed reading and write a brief describing which five points in the story are best suited, in your opinion, to be illustrated and defend your choice (see sample). Publish your brief on your process page. Have your brief reviewed by the Writing Lab, then email your brief as an attached Word file or a shared Google Doc to (instructions).

3. Incubation: Absorb the information you have gathered and sleep on it. Allow your unconscious mind to make connections for you.

4. Develop the concept: In your sketchbook begin to conceptualize ideas for this project (see examples of sketches). Make at least 10 sketches of all possible directions you might take this project. Edit your concepts down to your best three ideas and redraw them on 8.5 x 11 white paper using a felt tip pen. Scan (scale/crop in Photoshop: no wider than 1000 pixels), increase the contrast (see tutorial) and publish your concepts on your personal Process Page for critique. Be prepared to discuss how your design fulfills the client's marketing objectives. Also print your sketches for your Process Book.

5. Proof: Based on the critique of the above, use the computer to execute at least two versions of your best idea (present at least one proof with an alternate font choice). Publish one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) linked from your Process Page for critique. Be prepared to talk about what design principles are utilized in your design. Also print a high-quality color proof for your Process Book.

6. Final critique: Based on the critique of the above, revise your design (if needed), then print a final proof on 11x17 paper for critique (see printing tips). Prepare a presentation to justify your design decisions. Also publish one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page.

7. Grading: Based on the critique above, refine your design (if needed). Submit two copies of your work for grading. One proof will be returned to you after grading. File the graded proof in your Process Book for individual review along with all the preliminary work you did for the project (research, brief, sketches, preliminary proofs, final proof). Review your Process Page and make sure you have an accurate record of your process. Also submit one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) via Cobra's dropbox. You will not receive full credit for this project if any of the above elements are missing.  

8. Portfolio preparation: If you are happy with the results of this project, consider including it in your portfolio. If necessary, continue to make refinements until you are 100% satisfied with the project. Be sure to back-up all your files for future editing.

9. Extra credit: Submit your project into next year's student show by printing an art gallery quality proof and mounting it on foam board. Also prepare an archival quality JPEG (see example) (1000px wide, no larger than 200K) and submit your project using the online entry form at Your project may win a cash prize and be published in a showcase of student work on Parkland's website.

Last updated: 8/11/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young