Paul And His Friends
I illustrated the book Paul and His Friends: A Child's First Book About the Apostles". Written by Rebecca Hutto and published through Paraclete Press, ‘Paul and His Friends” introduces children to the colorful characters who formed the early Church. My illustrations recast these characters as a menagerie of Middle Eastern animals.
Since it is based on Biblical themes, the book itself deals with themes uncommon in children's picture books: death, imprisonment, struggle, persecution, and even martyrdom. Furthermore, there are many characters in this book, and depicting them as they are often depicted - as old and bearded human beings in Greco-Roman clothing - risked the chance that readers might not be able to tell them apart.
For this reason, I chose to redesign the characters as animals in the tradition of other beloved children's stories, including books like Little Bear and Franklin and movies like Disney's Robin Hood and Zootopia. Wishing to design them only as animals found in the Holy Land, I did a lot of research both into the native species of that part of the world and the artistic traditions already in place for depicting these ancient figures.
Ultimately, I feel the project was a huge success, as the developed characters allow children to connect emotionally with figures and events that might otherwise seem confusing, intimidating, or boring. The art itself - rendered through a combination of traditional sketching, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop - offer a soft but highly textured look that - at the book's 8.5"x11" page size - is very pleasing to children.
The book can be purchased here, while a sample of the art can be seen below: