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Folktale Week: behind the scenes

I took part in this year's Folktale Week because I have so enjoyed taking part in the challenge in previous years, and wanted to make the most of a chance to make a mini narrative.

Setting goals

I find this kind of art challenge works best for me when I set myself some parameters, or things I'd like to focus on specifically. This year, I decided I wanted to increase my confidence illustrating digitally using Procreate on my ipad. I have had Procreate now for a few years, but only in the past year have I felt less of a gap between working on it and working by hand. I wanted to push this even further and challenge myself. This helps me keep focused on how I'm learning rather than looking at how everyone else is doing and getting into an Instagram doom-spiral!

Limited palette

Another limitation I actually find helpful rather than limiting is setting a limited palette. This helps me keep a set of images in conversation with eachother, and as I suffer from being paralysed by choice sometimes, this is really helpful.

I chose my colours for the series by creating this first image:

I wanted to use the coral and brighter green as those felt really exciting to me - having two colours that are complimentary but also kind of clash and fight each other. This opening image is inside, so the colours are much brighter and more saturated. I wanted this to then contrast with the images to come.

It took me a while to be completely happy with my colours - this is something that's good and bad about working digitally. It's very easy to change the colours - but it's so easy it's tempting to keep doing it and losing your train of thought and confidence!


Each year there is a series of words that serves as the 'prompts' for Folktale Week. I sat down with the words for a while and played around with how they might fit into a story. This character came to mind when I was thinking about how I could make a folktale that's set in a child's imagination, one that they're almost telling to themselves.

I wanted to use this idea because it always interests me to juxtapose magic and everyday things, or a more 'modern' setting. I wanted to push what could be a folktale this year, as last year I felt I went a bit too predicatable. I love fairies and all that, but my work felt not mine somehow.

Once I was happy with the general shape of the story, I wrote some text and made thumbnails. I find it really hard to say if the words or pictures came first - because for me it's kind of always both.

This was the first year I actually sat down and planned. In previous years, I've done my artowrk 'on the fly' and made something up on the spot. This can work well for me in terms of keeping the pressure off, but this year I have learned that planning can be my friend, so I planned. I also did the artwork (or most of it) before the week itself - this was such a departure for me, but it made the work better I think.

I'm so glad I made the time to take part in Folktale Week this year - have a look at the hashtag on Instagram to see some amazing work by lots of illustrators I really admire.

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