Share this

‘My First Scottish…’ – from brainwave to book

Posted on 07/03/2017 in Design and Illustration Kate McLelland

Have you ever wondered how a board book is created? Perhaps not! After all, it can’t be that difficult to make a board book, can it?

We caught up with Kate McLelland, creator of the My First Scottish… series of board books to find out more. Kate is well aware of how complicated board books can be, as she creates all the artwork for these books, as well as writing the words. She was kind enough to give us an insight into her creative process, moving from a black and white drawing to finished book pages.

Illustrating Nessie for My First Scottish Opposites

by Kate McLelland

I think I fall into the category ‘mixed media artist’, as I like to use lots of different materials to make my artwork. I am going to show the various steps used to create one of my final pieces from My First Scottish Opposites, the Big and Small spread.

Step one.

First, I draw and sketch my ideas, sometimes this happens in my journal, but more often on the nearest piece of white paper!

My First Scottish Opposites - Sketching my ideas

 Step two.

Once I have decided on a composition I do a block colour version. I find this is helpful when showing roughs to publishers. My work is always colourful and, without it, is is hard to get an idea of what it will look like.

My First Scottish Opposites - block colour images

Step three.

After the final layout is signed off I get to work on textures – one of my favourite parts of a project. I use so many different techniques to create textures, it would be difficult to list them. I have monoprinted a jumper and taken crayon rubbing from a busy pavement. If I see one I like, I try to collect it!

My First Scottish Opposites - Working with textures

Step four.

Now I scan all artwork and do the final work in Photoshop. This is so useful for making sure everything is how I want it before sending final artwork to the publisher.

My First Scottish Opposites - Working with Photoshop

Step five.


My First Scottish Opposites - Sketching my ideas

If you would like to learn more about Kate McLelland’s creative process, don’t miss her special edition of Literary Littles at The Fruitmarket Gallery. Join her from 10 until 11am on Saturday 18th March for an interactive workshop for wee artists aged 2-5, to celebrate the launch of My First Scottish Opposites and My First Scottish Weather.

Find out more

My First Scottish Opposites

My First Scottish Weather


My First Scottish Opposites and My First Scottish Weather are part of Kate McLelland’s colourful and lively series of board books. More titles in the series feature Numbers, Colours, Animals, and Things That Go, all with a Scottish twist.



Explore the blog by category

Click to select a category.