“This book is like sweet candy”: Lisk Feng on illustrating Our World – Features

The read aloud release Our World: A First Book of Geography is an educational, playful and inspiring introduction to geography for the youngest readers.

Children are invited to identify and experience the Earth’s amazing geography through rhyming verse; the book also folds around into a freestanding globe, and with lush illustrations by Lisk Feng, makes for one very attractive art object.

“Lisk’s spectacular illustrations invite both children and adults to enter the natural world through the pages of this book,” says book author Sue Lowell Gallion. “The layers of detail and her masterful use of colour makes every spread convey a spirit of wonder and curiosity.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the illustrations and the design; it’s beyond anything I could have imagined.”

Sue’s secondary text offers more detailed, curriculum-focused facts and encourages readers to consider their own living environments, making the reading experience personal yet set within a global backdrop.

Our World has added relevancy as it explains how our planet is ‘a living home for everyone’, a message that is today more important than ever, and encourages readers to engage with the world around them.

“I have always been a massive fan of the natural world. It was a dream project for me,” Lisk Feng tells Digital Arts.

“I wanted to create a little tiny world for a while, and after I saw the brief, I immediately felt this is something I want to explore a bit more. The book is all about animals, plants, land, lakes, rivers, and sky. I went through lots of references and some vintage books I collected over the years; I wanted to have a unique approach to describe the visual language.

“I decided to do it mildly geometric, and combine the cuteness with the realistic. This approach is excellent for (publisher) Phaidon’s graphic design style and the format of the book too.

“The shape of the book is extraordinary so the vintage printing method colouring can give this book a softer and warmer tone on top of fresh design and the vibrant introduction of colour blocks.”

Lisk used digital tools to finish the whole book, with a very specific colouring process to capture what is a very dreamy sense of lighting.

“When I am colouring, the first important role is lighting. There are sunrises and sunsets, mornings, and nights, so the shadow and the colour of the sky will reflect on the whole scene.

“The right tone of light can bring in emotions and a romantic vibe to non-fiction books. My way of colouring the shadow and lights are also not so realistic, so as to be able to match the shape of the other animals and plants.

“My other purpose when colouring is to bring dreamy and whimsical effects to all the pages, so it is less ‘nerdy’ when introducing nature to kids. I hope that this book is like sweet candy for both parents and kids so that they want to decorate the bookshelf with it!”

Lisk’s favourite spreads from the books include one crowded with penguins, and the page showing lakes, rivers and seas.

“Drawing these two pages was the most fun for me. I enjoyed drawing little rocks and snow and ice. I hid as many penguins as possible, so I wondered if any kids will even find the smallest one, maybe the one that is jumping off the cliff, perhaps the ones that are cuddling.

“The other piece, with lots of water, showed a peaceful romantic moment of the lighting. I always enjoy drawing little miniature details, so a lot of small characters are hidden in the whole book. I want the audience to stay on one page a little longer.”

Our World: A First Book of Geography by Sue Lowell Gallion and illustrated by Lisk Feng is published by Phaidon, £12.95 (phaidon.com).

All photos by Dom ‘the Don’ Tomaszewski for Digital Arts.

Related: Millie Marotta on bringing colour to an animal world before it’s too late

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