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The Naming Grounds

In 2019, we had the opportunity to work directly with Ms. Alanna Olive-Smith to illustrate her book The Naming Grounds.

“The Naming Grounds” centers around three friends: Sandy, a mermaid afraid of water, Bobby, an unusually and inconveniently loud ninja, and Dewey, a pixie who just so happens to be afraid of heights. The book itself is the story of the three taking a journey to try and better themselves. Ultimately the three come to realize that it is their choices that determine who they are, and that external labels don’t have to limit them."

- Quoted from the author's brief-

It is a heartwarming, coming of age story of inner strength, determination, and courage for young children (aimed at 0-8 year-olds) that even we adults can learn from. From the very first moment, we knew exactly what had to be done: our heart and soul needed to be poured into this project.

FolktalesAH - The Naming Grounds - Pictu
FolktalesAH - The Naming Grounds - Pictu

In the first 8 weeks, we worked carefully on the concept art, layout sketches, and color palettes, in which the character and environment design was tested and analyzed along with the visual references provided by the author.

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A lot of the locations in this book were inspired by real landscapes, such as the Sea of Clouds - Huangshan Mountain in China for the opening scene, an Indian stepwell for Bobby's introduction, and many more.


The next 8 weeks were spent on colorings and adjustments. In this stage, our focus was on the feelings of the characters by making use of space, lighting, and the direction of movement.

FolktalesAH - The Naming Grounds - Pictu

The result, as we can see, turned out to be a delightful read for children and also parents.

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