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Yes, we’re back. We came back in the middle of the mess our renovations are still causing and it was also the end of the semester, which meant grading, so yep, in short we missed an update – sorry! However, it’s time for the traditional round of “The Books We Bought While Away.” This time, though, it’s going to be a short round, guys.

Truth of the matter is, we bought exactly two books. (We saw a few other interesting things but we ended up ordering them on Amazon afterwards. We’ll share when they arrive.) The first one was the kind we always buy instead of postcards and other souvenirs: a pop-up illustrated panorama. You saw them before on our blog and here’s the Berlin edition:

Illustrations by Sarah McMenemy.

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One of the few attractions we actually managed to see (but not the most exciting one).

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We only saw Alexanderplatz through the train’s window.

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But we did get to walk through a huge part of the Tiergarten.

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And another book we bought was actually a gift for our son and it quite enchanted us. It’s a small picture book about a mouse and a hedgehog who live in a garden and grown different plants. It’s printed with water paints on eco-carton, which we condone wholeheartedly, and it’s a lot of fun.

The toys come from our home collection. J has a lot of hedgehogs because of his name and he really loves rodents so the characters in the book were already a good match.

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Our school German is virtually non-existent but it suffices to read this book.

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The paper is naturally gray so that white elements have to be printed onto it and it gives the book a pleasant, natural, a little old-fashioned feeling.

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And that’s it, not the most fruitful trip in this respect but we were spending a lot of time at the conference and the only exciting bookstore we found in the city was closed for a national holiday.

We wrote more about Typo Berlin here, should you be interested for some reason.

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This year for the long weekend we have at the beginning of May Experyment Science Center offers attractions that explain the work of oceanographers who study the Baltic Sea. We had the pleasure of designing a poster for the event.

The poster was directed at both children and adults and so we had to find a style that would appeal to both. Since most of the events deal with the study of the underwater life forms, we chose to illustrate various Baltic Sea inhabitants as being lighted by the light of a scientific submarine (obviously yellow, because references). It was quite fun to choose from various fish and other organisms and to illustrate them in a unified, geometric style.

A horizontal version of the poster for use online.

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Turbot.

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Porpoise (like wolves, it’s also in need of protection, by the way) and a flounder.

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Good old cod.

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Eel and brittle star.

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Hope this makes you want to visit a seaside for the beginning-of-May weekend (if you celebrate it, of course).

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Coming back from a meeting a few weeks ago we stopped by a nice bookshop full of artsy treasures and, of course, we impulse-bought a children’s book we want to share with you today. It’s by William Grill and it’s called The Wolves of Currumpaw. Fair warning: it’s not exactly a happy book, more of a cautionary tale, as it tells the story of a wolf hunter and how his biggest catch made him turn into a preservation activist (I guess this is the happy part in the end; but first there’s wolf-killing and we honestly found it hard to read).

The loveliest part of the book is the illustration style: how it cites Native American art but also makes it very approachable and child-friendly. The use of crayons for the drawings makes them softer, almost like a blanket, and we feel this softening is quite welcome, considering the subject matter.

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(The wolf starring in the photos is our son’s, from a series of plush toys that help support  WWF.)

An example of the lovely sense of space the book creates.

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The illustrator creates masterful variations between spreads. Some are panoramic views of the landscape, some resemble infographics while others are dynamic action scenes. The color palette is lively and hushed at the same time.

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And this one is somewhere in between an infographic and an action scene.

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(The wolf is called “Oww.”)

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The two wolves eternally happy in the wolf heaven.

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We were quite touched by the book because, well, we love wolves. The issue of  preservation of our local ones is very dear to us and we try to support it as much as we can. (And if you feel similarly, you may always consider donating to WWF or another similar organization. Just saying.)

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Today we want to share with you the first one of two lovely books from our bookshelf. We got it a little bit by accident and really loved it. It’s illustrated by Katie Scott and called Animalium because, you know, it’s about animals. (Also, we got it in Polish so look at the margins for the translation of the spreads’ titles but you can easily get in it English.)

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The book recreates a natural history museum and present all sorts of animals in an educational (and lovely) way. On the cover you can even see a golden hotstamped ticket (in the top right-hand corner), which says “Animal Museum Ticket” (it says “Welcome to the Museum / Admit All” in the original version but I like the Polish version better, I think? by a narrow margin) and this little detail sets the tone for the whole book.

Welcome to Animalium. Introduction

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Inside you will find illustrations and descriptions of all kinds of creatures from across the whole animal kingdom, arranged according to clear criteria. There are so many things to love about the book:

  • Illustrations. They are obviously inspired by old scientific encyclopedic etchings, only more colorful and partly modernized
  • Title typeface, a pretty one by Hipopotam Studio
  • Lushness. The book is just full of gorgeous details and, as the ticket on the cover suggests, has a certain luxurious quality to it (also because it’s really big, format-wise)
  • No age limit. It can be exciting both for kids and adults. Our son loved Animalium even if he was technically too little for books
  • Educational value, no duh

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Cnidaria (admittedly, not a word I knew before)

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Amphibians

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Natural environment: woods

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Penguins

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Bats

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Rodents

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Library

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As you may or may not remember, we are big fans of the illustrator Emilia Dziubak and her detailed, colored style, which plays with flat design but goes far beyond it. But her book that we’re sharing with you today, Rok w lesie (A Year in the Woods) is even more than we would have any right to expect. It combines pretty much everything that we love in children’s illustration: details, narration, humor and forest animals.

Each spread of the book shows the same woodland scene with the same animals doing things appropriate for every month. You can see not only the changes in the weather and plants but, most importantly, the different activities in which animals are involved. A huge level of detail means that one can return to the book many, many times, each time finding something new and delightful. The things animals do combine the educational aspect with a lot of good humor. And being very much woods-loving people who try to go for a walk there at least every two days, we find the depiction of the woods charming.

Except for the names of the months, most of the book is wordless, which makes it accessible to younger children (ones who will be able to follow the details, though). The last spread has a list of various animals with a character quirk for each so that one can look for those in the book. It’s actually quite fun to browse through the book multiple times, each time focusing on just one animal and their story.

Book cover.

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Spread for January, more appropriate now that we’ve got some snow.

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April and December

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The introduction to individual animals.

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And now for some highlights from the lady fox’s story of love and family:

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Featuring the cutest baby foxes.

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And the badger’s story of eating and sleeping.

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Every now and then our son goes through book phases when he gets very excited about looking through picture books. We’ve got a ton of those books but not all of them are great to look at. And so to celebrate J’s birthday we filled one of the not-so-pretty books with custom illustrations showing J and some of his toys.

It was a fairly quick side project but it was a lot of fun and it got a semi-appreciative audience because J was quite excited to recognize the toys he’s playing with in the pictures.

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From sketch to page. (A form of J’s name is a homophone with the Polish word for a hedgehog and so we have all sorts of toy hedgehogs at home.)

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An underwater page with various bath toys.

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Nothing is more fun than IKEA rats.

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Fun in the playground.

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Taking advantage of probably one of the last sunny, warm weekends of the year we went on another spontateous family trip to the zoo. It was quite a lovely afternoon and we enjoyed the sight of the animals – so much so that we decided to share with you some of the memories as illustrations of animals (rather than working on the originally planned post; nothing beats pictures of animals anyways, as is universally acknowledged).