Assignment: children’s coloring book cover

Two penguins are better than one, even if one's drawn a bit wonky.

Hey, man. Let me ask you something. If somebody draws something and then you draw the exact same thing right on top of it, without going outside the original designated art. What do you call that? … I don’t know, man. TRACING?

For our fifth assignment in my GRC 41 class, the instructor asked us to create a book cover for a children’s coloring book. But there was one catch: We had to use the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator CS4, one of the hardest tools in the Adobe Creative Suite. From there, we could choose one of three provided coloring book covers to try and replicate. I picked the “Gigancolor” cover of a penguin in his winter garb, surrounded by snowflakes. I loved that little penguin at first sight!

The instructor showed us how to insert the model book cover into the Illustrator document as a layer, and then hide it behind the main working layer. That way, we could basically trace each piece of the existing cover with the pen tool, one tiny curve at a time. The pen tool is a maddening little gadget, especially for someone like me who doesn’t have much experience with Illustrator. But I picked up the basics quickly enough to knock out my new penguin friend as best I could. The replica is not perfect, of course, but I’m proud of the final result–especially considering it was my first ever time using the pen tool. Pictured above, my version is on the left and the original is on the right.

And I’m totally fine that I traced it. No need to put a pen in anyone’s thorax or anything.

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About jeffersonbeavers

Jefferson Beavers is a multimedia journalist based in Fresno, Calif. He teaches journalism and writing courses at Fresno City College.
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