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last updated 02 November 2020


This month, we’re going behind the book of A Superhero Like You, illustrated by Bright artist Liam Darcy, written by Dr Ranj Singh and published by Hodder Children’s Books.

A Superhero Like You is an uplifting picture book which celebrates key-workers, and shows little readers that we all have the potential within us to be extraordinary. Liam’s action-packed illustrations brought these everyday heroes to life; we sat down with Liam to hear all about his creative process and his work on A Superhero Like You…

title A Superhero Like You // Liam Darcy

What was your creative process for illustrating A Superhero Like You?

Initially, I spent a lot of time planning the illustrations in my head without actually putting pen to paper. I often do this, and build quite detailed mental images before starting. To other people I probably look like I’m staring into the distance pulling a funny face! Then it’s time for a cup of strong coffee and the sketching stage. I either begin with the image that sounds the most fun, or the one that sounds the most difficult! I like to get the sketches quite clean and accurate so that the colouring stage is just that – colouring in. It can be a long process and I’m sure of a lot of it is spent leaning back and tilting my head while frowning at the computer.

title Different cover ideas for the book

What was your favourite character to illustrate in the book?

I really enjoyed illustrating the scientist spread with the bubbling potions and sparkling green clouds. I like dramatic lighting in scenes, and of course the science lab is a perfect place for some glowing test tubes, big shadows and “Eureka!” expressions. My brother is a scientist and I have huge respect for what he does. Most of the time I struggle to wrap my head around what he’s working on as it’s so complicated, so it seems like a superhero profession to me! I also had a lot of fun drawing the lizard character in this scene looking through the glass container in awe of the bubbles.

title Illustration from the book

Was there anything in the book you found particularly challenging to draw and why?

Drawing vehicles has never been easy for me and of course there’s a helicopter, a fire engine and a rubbish truck in the book! I wanted to get some texture into the images and this is difficult when drawing materials like metal because it’s so smooth. It also took various tries to get the angles right so the scenes looked adventurous and fun but not chaotic or dangerous.

title Illustrations from the book

How do your surroundings impact your creative work?

My surroundings have a massive influence on my work. When I’m outside I often look at buildings, streets or trees and imagine how I would draw them. I might notice a specific arrangement of colours or an interesting type of lighting and make a mental note so I can try to replicate it in my artwork. Different types of people can help inspire characters too and it’s always fun to find ways of using a character’s features to portray their personality.

title Illustration from the book

What aspect of your job do you most enjoy?

The best part of my job is when an illustration reaches a stage where it kind of ‘clicks’ together. It’s difficult to describe but sometimes I can struggle with a piece for ages and feel like it’s never going to work but if I keep going it falls into place. The moment I feel like it will work, my motivation goes through the roof and it becomes so much fun. Once I’m in the flow of drawing it can make many hours feel like minutes and I just want to keep working. So, in a nutshell, it’s the process of drawing that I love more than the actual finished image!

title Rough spreads from the book

How has Bright made a difference to your career?

Bright is a fantastic agency. Everybody there has made it so easy for me to get into the world of illustration. They are constantly helping me to get noticed by publishers and I would struggle to take on certain parts of the process by myself. I prefer to focus on the creative side of things. The team at Bright work so hard on negotiations, promotion and providing great advice on how to develop. I really appreciate everyone at Bright.

title Illustration from the book

Liam Darcy is represented by Arabella Stein — to work with Liam please get in touch. You can see more of Liam’s work here.

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