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The Master Magician’s Apprentice, an English Fairy Tale

Updated on February 29, 2020
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

M is for The Master Magician's Apprentice
M is for The Master Magician's Apprentice | Source

My Children’s Alphabet Book

If you have followed me, by now you may have noticed I created a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales for each letter of the alphabet. I could have concentrated on all the old favorites but I decided to make it a book with fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world. This particular story is more of a story about obeying rules and how trouble follows disobedience.

This is a grouping of the thumbnail sketches for this illustration
This is a grouping of the thumbnail sketches for this illustration | Source

Global Fairytales

When it hit me to be more global I had already created the pages for R is for Little Red Riding Hood and J is for Jack and the Beanstalk. The research for the global fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world certainly added to my work but in the end, it became very satisfying. This story is a fairytale from England. You may recognize it as one that was made by Disney into an animated cartoon with Mickey Mouse.

Value Sketch for the illustration
Value Sketch for the illustration | Source

The Master Magician’s Apprentice, an English Fairy Tale

A very educated master magician had a book in which he had the knowledge to control demons. He kept this prized book in a locked cupboard where it would be safe and always told his apprentice to stay away from it.

One day, his foolish apprentice found the book open, and read a spell aloud from it. Beezlebub appeared before him and demanded a task from him, or he would strangle him. The apprentice gave him the task of watering a flower. Meanwhile, the apprentice tried to find something in the book to help him get rid of the troublesome demon. But Beezlebub went on watering the flower until the room was filling with water. It was at that moment, the master magician remembered he left his book unlocked, so he quickly returned and dispelled Beezlebub.

Color Composition for the illustration
Color Composition for the illustration | Source

Collage Illustrations

I didn’t want my book to be just one more “A is for Apple” alphabet book and since I love fairy tales, why not use them instead? After deciding that, I was told I should use my collage method instead of the usual watercolor illustrations that I had originally desired. The collage took much longer but in the end, it made for a very unique book.

I hope you enjoy my process here showing the start with thumbnail sketches, then value sketch, color composition and finally, the collage. I didn’t make a video of this one but you can see from the photos that I created the boy on a different sheet of paper from the water and the room. Later I put them together in Photoshop.

Have you heard this one before?

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Click thumbnail to view full-size
Progress Photo 1 of the collage processProgress Photo 2 of the collage processProgress Photo 3 of the collage processProgress Photo 4 of the collage processProgress Photo of the boy collageProgress Photo of the boy collageThe Final collage done
Progress Photo 1 of the collage process
Progress Photo 1 of the collage process | Source
Progress Photo 2 of the collage process
Progress Photo 2 of the collage process | Source
Progress Photo 3 of the collage process
Progress Photo 3 of the collage process | Source
Progress Photo 4 of the collage process
Progress Photo 4 of the collage process | Source
Progress Photo of the boy collage
Progress Photo of the boy collage | Source
Progress Photo of the boy collage
Progress Photo of the boy collage | Source
The Final collage done
The Final collage done | Source

Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find the story of the Master and Pupil, or the Master Magician’s Apprentice.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with Lulu.com because Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) refused to allow illustrations that spanned the central gutter of the page. They demanded at least a half-inch margin around the outside, which I could have done, and a half-inch margin through the center margin, which would destroy the look and cohesiveness of the double-page illustrations. I had to find a different publisher who would allow the illustrations the way I wanted them. KDP obviously does not understand illustrated children’s picture books.

Collage of the water before the boy collage is overlayed
Collage of the water before the boy collage is overlayed | Source

Did You Notice

In my collages, I use paper from magazines, old wall calendars, catalogs, and circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it. In this collage, you can see I put a photo of Vincent Van Gogh in the water and a snowy owl in the splash below the M. There are many more things hiding in the collage if you go looking for them.

Cartoon vs. Realism

Many think that a children's book should have less realism in the illustrations and more abstract cartoony pictures. What do you think? Are the more cartoony illustrations dumbing the children down or is it more fun? I think they are supposed to be more fun but the reality is many of the cartoony illustrations I have seen today are crossing the line into dumb and insulting the children's intelligence. Do you disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Final Thoughts

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      9 months ago from Fresno CA

      Peggy Woods,

      Yes, I thought that would be best. I photograph and then edit in Photoshop so the edges are smooth and I can drop in a new background color if it needs it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      That is a smart way to do it to get all of those details in your work. I saw in another one of your pieces that you have used already photographed pieces of your work in new collages. That is smart!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      10 months ago from Fresno CA

      Peggy Woods,

      I'm so happy you liked this collage. It was a lot of work. I created it on a large scale so that I could bet some good details without having to work with really small pieces of paper. The finished page across the water was 46 inches and the boy was 23 inches tall in the water. Then I photographed it and reduced the image to the 11" x 17" of the finished book size. That's the best way to get good details. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I had never heard this tale before reading it here. I am amazed at the movement of water you achieved as well as the expression on the boy's face that you achieved with your collage. Great job!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Marie Flint,

      It's all about the light. Even on flat things like tables and the surface of water, the area close to the light source will be lighter and it will get slightly darker as it recedes. So I rely on good photo references and even set up dolls or small manikins to stand in with one good lamp light source for my shadows and shading. You can't imagine how much a photo from a bunch of dolls helps get it all right. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      17 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      I don't recall Mickey bringing forth Beelzebub, but I certainly remember the water. I'm learning from your value sketches. Shading is a major weakness of mine. Unless I spend hours looking at a photo or another master's artwork, I have little idea about what to do with shading. Thank you!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Crampton,

      I'm glad you think so because I agree. However, my professors at the art college did not and kept getting me to make faces especially more simplistic (one color, dots for eyes and a line for a mouth). But I kept thinking that 7-9-year-olds are more sophisticated than that. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Donna Rayne,

      I'm super glad you like it so much. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      DreamerMeg,

      I agree with you about the age-appropriateness of simple vs detailed work. I am targeting school-age children who are beginning readers or ready for chapter books. But still, I think that this book would be fun to "grow up" with having a parent read the stories to the younger ones at first until they can read the stories for themselves. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      Yes, there is something about fairy tales that adults find fascinating too. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill Holland,

      I'm so happy you like this one. It means a lot to me. I think the boy was charming too. I use a photo reference of a 4-year-old who visited me with his mom. I got great photos of him feeding the geese at a local park. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Eric Dierker,

      I'm so glad you are a fan of my work. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      In answer to your question, no, I don't think children's illustrations should be less realistic and more like a cartoon. I think the finished version of your illustration in this article (which I love) is an excellent example of why. It's a fun and colorful image, but I think it's also realistic enough to stimulate a child's imagination.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      I'm glad you found it fun to look for the hidden things. I love to put all sorts of pictures into my collages so that there are happy surprises when you look long enough. Most of the images don't have much in the way of background so this one had the added space of water to hide things. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      17 months ago from Greenwood, Indiana

      You are an excellent writer and artist! I can't wait to see the book completed. This is a very good book and thank you for sharing it with us.

      Blessings,

      Donna Rayne

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      17 months ago from Northern Ireland

      I think this story is what The Sorceror's Apprentice cartoon is based on. It's an evergreen story of nosiness and ignorance. Love that you hide things in the collage. I think that illustrations have to depend on the child's age. Simple stuff for the very young but older children love finding hidden items. There are a number of successful books based on finding hidden items.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      17 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Denise you have created an interesting lot of t tales. I enjoyed this read. This is good entertainment and adults have a chance of enjoying it too.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This might be my favorite sketch. A job well-done, of course. I would expect nothing less from you.

      blessings

      bill

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I have always loved this story. Before I can remember I knew it I hear.

      This project is just great, I try not to miss a single one. Thanks.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      17 months ago

      The expression on the child's face is perfect Denise as he remembers the open book. I love this story and I managed to find Vincent and the Snowy Owl in the picture. I also though I saw a horse in the water, however, I wasn't sure. A great idea to keep children busy and another wonderful addition to the collection.

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