Peony and Parakeet

The Beauty of Science – Illustrating a Children’s Book

Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, a cover illustration for the book of C.L. Hunt. Illustration by Paivi Eerola.

This week, I want to show an example of how we can use art to change the world. My example is about illustrating science so that it also appeals to those who love beauty and fantasy. When we talk about inclusiveness, we often talk about what words to use and how but rarely talk about the style of images. My questions for you this week are:

How could your art invite people to try new things or to think in a new way? How could your art make new people feel included right away?

Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers

Last fall, I was hired to illustrate a children’s book. It was a big project – well over 60 images and ornaments, including the illustration for the cover, shown above. The book is called “Fairy Experiments For Thinkers and Tinkerers” and its goal is to inspire young girls to explore science through fun experiments. The book hasn’t been published yet, but my client C.L. Hunt has an email list where you can sign up to get notified when the book goes on sale: www.fairyexperiments.com

Black-and-White Drawings in Victorian Style

The book combines fantasy and science in a fascinating way. My client wanted to have black-and-white hand-drawings with a Victorian feel.

Fairy Queen, an illustration for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

Illustrating the Feminine Beauty of Science

This project soon became close to my heart. As a child, I fell in love with science at school and then later, studied software engineering at The Helsinki University of Technology. Natural science, especially physics and mathematics have always interested me. As a young girl, I bought copper sulfate from a pharmacy because I thought it was so beautiful. I warmed it to make bigger crystals from the powder and loved the glow.

I have had a few women, teachers and mentors, who have supported me during my career in technology. But I have also always known, even as a young girl, that I was in a masculine world. The assignments and the culture often felt strange and yes – let’s say it aloud: not beautiful at all.

Science is not just bolts and levers, it’s also a world of glitter, shimmer, and sunsets. Nature’s transformations, the structure of the universe, and the fascinating microcosmos are full of aesthetics. And still, most science books don’t show that beauty, at least not in a feminine way.

In this book, my goal was to combine intelligence and beauty so that the feel of the images is inviting and light-hearted too.

Illustrations for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

I was excited when my client wanted to combine fairy fantasies and practical science experiments. We were on the same page from the very beginning. In the end, she summarized the project:

“Paivi understood and appreciated my project, and her enthusiasm has kept me motivated to keep working on it. The images are very well suited to my book, and their style is exactly what I was looking for. Paivi kept to her schedule, communicated well when I had questions, and I was really happy creating a shared vision with Paivi. I recommend her warmly.”

– C.L. Hunt, the author of Fairy Experiments For Thinkers & Tinkerers”

Illustrating Girl Power – Stepping away from a Passive Role

Even if we wanted to show the beauty of science, the fairies needed to be more than pretty faces and poses. In the illustrations, fairies take an active role and make the most of nature’s forces. I drew plain and classic dresses for the fairies so that action gets the attention.

Illustrating science for girls. Illustrations for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

My client also wanted to have a variety of ethnic groups so that every girl can feel that the book is for her.

An illustration for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

Illustrating Science with a Flair of Fantasy

In the manuscript, there were wonderful descriptions that built bridges between reality and fantasy. My job was not only to demonstrate the essentials of the experiment but also tie them with imagination.

Illustrations for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

In these illustrations, fairies rule and take care of the world but also have fun. The book is all about exploring life’s miracles like the circle of life with step-by-step instructions.

Illustrations for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

With the book, the child becomes part of the royal guard of fairies, so my job was also to design a badge that could be colored. Here’s the badge with the rest of the visual world.

Illustrating science for girls. Illustrations for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

Expressing Natural Science as Ornaments

My favorite part of the projects was to design ornaments for fairy families. I hand-drew them all and used a computer only to make them symmetric.

Drawing ornaments for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

These ornaments take ideas from the illustrations and express the major chapters in a decorative way. They mark the chapters and make the book look more Victorian.

Illustrating science for girls. Ornaments for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek to the upcoming book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers by C.L. Hunt!

An illustration for the book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers, author C.L. Hunt, illustrator Paivi Eerola. Read her post about illustrating science.

Learn to Draw with Me! I teach line-drawing techniques (+ using your imagination) in my classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom!

Hire Me as an Illustrator! See my portfolio in Hire an Illustrator!

18 thoughts on “The Beauty of Science – Illustrating a Children’s Book

  1. How absolutely exciting! And what a perfect combination of your interests and talents! Science like engineering, drawing, feminine designs, and the graphic designer all come together and mesh wonderfully. I look forward to seeing the book and hope it is available to us here in the US in English! Even so…what a delightful treasure trove of drawings this is. Kudos, Paivi. See how far you have come! So proud of you!

  2. Thank you so much for this sneak peak. Two years ago I illustrated a colouring calendar depicting wild horses of Alberta. I think when I finish your magical Forest course I will sign up for the illustration,animals. I really think you have a unique and wonderful talent !
    PS. I look for your letters weekly,really enjoy them

  3. Your illustrations are incredible. You have such a wonderful imagination and the ability to get those ideas from your head to the page in an intriguing artistic way. I’m not surprised your client would be very pleased with this work. I can see a new artistic path approaching for you in your future.

  4. what a wonderful idea. And they picked the perfect person to illustrate the book. You combination of logic and intuition fits perfectly. And your drawing skills manifest in beautiful illustrations. They are very lucky to have found you.

  5. Wow Paivi! congratulations! what a wonderful calibration! It’s all that is so you xx perfect.. I can imagine how happy you must have been whilst doing this project xx you’re so inspiring in so many ways!!

  6. Oh my gosh Paivi!!! I’m so happy for you to add illustrator to your long list of accomplishments. You are a wonderfully talented artist and a fantastic teacher. Thank you for all that you share with us.
    Cynthia/ Jada Kay- nine

  7. Wow, just wow, thank you for sharing these with us Paivi. It is the dream job for you I think. I hope you get many more opportunities and projects like this. What an inspiration it will be for children and teens (girls and boys). I can only imagine how it would have inspired me when I was younger. I hope we can get it here in the United States too.

  8. Wow, simply amazing ! Your work is so inspiring, so detailed and it makes me happy to just to look at it. Thank you again for sharing your fabulous gift.

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