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Leah Buckman

About Drawing inspiration from retro designs of the 1950’s and 60’s, cult filmmaking and modern picture book design my work is mainly narrative and character based, suitable for a range of audiences and genres, from children’s picture books, to greetings cards, to film posters. I like to marry the textures of hand drawn and painted work, using watercolours, pencil, ink and many other materials, and the clean cut composition of digital collage. Additionally I like to work with traditional printmaking techniques such as screenprinting to create prints and illustrations that are considered, lively and have commercial appeal. I have a passion for storytelling through illustration, creating work that an audience can hopefully relate to and be engaged by and I take particular joy in learning new techniques and creating outcomes through experimentation, research and using sketchbooks to note both my ideas and observations of everyday life.

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The Stressed Out Sun Bear

Background/ Challenge This project was a self-led children’s picture book project based on a story I wrote myself. The book was aimed at an audience of children in Key Stage 1 and explored the themes of enviromentalism and conservation following the character of a sun bear who is trying to find out the reason he is stressed. I wanted the book to be both enjoyable and educational for children to read and also visually appealing, created to a professional standard that potential clients may wish to invest in.

Strategy I used various research techniques to inform my decision making including observational drawing of sun bears, research into the ethics and background of the story and looking at illustrators and existing children’s books to inspire my work. By writing my own story I was able to consider the text and the message behind the words and reflect this in my illustrations, creating images that carried along the narrative, at times using little or no text on some pages. Through experimentation and development of my character designs and the general aesthetic of the picture book I arrived at a result that I felt most successfully portrayed the story and ideas I created.

Medium Mixed media traditional mark-making, digital collage on Photoshop.

The Stressed Out Sun Bear / 2015

As an illustrator, The Stressed Out Sun Bear is a project I am particularly proud of. Not only does it represent my work and illustration style, it also reflects my personal thoughts and feelings in a way I believe is accessable to the audience and flows as a narrative. Some of the mediums I chose for my picture book were deliberately kept quite naĂŻve, such as coloured pencil, so that the texture of some areas would be more relatable to the audience I was designing for; I felt that children would be interested in artistic textures they were familiar with from both home and the classroom. I like to consider

the audience in each project I create work for and make decisions based around this audience, in addition to my own creative ideas.

distinguishable, while I also enjoy learning new skills and techniques through experimentation to achieve the best possible result for each brief I undertake.

Through creating images for this project I found a way of working that I could take and apply to many other projects I will work on, encorporating the use of mixed media traditional techniques, composition and character design in my progress sketchbooks and finishing my images to a professional standard digitally.

As well as work for narrative based projects, my work can be transferred to editorial, exhibition and commercial work. I have worked on greetings cards using my experience with narrative illustration to create character designs that I can use in a more commercial and surface design based manner, and have worked collaboratively on editorial based projects, creating spot illustrations and portraits for a university lifestyle magazine, Aloe.

I feel that my work has a sense of identity that is

UTDOOR ADVENTURE Hand drawn elements

Hand Drawn Typography Garland style composition

Highight Hot Coral Leaves

First Steps Babywear / 2016

Colours and Fabrics


Surface Pattern used on a garment

Foliage and Leaves Rather Than Florals

I created some designs for First Steps Babywear during my internship to be used for final moodboards for a couple of new stories for next season. My chosen stories that I decided to work on were titled Outdoor Adventure and Cub Camp, and I needed to consider the colour schemes and the audience while creating my imagery. I decided to use hand-drawn illustrations to give a sense of the natural theme, including soft textures and colour. Foxes

Printed surface pattern design

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE Painterly Illustration


Contrast trim

Colours and Fabrics

Embroidered Type and Illustration

Picot Embroidered

Embroidered Hot Coral leaves

First Steps Babywear / 2016


Illustrated pattern Printed Illustration Soft cotton Pattern trim

Oatmeal Marl Fabric

Contrast Pattern Trim


Satin Bow Surface Pattern

PO2 Sleepsuits

PO3 Vests

PO3 Bodysuits

PO2 Hats

Mittens and Booties

Dad’s Day Off / 2016

BCU Inspired Festival / 2016

My work was chosen to be used for the BCU Inspired Festival in an event called The Light Cycle where a number of images were projected around Birmingham city centre.

Logo Designs / 2016

I was commisioned by the Hounslow School Library Service to create some logo designs for their book events. The logos were to be used on posters, stickers and letters to advertise the events to local schools and needed to be clear, eye-catching and encapsulate the themes of books and art.

Weird Crush Zine Portraits / 2015

Sun Bear Artwork / 2016

Activity Book Illustrations / 2016

I created this design for a page in a children’s activity book pad using various illustrations to create a sense of place and narrative within the image to make the desgin fun and engaging.

Leah Buckman Portfolio  

Hi, I'm Leah! I'm a London based illustrator, recently graduated with a degree in Visual Communication from Birmingham City University....

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