I’m writing this having just attended the opening of the family science exhibition Wriggle! at National Museum Cardiff. If you have small children this is a must-see – brilliantly curated, fantastic interpretation and a canny balance of information and fun. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the Wriggloo – a little room where you can learn what it feels like to be an earthworm!

You may well have seen this blog post I wrote a little while ago announcing that I’d been commissioned to create an earthworm character in a series of six poses, plus a Top Trumps-style activity, for the exhibition.

In this post I go into a little more detail about the process involved, which might shed a little light on an efficient and organised commissioning process.

Kate Mortimer-Jones at the exhibition opening - she commissioned the illustrations

Kate Mortimer-Jones at the exhibition opening – she commissioned the illustrations

I was contacted by Katie Mortimer-Jones, worm expert and one of the curators of the exhibition. The team at Cardiff Museum had come up with a detailed and well-thought-through brief that described the personality of the worm character, including its likes and dislikes, its hobbies and its age.

The four initial ideas

The four initial ideas

I find it useful to break down quotes into sections so clients have a good idea about what’s involved. In this case I quoted for the creation of the worm character, the pencil roughs of the poses, the inking, scanning and colouring, and the top trumps card design. I also provided a suggested timeframe that would give me enough time to complete the work well while meeting print deadlines for the exhibition opening. The quote and timeframe were accepted and we started straight away.

I drew four worm characters based on their brief with various features. We tweaked a little and came up with this one.

2worms2Then I was given six poses or situations in which to draw the worm. They were:

  • old worm (has a walking stick)
  • super worm (has a cape)
  • science worm (has a magnifying glass and white coat)
  • digging worm (has a spade)
  • swimming worm (has a floatation ring)
  • awesome worm (is skateboarding)

I drew these in pencil on A3 paper as they needed to be blown up very large for the exhibition. Once these were amended and approved I inked with brush pen, scanned in, cleaned up in photoshop, and then I coloured and added texture.

I then took these images into Illustrator and live traced them to turn them into vector images. This means that they could be enlarged to any size without a deterioration in image quality. 

IMG_20160618_095619Top Trump Worms

Once the cartoons were signed off I created a series of Top Trump style cards (with the brand owner’s permission) for visitors to fill out and play together.

The final job was to cut out the Top Trumps very furry worm photos in photoshop so they sat well on a white background.

An example of my illustrations being used in the exhibition interpretation

An example of my illustrations being used in the exhibition interpretation

It’s difficult to decide what the best part of this job was – being paid to draw cartoon worms or discovering that there is a creature called a Bone-Eating Snot Flower (like something out of Roald Dahl, no?). What I adore about the educational work I do is how much I learn!

I’ve given my permission for the cartoons to be used on promotional merchandise like mugs and t-shirts which look fantastic and I can’t wait to get my hands on some. The whole exhibition is a joy and if you’re in the area from June to late September, whether you have little ones or not, you should definitely check it out!

The Wriggle! exhibition is at National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, is on until 30th September 2016 and is free to enter.

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