Sunday 31 May 2015

02 - Spread Of Wonder: Oh No, George!

This is the second post in my series ‘Spread Of Wonder’ where I talk about spreads from picture books that I admire, I look at them and analyse why I think they make a good spread.  This month’s spread is the 6th spread of Chris Haughton’s “Oh No, George!” which was published in 2013 (in paperback) by Walker Books.  

The cover of "Oh No, George!" by Chris Haughton
The minimal art in “Oh No, George!” could not be more different to the intricately detailed art in last month’s spread from “The House in the Night”.  The main reason that I have chosen it is its excellent demonstration of sequentiality.  If you have been reading my “Creating A Children’s Picture Book Illustration Portfolio” blog posts, you’ll know that being able to successfully show storytelling and characters in sequence is a requirement of picture book illustration and something I’m aiming to get better at. 

The story of “Oh No, George!” is about a dog who is left home alone and promises to be good but he just can’t help himself.  It is beautifully structured with a setup of things that could go wrong, followed by a pause with the 'What will George do?' question, then the page turn reveals the results of George’s actions alongside the 'Oh no, George!' refrain. 

In this Spread of Wonder where George sees Cat, we see three depictions of George across the spread, two on the verso (lefthand) page and one on the recto (righthand) page.  And just like in "The House in the Night" spread last month, the direction of George’s actions are moving us forward left to right, through the story with him either moving to or looking towards the right.  

The spread has a white background with some minimal lines suggesting the location of the last spread; the floor and some remains of cake.  Haughton uses a flat, cutout style with bold colour and strong silhouettes, this is accentuated by him using no outlines (apart from on George’s eyes).  Like most artists working in a flat style he does not use light and shade to model the shadow of three-dimensional form but his colouring is far from flat.  George is red but he has a slightly lighter underside and a purple nose and there is always a pencil scribble somewhere on him.  I think the colouring is digital and rather than using Adobe Photoshop’s gradient feature I think Haughton has used the cutout technique for colouring too, as we see the straight edges where the colour subtly changes.

As I have already stated I have chosen this spread because it excels at sequentiality both within the spread itself and in context of the whole book.  This spread comes after George has eaten the cake that he shouldn’t have and before he chases Cat. The previous and following spreads show George’s chaos in full colour backgrounds which contrast with our spread which has a white background.  Unlike comics, picture books don’t often use panels to show sequence.  George is shown in differing sizes on the white background and this change in scale somehow visually signals to us that is a sequence and not three different dogs.  George is drawn consistently regardless of his different poses, he doesn’t change colour and his proportions don’t change, this also confirms that we are looking at a sequence of the same dog. 

Previous Spread

Following Spread
What can the aspiring illustrator learn from this spread of wonder then?  This spread teaches us a lot about Sequentiality and some of the elements that go into it: 
  • Show Contrast - in pose, size and mood when depicting a character in sequence 
  • Be Consistent - keep your characters and settings ‘on model’, don't change proportions, colours, etc. 
  • Establish a Rhythm - Haughton's example is a setup, a pause and the following results

Please comment with your own thoughts on this spread, or make a suggestion for a future Spread of Wonder candidate for me to analyse and don’t forget to follow this blog to receive a notification of my next post.  Thanks for reading!


  1. Excellent choice, Claire. I am especially fond of the story itself, and Haughton's minimal use of white and black amidst the riot of color, which also adds to the visual rhythm.

    1. Thanks for commenting Julie, good spot! I hadn't fully registered that, it certainly works to keep you focused on the eyes doesn't it?

  2. I also love the simplicity of the ideas and the eloquence of this unembellished style. Thanks for highlighting - it's a good one.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Tina, you're right!