All about books by children’s illustrator Jim Harris.  Jim’s biography, art tips for students, advice and techniques for illustrating picture books. Jim Harris Kids’ Books Home Page Helpful Tips for Illustrating Fairy Tales and Other Picture Books  Frequently (and Infrequently) Asked Questions about becoming a children’s picture book illustrator.  Facts and trivia about a job as an illustrator -- from best-selling children’s artist, Jim Harris Email Jim Harris.  Contact email for students, parents and teachers. Link to Jim Harris Fantasy Art, Caricatures, Portraits and Sporting Art.  Jim Harris –Life as a Children’s Book Illustrator.  Learn how Jim became a picture book artist. Creative Writing Tips from Author and Illustrator, Jim Harris Day to Day Life as a Children’s Book Illustrator.  Information about day to day life as a picture-book illustrator. Illustrating a Picture Book, Start to Finish.  The step by step process of illustrating a children’s picture book.  Activities for Kids.  Fun reading, writing and math activities, plus sketches to color from Jim Harris fairy tale art.

Jim explains more about the job of illustrating a picture book.  Details about creating art for a novelty book from the best-selling children’s title, Ten Little Dinosaurs.

Ten Little Dinosaurs


Go on location with Jim Harris and develop a central character for the Cajun fairy tale Petite Rouge.

Petite Rouge


Dinosaur's Night Before Christmas, a holiday story as told by Jim Harris - the perfect Christmas gift for dinosaur lovers

Dinosaur's Night Before


Jim Harris gives tips for artists from his southwestern fairy tale, Jack and the Giant. Funny insights about the process of writing and illustrating a picture book..

Jack and the Giant


Jim Harris gives painting tips from Three Little Dinosaurs.  Information for art students about how to use acrylic and oil paints and about cleaning your paintbrush!

Three Little Dinosaurs


See the adorable puppy characters that fill another Jim Harris’ wiggly-eyeball book.  Ten Little Puppies who can’t seem to stay out of trouble!  New 2009!

Ten Little Dinosaurs


Jim Harris gives pointers on creating vibrantly colored children’s illustrations in a little talk about the use of saturated and unsaturated colors in the Southwestern fractured fairy tale Tortoise and the Jackrabbit.

Tortoise and the Jackrabbit


Illustration techniques for students from The Trouble with Cauliflower.   Tips for young artists about how to use texture in illustrations for children’s book paintings.

Trouble with Cauliflower


Art tips from The Three Little Javelinas.  Jim Harris tells about the jokes illustrators play with their young readers and tells the stories behind some of his most famous picture-book characters.

The Three Little Javelinas


Illustration advice by artist Jim Harris from the book  The Treasure Hunter.  Jim gives tips for art students about using overlapping to make paintings and drawings look realistic.

The Treasure Hunter


Tips by illustrator Jim Harris about using parody in children’s books, such as the cowboy love story Slim and Miss Prim.  Thoughts for creative students about illustrators’ spelling woes, too!

Slim and Miss Prim


Jim Harris tells tells from early in his career as an illustrator.  Funny stories about life as a ‘starving artist.’

Towns Down Underground


So, when I’m a children’s book illustrator… what kind of people will I be working with?  Read Jim’s answer to this important question in his discussion of the humorous picture book, The Bible ABC.

Bible ABC

Jim Harris Talks About Illustrating...

Three Little Cajun Pigs.  Three little Louisiana piggies outwit that big bad gator, Claude.  Fairy tale art from illustrator Jim Harris.

Three Little Cajun Pigs


If you and your brothers have been lying around watching TV and not taking out the trash…

And if you have an inkling your Mom may be getting fed up with the situation…

In fact, you suspect she may be about to send you out to make your own way in the world…

Let me recommend The Three Little Cajun Pigs as a source of important survival tips for someone in your situation.

The three little Cajun Pigs (named Trosclair, Thibodeaux and Boo) faced this very same situation and have valuable ideas to offer about…


-- building materials (straw is okay if you making dem bed, But when you build walls, you need somethin’ instead,)

Trosclair’s House of Straw.  Trosclair is not a smart piggy… but you can’t fault his decorative flair.  Detailed, humorous fairytale art from Jim Harris.

-- detecting stranger-dangers (alligators in striped yellow jumpsuits are shown to be particularly untrustworthy,) 


Claude Gets Stuck in the Chimney.  That big bad Cajun gator finds himself in a tight spot…  between a brick chimney and a hot pot of roux!


-- and even cooking tips for your first few days on your own (You gotta keep stirrin’ or roux’s gonna burn.”)


Keep Stirring the Roux.  Even in fairytales, “you gotta keep stirrin’ or roux’s gonna burn!”  Just ask the third little Cajun piggie… wise old Boo!



In the end…  nobody eats the young piggies.  (Surprised, aren’t you.)

However, Claude gets himself stuck in the chimney and when the piggies help him out, well…  “de pigs had to laugh, ‘cause dat gator was toasted on his bottom half.”

Toasted Gator.  Funny Cajun fairy tale art… with a Jim Harris mouse.

There’s way more to the story… but I can’t tell you ALL of it!!!

What I thought I would tell you is a little bit about how I did the paintings for this book… and then, if you want you can use those ideas in your paintings.

Fixing Busy Art with Rhythm

First, take a look at this illustration… 


No More Free Rent.  Mama breaks the bad news to the three little Cajun pigs.  An example of rhythm in Jim Harris fairy tale art.

There’s a bunch of stuff in this painting… TV, chair, pigs, painting, for-rent sign, window, hair curlers, basket, piggy trash…    and the whole picture was in danger of looking like a huge jumble of junk. 

So to the rescue came RHYTHM. 

Huh? What is rhythm?

In art, rhythm is using the same element over and over to pull things together.  Can you see what I used over and over?  Two things:  Piggy noses and dark blue rectangles.

See how there’s four red piggy noses clustered in the same little space on the paper?  That’s rhythm. Bonk, BONK, Bonk, bonk.  4 piggy noses!

There’s also four blue rectangles:  #1 is the TV.   #2 and #3 are the painting and its frame.  And #4 is the window trim.

Of course, you don’t have to always use four things to have rhythm… you might use three similar things, or SIX or TEN!   But if you use rhythm in your art, you can get some amazing effects.

Poor Gator.  Gator needs a bandage on his tail… after trying to whack the third little Cajun piggie’s brick house down.  More artistic rhythm in Jim Harris fairytale art.

Adding Action with Diagonal Lines

Another way to make a painting come alive is to put in a diagonal line.  Now, I don’t mean literally draw in diagonal line.  (Although it has been done successfully.)  What I mean is, arrange your objects to form a diagonal line.  Look here…

Trosclair On the Bridge.  Will Trosclair make it to Thibodeaux’s house of sticks?  Yes.  We are sure of that, because nothing bad can EVER happen to the Jim Harris mouse (on Trosclair’s tail).


From the little mouse on Trosclair’s tail right through Trosclair’s ears, to the top of the little tree and then up to the big tree  there’s an imaginary diagonal line formed where the white sky runs into those colored objects.  It’s not really “there;” your eye just imagines it by the way the bits are lined up. 

Trosclair On the Bridge (Again).  A typical example of diagonal design in Jim Harris fairy tale art.


A diagonal line always gives the feel of motion… which was what I needed to show Trosclair’s haste to get to Thibodeaux’s house.   

            Next time you want an “active” feel in your painting, think about sliding your objects around to make an imaginary diagonal line… and see if people don’t say WOW!

Boo Builds a Brick House.  The third little pig works while the first two pigs play… just like in the original Three Little Pigs fairy tale.

One more idea…

Making a Painting Look Peaceful

Sometimes you want a painting to look peaceful. 

One way to do that is to use different colors, like green and pink and yellow and red, but make them all real dark or all real light (or all half-way in between).  Artists call this “using similar values.”

            Here’s Claude fishing from his inner tube while the unsuspecting piggies shoot a few hoops…

Gator With Binoculars.  Claude, dat ‘ol gator, keeps a sharp eye on two little Cajun pigs.  Jim Harris puts a Louisiana twist on the traditional Three Pigs fairytale.

All is soooooo serene.  Why?  Because most of the colors are the same middle-value… the same “lightness.”  The only exceptions are the inner tube and Thibodeaux (the dark piggy) which are VERY dark.  Those two items are pretty small compared to the whole painting, and I put them in to add just a LITTLE excitement.  Otherwise you wouldn’t even want to look at it, it would be so serene.

Well, I hope that gives you some ideas for your artwork.
I’m off to work on a painting myself!


Buy the book Three Little Cajun Pigs at Amazon.Buy the book Three Little Cajun Pigs at Amazon.

Link to Jim Harris Children’s Books Home PageEmail the page ‘Three Little Cajun Pigs | More About Fairy Tale Art by Jim Harris’ to a friend.

Images and Text © 2009 Jim Harris. All Rights Reserved