All about books by children’s illustrator Jim Harris.  Jim’s biography, tips for art students, advice and techniques for illustrating picture books. Jim Harris Children’s Books Home Page Tips and Techniques for Art Students Frequently (and Infrequently) Asked Questions about life as 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 Link to Jim Harris Fantasy Art, Caricatures, Portraits and Sporting Art.  Jim Harris – The Story of a Children’s Book Illustrator.  Learn how Jim became a children’s book artist. Creative Writing Tips from Author / Illustrator, Jim Harris Day to Day Life as a Children’s Book Illustrator.  Information for students learning about the day to day job of 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.  Math and language activities with pictures from Jim Harris’s children’s books.

Art tips from The Three Little Javelinas.  Jim Harris tells about the jokes illustrators play with their readers and explains 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


So, if I become a children’s book illustrator… who will I be working with?  Read Jim’s answer to this question in his discussion of the humorous picture book, The Bible ABC.

Bible ABC


Tips by artist Jim Harris about using parody in children’s books, based on the Southwestern title, Slim and Miss Prim.  Thoughts for creative students about illustrators’ spelling woes, too!

Slim and Miss Prim


Jim Harris shares art techniques from The Three Little Cajun Pigs.  Learn how to illustrate a picture book using visual rhythm and diagonal lines.

Three Little Cajun Pigs


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

Ten Little Puppies


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 fairy tale Tortoise and the Jackrabbit.

Tortoise and the Jackrabbit


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


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

Petite Rouge


Jim Harris gives tips for student artists from Jack and the Giant. Funny insights about the process of writing and illustrating a book for children.

Jack and the Giant


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

Ten Little Dinosaurs


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

Dinosaur's Night Before


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

The Trouble with Cauliflower


Jim Harris tells about beginning a career as an illustrator.  Funny stories about life as a ‘starving artist.’

Towns Down Underground

Jim Harris Talks About Illustrating...

‘The Treasure Hunter’  The story of a little bear who goes treasure hunting… with a friend.  Children’s fantasy illustrations by Jim Harris.

The Treasure Hunter

This is a fictional story.  I must tell you that right from the start.  It would be very easy to get confused about this, but just so we are clear…

#1  There is no such thing as a “stratosphere blimp.”

‘The Treasure Hunter’s Blimp’  Rather an amazing contraption.  Designed primarily for high-altitude cloud research, but Bear finds it useful for other purposes.


#2  Pirate ships do not really disappear off Jamaica’s coast like ghosts.

‘Bear Meets A Pirate Ship’   Bear was sure his deep-sea treasure-seeking mission was top-secret… so how did the pirates find out about it!!!

#3  Mermaid queens don’t really have treasure chests brimming with jewels.

‘The Treasure Hunter’s One-Man Submarine’  Faithfully painted for publication by fantasy illustrator Jim Harris.  (With technical assistance from Bear, of course.)


And #4   If a princess from Siam drops her purse in a volcano… we DO NOT REALLY RECOMMEND that you climb into the volcano to get it! 

‘The Treasure Hunter’s Helicopter’  A rescue-mission scene from a particularly romantic episode of Bear’s life.  Mouse is embarrassed.

Now if we’ve got that straight… I feel a little more comfortable about telling you about the pictures… which I admit make it LOOK like everything is absolutely, positively, completely true.  (Well, OK, the mouse sailing along on the end of the pilot’s scarf is a little far-fetched… but everything else, I mean.)


‘Tacks Over Texas’  Even experienced treasure hunters make mistakes.  You wouldn’t think dropping a few nails on Texas would touch off a bunch of oil spouts… but Bear found out differently!  Fantasy art, courtesy Jim Harris.

Artistically speaking, there are a few tricks you can use to help your paintings look realistic.  You can…

Use Overlapping to Make Paintings Look Realistic

            Overlapping is where you can’t see all of an object, because some other object is partly covering it.  This makes the object that’s partly hidden look like its FARTHER BACK.  This is really helpful for us artists because when you’re slapping paint on a piece of paper the actual fact of the matter is that it’s all exactly the SAME DISTANCE from your eyeballs.  But this little technique helps you get some objects to look closer up and other things to look farther away.

Here’s an example of what I mean… 

‘The Little Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe’  Like all good treasure-hunters, Bear makes a donation to a worthy cause.  That’s Bear’s Pedal Copter II, there in the background.

This is the most excellent Treasure Hunter having a chat with a lady who lives in a shoe.  Yes, I know, it’s a “different” housing option … but we mustn’t criticize other people’s choices.  Anyway, you’ll notice that there are little bear kids all over this scene and overlapping is what helps us recognize which ones are closer. 

The bears on the tire swing are closer than the Treasure Hunter’s pedal-copter because they overlap the pedal-copter a little bit.  The girl with the purple bow is farther back than the shoe, because the shoe overlaps her.  Etc. etc. 

Here’s a second way to make your paintings look more realistic: 

Use positioning to make objects look closer or more distant.

If you paint an object up toward the TOP of the page… it will usually look farther away.  See this picture of Mr. Treasure Hunter vacuuming up gold out in space … 


‘Space Vacuum’  Another fantasy contraption invented by the famous treasure-hunting Bear, and recorded for posterity by artist Jim Harris.

Here hunks of gold rocks are floating all over the place, but the ones higher up on the page seem farther away.  For some reason our minds process images this way, and you can use this to your advantage when you WANT something to look farther away.

Here’s another example …

‘The Treasure Hunter’s Helicopter’  Seems like those bodyguards should be of some use… but no, it’s all up to Bear to rescue the personal belongings of the Princess of Siam.

Here the Princess of Siam is busy flirting with the Treasure Hunter (who DID rescue her purse, after all -- which is significantly more than her beefy bodyguards managed to do) and a volcano is erupting in the background.  Now it’s true we can tell the volcano is in the background because it’s being overlapped by the helicopter, but it’s also important that the volcano and its mountain range are painted HIGHER UP on the paper – closer to the TOP of the paper—which tells our brains that it’s WAY OUT THERE.

By the same token, Monsieur Mouse is right down at the bottom of the paper and that tells us what?  He is real CLOSE TO US.

I think you’ve got the point.  Now it takes a while to organize all this on a brand-new painting… but it is well worth the time.  If you haven’t already, you should try it!


P.S.  One more thing you should know about this book…  

‘Egyptian Pyramid’  Bear always wanted to visit the pyramids… but things weren’t exactly like he expected.  Jim Harris found Bear’s camel contraption quite interesting… technical details like these are always intriguing to the historical fantasy artist.

For your information, Egyptian mummies do not really leave hieroglyphic “Out to Lunch” signs.  If you see something like this in real life… you will know it is a feeble hoax… or it could be a mirage… or (best of all) you have just accidentally invented space/time travel.  In which case I hope you will drop me a line about it… and give me a few pointers…as I have always hoped for a chance to try it myself. 


Buy the book The Treasure Hunter at Amazon.Buy an original illustration from The Treasure Hunter.

Link to Jim Harris Children’s Books Home PageEmail the page ‘The Treasure Hunter, A Child’s Adventure Story’ to a friend.

Images and Text © 2009 Jim Harris. All Rights Reserved