I have one of the best jobs on the Martin Rattler team – I get to draw the pictures! But creating illustrations for a book isn’t as simple as drawing whatever comes in to your head. Atmosphere is also important.

During Martin’s adventures in the Amazon Rainforest, he encounters lots of new species which are described throughout the book. Unless you live in Brazil, you won’t have seen many of these creatures (even if you’ve been to Edinburgh zoo), so it’s my job to show you some of these magnificent animals, and here is how it is done.

You will need: Paper, drawing pencil, eraser, black pen, colouring pencils/pens or paints.

Step 1: Read the book! If you don’t know what’s going on in the book, you don’t know what to draw. Toucans are a very special type of bird that Martin finds and they only live in the rainforest. They have a very distinctive appearance, so they are a good choice for creating an illustration.

Step 2: Research! This is very important. Encyclopaedias, the library, teachers and the internet will all help us find out more about toucans. It helps to know where they live and what they eat, but their appearance is what we are really looking for.

Step 3: Design decisions. Toucan’s bills (another word for beak) come in all sorts of different colours. It’s best to pick one type of toucan and stick with it if you want to be accurate, but if you’re feeling imaginative, you could make up your own!

Step 4: Outline (in pencil). Look at the outline of a toucan and break it down into simple shapes. This will help you get the proportions right. In this case, you can use a narrow rectangle, two large circles and a big banana shape.


Break your toucan into shapes!


Sketch these in lightly, then fill in the details with a pencil. Don’t press too hard with your pencil or you won’t be able to rub out mistakes.


Sketch in the details with a pencil.


Step 5: Once you are happy with your toucan drawing, go over the good lines with a black pen. A fine waterproof marker is best if you’re going to paint it, but felt-tips are just as good if you want to colour in using pens or pencils. Once all your good lines are in black and the ink is dry, rub out the pencil lines.


Trace over the good outlines in black pen.


Step 6: Colour in your toucan!


Try and stay inside the lines when you colour… oops!


Congratulations! Now why not try drawing a whole family of toucans in different colours? Or try these techniques with your favourite animals?

We’d love to see your creations. Send them in to the team before Monday and you could win one of our fantastic prizes. Enter our art competition here –  Martin Rattler Competition.

Keep up to date with all of Martin’s adventures! Follow us on Twitter @Martin_Rattler and like us on Facebook at MartinRattlerbook.