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Kids Rule! Henry VIII draw-along art tutorial

Learn to draw Henry VIII with Kids Rule! magazine illustrator Wesley Robins! 

Have a piece of paper and a pen or pencil ready, and draw along with Wesley, as he shows you step-by-step how to portray this famous Tudor king.  Then, add your own finishing touches using coloured pencils, pens or paints.

Image: Wesley Robins working on an illustration in his studio

Meet the illustrator of Kids Rule! magazine

After making his how to draw video, we caught up with Wesley to find out just what it takes to become an illustrator, and get some of your questions answered. Here’s what he said:

Hi Wesley, thanks for talking to us! Here's the first question - did you always want to be an illustrator? 

I've been drawing and making things since I was little – I guess I always wanted to do something 'arty' but was never sure what exactly as there are so many options! 

So, why did you decide to become an illustrator in the end?

I did art and design at school and really enjoyed that. We did painting and life drawing, but we never really learnt about people like Quentin Blake or Beatrix Potter. We studied famous fine artists rather than illustrators.

When I did my foundation course (at Chelsea College of Art and Design) one of my tutors pointed me in that direction.  Thinking about the little drawings and stories I used to make when I was younger and the sort of subjects I liked to draw it made sense (although I still like to do a bit of painting when I can!). I went on to study Illustration and Animation at Kingston University and became a freelance illustrator after finishing there.

Image: illustration of a medieval monastery

Do you use paper and pencils or a computer? 

I use a bit of everything! I like to mix and match too – on the Kids Rule! magazine sometimes I will just use the computer, other times I will scan in textures and splodges and incorporate those. I think that's the fun thing about making art – you can use what you want.

That does sound fun! Do you use photos or other pictures for inspiration, or are your illustrations drawn from your imagination?

For the Kids Rule! magazine I use lots of images and photos. Because I have to depict real buildings and people it's important to get them as accurate as possible. The historians at English Heritage will usually give me lots of references that I can work from, and I also have lots of books on different costumes and clothing people have worn throughout the centuries. Sometimes I may have to draw a building that doesn't exist anymore, or there are no references of. When that happens, I have to use my imagination – but I can look at buildings that were around at the same time, and get ideas from those. In that way I can show what something was probably like, even though I've had to use my imagination to do it.

Image: illustration of a prehistoric settlement

Which was your favourite Kids Rule! magazine to work on?

Probably the Prehistoric issues – the ones that covered the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age. I never really studied those periods at school, and so I really enjoyed researching them for the magazine – I got to learn quite a lot while also having fun drawing!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to draw?

In the most recent issue (May 2021), I had to draw a picture of Furness Abbey in Cumbria being taken apart. The abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1537, and imagining what it used to look like, while trying to show what was going on inside and outside all at the same time was very tricky!

Do you have a favourite person or time period from history?

I think my favourite person and period changes all the time! Each time I draw a person and depict an era, I learn a bit more about them, and so they become really fascinating. Henry VIII is always fun to draw as he's such a big character and you can get his personality across. I also always enjoy drawing anyone with really fancy, elaborate clothing or silly wigs – they're really fun to illustrate. Because illustrating the magazine involves a lot of research, I like periods that I don't know as much about as I get to learn a lot too – that's why I enjoyed the prehistoric issue so much.

What’s your favourite thing about drawing historical figures?

Trying to imagine what sort of person they were like, how they acted or felt, and put that into your drawing – you get to bring them to life, and that's really fun.

Image: Illustration of a Stuart town

Other than yourself, who is your favourite artist?

I've still got all my little Beatrix Potter books from when I was small, and as they are some of my earliest introductions to illustration and storytelling, I'm really fond of them. I picked up a book on Eric Ravilious a while back and am obsessed with him now! I think there are too many to choose from though – there's is so much amazing art about that I would find it impossible to pick one. 

What is your favourite part of illustrating?

Being creative (and having an excuse to make a mess!)

Image: Illustration of a prehistoric girl cave painting

How did you know what style to do when you were drawing the characters?

I suppose my style has changed and developed a lot over time. The more you draw, the more you will find what does and doesn't work for you, what you enjoy drawing most, what tools you prefer, and from that your own style will develop. 

And finally - what is your top tip for anyone who wants to become an illustrator?

Draw lots! Then draw some more! Keep doing it and you will become more comfortable and confident in your work.

Look out for more of Wesley's illustrations in the next issue of Kids Rule! magazine.

You did it!

We love seeing your brilliant drawings of Henry VIII – here are some of our favourites!

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