Felicia Hoshino Illustration


Illustrating Juna and Appa

special note

Despite being isolated in the art-making corner of my home and never meeting face to face, illustrating children’s books is a very collaborative effort. I would not be able to do what I do without the feedback, insight and generous patience of the editor, art director and of course the author. Thank you Jessica Echeverria of Lee & Low Books, David Neuhaus of NeuStudio and Jane Park for making Juna and Appa (and Juna’s Jar) the best it could be. Needless to say, having the support of a loving partner and two teens picking up on neglected household chores when mom’s MIA is also an essential part of this whole book illustrating business. Oh and… coffee.

illustration process

These finished illustrations are what readers enjoy once the book is finally published. I wanted to share what goes on behind the scenes…


As with all children’s books I’ve illustrated, the story starts with the author’s words. This is how I received Jane’s.

thumbnail sketch

As I read the story, these are the rough first stage sketches of how I envision the book. I keep them small and very loose knowing that there will be feedback and changes as the story takes shape and evolves.

thumbnail sketch presented to publisher

Originally the opening spread was going to be two separate illustrations. On the left would be a view of dry cleaners “storefront.” On the right would be a view from “behind the counter” with Juna helping a customer and balancing herself on stool.

final sketch

After doing research and gathering reference material, final sketches include much more detail.

After feedback, decided to combine both “storefront” image with interior “behind the counter” scene all into one spread. Now, readers are introduced to Juna and can see her interaction with Appa. I imagined a Canadian street scene as a nod to the author’s home country. There would even be a maple tree in front of the store. BUT, thankfully the editor reminded me that Juna lives in Los Angeles’ Koreatown! 


Maple tree turns into a palm tree. Added Koreatown references in the background and diverse people.

color sketch

Based on feedback, removed extra people so focus could be on Juna and Appa. 

beginning artwork stage

After all the time and work put into gathering reference material, multiple rounds of sketches, I’m ready to start on the artwork! I transfer a light drawing of the sketch onto the water color paper and work with water color paints and pencils.

I often try to work simultaneously on other scenes with similar location and colors in order to stay consistent.

final artwork

The final artwork for readers to enjoy!


juna encounters the appa water bug

When Juna first encounters the appa water bug I wanted to have it viewed from above in order to show the eggs on his back and also to see Juna’s face.

thumbnail sketch

thumbnail sketch presented to publisher

final sketch

Changed perspective so that water bug’s whole body and eggs are shown. Although Juna’s facial expression is not visible, her body language and strong stance shows her unfazed determination to help Appa find the jacket.

color sketch

beginning stages of artwork

As I’m painting, I’m constantly referring to sketches and reference photos.

final artwork

Thanks for reading about my illustration process… now go and get your own copy of Juna and Appa!!


One Response to “Illustrating Juna and Appa”

  1. Pat Bates says:

    Great insight into the process of
    Illustrating. Beautiful images with amazing detail.