Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 23, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Ester Garcia Cortes

PICTURE ESTERThe town of Caceres saw Ester grow up, come and go…

As long as she can remember, she always loved coloured pencils, acrylics and pastels.

After graduating in Fine arts at the University of Salamanca, Spain, she moved to Madrid, and started working in publishing houses there dedicating herself totally to her vocation.

Ester works in pencil, watercolors, acrylics and digitally.
She is always searching for a way to express her own dreams, and see inside and outside of things…

She has lived and worked in Madrid as an illustrator since 2008.

Here is Ester discussing her process on Illustration for The Wind in the willows. Ladybird Books.

(a) 1_The River Bank_01

This is the sketch or the first approximation to the composition. I usually do several point of view, and finally the last sketch was the good one with more foreground and air.

(b) 1_The River Bank_01 III

After the sketch I pass the image to watercolor paper, Canson Montval in this case, with pencil. And I start to work with a layer of watercolor over the pencil.

(c) Ester Garcia Step by step

I continue defining details like lights, or fur, and shadows with Caran d´Ache color pencils. Layer over layer and working with the color I cover the watercolor. I leave some areas of the foreground without pencil color. The smallest details are made with mechanical pencil. And the final details of shadows are made by photoshop.

(d) Ester Garcia Willows_01 Colour

Here’s the final illustration!


Some Book Covers above and below.


1 Ester Garcia Mar chalada

winter train

How long have you been illustrating?

Since I was a kid… 🙂 But I have been illustrating as a professional since 2008, more or less.

Ester Garcia Winter Train (6)

Ester Garcia (9)

Have you always lived in Spain?

Yes, I have lived in different cities of Spain: Cáceres, Salamanca and Madrid. I love to travel as much as I can.

Ester Garcia Winter Train (5)

Ester Garcia Winter Train (4)

What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?

It was a big painting of a forest, made with oil paint while I was a student of Fine arts.

02 EsterGarcia

How did you decide to attend the Fine arts at the University of Salamanca in Spain?

Because I always loved to draw and paint, so I decided to follow this passion. Since I can remember I lived surrounded by children´s books. My mother is a school teacher so I learned a lot from illustrations and books. Finally, I linked both worlds, drawing and books. Studing Arts was the natural path for me.


What did you study there?

Painting, History of Art, Design and Engraving mostly.


Do you feel College helped develop your style?

At Fine Arts I was able to explore a lot of different things, and College helped to learn techniques, but style was something that comes after that.


What type of work did you do after you got out of school?

I started to work as an illustrator after got out of school.


Did art school help you get work when you graduated?

Not really.


Have you seen your work change since you left school?

Yes, definitely. I can see an evolution in these 8 years of work, I am happy about that.


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I think I always loved children´s books. My parents’ house was full of them when I was young, so maybe since then I was thinking about that.

FelicesFiestas blog Ester Garcia

What was your first book you illustrated?

It was in 2009, a book of young readers of Anaya Publisher: “Los tres cerditos y el inspector”.


How did that contract come about?

After the College I built up my first portfolio (small but solid) and I moved to Madrid. There I started to send my portfolio to several publishing houses, and Anaya liked my work and wanted to contract me for one book. I was really excited.


Did you do other types of illustrating before you got that book contract?

I made some illustrations for educational books before that contract.


How many picture books have you illustrated?

17 books. Working on 18 and 19. But I do other thigs as well, related with Design. I love to work for wine branding, for example, or packaging. As illustrators we can develope our work in a lot of stuff.

Ester Garcia (8)

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?

Yes, I would love to do that in the near future. I have some ideas, and all I feel I need is the time to make them real.

Ester Garcia (4)

What book do you think was your biggest success?

I specially like the book “Why cats do not wear hats”, written by Victoria Pérez Escrivá and published in English by Epigram books.

Ester Garcia_ 00 Why cats do not wear hats

Ester Garcia_ 05 Why cats do not wear hats

Have you ever tried to do a wordless picture book?

Not yet.

Ester Garcia (10)

How did you connect with Good Illustration to represent you?

They found my page in internet and got in touch with me. I was lucky.



Do you illustrate full time?

Yes, full time, every day.



Do you have a favorite medium you use?

I specially love watercolor, graphite and color pencils for work. I really enjoy these techniques.

Jungle book_low res (4) Ester Garcia

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Yes, I use to look for information before I start a new project, to develop a new world in each book.


Have you work with any publishers in the United States?

Yes, mostly in schoolbooks projects. The last one for a National Geographic Spanish poetry big book.

Jungle book_low res Ester Garcia monkeys

Have you worked with any educational publishers?




Ester Garcia ilustracion 5

Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

I use Photoshop to detail and finish some artworks once I have scanned them. The final touch.

Lo+2011 fgsr_ Ester Garcia

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

Yes, I use a Wacom.


Do you do exhibits to show off your art?

I often take part in collective exhibitions here and there, in Spain or abroad.

04 EsterGarcia

Would you be willing to work with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

It depends on the story. If I see myself illustrating the text. At the end, it depends if that project touches me.


Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

Yes, in Spanish magazines like MIA magazine.


Are you happy with the studio in your house?

I am happy, I have a space with light where I can concentrate very easily. Especially by night, I am a like little owl.


Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes that you couldn’t live without?

I can´t live without music, a nice light trough the window and my plants.


Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

I believe more in the daily work than in good luck. So a normal day for me means working a lot! You have to be really disciplinated. But I also enjoy going out for a walk, reading a good book or being in contact with nature and friends. I think being an illustrator is not a part time job… it is more a full time way of thinking and seeing things. So you keep working or thinking even when you go out for a walk.

Ester Garcia Jungle book_low res (3)

Ester Garcia Jungle book_low res (5)

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Totally! I am illustrating “On the origin of species” of Charles Darwin. I am loving this project. Since I was little I always loved drawing animals, the different families and species… so this project is a gift to me.

Pajaro de fuego Ester Garcia

Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?

Yes. It is amazing how creatives and artists can reach and contact each other from any corner of the world! Today a lot of clients can find you via internet.


What are your career goals?

Enjoying every project, keeping the excitement of the first day. That is the challenge for me.


What are you working on now?

In Darwin, in a poetry book and in another children´s book for young readers.

Black cat7

Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you?

Technique tips? I love to work with different hardnesses of graphite in watercolor paper (especially Canson papers) and it works good for me. I also love the quality of Caran d´Ache color pencils, they are supreme.

Ester Garcia Vino Muguet

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Ester Garcia (5)

Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

Be patient and love what you do.


Some Black and Whites (Above and Below).


Thank you Ester for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Ester’s work, you can visit her at website at:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Ester. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Oh Ester, your work is charming! I especially love your beautiful birds. Thank you for sharing your work!


  2. Ester – I absolutely LOVE your style!!!


  3. Completely brilliant work! Loving the colors – and perspectives (some of which I know would get questioned in my critique group). Unsure, is this because US publishers are less open or if this is just a belief that has yet to be broken?
    So thrilled to see all the projects Spain supports you in creating. Even though picture books are my thing, absolutely love your wine labels – so colorful and simultaneously clean! Strong design sense shines through it all!

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Bonnie fireUrchin Lambourn


  4. Love your style! I agree with your opinion that illustrating is a way of life. Thank you.


  5. Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing.


  6. Thank you very much for all your kind comments and words!! And thank you Kathy for your proposal and interest… : )))


  7. Absolutely gorgeous.


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