Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 17, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Cristian Bernardini

Cristian Bernardini is an artist from Argentina. He studied to be a designer but when he finished (graduated as a Graphic Designer from Buenos Aires University), he decided to be illustrator. He likes illustrating many different topics specially when they include children, animals and monsters (he loves last one).

Cristian enjoys working with a wide variety of media including acrylic paint and watercolours as well as creating combined traditional and digital artwork. His illustrations are used for fiction and non fiction children’s books, novelty books, educational books and have appeared in many graphic media like magazines, multimedia, newspapers and advertising over the last 15 years.

Nowadays he works for clients in all over the world, with several books published by very well known editorial houses such as Macmillan, Scholastic, Pearson, Harper Collins, Norma, Sudamericana, SM, Darakwon, Capstone or Eudeba among others. He also, has contributed to many animation productions, developing in the creation of characters, makeing storyboards, animating or designing.


I have worked for several techniques, painted in watercolor or acrylic, also purely digital, vector … although I am changing for each project, it depends what is needed in each one, Although currently one of the methods that I do not only like the result, but also I am very comfortable, is the following:

First I sketch a very small size (usually the whole story if is a book), in that instance I defne the volumes of the things that appear, characters objects backgrounds. Once I have the layout, that is, a basic composition, I start with a more defned sketch.

Then I do a color test digitally, if it is a book with all the squares together to see how the color works throughout the whole project. Not to be repetitive both with images and with color.

The next thing is to print the sketches (which are digital) and I pass them to ink, in this part I work a lot on the detail, the expressions and small things that I know that they will see a lot.

I like to show the texture of the  granulate that generates the graphite.

I continue scanning everything and retouching if necessary, in high resolution (400dpi) to have room to spare.

The painting is digital but adding textures, sometimes or using irregular brushes that give me the feeling of hand painting (photoshop).

The drawing in line, I usually have it in one layer, and the background in transparent. then I’m coloring the line and in some cases I eliminate it or cover it with the brushstrokes.

This is one of the roads, which amuses me in some other projects, the past to ink includes the shading with watercolors and then the digital color is using flters in photoshop.


How long have you been illustrating?

When we are children, we all draw. It is like one of the frst forms of expression, without flters and with a lot of sincerity in the strokes. Many never stop doing it, only we are fling it a bit or perfecting it. In my case as well as others, the point that we never stopped doing it, and did not interest us so much that we dedicate many hours to be able to tame this form of language.

I think the concept of illustrating something, I had it in the frst school works, where I had some situation … with time more and more loaded with details. I remember that all my classmates loved my drawings and asked me to draw them animated cartoons known.

What and when was the frst painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

When I was  child, I would be 8 years old or a little older. Very close to my house there was a little store, where they sold school supplies, the seller, although he knew me, was quite bad humored, I remember him as very grumpy. One day I drew him, something like a caricature from my vision and I give to him. It was funny to me,  To my surprise he liked it so much that he gave me a box of markers (many colour and they look expensive), ohhh I can consider that  was my frst payment hehe 🙂

Professionally, the frst paid job was the design of a character for a company. It was a pretty bizarre idea, because it was giving personality to the mascot of an electricity company.

It was because with an acquaintance,  got together, to give communication solutions to this company. The  illustration was a great way to say complex things. The client love the idea to add art to his  ads.

These were the frst steps where I saw refected the potential of the drawing applied to the business world, an interesting experience.

What made you choose Buenos Aires University to study Graphic Design?

I always had a facility for drawing, and I understood that these felds were related. Although it is a very diferent discipline, it has many m

eeting points. Over time I found ways to interrelate both worlds and I am continually exploring this encounter.

When I fnished the secondary, I knew that graphic design had something to do with the idea to comunicate throught the image, although I did not have much what it was about. My ease with drawing helped me to decide. At frst, I could not get them together, and I found them very diferent but with time I was fnding the meeting points.

My great passion was always the illustration, but the design formed me in many aspects, in the “how” to tell it so that the communication or the message is efective. Although I do not dedicate myself fully to graphic design, it gives me many resources that were very valuable in my career.

Did you also take some illustrating course in addition to Graphic Design?

Yes, when I was young I learned the classic techniques of painting, watercolor, pastels or acrylic based on still lifes. I found it a bit boring. That’s when my parents sent me to a Caricature course. I defnitely loved it, in this courses is where I discovered, games of deformations in the drawing that marked me with fre. That funny reinterpretation of reality, although it was something that one always did, now had a structure. I loved studying things in their realistic representation and then being able to deform them with a personal criterion.

Over time, I was modeling that distortion characteristic of the caricature, the abuse of this is grotesque and unnecessary for my way of working. So I’m reguing it based on what I want to tell and how.

I also studied comics, animation … I’m always on the move, for example, I recently completed an animal anatomy course and I’m already looking at the possibility of starting another one in 3D.

Did the school help you fnd illustration work?

Not in a direct way, but if my studies were a support in the knowledge that gave me more consistency in the drawing and security at the time of facing any project. That security is essential to get any illustration work.

Do you feel studying graphic design infuenced your illustrating style?

Yes absolutely. My drawing is constantly in morphological searches, sometimes more classic or realistic and other more vagrant. But all this is the product of this professional deformity of adapting a design to a way of communicating. This is very characteristic of graphic design.

Another important element is the distribution of information, the “how” to comunicate.

There are many meeting points between design and illustration, I’m crossing them on my way.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

When I was fnishing my degree and after graduating, I continued working as a graphic designer, developing websites or in a printing or in publicity.

Many times I was in a ofce as part of the design team, learning a lot… but I was sure that it wasn ´t my destiny.

At the same time, I began to make simple in charges of illustrations, the change to full time in illustration was gradual.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

When I started in this career, at the beginning I was infuenced by the comic or the illustration in relation to this. I made my portfolio based on the things that inspired me, but evidently I already had a strong inclination to the world of the fantastic and humorous. This made my style adapt well in the language for young people. So I searched through that feld and soon discovered a new world that I had not previously contemplated.

Also at that time, the business of children’s literature was taking fight, and the demand for more elaborate and attractive books was growing more and more.

How did you get the job to illustrate your frst picture book?

My frst participation in a children’s story was not a complete book, it was a story I illustrated that was part of a school manual. All my frst works were in the feld of editorial illustration, basically in the educational area.

A short time later I contacted an editorial that was pulling out a collection of short books and wanted me to illustrate a couple of these stories. Although it was short stories without a good publicity, it was a great stimulus for me.

Was Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks! your frst picture book?

Actually that was the second, my first book with Picture Books was “No Lie, I Acted Like a Beast !:The Story of Beauty and the Beast as Told by the Beast (The Other Side of the Story)”

A collection that has a particular twist in its history, takes classic stories and are told but not in the conventional way, but by another of the secondary or evil characters as is the case of Jacks’ Beanstalks.

Like the side B of the story, in this case,  I feel that the idea was very fun and orginal, I just had to add a little personal touch.

How many picture books have you published with Picture Window Books?

Luckily once they started testing how my style would work for their collection. Soon I came other books to illustrate. They like to work with me, just like me with them.

With them I illustrated the following titles:

-No Lie, I Acted Like a Beast !: The Story of Beauty and the Beast as Told by the Beast,

-Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks! ,

No Lie, Pigs (and Their Houses) Can Fly! ,
Believe Me, I Never Felt a Pea !: The Story of the Princess and the Pea as Told by the Princess,- Gertrude and Reginald the Monsters Talk about Living and Nonliving And some books by several authors.
Honestly, Our Music Stole the Show!
Listen, My Bridge Is SO Cool!

This 2018, at least two new books with my art will come out.

How many picture books have you illustrated?I have more than 40 books illustrated by me, several are in my country Argentina and many others from other parts of the world; Australia, South Korea, USA, England, Chile, Puerto Rico and New Zealand among others.

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who and how long have you been with them? If not, would you like to fnd one?

No, I haven´t one, always handle me on my own. On one occasion I went to the fair in Bologna, and saw that many editorials were only work with Representatives, at the time I found out but I continued alone.

Therefore I haven´t any experience in this feld, maybe it can be interesting, I do not rule it out, I am always open to these new possibilities.

It looks like Listen, My Bridge Is SO Cool! Just came out. How long did it take you to illustrated that book?

The editorials usually give me a grid to complete a deadline for the sketches, and then for the fnal painting. We adjust it together depends on the convenience of each. For that particular project, I think it was just over 2 months.

Are there publishers in Argentina that you publish books?

Yes, luckily, most of my work is from Argentina, in children’s literature for books or in educational didactic material. Also as an illustrator I take diferent works that involve drawing and design, in advertising, storyboards, whiteboards, in animation (designing characters and backgrounds).

Have you done any book covers?

Yes, in some occasions for novels, or some specifc subject. In general, they are for novels that require not only the cover but also some interior images as well.


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

I imagine that in many cases this is a key point, although I am thinking and developing ideas every time I can, the reality is that I never get to realize them. I am always with the illusion of completing an integral story, written and illustrated by me. But for now it is a pending matter. I hope that it will soon become real.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?Yes, on several occasions, I participated in projects that were self-published.

They have their pros and cons. As positive is creative freedom, sometimes it can only be limited by what one as an illustrator wants to limit.

The downside is that sometimes there are not clear things, for example essential things like the world of printing or graphic communication, that’s where I take my spirit of graphic designer and prop it up so that the project can be viable and leave to market.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

I worked for diferent publishing houses in the publishing feld, in fact as I mentioned before, they were my frst steps. As you can see I am an illustrator of all terrains on occasion, I worked in these areas.

Designing characters for plays, desingning costumes for transcendent musicals of Buenos Aires, scientifc illustration for educational publishers, animation (presentation of TV shows), live drawing of animals for advertising events, among other things.

Even, as a curiosity of the diversity of formats where my drawings appear, a couple of years ago, one of the books that I illustrated, was part of the happy box of a well-known international hamburger company.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Yes, many years ago in Argentina I worked doing a comic for a children’s magazine, AZ10 it was at fnal of  90´s .

I had any appearances in local magazines but no so much .

Have you illustrated a graphic novel?

I made some graphic novels for collections of educational material, principally of pre-adolescent public. I enclose samples of Corrascosa Summits and Sherlck Holmes and Pahntom of the Opera.


What do you think is your biggest success?

It is a very broad question, which I would not answer focusing on a particular project, I take it as  something more general.

Undoubtedly my greatest success is to have my desire to illustrate and never lower my arms to get this purpose is part of my daily life and a livelihood for me and my family.

Working on something that gives me pleasure is the greatest success.

What type of things do you do to fnd illustration work?

I’m in some portals related to children’s illustration (

or At some point I also went to specialized fairs like the Bolgona Fair in Italy. If you are a children´s illustrator, it´s an interesting option to know diferents publisher from any country, and you have the possiblity to have a metting directly to the Art Editor sometimes. Nowaday I am currently testing with some freelance work sites, I am seeing if this system is available to get any work, although in these types of markets the low price is often valued more than the quality of the work.

I also seek to show my work through my personal site,, facebook Cristian Bernardini or instagram Bernardini_Cristian.

Although I have to admit that I’m not very good at spreading my stuf, for example, to get this interview, I’m sure that it wasn´t easy for Kathy. (So sorry !!! I’m Guilty!)

Has that changed over time?

At first, my painting process was extremely handcrafted, with watercolor or acrylic fnishes that gave me some pleasure. With time and the idea of practicality, I went to fnish them digitally with touch-ups. To the point where all my work went through the digital world, dispensing with even paper.

Which made me click, because I was leaving aside something that I enjoyed a lot, which was the whole craft process, the drawing on paper for example. Now I’m going back to the sources but renewed, a mixture of the two artisanal and digital worlds.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

No, I work in my studio that is about 20 minutes from my house. I have my diferent work materials there and I can concentrate and dedicate my time to personal assignments or projects.

Do you try to spend a specifc amount of time working on your craft?

I do not usually have such a stipulated timetable, what is clear is that I have to dedicate a good part of the day to be satisfed with the drawing, I usually change my views several times to arrive at a result I like.

Sometimes it is very convenient to get out, to think about the process and to come back with new ideas.

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

Yes, I usually do some research, if required, for example if it is some specifc place, some specifc animal to know more about it and its characteristics. Other thing that inspired me is … to  see illustrators with diferent styles. In my freetime, I fnd  many talent people and then I save it in my mind, studing how they get this climax or how use the colour… etc

I fnd very useful is to start drawing quick sketches of characters or situations to go fnding the right personality or the style that best fts with that project.

In those frst steps where things arise and one as a creator makes decisions about how the characters will be as well as the climate of the story.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Undoubtedly, the internet is not only a source of inspiration to see other colleagues (incidentally your site is a great contribution to the profession). It is also a fundamental tool to be seen in diferent parts of the globe.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Mostly I use photoshop, combining a good range of brushes can get very interesting results, exploring with textures and forms of painting. Although sometimes I seek to get in touch with Painter, and after a while I return to the known and I stay in photoshop. Another of the interesting programs that I have known is the Manga studio, it depends what kind of graphic search is needed, this last one, can be of great help.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

As I was saying, I am very incorporated into the digital world, I have a Wacom Cintiq tablet, it is an artifact like a screen with a sensitive pencil that allows me to draw directly on it,  it is like to draw on a paper. Its make me draw and paint like the traditional way.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfll?

I am constantly looking for new forms of expression, or painting to look for graphic alternatives. These days it is crossing my mind, developing designs in 3d, perhaps for graphics or for other felds of design. And in this search, I found very interesting software and with a good result like  Zbrush. It is a program for 3D modeling, with a brief learning one can take their creations in pencil to a tangible object in 3 dimensions (if it is printed).

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a new book for a new collection for Capstone / Picture books. About Aesop’s fables. I particularly love drawing animals, and giving them personalities with their gestures and expressions.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you tried – A how to tip, etc.

A material that I would like to highlight, for the illustrative colleagues who work with ink. It is the Penbrush (pentel), there are also other brands. It’s like a marker with synthetic hairs that serves as a brush, is very docile and practical. I presume that it was developed to be used in Chinese calligraphy, but for lovers of drawing it is a marvel.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

This may be an advice that seems silly, but I think it is essential to understand ourselves as creators who want to contribute something with what they do.

As far as possible, before facing a new project (of those projects that give you pleasure to do them), my advice is to take some time to think about it, simply that, to think abotu what I want to tell and how, looking to challenge oneself and try not to fall into the common places. Maybe it can be a while a couple of days but the important thing is to be able to see the big picture  and not just a fraction.

Many times this industry is subject to very limited times, that is why one tends to follow a work inertia, fnish it and take another job, and after a while fnds that it only made the same thing over many years … and the same, as if one were a page decorator.

My advice is to think, to be more analytical with our work, withoutbelitting the audience to which it is directed.

Thinking what new thing to tell, what are my strengths and weaknesses and challenge me, if necessary or what one believes best…  always understanding that this profession not like a  maker of beautiful images, if not as a creator of worlds that deserve to be explored .

Thank you Cristian for sharing your talent, process, and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Cristian’s work, you can visit him at his blog:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Cristian. I am sure he’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Amazing illustrations! I admire artists so much.


  2. Every answer up to mark and very good explanation for young writers and artists. 🙂


  3. Cristian, your work is truly mind-blowing! Your characterization is amazing! And thank you for mentioning the Penbrush 😀 I loved reading about how your career progressed and the many things you do. Thanks for sharing, and Kathy, for putting this together 😀


  4. Lots of creativity in your art! Thank you for sharing, Cristian!


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