Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 5, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – BHAGYA MADANASINGHE

Bhagya Madanasinghe is an illustrator and architect from Sri Lanka, a colorful little island in South Asia. She graduated from University of Moratuwa. Wanting more exposure and freedom while practicing as a professional Architect, Bhagya leaned into the illustration field. Her passion for illustration runs back to 2016. She was fascinated by various styles of illustrations and was eventually driven to the beautiful world of children’s books. Her style combines symbolism with fantastical colors. She is dedicated to creating characters with emotions and actions emphasizing the mood of her illustrations. She loves exploring new places to inspire her work. Besides being an illustrator, Bhagya still loves developing architectural design concepts with her husband in his studio and finds time to cuddle and play with their dog, “Luna”.


Bring your pet to school: 


This is an illustration I did for my agency’s monthly prompt: Bring your pet to school. First I started with some rough sketches of how to compose the whole illustration, figuring out on what would be the main character or main focus of the drawing. In this stage, I basically try out different kinds of backgrounds, characters because this is exclusively rough sketch stage. However, in this phase I select a final sketch to proceed. Therefore, this is one of the major stages in my process.


Once I selected a rough sketch to proceed, I normally identifying and finalizing the characters and other details in it.


Defining the sketch further.


Identifying and developing the color value of the drawing to emphasize the main attractions of the whole illustration.


Color study


Lighting and shadow study

Adding Solid colors and subsequently adding textures to each color where it is necessary.

Finalizing the art by adding further textures. In this stage light, shadows and highlights are added simultaneously. Some lines to show the movement have added to highlight the action of the kids and animals to bring life to the illustration.



How long have you been illustrating?

Around 6 years now, it was during my academic years in university that I discovered about illustrations.

What and when were the first piece of art you created for money?

It was a caricature of a couple back in 2016, and it was a color pencil 5”x8” size artwork.

Have you always lived in Sri Lanka?

Yes, Sri Lanka is where I was born and raised and the only country I lived in.

How did you decide to attend University of Moratuwa to get a degree in architecture?

To be honest, I didn’t have initial plans on doing a degree in architecture. However, I had plans in entering the University of Moratuwa because of the enormous interest in studying there. I did my advanced level studies in physical science stream and luckily architecture was the only course I could apply for, in that university. Eventually I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Architecture in 2017, I now holds associate membership as a Chartered Architect of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects.

Did the University of Moratuwa have any classes that introduced you to Illustrating?

I’m afraid not. That said, architecture is a subject where we learn a lot of about designing. So, I guess this is where my illustration nerves tickled and rose.

Did you any of your professors see your talented art and encourage you to go into illustrating?

This had nothing to do with illustrations but, one of my fifth-year masters, Architect Narein Perera identified my hand drawing skills and encouraged me to do my final major project by hand without using any computer device or software. I enjoyed that project a lot.

Did you do any freelance art while getting your degree?

Yes, I did a few caricature arts commissioned by couples, families and sometimes friends which came through my social media account, Moving Doodles. But most of the time I drew for myself.

Can you apply anything your learned in your architecture studies helped to your illustrations?

Absolutely yes. I have never learned art as a subject. As soon as I entered the university, as first years, all we learn about are scale, proportions, balance, harmony, composition and all these basic principles in building designing, which pretty much applies the same in arts. I learned the word ‘perspective’ for first time in my life and fell in love with how it works and tried to explore it by myself. As architectural students, we were trained to see things in a different angle, always taught us to think outside the box. I believe all of these what I learned from architecture, eventually helped me to improve my visual imagination, color selection and conceptual thinking when I create illustrations.

What type of work did you do after graduation?

I worked as a full-time Architect in two architectural firms in Colombo. There I involved with building designing, project management, office management and team work. In 2020, I obtained the architectural license, and started our own firm with my husband who is also an architect. There I help with architectural design concepts. In the meantime, as a part time illustrator I worked on two children’s book projects, website designs, some logo designs and of course a lot of caricatures.

Did the University of Moratuwa help you find work when you graduated?

No, we need to find work by ourselves.

What made you decide to wanted to illustrate children’s books?

I always loved to work on my own illustrations which involves detailed backgrounds along with characters full of actions and emotions. This literally involved story telling. That’s when I realized that I could do illustrations for children’s where I saw it as a privilege to rediscover the child in me. Then I was inspired by many artists all over the world who are enthusiastically working with children’s publishing and I was eventually driven to that beautiful world of children’s books. Once I found it, I felt like this is the home for me. I’m just hoping to keep going forever.

Was When Your Dragon Is Too Big for a Bath: An Adventure in Prayer, which came out in January this year your first illustrated picture book?

No, my first picture book is My home is burning by Nellie Mcquin, which is not published yet.

How did you make the connection to get this contract?

The author C. E. White discovered my art through social media. I’m humbled to mention that she reached out for me to do illustrations for her amazing book. I was delighted to know that the book was about a dragon and a boy.

Amazon lists that this book was published by CWM Publishing. Are they a company that helps authors who want to self-publish, print and distribute their books?

CWM publishing is the imprint name of the author of the dragon book; C.E.White, which she use for her self-publishing. In fact, this book is fully self-published.

Was creating dragon plushies to sell with your book your idea?

No, it was exclusively the author’s idea.

How long did it take you to illustrate the book?

It took me five months to illustrate and finish the work. To do the initial sketches including character designing, story board development, color theme development up to the final sketches, it took me around 2 months. The rest 3 months were fully committed to color the entire book.

Do authors and illustrators do school visits to promote their books in Sri Lanka?

To be honest, I do not have personal experience regarding this because I just entered the industry in the middle of 2021. As far as I gathered information from fellow writers and illustrators in Sri Lanka, they usually do not do school visits to promote their self-published books. Instead, they are advertising them on newspapers. Moreover, some are organizing book launching events, which bring huge success, to the fact that readers who are interested in reading those specific genres usually gather there.

How did you connect with Nicole at Tugeau2 and how long have you been represented you?

I find myself really lucky that I’ve been reached out by Nicole after seeing my work on Instagram. I’ve been represented by Nicole since December 2021.

Do you still work still work on your portfolio?

Yes, as soon as I find a free time apart from client’s works, I jump and grab the opportunity to create something for myself. It is always focused on my portfolio.

Do you exhibit your art? If so, has it helped you get work?

I love exhibiting my artworks. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to exhibit them in physical exhibitions, I always showcase my work on my social media platforms, my website and Behance. That has taken me this far with projects.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a picture book?

Writing my own picture book has become one of my biggest dreams as soon as I entered this fascinating children’s books industry. Therefore, I am so looking forward to write some day in near future.

Would you consider working with a self-published writer to illustrate their book?

Of course, So far I’ve worked with 4 self-publishing authors and I enjoyed it a lot.

Have you illustrated anything for children’s magazines?

No, I haven’t. but I’d be keen to work with children’s magazines in future.

Do you sell your artwork online?

So far, I haven’t sold my artworks online. However, I’d love to when the right time comes in future.

I know you will have many successes in your future, but what do you think is your biggest success so far?

As a Sri Lankan artist, being reached out by one of the major illustrations and literally agency in the USA is the biggest success I’ve achieved so far. Nicole is a wonderful agent and I feel so lucky to receive such support and she is bringing me projects that can’t even imagine that I’ll ever receive by my own. I am Learning and growing as an illustrator and couldn’t ask for more.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love digital illustrations which looks like those are drawn by traditional medium.

Has that changed over time?

I’d love to learn how to paint by watercolors and gouache. But the desire for digital illustrations have never faded over time.

What type of Graphic Drawing Tablet do you use when illustrating?

I started digital illustration with a Gamon graphic tablet in 2018, and switch to draw on an iPad in 2019. I use it ever since.


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

That depends with each illustration. I make sure to spend fair amount of time on each to give justice to every illustration I work.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I do both when I start a project. I love the research part where I collect pictures and make a mood board which gives me a clear idea of what I am dealing with.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Even though some think that art comes from born talent, I personally did learn almost everything from the internet and received all the projects I’ve worked so far have reached me from internet.

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

I would love to work with a major streaming service in the globe one day.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on 3 picture books, one with a self-publishing author and other two are well-known publishers in the USA.

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’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I use procreate to do my illustrations and it has brought colors to my illustration career so far. In the meantime, I use adobe photoshop to do my edits in my final illustrations.

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

As an artist, be yourself and do not compare yourself with others. There is an incredible artist community out there, so do not be afraid to reach out and stay connected. The path is not smooth, and there are so many things to overcome, but once you love what you do, you are unstoppable.

Bhagya, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Bhagya using the following links:





Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a creative gift! Thanks for sharing.


  2. Beautiful work! Thanks for sharing your creativity!


  3. Beautiful! I love your work! Wishing you wonderful success.


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