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Case Study: Pencils of Promise. Picture Book Creation Process Step by Step

Check how we created picture book with bright illustrations for Pencils of Promise and see how design and art can amplify powerful world-changing projects.

Our team is mainly known for various branding and digital projects such as websites, mobile applications, landing pages, identity designs, and business illustrations. Yet, in this case, we want to unveil a totally different story about making something tangible, world-changing, and socially impactful. Let us show you how we created a picture book from scratch for Pencils of Promise. See how design and art can amplify influential world-changing projects.

Client and Project

Pencils of Promise is a global non-profit organization that helps communities achieve better futures through education. The team literally shapes the education landscape by building numerous schools in distant areas, coaching teachers, providing water filters and equipment, and so on. Here’s how they describe their founding story:

It began with a question. A young boy on the streets of India. “What do you want most in the world?” “A pencil,” he replied. I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him. A smile erupted, and his eyes brightened. I saw the profound power and promise brought through a gesture as simple as giving a pencil to just one child. Over the next five years, I backpacked through more than 50 countries, handing out thousands of pens and pencils across six continents. These pencils, these small pieces of potential, led to powerful conversations with local parents and children across countless cultures and languages. From years of listening to their words, it became clear that there was a need for an organization led by a staff of local leaders from within each country of impact. This would require active community participation in each school’s creation, as well as ongoing support, training and monitoring of each school to ensure long-term success. These are the guidelines on which PoP was founded in October 2008. Since starting with just a $25 deposit, we have now built more than 550 schools.

To unveil more about its mission and activities, Pencils of Promise came up with the idea of wrapping it into a picture book. Here’s how they currently describe themselves, the insights from their long-term experience, and the value they strive to contribute to the modern world:

Pencils of Promise is now a global movement of thousands of passionate individuals, many of whom are the most dynamic and impactful leaders we have ever seen. They are committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all. We fundamentally believe that a day will come in our lifetimes when every single child will have access to a quality education, and we will continue to work tirelessly in breaking down the restraints of today to enable the possibilities of tomorrow.

The book was going to become part of their annual gala event. And that’s where our collaboration began. This project’s creative team from the tubik side included Maryna Solomennykova, Yaroslava Yatsuba, Arthur Avakyan, Oleksandra Mykhalyk, Vlad Radionov, and Nick Zhuravlov.


The book Dreams Unfold is not a fairytale; it tells a real story about real people. It features children from places without good schools and the Pencils of Promise team that helps them access quality teaching. We were provided with the text part and had to transform it into visual storytelling through illustration.

The initial stage included working out the book structure and sketches. Here, the illustrator had to find the set of perspectives and compositions, characters’ appearance, and emotionality that would be perfect to transfer the message and appeal to little readers. Also, the layout of the pages was planned to decide where the text would be placed. As a result, we got the complete storyboard for the book.

pencils of promise book design tubik arts blog


The next step meant transforming sketches into colorful, polished illustrations. To make them as close to real life as possible, we explored tons of real photos provided from the areas of the Pencils of Promise activity. Using them as references, we transferred real locations and people, numerous details from real schools and local nature to the pages of the book.

pencils of promise picture book illustrations tubikarts

pencils of promise book design case study tubik blog

pencils of promise book design case study tubik blog

pencils of promise tubik arts character book art

pencils of promise book character art tubikarts

And here, you are invited to dive into some episodes of the creative process, showing the magic of breathing life, atmosphere, and color into the illustrations.

One more interesting detail was the patterns on the characters’ clothes. We learned that each pattern featured in the photos shows which local community the person belongs to. As this visual element is an essential sign of local identities, it was carefully reflected in the illustrations.

pencils of promise book for kids tubikarts

Book Design

At the design stage, we chose lovely, readable fonts, married illustrations with text in each page layout, and completed that with an attractive book cover.

picture book cover pencils of promise tubik

pencils of promise back book cover tubik design

Welcome to take a glance at some pages showing how the illustrations, character art, and text were transformed into the completed picture book through design.

pencils of promise picture book tubikarts

pencils of promise picture book design tubik arts

pencils of promise picture book case study tubikarts

Another challenge was to adjust the book to three different language options, English, Spanish, and Lao, to make the story closer to children from different countries.

pencils of promise book design tubik arts case study translations

However, even that was not the final stage, as we found out that the book would be not only printed but also shared in Kindle editions and sold via Amazon, which also has specific requirements. So, we dived into modern e-book standards and adapted the design to look equally nice wherever the reader reaches the story.

Finally, our client got what they came for: a bright and smart picture book that provides another solid touchpoint to their mission and shows the unique cultures of the distant areas they support. It has become a more emotional, clear, and aesthetic way to communicate with society.

And don’t think that’s the happy ending, as our collaboration with Pencils of Promise continued with turning the book into a website. The Dreams Unfold story is going to get a voice and motion and become an interactive online experience with lots of cool details and Easter eggs. We will show you the process and the result in one of our following case studies, stay tuned.

New design case studies from our team are coming soon. Stay tuned!

More Design Case Studies

Here’s a set of more case studies sharing the design solutions and approaches for some of the illustration and graphic design projects done by the Tubik team.

Fairytale. Picture Book Illustrations and Design

12 Bright Projects on Visual Identity and Packaging Design

Book Illustrations for Visual Storytelling

Love Sign. Gift Box Packaging Design with Romantic Vibes

PierSide. Packaging Design for Tinned Fish Brand

KOISI Tokyo. Packaging Design for Japanese Restaurant

Sidra Vivo. Vibrant Packaging Design for Cider Brand

Aqua Dudes. Cartoonish Packaging Design for Fish Food Brand

Herteas. Packaging Design for Herbal Tea Brand

Nutribite. Tasty Packaging Design for Granola Bars

Milkimu. Packaging and Marketing Design for Dairy Brand

Dance Festival. Creating a Set of Event Poster Designs

Soaplanet. Soap Brand Packaging Design with Travel Spirit

Welcome to check designs by Tubik on Dribbble and Behance; explore the gallery of 2D and 3D art by Tubik Arts on Dribbble

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