Released earlier this month, Under My Hijab is a book that provides a friendly introduction to hijabs for all readers, and celebrates the many Muslim women and girls who choose to wear them. Debut illustrator Aaliya Jaleel took us behind the scenes of her creative process. Read on for more!
The illustrations for Under My Hijab were created digitally using Adobe Photoshop and went through several stages of sketches, revisions, and paint-overs before becoming the final polished illustrations found in the book. While the illustrations were done digitally, the editor (Cheryl Klein) and art director (Kimi Weart) wanted the drawings to resemble watercolor paintings with textured brushes and a soft, pastel color scheme.
The spread introducing Mama the doctor was originally sketched with the narrator sitting in the doctor’s office with Mama and her patient. At this point we realized that the narrator wouldn’t be allowed to be in the actual office while the doctor is performing a checkup.
We solved the problem by having the narrator peeking in the doorway instead. With a few more adjustments in the sketch as well as the addition of the patient’s parent, we were good to go into final colors for the illustration.
The process was similar for the following spread of Mama at home gardening. I had previously sketched Mama and the narrator gardening in their backyard but it was then decided that a glassed-in sunroom would feel like a more private, enclosed space.
The narrator’s father was an addition to the illustration in order to make her biracial background more clear and to depict a warm, loving family dynamic.
The cover for Under My Hijab started with a couple of different thumbnailed ideas.
Ultimately, the right sketch was chosen and with decisions like having the narrator look straight at the reader and adjusting her hijab instead of interacting with the butterflies, the final version of the cover came to be.
Aaliya Jaleel is a student at the University of Texas-Dallas, where she studies animation and enjoys trying new dessert places with her friends. Under My Hijab is her first picture book. She lives near Dallas.