Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

Nikolaos Polychronopoulos Interview

Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

The fact that you can depict your own imagination on paper, or canvas, was enough for me to get started. I feel like the magic happens everytime I grab a pencil or stylus. I can clearly remember that moment, many years ago, that I said to myself; "I will become a professional illustrator one day!". And so I did.

How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?

I have been creating my own worlds in my head, ever since I can remember myself. These worlds needed to be depicted somehow in my sketchbook. The moment that I have learned that Illustration can be pursued as a career, was so awesome for me! It is really what we call “A dream come true”.

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

Although I graduated from a Fine Arts School, my real artistic training began after that period. I owe everything to those wonderful artistic courses on,  and other tutorials on the Internet.

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I currently live in Piraeus, in Greece. I have grown up in the same place, thus admitting I am blessed having wonderful sights near me. Acropolis, Thiseion, Monastiraki and Piraiki Attica are a name of few.

Was creativity part of your childhood?

Indeed it was. I can still remember that I was ahead of my time in terms of creativity, generating artistic ideas, with overflowing imagination.

Have you always loved to draw?

Yes, I did! Pencil and paper were not only extensions of my hand but extensions of my soul!

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

I will always remember the times that I did master studies (although I didn’t even know that time that absorbing artistic elements was called a “master study”) of Akira Toriyama’s manga, Dragon Ball Z. The artistic structure of the characters and the Composition’s idea of each panel, really kept my interest.

Which books from your own childhood really stand out?

It might sound funny, but Guinness World Records books really stood out for me! Because various facts written and depicted on those books “broke” the realm of realism on my artistic part of my brain, which allowed me to break  that realm too in my actual work.

Who or what has been your greatest mentor?

Xia Taptara from I can’t thank him enough for teaching me how to give permission to myself to… dare and break my artistic block. I am not scared of a blank canvas anymore, thanks to him. Not only that, he was so patient to teach me the Art Fundamentals in a proper way.

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

When I was a colleague at my Art School I was the winner of an artistic contest. The prize from it was the chance to illustrate the book “Του ουρανού τα παραμύθια» (Sky Tales). It was my first commission. And I am proud for it.

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Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.

 I always start with a very loose sketch, just to capture the subject of the illustration with as few lines as possible.

After I am satisfied, I refine the loose Concept Sketch with a more fleshed-out sketch, just for the sake of solving structural problems of the subject.

Then, I proceed to the Colour Establisment stage, (or Colour Rough stage, if you prefer) where I apply flat colours beneath the lines of the sketch. (It is much easier to do that if work digitally).

Finally, I will refine the illustration with Values, Shapes, Shadows and Edges  (All these with rich Colours, of course) until to reach a high level of finish.

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Monkey School - Loose sketch

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

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Monkey School - Refined sketch

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

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Monkey School - Colour rough

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

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Monkey School - Refined illustration

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

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Monkey School - Final illustration

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?

Adobe Photoshop is the answer. The quality of its brushstrokes is simply unmatched. And not only I use it 13 years now, but it completely changed the way I paint, all over these years, allowing me to experiment with various fun and useful techniques. I believe that this is a good reason for me not to replace it.

Do you keep a sketch book?

I sure do! But I have to admit, I don’t use it as often I should, though I keep believing that the Sketch Book, is the best tool to generate ideas and keep notes, much more easily than digitally.

How long does it take on average for you to finish a spread, from initial sketch to final colour?

It depends on the subject’s complexity but it usually takes me about 2-3 days.

What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

I hope to give them at least a smile. If I achieve that, my artistic mission is complete, thus giving me more motivation to keep going.

What do you do in your spare time?

If I’m not drawing, or painting, I try to learn playing guitar. Learning a musical instrument is as fun and challenging as painting.

What would you say is a distinguishing feature of your artwork?

I would say the Colours. I recently discovered a new technique to enhance the richness of colours for my illustrations which is not only challenging but also very, very fun.

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The thief, the rooster and the scroll illustration

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos


Tell us about the creation of your favourite character from one of your books.

Although he does not count as a totally original character of mine (because he belongs to Greek Mythology), Poseidon from the first book I illustrated (Sky Tales) had the most fun and artistic process than every other character I have ever painted for a book. I always loved Poseidon’s Majestic appearance, combined with the elements of the Seas, as well as the fact that I can create them as I like, using my imagination.

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Where do you get the ideas for your characters?

Literally from everything! Even if I am inside an empty room, without any reference,  I can still get ideas not only for my characters, but for environments as well.

Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?





Outline your dream project.

My dream project is to create an animation, written, directed, and generally created by me. I know it sounds tough, but some dreams do come true.

Do you have a favourite soundtrack you listen to when you’re working?

Indeed I have. It is called “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts videogame series. Yoko Shimomura (the music composer of these series) is a genius!

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Practice, practice, practice! (Best advice by far, for literally every aspect)


If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?

I would probably be a guitarist! I love music so much!

What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?

Mythical deities and creatures.

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by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

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A creature

by Nikolaos Polychronopoulos

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

By listening to music, of course. Even if I am not listening to it, I imagine my favourite songs playing in my head.

Share your favourite piece of artwork from your portfolio and walk us through its creation.

My favourite piece from my Portfolio is the one called: "The time has come!"

Here is the process.

As always, I begin with the loose sketch.

Then, the Colour Rough stage. Here, I established some shapes of light and shadow with a variety of colors.

After that, I proceed to the illustration refinement.

And finally, I make some minor tweaks and adjustments for brightness, contrast and color balance.

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