Thursday, 26 March 2009


So then, with the house model and room models done I started on the illustrations depicting various different things. In the first one the house has been covered in a huge snow fall. Big snow drifts, all the cliches of snowy scenes. I tried a few camera angles on the house and decided on the one at the top of the picture to the right. I then used this as a base for the illustration underneath. To the left here are some of the reference images I gathered together from all corners of the internet. Bless it. I thought I was pretty happy with the drawing but coming back to it two days later I realised it was very dull. This is a children's book, it needs to be magical and exciting and interesting and and, well you know, not what this illustration is.

So I went back to the maquette. One of the things I realised with this illustration is the fact you couldn't see Toby's window which I had always decided would be at the back of the property looking over the garden. So I chose a different angle, looking at the back and made it a bit more interesting. I also lowered the slide to make it look like it was buried in snow, top bit of the second picture. Then I decided to just go for it really quickly and loosely and sketch out the sort of thing I had in my head, big curling snow drifts, a snowman, a robin, lots of icicles the works. Basically what I would want to see if I was a kid I think. The final illustration is at the bottom of the 3 and the last picture in this posting. Click on it to see it bigger. Remember these are roughs, so the final artwork will be very close but will probably have extra details and slight changes here and there. The snow falling is put on afterwards with photoshop.

Within this illustration I decided on some of the surrounding landscape [which might change in the final illustrations]. So these decisions had to be carried through to all the other illustrations.I decided against modelling the rest of the surrounding area in the 3D because quite frankly I couldn't be arsed. If it proved difficult then I would.

click on the image to see the large version

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Ah look what I found, some more house drawings [or some of the ones you've seen but better quality. Well ok when I say better quality, I mean roughly the same quality as the ones before but bigger. Actually if they were the same size they would probably be poorer quality.] Anyway. Top image here is some sketches for the plans of the house. I needed to know where things were going to be. I think this might be before I decided to make a 3D model of the house. So having a plan would be a good reference for each drawing.

As you might have seen before I had a reference picture of the Weasley's house from Harry Potter well I decided to get that picture after drawings this house and wondering what it reminded me of. I soon decided against such a topsy turvy house.

The red drawing is pretty much as close as I was going to get to the finished article. I knew of a problem as soon as I'd drawn it though, the house just looks too big! I decided to increase the size of the features. So door bigger, windows bigger, etc.

The drawing below that was one of two A1 size drawings I did for it letting me explore bits and pieces a bit futher all on one page. I drift into the bedroom on that page too and look at some ideas for contents of that room as well. Most of the things I drew stayed. The shape of the bed though changed, it looks too grown up. Too square. So I changed the proportions of it and gave it a nice wooden bed frame too. Something slightly old fashioned, simple and timeless. After a few explorations about possible wardrobe design and toy box contents I created the 3D model maquette.

The first image is a wire frame, for those of you not knowing of the joys of 3D this shows how the model is constructed. There is absolutely no point in it being here, it serves no purpose, but people always put their wireframes up, so why not me? The second render* is using the cell shader setting which renders each object out as lines. I print these renders off and then use them on a light box, or with layout paper to base my drawing on. The final picture is a swanky [well ish] render* of the bedroom. Again totally pointless but it shows the model off well and solidifies the room.

Whatever that means. Talking of whatever that means...

*Render. So what does render mean? Well it means taking all that maths and all those settings for textures and lighting and stuff and making the final image. That's a really bad description of render, so I shall look it up and post the description here:

Rendering (computer graphics), the process of producing an image from a higher-level description of its components

oooh thats a good one. Also check out this link http://en.wikiped/wiki/Rendering_(computer_graphics)


I could see Toby the instant I wrote about him. A simple little lad [but not like that] with scruffy hair and stripey pyjamas. Not a very challenging character or original granted, but an engaging and straight forward one I hoped. Apart from a few simple variations I tried out in the very short design process he pretty much stayed the same as in my head. I found difficulty getting his age right. Too much leg and he looks too old, head too small and the same problem. On the grouped designs to the left my favourite was always the guy seemingly in clouds on the right of the bottom one. No I don't know why he was in clouds either.

Toby got a bit of a trendy fringe in the second design page here. Soon forgotten thankfully. I tried him with glasses too briefly but dropped them since he wasn't wearing them in my head. Maybe he has contacts. Who knows.

In the third drawing although he seemed very similar to the other designs I had done he looks too old. The main reason being the body is too long. Everything is too much in proportion. Yes I know our heads aren't that big, that would be crazy. But looking at the drawings below you can see what I mean. This is also partly to do with his facial experssion too and his hair cut.

In the final drawing as I said before the guy on the right as I said before is my firm favourite and one I went forward with in the rest of the layout designs. Notice the creepy looking lad at the bottom left with the goggly eyes. Blurgh, what was that about? Actually the guy next to him with a scrawl through him too isn't exactly the normalist looking guy either. Don't blame them I think it's more my fault than theirs.

Monday, 23 March 2009


So my rocky travels bring me to 'White Day'. I don't mean I've been to where they shot Rocky to some how get me in the mood for illustrating, or that I've been to THE Rockies. I'm sure you knew that but I wouldn't want you reading on thinking that or we could end up in a right twizzle.

White Day needed only a few things to get it going, a house, room, boy [Toby], and his cat, Jeffrey.

For some reason I started on the house first and not the main character. The house is a character though really, kind of. Ok maybe it isn't but it might have explained why I ignored Toby for the house! The house was sketchy in my head. I knew I wanted a nice country house, tall, homely, some where you would of enjoyed growing up. Something right out of Famous Five. The illustrations with the house in them just wouldn't have worked with a modern house, or a terrace, or a Barrat home. To the left top are some of the inspiration pictures I gathered together. Not always just the shape either but sometimes the mood of them, or a detail. Yes that is the Weasley's house from Harry Potter, maybe a bit too topsy turvy for me, but in a very nice setting. Obviously something I was going to need to address as well.

To the left are some house designs. I might need to swap these pics out so you can see the detail a bit better. After researching I was pretty sure of the type of house I wanted. Now then, stop, don't be nasty, but I realised it was going to do my nut in if I had to draw this house from various different angles and work out the perspective and also just thinking of interesting angles to have it in.

So I had the idea of making a maquette but in a 3D package. This way I could work out my compositions [and as you will see from later posts, not very well at the start] and camera angles if you like well in advance of drawing. Now at first I thought this was cheating. But then why should it be? Some artists might draw subjects from various different angles to get what they need, some will use models, maquettes to of course. It seemed the perfect solution. So as you can see to the left here I built the house and the garden [some simplified trees for basic shape and foliage position]. The renders to the left are the final outputs I needed for tracing and then working on in the illustrations. The one to the right is just a nicer render to show off the model a bit. Now this was complete allI needed was Toby's room, Toby and his cat...


I don't really know why I put this big orange square of paint strokes on this post. I can't think why it's here? I seem to remember that its not even original, it's one small patch which was repeated in photoshop, and not very well either! But the original, well I don't know where that went, and it doesn't really matter. The point I think is I shoved brush to paper to see what it would look like [now come on I don't mean I have never painted on paper, or I don't know what paint looks like but more, I want to see what the texture would be like with undiluted goache or acrylic. See if it would look the way I hoped and remembered. Anyway, this was the result and I knew then that I really want Sidney to be painted. And pretty boldy too, in the main.

What you see below is the layout as it stands to date. Obviously it's small because I don't want to give too much away, I have probably done that already anyway. Oooh, have I put a copyright on this blog? Oh yes I have. Phew. Anyway, you might notice big blocks of colour, gradients from one to another. This is something I need to come back to. Also my layout or mock book is going to be in black and white. I don't know why I told you that, just thought you might like to know. Well ok be like that. Well don't storm off in a huff, you started it! Oh fine, FINE!

click on the image to see the large version


AAAAAAhhhhhh! Sidney where have your eyes gone? Oh yes, I was trying out Sid shapes in paint.

I always saw Sidney as a paint splodge/stroke. I mean why not right? A paint splodge with eyes. Now there are other things that he needs to have about him, arms at one point, and he also needs to express emotions too. If he is jumping for joy then he can be a little splattering mark, which looks happy. If he's sad he can be a dribbling sunken splodge in a corner. I know on many occasions I've been a dribbling sunken splodge in the corner. Or was that drunken?

Anyhoo, he's a lovely little fella who's just a little confused with life. When it came to actually finding Sidney the character and then bringing that character out in paint splodges, well that wasn't so straight forward. Below are sketches for the character and a small cast of extras that appear with him. Hopefully you can tell the emotions that Sid is feeling in each sketch. Mostly let's face it ranging from happy to sad with maybe two stop off points between.

click on the image to see the large version


Well this here Devil is as it happens. Not really sure why he should be so spotty since he is chomping his way through a whole picnic basket of chillies. I know representations of the Devil are usually some lithe little man or a charming sophisticated besuited fella and not usually a red brussel sprout with a moustache, but why go with cliche? I could hardly draw a nasty ghastly evil terror for a children's book now could I? Well actually of course I could. But then I don't believe in God or the Devil so what the heck. Anyway if the devil is supposed to be charming, why wouldn't he be slightly cute and be wearing flip-flops? Exactly. I mean you never hear of God being charming do you? Notice also the snail who appeared earlier on. He's not used to chillies as you can see. I think this straight forward fire out of mouth pose was inspired by Richard Condie's 'The Big Snit' There's a bit in that where his cat chews through the TV cable and gets electrocuted. Funny stuff, also check his film 'Getting Started' which looks at procrastination. Something we can all relate to even though we generally don't realise or admit to doing it.

I love the snail so much I dedicated a big fat picture of him. I have no idea how I'm going to incorporate him in the red half of the painting when I come to it. I guess maybe the fire from his mouth and the fact he's burning inside will give him a red glow in two different ways. Notice the soft texture of the rug and its lovely hemming. Aaahhh, I know my rugs.

On the Orange side I really couldn't decide what two things to have that are good. Then I thought, well, why not have every single thing you can think of that's orange. So I had butterflies and flowers and pumpkins [a homage to a failed piece of 'non-typography' I created at college 'Like typography before it was invented' said my tutor helpfully. Carrots and oranges as well of course and pride of place my cat Woody who alas when I drew this had been run over by a car and killed. Not actually while I drew it, but a few months before. So a nice little nod to that gorgeous little fella.

click on the image to see the large version

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Yes another break from the blogging stream. I'm off to amsterdam for a long weekend. I might find those fairy drawings there. Well I might think I have found them.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Oh utterly damn blast and buggery chuff. I promised [did I promise, would I have been so bold?] to show you an illustration which had a lot of prep work and also, you know, show the prep work. But alas, and I'm not fibbing, I can't find the darn stuff AT ALL. If I manage to find it I shall upload it and update this posting. If not you shall have to take my word for it.

Anyway, the problem was basically everything but the witch, her broom and the lemons. In other words, the fairy, the rest of the tree and the marshmallows. Well at first I didn't know what to have as a good pink thing, then I thought of marshmallows. The fairy I have to say was AWFUL. I wanted her like a little plump cuddly thing, with a gap between her teeth. You know like the fairy in Wilo the Wisp. But try as I might it just didn't work. I liked the witch so much it seemed impossible to get the fairy to go right. IMPOSSIBLE I SAY. It must have taken me a month if not longer to get it right. I don't mean non stop. I mean dribs and drabs and sulks. Then I had a brain wave, the style of the fairy was working against the style of the witch, so why not draw it like they are sisters, or the same style as each other at least. So tracing the witch but into a cute version of the witch [and tracing isn't cheating when the thing you're tracing you actually drew]. Anyway, that solved the problem. But I wish I could find all the many versions of the fairy before the finished one.

The marshmallow dispenser strapped to a tree makes all the difference I think. Also notice how the fairy is toasting her marshmallows. Maybe think back to the dragon? Also the witch should have a list in her hand which is title 'Spell to eleviate a cold' or some such nonsense. Of course the ingredients will be lemons and honey!

Right, annoyed at not finding those drawings I'm going to finish here. No, don't complain.

click on the image to see the large version

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


Now, faced with pink and purple to illustrate, or actually sorry to first write about, well you might be able to think of lots of things that are pink that you don't like. Or purple that you do. I had a bit of a brain freeze and one thing wouldn't go out of my head, and that's poodles. Now I may have seen the odd [literally] pink poodle in my time, but they're not exactly all over the place are they, not even in Paris. So why that image should stick with me I don't know. I thought poodles and worms sounded quite good in one sentence if nothing else, and then when I thought of a homage to the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti eating scene but with worms, well, I was ready to begin scribbling. Now I wish I had hundreds of prep work to show [there might be a few margin scribbles] but really all I done was sit down and draw. That's it. I thought grapes might be a little boring just sat in a bowl so decided to have a nice vine instead. Then that seemed a bit boring too so I decided to make some of them have eyes and character. Well I mean, you would've wouldn't you? Anyway, the illustration I started after this one HAS got loads of prep work, or more like design work when I was half way through, I won't spoil the surprise, but I think I might have used at least a trees worth of paper on that one.

Don't miss the worm breadsticks though will ya!

click on the image to see the large version

Sunday, 8 March 2009


I've been on a bit of a break from the blog for a few days while we attempt to sort our back garden out. It's raining now, so we're having a break from doing our back garden. Any more breaks and I'll be totally broke.

Updates will resume next week!

Monday, 2 March 2009


Poor old crabs. Thought they'd all meet up and go for a swim down the local pool. But what do you know, damned cones everywhere! The pool is shut and the crabs just don't seem to know what to do. What ever you do, don't suggest they use the sea instead.

As you can see here on the left my lovelies, the top drawing is the way I originally drew the picture, and then the middle grey one is desaturated via photoshop then the bottom one is the colour corrected final. You can also see that the pictures have a join. Unfortunately my scanner is only A4! So I've had to scan the pics in several chunks. I realised that my pictures weren't the right aspect ratio for the size I wanted the final books to be [ie. to fit text in?!], so I had to backtrack and stick bits on both sides of the pictures and then redraw and add bits. The bottom finished illustration is actual about a third longer than this one, but not a lot goes on in that third so I've saved a bit of space. Give both picks a click if you want to see them in slightly more detail.

click on the image to see the large version


What a handsome chap eh? Poor purple monster, fell off his unicycle. Problem is if you're going to fall off your unicycle, don't do it in front of a load of easily humoured wild strawberries or they'll just sit there laughing their heads off and not give you a hand up and an elastoplast.

This is for purple and red. What?! I hear you cry, well each illustration is in two halves, one based on a colour. The monster is purple, everyone knows monsters are purple, and he's bruised, purple again.

Now those strawberries, well, I wasn't keen. So below you can see the new strawberries, traced off the originals and corrected. Notice also the fact these top two illustrations are blue? Well I found some leads for automatic pencils that were blue. I had the idea I would loosely sketch them and then go over in standard pencil after. But I liked the blue so much I went on with it. The finished article has been scanned in and desaturated obviously. Yes, it is obvious! The strawberries were cut out, then good all glue sticked into place. Once scanned the more obvious hard edge join was airbrushed out. Not very well I've just noticed on the final version at the bottom.

One odd thing about this composition that annoys me, but not enough to change it, is the hairline of the monster. Well not just the hairline, but the shape of it. It is the same shape as the grass behind it, and almost at exactly the same level! In the final picture the difference will be quite obvious, due to colour, BUT its just one of those annoying things that starts to whittle away at you until you feel the need to alter it. It hasn't quite whittled me away yet, hence it remains the same. But HOW ANNOYING?!

click on the image to see the large version

One thing you won't notice from this particular drawing, but you will notice once I've finished them is how the sky/sun/weather changes the colour of the sky in each picture accordingly with the colours represented in each drawing. Cunning eh? Bit of luck more than anything, I mean though you don't want a picture more or less being Orange apart from a bright blue sky now do you? Well I don't. You keep your choices to yourself. This is my blog.