Sunday, February 17, 2019

Picture Book Process

I thought it was about time I updated my post on the creation of a picture book, so here's a shiny new version for 2019. I'm going to be talking about the creation of Alexander's Day and Other Fun Stuff, by Beverley Knezevic, which was a private publication. It only had a small run, not intended for stores, but I approach all my picture book projects the same way, and give the same attention to private publications as I do to all my other work. 

1. Thumbnails

After reading the manuscript, I started by planning out the whole book in thumbnail form, so I could see how it flowed from page to page. I mucked about with various ideas (I am not fond of thumbnailing) until I had this version, which I sent along to Beverley (in the original copy, there was text under each page, which I have removed for the purposes of this blog post.) I don't always colour my thumbnails, but in this instance I wanted to highlight the bright colours and plain backgrounds. 

Head below the cut to see more!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Strange Noises in the Night

For Colour Collective's 'Midnight Blue' prompt, I decided to work in more of my middle-grade style. I've been working hard on picture books, and wanted a bit of a change so I revisited this little medieval girl from an earlier illustration, simplified her a bit, and went to town with a two-colour palette and ink-like outlines. It's nice to have a bit of a change now and then, especially when I'm working hard, and I enjoy middle-grade illustration just as much as picture book illustration! 

As you can see, I kept it simple, because I am working hard. Just enough background to suggest a medieval setting, and I was done in less than 2 hours. 

She's simple, but I quite like her. Here's a little peek at the quick sketch I did for her, snaffled from my Instagram Story. Remember to follow me on IG for lots of behind the scenes snaps!

Adobe Photoshop CC2019 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro

Going Fishing

I wasn't sure what to do with Colour Collective's 'Hooker Green' prompt, so I decided to rather boringly use it as foliage, and combined my CC with another building practice. 

This is based on a photo I took in Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire. We had been there before, but wanted to go back - a train ride from York to Scarborough, and then a bus to Robin Hood's Bay, but we made it! It was a fairly grey day, with some drizzle, but it made for some very spectacular photos. I was playing around with one of the art filters on my camera, and took two shots of most things - one on normal camera mode, and a second with a filter, which really took advantage of the overcast sky.

Here's the photo I based this on. I loved the way the filter on the camera really highlighted all the textures. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. I think I spent about three hours on it in total. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019


'Living Coral' is the Pantone Colour of the Year for 2019, and it was naturally also an early entry in the Colour Collective. It's such a vibrant colour, a favourite of mine anyway, and it was really tempting to do a detailed tropical underwater scene with lots of coral and fish and bubbles. But I had to be sensible; I'm busy, with two books on the go, and I'm running a bit behind because I was hideously sick with a sinus infection for a week. So detailed scenes were out of the question, I could only schedule in 1 hour for my Colour Collective - so I defaulted to birds. They're such nice, simple shapes. 

I chose lovebirds because a) they're cute and b) there was lots of opportunity to tone down the coral with green. It's summer here, I quite like to work with cool colours! And people seemed to like them, which was nice! 

And they were a big improvement on my previous week's effort (while sick with the aforementioned sinus infection). I'd dragged myself out of bed and thought I'd tentatively try doing a Colour Collective (tea green) to see if I was well enough to get back to work. I wasn't - a define lack of energy and purpose in my linework and colouring! I'll have to return to these ringneck parrots some other time and do them more justice. At the time, however, I just went back to bed. There was no point trying to do work if I was only going to have to redo it later! It's amazing how much being unwell can affect your drawing!

Adobe Photoshop CC2019 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. Each illustration took about one hour.

Building Practice #1

I thought I really should practice drawing buildings, which have never been my strongest subject. So, I thought, a good way to do this would be to take some interesting buildings that I photographed on holiday, and sketch them, starting with really old buildings, where wonky lines are practically required.

I started out doing black and white sketches, and then moved to colour. But for this post, I'm going to compile just the black and white ones:

Somewhere in Hampshire. We spent a lot of time driving around with our friends, and Hampshire has a lot of winding roads (with no names!) so sometimes I have photographs but absolutely no idea of where they are. Other times, of course, I know exactly where things are, such as this 16th century hearth passage house, which is opposite the square in Petersfield:

This rambling cottage is opposite St Andrews Church in Farnham, Surrey. We were there on our last day in Hampshire, to hear our friend sing in a choir concert in the church. 

And this little place is on North Street in York. York is fabulous for wandering down roads and finding ancient buildings.

All of these were done on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro, using Adobe Photoshop CC2018, and Kyle Webster's 'sketch pencil rough' brush. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

SCBWI Draw This: Light

I had a bit of downtime, and thought I would take part in the monthly 'SCBWI Draw This' prompt. The theme was 'light', and I used it as an opportunity to practice perspective with no direct reference. To make my life harder, I chose to do 3-point perspective, which is the type I am the worst at - but hey, I'm not going to get better unless I practice, am I?

I thought it would be fun to have several references to 'light' in my illustration - moonlight, candle light, light as a feather, light as air...

Head below the cut to see the truly horrible sketch I did to try out the general idea, before I got my act together and made it pretty:

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Cards 2018

This year my Christmas cards referenced some traditional carols. I always tie the two designs I do together somehow, and this year I used a shiny circular motif in sparkly gilding. 

See more below the cut!


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