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!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Folktale Week 2018

I took part in Folktale Week over on Instagram. Still very busy, so a lot of my posts involved sneaky reusing and altering of existing work, but better than nothing!

Day 1: Forest 
In which I sneakily use a study of Rottnest Island, change the lighting, add some sparkles and call it good.

More below the cut:

Saturday, December 1, 2018


Here's a memorial pet portrait I recently created. His name is Amigo, and I was told he loved the beach. It was commissioned by a friend of his owners, as a surprise, so I only had a few facebook photos to go off - not the best situation; I had four photos, he was lying down in all of them, and I could only see his body in one of them. However, he was a nice plain-coloured Labrador, so that made it easier, any old Labrador-body would do. It's when dogs have specific patterns that I don't know about that we run into problems! (PSA: 'Illustrator' is not synonymous with 'Clairvoyant' ^.~) 

See below the cut for a couple of progress shots:

Twilight Dancer

A quick little Hawaiian dancer for Colour Collective's 'Thistle' prompt. I chose something quick as November was full of deadlines and I was very busy - but I wanted to have a little break and do a Colour Collective as a change of pace. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2019 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. Under 2 hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Here's a quick sketch I did in memory of Makulu, the baby Rothschild's giraffe immortalised in Don D'Raine's 1995 The Kiss photograph. His mother Misha died in 2016, and Makulu was put down in early November, aged 23, due to deteriorating health. 

Makulu was born in Perth Zoo, so I have a fondness for him, although he was moved to Melbourne in 1996. He and his mate Twiga had 58 descendants. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2019 - I can't remember how long it took, but definitely under an hour!

Snack Time

I had a bit of creative block when it came to Colour Collective's 'Amethyst' prompt. I love purple, and amethyst is my birthstone... but I was having trouble coming up with something. So, as I had been drawing birds, I gooded purple birds and discovered Lilac Breasted Rollers. I think we can all agree that they look pretty fabulous. I hadn't heard of them before. You learn something every day!

I added some African daisies for some extra purple, and voila. A Colour Collective Post!

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. It took about 2 hours. 

Castle in the Sky

For Colour Collective's 'Cornflower Blue' prompt I was way too ambitious. I knew this when I started, but I carried on anyway. Never the best plan...

I'd been to see Aladdin the Musical on stage with some friends the Sunday before, and all week my work had had a total lack of sparkles and curly-toed shoes, so I wanted to do something with an Arabian Nights theme. It went through a couple of iterations in my head and then I attempted to actually create something in a couple of hours, when actually I needed rather a lot more than that. 

But I think the concept is okay... so I'm posting it here so it doesn't get totally lost in the depths of my social media, in case I ever want to pick it up again and make it actually good. You never know. We are calling this a sketch, 'kay?

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. Just over two hours. (See, I told you I didn't have enough time!)

Warrior Princess

I was listening to Cressda Cowell's The Wizards of Once (fabulously read by David Tennant) on audio (I like a good kidlit story on audio, it tunes well with my kidlit work) when Colour Collective's 'Vanilla' prompt came around, so I went all 'warrior princess'

Unfortunately I ran out of time, so I didn't execute it as well as I would have liked. Oh well, it's in the files, and maybe one day I'll dig it out again and make it better. I think the potential is there.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Trouble with Bathing in Milk

For Colour Collective's 'Milk' prompt, I went with Cleopatra. Unfortunately, I in no way had enough time to fully do justice to my idea, but I'd like to go back and do it properly one day. When I have the time (insert hollow laugh here). I mean, I like Cleo... but the rest of it could really do with an overhaul. I'm calling it a concept sketch. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. 2 hours.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Here are two witch sketches I did, the first one I did actually on Halloween. I shouldn't have had time to do it, but I was having a bit of technical trouble with my graphics tablet, and we'd had to source a second-hand one so I could continue working while the original was being repaired. I kept working on the old one while I set up the replacement... and I foolishly signed out of Photoshop on the old one before I realised that Photoshop wasn't up to date on the new one... so I had a half-hour where I was waiting for updates, and I borrowed my father's iPad Pro and did this sketch. It was Halloween, and all I had for social media was a rough sketch of Hogwarts for the end of Inktober 2018. And I was a bit stressed, what with all the tech troubles, so I reverted to default 'poofy dress sketch'.

And the second witch was for Colour Collective's 'Auburn' prompt. It was a few days after Halloween at this point, but I've been listening to a Tiffany Aching book, so I've got witches on my mind. (Not that this is Tiffany, she wouldn't be seen dead in this cloak, although she would probably mildly approve of the boots). I needed a quick subject as I'd had a very long, active and busy day; I just wanted to draw something quick, and go to bed as soon as it was a reasonable time to do so. (Colour Collective falls at 3.30am here, not 7.30pm as in the UK, so I had plenty of time for a quick CC and an early bed time).


The first witch was done in Procreate on an iPad Pro, using mainly the default dry inking brush, and the second was done in Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro, using mainly Kyle Webster's sketch pencil rough.

Inktober 2018: Harry Potter

I don't have any Harry Potter art in my files, which kinda feels like sacrilege for a kid lit illustrator, so I thought I'd make Harry Potter my theme for Inktober 2018.

I also decided to do my Inktober digitally (It's allowed, it's even in the official rules!) on my father's iPad Pro, to get a bit more comfortable with Procreate and the Apple Pencil. I work almost exclusively on my Wacom Mobile Studio Pro, only occasionally borrowing the iPad, and the different interface and behaviour of the Apple Pencil are a bit confusing. I thought Inktober was the perfect opportunity to improve my Procreate skills at the most basic level, without being too ambitious. I decided I'd mainly do character sketches, because I'm actually very busy, but add in a few scenes as well, to keep things a bit more interesting. I gave myself a 15-minute time limit for each of these, so some of them are very scrappy!

We'll start off with the three main characters, and I'll pop the rest below the cut:

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Baby Card

A baby card I did this week for a cousin's third daughter (we are awash with cute little girls!)

This is similar to two baby cards I've done previously for this cousin and her sister. Check them out here and here.

Continue reading below the cut for a look at the SPARKLE, and also for a time-lapse of my painting this!

Mouseapple & Co

Mouseapple & Co, Purveyor of the finest novelty favours for the discerning witch. New flavour this year, 'Diabolo Menthe'. All hygienically prepared.

It had to be another quick Colour Collective (the colour was Diabolo Menthe) because I'm still super busy. When I had almost finished I toyed around with turning it into a 1900's style advertising poster, but I hadn't planned for that when I started, and I was just going to waste too much time with too much else to do. So, sorry, Random Mouseapple Employee... you just get a plain black background!

Adobe Photoshop CC2019 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. About an hour. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Raven (and Friend)

I had lots of grand ideas for Colour Collective's 'Scheveningen Orange' prompt, but I didn't have an equally grand amount of time at my disposal. In fact, I practically have negative time. So, it had to be something quick. No witch this week, just two of her friends.

Adobe Photoshop CC2019 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. Just over one hour. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tuna Sandwiches

Trying to keep up with Colour Collective, despite having all of the projects on the go, so the natural solution is to go with a chapter-book style, which is nice and quick to do. For October I like to have a witchy theme for my Colour Collective posts, so here's a modern little witch eating some tuna sandwiches on the way to school . The colour was 'Glaucous' and I took the easy way out by making it the sky.

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. About 2 hours, maybe 2.5. 

Hot Chocolate

It's serious business!

I like to have a witchy theme for Colour Collective in October, so this is what I managed for the Deep Mahogany prompt. I didn't have much time to work on it, I'm very, very busy right now. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. I've got it in my calendar as taking 2.5 hours. 

Snail Cosy

I was very busy when it came time for Colour Collective 'Basalt Grey', so I took a quick sketch I'd done earlier in the week and prettified it a bit.

Here's that original sketch, inspired by a photo my friend Makenzi linked me to when I was feeling a bit down, of a snail cosy crocheted by Katie Bradley:

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. I spent an hour to an hour and a half on the Colour Collective version and about 20 minutes on the original sketch.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Playing with Metallic Watercolours

When on holiday we stopped off in Singapore on the way home, partly to see Singapore (I had not been there since I was 6) and partly to readjust to our timezone after three weeks in the UK. And while I was there, I found a fabulous little art shop, Straits Art Co. Some friends who visit Singapore regularly told me about it, and I'm glad I hunted it down - there, I found some metallic watercolours. I'd been wanting some for a while, but they'd been proving elusive. I was able to mix and match my own palette of colours, so I grabbed silver, gold, bronze, green, blue and purple. It was a lovely little store, with lovely people.

But then it was finding the time to use them! A whole month and a half after getting back home, it was a lovely day, and it was Sunday, so I took my paints outside onto the deck and had a play for half an hour. I didn't do anything ambitious, I think the whole thing took 40 minutes, I just wanted to play with my new paints! I also tested a couple of colours of White Nights watercolour, which I had also picked up in Singapore. They were a bit more pigmented than I was expecting, but I'm sure I'll get used to that!

I took the opportunity to do a timelapse video while I was at it:

Winsor and Newton and White Nights watercolour, Copic multiliners and nameless metallic watercolours on a scrap of Moleskine watercolour paper.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Wattle Day

Wattle Day is the 1st September, so of course I had to draw something for it. Every year I get hayfever when the wattles come out, although I am informed that wattle pollen is too large to cause hayfever. Still, it's a lovely flower (and I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that something else comes into flower at the same time and it is that that causes my hayfever). I chose to add a New Holland Honeyeater, partly for interest, partly because I've been having fun drawing birds lately anyway. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. I think it took about an hour, an hour and a half.

Misc Sketches

I did my last blog post of miscellaneous sketches back in March, so it's about time for another one!

Let's kick things off with Myrna, done for the 'fool' prompt of the SCBWI West Challenge - my local SCBWI branch has been posting daily sketch topics on Instagram, for people to join in when they want some ideas or inspiration. 

And a Myrna with flowers, for a birthday card for my mother:

More below the cut:


It was the 30th Anniversary of the publication of Roald Dahl's Matilda on the 1st of October, so for Colour Collective's 'Turmeric' post I thought I should colour up a sketch I did from the book earlier in the year. I'm only what, 4 months late in blogging it... 

Here's the original sketch, from January 15:

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. 
Colouring in took about an hour, give or take. The sketch was probably about 30-45 minutes, it's too long ago for me to remember!

Eyeliner Struggles

For Colour Collective's 'Kohl' prompt, I went with the obvious - eyeliner. I am terrible at applying eyeliner, and usually leave it off altogether. The struggle is real!

I was a bit busy, so I went with a quick, cartoony style. And I added in that black cat, because why not?

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Audrey Hepburn

Here's a portrait commission I finished recently. It would be the photo of Audrey Hepburn that contained the absolute maximum of lace, flowers, and ribbons, wouldn't it? If I'm honest, I prefer her look in Sabrina, but I don't get to choose the reference. =P

This is almost A3 in size, and done almost entirely in graphite. I confess to a little Copic Opaque White in the lace of her cap, to get the netting effect.

You can head over to deviantArt to see a list of all the materials I use for pencil portraiture.

Have a look at some of my process below the cut, snaffled from my Instagram Stories:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Robert Mitchum

Another private portraiture commission, this time of Robert Mitchum. 

100% graphite, almost A3 in size. For a run-down of all the materials I use in pencil portraiture, head over to deviantArt.

See below the cut for a couple of process images:

Sunday, September 9, 2018


I needed to do something calm and serene for Colour Collective's 'Eminence' prompt - my work that day featured animals being distressed by a bushfire, which naturally meant I had to google this subject... and all in all, I needed something as far from fire and distress as I could get. 

Which brings us to Antarctica. No fire there! 

Eminence is a lovely rich purple (the sort I wear a lot) and so perfect for dusky scenes. As is unfortunately usually the case with Colour Collective, it was done in a bit of a rush (I generally think of my CC posts as sketches. Sometimes I like them enough to work them up into full, finished illustrations)... but it did make me feel a lot happier. =) 

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro

Mermay 2018

It's always fun to take part in Mermay, where you draw a mermaid every day for the month of May. Social media challenges are always a lot of fun. I don't beat myself up if I don't manage to do every day, if I'm busy, I'm busy... but if I've got a spare half hour, it's nice to sketch something and be part of the community.

Day 1:

The rest are below the cut:

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Colour Collective Cats

Here are a few cats I did for Colour Collective throughout May. I was pretty busy, and needed a quick subject, and black cats are one of my go-tos for that. 

'Dioxazine Mauve'

More below the cut:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

May the Fourth Be With You

Colour Collective 'Sky Blue' landed right on May 4th, so while the colour was perfect for a Mermay piece, I thought I really should do something for Star Wars Day. I can't say I've ever been a rabid Star Wars fan, but the movies are fun. 

And if you've got a blue colour, what can you do but R2-D2?

I added a cat, because why not? I figure space cats... are still cats. That red shiny light is going to fascinate them. 

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Playing around with 2-tone chapter-book illustrations for Colour Collective's 'Canary Yellow' prompt. This is all 2 colours, black and yellow, in varying opacities. 

And it's all done with Kyle Webster's 'china marker' and gouache brushes, which are some of my favourites, in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.

And if you're wondering about the title, Caliburn is the name of the Sword in the Stone.

Head below the cut to see my initial sketch, and a bonus Colour Collective:

Here's my messy rough sketch:

And here is Colour Collective 'Pea Green', also working on the two-tone theme. This one was quite popular, but I feel it's more like a sketch that should be worked up into something nicer later on, so in that spirit, it's not getting its own blog post...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Goggle Eyes

Here's a piece I did for my Middle Grade portfolio, based around Anne Fine's Goggle Eyes, which is a fabulous book. If you haven't read it, you should - and if you've got an Audible account, do yourself a favour and get the audiobook, Jane Asher does such a great job.

"I know!" I cried, "I know why you're so upset. I know why you're crying your eyes out. I know why you don't want to be sent home!" She lifted two fierce, red-rimmed little eyes that burned through the cupboard like live coals. "Your Mum's going to marry that man with grey hair."

Her mouth fell open. I felt like Sherlock Holmes on a good day. "And you think he's a proper creep. You've thought he was a creep all along, but being the sweet Helly that you are, you've been too gentle and polite to say so, and now she's talking about your happy future together, and it's too late to explain that you don't like him."

She twisted her fingers so tightly, I thought they would snap. "Don't like him?" she repeated in a cold, low voice. "I can't stand him." and all the colour drained out of her face.

"Helly?" I flicked the cupboard light switch. Luckily for her, it was the dimmest lightbulb ever seen. I slipped inside and dropped on a pile of old gym shorts and woolies. I pulled the door closed to shut us in. "Listen," I said, leaning towards her, "No need to tell me about this sort of thing. I am the World's Great Expert, Helly Johnston. The stories I could tell you!"

She looked up. "Go on then," she said, still ashen. "Tell me."


I didn't actually plan the image out as square (I want it to look like an illustration in a book, after all). The space above is for text, voila:

As I was suddenly super busy when Colour Collective rolled round, I slapped on some colour (fortunately the 'Delft Blue' prompt was a convenient colour for school uniforms!) so I'm adding that here, although I prefer the black and white version. What do you think? Colour or black and white?

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.  Not sure how long it took, I worked on it over quite a stretch of time.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

March Meet the Maker 2018

Whoops, my blog has been in a state of hibernation for a couple of months. I was on holiday all of June, and then July was spent catching up with everything I should have been doing in June... so let's get this thing started up again!


This year I took part in March Meet the Maker over on Instagram. It was started by Joanne Hawker and is a month's worth of prompts that let your followers learn more about you. I thought it would be good to put everything here as well, as it's so easy for things to get lost in an Instagram feed!

So we'll start off with March 1, 'You' and all the rest will be under the cut.

A post shared by Alison Mutton ( on

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cat Detected

Colour Collective's 'Mexican Pink' prompt made me think of poodle skirts (and Mexico, obviously, but I decided to go the less-obvious route)

I threw this together very quickly, so again it's more a sketch-with-potential than an illustration. I'd had one of those weeks where I think it's a day earlier than it is all week, and then we had a concert to go to on Friday (The Western Australian Symphony's Symphonic Tribute to Comic-Con, which was fabulous (and hilarious). There are some highlights up on my Instagram page, which you can see here.) So I ran out of time rather quickly!


I'm sure anyone with a dog has felt like this scenario could all too easily come true! I like a dog on the smaller scale, to avoid this, but when velocity and all that other physics jazz is taken into account, my Myrna can definitely pull a decent weight, and there's a miniature pinscher on the oval that can - and has - pull a pram (complete with baby), and a toddler along the grass. In theory he is tethered to the pram to stop him bounding off exploring, but they have to keep the brakes on or he ... uh... makes a break for it. 

I chose to draw a standard poodle because it matched the skirt, of course, but I have also been chased by a standard poodle, and while this statement is inevitably met with laughter... they are BIG and it's no joke when they are on a mission!

For your delectation, here is the original sketch:

This piece was done in under 2 hours, in Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mushroom Fairy

For Colour Collective's 'Mink' prompt I eschewed fur coats in favour of mushrooms. About 6 months ago I did a quick little sketch of a mushroom fairy, and I thought I'd try working her up a little:

Being for Colour Collective, she's still a sketch, of course, but now I think she's a lot more interesting, and all that extra background makes her seem properly small.
I think I spent the most time on her hair, and I'm still not happy with it. I think I need to do a bunch of studies of fairy hairstyles...

Here's the original sketch:

The whole thing took me about 2 - 2.5 hours, so I wasn't exactly bothered with everything being perfect. But I had fun, that's the main thing. =) 

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A spot of Divination

I tweaked this little illustration the other night, and ended up posting it as a secondary Colour Collective 'Laurel Green' because I didn't much like what I did specifically for CC. 
Twitter pixellated the bottom of the image for some reason, but she did much better than my original CC, so I think I was right not to be too keen on it. =P

This little witch can be traced all the way back to my highschool sketchbooks, although she looked rather different then. If I remember rightly she was blonde and wore a dirndl... but she has the same hat, and the same goose. 

I didn't change much, as I rather liked the original, but a few things had been bothering me (mainly the staff) so I wanted to make a couple of changes. The original blog post from last year is here

And here's another quick sketch of the same witch, from my 'Potential To Turn Into Something Bigger But Currently Bleh' sketch pile:

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 / 2018 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 / Wacom Mobile Studio Pro

The Makeover

I did this piece for Colour Collective's 'Laurel Green' prompt. I can't say I'm all that keen on it, but sometimes that's the way things are...

It was a redo of a very quick sketch I did last year, but I don't think it's an improvement... so maybe I'll revisit it again next year, and do better! It wasn't so bad as linework, but it went downhill when I added the colour, and lost all its energy. However, we live and learn, and we can't draw perfectly 100% of the time. Next time I'll do better! I'll just treat this latest version as a second draft,

Here's the linework. I think it works much better than the coloured version, although there's still a lot I'm not happy with:

I still think the concept has potential to be expanded, so maybe one day. =)

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro
The original sketch was done in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Colour Collective's 'Amber' prompt made me think of wheat, and having got that far, it's a very small jump to 'harvest mouse'. (To be honest, I don't really need an excuse to draw a harvest mouse...or any mouse). A google search for 'harvest mouse' (as well as providing you with cute overload) will give you lots of mice climbing around plants, and sitting in their elaborate woven nests. For a kidlitart scenario, that naturally brings me to a mouse that has made its own little swing:


He doesn't stand out much, but that's okay, because harvest mice are supposed to be camouflaged, right? I added the poppies because it really needed a contrast to all that yellow and brown. 

I whipped this up in just an hour or two, almost exclusively using Kyle Webster's Gouache brushes (specifically the Gouache a Go Go and the Gouache Bonus Gritty Dry). Not super-refined or anything, I was in a hurry. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2018 on a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro


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