Children’s Christmas Book Illustration

Ahh, another one done.

So, it’s Monday. I’ve been forcibly held up by coffee all day and I am very pleased to announce that I have finished my Christmas Story book! Phew! The book is for a young lady named Emilia, who is the main character of the story and though the physical copy still needs printing nearer Christmas the bulk of the work is done. However, the digital version is complete and ready to be worked on for the YouTube part of the project. Success! Originally I was going to hand letter the story, but after starting it I decided due to time constraints and workload, using a ready made font made more sense. For now, it’s sorted, done, finished and put to one side to make way for the next big thing.

Farewell to these guys!
Farewell to these guys!
Magical-music-note suspicion. I think I can safely say we’ve all been there. No?

 

Next on the agenda is the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Prize competition which concludes on the 26th September. I’ve had my story on hold for a while, so after some mental tweaking and making scripting notes over the weekend, I’m ready to dive straight in (I think!). It’s another case of giving myself a short amount of time, which is unfortunate as this competition is an important one; but I can only do my best, and each challenge is a new learning curve. I received a nice email today from the folks at the Comic Arts Festival to let me know that my mutant bunnies comic Lost and Found was unsuccessful, which I was expecting given the pressure I put myself under and amount of time I had to re-do panels and pages. I did learn a lot from that, and hopefully it’s something I can use going forward for this 4-page story competition. Wish me luck!

On a somewhat less cheerful note, yesterday my partner-in-crime and I visited the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. We’d been meaning to go for a while now, and it was an incredible place. We spent about 3 and a half hours looking at the exhibitions and feeling some strange mix of awe, horror and disbelief at re-reading the history of the world wars and conflict up to the present day. Anyone who enjoys comics and graphic novels will have read Maus, and then with other graphic memoirs like Persepolis and Joe Sacco’s Palestine, we’ve all seen the conflict and stories through other people’s eyes. Some aspects I’d not seen before were the use of drawings in soliders and prisoners to keep their sanity. Incredibly moving drawings from Violette Lecoq illustrate the conditions at the Ravensbrück concentration camp she was taken to in 1943, and were definitely hard to see yet fascinating at the same time. More recently was Linda Kitson‘s drawings of the Falklands War from her three months of drawings whilst commissioned as the official war artist in 1982. Below are a few photos I took during our visit, I definitely recommend anyone who can get to Imperial War Museum North, or the main one in London, to go whilst they are honouring the Centenary of the First World War.

The Crusader (2010) by Gerry Judah - a personal reflection on an urban society shaped by conflict.
The Crusader (2010) by Gerry Judah – a personal reflection on an urban society shaped by conflict.
Linocut Prints by Helmuth Weissenborn showing scenes of London during The Blitz of WWII
Linocut Prints by Helmuth Weissenborn showing scenes of London during The Blitz of WWII
Violette Lecoq's drawings of Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Violette Lecoq’s drawings of Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Linda Kitson's Falkland's drawings.
Linda Kitson’s Falkland’s drawings.

 

I think that wraps it up for this vastly disappearing Monday. I hope everyone has a good week and I shall be back with another update soon. Over and out! x

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Christmas Wonderland

Well! What a week it’s been.

In my endless wisdom I decided it would be a great idea to work non-stop on my Christmas Tale, because who needs a decent nights sleep, right? Since my last blog post I’ve been drawing gingerbread ladies, reindeer, snowmen, penguins, polar bears and a rather young female lead character from morning until the depths of night, and having a pretty fun time seeing how much coffee I can intake whilst still maintaining hand stability. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from Dan Berry’s Make it Then Tell Everybody podcast, it’s that this is the illustrator life. It’s tiring, but hot damn I love it.

So, moving forward. As of yesterday morning I have managed to complete the main bulk of my book; the majority of my story is told in a magical Christmas wonderland with friendly creatures each doing their bit to support Father Christmas in the hours leading up to the magical day itself. My process with this project has been pretty consistent. Pencils > Inking > Colouring using gouache paint. Then half the job is done, and I digitally place each page over a separate backdrop which completes the page. So far I’ve done 16 pages with another 6-ish to do this week, then the creating stage will be complete! Here are three previews, have a gander;

 

Wheee!
Wheee!
Thud.
Thud.
No one likes a sad reindeer
No one likes a sad reindeer

 

Aside from the originally intended hard-copy, I am very excited to be working with my musically talented pal Adam Satur in the hopes of turning the book into a ‘narrated animatic’. In simple terms, we’re looking at turning my pages into a digital book via YouTube video with soundscapes, music, a narrator, plus voices/noises for the creatures. Bringing this second level to this project is really exciting, hopefully by the time I update you all next I’ll have more news on this secondary project. For more information on Adam and his teachings you can also visit Playing Musically on Facebook.

With the hard graft of this project wrapping up this week, I shall be working next on my script for the next major competition – which truth be told, I intended to start a lot earlier before the Offlife submission and my mutant bunnies got in the way. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to complete two pending projects before university starts up again in a months time – oh how the summer has flown.. Is it time for a holiday yet? Anyway, I shall be hauled up at my desk until Friday afternoon completing the rest of this book, so wish me the best of luck! Over and out x

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The Art of a Good Sketchbook

So, after a very long summer since I finished up my first year at University, the second year is finally looming. ‘Back to School’ signs are popping up everywhere, and I get that sinking feeling once more as I realise in a months time life is going to get stressful again for 7-or-so months. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn; Going back into education has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and I am so glad I didn’t listen to all the naysayers when I decided to apply two years ago. However, yeah.. Juggling studies, part time work, a long distance relationship and a social life is quite the challenge, but I’ve never liked to make things too easy for myself. Where’s the fun in an easy life?

Sketchbookz r 4 cool kidz. Random doodle.
Sketchbookz r 4 cool kidz. Random doodle.

Back to business. One of the many things my course has taught me so far is the art of having a good sketchbook. Back in college all those years ago, up until the last year or so, I absolutely detested using a sketchbook; I couldn’t think of anything worse. I’d much rather try and draw something from start to finish in one go. If it looked alright, great. If it looked terrible, I’d get annoyed and brood over how terrible an artist I thought I was. Then feel so down I’d eat a whole sharing bag of Doritos (Cool Original, of course) with mild salsa dip, proceed to feel rather ill and then regret every cool, salsa-y moment of my comfort eating whilst laying in the fetal position. Productive, right? When it came to starting my course at university, they expected all this sketchbook work to support my ideas and show progression. Ughhhhhh, honestly, such a pain. It felt like I was taking 2 weeks to do something I could come up with in 2 days, but all this sketchbook work actually proved valuable. I paid £9’000 for my first year to learn how to use a sketchbook – bargain! But in all seriousness, it has become a staple tool of mine. One huge deciding factor has been on using proper paper sketchbooks. We’re talking Seawhite of Brighton’s extra-strength when wet kind of proper sketchbook. I’ve found even Moleskine’s sketchbooks and the ones you can pick up in the art section of WHSmith’s lack quality. Nowadays, like with my Lost and Found comic, I’ll draw all the artwork in my sketchbook and scan it in from there, I don’t even use ‘final paper’ anymore. But yes, I have learnt that forcing myself to work in a sketchbook first, although may take extra time, actually makes the final pieces look surprisingly better. Still, for some work I’ll just go in all-guns-blazing and completely a piece start to finish with no planning (Boba Fett, for example), and my recent comic-endeavours have been extremely quick turn-around for deadlines so sketchbook work has been limited. But as I approach my last 5 weeks of ‘freedom’ before uni starts up again, I have been utilising my sketchbook for my last three projects of the summer. I’m not quite sure why I keep piling on work for myself, I guess it makes sense to keep a consistent flow so that uni’s 5-projects-at-once doesn’t cause me to have a breakdown.

Currently I’ve been using my sketchbook to work on ideas and scripting for a children’s book commission I’ve been asked to do. I love children’s books, I have no shame in admitting that. Oliver Jeffers is probably one of my favourites, along with Jon Klassen coming in close second. Even better, this book I’ve been asked to do is a Christmas book! So I get to be completely over the top and make it as magical and Christmassy as my imaginations will allow. My preliminary character development and sketchbook work is pretty much complete, so now it’s time to get it drawn up, yay! Here are some snippets of my sketchbook and the characters so far, to keep you all interested;

So, there you have it. The elusive sketchbook. Not a huge amount to update this week as I’ve been super busy with other boring adult things, but hopefully I’ll have more for you all next week. (Yes, if you notice the French translations, I’ve also been using my sketchbook to aid my learning Français. J’ai améliore (I hope)!) For now, I hope you all have a lovely weekend whatever you may be doing. Over and out!

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