Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another New Book!

Here's a glimpse at another new book I have illustrated that's due for release in February 2012. It's my first book with Scholastic Australia and they have been brilliant to work with. We already have several more projects lined up together.

The text for this book is a collection of songs by the well known Australian children's entertainer Peter Combe.

I am so thrilled with how this one has come up, and the printed colours are just stunning. I wish I could show you more, but we'll have to wait until next year.
Here is a tiny peek at a couple of my favourite illustrations.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Farewell Bendigo!

Here's a legitimate excuse for not blogging for a while - we have just moved to Canberra on Friday! It's all happened so quickly that we have barely had a chance to catch our breath. (Sorry to any friends just finding this out now!)

It's been on the cards for quite a while, but Raymond J got a job offer and was due to start in mid January. Then his new work called up to see if he could start asap, so he gave two weeks notice to his old job. This left us the two weeks to find somewhere to live in Canberra and get our Bendigo house on the market! Raymond J's last work day was Thursday, we moved on Friday, and he starts his new job on Monday! I said - no time to catch our breath. Throw in my current freelance project deadlines in to that mix and it's been a pretty tough few weeks!

We would not have been able to pull it off without the help of both sets of our wonderful parents who pitched in to get the Bendigo house up to scratch (living with us for almost the two weeks!), then helped pack boxes, then joined the car/truck convoy for the 7 hour drive to Canberra! Unbelievable!

Anyone who has been a keen follower of this blog will know how much I loved our house in Bendigo, so it was particularly hard to drive away from - not to mention our fabulous Mothers Group (who gave us a wonderful last minute send off!)...and our swimming group, and our poor neighbours who will only just have seen the "for sale" sign go up on our property on Friday and we were already gone! (Managed to sneak them a Christmas card on the way out!)

So it's a new start for us here in Canberra. We are lucky enough to have some friends here that we visited about 3 months ago, but otherwise Canberra is all new for us. I'll try to share some of it with you here as it's a beautiful city. So scenic. Anyway, I have a mountain of work to catch up on and am surrounded by unpacked boxes, so more news soon.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ta-Dah! My latest books.

My new books have arrived! Looks like they will be out in stores just in time for Christmas! Yippee! I am really happy with how the colours have come up (sorry for slightly dodgy photos.)
The main characters are on a little ribbon and you move them onto each page as part of an interactive play element to the books. Cute huh?!

So far the only place I have spotted them is online here. Mum says she's already seen them out in the shops so I'll have to keep an eye out!

Another of my new books from different publisher has also arrived and I hope to get organised enough to share that with in the next few days! There's so much going on at the moment that I still have more exciting news to update you with too, so stay tuned!
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Illustration techniques

I've had a helper this week. It's startling how natural she looks!

Despite the odd interruption it's been quite a productive week.
On the book front we are still working through the final look of the main character. The first drawings were too young for the age group, then next batch of reworked sketches were still too "cute" looking, but this latest batch look much more fun and age appropriate so I am just waiting on feedback from the publisher before going to the next stage. I love all the back and forth of working with publishers. Sometimes you nail it all fist go and other times you get pushed in a different direction, but I always find it makes the final result so much better.

So I this week I have swapped projects and moved onto a home decor based job that has been ongoing for a while. I've had a lot of fun trying out new techniques and styles.
This latest look is a variation on the "live trace" approach I applied to some characters that I shared with you in this post.

First of all, I painted up a few different textures using the side edges of some thick cardboard dipped in paint and stamped onto paper.

I then scanned the page into the computer and using the "live trace" function again in Illustrator I was able to turn the art into vector based shapes that could then easily be coloured and applied to images.

You can layer it up to create pattern and texture, or use various masks to fill shapes.

By simply applying it over the top of this image it's helped to create a bit of added interest.

Or by masking it into various shapes and colours you can get a lovely textured feel to an image.

Lots of fun!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"I don't know how she does it"

I am sure we all have our "I don't know how she does it" moments, but let me share mine with you now.

First of all, the good news is that I sent off all my page layout roughs for my latest book on time!

But in order for this achievement to eventuate, so did the following:

1. Baby has climbing accident while I am 2 metres from her, checking emails on my laptop.

Look at that bump! I felt sick all week about this one. (She was fine!)

2. Travel around 400km to babysitters (parents) so that I can have a few days in a row to get some work done to meet my deadline!

3. Back in time for swimming lessons, but no time to unpack or tidy up!

Not normally a problem except that we are hosting Mothers Group here the next day!

4. Thanks to the magic of television (controversial baby sitter in this house from time to time!) I manage to clean the entire house on the morning of our Mothers Group hosting.

Had lovely afternoon and managed to create the illusion that our house is always this glorious!

5. Wake up the next morning to discover baby has developed Chicken Pox!

Phone calls to each of the Mums who attended Mothers Group warning of potential plague!

6. At least I found time to buy a great new book:

If only I could find the time to read it!

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

How did I not know about this?

This just shows me how little time I have had to explore my usual blog reads and magazines because somewhere along the lines I have missed this beautiful magazine.

Anyone who is a bit crafty would love this magazine. Not only is it full of great things to do, but it's actually an interesting read and hooks you up with some great new blogs that I was not aware of....and probably wont have time to read!!

Anyway, it appears that most of the back copies have sold out, but I have to get my hands on the latest copy soon! Check out the website if you have some time!
(Thanks Jo for putting me onto this!)

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Rough Secrets

Another busy weekend has passed where I managed to get stuck into the roughs for my latest book. Of course I can't show you anything here, but I did want to share a little more about my processes.
When it comes to roughs I don't use traditional sketch paper (cartridge paper). I prefer to use Bank Paper.

It's a light 45gsm weight which means that I can trace with it really well. This is important to me because I very rarely use an eraser! Instead I usually do a series of really rough loose sketches to get a feel for a pose or a character. Then I pick one that's getting close and I trace it off with a bit more detail. If somethings not right about it, then I trace it off again making any required alterations. This process continues over and over until I get the final look I am after.

Unfortunately this often results in the use of HEAPS of paper. These are all the roughs for just for one book!

If the character is used throughout the book then I need to draw it in various poses to get a feel for how it will look and to make sure that I can comfortably redraw it to maintain consistency in the book. I really enjoy this part. Here's how I tackled a project from last year. Of course I don't always get it right first time. Sometimes there's a bit of back and forth to create something that suits every one's vision for the book.

So this is the process I am enjoying at the moment. This current book is based on one central character so I have sent off a page of various poses to the publisher illustrating the look and feel I am going for, and I will await some feedback before getting to much further down the track. Such fun!
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Monday, October 10, 2011


Today I finally had a chance to check over the new book project.

For me the worst part about the process is the legal stuff - the contracts. This one is a 15 pager full of all the legal guff that requires me to send them off to an assessment service for interpretation before I sign them! I use the ASA Contract Assessment Service for all my contracts. You need to be a member to use it, but it's been well worth it for me. Anyway, this one's all sorted and I just need them to send me a couple of hard copies for the final signatures.

Before I start sketching I usually spend some time researching the main topic and theme of the book, along with gathering ideas for how I would like the characters to look. I really enjoy this stage as I love seeing how other artists and illustrators may have tackled similar themes or characters.

Another great bonus is that this research phase usually results in the discovery of a new illustrator or artist that really inspires me. I thought I'd share the latest one with you today.

I obviously don't know much about her, but her name is Coralie Saudo and she has a beautifully designed blog here.

I just love her use of colour. I'd love to pick up some copies of her books - especially as they are in french!! Too cute! Check out her blog if you get the time.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Creative Space Today

I am working on a non-book project at the moment, with what is either the best OR worst brief you can get! It's one of those "do whatever you like" briefs. Initially these are exciting but when you actually sit down to start it's almost overwhelming.

Where DO you start when you can do absolutely anything?! Oh, and the footnote is that it has to be really unique - unlike anything seen out there...including my own usual style of working! Yep - overwhelming!

I find the best thing to do in these situations is to just make a start. I usually get out my favourite books and start to gather a collection of things that inspire me and make me want to pick up a pencil and draw.

A few years ago a developed a bit of cheats technique to create the hand painted look without learning Photoshop. Even though I am more comfortable with Photoshop now, I quite like the final look that this technique results in and it remains vector artwork too.

Basically I break down all the parts of the image into movable pieces and what I think will become individual colours. I then hand paint them in a dark colour. The focus is on creating the feel of brush strokes.

Then I streamline the shapes (live trace) them in Illustrator, so that they become a series of textured shapes - a bit like this.

Then I colour and layer them up into one final image that looks hand painted.

Yeah, I know it's not exactly a totally new and "never been done before", AND I could just hand paint the whole image and scan it, but I enjoy the final result I get from working this way.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Melbourne town

Another week away! This time we were in Melbourne. Raymond J had a business trip to Melbourne so it was a great chance for us to tag along.
Most of the week was spent catching up with friends and relies, but we made time to explore the lane ways and shops that Melbourne is so famous for.

We were lucky enough to stay right in the heart of town. Check out this view from our apartment window!

It was lovely to get a big city fix again, but it so good to be home.

I also managed to squeeze in another meeting with a potential new publisher which is always exciting. I have so much work on at the moment that it's time to get stuck into things again.

I caught up with another friend who challenged me about not blogging enough of late and I mentioned that I was not sure that I had much to share. It's always tough being busy with projects that I can't share with you until production is complete, but then she reminded me that sometimes it's the processes and inspiration behind creativity that can be so interesting. I'd have to agree with this so I hope to share as much as I can with you over the coming weeks.

But today is a bit of a boring a domestic day to get ready for a productive work week. This house just feels so cluttered. I'm a bit of a messy person, but when it comes to my work environment, I need organisation. Is anyone else like this? It's one of the challenges of working at home. We all dream of our own studio spaces, but for now it's the kitchen table! Anyway, i am procrastinating now..... there's work to be done!
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