Sunday 28 July 2013


Hi chaps,

I've been doing some cowboy characters just now, so I thought I'd pop one up here, and show how he developed from first sketch, to refined line, to coloured in.
I had the idea and image in my head quite clearly for this one, with the pose and outfit, so it was sort of just a matter of copying it out of my imagination and onto the page.
Which is sort of how I work. I sit and think for a while until I have an image in my head, and then try and replicate the image on the page. So the more clearly I can visualise the illustration before hand, the quicker it comes out.
So the first sketch here is pretty refined and complete, I didn't have to do a second version or fiddle with anything much to get it how I wanted it.

And then I put the colour on. Fairly straightforward outfit for him, basically blue, but I wanted a bit of variation within that too. Not just flat.

And then I knock back the rough line to 40%, as if it's on a light-box with a new sheet over it, and do the refined finished line on a new layer.

I've got a brown colour that I like using for my ink, and I set this layer to multiply.


So there he is, and hopefully it's a bit informative and interesting, or at least a mildly diverting read :)

Friday 5 July 2013

Pirate Game Book

Hi chaps,

Look here's an actual copy of the pirate game book I illustrated with the guys at Hallmark.
This is a picture book with games in it as well. Like the Mouse's birthday book I posted about before.
But I think it's worth having a bit of a look at, worth showing you a few pictures, because the design is really interesting.

To start off with, it's got a nice big cover, which has a spinner on it, here designed as part of the steering wheel. So you don't need any dice that might get lost, you just need a couple of counters.

And you can open it up and read the story as with a normal book.
Like this.

But, here's the interesting design bit. The cover has an extra fold on its edge, so you can fold it out flat like this.
Which means you can still see the spinner when you reach one of the games, like so.

And you can then carry on reading the story with the spinner there.

And it'll be there ready for when the next game comes up.

Clever huh?
But I'll post some pictures of the Mouse's Amusement park book as well soon.

Sunday 19 May 2013

A drawing from sketch to art

Hi Chaps,

I've just done a set of black and white samples of various characters aimed at early reader/chapter books.
You can see five of them on my website, the first five in the block of black and white pictures.
But here, I thought I'd post the development of one picture from first idea sketch in my sketch pad, to rough, scanned into photoshop, to finished drawing, so you can have a look.

I'll talk through the little brother stamping onto puddles.
First, is this idea sketch I did with real pencil in my real life sketch pad, while watching tv.
I do mostly sketch straight in photoshop, and just do all the stages there, but this time I just happened to be doing it on my sketch pad.

This one wasn't quite right, and the idea crystallised a bit in my head, and I was able to come up with this.

I do find that if I get a good image in my mind it's sort of a matter of 'copying' it out of my head onto paper.
I then reworked the drawing of the head a bit, and did this separate sketch of the head.

I then scanned it all in and stuck the second sketch and the head together in photoshop, like so

and then knocked them down to 40% opacity, a bit like putting it on a lightbox and putting a new sheet of paper over it, and drew the final 'inked' image.

And there we are.
Hope that's interesting and maybe a bit informative too :)

Friday 10 May 2013

ABFFE 19th Annual Children’s Book Art Auction & Reception

Hi chaps,

I've donated some of my sketches to this year's Children's Book Art Silent Auction at the 19th Annual Children’s Book Art Auction & Reception.
The event is to help raise money in support of The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) which champions the free speech rights of young readers.
The auction is in New York on 29th May, but is also open to the public online, from Saturday May 18 at 9am, closing on Friday, May 24 at 9pm, so anyone can try and win something

Here's the website of the organisation:
and here's the auction:
There's alot of good stuff there, so have a look, it's all for a good cause.

The sketches I've donated are character studies for my book Stuck With The Blooz, and also included is a copy of the book signed by both me and the author, Caron Levis.
As Caron is based in the US and I am in the UK, this copy will be the only copy in the world signed by us both!

The actual auction will take place on Wednesday, May 29 form 5:30 - 7:30pm in the River Pavilion of the Javits Convention Center in New York, in case you happen to be nearby,
and bestselling authors Jack Gantos and Lauren Myracle are co-hosting.

But here are my sketches so you can have a look

Thursday 18 April 2013

London Book Fair

Hi Chaps,

Well, I was at the London Book Fair this week, so I thought I'd do a bit of a post about it.

The best bit was seeing a couple of the RSPCA books I illustrated up on the Scholastic stand.
You can see them here, Puppy Gets Stuck and The Abandoned Kitten on the top shelf, above books by Julia Donaldson, Alex T Smith and Sarah Warburton, so I feel in very good company here.

I didn't do the covers, but here you can see one propped open and one of my illustrations peeping out :)

But it was nice to look round the show, had some chats with a couple of publishers who I'm gradually getting to know after seeing them here year after year, and a nice pepping chat with my agents.

But I always feel inspired after seeing all the new good stuff coming out, keeps me trying hard.

But I'll post some sketches from the Scholastic RSPCA books soon, so you can see what it's all about.

Thursday 4 April 2013

Cute Dinosaurs

Hi Chaps,

Here are some sketches I did for a sample for a project.
They are of a cute pet baby T-rex, and a six year old boy, who is a Raptor.
It was an interesting angle, to do a cute T-rex and Raptor. I've done them sort of dorky, or normal, but never a cute version, as if they were dogs. So it was a nice challenge, and fun, not
do a usual interpretation of a dinosaur.
But I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Mouse Sketches

Hi Chaps,

Well, I've been busy for rather a while, which is nice, but here I've managed to fit in time for a blog post at last.
But, one of the busy things I've been doing is a story game book about a mouse's birthday at an amusement park/fun fair.
This is a story/picture book that also has board games in it, which I have to design, which is great fun.
But I have something nice for you to look at - here are some sketches of the mouse, .
I've not drawn that many mice before, so it was something to figure out.

 But anyway, I'll see if I can get some more posts up soon :)