Download the February 2017 Desktop
To download your copy of the February desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
With all of the final artwork from my new book ‘Ways Of The Wolf’ completed and with the publisher (Wren & Rook), I have permission to share a little bit of it. So, I thought I’d write up how one of the spread illustrations was created, from sketch to final artwork.
As the illustrator for a children’s book, the first thing you receive from the publisher is the manuscript and any art notes that the Editor wants you to be aware of.
After a good read, I start sketching and gathering reference material. The Ways of the Wolf is a non fiction book and so, although my work is stylised to a degree due to the materials I use, everything in the book has to be accurate.
I’ll scribble a few ideas down very loosely and once I’ve settled on what I think would make a good composition, I’ll send a less scribbly sketch to my Editor. I try to do this quite quickly and only send one, rather than a bunch of ideas for the spread. I find that this makes the whole process more efficient, as the Editor can give quick feedback on my initial thoughts that in turn gives me a lot of information on how best to steer the direction of the artwork.
Here’s the first sketch that I sent in (I usually throw a bit of quick Photoshop colour on to the drawing too, just to give an indication of the lighting and mood):
The feedback that I received was that we were too tight in on the wolves and that we needed to show more of the beautiful habitat in which they live.
A note on feedback: Never dismiss feedback! It’s fine to push back and express your views in a respectful way if you feel strongly about the direction of an illustration, but Editors know what they are doing and they will probably know far more than you do about the market. When working with a good Editor or Art Director (as I was on this book), be open, as their thoughts and feedback will always elevate the Illustrations.
This approach was approved, but my Editor wanted me to pull back even further so that the wolves weren’t so much of the main focus, really planting them in their environment.
Here’s what we decided on and this is pretty much as detailed as I get with client roughs. I’m lucky that I work with clients who trust me and my medium – occasionally, I’ll draw up some of the details more accurately to work from, but I generally work out the details as I cut and paste my scanned textures in the final collage stage:
Approved, with just a little note from my Editor to give a little more room for text.
And so, here it is, the final artwork for the spread:
Sometimes, I’ll add a few extra elements in to the piece that weren’t in the sketch. Elements that perhaps tell a story or add another dimension. See if you can spot this little guy below in the finished spread above.
I’m very proud of this book (I’ve loved wolves since I was a little kid) and have loved working with the lovely people at Wren & Rook. I’ve just signed the contract for the next book in our series too and can’t wait to tell you what the subject of this one will be!!!
‘The Ways Of The Wolf’ will be published in October 2017 by Wren & Rook.
Working on this project also inspired the first pin in my wildlife Pin Club series too – click the image below to learn more about my enamel pin series and to sign up to the club.
Wolf pins will be shipping out to club members and pre-purchase customers in the first week of February.
This month’s desktop features an illustration that my daughter asked me to create for her Christmas present this year – she loves snow leopards and luckily she said I could use it for the December desktop 🙂
To download your copy of the December desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
This month’s desktop features a pair of expert hunters and the first two designs I’ll be turning in to enamel pin badges for my online shop when it re-opens in December.
To download your copy of the November desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
My monthly desktops were originally designed to be a release from client work and a place to experiment, so I’m re-embracing this with the October desktop.
Working in collage, whether it be traditional or digital, is quite a slow medium to work with and I often miss the immediacy of drawing/mark making. This month’s desktop has given me a reason to play with an idea I’ve been thinking about for ages – mixing drawing and collage.
I had a lot of fun with this and am definitely looking forward to practicing and pushing this technique further.
To download your copy of the October desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
The September desktop features a beautiful collage created by my daughter Mali (age 7) – it’s so lovely that I might just start getting her to illustrate all my books from now on 🙂
To download your copy of the September desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
As we’re moving house in a few weeks, I’m having a stock clearance sale of my greetings cards.
Below are the packs that are available for £5.00 (usually £8) + postage & packing (£1.50 UK / £2.50 International).
Stocks are very limited, so grab them while you can.
Pack of 4 A6 greetings cards with envelopes.
Pack of 3 A6 greetings cards + 1 A6 postcard with envelopes.
Pack of 4 A6 greetings cards with envelopes.
To download your copy of the April desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
To download your copy of the March desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:
Around 12 months ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Egmont to see if I’d be interested in illustrating a dinosaur book they were developing – illustrating dinosaurs, er, yes please!
As the book is now out (released last month), I thought it would be a good time to share a little on the process of creating the artwork for the book.
After receiving the script for the book, the first thing I was asked to work on was the design/look and feel for the cover. After researching what would be our competition on the book shelves, I had a clear idea in my head of what I thought might create a strong brand for the book series (this is where my background as a graphic designer comes in handy).
Rather than working on numerous ideas, I thought it would be more efficient to run this initial idea by the art director first – luckily they loved it.
Below is the initial sketch and the finished cover (if you look closely at the finished cover, you can see a sneak peek of the cover for book two too).
The next step was to take the script (and notes from my Art Director) and draw up some quick rough sketches for the 9 spreads.
Based on feedback, these were then amended and drawn up a little tighter.
Once approved, I added some quick Photoshop colour behind my sketches for final approval, then we were ready to jump in to the final artwork.
Here are the first three finished spreads from the book – you can see that even once the roughs have been signed off, slight tweaks like the sky colour and other elements of the layout still sometimes need to change as the book evolves.
Sometimes major changes may be needed and if you have a great Art Director (which I did on this book in Faith Booker from Egmont), you have to trust that they know what they’re talking about. Every suggestion that Faith made, resulted in stronger spreads and eventually a stronger book.
Paper engineers blow my mind. I’m so in awe of what they do and the model that comes with this book was no exception.
Following the cover, the model was the next phase of this project and illustrating a flat surface that will be folded to create a 3D object is always a tricky thing, requiring such a different mind-set (because you aren’t creating the edges of your artwork and every edge needs to include bleed – which can look a little weird when you’re working on it). Luckily, having already designed the look of our T-Rex on the cover, the process of Illustrating all of the parts of the model ran more smoothly.
As challenging as this part is, it’s equally rewarding to see the final model dressed in your illustrations – my kids loved this part too as they got to play with models prior to publication.
Couldn’t resist sharing this photo – my little boy Samson (age 2), particularly got in to the spirit of things when posing with his model 🙂
This book is part of a series and I’m happy to say that book 2, with the mighty Triceratops as its star, has already been Illustrated and is with the publisher preparing to bulldoze its way on to the bookshelves sometime next year.
Here’s a sneak peak at the star of the show…
It was such a joy to work on these books with Egmont from start to finish and enabled me to tick a box on my illustration wish list. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Illustrating dinosaurs!
I’m also thrilled to say that our T-Rex book made it in to the shortlist for the Junior Design Awards ‘Innovative Children’s Book Of The Year’ too!