Friday, 23 December 2011

A Little Bit Bunny... doggy decorations & a "sausage role"

Just in the nick of time before the silly season is upon us all I've got my dachshund entries up on a little bit bunny. One is all festive (you're invited over to look at 'Banger's christmas decorations' ) while the other is my usual cringeworthy word play on sausage dog... sometimes the idea in your head has to be exorcised onto the screen no matter what the cost :-) Breaking the bunny rules (forgive me fellow bunnies) I'm posting this last, revised somewhat, here on my blog too as I couldn't resist some small tweaks to 'improve' things. Y'know when you just cannot leave well enough alone!

Merry Christmas one and all!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Secular seasons greetings to all, and to all a happy new year!

Here's my virtual card... to explain. When I read Robin Ince and Brian Cox's "O Come All Ye Sceptics" piece in the Guardian last week I just had to do a 'Newtonmas' card when I found out Isaac Newton was born on December 25th (unlike other individuals supposed to share that birthdate...?!). To quickly digress, I highly recommend Robin Ince and Brian Cox's other joint effort, The Infinite Monkey Cage podcasts and Robin's other podcasts with Josie Long, Utter Shambles. Now back to the card...

Well OK... so it isn't as straight forward as all that. Now I preface the following by saying I've only dipped into the (sometimes factually murky) pool that is wikipedia to find out more, so a pinch of salt might be necessary...? Depending upon which calendar and religion you prescribed to way back in the 17th century you would say Isaac Newton was either born on December 25th 1642 (if you were a Protestant following the Julian calendar) or January 4th 1643 (if you happened to be a Roman Catholic using the Gregorian calendar). Religion making something straightforward more complicated... well I never. Still, it makes for an educational illustration... there will be a test! For the purposes of this card, and a cheap gag, I choose Julian!

Have a Very Merry Isaac Newton's Birthday and my very best wishes for the new year!

Friday, 2 December 2011

go with your first idea...

Went to Chris Haughton's excellent "Digital Handmade" show at So Far The Future Gallery last night with my good bud Phil ... well, to be honest we ended up gate crashing the private view, but everyone was very nice about it all. Chris even let us drink his beer and bend his ear when he no doubt had more important things to do.

The digital illustrations translated perfectly into the fair trade crafted rugs, lamps and soft toys and, the icing on the cake, there were advanced copies and artwork for Chris' new book "Oh No George!" which manages to pull off superbly that difficult trick of being as good as his applauded first book A Bit Lost. Another book for my groaning shelves come March next year!

While there I got the opportunity to look over the rug design competition entries and I'm kicking myself on two counts. My choice of colours didn't print out at all well so my 3 illustrations didn't really look much at all when viewed off the screen and up on the wall, and there was also an excellent cert sure fire winner, a flattened 'bear skin rug' design. I should have gone with my gut and worked up my initial sketch idea for a tiger skin rug design (and I also had a notion for a polar bear too believe it or not...) instead of / as well as my other 3. Hey ho, a lesson learned. It was just a lot of fun plotting pixels and taking part.

In conclusion what have we learned today... your first idea might be your strongest and, if you're free between now and Dec 7th go and see Chris Haughton's Digital Handmade exhibition!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Rug designs

I really do like the wonderful graphic approach the illustrator Chris Haughton has to his work, especially in his childrens book A Bit Lost , so when I heard that he has a show coming up at the So Far The Future gallery in London from 2nd to 7th December I pencilled it straight into the diary. Then I found out there was also a design a rug competition running as part of the show, so I just had to have a crack at it. Just got in before tomorrows deadline! The winner, as voted by punters at the show, gets their rug design made by fairtrade craft-makers in Nepal! A worthy industry to champion.

The submission requirements were for a 6 colour max rug design at 560x480 pixels and 72dpi, so these have to be some of the lowest resolution illustrations I've ever done. Curiously it was quite therapeutic and liberating, drawing pixel by pixel with the pen tool in photoshop. A great degree of the design choices are out of your control so I did find myself working in a freer way. A really enjoyable process.

Past viewers of my blog might recognise the Dodo design from a few months back as a screen print (my dodo is far from extinct and keeps popping up all over the place. The design was quite time consuming to convert to low res hard edged pixels though...) and the fish have appeared in a slightly different guise too, swimming with a polar bear. That design came together pretty fast once I had the notion that there's 'always a bigger fish'... The autumn leaves are a newbie for this competition. A bit busy as a design maybe but I just wanted a stab at an illustration that was decorative without a strong narrative, made sense being on the floor and also being viewed from any direction.

So if you have the weekend free why not check out Chris' show. Great digital artwork translated into great handcrafted products and a very worthy endeavour, promoting fair trade and the talented crafts people of Nepal.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

my updated website

It's always a chore to plough through the multitude of repetitive tasks involved, but really satisfying once it's set up.  V3 (ish) is up and running (I hope it still is...). There are still some glitches I'm trying to iron out (apologies if anyone is irritated by the flashing white screen between pages, if all else fails just try and blink in time with it...) but at least its 99.9% OK. Not a million miles from my last site. I just wanted to update work and simplify. As always any feedback would be prized beyond measure.

They Draw & Cook book is now out!

Well the TDAC recipe book has been out for quite a while but I've only now just got round to posting about it (sorry Salli & Nate). It's been a great honour to be included in the book and I couldn't be more impressed with the print and binding quality. With the silly season just around the corner this would make a great present for foody and illustration aficionados!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

one of those days...

Ever have one of those days...? Still all you need is 5 minutes graphics tablet therapy and things don't seem quite so bad after all :-)

Monday, 3 October 2011

badger peek...

Two posts in one day... phew! It's a little bit bunny time again, and this months creature is the humble old badger. I was sorely tempted to do my interpretation of the old curmudgeon from Wind In The Willows to go alongside my Toad in his motor car illustration (previously on ALBB). Maybe I'll try that out now I've worked out some badger designs I like as a starting point. To my way of thinking I kept seeing glimpses of polar bear in a badgers anatomy...?! I had to reign myself in from heading down a 'polar bear Dick Turpin' route... Well here's my sketch work and a peek of the final piece which is over on ALBB.

3 bears, now in colour...

I've been meaning to post this for a few days. It's the rough colour study for the three bears painting I have to do. Mixing and matching paint is always a challenge for me, but I do find it very handy to work things out first in photoshop. Not only do I work out my colour choices, I can also get my head around the sequence I'll aim to paint the thing in, especially as the same colours crop up in different areas of the painting. An aim with this study (and the sketches for it) was to maintain the 'same world feel' on this painting as the last one I did for the same client. Well, they liked the way I'm headed with it so next step will be flinging paint at paper.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

bear deja vu...

Just made one or too little revisions to the three bears painting. I think I've subliminally channeled hints of Yogi in the daddy bear... This painting was also on opportunity to revist my unused designs for a bear screen print from a few months back. Nothing goes to waste here! I guess any bear tucking into picnic goodies in the forest is going to have shades of Jellystone Park about it. I've have been reading a little of late about the wonderful design work of Ed Benedict (original designer of Yogi, Flintstones, Quick Draw McGraw etc...etc...). John Kricfalusi has some great posts about Ed Benedict's work on his blog that I can highly recommend.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

unaccustomed as I am...

Much as I avoid waffling on about myself to the world I'd very kindly been asked by Jonathan Woodward over at the illustrators resource website zero2illo if I'd like to be interviewed for the illustrator spotlight feature of their zero2illo 'Zine' and the issue in question is hot off the pixels. I've not had chance to look through the whole magazine as yet but if it's as jammed packed with professional illustration resource goodies as the zero2illo site is it well worth looking into. Follow the links if you'd like to learn more about how to pick up a pdf copy, and I'd recommend some time well spent looking at the zero2illo site and also Jonathan's own personal site too. His wildlife collages are superb.... think Eric Carle meets Charles Darwin!

if you go down to the woods today...

The latest thing off the drawing board are some preliminary sketches for a painting commission for a little girl's birthday. The picture is a, sort of, companion piece to the 'Boy & Monkey painting' I did last year for her bigger brother. There are still some tweaks to do here and there but the family like the woodland setting, so that's how I'll proceed. It was good fun getting that big old daddy bear daintily sipping his tea!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

can you smell burning...?

Honest dear blog, I have been trying to get work done for you but, don't take this the wrong way, I have been seeing another blog too! Over on A Little Bit Bunny is my contribution to this months collection of dragons. Hmmm? A collective noun for dragons... "a singe", "a smoulder", "a conflagration"...?! In keeping with my usual habits here's a sneaky peakette and some of my scruffy sketch work.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tourist London.

Yesterday was a very enjoyable day with old friends while they introduced their young daughter to the tiring delights of London. As I'd already set a purple gorilla precedent with a previous picture for little C I couldn't resist marking the occasion in a similar vain.  While out and about I also finally got chance to check out Gosh Comics marvellous brand spanking new shop. If you were a fan before they moved you'll be even more so now, while if comics, graphic novels and illustration are your thing make haste if you ever get into the capital!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

another warm up sketch, another old nikon...

I really enjoyed doing the last loose ink sketch of my old nikon camera so I thought I'd warm up today's sketching with another one. I've enough old cameras... I could keep this up all day!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Congraulations Kev & Vicky!

What's this, you wait for ages and two babies come along! While I'm on a congratulatory roll, the very warmest sentiments go out to my dear friends Kev & Vicky on their amazing news! You'll never meet finer pending parents!

Congratulations Cass!

My good friend, the super and super talented Cassia is expecting imminently. Everything else she produces is amazing so I'm sure this latest creative endeavour will be true to form! My (stereotypical stork) pictorial congratulations Cass and Liam!

Master & Margarita tattoo...

Now I first must own up and say I could never imagine getting a tattoo myself. That said, there are some very talented tattoo artists out there. Imagine working on an illustration, without an undo command, using a heavy tool instead of a pen, on a squidgy surface, and having the client (on whom you have the ability to inflict pain) watch you while you are working!!! Why am I going on about tattoos...? I was delighted and flattered to get an email out of the blue from Nicholas Wesson, someone who liked The Master & Margarita novel by Mikhail Bulgakov and my cover for the Penguin paperback enough to want to illustrate his arm with it! I'm only glad he didn't ask me to do the tattoo! I wouldn't be able to keep a steady hand with that kind of responsibility. The credit for this amazing translation of my cover photo goes to the unquestionably talented Craig Wright at Enchanted Arts Tattoo in Guisborough North Yorkshire. The whole thing took one sitting of two hours I'm told. My thanks to Nick for the unique positive feedback on my work (and the photo of his arm).

Monday, 8 August 2011

Another month, another animal...

This blog is fast becoming just the place where I show teasers for what I've posted on a little bit bunny blog... I'll have to get some fresh blog fodder soon! For now this is a bit of my Kangaroo Rat, and if you want to know how to catch one, pop on over and see the whole thing on A.L.B.B.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

changed my mind...

After living with my new blog header for a few days it just didn't sit right with me. Too busy and the elements didn't gel together. So I'll live with my tightrope pachyderm for a while. I think maybe my header will have to change with my moods... I hate to waste things though so here's the old / new header. I did like the orangutan's arm :-)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Silly old bears...

While I was doodling for my Sasquatch illustration I revisited some pages from my sketchbook for ideas on tree designs which I'd played around with for a screen print idea last year about bears doing their business in the woods. I'd still like to do something with this but, for now, I hate sketches to go to waste, and I was very happy with my bear designs, so here they are. With keeping a sketchbook, and with every different illustration you draw it's always good to know that, should a grizzly bear illustration brief come my way, I've at least filled the 'dreaded first empty sheet of paper' with ideas on how I might go about things.

Apropos of nothing, I finally got round to watching The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet's (him of the wonderful Belleville Rendez-Vous) latest animated film. He based his screenplay on an unfilmed script by Jacques Tati and I must admit to never having seen any of Tati's films, although I understand many sing their praises. Maybe because of that the story left me a little luke warm in parts, perhaps because I wasn't as invested in the main Tati character as I could have been. Why mention the film then... because it's one of the most beautifully realised animated films I've ever seen! Story aside the production design and quality of animation are simply jaw dropping. I expected great things after seeing the equally staggering Belleville Rendez-Vous and I wasn't disappointed. For sheer quality of film making you have to go along way, in my opinion... for what it's worth, to equal The Iron Giant, Disney's 1961 101 Dalmations, Disney's Jungle Book, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Wrong Trousers, pretty much all of Pixar's output... I could go on...and on... The Illusionist has to be up there with the greats for revealing just what animated films are capable of delivering. I can say no more...see it for yourselves!

Sasquatch sneek peek...

The days sure do fly by! A week has slunk by since my last blog post and a whole month has skittered past which means another A.L.B.B post. This week's creature is Sasquatch, a.k.a Big Foot and here's a sneeky peak of my take on the hairy guy...... the hairy guy Big Foot, not a hairy guy lumberjack... although the lumberjack is pretty hairy too! I'm waffling now. Pop on over to a little bit bunny for the whole picture.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

blow out the blog cobwebs...

They say a change is as good as a rest so I've decided to open the windows wide, blow off the dust on the old blog and go for a new look. It's nigh on impossible to sum up everything you want to convey on a single blog header but I've opted to stick with my idea from the last header and reuse bits and bobs from past pieces of work. It's fun and surprising to take existing elements and throw them all together to see what you end up with. That said I'm curiously attached to a few pieces of old work, my sad old wonky donkey, my ink splattered hyena and my precarious yet poised pachyderm so I worked them up into headers too. I don't think they are really indicative of how I generally work, but I liked revisting them nevertheless. OK... now I've only got my website to spruce up...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Tough commute...

Torrential rain and a puncture... happy, happy, joy, joy! Still I got a drawing out of it. Every cloud has a silver lining :-)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Dodo screen print post mortem.

So I did my fast track screen print workshop sessions last week with my revised dodo screen print design, but I have to say I'm more than a little disappointed with the results. It's only my second attempt at screen printing so I know I shouldn't be expecting too much. That said I'd hoped to produce some better, perhaps saleable prints. A bad workman blames his tools so I won't dwell on some of the problems I had with ghost images on screens and scratchy squeegees. It's all a learning curve after all. One big plus was that my revised design was, as I'd hoped, much better than my first attempt with regard to being more forgiving of slipped registration during printing. In fact I'd designed in purposefully misregistered elements. All I had to try and nail were the eye and feet while the rest of the image could, largely, take care of itself. So that gives me something to work with for future designs. My colour mix was better too. Not the same colours as my digital, but a pleasant outcome. I also learnt some more details about the whole process which should come in handy later on. For this print I got to use a larger printing press with a single arm and a vacuum bed, which was interesting. I think however, on balance, I prefered the simpler hand bench press I used for my first print attempt. OK, it might have it's pitfalls but I think it feels like you are more hands on and closer to the work. I really hope to try again soon, although the logistics of how I'm going to set about cost effectively screen printing are a challenge...  I'd love to print on a hand bench set up in my own good time at home rather than working to a course's tight schedule (and courses are expensive)... if only I had a shed or garage... ho hum... Still, no one said it'd be easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

If Asleep, now with a dash of colour.

Couldn't resist adding a wee splash of colour to the previous post. I really like the contrast it gives between the pallid greys of the vampire and the glowing sandy beach. Amps up the gag a bit more. I've also posted some doodles I did after finishing the illustration friday picture. I guess I had vampires on the brain! They are based on the intensely spooky Nosferatu film from 1922. I don't know about you but, even now, Max Schreck's performance in that gives me the heebie jeebies.  I think the skippy frame rate and disjointed effects in silent films create a weird, unnerving feel even before you get onto the vampire subject matter. It really goes to show you don't need all the CGI Hollywood bells and whistles (or even dialogue) so long as the story and performances are top notch. And as for 3D movies... don't get me started!!! The Fast Show did a pretty fine take on Nosferatu too :-) Sleep tight... don't let the vampires bite!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Illustration Friday - "Asleep"

It's been far too long since I last did an Illustration Friday topic. This weeks is "asleep"... a great subject for a bit of whimsy. Like all night shift workers Vampires need to catch some shut eye during the day. I suspect this guy is more interested in the night life of the resort.

flamingo ... flamingoing ... flamingone

Pinch, punch first of the month as they say. Over on A.L.B.B is my take on this months creature "flamingo". Here's a sneaky peakette :-)

Sunday, 29 May 2011

flamingo sketching.

This months A.L.B.B is Flamingo so I'm just trying to get my eye in with some quick sketches. They sure do have weird beaks!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Dodo screen print revisited

At the risk of repeating myself I'm taking a look at my dodo screen print design ready for another screen print class I'm taking in a couple of weeks time. For this session I've decided to keep things simpler if at all possible so I've limited the number of screens to two and I've also trapped my colours in critical areas of the illustration (face, feet...) so any misregistration should hopefully be less damaging to the final outcome. In fact I've purposefully misregistered elements in the feathers because I kinda like the colour effect it gives. I've spent long enough on it for one day though... time to unplug at look at it afresh tomorrow.