Recently I have been very happily sketching meerkats, for a possible new project!!
Frances rang me up one day to ask, “How do you feel about drawing meerkats?” I answered, “Well, I’d definitely like to give it a go!” Especially as we are members of a small local zoo in East Sussex, that is particularly known for its meerkat family, and a its meerkat viewing dome, where my girls love to pop their heads through, to become part of the meerkat surroundings!
Ben’s Box’ is a book I have been working on with Frances. It focuses on a little bear named Ben who just wants to play. He spends his day trying to catch Florence, a bird who is hiding in his box. She flies out and he tries to follow her. Its text consists of mostly onamaterpiac words which are simply joyous. There’s not much else to be said about this lovely little story really. All I need do now is make sure all the drawings are as strong as they can be!
Sorting through my portfolio I've just rediscovered these: a couple of book covers I made a few years ago. Firstly, 'The Collector', which has to be one of the eeriest books ever written. For anyone who is familiar with John Fowles' more famous title, 'The French Lietenuant's Woman', this is in my opinion equally impressive (however it's likely to haunt your dreams for a while so consider yourselves warned). This cover is less hand crafted than usual for me and was pretty fun to make. Fun, when I was able to separate myself from the creepiness of the story anyway.
This is a little project I've been beavering away on of late, just a bit of fun to amuse myself and escape a bit from briefs and editorials. The idea originally came to me while on a trip in the foothills of the Andes ages ago. In South America the main way of travelling is by incredibly long bus journeys (32 hours was my longest) so that gave plenty of time for an idea to germinate. Of course being back home and finding the time to actually do it is another story.
Here is one, of a few, small illustrations I worked on recently. Four weeks ago I was asked to produce a small portfolio for a potential client in France. As usual, when I had a look on the publishers website, I got nervous of my old illustrations. Would they be good enough to present? So I decided to do a few quick illustrations, which I could add to the older ones.
At the moment I am working at an cover-artwork for Oetinger Verlag Hamburg. I`m right at the beginning, thinking about the story and the different ways to design the cover and type. I feel like a cat surrounding the mouse. Already fulfilled with joy of what will come up, afraid of being unable to draw something that I will really like, that it is representable, and worth printing. As soon as I have something to show, I will share it with you.
This is from a picture book idea I've been playing with, called Tickle the Moon. It's about a girl and her cat who are on a mission to cheer up the moon who is all lonely in the night sky. I'm still playing with the story and characters but I do feel that there's a decent picture book lurking in there somewhere. This illustration is largely pen and ink with water colour, but there's also a bit of gouache in there give the colour a bit more body. It's painted on heavy grade water colour paper and has managed not to buckle, however I'm regretting not having used my usual water colour board as I reckon the finer details would have benefited from a smoother surface; anyhow I'll remember that for next time!
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Featured in the beautiful Ballad Of blog. Many thanks Lindsey & Claire!
Greetings, you scurvy swabs! Anyone familiar with my usual artwork style will recognise that this is not it. I do have a variety of different styles, but I'm always experimenting and this one is brand-new. I'm illustrating two (possibly three) books for Autumn -- that's the publishers, not the season. The first one is about pirates, the second about cowboys. The third -- which I'm really worried about -- is probably going to be about fairies. That will be very much stepping outside my comfort zone. Yikes! My usual painted style of artwork is done with a mixture of Corel Painter and Photo Shop. The pirate artwork style is drawn in a program called Manga Studio. Now, as a general principle, I can't abide Manga artwork (I think it's an age thing) but this program is phenomenal. It's very cheap (you can buy a cutdown version of it, which is all you'll need, for about $80). There is a pro version, which I'm using, but frankly most of the cool features are in the cheap version. The amazing thing about it is the control you have over the way the pen behaves. You can set the pen parameters in so many different ways, for example to smooth, straighten or have very sharp points (mitres) on corners or zigzag turns. This all may seem very small beer, but to anyone has ever attempted to make a inkpen, real or digital, do these things, it's a revelation. You can do a lot of these things in programs like Adobe Illustrator, or CorelDRAW. But they are indescribably clunky in comparison. Manga studio is a program that does one thing but does it very, very well. It is, and I've been using digital drawing programs for 15 years, the best pen and ink program I've ever come across. Dave Gibbons, the artist who illustrated the seminal graphic novel Watchmen uses it. That's a good enough endorsement for me. All the best John