Friday, August 31, 2007


...I just worked out something!

I do hate having to do digital colouring because the flat colours I want to use don't go with the grey tones I want to use (grey + colour = drab), and so I end up doing line drawings (which I don't like) and then adding the tonal variations digitally. Which is awful since that means my favourite part of the proceedings is taken away and replaced by prodding a graphics tablet. It gets me down like nothing else.
But I wouldn't mind digital colouring if only the pictures could be tonal in the first place so that I can feel that the drawing is "finished" to a degree I like before it goes digital.
All very boring, anyway, I just realised I could easily seperate a tonal drawing into black and grey areas and change the grey into blue.

So I did a very quick trial - see above - and I'm happy now. It's very faint, the blue, because my scanner likes to think I want no grey even in my greyscale scans. Looks a bit like an accident, still. But I think it'll work!
I'll likely be spending my week-end calibrating it to Mars and back to get it to actually pick up all the tone...


Inky inky inky.


Hmmm looks like evening light shining through window pane. Am stopping now.


Ooof. These aren't meant to look good, I'm just doing sheet after sheet of trials... trying out scanner settings and printer settings and different papers and fixative until I hopefully hit on a combination that combines crisp half-tone and reasonably flat colour. These are bad, I did some better ones since...

Am also shouting at people without noticing. That sort of day. Might have crunchy tasty salad lunch break in a minute.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Working hard

Yesterday I had one of these dreadful days where I spend a whole day thinking up a new colouring technique and trying it out and ending up with something by dinner-time that looks profoundly awful and wrong and makes me hide hy head under a pillow. Luckily I've done that many times before, so I wasn't cross for too long, and I spent half the night thinking of better ways. - I think there's no way around the fact that I can't make pictures I like unless I do the tone first and then the line, and so any attempt of doing line drawings and then colouring them in any way is doomed... Now I'm trying colouring in tonal drawings and also putting down the colour first and then adding line (that would be ideal, but a problem with backgrounds). Ah well, don't expect sense out of me for a few days.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Dr. Ph Martins Process colours

One thing I finally found out:
Have you ever spent too much time and money trying to work out which of these "Dr Ph Martin's" dyes and watercolours which are so very brilliant, useful and industry standard correspond to process colours so you can reliably mix them by counting drops? Well I have, so I thought I'd post this in case it saves someone from the pain of trying to work it out.

Synchromatic Transparent Dyes:
Process Cyan - Cervelean Blue
Process Magenta - Lake
Process Yellow - Lemon Yellow

Radiant Concentrated Watercolour:
Cyan - Ice Blue
Magenta - Moss Rose
Yellow - Lemon Yellow

The Synchromatic Dyes I am sure about, since I've got the information from reliable sources. The Watercolour I can't guarantee because I only worked it out by myself, trial and error (tell me if I'm wrong).

Just thought I'd post this, seeing how it drove me up the wall starting at the masses of little bottles in the art shop looking for anything with "process" in the name.

Red Bag at Vauxhall

Yesterday I went to a meeting in Vauxhall with my big red bag. I took my three knitted cats (as presents for the team who worked with me on "There are Cats in this Book") and the rough dummy for part of my big new project, plus another small story.

Vauxhall gardens, all late-summery all of a sudden

I had a lovely time, and now I have two weeks to produce some colour artworks and character sheets. It looks like I might be getting to do the sort of work I've always dreamed of secretly... a big book full of everything I like, basically! Wish me luck, I'd be sad if it fell through.

Today I've got lots of work to do, and some reseach, too. I'm trying to find resources on non-digital colouring using seperation of ink-line and colour. I have a vague notion that there's a method printing faint blue lines in place of the ink-line, colouring that and then overlaying the black line, which seems straight-forward enough, but I'm trying to find out tricks of the trade and perils and pitfalls. I think I've worked out a slightly mad but do-able method by now which I'll try out this week... send advice if you know more, or wait and see what I'll do on my own... hah!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Busy, no?

Today I did some trampolining, then I went to the allotment, dug up a bucketload of potatoes, went for a swim at the pool, and hurried to Iceland just before closing time to pick up some milk. I was the last customer, but just as I was at the check-out a shoplifter got stopped at the exit. She had about four big bags of un-paid groceries and was shouting "I come here all the time!" - They locked the doors on her, and so I was waiting around while she ran around the aisles trying to escape. She always arrived back at the main door (after passing every isle, due to the layout of the shop).
She crashed into the locked doors at speed every time, hammered at the glass, screaming for help, then she ran around the whole shop again. I stood there with my big bottle of milk and watched her pass and wondered if there was anything useful I could do or say until they finally restrained her (by the sounds of it, somewhere at the back of the shop) and let me out. No one seemed particularly surprised, just a bit tired of working there probably. I'm not sure who I'm feeling most sorry for.... hm, probably the mad shoplifter actually.

And now it's evening and I think I can still get in a page or so of drawing...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Celebrity Dimpling

I just went grocery-shopping and didn't manage to not look at the gossip magazines by the check-out... always winds me up, but there was an especially rubbish one. Title page: big close up of J-Lo's thigh. Oh No! Signs of cellulite! - And do we get to rejoice and all feel that at last the war is over, the fortress has fallen, the world has to admit that that's what ladies backsides simply do look like? NO! Inside story: how you can beat it. - ARGH! If there were a way to beat it - wouldn't the ultra rich lady with one of the most famous perfect bottoms in the whole wide world be able to keep HERS smooth???


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Studio Essentials

Mentioning short pencils and such...

Drawing essentials

My pencil-longer-maker and lines-straighter-tool


and cookie-break-cookie-jar and cookie-break-cookie-jar guardian.

I want to be comfi-turble too.

I've been very good learning to sit on chairs and all that, carrying my special support-pillow everywhere, but I've just decided that I deserve some time out. SO I went and bought some pillows and a lovely new throw from IKEA and now I have the most comfee bed ever. And today I shall huddle up there and finish drawing my big drawing project while running some classic Star Trek on the laptop in the corner and sipping Lapsang Souchong from my best Elephant Cafe cup, with the Finches whirring around overhead.

Comfy Bed

Here's my collection of pencils I already went through.

Pencil Stub Collection (growing)

By the way, I made a nice fitted winter cover for my birds out of an old blanket, with three sides to stay on in the day and keep them warm and a front to button on at night with two net-curtained windows. I'm quite proud. - They need the windows because they panic and fall off the perches when it's completely dark... strange birds.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Finished all the knitting!

Finished Knitting My Cats!

I knitted the Tiny one last night while watching M.A.S.H. - all done now! Happy family of knitted cats.

Back to the drawing board now...
It's getting cold here, really feels like autumn... next tiem I'll knit cosy cushion covers.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Going Shopping With Super-Villains

Yesterday we got thinking about Supervillains. In particular, what it would be like if one of them took you shopping.
I think it's a great way to try out a villain, imagining that.

Some results:

Darth Vader. Makes great effort to get you the things you always wanted, then creates a nuisance in the electrical goods department when he gets carried away testing the gadgets.
Result: Darth Vader gets you the Best Toy Ever.

Long John Silver. Feels like a great adventure, lots of laughs, until he notices the store detective, at which point he goes "I wonder if you could just hold this for me, son. And this and this and this. Excuse me for a minute." and disappears.
Result: Long John Silver gets you arrested.

Jabba the Hutt: He just waits in the car park and gives you his credit card and a couple of guards to help with the carrying. You buy your groceries, and on your return he wants to see the receipt. It makes his eyes boggle, and his translator says: "Jabba says this is not the true price of Salmon. Jabba says he knows the true price of Salmon. Jabba says you will pay the true price of salmon. In the pit of Rancor!" Then he goes woah ho ho ho ho, spots you've been making a three-for-two deal on pizza and it's all good again.
Result: Jabba gets you a month's supply of groceries.

Voldemort. He gets more and more cranky , then throws a hissy fit at the cereal isle. "Shreddies or Weetabix? Make up your mind. It's not that hard!!!" - at the check-out he shouts at you for buying more than you can carry because he's forgotten that he could levitate it by magic.
Voldemort has no concept of human joy, and he won't get you anything interesting.

Sauron. He arrives late and lays waste to the mall. Then he's mildly baffled about your disappointment.
Result: Sauron gets you nothing at all.

Doctor Octopus. You spend a long day in B&Q, watching him stalk the isles.
Result: Doctor Octopus gets you an ice-cream while you wait.

Magneto. Whisks you away to Paris, takes you to Lafayette and does tricks with cutlery at the cafe.
Result: Magneto gets you a great day out.

Hook: Takes you straight to Morrisson's breakfast area, orders a couple of fry-ups and says "Arrrh me boy, we shall dine like lords on fivepence!" - Then he sends you back home because he has some sort of thing on in the afternoon involving a giant crocodile.
Result: Hook gets you a cheap breakfast.

I find my favourite villains are the ones that would be fun to go shopping with.
Maybe it's because supermarket-shopping is like world domination in miniature. Maybe it's like somehow they are all universal dads.
What about female villains though?


Yesterday we did so much sorting and tidying of old clothes that I'm still sneezing today.
I also went and saw the new Harry Potter movie at the IMAX, with the showdown in 3D - which was my first (ahemm) IMAX experience, and I had great fun. I vastly prefer the films to the books - the production design and casting - but mostly the editing. Every time I notice a change from the books I get that happy little feeling that good editing gives me. I am a big believer in editing.

In fact, I believe in editing so much it kills any conversation with a new acquaintance when they ask Inevitable Question Number Four: "Do they edit you a lot?" to which I reply: "Of course they do! Every step of the way!"
They hate that, oh they do.
Silly people. Editing is part of the creative process. Someone clever says "I think you can improve this bit", and you do. Maybe you do it like they suggest, or maybe differently. It's your work.
And if you don't do it yourself, if someone else is adapting a published work - so what? That work still exists, too. It's no loss.

Anyway, I really enjoyed that film.
AND the wardrobe is tidy.
And I'm almost through my fourth pencil on the project I'm working on (I'll show some soon).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cage Life

Bothering Helga

Helga isn't very happy that this time around she's not in a seperate cage with her nest... I think she'd really rather do without Thingummy and Bob jumping on her head for fun.

Morning After

Hello! Quite bright and sprightly, me, actually! Slightly gloomy about the tidying ahead. We hosted a birthday dinner last night. I brought home a trolley-bag full of vegetables that I could hardly move, and we cooked two different Thai curries from scratch (even the stock). Used just about every item in the kitchen.

I've decided to go and upgrade my mattress soon, I think I can afford a nicer one than the one I got which doesn't fit the bed too well (my pillow keeps disappearing over the edge). And it's lumpy. I'll upgrade the whole bedding I think. IKEA has some new knitted cotton throws. Boring, no? Hmmmm. Very important to have a good bed.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lots of Timmies...

Yawn. I am TOO tired. Combination of lack of sleep (noisy birds, noisy street, bad dreams due to reading "Empire of the Sun" and watching "The Shining" in HD and playing "Dead Rising") and lack of coffee. Much work to be done today.

I got good post:
My author's copies

Author Copies

And a box of sweets and a pebble and tea and lip balm from Norway, mmmmh, just what I needed actually... I'm sooo tired!

I bought a hand-held mini hoover after all, the finches started moulting and there's feathers all over the place... But I'm getting them... I am feeling almost in control here!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Silly Bird.

Helga laid another egg in the morning - off her sleeping perch instead of in her new nest. It splatted onto the cage floor. I found her sitting on her empty nest, looking glum. Silly bird, that way she'd keep laying eggs forever because she'll never get to a point where she feels there's enough of them in the nest. She'll be like a battery canary!
So I put a glass marble that we found in the swimming pool last week into her nest when she was out next - she looked very surprised but after some deliberation and very quiet chirp?chirp?chirp?chirp? noises sat down on it. All good now. One egg in the nest. I've got another marble somewhere if she splats another one tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Done! (Except for tail)


...So that's good. Finished my knitting. Reason for knitting not so good: intense surge of frustration due to discovery of food moth infestation. Tupperware box wasn't sealed properly. And that after buying rotten milk in the morning (I so wanted some Cereal for breakfast!!!) and mildewed carrots and moldy mushrooms in the afternoon, all picked up in a hurry. Keeps happening while my mind is focussed on work rather than food-sourcing. I go to the little neighborhood shops with inadequate cooling facilities and over-packaged vegetables sweating in plastic containers. So now I got almost nothing at all done today, except for disinfecting stuff and swearing at rotten food. I've started to make mental notes of which shops will have which food in edible condition in this weather...

Anyway. Cup of tea now and one more go at getting some drawing done today.

P.S. Why don't they have fridges with doors in the shops instead of these stupid open cooling shelves??? Surely they could design some that display the goods and open easily if they put their mind to it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Why I didn't get much done today


OK, in case you didn't believe me: here's a photograph of what happens when Helga gets into my knitting bag. That wool stretches all across the room right into the cage, and she is busy tying up all the perches.
So I sorted that out, and what do I see??? She's laid an egg. Off the perch, splat onto the cage floor. So THAT'S why she's getting desperate with the nest-building! So I stopped drawing and made her a new nest from an old easter-egg, and now she's sitting in it. And the finches are trying to move in there, too.


It's all very distracting, and in the end I visited downstairs to work in the garden, and at last worked out the anatomy of my Behemoth. I had to draw it from the inside out to understand how to do it. Ooof. So I hope tomorrow I get all my actual Behemoth-drawing done.

Best Keyboard Ever

I actually don't think I can even imagine a better keyboard than this here thing... it projects (even in daylight) onto any even surface, and then somehow detects what you are typing. How??? HOW???
If I had a desktop computer, or one of these tiny portable thingies, I'd have this. (i.Tech Virtual Keyboard)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Binding Booklets

Do you ever come across scans of old books on the internet that are just too nice to keep in a folder lost on your computer? Hmmm, I do.
Here's something to make and do:

Print out your pictures, line the sheets up nicely and cut them into a block of pages.
Then stitch them together Japanese-style...

Binding Books

Binding Books

Here's the stitching - it's easiest to make holes through the pages with a nail first (don't nail book to floorboards if living in rented accommodation). Then thread a big needle with some nice yarn and stitch it up like so (just start in the middle and keep in mind you want it to end up looking like this on both sides and you'll end up doing it right - or look here for instructions).

Binding Books

Makes a lovely gradual library... I've been doing this since university, building up a small library of lovely things... (I don't advise ripping off books that are within copyright.)
Also good for safe-keeping long magazine articles - or manuscripts.

If printing out text, try setting your document up it in two columns on a landscape page of A4. Set a generous gutter and margins. Print, fold in half, stitch along the "open" side, and presto! Double-sided pages! - Very useful for free e-texts, that. You can use the backsides of scrap paper.

Binding Books

Like this, see? Hm, a bit difficult to explain. Works well, anyhow.

(The pictures above are via Bibliodyssey - my favourite blog!)


OK, I just glued the stump of my latest pencil to my spare pin-board. I've started that habit recently - whenever one has become too short to work with. I just thought it was a shame not collecting them in some way, since they are all souvenir ones. The one I just finished was a British Museum one patterned with Egyptian cats, and now I'm onto a Huntarian Museum one. - Anyway, I've gone through that last pencil in about four days! I am enjoying this project more than anything I've worked on in a decade, adn it doesn't seem to be doing my drawing arm any harm. Must be that I'm not stressed about it!

This morning, however, I need to do some research - I decided to feature another huge monster, so now I'm looking up classic depictions of Behemoth. William Blake drew a wonderful one that looks rather like what one might reconstruct from an elephant skeleton without ever having seen one. No trunk, strange human ears... I may just stop researching already and use that one as it is.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I spent a lovely Sunday morning knitting in bed, with Helga flying around the room. She tried to pull out my hair and steal my knitting for nesting material, and the finches were singing their honky-tonk finch songs.

New Knitting Project

Knitting in the morning is great... when I wake up, I often haven't quite got my mood in place. I'm pretty mild-mannered in the day, but I normally wake up incredibly cross about some person I just had a nightmare about, or I've dreamed of living in a place I really like and wake up in London - then I remember that I forgot to do the washing up or put the bins out the night before, and then I need a cup of tea and count my blessings, and by the time I've drunk it I'm happily bumbling along again. Knitting makes the transition a lot more pleasant, because I can get all the evil morning thoughts over and done with without paying much attention to them, and count stitches instead, and maybe hum to myself.

Excuse me, Helga just went into my sewing basket, found the end of a spool of thread and flew across the room with it... I just heard the sudden noise of un-spooling and saw a thin line of purple cross my field of vision. By the time I got to the cage she'd already tied it around both her legs and all the perches and was dangling upside down.
That's why you shouldn't leave your canaries unobserved, folks! - All sorted now, she's oooo-kay. Phew.

What was I going to say? Oh yes, here's a bit of work I did yesterday. As you see, new project is (at last) to do with sheep. I've ALWAYS wanted to do a big book on sheep!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007


First of all you should look at this picture of a very small gecko stealing butter.
And now we've got that out of the way... good morning! Happy Saturday!
I'm doing a new project which is so much fun that I get up at seven and start drawing. Without complaining. I'll show you what it is once I got it good and contracted.

There's also a lot of thinking and planning to be done (since it's a project with lots and lots of stuff in it) so I've also started a new knitting project - see:
I'm knitting something new!

And everyone else is happy, too.
Helga is having a Lovely Time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


I was just checking myself on Amazon (not done in ages, forgot you can) and came across the best review ever... someone wrote that not only do their children finish the sentences and sing along when it's read to them, they named the Shark "Boulderwalt". That's such a good name!!!
I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy like. :)

Next Monday...

...Timothy Smallbeast is introduced to the world at large!

I am celebrating by purchasing a deluxe replica light-sabre, with motion sensors and sound-effects, for exercising between drawing sessions.
Of which there will be a good few - Next project started as of today involves more drawing than... hm... anything else I've ever done.