Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Camera set-up

camera set-up

I'm using half my desk for animation now. That is, I've just put all the parts together to see if it all works, and it does. I just need to tidy the surface, mark it up properly and make some sturdy cardboard characters to move about, the paper cut-outs are too flimsy.
Not today though, I need to write some script for the comic... had some ideas in Norway for the second chapter, so I'll try and write that now.


I had the best weekend ever.
Oslo was sunny, apparently it was warmer than it had been since some time in the eighties. It was so hot that the ash tray on the balcony spontaneously lit and smoked itself.

We went to parks and climbed a tree.
tree climbing

tree climbing
I liked the statues a lot.
I stayed in a beautiful house. - Even the cat was stylish - her favourite toy was a plastic lemon.
stylish cat
I got searched at customs in Oslo airport. They pounced on the baking powder and tea leaves. I showed them the clotted cream and the jam, and explained that all together it would make cream tea. They frowned a while and let me go.
ceam tea in oslo
We baked scones and I made a pot of Assam as properly as I could, and we had cream tea at midnight when the sky was turquoise.
Even when the night was darkest you could still read. This bench says:
wisdom bench
"Nothing is stronger than this person who survived a loneliness". I think.
I bought brown cheese, and wild strawberry jam, and salted licorice.
We went to a forest lake and fed an apple to the ducks. They liked it. In Norway, even the ducks are wholesome.
We also took a boat to an island in the fjord and went swimming. Now I'm back home, with treasure:
red cup
A pretty red cup to keep food in...
And a Hatifattener mug.
Hatifattereners and tomatoes
When I got back home, there was a tiny crop of balcony tomatoes the size of peas.
Moomin Reading
And now I shall look at the Moomin collection I bought on my new special Moomin Mama reading pillow.

Oh, and: Norwegian strawberries might well be the best in the world.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scandianvian Break Ahead

Hmm. I've taken the day off to pack and tidy and yawn. So far I've done the yawning part.
Tomorrow I'll travel to Oslo early in the morning for the weekend to visit Fr√łydis. I'll take some ingredients for cream tea so we can bake scones, and I'll take my notebook so I can do some writing on the way. It's so nice to have a whole day just to prepare for a trip... that should make up for having to get up at four in the morning.
I'll say hello from Oslo next!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Breakfast is tasty, bag is packed, M drinking coffee and looking out on my balcony garden.


It's become very hard to water since I sort of broke the window, climbing out is now rather adventurous. It's a bit of a wilderness this year...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pirate Thumbnails

Here's my desk this evening, after a day working on the pirate book that Alexia wrote. We worked out the thumbnails, so I'll draw some roughs straight into the dummy next, and then we'll see how it reads.

There was a good deal of moving tiny bits of paper involved in this.

It's been a good day all round - my dad is lending me his photo stand so I won't have to buy one, which means my animation set-up is complete. And I cooked a milk pudding, and friends came round for dinner bearing curry.


Morning, world! It's a workday for me today because yesterday was spontaneous dress-making day. I'm working quite a lot at the moment, three contracted books, two that I'm getting ready to present, and some more on the back burner - I'm thinking about those sometimes when I'm having lunch or walking along somewhere, or when I'm waiting to fall asleep. There's enough work to be thinking about and getting on with constantly, anyway. At the moment I'm working weekdays on contracted stuff and week-ends on other things I want to do... and sometimes I have to take a day out to make something completely else, to clear my mind, else I start having nightmares of paper universes.

I'm very glad that my mum is helping me out with getting materials for the sock monkey workshops now (I couldn't find scissors that were both reasonably sharp and reasonably child-safe), and so is An, who I lead workshops with in Belgium earlier this year - she is kindly sending me some packs of needles, because there's a shop in Antwerpen that sells just the right sort.
My dad is advising me on photographic equipment for animations, and Alexia, whose text I'll be working on illustrating today, sent me loads and loads of pictures for reference so I don't have to spend half the day researching. I can just get straight to work. And thank God for editors and art directors and designers, for the Proper Work Stuff.
I think having people around who are excited about what I'm doing and who send me things to help with it is just about my favourite thing in the world. Unsurprisingly. I've got quite a big artistic ego, happily it's got the mind-set of a friendly puppy dog, just wants lots of treats and attention and generally be in a world of fun and food. Except for when I'm writing, then it's more like a moody Rottweiler. If I were a novelist I'd need a writing shed, just to keep the rest of the world safe.

Anyway, I got pirates to draw, have a lovely Sunday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Moomin Dress Finished!

even aliens are impressed


Animation Plans

So! I have everything a person needs to get started making animations, except a camera stand. I'm thinking about buying this one, but I'll wait a bit in case one of you clever people out there stops me and tells me to get something else, better, cheaper, or just remembers they have one in the attic they don't want.

Here's a tiny test animation, done with my web cam and in daylight. Prepare for things filmed with a proper set-up...

Today I'll be trying out the sewing machine I got for my birthday, At last! It sure looks nice...

Sewing Machine

I don't know what all the parts are for yet, they look a bit frightening...

Odd Parts

Organ needles? What do I need organ needles for?

And I mustn't forget to draw pirates in the evening.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sydenham Sock Cat Workshop - coming soon!

I just had a leisurely look through the Sydenham Arts Festival Catalogue to see what sort of thing is going to happen there, and suddenly was reminded that in fact it's me. Here I am.

Don't I look fetching!
So - book your London-based crafty children into my sock cat workshop on the 11th of July. Here's the link!
Preceded by a Cats and Dogs storytime that I'll share with Sue Eves at the Kirkdale Bookshop, 10.30-11.00 am.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mousewarming presents and blank books

I thought I'd have a lie-in today, after feeding the cats of course, because I felt very tired. So I went back to bed for a bit. The cats were kind of surprised and tried to entertain me, first by batting me on the nose and then by bringing a live mouse for everyone to play with.
Right then I heard the rubbish van arrive, which reminded me I'd forgotten to put the bin out. I grabbed the keys, ran out (in my pyjamas again) and the binman who was getting the bin out himself looked at me and said 'you ok there?'. I said 'Hello! Yes, all fine!' and turned to go back inside, at which point I noticed the house key had fallen off the fob when I grabbed it out of my handbag.

Anyway, whatever, I'm at home drinking coffee now and shall go out to Dulwich later, sign some books, drink some chai and then come back here and work on the script, which is due in six weeks I believe. Yesterday they gave me a blank dummy book to use however I like, just like the real book will be but all white shiny pages... I could not put it down for ages, I can't believe I get to fill all that space!!! Hurrah!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

very small news really

Two things I have, as you can see:
1) A much better webcam now! Even better better if there's more light. Hurrah!
2) Quite a lot of grey hair around the back. Hooray!

Now must run off to cat-sit again, just went home to water the balcony plants... and to try out this camera. Heh.

Monday, June 15, 2009

All is well.

Did you see There are Cats in this Book was featured on Domestic Sluttery? Just saying. I am so proud that there are people out there who make their houses prettier with my book, hah, that's a life goal achieved :)

And here's some nice photos from Gary's birthday, over on Sarah' blog. I like me looking happy about baked goods.

The day is going well. I had some minor trouble unlocking the front door, the neighbors are probably starting to doubt that I am actually supposed to be here by now... the cats, however, look very happy, asleep on a comfy chair each. And I am getting some writing done, hurrah!

Nothing else to say at all, which is nice in itself.

Cat sitting, day one, morning

There's a cat trying to type on this computer. I'm cat-sitting. It's very exciting to have a whole flat to myself... well, myself and the cats. I got a good list of instructions, which explained everything about the house and the cats, so I should be okay, except I already managed to lock myself out.
I just woke up in the morning (covered in cats) when the postman rang, went to the door (folloed by cats) accepted a parcel, remembering the warning that Pixie the cat will always try to escape through the front door, so I pulled the door to the flat closed before opening the front door. I felt clever about that until I turned around and couldn't open it again.

I briefly wondered what the time was. In my house the post generally arrives at about eleven, if at all. I thought: oh no, I haven't even fed the cats yet, and that is the only thing I really am supposed to do... So I rang the other doorbell and the friendly lady from upstairs apologised a lot to me when she saw me in my pyjamas, she figured I wanted the other flat and said I should try knocking. I explained that this would not be much use because the person who would be expected to open would be myself, and she gave me the landlord's number, who came around and let me in.
Only then I realised that it was still just before eight o clock. If I'd known that I would have camped out in the corridor for a hour first... Where on earth does the post arrive before eight??
So I felt very sheepish, and was happy to get instantly covered in cats again. I gave them some food, and told them that I didn't think I was doing very well so far, but they jumped on my head and purred which I think means "oh, shut up" in cat.
I better not do anything else that involves calling up the landlord.
In fact, I'll run a bath now and have some coffee and then do some writing, I remember I got up in the middle of the night (putting aside the cats) and made some notes of ideas for the comic script. I'll check what they are once I'm properly awake and all...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cream Tea and Almost Happy Feet

Today Matthew invited me for cream tea... he'd made some jam and bakes some scones, and we sat out among the potted plants and were happy.
perfect scones and perfect jam
I had to take the bus because the rail connection is switched off again for maintenance, as every Sunday, it seems... there was a street party at Battersea, so I jumped off the bus there and bought some artichokes at the French stall and ate them straight away.
tomato plant on the bus
Matthew gave me some tomato plants, too... and I bought summer shoes, which are my size, and soft, and red, and lovely (all things I like best in a shoe) and I still ended up taking them off and walking back home barefoot as always. I wonder why the shoe industry seems to be completely unaware of the actual number of toes on the human foor. It's FIVE. Not three and a half. And they point straight ahead, not inwards as you seem to assume. - Anyway, I have hopes for this pair, very soft leather, might be able to wear them in.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Just did some script writing. Hurrah! I wasn't sure I would.
Work is a bit confusing at the moment. I'm not used to having all these brilliant computer programs to work with...
I used to think I was quite good at Photoshop, years ago, but my, things have changed. The main thing that has changed is that now I have seen some people be Really Good at Photoshop and realised that while I can make things look good, my files are badly put together. Am planning to Actually Get Good at Photoshop now.
Also the last version I used was... eh... something before CS1.

Similarly, I am using a baffling program for writing... Celtx, which allows me to write in parallel the actual formatted comic script, a master catalogue of all my characters, props and whatnots, complete with reference pictures and background info, and a bunch of other stuff I find useful. Today I added a text file just for ramblings. I kept having to stop myself from rambling why I was writing, which held me up, so instead I just put all the ramblings into a separate file.
And all this stuff is neatly packed away into one Celtx file. Hooray!

The downside is that it keeps happening that I look up from the computer and find I can't quite remember the day. Yesterday I finished my picture, and realised I had no idea where my flatmate was, although I remembered him standing beside my table in a coat with a backpack on his back, his mouth moving, he was definitely saying something about going somewhere, and it was definitely at some point in the day, but that was all I knew. I was glad when he re-appeared. He could have gone out camping for a week for all I knew... huh...

Anyway! Thank you to everyone who commented on the cat video, and passed on the link and embedded it and generally watched it and liked it, hurrah, I am so pleased! :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You there! Yes, you! I'm reading you a book!

No honestly, I am! Just for you, Walker Books Proudly Presents...


Warning: may contain fish.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this.
And yeah, you can buy your very own copy made out of real paper which you can then play with any time you like, even when there's a power cut - and if you do, you can even go back to the wool!

Oh, and if you need a soundtrack for YOUR picture book, go and ask Matthew Robins at www.sadlucy.com

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cockatoo Flashback

This was before the macaw turned up. Happy days.

(I never thought I'd ever find any use for all this sugar paper!)

Macaw Vs Cockatoo

So... yeah. I was trying to work out what the best bird would be to ride on the shoulder of the Pirate King. I wanted to draw a cockatoo, everyone else voted for macaw.
So I had them fight it out.

The result: quite obviously you guys were right. The macaw kicks the cockatoo's feathery butt.

Pirate Sketch

Brrr. This here coffee is abominable, I can tell as much even without smelling it. It's turned completely sour, probably with that rainstorm the night before last. Arr.
I just coloured this guy in for fun, and not neatly neither, no.
Shall be drawing parrots today, and tomorrow - back to regular hamster themed work.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Drawing Pirates

Thought it would be nice to show you what's going on on my desk today.

Drawing pirates is surprisingly fun - I am still having trouble fitting both the parrot and the hat in at the same time. Also must get some parrot reference. And remember to put a paper under my drawing hand BEFORE I smudge the lot.

Anyway, this is me working things out for a story that a friend wrote, which I think is rather excellent. I must ask her what she thinks of this guy, and if she likes him I'll try and draw him in ink, and if not, well, I'll draw someone else.

By the way, I think it's really funny how my left hand keeps hiding from my right hand. Never noticed that before.

Trying out everything at once

My screen looks a bit odd. Am trying out all the digital brushes and patterns and whatnots I've never used before. "Argh! Dreadful! Whoo! Cool? What's this? What's that?"

Shall stop now and have a cup of coffee and then maybe do some drawing... or just read a comic, am feeling sort of like having a quiet day today...

Ginger, the dancing hamster

Ginger is one of the hamsters I posted to my lovely friend and Virtual Studio Colleague Steph... am now waiting for some budgies in exchange... hooray!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Moustache for Garen Ewing

I should be at a party, but inexplicably I am feeling sort of ill... so instead I am taking part in the Garen Ewing Moustache Competition, and then I'll have a hot soup and go to bed.
Here is my Moustache Effort, on a portrait drawn by Sarah McIntyre especially for facial hair enhancement purposes..
Garen Ewing plus mustache
It's a bit small, but as far as miniature dog snorting goes I'd call it a fine catch.

Garen impressively draws Rainbow Orchid, and everything else is explained here, and other people's glorious styles can be found on Sarah's blog.
*shuffles off to locate soup*

Life drawing, cookies, and Photoshop At Last...

Yesterday Sarah, Gary and Dave came around for a life drawing session - well, we had cookies and cake and took turns sitting reasonably still and drawing each other. I could really tell how that is something I should do a lot more of, to remind myself how human beings are put together, at least approximately.
Have a look at Sarah's blog for photos... she drew a rather picture of me, I'm very pleased (my friend Kris said it looks a bit like a self portrait of Leonardo Di Caprio, haha) it's nice to see a drawing of me being happy, I think I only have wistful ones otherwise. It's because I enjoyed being allowed to ramble on about international potato dishes while posing.

Here's a drawing I did of Sarah - I coloured it in the evening to try out my brand-new copy of photoshop, went a bit mad on the digital chalk, just because it's been aaaages since I was last able to use decent digital brushes that understand my graphics tablet.
I cheated and fixed the nose which I drew HUGE, I wish I left it huge, actually, because it looked rather funny before, and now it looks a bit strange... ah well. It was just an excuse to try out what the "Liquify" filter does these days.
The wallpaper is a leftover I found in my files from a picture book I did years ago.

And now I shall draw some pirates. My friend Alexia wrote a brilliant pirate story which I rather want to make pictures for. It's not what I'm supposed to be working on, but it's the weekend, so: pah.

UPDATE: haaaa lovely drawing report from David O'Connell!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Audiobook Goodness!

I just realised that the combination of librivox.org (where you can get tons of free audiobooks, some of them rather brilliant) and audiobookmaker (which turns these books into that useful format used by iTunes and iPods) will likely change my world in a pleasant way.
Oooh and this also means I can turn my audiobooks on CD into iPod format... yay! Shall poddify the Screwtape Letters at once.
Aah, technology.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flatmate is drawing Nice Things.

Animal Party

Not a good photograph of a HUGE lovely drawing.


It's morning! I got flatmate to make me some coffee, and then went and bought Photoshop while I still felt comfortably numb. Now I am waking up. Brrr.
I think now I have everything I need for work... I'd decided to upgrade when some royalties came in recently, from hand-me-down Linux computer running Gimp and working in my bedroom to Mac and Photoshop and a real studio... I feel like a different person, it's very strange.
I'm kind of glad it's the end of spending, for now, no more computers, printers or pieces of furniture arriving suddenly in the post...

My flatmate, on the other hand, is still getting exciting parcels from all over the world, I note.

Parcel from China

Oh, one new thing I got was new glasses... that is, I had my old ones re-glassed, and when I walked out of the shop I noticed this street sign.


I also noticed that trees have leaves and people have hairs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Good News Everyone!

Yesterday I got a whole bunch of good news and nice things.
First I got an mail from Iowa (if I read the postcode right) with pictures of a clever girl called Amelia and her cat Moonpie. Here they are reading Shark and Lobster, and making mental notes about questions to ask which I shall reply to in a minute before running off to work. They are very good questions.

I am quite impressed actually that Amelia recognised Moonpie is a black-and-white cat in real life. I sometimes get told for Moonpie's blue-ness by children, and the pointy long ears.

She is planning to make picture books. I like what shes doing so far!

And the other good news:
I went to view a studio with Sarah and Gary, and we took it right away. Hooray! Dream come true! I always wanted to share a studio with comic artists!
It's in an old police station which has been converted into art space. Not architecturally converted, by the looks of it most of the conversion was done by means of all the policemen leaving the place, and all the furniture being put into the room that will be our studio soon (hmmm... ah well, that'll go). There's a big back yard (with stables) for either parties or quiet cups of tea, a gallery, performance spaces, and a cell block so we can lock each other in before deadlines.
I'll report more on it closer to the time! Won't be moving in until August...

Great happiness and joy all around!