Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Late Night Drawing, Early Morning Drawing

Here I had forgotten that it was winter (I drew a coat and scarf on the girl later)

Now she has a coat but I still haven't noticed that I'm drawing completely the wrong character by mistake.

Stil the wrong character... which is a shame because I really like her in this drawing. The lady to the left is my mother.

Here still the wrong character is meeting my teenage self. I liked long black coats, and odd hats, and was usually carrying at least one book. Also this is my favourite cabinet there at the V&A, in the Japanese room.
At about 2:30 in the morning I finished drwing, then realised at last that I had been drawing the wrong girl all along, and replaced her:
For once I'm glad that most of my characters look pretty similar...
I finished at about half past three, and now it's all scanned in and I only have to draw about five pages that I left out earlier... all extra stuff like recipes and blueprints. Extra fun.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Museum Roughs

The last scene I have to draw for Sleepwalkers is set in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Which means all sorts of things I could not draw from memory - display cases that need to be at elast vaguely in perspective, impressive architecture... so I got on the train and went there to take pictures.
When I got out the piece of paper that was meant to be a copy of my page layout withthe shots I needed marked in, I found that it was a piece of paper belonging to my boyfriend (so I guess he now has my pencil rough copy somewhere in his files).
I got cross for a moment, then I just went and took 100 pictures, covering every angle I could think of. Of course when I got home I found that I did not have any of the ones I had planned to use.  So I changed the roughs to use what I had.
This one actually fitted.
And I remembered to take the pictures from a low height to get the main character's eye line. (I get these things wrong a lot.)

I placed the photos in a grid and used my cintiq to doodle the characters on top.
This should work. I'm glad about the people who were in the museum on the alst photo,e specially the father and son in the background on the stairs. They'll stay right in.
So now I've printed these out and I can start drawing... Let's see how that works out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Crowd 2

This is the second crowd drawing - less faces than the first, but I think I managed to put in everyone who wasn't in crowd one.
Some people are in both, actually.
Now there are only three pages left - then I'll have finished all the comic drawing part of Sleepwalkers.

I'm also still working on the fox novel in the mornings, today I drew another illustration - I'm drawing them as small as possible, just to save time, and scanning them in at high res.
Look see, originals are very tiny:
Coloured art see here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Books For Sale..

If you find yourself in Dulwich, you might want to pick up a signed copy of my new book... :)
At Colour Makes People Happy
If I'm in I'll draw you a hamster, too.

Secret Novel

I just made a secret blog containing only my new novel, to encourage myself to actually keep writing it all the way to the end... I allowed access to a few friends. - I'll show the rest of you some of the illustrations, though. Here's one.
The illustrations will all be done very quickly... I really want to get this done. This is digitally coloured pencil, by the way. A bit rough around the edges, but hey, it's done. It it ever becomes a book, I'll fix it.


OK, I drew it! You can start spotting yourselves!

I am not saying who's who because, well, some people came out looking quite odd, mostly because I had to change angles and expression to make everyone look up and smile or laugh, and sometimes I aged people a little bit to make it more credible that they are visible (although scale is very loosely handled here). And I am already noticing some mistakes I'll fix later (someone lost half the back of their head I see, hmmm) and also this is a bad distorted digital photograph... and everyone admittedly looks a whole lot like people I draw tend to look, that is, myself... But here it is, HOORAY!

There will be more crowd on the next page so if you're not in here, you might be in there. I'm sorry about everyone who came out not quite recognizable, and also to anyone who did, and especially to those lost in the bleed. ANd THANK YOU, EVERYONE! I had sixty-five photographs to work from! WOO HOO!

Also someone is playing the saxophone in my street, and it's sunny, and so now I will go and get some lemonade before I do the rest of today's work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making Up Bread

Today is the penultimate day of chicken. I decided to roast one - I'm sometimes eating meat these days, when I'm feeling the need. So I roasted a chicken, and had roast one day, sandwiches the next, then some pasta dish with the last scraps, and today soup. The stock smelled respectable, and it seemed only right to have some fresh bread with it. So I thought I'd bake some. Alexis had told me that you can bake bread from yoghurt and something, and I'd read that melted ice cream and self raising flour makes some sort of bread, and I'd been joking with my housemate about the inexplicable bags of self raising flour we both kept in out cupboards.
So I decided to MAKE UP SOME BREAD.
I went out and got a tub of yoghurt. I put some sugar and salt in it, and then added in self raising flour until it felt like bread dough. I threw it around for a bit, ground a few walnuts up in the coffee grinder and added them in, ran out of inspiration, made it into a loaf and put some pumpkin seeds on top for looks.
I pre-heated the oven to 200C, then put it in for a while with a bowl of water because I remembered from baking bread as a child that you are supposed to do that to get a good crust or some such. Then I went away for quarter of an hour and forgot about it.
Then I remembered and turned it down.
I had an interesting discussion for I don't know how long, until suddenly I noticed there was a lovely bready smell. I opened the oven, went WAAAAH BREAD, lifted it out, knocked on the underside and it sounded hollow, which should mean it's done, right?

Yep, it was done.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I started working on my fox novel again yesterday. For the first hour it was just tiring - I have made so many notes of what the change, add, consider, write next, and marked my way through several books on writing... eventually I managed to get my head around all that, and started re-reading and editing. And it was great fun! Some of the sentences flashed up tiny impressions, sounds and images, like memories of things that never happened.
I worked on it some more this morning, and felt the bad mood I have been accumulating in the last days lift. I've been very cross, the sort of angry that children and children's book writers aren't supposed to get (I hear) and mostly because I did not ever get to work for an hour or two at a time without getting interrupted somehow. Or, worse, interrupting myself with thoughts like: what an excellent weather for laundry, and I should really dust this shelf, and how about if I swap the DVD player with the playstation, and actually I would fancy lunch.
The thing about getting things out of the way when you have an unexpected spare hour before you start working is that generally it becomes more and more likely that something seriously distracting WILL happen before that hour is out.
So I've changed my approach - now I decide on what bit of work needs doing, and every time I have a moment I sit down to do exactly that bit of work. And if something stops me, I go back to that work and no other work once I have time again. I'll see what that does.
And I'll make myself do non-work things in the evening, and absorb some more culture. I think tonight I'll read a book - that, also, has not happened enough. And I have excellent things to read... Including an ambitious book on dressmaking, look:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A treat for you: JON KLASSEN

I have become very suddenly obsessed with the work of Jon Klassen. I had a look at his new book, "I want my hat back", at the fair, grabbed a copy, looked him up, realised he made a whole bunch of stuff I've noticed and loved before without knowing who made it, and then I watched this, and now I am happy.
You can be happy too.

Here's the book. It's as good as it looks. Just better. Smells great, too.

London Book Fair, and the Future

I'm back from the London Book Fair, and glad to be shutting up. There was much enjoyable discussion amongst colleagues, to the brink of physical voice-loss.
Officially, I had two minutes talk time to indicate: What I do, How I do it and what I'll do Next, to close a panel talk on the Booktrust Best New Illustrator's award with Anthony Browne, Polly Dunbar and Lauren Child.
So I did. As I walked to the stage I fell over my handbag, which wiped my memory briefly, but I managed to fit in the words "Interactivity", "Encouragement", "Achievable" and "Materials" with my first slide and used the velocity to go "Hooray for digital picture books" and "Art education is great" with the second.
Then I sat back down and listened to a brief discussion of digital media versus print media and wished I could say the last bit of what I had been meaning to: that digital, interactive and multi media options are not out to kill the beautiful picture books. They are there to replace some of the ones that need not be printed on treeslice in the first place, yes. But already some of the most beautiful picture books are made now by people who are versed in digital art, who chose to make a physical book rather than taking the format for granted. We are rediscovering the book as an object, with all the potential it has, and we produce them with a new sense of preciousness and care, aware of the form as well as the content. I think this very exciting.
There is a generation of new artists coming up now who grew up playing great computer games, taking in art from around the world, learning to communicate using words and pictures with crowds of strangers. Isn't that a what illustration is all about?
Some of them will chose to use those digital skills to tell stories in whatever new media are emerging. Some will use the network to exchange traditional skills, and produce tactile objects, and distribute them over the net, and at events that are organised with the help of it. Many will do all of the above.
And who knows what skills those little ones will have who are getting "dumbed down poking at touch screens" today. They are learning how to use a new medium, and they will produce art that will blow our minds, as every new generation does.
It's such an exciting world, I can't wait to see what we do next.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I used a whole load of chemical dyes this week. First I collected all the things that I dyed purple by mistake (dull story that), and added all the boring faded underwear I could find, and chucked it all in the washing machine with a big box of brown, which worked rather well - it's always nice how the bits of lace and elastic stay whatever colour they were, it usually comes out looking more fancy than it ever was.
Then I went out and bought my bi-monthly box of hair dye and decided to go for 'Peach Corrosion' instead of my usual 'French Roast'.
I put it on, coughed for half an hour, rinsed it out... and after that there was no more water in the tap. Have I used all the water, I thought, how careless of me.
Turns out the water mains got hit in the high street somehow. I felt extremely lucky, imagining running  through the neighbourhood in my tattered dressing gown screaming for water, my head blazing with orange dye.
I spent most of the day scrubbing up my old mac PowerPc for a friend - now it is shiny, and so are his friends the portable scanner and other assorted peripherals. And it runs all the programs you need to start an illustration career, I think. It made me happy, seeing how well it is still working, it deserves being used to make lovely things rather than sitting on my shelf. I'll need to make a whole load of popcorn to package it safely in transit to Norway.

Here's my new head:

I'm posting it mostly so my dad can see it's NOT THAT ORANGE
Tomorrow I'll be at the London Book Fair, small part of a large panel of Booktrust winners and judges. I'll give a 10 minute talk on my work (much like any other recent 10 minute talk about my work, no live drawing, sorry) and then see if I ahve anything else to say. I'm likely to be preoccupied with thoughts of the last few Sleepwalkers pages I still need to draw.

When I've finished this book I'll invite some friends round to my house, to draw and cook and eat and have tea and fun.

Song of the Minute: Do you really love me or am I just in your network? by My Little Pony

Monday, April 11, 2011

Almost There...

It's getting very near the end, drawing-wise. Seven pages to go. I'm drawing trees, and feathers, and leaves... one more great trouble to face, and then the grand crowd scene. Yes I will post pictures so you can see if you can spot yourself in the crowd. There's still time to send reference, I have three more pages to draw before I get there.

Otherwise: I just went at my desk with some powertools, broke them in the process but installed an industrial grade metal arm to hold my cintiq at whatever angle I like. Now I can draw on it like on a drawing pad... a huge 10 kilo drawing pad held for me by a robot... nothing wrong with that..

And I posted a sneaky page of Sleepwalkers on my website, go have a look.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Want to be in the comic?

I'll soon be drawing the final crowd scene in Sleepwalkers, and I will need a lot of reference so I don't draw the same child over and over, so if you want to be in the crowd send me a picture of yourself as a child (toddler to young teenager) or of someone else, if they don't mind.
->Here's my contact page<-

Monday, April 4, 2011


The last chapter of SLeepwalkers involves a forest. With scary trees.
Amali is Thinking Hard.
For some reason I'm extremely pleased with this panel.
Probably because everyone looks confused in synch.

Researching on Hampstead Heath. I had to shrink myself down to squirrel size for this picture. It was worth it.

Website All New

I am changing my website to reflect all the STUFF I am DOING.

AnNgy MaN is ANgrYyY

Some very quick sketches I made on board game night. This guy features in the Sleepwalkers comic.
(weird eraser holes in drawing due to sketchbook middle crease being rubbed out lazily)
I have some more reference to consider in finalising the design - some pictures of lovely boyfriend acting angry for camera, and some William Blake illustrations of angels. Maybe also some vintage wrestling footage.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Picture Book Favourites

I contributed a list of 10 picture books that were important to me to the Playing By The Book blog.

Friday, April 1, 2011


My life just changed.


First fully digital doodle - not great, I was just playing around.
I've ordered an adjustable arm because I'm not used to not be able to easily angle my drawings any way I like while I'm working...
And no, that doesn't mean I'm going to produce all digital artwork now. I'm still going to do most of it on paper. This is just for the digital colouring jobs which otherwise crick my neck and numb my brain.