Monday, January 28, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I'm busy painting cats.

I'd like to credit my editor Lucy Ingrams for realising that Tiny cat's favourite toy would always have to be a Tiny Tiny cat.

Friday, January 18, 2013


It's going well. Look at this little beast:
I've finally made friends with the puppy, mostly because I finished painting all the puppies in the book. Now I am painting a purple collar on every one. I've been watching tutorials and downloading brushes and practising, and the book is filling up with painted furniture. Some of it is drawn in ink and scanned, for variety.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been making patterns, because it's useful to have a load of them at hand to slap on wallpapers, furniture and that sort of thing in illustrations.

These were helped along a lot by iOrnament, an ipad app that lets you quickly sketch out pattern designs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Corel Painter joined the team

Today I tried out some digital painting programs because Photoshop really isn't made to paint in, and every so often I need to add to some real-world art digitally.
I ended up realising that Corel Paint is the way to go - you can import full layered PSD files to work with. So here is my first attempt - pretty clumsy. I just clicked on anything that looked interesting and scrubbed it on the screen. Note the stray frizz on the side of the scarf where I accidentally used a weird huge bristly dry brush.
The dog is real-life watercolour, the hat stand is inked in Photoshop, the hats and scarf are Corel Painter.
I'm actually quite impressed.

I'll tidy this and add some more scanned bits and bobs before it's allowed into the book.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I made something move

Today I bought Anime Studio Pro and spent the afternoon learning how to import and animate images.
You may recognise these two.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fox Wallpaper for sale

This lovely wallpaper can be bought at the Colour Makes People Happy store in Dulwich now.
It's patterned with a dandy fox playing with a lace-trimmed handkerchief.

At the moment we only have in in black and white, but you could probably order it in red... phone Simon at the store if you're interested.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cheap Lean Writing Machine

I've had quite a few computers in my life. Some of them I loved more than others, and always for a simple reason: They helped me to get lots of writing done. Writing was pretty much all they were set up for. The first one was a cobbled-together PC with parts that scraped together when it ran. It had a black and white screen and a basic text editing program. That's also the computer I learned my first programming skills on, writing adventure games populated with fully simulated herds of virtual creatures that no one ever believed were actually there because I never added a graphics interface. But I digress. This was twenty years ago or more.
My last favourite, years ago, was the first eeepc model. I managed to unlock the operating system and install Celtx on it, and happily wrote the script for my first graphic novel.

All other computers I had were much more powerful and much less good for writing on. Less reliable. More distracting. So this year I am abandoning my heavy, hot, wheezing old MacBook. I'm refusing to buy a stupid overpriced bread-slicingly sharp MacBookAir. I am going back to the good old days.

I picked up a very small, old ASUS EeePC 900 on ebay - there are loads of them about, hardly used because they are extremely limited and slow. It has a tiny flash memory, but people insist on running Windows on it anyway, then it makes them very cross and it goes straight up on ebay, no reserve.
Mine arrived groaning under the load of Ubuntu - about as useful as a horse on rollerskates. I replaced it with Puppy Linux, which transformed it into the fastest computer in the house.
After that I got stuck and needed some help to install Dropbox and Scrivener for Linux... but eventually it all worked.
I celebrated by putting a badger sticker by Becka Moor on the shiny, shiny lid.

I'll be taking it away to Australia for a month soon to work on a novel.
It's my favourite computer of all times already. Well, the one with the invisible virtual animals on was also pretty good.

New Studio!

I'm now based in zone 1 - I have a desk in a friendly shared near Chancery Lane.
It's nice to have a workplace away from home.
I had meetings for the last couple of days, so I didn't go, but I took the opportunity to walk around East London.
This wall normally has commercial graffiti on it, advertising movies or gadgets, trying to make the companies look cool I guess. I was wondering what rubbish it would be this week, and happy to see that somehow it was something else entirely.

This is next to Haggerston Park, one of these ambitious yet melancholy painted scenes of local attractions... it shows the Brick Lane 24 hours Beigel Bakery, for example, which is actually a good long walk away. I know because I walked there. It's pretty cold today.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I just got my author's copy of our latest book!
It is a very strange book. Alexis wrote it years ago, and we had the text around for a while before we submitted it. It was edited very little - it was pretty much perfect as it was right away.
I drew the illustrations while listening to all the episodes of a "Game of Thrones" podcast, which helped a lot with the battle scenes.
The book stars a large number of rats and a piece of beautiful, glowing, velvety Jarlsberg (I spent some time in the cheese aisle at Sainsbury's choosing the perfect piece, I'm glad they didn't have me removed).
Get ready to buy your copy! You will need one, because else how will you know who cheese belongs to? It's more complicated than you might think, you know.

Edit: The podcast, by the way, was "Boars, Gore and Swords". I do NOT recommend it as a jolly thing for your children to listen to while reading my book, because that would be inappropriate. I do recommend it to listen to if you enjoyed "Game of Thrones" but felt like it didn't have enough mentions of Batman.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tim Spooner

My friend Tim makes beautiful art that is full of the wonders of science... somehow around him inanimate things come to life. Whole planets happen. Watch this:

Last night I went to the opening of an exhibition called "Beauty is Present" in  the beautifully dilapidated Hanmi Gallery in central London.
I saw a performance by Tim of his piece "24 grotesque manipulations", billed thus:
"A collection of altered objects with particular properties is demonstrated - an ensemble of flawed walking machines, nervous sculptures and cartoon protoplasms - in an attempt to reveal the inner lives of their atoms".
Tim is dressed in a whistling mechanical suit with motors, speakers, wires, switches, and cavities full of experimental substances and objects that he brings out and meticulously demonstrates.

Tim Spooner Demonstrates 24 Grotesque Manipulations
It's wonderful. You should see it if you can.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Run, Write, Tidy.

Does that sound like your New Year Resolutions at all?
If it does, maybe you'd like some Practical Recommendations.

I read this column by Charlie Brooker some time ago, describing his horror on using a running app that actually worked and made him run. Like probably everyone else who read it I got the app. And now I'm running. Go figure.
"Get Running" is lovely. A friendly voice tells you when to run and when to stop running. It cheers you on a little bit, but not too much. You can listen to music at the same time. It's not killed me yet. I'm running.

I've read a good few books on how to write. Novel-writing isn't my main job (yet!) so I have to squeeze it around my illustration work, and I find it hard to not lose track.
I came across a book that really feels right, giving some sound advice on how to get a lot written, have fun, and not bullshit yourself.
It's the ambitiously titled "2000 to 10.000" by Rachel Aaron. For me, a more accurate title would be "Some Words to 2K". But it is good advice. Check it out.

If you feel overwhelmed by the task of decluttering your life, reading "Discardia" by Dinah Sanders is a pretty good starting point. It's very practical. It will help you to make and defend an island of calm order and work your way outwards... and it's fun.

I have no affiliation with any of the above stuff, just found it useful.
There you go! Have a nice year!