Happy Friday

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Here is Cheers!, featuring a pair of rainbow lorikeets, a thank you card design I did for my grandpa. These colourful birds often stop by on the tree near my window and can make quite the racket. They certainly help keep the grey winter months a bit more cheerful.

Graphic Short Story... In Progress

I'm working on a submission for a graphic short story competition that closes at the end of this month. When I hear "graphic", I think of comic books, so I've decided to change up my illustration style by using more ink, minimizing colour, and experimenting with different perspectives. Here is a close-up of one of the characters featured in my upcoming story Beaver.

Simone at Paper Planes Co.

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Simone has made the leap out of the state of Victoria! Simone in Australia is now in stock at children's store Paper Planes Co. in Mandurah, Western Australia.

Simone, Chistophe & Friends Now at Space2b

My books and cards are now available at Space2b, a wonderful creative space that features the work of independent artists. Proceeds go to helping newly arrived migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers transition to life in Australia. Space2b offers workplace and business training, mentorships and guidance to financial independence by building on people's existing skill sets and growing their confidence. They also serve as a social space to encourage arrivals to meet other people to expand their networks and make new friends, an important part of making any unfamiliar place feel like home.

Highly Commended

For those who know me, you can imagine that Simone's expression here was pretty much my reaction upon hearing that (soon to be published) Simone in France was shortlisted and then "highly commended" in the Published Author's Illustrations: Illustrated Picture Books category at the Children's and Young Adult Writers & Illustrators (CYA) Conference in Brisbane on July 1.

Oh, and if you're wondering, Simone here has just discovered the fève (i.e., charm) in her slice of galette des rois. Good thing Lilou is around to help her celebrate.

Atlantic Puffins

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This is a commissioned illustration I did featuring Atlantic puffins. Unlike my previous work, this one was quite the challenge as it was drawn at a scale two to four times larger than what I'm used to. Sometimes bigger is better as the puffins required a bit of detail that would have been much harder to do at a smaller scale.

Happy Canada Day

Here's one excited beaver wishing everyone a happy Canada Day!

And for those who've helped review working drafts, I can confirm that this beaver is set to make his own book debut later this year (after Simone's upcoming adventure of course!).

Quick Sketch

I recently attended a workshop that focused on the art of comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. One of the exercises we were asked to do was to draw 25 different characters in 15 minutes. As you can see, I only managed to create 16 in that time as, under pressure, coming up with so many different characters was quite the challenge for me. Hopefully you can still make out what each character is though.

Lilou's City

Unlike Simone in Australia, where I had completed multiple colour versions prior to the final illustrations, Simone in France hasn't undergone as many coloured sketch work. As a result, I've been doing a lot of colouring and recolouring of all, or parts of, the final illustrations. I'm thrilled to say that here is one illustration that I don't plan on retouching. Welcome to Lilou's hometown!

Cheers!

Someone asked me to create an illustration of a lederhosen clad wombat enjoying a glass of wine. Here it is wishing everyone a wonderful weekend ahead.

The Bison Are Back

It's been more than a century since wild bison have roamed Banff National Park and Parks Canada is hoping to re-establish a happy, healthy, and growing wild herd within the next five years. To celebrate this reintroduction of plains bison into Banff National Park, which was next door to where I grew up, here is my latest design, The Bison Are Back, printed on a lemon yellow background.

You can find this bison at Redbubble.

Serenity

You might remember this whale from a previous post. I tend to think of humpback whales as wise and peaceful creatures and decided to turn this whale into its own standalone print for my grandpa. Titled "Serenity", here is the final print on a tea towel.

Putting the Pieces Together

Much like putting together your own home, it's taken a bit of time to outfit Lilou's apartment. I'm not sure if this illustration is complete though. In most cases, I find a book illustration doesn't feel done until the text is in place. I wonder if that's all that is missing here...

The Illustration Process - Stage 3

The third stage of my illustration process is adding colour. I prefer using watercolour pencils because they allow me to create a soft watercolour effect but with some added texture. I rarely use just one colour on any element. The rocks, for example, are a combination of 3 colours and each robin requires blending 5 to 12 colours.

Last but not least is the title for the illustration. Did you know that a group of robins is called a round of robins? Here is Gather a Round (because it's time to celebrate!) featuring 16 Australian robins for my friend Daniel in the lead up to his wedding at the start of April.

The Illustration Process - Stage 2

From the initial pencil sketches and ink outlines of the individual robins, the second stage of my illustration process is all about layout.

After all the robins have been scanned, I can now move each robin around in Photoshop and Illustrator until I find an arrangement I'm happy with. Figuring out the placement can take a bit of time as I need to mentally fill in the background that will turn a collection of individual robins into one cohesive drawing. Once I've determined the layout (top image), I print the illustration out on watercolour paper and ink in the background by hand (bottom image).

The Illustration Process - Stage 1

I recently learnt that Australia has a whole range of robins. They have inspired an illustration for a friend that I've been mulling over for the last few weeks.

Like the Great Barrier Reef and Canadian Prairies illustrations I have planned, here is the first stage of my process for creating this particular type of illustration (as opposed to picture book illustrations that I will share at another time). I begin with pencil sketches that I ink by hand before scanning them onto my computer. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, I clean up the ink outlines and begin playing with layout. The writing you see are the list of colours I have chosen for each bird to bring them to life.

More Decisions!

From fashion to interior design, so many illustrative decisions to make for Simone in France! Here I am trying to colour coordinate the interior of Lilou's home.

Amber

This is an old sketch I did in 2010 for Rob, to remind him of home while he was working overseas. At the end of the path is his family dog Amber. I dug this sketch out because Amber has been on our minds a lot lately as she's been having a rough few weeks.

Extra Challenges

The final illustrations for Simone in France have brought up some new challenges that are taking a bit more time and thought. Unlike my previous two books that featured one or two characters, Simone in France has two main characters and roughly 132 background characters that need to be outfitted (i.e., skin, hair, and wardrobe) and coordinated with their surroundings (e.g., buildings, trees, etc.). Here is my attempt to create some base colours that I can tweak along the way as I begin to bring these background characters to (colourful) life.