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.

Love is in the Air

It only took me more than 4 weeks to come up with a Valentine's Day design. Here it is, my new print design titled Love is in the Air, featuring galahs. I often see these birds in the nearby park and their distinctive pink and grey plumage remind me of the colours and shapes we associate with love.

This print design is dedicate to Alexandra and Mathieu. I think the theme is quite fitting for their wonderful news. Congratulations to you both!

Bonjour Lilou!

Who will Simone be visiting next in her second book? Get ready to meet Lilou in France. Just over 3 years in the making, what adventures will Simone and Lilou get up to?

Stay posted as Simone in France is coming soon...

Koala Spotting

This new print design is inspired by my time down at Apollo Bay, along the Great Ocean Road. If you ever have trouble bird watching in Australia, you can always give koala spotting a go instead. How many koalas can you spot high up in the eucalyptus trees?

Colour Swatches

With the line illustrations for the next Simone adventure complete, I've moved on to creating colour swatches for the different elements that pop up in the story. I have quite a few more to go until I start adding colour to the final illustrations.

In the meantime, a big Thank You! to Virginia Pow for her wonderful book review of Simone in Australia in the The Deakin Review of Children's Literature. You can read it here.

Happy Lunar New Year

To ring in the Year of the Rooster, here are a couple of Greater Prairie-Chickens. Once numbering in the millions across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, these Greater Prairie-Chickens have unfortunately vanished from the Canadian prairies due to a loss of habitat. There is hope yet for these striking birds, as small populations can still be found in the US.

Fairy Wren Style

People used to think that superb fairy wren groups were composed of a single male with many females. It turns out that the bright blue plumage is only found on mature breeding males, whereas mature non-breeding males have a more similar appearance to the females. This means a group of fairy wrens can be a mix of male and female numbers.

Here in my latest print design (from left to right) is a casual looking mature non-breeding male, a formal looking mature breeding male, and a female, characterised by the bright orange ring of feathers around her eyes, ready for any occasion.

Find this print (and others) at Redbubble.

Trying Out Print-on-Demand

Over the last year, I've found that managing the printing and distribution of my work is eating into my creative time and proving to be a bit of a headache now that I'm branching into bags and apparel. As a result, I've decided to try the print-on-demand marketplace called Redbubble. With an office in Melbourne and featuring artists from all around the world, it's worth a look.

A Hoot!

My first illustration of the year is the endangered burrowing owl in the Canadian prairies. These owls like to nest and roost in old burrows made by prairie dogs.