Friday, November 29, 2013

Over the Moon

Or - "the things a wombat will do for a piece of cake"

Wombat book finished-
 here is the front/back cover image.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brisbane Supanova-2013

Well no explanatory photos.
General impression- sold a lot less than Sydney.
Possibly due to me being in an altered state of consciousness most of the time.
 Because the food and most importantly coffee was inaccessible.
So by mid afternoon each day I was in a bit of daze because I hadn't had any coffee or food all day (except for breakfast).
In this respect the Sydney venue is vastly superior.
Plus the artist alley was set in a carpark- yes a carpark,- very classy.

Also I felt very unprepared- I had big plans of getting little art books printed etc- but the whole new computer fiasco and disaster of the last 4 months...I dunno- what happened?...anyway.
Plus I was certain when I was booking the thing that it was on later int he month- did they swap the Brisbane and Adelaide dates at all in the last 2 months?

I got a lot of good feedback on Dinosaur Rocks- from people who had bought it last year and their kids a year later still loved it- thank you- you guys made my year hearing that.
Didn't sell any Wombat's birthday surprise- did sell a few other wombat books.
I was only there the Saturday and Sunday- so I guess the drawing output wasn't too bad given I hadn't done any preparation (see previous post).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Spread

From the Pearson educational book.
There are others of course.

What I did on my holidays

A few sketchbook drawings done for kids at the UNIS school Hanoi.
Actually did a bunch more drawings but gave them away before I could subject them to my photographic skills. And a large-ish one at Bookworm bookshop which I don't have a photo of.
Yes- I went to  Vietnam with my family to visit family- (Pip, Ian, - Jackson William Charlie and Mathew- who all went beyond the call of duty to help us/accomodate us/ feed us- you name it.).

 The single images are giveaway drawings- the mishmash pages are on-plane drawings.
I didn't end up finishing the educational book off before I left though- which was bad.
I had a great time and forgot my troubles mostly for nearly three weeks- which was good-
especially for me.
Saw the fantastic UNIS school and met some of the kids. They don't muck about at that school- the kids seemed quite advanced. Also met the nice people at Bookworm bookshop (Hanoi) and some more great kids.
 I was told I say UM a lot.
 Better than some alternatives I guess.
Again though it was clear I'm far better off drawing rather than talking at these things- lots of people can talk- not as many can draw I guess.

Troubles returned of course when I got back-
I needed to get onto Wombat once I got back but was stymied by finishing the educational book.
Moral of the story- do one thing/one deadline at a time and don't do educational books.
Also the fabled computer arrived and it took days to try and get things working.
I'd forgottten about the whole "takes a week to get things sorted" with new computers.
 I still don't have the Cintiq 24hd working as its supposed to- or should I say-it doesn't work and its not really anything to do with me- so not happy with that.

So whats the plan? I guess somehow get the Wombat book done. After that try to start again and begin to get onto the things I'd meant to get onto starting July.
I tried to write down things I needed to get onto(the last few months) - and the ideas I had in sketchbooks- and thanks be for that -so at least I can look at them now and try to figure out what I need to be doing.
I guess things happen for a reason (or don't happen as the case may be.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Answers to questions-a start.

How do you get ideas for animals and dinosaurs?
I try to do some research on the dinosaur first- to see what people know about what it ate- how it lived- where it lived etc. I have a lot of photos I've taken from live animals at zoos etc  and some reference from the internet of animals with similar habitats, lifestyles...and try to find suitable details and aspects of existing animals that I can extrapolate onto the dinosaur. So for example- I have in my reference folder images of komodo dragons, iguanas, ostriches and cassowaries, galapagos turtles, crocodiles, rhinos, elephants. Animals like cassowaries and ground hornbills I think are good inspiration-cassowaries have quite primitive looking feathers, and dinosaur looking feet and hornbills make me think of pterosaurs. I also have photos of lots of colourful birds and lizards just to remind me of whats possible even now.
For animals I have photos of real ones as reference.
Generally I will spend time looking and studying an animal- looking at the reference and trying to break down the key forms (with simple sketches if necessary)- then I put all reference away and just draw. I do not "draw from photos",- I spend time to learn the structure and forms of an animal  so I can draw it doing whatever I want. To me just drawing from a photo has no value-( if its something you can use a photo of- use a photo).

Do you like dinosaurs?
Yes I do, and as a child I especially liked dinosaurs. I think as I get older I'm being more and more amazed by what exists today though.
I think I'm more interested in "speculative" dinosaur drawing as opposed to scientific drawing.
By that I mean that scientists will generally only put things in their representations that they think they have direct evidence for- I guess for fear of being wrong, riduculed, and being called unscientific .
So you sometimes get a "stripped down " result which might be "correct" so far as we know but doesn't look alive.
Whereas I think its alright to think of what might be possible, or logical, or well reasoned and try that on the drawing. I think when you look at what is about us in the natural world it always seems so much for far-fetched than anything I come up with.
I think also you need to not be afraid to be wrong. For example- when I was a child they thought dinosaurs lived in water up to their necks which is now seen as totally wrong. Now they have evidence for feathered dinosaurs. So the science moves on and new discoveries are being made all the time. Which is a good thing, but it means you need to know the basis for current beliefs and be prepared for  the new and for the things you thought to be proved wrong.

 Why black and white drawings?
There are a few answers to this, sometimes its:-
2.I think " I've got the basis of the drawing down, maybe I'll colour it next week...." and never get around to it....see 1.
3. I actually like black and white drawings.
4. It's also a good stepping stone/ practice for colour drawings because value can be more important than colour for readability- so if it works in black and white it should work in colour.

When I illustrate how much do I think about the details?
 Sometimes I spend too much time worrying about the details, and researching them. I often spend extra  time trying to make things "look the way they should" or "look the way they are"...... its hard to know when good draughtsmanship begins and being pedantic ends. I like to make things look "right" but my wife often scolds me for putting too much work into things.
  Its important to have a "hierarchy of detail"  to maintain readability so that the detail doesn't obscure the forms or make a cryptic pattern , and to place detail where it matters also - for example to draw attention to something. Having areas of low detail or "rest" between areas of high detail is important too.

How long does it take.
For the Little Mates books and the Wombat books  it seems to have taken around 5-6 weeks each.
Basically there is what I call a "multiplier effect" from the number of pages. If I spend a day on each page in total (thumbnails,roughs, final lines and colour) and its a 24 page book- then that's nearly five 5 day weeks.
Generally I do a pass on all the pages of rough lines, rough colour, final lines, final colour-   rather than doing a whole page start to finish then the next. I do this just so quality of drawing is evened out (some days are good some days are bad) and so the look of the drawings is evened out and more consistent (as you get close to the end it seems only then you've finally worked how how to draw the characters right and have learnt the forms and colours).
Normally once I've done the book it takes about 3 months before I get sent an advance copy.

Do I like drawing cartoons.
Actually one of  my ideas  I want to work on next  is more of a graphic novel type of  thing. Graphic novels are hard work though-..... I can see that, and people who work on them  have told me that too.

Why so many birds? Do I like drawing birds?
Why indeed? In the Little Mates series the reason is Australia has a lot of birds and conveniently one for most letters of the alphabet- whereas there isn't the same variety(in names) of mammals and lizards.
I like birds. I do not like drawing them. To do the feathers accurately is time consuming and a real pain, and often I don't have any good reference for the underside of wings.  So I have to grit my teeth and accept that I don't have the time to do it right, and restrain my natural urge to make it "correct", and just bluff it/make it look right even when its not. I have not had any angry letters from bird fanciers yet.

Do I speak with the author?
No, but not by choice. The publishers kind of make sure of that. They want the artist/ illustrator be free to interpret the text.
Which is good.
I wouldn't mind collaborating but the process would be much longer and you would have to have some way of deciding who has final say on what at the outset.
You know -- these artistic types.

Is it easier to illustrate you own book?
It is easier to put more work into it and work longer and harder. Its harder to make harsh judgements and "kill your darlings".  My plan is to work on my own books and projects (later this year and all of next for a start).

Recent examples of roughs:-
You can sort of see the different versions of the same page.
 I left the text off them for copyright reasons.

Some blog posts about Dinosaur rocks

Some posts about Wombat went a Walking.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Zoe and Yoshi arrive....

These turned out fairly nicely after all.'Pen mark and grubby scanner are all me- those don't come with the books.
Thank you "moving finger" that writes and having writ.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Story Arts Festival...

 A last sketchbook scribble- sort of Baba Yaga -ish.
A bit upper class judging by her chicken leg cauldron.

Well I was actually there-at the festival-
doesn't look like it if you look at the various blogs/facebook thingys- but I was there.

A big thank you to Jenny Stubbs and her team of helpers and volunteers who did a great job of the Festival- often in adversity it seems. A true feat of organisation.

A big thank you to the all the children who were great.

Thanks also to the kindness and cheeriness of the various illustrators and authors I met.
In particular Mike Spoor, and Lucia Mascullio, Stephen Axelsen(and his lovely wife) and Sarah Davis.
Good also to meet Martin Chatterton finally, who I knew lurks about Lennox Heads (not far from me), but had never seen.
Much like a yowie I suppose.....
in the being seen dept that is,
not that he looks like a shaved yowie.......
And when I say not far that really about 50km , which is sort of far,
but sort of not when you consider the vastness of space....

It appears Sarah and I have a mutual respect and fear of each others work and both apparently wonder if we know what we're doing at all.
Clearly whatever she doesn't know is working for her,
- so hopefully I am the same.

Stephen was launching "The Nelly Gang" at the festival - which to me is a fantastic bit of work.
The best bit of australian kid's comic for a very long time, but I think adults will like it too.
I hope he does another launch-
but more for the benefit of kids-
because he and Megan Daley had devised a great set and activity for kids as part of the launch- which is sort of lost on the listless adult crowds you tend to get at festivals-
listless in this case because they were probably preoccupied with wondering where on earth they could get a decent coffee from.
 but not lost on the kids obviously.
(If I myself ever do another book launch it will be a kids only (and their parents) affair.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

A few of the sketchbook scribblin's

While at the Ipswich Storyarts festival.
A couple of Shadow king ones- still trying on that, and few others.
But not all.

Friday Sessions at Story Arts.

Alison Lester'-  workshop
Wax resist and stencilling

And some drawing done in charcoal while in Mike Spoors presentation.
Roo was using cray-pas.
Hadn't used charcoal for about 13 years.
35yrs for cray-pas......ahem.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Story Arts festival

A few pictures.
Hopefully I can get some better photo's of the drawings- they're fairly bad(the drawings are not so bad  considering the haste they were done in and it wasn't until this afternoon, on the 4th day,  that I finally found an eraser).
All the drawings were as wide as a roll of Canson paper(1.6m?) and  the width of a folding table high- so bigger than A0 I think.
Peacock is the resident peacock at Woodlands.
Probably the most considerate peacock I've known (ie doesn't call at 3 am. )
The sort of morning shots show a very smoky morning in the distance,- its very dry too.