Friday, 26 May 2017

2015 ACEOs

 Well it’s been a good long while since I blogged again (September 2015 to be specific) but this is good news for you the reader because it means I have the whole of 2016 to cover and already a fair amount from 2017 Yay :D Can I get a yay?!

Alrighty then. This is the last post I need to make regarding the work I created in 2015 about my beloved ACEOs. I think I improved quite a bit in miniature work once again this year and created an interesting variety. I’ll try and keep this fairly short since there are a lot of images but will show you two that I had the presence of mind to capture in progress to show my process alongside all the finals. Just skip the written descriptions and look at the pictures there if it suits you better!
Starting with the animal crew then and horizontal 2.5 x 3.5” pieces as shown below.
As you can see, it’s mostly cats and foxes. No surprise there!

Below is one of my tigers (not in the above montage) shown in stages with the process I used written out underneath.


I like this one because I didn’t over-work it which is something I know I have a tendency to do.
Stage one on the left is my pencil drawing. I like to use a col-erase grey pencil for this stage because it’s less messy than a regular graphite pencil, I try and keep the work light and linear and plot all the essential points. I made hollow shapes for where I wanted the darker patches of the tiger fur to be, this isn’t something I always do but it is a technique that works well. This stage takes me about an hour, sometimes less if my spatial eye is tuned in and sometimes more if I am having a bad sketching day.  

I knew the background for this piece was going to be ‘out of focus’ or rather just a blend of soft colours so a few little squiggles were enough to remind me of that fact.

Stage two in the middle is where I start adding colour and I like to use markers to do this because, especially on such a small piece, they cover a lot quickly. At this point I try to block the thicker slots and/or shapes of colour plus leave white or indicate where shadow and light might be. This stage is still quite loose and the focus is tone and colour not detail true shadow or highlights. I usually find this the fastest stage.

Stage three on the right is by far the one that takes me the longest. Now I have laid out the linear shape, ideas for tones and shadows and where patterns might be I have to go in and hone those details. For this I like to use coloured pencils and sometimes fine liner pens depending on the piece. For white my favourite go-to is Sakura white gel pen because it sits on top of the other mediums and therefore can be added last.

The pencil work here is achieved by following the guides I have set out in terms of colour and shape, repeating them in a different medium and attempting to add texture to the fur and the soft sand. So it’s a mark-making and sharpening of the image stage which requires some very sharp pencils and a lot of patience in making and repeating line after line for fur or softly swirling the colour for the soft rocks and shouting at my pencil sharpener. After that I add the whiskers :P White does go on last but since I use a gel pen I often find it needs a little refining with a pencil or sharper point once it is laid down.

So now that I have explained that here are the vertical animal/realism pieces I created in 2015:
Of course I didn’t stray away from fantasy, how could I?

Horizontals first again and yes there is a wee fox in this lot but it was a fox used in the fabulous fictional children’s story ‘Emma Jean Finds A Friend.’

The only other two notable pieces with stories behind them beyond the obvious in the above selection might be -top left- which was drawn from a shot in Jan Svankmejer’s stop-motion version of Alice. (If you have read a lot of this blog you will know I spoke extensively about that film in my BA dissertation and the story of Alice does have a special place in my heart.) On the right of that in the top row is a Cheshire ‘Panda,’ and Panda is one of my original characters who is bonkers. I’ll refrain from describing her in detail again but will say I love playing dress up with her crazy persona when the challenge suits.

Vertical fantasy pieces next and the other image showing process.

I’ll start with the process one since I don’t need to explain much. With this one I did two layers of block colouring before moving on to the finer detailing.

The only thing I really need to explain here is how this came about! I was taking part in a challenge where the theme was ‘picnic time’ and I wondered what a picnic might look for my vampiric character. This is what I saw. I also feel the need to point out his feet, they are purposefully curled up so that his soles don’t touch the floor. I’m wondering if I should have changed this to make a better image but another odd quirk of this character is that he dislikes ‘things’ touching his feet, including the blanket on floor or shoes… drawing them curled in this way then made sense while I was thinking about the character. Whether or not it adds or takes away from the quirky picnic is then up to you the viewer.

Onwards and upwards to the finale! The last things I am going to share in this post, the vertical fantasy ACEO work I made in 2015! I can count seven that relate to my original characters and yes another Alice reference ^_^

And that’s the lot to finish up 2015. Hope you enjoyed them :)

Saturday, 10 September 2016

2015 Inktober

Now this is going to be quite an image heavy post so beyond this intro I’ll try and keep the text to the minimum. For those who don’t know I will explain that Inktober is a challenge that happens every October to create one ink drawing for every day of the month. Now I hadn’t tried this challenge before and wasn’t certain exactly what type of images I should be creating so I just rolled with it and made them out of every type of ink in my possession!
I think I have these in order of creation so here we go...

Rover - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Bug - 5 x 7"

I kept up fairly well with the challenge, missing a day or two and then caught up by making a few speedy extras on other days. I will say it was difficult! 

Tero and Toco, dressed for Halloween - 5 x 7"

Not all of my illustrations went to plan and trying to figure out a new thing to ink every day was harder than I anticipated. Oh and then there was the small issue of having massive hard drive failure half way through the month – eeek! >.<

The Fallen - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Thankfully I didn’t lose any work but it did slow my progress when it came to showing my efforts online.

I Hate Mondays - 5 x 7"
Oh we all know this feeling...

Pinnacle Point - 5 x 7"

Delicious - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

October tends to be a busy month for me because I love Halloween and my husband and I like to put on fancy dress and go to the local park to watch fireworks and hand out free glow sticks to the kids. It’s always fun with a big bonfire, hot dogs, hot chocolate and of course meeting the locals.

Acid Gaze - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Autumn Magic - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Not only that but my husband and I got married on October 27th so we have our wedding anniversary to celebrate only a few days before Halloween ^_^ (and yes we had a Halloween themed reception!!)

Spirit Cat Hat - 7 x 5"
Yes I really own not one but two of these cat hats ^_^

After Dark - 5 x 4"

I ended up with thirty-four small illustrations by the end of the month so I was very pleased I decided to give this challenge a go. ^_^

Thought Cup - 5 x 4"
More people connected with this image than I thought - go figure.

My approach for most, although not all, of these began by staining various sized pieces of Bristol vellum card with ink backgrounds. This was a good starting point to get my imagination going since I do suffer from ‘blank paper syndrome.’ By simply throwing down some colours I found it easier to image shapes, scenes, creatures, characters and of course since it was October plenty of Halloween themed ideas!

Don't Buy Local Lamplight - 5 x 4"
Ok this was inspired by a band I was listening to named Idlewild. They have a song which repeats the lyrics 'don't buy local lamplight.'  The song is on their 100 Broken Windows album and is named, 'I Don't Have the Map,' which I guess is quiet fitting to how lost I felt in this art mission! Just in case you want to check it out. My drawing has little to do with the song other than it involves a lamp lol.

Death on Stilts - 7 x 5"
This one was inspired by a local group of juggling/stage performers named Kinshira. We went to watch their show and I was very moved. One awesome character was indeed death, literally on stilts!
I wasn't so happy with the way this turned out as a piece of art but hey-ho, moving on..

Dandelion - 5 x 4"
Inspired by the big beautiful dandelions that grow around our house - they are the size of tennis balls!

Black Widow - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"
Yeah we have these too ¬.¬

Orca - 4 x 5 "
Because I watched the film Black Fish, twice, cried insanely both times!!

Rain - 5 x 4"
Comfy ^_^

Panda Gets It Wrong - 5 x 4"
Based on an online conversation about bra burning - I was very wrong about the facts, oops.

Gravestones - ACEO - 3.5 x 2.5"

Spectre - 5 x 4"
I'm guessing we watched a horror film that night...

The Forest - 4 x 5"
Experimental line work

The Bonfire - 5 x 4"
Love bonfires!! ^_^

Coffee - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"
This is close to my heart ... and sanity.

Murmuration - 5 x 4"
I didn't know a flock of birds moving this way was called a murmuration, now I do :)

The Divide - 5 x 4"

The Writing Desk - 4 x 5"
Of course this one has a special place in my heart! Made using only Parker writing ink too.

Tornado City - 4 x 5"

Little Dark One - 5 x 4"
Given you both the line work and then the messy inking I did afterwards. Keir is one of my original characters, the youngest and possibly strangest so I couldn't resist adding him to Inktober. The piece is called 'Little Dark One,' because that is what the name Keir is said to mean, very fitting!

The Atlas Moth - 4 x 5"
Wanted to let loose with splatters :)

Campfire Tales - ACEO - 3.5 x 2.5"
Another original character but mostly wanted to make something creepy.

To the Flame - 5 x 4"
I lost count by the end of the month so ended up with two extras. This is the first and I quite like it.

Stone Sitter - 7 x 5"
This was my second extra and I'm not fond of it. Some nice qualities in there but would need some work I think. Never-mind, I survived the whole month and some - hooray!!

Would I take this challenge again? Yes, I think I would despite the fact that October is a busy month I was pleased with several of the illustrations I created and it really helped pull me out of my sluggish comfort zone and get creative! Anyone can take part since it is a self-set challenge so I also enjoyed seeing what others made during the month. Why don’t you give it a go? You might be pleasantly surprised at what you end up creating! :)

Saturday, 27 August 2016

2015 Storybook Work

I had the ultimate good fortune in 2015 to be commissioned by the wonderful Darcy Nybo for several projects. Two of those were children’s stories she had written. The first was Emma Jean Finds a Friend. After browsing some of my illustrations Darcy hit upon a wonderful idea that would incorporate them into a lovely little fantasy tale. There were gaps of course so she commissioned me to create the extra drawings required. 

The sweetest part of this is that she chose two ACEO illustrations I had created of my sister-in-law’s daughter Liv to be the main character of Emma Jean! ^_^ Thus little Liv is now famous and all because her mother commissioned me to illustrate her holding the slugs that she loves so much.

The story itself is cute too, as I am sure the below images will display. The illustrations shown are without the text since Darcy added that later. I would say more about the content and surprising ending but I don’t want to give away spoilers!

Emma Jean Finds a Friend


In the Clearing

Cat Stretch

That Tickles!

Light at the End of the Caverns

Be my Friend

If you are interested in seeing more, Emma Jean has a facebook page here:

You can also purchase a copy (physical or ebook, free on kindle unlimited) from Amazon here:

The second book we worked on together was illustrated entirely from scratch. The story is told from the point of view of a cat and dog named Sam and Gina, who just so happen to be pets Darcy herself owned as a child. Again I won’t reveal what happens but it is a cheeky little tale.

I have only included a selection of the images I created for this just to give you an overview and as read, so as not to spoil the story. I found this project quite challenging since the characters were not my own. It took quite a bit of back and forth design altering to get to a point where we were both satisfied with the look. After some nifty editing by Darcy I think the final came out wonderfully.
Again the images shown as those prior to the text being added since Darcy took control of the typography.

Bark Swat Crunch

Sam and Gina


A Well Earned Nap

Something Afoot

What’s That?

If you are interested in seeing more; Bark Swat has a facebook page here:  

You can also purchase a copy (physical or ebook - free on Kindle unlimited) from Amazon here: 

I have not had the pleasure of working on another storybook yet (in 2016) but I am hopeful I will get to try this again. As always I hope you enjoyed this blog entry and see you again next time. :)