Thursday, 30 January 2014

Still Drawing

Although I've been busy with research I think it's important to still be drawing. I know that this is a continuation from the last dragons I posted but it's keeping up my practice and putting ideas on a page. Hopefully there will be a few more too! I'd also like to consider this style for my Macmillan book. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


So I was back in a book store today, looking at more children's stories. I have to say there are some brilliant books out there. Among some of them were 'Six Dinner Sid' by Inga Moore, one of my personal favourites 'The Rainbow Fish' by Marcus Pfister, a new one which I hadn't heard of before 'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, 'The Storm Whale' by Benji Davies, a brilliant twist of the classic tale 'The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig' by Helen Oxenbury and of course 'The Very Hungary Caterpillar' by Eric Carle. Another which I have to also mention is Alex Scheiffler, who has many books many of which I'm sure we all know including 'Rabbits Nap', 'The Stick Man', 'A Squash and a Sneeze' and 'Room on the Broom'.

It was interesting to see 'Winnie the Pooh' and stories by Beatrix Potter (which I think are quite advanced) in the 3-5 years section. Wonderful stories never the less.

I noted also that many of the illustrations were simple but still contained a lot of information. There was plenty to look at on the page. The illustrations which had more detail were clearly for an older audience but I found it comforting to know that there were still many out there. I like drawing detail so it's good there's some out there, but I just need to make sure it's my own thing. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Red Envelopes

It's traditional for married couples or the elderly to give out red envelopes or red packets to children during the Chinese New Year. They will almost always contain money which will always be an even number. Odd numbers are associated with funerals. Most commonly $8 will be found in the envelopes as the number '8' is also considered a lucky number. 

Chinese New Year

One idea I've considered doing my next book is on the Chinese New Year. I thought it's a great, simple story, which could potentially be brilliant for illustrating!

As we all know it's a traditional Chinese holiday which is celebrated on the first day of the Chinese calendar.However, I started some further research on the occasion and actually found out that the base of the story doesn't revolve around the race.  As I understood it, all the animals were arguing over who should have the New Year named after them so they decided to have a race (or swimming race) to decide who would go when. 
This is just one version of the story. The other I discovered was about a creature called Nian. According to legends the Chinese New Year started with a fight against Nian which is a mythical creature. Nian would come and eat all the livestock and even children on the first day of the New Year so the villagers would lay out food for it to protect themselves. They believed that by laying out the food then Nian wouldn't attack them any more. However they then discovered that Nian was frightened of the colour red, as he was seen running away from a child wearing red. From then on they would hang red lanterns from their doors and windows to fend off the Nian, along with also using fire crackers. The Nian never returned. 

I will need to work on the story a little bit and I don't think the version including Nian will be the best, but I think it's one idea to keep on the table.

This year is the year of the horse, the year I was born in :)

How Things Move Along

Okay, so as I'm sure you've all guessed I tend to change my mind. So I wanted to write a little post just to keep you all updated with 'what's going through my head'. After talking to my tutor and going over the Macmillan project, I may very well be doing a different story besides one on dragons. At this moment in time I'm not 100% sure. I have a few ideas but I'm not going to share them just yet :p I need a few days to think  it through while I'm researching and experimenting. I'm certain on my style of drawing and what sort of things I'd like to try, I also think I'm starting to really understand what my work is about. Based on this it seems clear to me that FANTASY has to be involved somewhere, that's MY world, that's what goes through MY head and best of all it's what I enjoy! So just letting you all know, I apologise for updating with post which is much more boring than the rest (no images). See you all in the next one! ;)

While I'm here, just quickly, here's a link to my Facebook page, also keeping you updated with my work x

Monday, 27 January 2014

Mini Grey

Mini Grey sounds like an amazing lady! So please check out her website at the end of this post. She was given her name after being born in a mini car park in South Wales. On her way to becoming an illustrator she sis a Foundation course in Fine Art, studied for an English degree at UCL, also worked as a theatre designer and a primary school teacher, and then studied for an MA in sequential design which was at Brighton University. She made the decision to learn to write her children's book herself, especially as finding someone to write them for her would be more difficult. And from then on she has realised and illustrated many books which I can show you now. I love how some are taken from a fairy tale and twisted to make her own. I'll show a few examples.

Biscuit Bear

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon

Three by the Sea

Her illustrations are so intriguing. There is actually a lot more going on than you originally think, and that keeps me wanting to look more and more! It's also been cleverly done because the pages aren't ever over crowded. 

Bird Inspiration

I said in the summer that I get a lot of the inspiration for the shapes and figures for the dragons from my two cats at home. This is true however I feel I should research into natural bird shapes, especially after doing my most recent experiment on the dragons with watercolour paints and black and white pen.

I have here a real mix of birds from eagles to swans, hummingbirds and parrots. I'm mostly interested in the shapes they create with their wings, so I've posted a long collection of images which I intend to use as inspiration. 

Although extremely different in the bird world, swans and Harris hawks seem to have caught my attention most. The Harris hawk is deadly, cunning and a little more sinister looking while the swan as we all know is romantic and beautiful and adds something softer. Both however, are wonderfully elegant.

First Experiments

So as already mentioned, I had the summer to start work on my dragon book so there has already been a certain amount of development and as shown, I've already attempted printing a final book. Here I've decided to go back a little bit and do some development again and allow myself to experiment a bit. I don't want to get stuck with presenting the book how it already is, I'd like to attempt doing other things too. 
One of the first things I wanted to get down on paper was to draw the dragons similar to how I did my Firebird from last year. Again, I don't want it to be exactly the same but I liked that style last year and so I thought there was no harm in trying it again. If anything, it gets the obvious on the page and out of my head!

Dummy Books

I've started to do MORE dummy books Yet again. It can be endless in this type of project. In an attempt to recreate the style, design, etc of the book a dummy is probably the best way to go. It's a quick and easy way to change up ideas without much hassle.
I'm leaning a little more towards the dragon book but at this moment in time I'm still torn between continuing with my Nan's poem cat book or the dragon book, so I thought why not do a dummy for both?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Brian Froud

Perhaps I have mentioned him before but he's definitely worth mentioning again because he is such a huge inspiration to me. Froud does some amazing work, creating some of the most charismatic goblin-like creatures. I've just shown some of his work here because although his style of drawing is likely to be far more advanced and mature than the sort of thing I'd like to create for my children's book, I still use his work to help influence and inspire mine. I love the in-depth detail he applies and how he isn't afraid to make something look ugly - this is what makes his work so appealing.