I am an illustrator using graphite, pen, biro, watercolour, and coloured pencil, scanned and assembled in Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint – where I also colour and texturise. I like to keep a hand-drawn element to my images, and often include coloured outlines as part of them.

Blog

Working to a self-imposed brief is fun

Sometimes I have wondered if my first idea is my best. Obviously I carry on either way – you have to hand over a couple of good ones to an Art Director. And especially not a version that you’d hate having to work on! Anyway, having had a good rest this summer, I set myself the task of illustrating the dangers of obsessive internet use by young people, for whom collecting Likes has often taken over from real socialising in person (not always but often). I came up with four ideas, two of which I quite liked and two that…

Mixed media, hand made or digital?

Ticking upload boxes on portfolio sites, such as the Association of Illustrators in the UK and the Directory of Illustration in the US is always problematic for me. Nearly everything these days ends up digital. If you just scan it in and send it to the client, I guess it is hand made. Anything added and it could be deemed digital. On the other hand, visibly digital is quite different from using digital means to an end (isn’t it completely obvious who has used Illustrator or some special Photoshop brushes?). So what are art directors expecting if they key in…

Healthy self-criticism!

  I was illustrating the concept of using criticisms of your self as fuel for achievement – especially if the crits are weighed alongside your positives. I came up with four basic ideas, and picked one to develop. When I’d done what was instinctive and ‘me’, and before I put the hands right, I looked at it and thought: that’s unbalanced and bitty. Well it was: So I set about deconstructing the Photoshop layer file and discarding the bits I wouldn’t use again. In writing, we always say ‘Kill your darlings’. Same for illustration, I guess. I liked my bits of paper where…

A raft of flowers

I like this sort of project because there is a rhythm to adding the next illustration all the time. I did them over a recent week after my father suddenly died. It was therapeutic as much as anything. He loved his garden. I also like working with a soluble ink pen. I have two Rotring ArtPens in Fine and Extra Fine. They work a treat for sketching in the image and then wetting it judiciously to make the tones. I often use a Derwent water brush for this part, because a real paintbrush can often hold and release too much water. The…

Mixed skills needed!

Editorial illustration demands so much more than just being an artist. Not only do you need to keep in mind the basic art requirements of composition, content and values – which includes checking it reads in black and white plus leading the viewer’s eye to the most important thing – but some element of “up-to-date-ness” and perhaps even an ability to use an essence of cartooning, for example. I find this variable set of add-on needs stimulating. For instance, I was depicting Donald Trump and his declared “USA first” ideas and how they might deter people who would choose to go…

Genesis of an image

I’ve read a lot this year about the organisation called Birthrights. They seem to have been featured in may publications, probably because there is always a story about a woman who has been poorly treated in pregnancy. (You do seem to lose a lot of control and a lot of basic human rights when pregnant.) And perhaps also because their CEO, Rebecca Schiller, is a good writer and passionate about the cause. Anyway, I was inspired to create an image that, for me, sums up the facts of women often being sidelined or even completely shut out of the decision-making process when…

Character continuity

I often try to draw the same character doing different things. Keeping the style, keeping the character recognisable: it’s all grist to the mill in children’s illustration. I thought of these two kids last week and drew the first image out in ink. I used permanent ink for the characters and soluble ink for the background – I wanted to keep the focus on the characters, who would be coloured, and leave the background as monotone after some moving around of the soluble ink for shading. The digital work was done in Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint – I just love the blending brush in CSP and often choose…

Journey of an illustration

I read the news about the latest plan to fine CEOs if their firms conducted unwarranted cold calling. Immediately an image sprang to mind (well that’s what you would want in the heat of a commission, obviously, if it were one!). So I sketched it out. I knew straight away the pool of tears was OTT and thought I’d better have a few different ideas. I also knew I’d need some snakes and some telephones photos to make a more accurate image, even if I stuck to my normal hand-drawn, sketchy feel. So I came up with the idea of a sledgehammer because…

Biro to the fore again

I spent a long time doing biro sketches of children last year. I still love using a scribbly biro and have been tempted to ditch heavier ink outlines and revert to type! Anyway, I painted this little toddler tennis star and was wondering about a background for him. I decided to sketch the flowers in his garden in biro (ball point, if you call it that), and then simply locked the unused pixels on the flower layer and brushed various colours over the linework to make a background without it being intrusive. I had my doubts at first, despite liking it, but then…

Attics, magic and books

I wrote a short chapter book which would divide into six chapters. It seemed reasonable for the target age group to have a six-year-old girl going to a new school, having just moved into a new home. It would need colour illustrations on every page, I think, to encourage the new reader to read, even if being read to. The (dreaded, compulsory!) synopsis starts like this: Jess hates her new house because it is draughty, noisy and ghostly. She also hates her new school because she has, as yet, no friends. Grandad has stopped travelling and moved into the attic….