Day 123: Magic Mushrooms

I now have storyboards coming out of my ears, the flat is sinking under them! Still not happy with the story. I’ve been reading ‘Writing with Pictures’ by Uri Shulevitz, which explains pictorially how to tell a story without words. Everything he writes seems blindingly obvious however I seem to have contravened every rule he outlines. Repeatedly. So that’s a work in progress.

In other news I’ve been designing patterns to have printed on fabric. I had a very specific idea of how Flossie’s dress should look and it seemed easier have my own design printed onto fabric, rather than struggle to find the exact pattern in a shop. Below are my sketches and plans for the design  and the final printed fabric which arrived today! It was very exciting. And then I couldn’t help myself from trying it out in situ, so below you’ll find Flossie featuring ‘tiny mushroom’ wellies.

mushroom illustration


Day 107: The wild swan’s death-hymn

Melodramatic title, apologies. I’ve been stuck in bed with a stinking cold this weekend, I therefore blame all the inadequacies of this post on lemsip max.

It hasn’t been all bad, I’ve watched all the period dramas Lovefilm has to offer (a ‘tolerable’ selection) and I’ve had some time to re-draft my storyboard. I can’t pretend I’m especially happy with it, whilst the story flows over the pages a bit better now I keep spotting new things that don’t work.. I’m either satisfied with the words, or the pictures, but not both. In the original story Flossie talks to Wol about all the things she loves to do, then at the end when she realises Wol doesn’t really like doing any of this she asks him: “Wol, do you love me?”. On the following page there’s a picture of Wol jumping up to give her a big hug and Flossie says: “I love you too, Wol.” At some point I decided that neither of them would speak and the story should be told in the third person, but I think I should probably change it back because the potency of Wol’s unsaid words are lost when Flossie is also silent. Or I could just be over-thinking it..

Anyway, I am including storyboard #2 below, again it bears the disclaimer of being ‘very rough and subject to change’. This time I had a faff around with felt-tip pens, mostly because I like colouring in and think white space is boring. But a little bit because I want to use two different colour schemes to represent Flossie and Wol’s respective outlooks… arty arty yadda yaa…blues sad, oranges happy etc. But I got carried away with the grey pen and Wol is now perpetually sad, woops!

storyboard #2


P.S. Will try and post something pretty next time!


Day 45: Tis the season to be jolly busy.

I’m suffering a crisis of inspiration. I could use the time to sort my life out… my flat is a state, there’s a mountain of laundry to do, need to go food shopping, should attempt some sort of academic progress, Christmas shopping,  blah blah etc. AND my landlady is coming to inspect on Friday – suspect reasonable grounds for eviction. Flossie is being less than helpful, she insists its time to get the Christmas decorations out and there has been some confusion about what exactly we’re decorating.

christmas wol

I’ve been trying to think about what makes a classic a classic. Beatrix Potter for example, her Peter Rabbit has been adored by children for over a century; so what is it that makes a character endure? I haven’t come up with anything sensible. Wol thinks Peter Rabbit probably had his wings sewn on better. Flossie already sees her name lit up amongst the likes of Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins. Everyone has a favourite childhood book, so this is my Christmas appeal to you: tell me what yours is and why did it appeal so much? Over and out.


Day 40: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

If talking to oneself is the first sign of madness, which sign is spending the evening attempting to placate outraged inanimate object after fellow inanimate object was knitted winter accessories? And subsequently feeling guilty for calling them ‘inanimate objects’? I thought Wol’s neck looked a little bare you see, so I made him a scarf. The ensuing insanity, whilst possibly disturbing to the casual observer, was actually the sort of thing I was hoping would happen by creating my characters. It helps me get to know them and gives me ideas about what might happen in their story.

In other news I went to see the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform The Nutcracker last night (stunning, inspiring, awesome). And so I was listening to Tchaikovsky’s music whilst the above unfolded. Thoroughly recommend popping on ‘Trepak’ or the ‘russian dance’, as appropriate soundtrack to the following:

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Day 1: What you don’t know would make a great book.

Everything I know about illustration and children’s books has come from reading and admiring the work of others. My best and most relevant qualification is an A-level in Art and Design. That was over 5 years ago – and involved little illustration. Since then I have been studying chemistry at university and indulging in a ‘closet artist’ lifestyle. But no more! So let’s crack on shall we? And hope I don’t fail my PhD in the process.

You might be wondering how much I know about the book I’m about to write. The answer is not a lot but I have an idea of what the story involves, how it progresses and how it will finish. It is a book aimed at children up to the age of 5 or 6; a 24-page picture book where the illustrations tell a majority of the story and the words are kept to a minimum. I have a vague idea about the characters: two friends, possibly a child and their pet or toy. So that’s where I’m going to start, by getting to know my characters. I have found a fantastic book which covers the topic of character development, Martin Salisbury’s “Illustrating Children’s Book’s”, not only is it well written and informative, but it includes beautifully illustrated examples – not as common as you might think in books about illustration. And so it begins…