The New adventures of Mr Toad. Toad Hall in Lockdown.

I’m not sure where the time has gone, but already book two is out and there was so much I meant to do about book 1! But I have been working flat out on this series, so I shall just get on with telling you all about it.

To begin with I start very roughly, putting something down for every illustration in the book. It then becomes clear which areas need more research- in this case, how to draw a bike, lorries, safes, grilles, various gadgets and an egg throwing machine, to name a few.

 

I then redraw, still in small rough sketches something for each illustration. I look more at the composition and once I am happy with these, I work them up into a bigger rough, checking there is room for the type.


My roughs are normally fairly detailed, working the way I do, its hard to change things once it’s painted, so I try to work as much out as I can in the drawing. They’re usually just a line drawing, with the occasional shadows included. From initial sketch to final rough, some illustrations stay the same whilst others change completely.

 

 

With my limited palette of green and black, my extra colour was purple and I was allowed a bit of yellow for the eggs..

 

Book 2 was much easier to work on, in that I knew all the characters and their world. I had great fun drawing all the weasels and enjoyed drawing not so many cars!

 

 

 

Birds..

I’ve been doing a lot of birds lately, for one thing and another, so I thought I’d show you a couple.

The first was for a wedding card, loosely based on my ‘lovebirds’ screenprint.

wedding birds147

 

The next picture is a sneak peek for a project I’m doing for Little Printer. These are the synchronised swimming geese..Synchronised Swimming Geese

 

what else could they be??

‘Love Birds’

‘Love Birds’ (and I do love birds!) is a new print for my Folksy shop. I was thinking of a card design about Love- Valentines Day was approaching and I’ve  been trying to put together some card designs, and this drawing just grew and grew..

love birds screenprint

..until it was just about print size. (The pink doesn’t show up that well in the picture, it’s actually a bit brighter-but not neon or anything!) Being relatively new to screenprinting, whilst cleaning the screen I inadvertently printed the black onto some newspaper. I quite liked it, so I cut it out.

love bird print collage

Not sure where it’s going, but it’s giving me ideas.

Paper Geeky

As promised here is a post about paper. I had happily been using the same type of watercolour paper since college (Saunders and Waterford, Not, 140LB) but since experimenting with other pens and watercolours, I decided to test out some other papers. Here’s the results of my tests. I started by buying a pack of sample papers, (from Lawrences Art shop) I discarded some straight away for being too textured-not what I wanted and useless with a dip pen. In case you don’t know, paper is graded into three types, HP or Hot press -very smooth, Rough is the opposite and very textured, and Not which is inbetween the two. Paper also comes in weights, which here I’ve shown in LB.

On the test sheets, I tested how it was to draw on with a dip pen and how the paint went on and dried. The sheets with fewer experiments on were discarded earlier, where as those with more needed further experiments.

Sheet 1. Arches, RWS, and Fabriano all were very nice and I came back to these later.  The Bockingford papers I didn’t like painting on and RWS 425 LB was just too absorbant.Sheet 2. The two most successful were the Saunders and Waterford papers, (though bizarrely my usual paper didn’t fare so well in the test, but I ignored it a bit on experience!)  The heavier S.W paper was too absorbant.  Archers rough took the paint nicely, but rubbish with the pen. Fabriano and RWS HP papers, I found the paint sort of slipped off.. it didn’t really soak in and wasn’t nice to paint on.Sheet 3. I didn’t like any of these. All hotpress and didn’t take the paint well, it left marks and wasn’t smooth.Sheet 4. More indepth trials on the favourites. RWS white, Not, 300LB. Nice to draw on and the paint went on nicely, but didn’t seem to dry very flat. Arches, 300LB Not, very nice. Paint went on well and good to draw on.Sheet 5. Fabriano 300LB Not. Nice with pen though scratchy. The paint sort of floats on the surface but dries very flat, I didn’t really like how the paint went on.Sheet 6. After trying them all none seemed as good overall as the Saunders and Waterford paper. I then discovered that they do white paper , so two more tests – both 140LB, both white S and W, and there wasn’t much in it! The HP paper was lovely to draw on and took the paint better than any of the other HP papers I tried. The Not worked ok with the dip pen, lovely to paint on .The deciding fact  was that the paint colour seemed denser on the Not and that swung it for me. Very happy with it.

Some new things..

Its been a couple of weeks since I’ve last posted, and I’ve been trying some new things. I’ve been experimenting with lots of different papers-more on that in a separate post-it could get very paper geeky-if  there is such a thing! I’ve been trying a new pen -Rotring art pen-very nice (but why oh why, does the lid not fit on the end of the pen when you’re using it?? huge error!)

I’ve also been trying to write my own story. Its always been a dream of mine to write and illustrate a book, so I’m having a go. Its a big learning curve, but I’ve lots of ideas and you have to start somewhere! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime heres some images that I’ve been meaning to add..

 

New roughs

Considering one of my new years resolutions was to blog more frequently, I’m not doing so well! All I can say is I’ve been busy. I’ve been reworking roughs which I think has improved the book and characters. Heres a few spreads.

A reworked version of the mermaids party- a bit cropped at the left but you get the idea.

This is the pirates surprising the mermaids, with Lazy bones being stolen away by the squid.

One of my favouite spreads in the book-the pirate conga! Much improved from the previous rough.

I’m now waiting on comments from the publisher to either rework or hopefully start some artwork..