Sunday, April 16, 2017

More First Easter Eggs

Easter has rolled around again, so we needed a couple more felted Easter eggs for two little girls who are celebrating their first Easter in 2017. The first one of these I made was in 2014, and I did three last year and one in 2015. I've made quite a few!

These eggs have a slightly different design from the eggs I've done previously, because the egg cups we had for them we different to the ones from other years. Spots just didn't seem to match!

Each egg has an initial on the back - J for Jemima, H for Hannah. 

Here they are together, in their egg cups. I'm really annoyed that one of them is so much smaller than the other. I only had one polystyrene egg, so I made the other one from scratch, needle felting dacron and covering it with pink roving. But I misjudged how much it would shrink when I felted in the pattern.... so while they started out the same size, the dacron egg shrunk while the polystyrene one stayed, of course, the same size. A lesson to me to pack the base shape harder to start with! I had thought that as the pattern wasn't going to cover all that much of the egg that shrinkage would be minimal, so I lazily didn't spend hours felting the shape to rock-hardness.  

Merino Wool over Polystyrene/Dacron. A couple of hours each. 

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Move along, no eggs here!

For Easter, Colour Collective had 'Jonquil Yellow' as its prompt. Originally I was going to go with a lamb, garlanded with flowers, and I'd got most of the way through the linework when I suddenly changed my mind and decided to go with something more Australian (not that sheep are not Australian, but they're not actually native!)

Here in Australia we have the Easter Bilby. A bilby is a rabbit-eared bandicoot, a super-cute burrowing marsupial, so an apt animal for Easter. We still have the Easter Bunny, of course, and we still have chocolate rabbits - but there are also chocolate bilbies, which help to raise awareness - the bilby is critically endangered and needs all the help it can get. 


Bilbies are not noted for their jonquil yellow fur, but they do like to burrow near acacia shrubs - which handily have yellow flowers - and I added in some yellow Easter eggs as well. Our little bilby here is doing his best to distract you from them, it's not Easter Sunday yet!

Here's the partially-completed lamb linework:

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. About 2.5 to 3 hours, I think. I was watching tv at the same time. ^.~

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Yet again, a very quick Colour Collective, but one that I like, and that other people seem to like as well, so that's nice. =) 

The prompt was 'Burnt Sienna', which is a very rich brown. As I was in a hurry I looked at the sketches I'd done during the week to see if one of them was suitable to use brown in, and settled on a viking girl cooking, inspired by a photo in the March issue of The National Geographic:

Here is the original sketch:

I redrew it in dark brown to fix up a few mistakes, but mainly stuck to the sketch. I had fun with that halo of blonde hair!

Here's the original photo that inspired the sketch (handily in National Geographic's Instagram feed so I don't have to scan it from the magazine):

It nearly wasn't a viking girl, the other sketch I was considering was this pirate:

I'd still like to take her a bit further. Do you think I made the right choice for my CC?

About 3 to 3.5 hours (including the original sketch) in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Golden Ball

I always seem to be doing my Colour Collective pieces in a rush lately! I threw this one together in a couple of hours, as quickly as I could. Originally I had intended to include the Frog Prince himself, but on the whole, I'm glad I didn't have time to do so. I think the image is stronger without him.

The prompt was 'Bluebell', which is the blue I used in the background. Of course the obvious thing would have been to draw actual bluebells, but since when is obvious fun? 

About 3 hours in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bramble and Briar

I'm dividing my new website by age (so children's, middle grade, young adult) rather than the previous division of colour/black and white, digital/traditional, and realised that my Young Adult section was a bit thin. While staring into space trying to think of something to do for it, my eye fell on a portrait I did of a friend back in year 12, as one of the three paintings I did in TEE art. It's very dated now, my skills have improved so much, and I was never entirely happy with it as it was - and what better to put in a Young Adult illustration portfolio than a redo of a piece I myself did as a young adult? Plus, I'd come across the photos I took for it back in the day, while I was sorting out files on my computer. It was fate!

Here's the final piece:

I designed it as a book cover. I know everyone generally says that you shouldn't include text in your illustration portfolio as illustrators aren't qualified to work with type - but I have a degree in design, and I do a lot of work for self publishers, who need to see that I can apply type to a cover for them. So as a compromise, I have a version with text available upon roll-over on my website. Best of both worlds!

This isn't a real book. I came up with a title that fitted the image, and used a random name generator until I snagged one I liked for the author. I envisage that text being shiny gold foil....

It's quite a radical departure from the original painting I did back in 2004. I was referencing the Pre Raphaelites when I did it, and looking at the Victorian language of flowers. The plan was to do something very lush and a bit Bollywood inspired, with a huge bunch of white carnations, with a single red rose in the middle. But my art teacher didn't like that idea, and insisted I use coloured carnations, which really mucked up the message. I didn't paint the flowers very well anyway (not aided by the fact that I was working in oil paint, which gives me a bad migraine. Not the best situation for good painting!)

Here is the original:

Yeah. Oil paints really aren't my thing! 

So this was a chance to do it over, see how much I'd improved, and get more of the feel I'd originally been going for when I did the painting. However, I'm still scarred from painting all those carnations with a migraine, and I just couldn't bring myself to do a page full of carnations. So I went with all roses, influenced, no doubt, by the fact that I was listening to Robin Mckinley's Rose Daughter at the time.

Here's the reference photo. Isn't my friend gorgeous?

And here's a progress animation:

As you can see, one of the final stages was to add a colour adjustment and some lighting. That's the beauty of Photoshop. I also duplicated a lot of the roses, for which I am not sorry. =P 

All-up this took about 20 to 25 hours, and I did it in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. No oil-paint-migraines for me this time!

Christening Cards

When Colour Collective's 'Clover Green' prompt came around, what I *really* needed to be doing was a couple of Christening cards for my cousin's two daughters, so I used the colour in the cards to get two things done at once. 

The card I shared for Colour Collective featured this illustration. This is Mary, the older of the sisters (she's nearly four). I wanted to go with a very spring theme as that seemed appropriate for a Christening card:

I added text to make it into a card:

And I also made another card for her sister Jemima - but just with flowers on, as Jemima is only six months old:

I used the same font family (Storytime) on both cards, to tie them together, and used daisies on both, as white flowers are popular for Christenings.

I added clear glitter to both cards, but I didn't have time to take a photo of the final result. It was one of those weeks where it was all go! =P

Both cards done in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Rock Pool

I did this little piece a few weeks back for Colour Collective's "Sweet Potato" prompt. I decided I'd have fun playing with a limited colour palette, since it was such a retro orange. It reminded me of the reading books my mother (a teacher) has from the 70s - black and white with one spot colour at different strengths. I am so glad we no longer have to separate colours for colour printing now!

Here's a look at my screen while I was in the sketching phase. As you can see, I had a reference that I'd picked up in a google search, but I was only using it very vaguely, really more as a way to get the balance of the figure right. When you're drawing a figure it helps to have some sort of reference to hand, just so you remember your proportions. (Yes, at some point after I took this screenshot I decided her legs were too lanky)

Adobe Photoshop CC 2016 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. Not entirely sure how long it took me because I'm very late writing this post and I've forgotten, but it was a couple of hours. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017


I was inspired by the enormous turbans of Nihang Sikhs for Colour Collective's 'Deep Koamaru' prompt. I'd had pictures of them pinned to Pinterest for quite some time. It's always good to have boards that you can just scroll through until inspiration hits!

Here's my illustration, thrown together very quickly. It's another of those Colour Collectives that I think have much more potential, and may indeed grow into something bigger in the future... But I didn't have enough time to do it full justice and still hit the CC deadline! We'll call it an extended concept sketch. =P 

And here's the photo (taken by Mark Hartman) that started me off:

The Nihang Sikhs, The Army of the Eternal | Mark Hartman
Source: Mark Hartman:
Adobe Photoshop CC 2016 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. A couple of hours all-up.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I had to to a quick little illustration for Colour Collective's 'Amaranth' prompt as life's been pretty busy lately! Originally I had planned for her to be dwarfed by sunflowers, but in the end time constraints meant she ended up just looking at a butterfly. I'm hoping for some calmer weeks so I can spend more time on my Colour Collectives, but it's not looking hopeful....

Those enormous bows are inspired by a little girl I passed while walking the dog. I don't think they're big enough though.... 

Adobe Photoshop CC 2016 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2
3-4 hours but I wasn't really focussed >. > 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Summer Rains

I was feeling a bit uninspired by Colour Collective's 'Opal Grey' prompt, probably because I had just done koalas the week before, and they are grey. 

I started off drawing a very muddy princess in a yellow dress, jumping in puddles with an equally muddy dog.... but I was having a very bad drawing day. So I jettisoned that, rather than frustrate myself by forcing it to work. We had had some very unseasonable rain (about 120mL in one day, when the February average is more like 20mL for the whole month) so I decided to draw a little grey mouse enjoying stormy skies. And I kept the yellow!

I love how green and lush everything gets after summer rains!
Also, I want that umbrella.

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Midnight Chase

Back in September 2016 I did a piece for Colour Collective's 'Venetian Red' prompt. I really liked it, but it had a lot of flaws - my Colour Collective pieces usually do, I don't have the time to plan them out properly, so they're always a bit rough and ready. I thought it definitely had potential though, so throughout February I worked on a remake of it after finishing work for the day. I was completing some work books that were heavy on stranger-danger and online predators, so I felt the need to completely step away from such work before I went to bed. I wasn't enjoying that assignment!

I think it looks much better now, and is worthy of being in my portfolio. I used my original as a sort of extended rough and colour study, and this time around I spent more time fixing up my perspective and playing with different textures.

Here's a progress animation showing the evolution from original linework to finished piece:

I've been trying to keep more of the freshness of my sketched lines in my final pieces lately, so for digital work I've been experimenting with sketching as normal, and then going over those lines with colour, so that the original sketch is still visible. At the moment I'm quite liking the effect. Here are my original sketches of the figures, and some close-up shots from partway through the illustration (when the figures were pretty much done):

As you can see, I didn't bother much with the man's feet, as they were going to be completely obscured by the bridge anyway. I just needed to know roughly where they were so that he didn't end up looking like he was about to fall over. 

Here's a look at the two pieces side-by-side:

This was done in Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. It took somewhere between 20 and 25 hours, I think, over the course of January. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017


In January the whole world seemed so full of hatred and anger and it got me down. I try to love everyone (unless they make it impossible, I'm not a heroine of Victorian Literature =P) So I did the only thing I can - brought (hopefully) a little happiness and friendship to people's social media feeds. Let's all be friends!

This is in no way me and my friends when we were young - but I have always had friends of many different ethnicities and religions, and that is the way I like it. If people are nice, who cares where they come from? Being located in Australia, everything is very multicultural, with a definite south-east-Asian flavour, so that's what I drew here. 

I used an old preliminary sketch from a Colour Collective last year for this. I never liked the final CC piece I did then (I ran massively out of time, this was only a fragment) but I'd always liked this sketch and wanted to do something more with it.

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Meeting the Family

Colour Collective's 'Air Force Blue' prompt made me think of sailor suits, so here we have two late Victorian/ early Edwardian children on safari in Africa, meeting a family of meerkats. 

I wasn't at all sure if I was going to have time to finish this piece, so as a backup I coloured up a little sketch from earlier in the week:

Here's the original sketch. She's very loosely inspired by a little girl I saw in the chiropractor's waiting room:

All done in Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. 

Monday, February 27, 2017


Here's a new piece for my Middle Grade Illustration portfolio:

This started out as a quick pose study I posted on social media. When there are good full-body photos of kids doing stuff in the newspaper, I often like to use them as pose studies, to kickstart some sketches in poses I might have trouble with, or not have done before.

Here is that original sketch: 

The girl I used as a reference did not look like that, she wasn't wearing that, she wasn't even climbing through vines - but she was useful as a starting point!

I asked what people thought she'd found, and was given the suggestion of 'a tree kangaroo'. I liked that idea, especially as I'd been thinking more along the lines of 'hidden civilisation' (always nice to get a fresh perspective with fresh ideas!), so I ran with it, and just generally had fun making everything really lush and jungly. 

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, using Kyle T Webster's brushes - specifically the 'Perfect Pencil' and the 'Watercolour Broad Wash Grainy'.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Koala Love

For Colour Collective's 'Plaster Pink' prompt, which fell on the 11th of February, I thought I'd do something for Valentines day. Such a pale pink reminded me of dusky skies and salmon gum trees, so I drew some loved-up koalas:

I think, if I was a koala, the offer of food would be a definite sign of true love. 

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fish and Flamingos!

For Colour Collective's 'Aureolin' prompt (the first CC of 2017!), I was originally going to do a field of buttercups because it's such a nice bright yellow. I know, it kinda got away from me.... 

I was discussing buttercups with a friend, and trying to think of something a bit incongruous to have sitting in them - I had originally thought of a black bull, but that seemed a bit too 'Ferdinand' to me – and she suggested a flamingo. Well, we got the flamingo, but not the buttercups. Oops. 

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

Monday, February 20, 2017

Portrait: Kim Novak

Here's a new movie star portrait. I don't do many of these now, although they were the mainstay of my work when I was a teenager.

I'll be honest, I didn't like working on this, for reasons I won't go into here. But I never let that stop me from creating work as best I can, and I think the end result is pretty good.

See some of my process below the cut:

More Cards!

Here are some more hand painted cards from last year. First up, a baby card. You may remember the baby cards I've already blogged, one of which was for a cousin's second baby girl. That cousin's sister had her second baby girl shortly afterwards, so I did another card in the same style:

Here's a video of me painting that card:

Around the same time I also needed to make a nice sympathy card for a family friend who had had a short battle with cancer:

And here's a video of me working on that. Towards the end you can see me adding Perfect Pearls for a bit of a shimmer - they're a fine pearlescent powder, and I use an embossing pen (actually, a proper Perfect Medium pen - often I don't have the 'proper' tools =P) to get them to stick.

Both of these cards were done with watercolour and a water pen, over ink (both Copic Multiliners and a Pentel Brush Pen), and the drawing behind the watercolour images is tinted with prismacolour pencils.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

CC Moroccan Blue

Heavens, I'm a bit behind on my blogging! The beginning of the year is always flat-out for me, and writing for blog posts was way down on my to-do list!

Here's a little piece I did for Colour Collective's 'Moroccan Blue' prompt. I went with The Little Mermaid:

I was inspired by a sweet photo by The Burleigh Princesses on Instagram, which popped into my feed that week:

I wish I'd had more time, I didn't really do justice to my reference, but on the whole I think it works quite well. The fireworks were a lot of fun!

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Cintiq Companion 2.


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