Sunday, 25 November 2018

Through the Keyhole

When I come up with an idea for a character one of the first and my most favourite things is to think about where they live. What is it like and why this space is important to them? I particularly love exploring architecture using cross sections.

Below is an example of this, the drawing started out on A4 paper and simply just expanded. It's the dwelling of Count Gorloc, he's very house proud and enjoys a spot of gardening too.

Home Sweet Home

Here is a house that belongs to J.P. Haddock the rat catcher. He sets the rats to work in his home and they perform all of his household chores.

The first initial rough idea.

Haddock's House scribble

The final design.

The two owners of this building below are Poodle and Croc, they run an antique shop on a high street.

Poodle & Croc

These houses are the very first thoughts of the homes of Troy, Terry, Scruff, Dug and Doris. I feel Troy's caravan definitely deserves a cross section in the next stage of development.

In the doghouse

Edwina Gusset is a character who never smiles, but would you if you were in charge of the whole towns dirty washing? However she does have another reason. I imagine her laundry device being homemade, with a splash of inspiration from the wonderful Heath Robinson in it's design.

All washed up 

Stuff is a development project for a children's television program. The idea revolves around an environmental concept including an oak tree, where the main character lives.

Tree House

Top of the tree

It's what's in the inside that counts

Down below

I wonder what my next character's abode will be?

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The House that Hilda Haunted

With it being my favourite time of year, I thought it was ideal for a spooky, sneaky peek of some work in progress, involving a bunch of new characters.

Meet the gang

Troy and his friends receive an unexpected invitation to supper. It's from the Viscount Vincent Verynice, (who owns a record breaking collection of hats, and Troy is a big admirer!) The Viscount needs urgent help to sort out Hilda the Horrible. Who is she? And what is she up to?

Troy, Dug, Scruff, Terry and Doris set off for supper.

Are we there yet?

They arrive at last, what will happen next?

It's very nice to meet you!

Meet Viscount Vincent Verynice.

Do you like my hat?

And when they finally meet Hilda.

We're gonna need a bigger net!

How will it all end...?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Meals on Wheels

Doesn't every villain deserve some sort of machine to assist them in their fiendish plan? Hyde is definitely one of those dastardly scoundrels, he's a massive mouse with a monster appetite. It's only fitting his machine as the power to ZAP anything into food, from tables into toffee, chairs into chocolate... and even grannies into custard! 
This is the first drawing him in his machine. 

Initial drawing of Hyde's machine

During the development stage Hyde's machine was called various names like the Greedy Grub Mobile, Mighty Bite Buggy, Greedy Beastie Bus, Meals On Wheels Mobile and eventually Mega Munch Machine.

Mega Munch Machine

Where did Hyde find the parts to create his machine?
Early on in the story we see Granny hoover up her home after Hyde's first night on the rampage. I worked with the idea of something that was used to clean up his mess, would eventually be used as a weapon for more muddle and mayhem.

Granny cleaning up Hyde's dirty mess

This is Hyde putting the pieces together to build a machine fit for a Monster Mouse!

Hyde's work in Progress

If you like bonkers stories that contain mischief making, monster mouse machines, why not check out Hyde and Squeak in your local bookshop!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Hyde and Squeak

When Little Tiger Press asked me to create a gothic children's picture book I was absolutely thrilled. The well known classic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson was my initial inspiration which give me a loose starting point, and Hyde and Squeak is the result!

The development kicked off with the simple idea of a pet transforming into something large, sinister and silly. The next stage was to design the three characters, below you'll see a selection of sketches for Squeak, Granny and Hyde.

Squeak - character sketches
Squeak - final design
Granny - character studies
Hyde (aka Monster Mouse) - early development
Hyde - final design

Early on we explored a multitude of story directions to find it's heart. It was crucial to consider how this would affect the characters and especially their motives. Obviously the plot needed some sort of transformation of small animal to large creature, and of course a food substance to swallow. I tried out various alternatives such as chocolate nuts shown in the thumbnails below.

Early initial thumbnails

After lots of discussions on favourite foods it was decided jelly was the best option, this was down to it's sculptural qualities and it's loads of fun to eat. So the result is a bright green wobbly jelly holding an assortment of disgusting toppings!!

Spread 1 - Squeak wins a prize!

Thumbnails are my favourite part of telling a story, I love doodling the possibilities and playing around with interesting compositions on the page. The layout of Hyde and Squeak evolved into a mix of a traditional picture book and comic book. The rough below is for my favourite spread. Hyde (I like to call him Monster Mouse), is terribly hungry and scouring the neighbourhood for food. Whilst on a quest for sausages he clambers up a drainpipe belonging to the local butcher, and snatches a plie of scrummylicious, raw treats. He's so greedy and eats far too much too quickly, leading to him break wind... PARP! Then POOF! he disappears, then PING! Squeak is back with us, and can't remember a thing!

Spread 4 - What a greedy beastie!
I absolutely love old movies and took inspiration from the 1933 version of King Kong - although King Kong has a much more perilous journey to reach his final goal! The black and white world belonging to Hyde helps give the story it's gothic flavour and it's an introduction into Hyde's dark but comical, gluttonous character.

And a peek of the finished spread without text.

Here comes trouble!

If you're interested in seeing what other shenanigans Granny, Squeak and Hyde get up to, Hyde and Squeak is out on the 8th September.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Friday the 13th...

We all have our moments of being superstitious, especially on days like this. So instead of dwelling on what bad luck may lay ahead, I'm going to share something good. 

Lets start with some work in progress.

Things that go bump in the night...

These images are in response to a couple of ideas I have been playing around with.

House on the hill

And now for some good news! I'm very excited to hear that Ballet Cat has been shortlisted along with three other gorgeous books, for the Dundee Picture book award. The winning book will be revealed in June! 

Way to go Arthur!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Santa's Swag

It's been a great lead up to Christmas and I've been ever so busy which is how I like it. I'm super excited about welcoming 2015 as I'll be getting stuck into my new picture book, which looks to be very different to anything I've previously done. It's a wonderful thing to be able to push your work and ideas in a new direction, it's my most favourite and enjoyable part of making imagery and storytelling. I will try my best to share some of the development along the way.

In the meantime, thank you for reading the blog and here's a little something sort of festive.

Secret Santa's Swag Sack

Wishing everyone lots of Christmas cheer!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Smashing Pumpkins!

Last week I visited a farm and stumbled upon a lorry load of shifty looking characters. And by the looks on their faces it appeared they couldn't wait to get the party started!

Frolicking Fruit

Halloween gives me the perfect excuse to stock up on extra candy for those pesky Trick or Treaters - or should I say to have on my desk to munch on whilst I work away. There's nothing better than polishing off a bag of psychedelic coloured, jellied insects to keep the creativity levels up to speed. 

Dance the Fangdango

 Happy Halloween... mwahahaha!