Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Wart and Merlin

I 've just come across this drawing that I did at college. That's going back at least twenty five years.
This was a project set by my tutor John Vernon Lord.  John was quite a Merlin-like figure himself in many ways.
 Anyway the project involved illustrating a passage from The Sword in the Stone by TH White.
This was very much a pivotal moment for me. I discovered for the first time a kind of sophisticated literature for children and adults alike, and I discovered that I could draw the kind of pictures that suited this kind of story.

In many ways this was the drawing that started my career as a children's book illustrator.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Bee-man of Orn. A look at the process I use.

I wanted to show a little bit of my process, so here is an example of the kind of photo reference I use. This is actually captured from a video. I feel that this gives me the chance to capture exactly the pose I want,and the added advantage is that the image is pretty low quality so that I am not tempted to produce a painting that looks too photo-realistic.
By the way, the model is me!
 I just set the video camera up on a tripod, and start acting the part.
Here, then is the sketch that I created using video capture photos like the one above.
I did this one as an inspirational sketch for myself near the start of the project, so it is a bit more finished than most of my drawings.
And this is the finished painting. 
You can see more from The Bee-man of Orn in the Books section.
I did a short video showing the process in more detail, and I'll post that on the blog soon.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Miranda Mary Piker

Everybody loves Roald Dalh's mischievous wit.
Unfortunately for most of us illustrators, Quentin Blake had a very fruitful and long-lasting collaboration with Dahl. So no one else got much of a look in.
I got my one chance to illustrate a really wicked Roald Dahl poem called "Miranda Mary Piker" for an anthology produced by Walker Books around 1990.
I've just discovered that this was in fact a character that he had edited out of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".
It was great fun to illustrate something as truly nasty and hilarious as this. 
I should do more of this kind of work as an antidote to my more serious books.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A detail of my cover of "The Sword in the Stone"

"The Sword in the Stone" by TH White is one of my favourite children's novels. 
It is the first of a four part series collectively entitled "The Once and Future King".
It's a bit like a mixture of Harry Potter and "The Lord of the Rings", and for my money it's as good as either of those series.
Soon after I left college I was asked to do a cover for "The Sword in The Stone", and here is the result.
Looking at it twenty years later I see a lot to like in this picture, but I don't know if it was ever even published.

The Sword in the Stone