Illustration Friday: Clumsy

Illustration Friday: Clumsy

A very small pen illustration (perhaps 6cm tall) with colour added on the computer.

I am in the (final!) throes of a project that is a much steeper learning curve than I bargained for. Below is a test panel I drew (not in the final) to trial some shading. It’s drawn with technical pens but the flat tone is added on the computer. It is also the reason I have been more absent from life than usual the last month or two.

Test panels

2009 Aurealis Awards

The Aurealis Awards were on Saturday – a very classy evening put on by Fantastic Queensland, Ron Serdiuk and Diane Waters. It’s the last to be administered by Fantastic Queensland and possibly the last in Queensland. Very sad – it’s been a beautiful series of events and it’s nice to have everyone come to Queensland!

I left buying my ticket until a week before the awards and then, luckily, left home at 5 for a 6.30 start. It should have been a 20 minute drive, but the Ipswich Motorway was blocked, and then the Story Bridge was completely closed because someone was threatening to jump. Then the traffic in Southbank was terrible, there were accidents on the Captain Cook Bridge and another on the freeway. But I made it on time, and didn’t get locked out, which was all to the good, because I ended up receiving the inaugural Kris Hembury Award for Emerging Writers & Artists! I always thought they warned people who were getting awards, but no-one even checked I was coming – someone told me later that of course they knew I was, and that Fantastic Queensland is “like the CIA”.

I wrote about Kris’ funeral last July.

The award was presented by Kris’ parents Perry and Leith after a very moving speech by Kate Eltham and a slide show of Kris which had most of the audience sniffing. I jumped when they announced me (Tim said that was the highlight of his evening) and had to climb out over a row of of people and give a completely impromptu, somewhat emotional and very sincere thank you, of which I do not remember a word. Such a very great honour, and it was wonderful to see Kris’ parents again and meet more of his family.

The cocktails ran late and there were congratulations in many directions. I caught up with and met many old friends and new, including Madeleine Rosca who gave me a copy of her shortlisted Hollow Fields. I dropped Janet home afterwards, and went in again the next morning for breakfast at the Stamford, morning tea with Karen Miller, Lisa Hannett, Angela Slatter, Peter M Ball and Abigail Nathan, and last hurrah drinks for FQ at the Belgian. Then I was unwell from the heat and the partying and went to church and home and completely forgot I was meant to be out to dinner – I am a bad friend.

The full awards were:

Best Science Fiction Novel
Andrew McGahan, Wonders of a Godless World, Allen & Unwin

Best Science Fiction Short Story
Peter M. Ball, ‘Clockwork, Patchwork and Ravens’, Apex Magazine May 2009

Best Fantasy Novel
Trudi Canavan, Magician’s Apprentice, Orbit

Best Fantasy Short Story – joint winners
Christopher Green, ‘Father’s Kill’, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #24
Ian McHugh, ‘Once a Month, On a Sunday’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #40, Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Co-operative Ltd

Best Horror Novel
Honey Brown, Red Queen, Penguin Australia

Best Horror Short Story – joint winners
Paul Haines, ‘Wives’, X6, Coeur de Lion Publishing
Paul Haines, ‘Slice of Life – A Spot of Liver’, Slice of Life, The Mayne Press

Best Anthology
Jonathan Strahan (editor), Eclipse 3, Night Shade Books

Best Collection
Greg Egan, Oceanic, Gollancz

Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel
Nathan Jurevicius, Scarygirl, Allen & Unwin

Best Young Adult Novel
Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan Trilogy: Book One, Penguin

Best Young Adult Short Story
Cat Sparks, ‘Seventeen’, Masques, CSFG

Best Children’s Novel
Gabrielle Wang, A Ghost in My Suitcase, Puffin Books

Best Children’s Illustrated Work/Picture Book
Pamela Freeman (author), Kim Gamble (illustrator), Victor’s Challenge, Walker Books Australia

Further awards presented at the ceremony:

The Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence
Justin Ackroyd (he got warned in advance)

The Kris Hembury Encouragement Award for Emerging Artists
Kathleen Jennings.

Illustration Friday: Wilderness

Illustration Friday: Wilderness

I am in the middle of a very large project, but needed to practice some trees for it (so technically, this isn’t procrastination). Blue pencil sketch, black 0.1 technical pen over it, scanned and paper texture and lettering added on the computer. Slightly larger version here.

The trees are frankensteined from some of my favourite Brisbane trees, and the gowns are from Racinet. The quote is from a very excellent book. Every time I reread it I am amazed by how it is written, and fortunately my father often requests it when I get home. The conversation usually runs as so:

Me: Would you like to talk or read or watch a DVD?
My father: Read.
Me: What do you want? We were halfway through [military history title] and [19th century detective novel].
My father: Pride and Prejudice.
Me: Do you want me to start at the beginning, or do you want the best bits version?
My father: Start when they go to Pemberley.
Me: [reads from Pemberley to end and starts again at beginning]
My mother: [from the sewing room, periodically] That’s just like in the miniseries!

Ivy wreath

Thank you card

Very low res scan due to circumstances.

A girl at work had made gold ivy crowns for her section’s costumes for the Christmas party. I asked her if I could borrow hers sometime and she gave me a spare. Before I left the office last night I took a reference shot on my mobile, drew this on a blank postcard with a calligraphy pen (left over from putting the names on another workmate’s wedding invitations years ago), scanned it on the photocopier and left the original propped up on her keyboard.

Experiments with Bacon


This was a test of several techniques (not all visible) for a larger project I’m working on.

  1. Took photos of myself with a kitchen knife and a piggy bank and downloaded them onto my computer.
  2. Laid out the panels and text in Photoshop, coloured the lines blue and printed it on my drawing paper. Edit: Whenever I say “Photoshop” I mean a slightly elderly version of Photoshop Elements which came with some hardware.
  3. Sat in front of the computer and sketched the figures in blue pencil, using the photos for reference.
  4. Sat at table and drew over lines, text and sketches with technical pens (Unipin  0.8, 0.2, 0.1 and Staedtler 0.005).
  5. Scanned picture in. Edit: Since I was asked, I scanned it in at 300dpi, but the original drawing is also somewhat larger than the final.
  6. Knocked out the blue lines and tweaked the contrast to black and white to show just the final lines.
  7. Added flat colour in Photoshop. Edit: In answer to a question – using layers, so that I can fiddle with each colour/area/effect (whatever I’m fixated on that day) separately.

This, and a practice page, have been very useful exercises, and taught me which artists I am not, and which techniques not to try and use on a deadline if I want to maintain my sanity.

You may discern the residual traces of my pain at getting to the end of the pay week and having 45c left and not being able to buy tomatoes (I only dip into savings for books – and my sister bought the tomatoes so we still had bruschetta :)

Best Books of 2009

Illustration Friday: Cracked

In 2009 I read at least 76 books/volumes, and reviewed 74 to some degree.

Best novel: Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens (reviewed in April)

Best non-fiction: 70 Years a Showman – “Lord” George Sanger (reviewed in March)

Best anthology: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M R James (reviewed in May)

Worst: Cartland’s Impetuous Countess (reviewed in October) was bad, but not in the same way as Haile’s Space Train which makes me want to force people to read it – fortunately I’ve given it back to Peter M Ball, so you’re all safe (from me) for now… (read in February, but earned its own post)

Most influential: My God, It’s a Woman – Nancy Bird (I’ve since brought back a copy from my grandmother’s house signed “Happy landings – Nancy Bird”).

So, here are the books I’ve read this year (not including magazines, short comics, reference books and books I’ve read parts of out of order, eg I’m pretty sure I made it through Pride & Prejudice again with my father, but we usually start with the visit to Pemberley and work our way around and back to there, and I lose track). I’ve put in links to the reviews for each month at the bottom of the post: Continue reading

Illustration Friday: Confined

While cleaning the annex/studio this afternoon in order to have room to work on a project, I found a dead (and, admittedly, not very excited-looking beetle). It at once put me in mind of that other, more famous beetle, Alexander, and so here he is, safely returned to his matchbox:

Illustration Friday: Confined

I gave this one the full blue-pencil sketch with brush and ink over it. It is part of my ongoing education and although I enjoyed it and like the possibilities, it is unfortunately too time consuming for the project I’m working on at the moment. Colour added in Photoshop.

The full text of Milne’s poem “Forgiven” is available at many places, including here:–Milne-Forgiven.