Photos from Twitter etc – part 1
- It took the slow boat, but my copy of The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 has arrived, with my story “Skull and Hyssop“! Almost like I’m a writer or something.
- I had cause to quote Douglas Stewart’s gentle poem “B Flat”, and it remains a favourite:
“Sing softly, Muse, the Reverend Henry White
Who floats through time as lightly as a feather
Yet left one solitary gleam of light
Because he was the Selbourne naturalist’s brother…”
- I’ve bought my membership for this year’s Readercon in Quincy, Massachusetts!
- Terns of Reference
- On Thursday I was the Event Illustrator (with a media pass and everything) for Elizabeth Gilbert’s event for the Brisbane Writers Festival’s year-round program, and it was great fun. Some photos in poor light are in a Facebook album – I’ll put up better photos after BWF has the chance to do so. I’ve been reading Big Magic, one of the more practically mystical works on creativity I’ve read:
“Keep in mind that for most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal out of it.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
- Watching Ep. 4 of Supergirl and was struck by the fact the ONLY conversation between men (which I could remember) was in a flashback interruption where one was sacrificing himself for a child. It was quite subtly done, and I don’t usually track this but one of the jarring notes in Deadpool was how (occasionally awkwardly) it did the exact opposite, so it was on my mind.
- It was a weekend for pastiches on Twitter:
“I must arise and draw now, and sketch a book or three,
And several covers lay out, of rough lead pencil made.
Three commissions I will lay out, and perhaps a birthday card,
And sharpen my paper-cutting blade.
And I shall Get Things Done then, for things happen very slow
When I lie abed in the morning tweeting pastiches of Yeats
And realising it is of cardinal import to go online and check right now
Whether his name rhymes with greets or gates.
I will arise and draw now for always night and day
I hear deadlines tapping with increasing intensity at my door.
Whether I lie on top of the doona or put the pillows over my head,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
“Yes I want to draw a picture,
Or take my bike up to the store,
But instead I have to spend the day driving around to buy a Macbook cord!”
Photos from Twitter etc – part 2
A wild ride for March’s calendar, and for Illustration Friday topic “Shelter”.
By clicking on the images below you should go through to the full-size image, which if you wish you can print in colour, or to colour in, according to taste.
From Twitter, etc, this week
- Paperbacks of The Bitterwood Bible have been seen in the wild! You too can own one.
- The Archibald Prize travelling exhibition is on at the extremely beautiful Tweed Regional Gallery. Angela Slatter and I drove down this week and I recommend it. Of course, the gallery and in particular the Margaret Olley wing are always worth a visit (the views are like paintings).
- Content warning: Snakes.
So the giant carpet snake under our house moved into the neighbour’s tree above their dog kennel, and a couple of times when our neighbour went out at night to empty the bins he felt a light tap against the back of his head. And it turned out it was the snake checking him out.
- Whether you’re drawing or describing backgrounds or just want to see how it’s done: Tips for Drawing Backgrounds. As usual, I maintain most illustration advice can be translated for written description and storytelling. Dunnett, for example, uses incredibly painterly light effects in her prose. Tobacco-brown light and single tips of gold light. Rembrandt.
- Walking home the other evening I saw a plane, invisible in the dusk save for its lights, fly across the moon, casting the shadow of wings onto a lower cloud.
- If you like labelling things: Bat-Labels, a curated and categorised list of labels from Batman
- A letter from Dorothy Sayers (hand-copied, not the original) to a former lover, who told her he never wanted to marry, then married another:
- I am currently reading c1970 crime: Westlake’s “The Hot Rock” (1970s New York) and Lahlum’s “The Human Flies” (2010, but set in 1968 Oslo). And let me tell you, there is nothing like a vintage crime novel to make you appreciate your mobile phone.
A cut paper silhouette, combining Illustration Friday topic “Hat” and Month of Love challenge “weapons” (i.e., words, letters, gossip, flowers and dissembling).
This is the cover art for Sofia Samatar‘s novel The Winged Histories, sequel to her World Fantasy Award winning A Stranger in Olondria (both published by Small Beer Press).
The process of revisiting A Stranger in Olondria to reconstruct my illustration approach there was illuminating – particularly in relation to remembering to usefully label layers in Photoshop. We learn.
I had the chance to catch up (with Small Beer’s permission!) with Sofia at World Fantasy to discuss the broad approach to the cover, and exchange some reference for her vision of architecture and birds, and mine of uniforms.
That settled, I prepared the thumbnail sketches and general colour approach for approval – G was chosen (although the profile was later changed, and colours deepened).
Time for everyone’s favourite: Awkward reference photos! I used other reference for the figure (but won’t embarrass them), I’m just here modelling in yoga pants and a leather jacket with blue masking tape so that I can see what key parts of the costume do in the pose. Again, a skyline of crockery set up with a plasticine-and-plastic-bag vulture gives some reference for light/perspective.
Then a foster-cat attack.
And redrawing (there were several replacements of hands, heads etc).
I scanned and pieced the elements together in Photoshop, then coloured them. Here is a gif of the process, but it makes it look far faster and more logical than it was: there was a lot of reworking, experimentation, remixing and so forth, as well as adjustments, added decoration, skin tone changes and other adjustments on consultation. But gifs are fun.
And I can’t remember why it came to this:
This recent commission was a cover photo for Savour Soil Permaculture’s Facebook page (a close-up of the image is here: large version).
I went out to see the business while I was in the area (it’s owned by friends), and was able to take some reference photos and sketch the set-up (although this is a loose interpretation). Michael also sent me some photos of the local workforce in action, which helped!
I roughed out the layout (the square box lower left is where the Facebook profile photo sits) and penciled everything into place, then printed it out fairly large, taped it to the back of a sheet of A3 drawing paper and inked it over the lightbox.
Once it was inked and approved, I scanned in the line work, cleaned up the lines in Inkscape and coloured them in Photoshop, keeping the colours fairly flat so that they make sense at a smaller scale.
I’ve been working on a number of illustrations with northern hemisphere trees, recently, and on this one I had to consciously push the greens back towards silver.
The wild birds (magpies, sulphur-crested cockatoo, kookaburra) are all locals to Savour Soil, and the pumpkin is a Queensland Blue.
You can find out more about Savour Soil on their Facebook page or website.
This week’s pictures from Twitter etc
- I spent the weekend (at fairly short notice) in Sydney for a family function, but also caught up with several good friends to talk about podcasts, art, Dorothy Dunnett, comics, freelancing, illustration and stories. It was extremely pleasant, and also I got to hold a real live pet rabbit (it looks just like a rabbit!).
- As you may be able to see above, the pineapple and raven fabrics arrived from Spoonflower and turned out beautifully – the watercolours on the pineapples printed particularly well. One of my cousins also ordered the pineapple skirt from Redbubble and it is very cute! (Since it’s white knit, you’ll probably wantto wear tights or something under it, as is true for all white skirts).
- Congratulations to all the Ditmar nominees! I’m particularly thrilled to have a story nominated this year – “A Hedge of Yellow Roses” from Ticonderoga Publications’ anthology Hear Me Roar, but since I have interests in so many publications (whether as illustrator, fan or friend) mostly it’s just fun to see some of the many great works of 2015 celebrated.
- Want to buy (relatively) affordable original art by established and rising stars of illustration? Check out Every Day Original!
- The opera(!) of Shaun Tan and John Marsden’s remarkable picture book The Rabbits is coming to Brisbane next month!
- I have finally (thanks to Kate Eltham) started listening to the podcast You Must Remember This, which is indeed epic and fascinating.
- I want to learn to animate just so I can make book trailers like this gorgeous Isabella Mazzanti Carmilla: