December 2022 Calendar — Carousel

carousel animals (horse, zebra, unicorn, ostrich, shark, lion, dog, dragon, kangaroo) on a cream backround

These calendar pages are made possible by patrons, who get them a little bit early, along with alternative colourways, and other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art: It is also supported by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar:

Here is the December calendar! A carousel of various improbable animals, of course, because I was finishing it at the last minute (due to travel, deadlines, etc), and thought “what will be simplest?” and chose incorrectly.

And also because I like carousels. Not just the design, but the experience of soaring and swooping aloofly around a whirl of mirrors and metal and music, almost like flying without the imminent terror of my second-favourite ride, the chair-swings.

You can see the illustration process below:

  • First, loose sketches in conference notes. At that point I’m following lines into an idea, then feeling out whether there’s enough to sustain a full design, and then using the page to collect enough animals and variations to play with/select from later.
  • Then I start working out the layout — I’d been playing with an ogee shape for some other ideas, and thought it might work for a more formal arrangement of images. Here and on some following pages I worked out the rough dimensions I liked, and some ways to repeat/alternate within that framework. You can see several of the creatures are already in place here. I was still thinking of putting hints of mirrors and floor behind them, but in the end that made everything look too crowded, so I discarded that idea. Because I was going to put frames around the creatures, I discarded the ones which sat flat on the deck (e.g. the swan), because they’d break the pattern.
  • Next, I used the mirror-assist tool in Procreate to simplify sketching the repeating frame. sorting out an ogee shape to contain the creatures, then sketching them (using the mirror-assist in Procreate to simplify drawing that shape), then inking it in layers, then deciding it looked rather nice without the curvy borders and leaving them out.
  • Finally, I inked the calendar. I kept the border on a separate layer because I wasn’t confident the swooping lines would go down smoothly (and as it was, I kept sticking my thumb into the wet ink). It’s quite thick paper — 250gsm — but it’s on a lightbox here.

After scanning and tidying the inks, I went through quite a few colour schemes on the way to the cream design! Patrons got all of them, because I like to outsource my decision-making where possible.

Design of carousel animals (horse, zebra, unicorn, ostrich, shark, lion, dog, dragon, kangaroo) subdivided into several colourways

I am adding this to the list of images I want to make into repeating designs, and will post when I’ve done that!

But for now, below (for personal use) are the printable versions — pre-coloured and to colour in yourself.

If you like these and/or like supporting artists, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early) at (starts at US$1/month) or tip me a few dollars through Ko-Fi: Either is greatly appreciated! And of course many previous designs are available as prints etc on Redbubble and Spoonflower.

Also, I have a very occasional mailing list (not a newsletter), if you’d like to keep up with any major announcements: Mailing List Sign-Up

December 2022 calendar with carousel animals (horse, zebra, unicorn, ostrich, shark, lion, dog, dragon, kangaroo) on a cream backround
December 2022 calendar with carousel animals (horse, zebra, unicorn, ostrich, shark, lion, dog, dragon, kangaroo) on a turquoise backround
December 2022 calendar with carousel animals (horse, zebra, unicorn, ostrich, shark, lion, dog, dragon, kangaroo) - line art

Festive Carousel


Bristol, 2019, persuaded 3/5 Very Serious Conference Attendees to ride the carousel with me

I have a few rules for travel in cities. These include:

  1. Take the bus tour at the start.
  2. Go on the Ferris wheel at the end.
  3. Follow the sound of ice-cream trucks.
  4. Always ride the carousel.

They are also very charming to draw.


Work in progress shot from a Patreon story last year

I am not great at getting cards organised for family members. Last year, however, I did manage, at the very last minute, to make them for everyone to whom I gave presents (nephews/niece/mother — we have recently restructured our approach to Christmas gifts).

As I told a vet friend, they are not meant to be scientifically correct, because (a) they are carousel animals, and (b) they are illustrations of carousel animals and therefore representations of someone else’s representation, and (c) look how shiny they are!


They are pencil, watercolour (Daniel Smith), and imitation gold leaf (Everbright)  on Canson illustration paper, with National Art Materials Crystal Clear Spray to seal the leaf.

Illustration Friday: Orbit

Illustration Friday: Orbit - skirt

The Illustration Friday topic this week was Orbit. I worked through a few concepts (moon-gazing -> Hobbits -> Mary Poppins -> The Childlike Princess -> The Goblin Prince -> Celestial Carousels -> back to Labyrinth -> Regency astronomy -> satellites).

Illustration Friday: Orbit sketches

Eventually came back to the carousel. Why? I do not not know? It involved a lot more work, digging out compasses, working at a large scale, working out new techniques I’d just learned in Inkscape… Probably for all of those reasons.

The idea is to print this on fabric, a panel per yard, and make a skirt in one of the two colourways. I haven’t decided which, but will report back if it works. Or if it fails in unexpected and humorous ways.

Illustration Friday: Orbit - girls