Art process: a small discarded skull

Hand holding cut-paper skull, in black paper, crowned by strawberries

This little cut-paper skull was one of two designs I worked on simultaneously for Light Grey Art Lab’s Pandora’s Box art swap. I still find it very charming, but I had envisaged the design in colour and couldn’t get that to work the way I wanted.

Skull coloured in natural colours, and purply-blues.

The way I coloured this silhouette was to cut it up digitally into the different colour areas — I include bits that will overlap, to make a cleaner join. 

Then I run those through a vector program individually and layer them back in Photoshop — this gives a smoother edge than I get if I just colour it directly in Photoshop (I strongly suspect there is an easier way to do this, but this works).

Here are the four layers:

The trick here is to put an identical dot in each section. You can see it at the top right of each colour. This makes it much simpler to align the layers!

Once they are stacked together, I add texture and shadows, etc. 

In the end, I went with a pen and ink design, but the purple skull is beginning to appeal to me.

You can find the collections on the Light Grey website, and throughout the show, works will be available on the online shop as special mystery packs. You can check out the mystery packs here! And select pieces will only be available at Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis. 

Note: If you’d like to support art and writing and posts like this about it, I have a Patreon account ( and patrons there get behind-the-scenes process and sneak-peeks, starting from US$1, or you could buy me a (virtual) coffee at (and I get through quite a bit of coffee).

Illustration Friday: Village


Illustration Friday: Village - work in progress

For this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “Village”, I was working out some composition ideas for other projects (and working around the edges of an offcut), and playing with some long-term desires to draw small houses. 
Illustration Friday: Village

The primary influences, however, are the movie Dark City and E. Nesbit’s “The Town in the Library (in the Town in the Library)”, and watching British murder mysteries while constructing bookcases. Oddly, until after I mocked up the poster below, Shyamalan’s movie did not even occur to me – which is a shame, because I quite liked it, and it had beautiful colours.

Illustration Friday: Village poster

Lost in Track Changes / Open Changes poster illustration

Lost in Track Changes / Open Changes poster

if:book is an exploration of the future of the book, based at the Queensland Writers Centre. This is a poster for contributors to “Open Changes“, part of their recent “Lost in Track Changes” literary remix experiment.

The graphic design is by Benjamin Portas and Isobel Knowles, but it is based on one of my paper cuts (the original of which you may have seen if you visited the World Fantasy Convention art show this year).

Original cut-paper silhouette for Open Changes poster

Weddings and pictures

Hodgkinson/Richardson wedding

Just before Easter, my cousin Jess married Dave in the trees on their property by the river in Nagambie (photos top and left are by my cousin Joanna Hiron). I posted about the invitation illustrations here: Victorian wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, full of music and family, flowers and lights, with small children and dogs underfoot and (I hear) some hay-bale tossing by late in the evening… and they printed the wedding invitation linework on the stubby holders, which was a first for my illustrations. A lovely weekend, followed by a vacation in Melbourne and road trip to Canberra with my mother (including sketching musicians in a hotel in Beechworth).

And on the topic of weddings, here is a little design I did as a gift for two friends, Thom and Lily (both photographers: ) who were married earlier of this year:

Thom & Lily

Illustration Friday: Wings, and February

I have conflicted feelings about the original, Hans Christian Andersen, “Little Mermaid”. It’s not a happy story, per se (although I am more sympathetic the older I get). It’s Jane Eyre without the happy ending.

Illustration Friday: Wings

I did have a number of cut-paper birds and feathers which I hoped to make do double-duty as cover sketches and an Illustration Friday picture, but they are ALL being used, so instead I did a little cut-paper header for February:

2013 - February blog header

And here is the image on the February page of my kitchen calendar:

2013 February Calendar illustration

In other news: There was another flood! We were not flooded, but we didn’t have power for a few days, which is the reason for the latest Dalek hiatus. I did manage to post all about the Stranger Things Happen cover.