She said Yes!

For weeks I have had a secret project. It all started a few weeks ago when a romantic gentleman, Carlos, contacted me. He informed me that after several years of dating his girlfriend, Zanri, he thought it would be time to propose. He didn’t want to just drop to his knee though. Instead he wanted to pull together a romantic stunt and he needed my help.

Knowing his girlfriend was a huge fan of children’s illustrations (she works as a children’s book publisher) he sought out to have several illustrations drawn of their time together. He wanted to have them depicted as animals (him a monkey, her a snake) doing all the adventures that they had together, including the night they meet at a German October Festival, to parachuting, moving in together, travelling and meeting each other’s families.

Of course I immediately wanted to be involved. It was a different ball game to the usual book illustrations that I do and so I took the project on with great excitement. It was about three weeks into the project that I attended an open studio day with Alex. I was sitting there, making notes and taking photos for my blog post later, when one of the of ladies at the event looked incredible familiar. Continue Reading

5 Top March Projects

Project Header March

There is so much going on right now, I thought it would be a good idea to do a blog post on some of the projects I am working on. At a later point, I’ll do another one with updates, so that you can all join in on the progress. Don’t forget to book for the Creative Workshop in April. Also I’ll be making an appearance at The Deer Little Market (details below).


1. Katya Cat at The Deer Little Market – 20th of March 2016

Deer Market IllustrationAuthor, Julia Richman, of Katya Cat – The Bacon Chase, and I will be reading and illustrating at The Deer Little Market on Sunday the 20th March, at 2 Deer Park Drive, adjacent to Deerpark Cafe, Vredehoek, Cape Town. The market is open at 9am to 1pm. I will have to get back to you when Julia and I are presenting. There will be stalls and entertainment for little ones, as well as a magic show later in the day, so make a note in your calendar. Julia will be reading a few chapters while I illustrate the characters and we shall be handing out simple drawings for all little ones to colour in as well. There will be copies of Katya Cat for sale. Continue Reading

10 Twitter Handles for Illustrators to Follow

Twitter can sometimes be a little overwhelming, especially if you are new to the social media. Or you might be on twitter already, but find it useless because your feed is boring. Here are some illustration-related twitter handles that every illustrator should be following.

Illustration Challenges

Here are some twitter handles that have illustration challenges that could help you with your creativity. If you ever feel like you have ‘illustration block’ or need a little sketch warm-up, have a look at these guys:

Sketch Dailies
Sketch Dailies

Sketch Dailies

Daily sketch challenges from movie characters, to fiction. Illustrations with an unusual twist or are just plain good get re-tweeted and featured. Follow the handle and use the hashtag #Sketch_Dailies

Illustration Friday

This is a weekly challenge where a topic gets tweeted once a week and you have to submit your illustration via their website. Top illustrations get featured on twitter and on their site.

Pinch Punch Post

A monthly illustration challenge where you have to post a character. Just follow the handle and remember to use the hashtag #pinchpunchpost
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Post Book Launch: Katya Cat – The Bacon Chase

Katya Cat: The Bacon ChaseAs I walked down the stairs at The Book Lounge, in the heart of Cape Town, it all of a sudden hit me. I could hear the children playing and laughing from below, general chit-chat and social noises of their parents and the sound of tea and coffee mugs clinking with their fellow saucers. In a few minutes I was going to illustrate the three main characters that I created from the imagination of Julia Richman’s book, Katya Cat.

Julia was calm as ever. In fact, it was all a little reversed as just the week before when we had our meeting to determine our ‘game plan,’ she was incredible nervous and I was calm. Now we were here with swapped emotions, in this gorgeous environment, with (another) Julia Anastasopoulos illustrations on the wall with buildings and stick characters holding balloon. Although for those of you in South Africa, you know Miss Anastasopoulos by her alter-ego name – Suzelle DIY.

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Tips that Yoga can teach us in Illustration

For my new Twitter/Google+ header I thought doing a series of movements of a character would be a great way to fill up that rectangle space, which got me to pull out some books I have on animation. While I was reading through, brushing up on all the fantastic tips and techniques, it got me thinking of how there is an overlap between doing illustrations and Yoga, two of my favourite hobbies (and soon to be professions as I will be doing a Yoga teacher’s course next year – very excited!).

So what can we learn from drawing and Yoga?

Yoga IllustrationYoga: Inhale/Exhale

Illustrations: Stretch/Squash

When you watch a Yogi doing sun salutations, they will inhale when their bodies expand and exhale when their bodies contract. So for example, if they go into a cobra pose, they will breath in and expand their chest. They might afterwards bend inwards, lift their hips, lean forward, touching the ground with their feet and hands while exhaling and go into downward dog pose.

In illustrating we must do the same. Illustrations should never be the phase between poses, it should be the pose. So characters must either be breathing out and squashing, or breathing in and stretching. When they stretch, their full body goes into it. If they were to point it wouldn’t just be a finger, it would the finger, the hand, the arm, the shoulder, the whole moment. If the character jumps, they would stretch as they flew in the air, and then squash as they land on the ground.
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Learning the (Publishing) Lingo

Publishing lingo
Publishing lingo

Starting out as an illustrator might be a bit daunting. Every industry has its terms and phrases that can throw one a little when you’ve just joined. I remember when I first heard about ‘Doc Martens’ with some fellow illustrators, I thought they were talking about the shoe. I couldn’t understand why everyone was insisting on drawing with these boots, and why these boots and not other boots like Caterpillars or something. Perhaps it was a new technique, or style, like drawing with feathers or sticks? As soon as everyone’s backs were turned I quickly took out my phone and googled it. As I am sure you probably know reading this, ‘Doc Martens’ was actually ‘Dr. Ph. Martin which is a brand of liquid watercolors. So we learn everyday.

In publishing there are a lot of terms that we all have to familiarise ourselves with, even as freelancers and illustrators. Below I’ve highlighted some of the more common terms. Free free to add your own experiences in the comments, or if there is a term you don’t know then ask as well.
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Using Google Search Tools Advance for Illustrators

Using Google Images can be really useful if you are an illustrator. Before the ‘Google Times’ illustrators would flock to libraries to gather images. They would go to different locations, take photos and have endless subscriptions to magazines with lots of photos and keep them as reference. Buying magazines and books is still a great habit to have and if you know of a source, it is also a good idea to go and experience, but being able to use Google Images is becoming more and more part of the ‘average’ illustrator’s skill set.

In a previous blog post about How to use Google for Illustrators I covered on how to optimise your search phrases and terms. Now I am going to expand that and tell you a little more the Advance Search Tool option in Google Images.

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Google Search Tips for Illustrators

Below are some tips and techniques on how to optimise your search and find what you are looking for in Google and Google Images. In another post I’ll discuss the ‘Advanced Search’ for Google Images, but today I’m just going to focus on optimising your search terms. A lot of the examples below demonstrate in Google Search, but you can use the same techniques in Google Images.

Before getting into some advanced search techniques, remember that Google pulls up results using the keywords you searched for. So the first thing to think about is how the website you are looking for is going to be categorised. For example, if you have a headache, instead of searching for ‘my head hurts‘ rather search ‘how to fix a headache‘ or ‘headache relief‘ as that is probably the title of the article you are looking for. Another example is instead of searching for ‘I have a flat tire‘, search for ‘how to repair a flat tire‘.

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Children Proportions for Illustrations & Drawings

Rough Sketch of Toddler
Rough Sketch of Toddler

Recently I went to a workshop around critiquing, which if you are an illustrator you would know is a fairly brave thing to do. Basically you take your portfolio, which consists of probably 10 to 15 illustrations. Well that’s not entirely true, 10 to 15 of your best illustrations. Then you sit by, smiling and nodding while someone goes through your hard work, your sweat and tears, your time and freedom and basically tells you what’s wrong with them.

This is somehow distressing. Its one thing if a client asks for changes or tweaks – that is easy and you can just say ‘yeah, sure.’ But a critique is a different story. It’s something personal, but you’re not allowed to take it personally, which takes a lot of practice. I am a little out of practice. When I was a student, critiques happened every other week, but now? Phew. It was a good thing to experience and I think it is something we should go through every now and then.

One thing that did come up during the day’s discussion was children anatomy. The lecturer then showed us all the difference between adults and children and I thought it would be a good idea for a blog post. For those of you who aspire to be illustrators, it is always good to have a few children drawings in your portfolio. For those of you who draw children all the time, it’s also a good refresher of the basics.
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