Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Gentlemen Thieves

Had enough of cute penguins this Christmas? Then these are the guys for you. 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Elys' Top 8 Fish that are Hard to Draw

I had to do some observational drawing at the Sealife Centre for a currently secret book that involves a lot of, well, fish. After an only moderately traumatic outing where multiple children shouted ‘MUMMY THAT LADY IS DRAWING!’ at me I’ve compiled my list of Elys’ Top 8 Fish that are Hard to Draw. It’s a list of 8 because I’ve only got 8 drawings that are fit for the internet.

8 Lionfish: There's just too many bits sticking out of them so I decided this was not a good fish to start with and went to the cafe.
7 Cleaner shrimps: Too many legs. And they're all over the place. It was deeply confusing.
6 Octopus: Too shy. Whenever I position myself by it's tank to draw it would swim off and hide elsewhere.
5 Wolffish: Weird skin. It's texture was a combination of rotting fruit, old people and evil which is apparently impossible to render under pressure with a coloured pencil whilst children point at you.

4 Blue fish who's name I've forgotten: They were They didn't move so I wandered off.
3 Spider Crab: It's face was simply crazy.
2 Rays: They don't stop moving and are pretty flat. I was drawing them side on for a while and came out with a lot of single grey lines.
1 Loggerhead Turtles: They have a sense of melancholy about them and I couldn't figure out which colour expressed that best. So I just used brown.

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Clockwork Dragon

It's exciting times here at Castle Dolan because I can finally show you some images from The Clockwork Dragon. This is a book written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by me for Oxford University Press. I'll give you three guesses what it's about:

It's out February 2015 but you can pre-order it now.


Well, it's not really a flash because all the news is fairly old(ish) but I've not got round to blogging about it yet. I've been crazy busy with a good few projects which have been taking up most of my time.


That's Cambridgeshire Libraries picturebook award. They gave me this trophy and everything.

I'm really pleased about this one because it was voted for by 10,000 children. Occasionally I'm told that Weasels is a book that children won't 'get' but I think this goes some way to proving otherwise. The kids at the Bellbird School, where the awards ceremony was held, did a brilliant Weasels display (with real wires) and made this excellent diorama.

I did a bit of live drawing for some of the kids and drew, amongst other things, a miner weasel with a pit pony guinea pig, obvo.

News Item 2: I taught a children's book illustration summer school.

Yes I've been corrupting the delicate young minds of the illustrators of tomorrow with the help of my co-tutor Elena Arevalo Melville. 20 students flew over from Singapore for a three day crash course in children's books at the Cambridge School of Art. I was slightly nervous as it was my first time teaching a short course like this but I loved it, not just because I enjoy the sound of my own voice, but because of the brilliant, hilarious students. 

Here they are working away.

Elena critting them like a pro.

It was a fairly intense few days and this is what we looks like by the end of it.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Nuts in Space Launch

Last Saturday was the launch of my new book Nuts in Space. I was overwhelmed by the brilliant turn out but also slightly terrified seeing as I was doing a reading of the book followed by live drawing of the characters. There are few things more nerve wracking than drawing in from of a crowd made up of 50% illustrators.
A major highlight was THE CAKES. There was Lost Nuts of Legend cupcakes and a cake featuring each member of the crew. On top of all that there was a truly impressive Death Banana cake which was the heady combination of both threatening and delicious.
Thank you to everyone who came along. Also huge thanks to Heffers Bookshop for being wonderful hosts and Emily Wilkinson of Love & Cake for the delicious Death Banana and other cakes.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Nuts in Space is out now!

You can get Nuts in Shop in all brilliant book shops including here and here.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Bologna Book Fair is terrifyingly near and I've not had much time this year to do any self-initiated projects amidst all the published stuff. The situation only got worse after The Day The Hard Drive Died and I had to spend many miserable nights doing work I'd already done. I have however done a few black and white bits from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the last few days. I remember vividly having all the Narnia books read to me as a child (I was a slow reader, this helped) so it's been interesting to revisit this familiar story.

The Stone Table

Mr. Tomnus

Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter

Mr and Mrs Beaver

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Many, many things have happened over the last couple of months. I'll start with the good things...

Weasels is up for more awards than I could possibly have imagined. It's on the longlist for the Kate Greenaway Medal with the likes of Oliver Jeffers and Anthony Browne. Weasels is also in the final 6 for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize which is great because I get to go to an awards ceremony at the beginning of April where I will eat my own weight in canap├ęs. And then there's the Read It Again children's picturebook award which is run by Cambridgeshire Libraries and voted for by local schools.

So many awards. It's as if there's been some kind of admin error.

Also there are now advance copies of Nuts in Space in the world! Here’s mine:
In other news I bought a house. It's currently a building site which features gems such as this 70s wallpaper. 
Eventually I'll have a shiny new studio though and when I do I'll post pictures.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I've also just started my PhD (which is in funny picturebooks believe it or not). It's good to keep busy isn't it?

As for bad news my hard drive died and took half a picturebook with it. This means that my every waking moment is spent desperately recreating the 6 spreads I lost in time for Bologna. It's just awful. On the bight side these spreads do contain things such as these toymakers:
Accident prone toymaker

Furious toymaker

Twerking toymaker