Friday, 20 December 2013

How to Draw a Reindeer

This post was inspired by author David Hewson. On Twitter this morning, he commented: "Fine. So I can't draw a reindeer. Will go to work then."

Now, I don't want to distract him from writing any of his splendid novels but here is a simple way to amaze your friends with your own, hand-drawn reindeer.

Almost any animal* can be drawn from a combination of these three basic shapes.

(* possibly not an amoeba)

So start off with a squished circle for the reindeer head.

Add a rectangle for the neck.

Another oval for the body.

Some lines and triangles for what one of my students memorably called 'thread legs' (thereby avoiding the trickly problem of knees).

Three more slightly pointy squished circles for ears and tails (don't let the technical language put you off).

You'll notice that so far all the lines have been drawn in blue. I use a Derwent Studio 33 pencil - it's easy to ink over without rubbing out pencil lines. Now we can ink in the lines and add some color. And a few squiggly lines for the antlers …

… some yellow lines for mane and quiff, couple of dots for the eyes and a couple more legs for added realism. Whilst we're at it, let's change the color of the hooves. Finally, a big red circle for the nose with a splotch of white to make it shiny …

… and we're done. Now draw it on card and post to your loved ones, who will treasure it forever.

(More tips and tricks on how to cheat and draw almost anything are available in my book, which is an ideal present at ANY time of year.)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A-Fracking we will go …

Christmas is upon us so this week’s cartoon for the super, soaraway Westmorland Gazette had to have a festive air. But which story to choose? There were two main candidates:
Hawkshead GP Surgery is under threat of closure. It’s in a rural area, falls below some arbitrary limit for the number of patients and is going to have a support grant withdrawn. It’s also top of an NHS survey into patient satisfaction.
A good story but one I’ve covered before. I had a solitary go at it and you can see the result below. Difficult to see how I could shoehorn Rudolf into that one.
The front page lead was more alluring. Fracking comes to South Lakes. Specifically, Milnthorpe, Levens and Kirkby Lonsdale. Given that the threat of windfarms caused a deafening rustle of Barbour jackets in Kirkby Lonsdale, I can’t see fracking being popular.
I had several punts at this story, including one which I knew wouldn’t get in but which would ensure my steamed editor was paying attention.
I also ran foul of the censors with use of the word ‘fracking’. Some potty-minds in the newsroom thought I was being rude. As if.

Below are the cartoon candidates. Feel free to vote for your favorite by appending a comment (preferably to the blog rather than on the moon or Facebook). Then whoosh to my website to see the editor’s choice in high-definition, 3D technicolor.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Clumsy Charley - a blog about a book

This book sneaked up on me. Jane Binnion, a social media trainer, sought me out after a business networking event to ask about book publishing. I directed her to the inestimable (but now sadly defunct) Writer’s Handbook. Off she went and I thought no more about it.

Skip forward a year and she had written her book, found a publisher, the seriously hip Funky Gerbil Press … 

… and they wanted to know if I’d like to illustrate it.

It was an unusual idea (the book, not me illustrating one - I’ve done over 200). It was about a boy with dyspraxia, a little known condition which is often misunderstood, particularly by schools, carers and parents. The book is designed to tell a story, engage the reader and help those with the condition to feel good about themselves. I was in.

The process of illustrating a book always has ups and downs. Whatever they tell you, all authors secretly hate their illustrators. Illustrators secretly hate authors. As I am an illustrator and an author I secretly hate myself. 

Once the character designs were fixed, no one interfered with the drawings (a rare and wondorous thing). 

There were a few tweaks from the publisher (all publishers like to tweak things to justify their lavish lifestyle) but they redeemed themselves by doing a splendid job on the design. And off it went to print.

This being the brave new digital age, it went to print on demand, first at Amazon and then at Bertrams. The Amazon version appeared on their website yesterday evening.

And here it is. What are you waiting for? Go and buy it NOW!