Thursday, 31 December 2015

★ 2015 in Review ★

The word for 2015 has been 'busy.' I started out with a huge list of New Years resolutions (I love goal setting!) and I did manage to achieve quite a few of them. I really wanted to make an effort to focus more on my illustration/writing this year after having let it slide a bit in 2014.


The first goal I set myself was to find a publisher for the 'secret project' I had been working on back in Autumn 2014. Or more specifically to officially sign a contract for it and start work on it. I only say it's a 'secret' (sorry to be annoying) because obviously I can't put it on the internet yet. But hopefully it won't be too long before I can reveal what I have been working on. It's the best project I've ever worked on and I am extremely passionate about it. All will be revealed in 2016!

But I will just say... that it involves Pink Rabbit. Here is a very very small sneaky peek of an illustration.
The other goal I set myself was to finish a picture book I had been working on for a long time with another publisher. It was really great to finally start working properly on this book this year and also to illustrate it in 2d rather than 3d! I actually did very little 3d work this year and I want to continue exploring my 2d style in 2016.

This book should be out next year too. It's a Christmas one! I am excited for you to see it. Here's a little peek...

I worked on the two above projects simultaneously through out the second half of the year which is why at times I was almost too busy.

Pen and ink seems to have been my medium lately!

In July my second Witch's Cat book came out so that was exciting. Happy Halloween Witch's Cat.

And in August The Night Before Christmas came out, illustrated by me in 3d so that was also exciting! I started this book at the end of 2014 but it carried through until about March 2015 so one of my goals at the start of the year was to get it finished. This was the only 3d work I did this year.

The Glitterbelle books (illustrated by me in 3d) also came out this year, in January. It seems so long ago now!

This was my favourite of all the Glitterbelle illustrations. It's one of the front covers.

January 2015 was a busy month because it was when we moved house. At last!! It was long overdue. I put 'move into a house' as one of my goals for the year as I know these things can always fall though. Luckily it didn't this time (the one we tried to buy before it did fall through) and we moved in in January. We have absolutely  loved living in our house this year and we adore the place that we live in. It's been amazing.

It's been especially amazing to have my own studio rather than having to work in my bedroom like I was before.

We went on two holidays in 2015. I actually put 'go to Turkey with Henry's Mum and have fun,' (haha) on my list of goals for this year so I am pleased we managed to do that.

Celestine came too of course and I took some photos of her:

I also took photos of Celestine when we went camping in Cornwall. Camping was not something that I started out the year planning to do, it was more of an impulse decision. I managed to capture a dream shot of Celestine on this holiday. I've always wanted to get a picture of her boating in an idyllic lagoon and I managed it!! It took sooo many shots to get the perfect one though... the water rippled just right and everything.

Other, smaller things that happened this year were:

Dying my hair back to pink - well not all of it but a lot of it. I so much prefer it. Both these photos were taken at a wedding. We went to six weddings this year! Six! It's the season of weddings in my life haha.

I went to Miniatura in Birmingham which was great and I also discovered the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. I say 'discovered' because I had just never been before. It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I went twice this year - to the Christmas one as well. The quality of the miniatures there was absolutely stunning. 

We went to see James Acaster live which was hilarious. He is my favourite comedian ever. You should check him out if you don't know who he is. It was such a good night.

Also, I read/listened to lots of books! That was one of my goals for the year. I wanted to listen to books instead of watching trashy tv shows while I work. I actually managed to achieve this which I am very pleased about. I read around 62 not including picture books. Here they all are! A lot of them I really, really enjoyed, some of them were ok and a few I hated.

So over all I am pleased with the things I achieved in 2015 and I am looking forward to 2016. I have some exciting things planned for next year and I look forward to sharing them with you on my blog!

Some of my goals for 2016 include:

Finishing the books I am in the middle of working on.
Continue reading lots of books.
Continue working in 2d rather than 3d.
Make an illustrated Christmas card! (I wanted to do it this year and it was on my lost of goals but I ran out of time)
Go to church more. I let this slide this year because of moving house etc but I miss going.
Make myself write in a journal every day for practice.
Work on Victoria Stitch. She has been neglected for a while now and needs some attention. Poor Victoria Stitch - she's even had Pink Rabbit taken away from her now!
Work up a picture book idea for my dino kids (below) I've finally had a story idea for them.

I hope you've had a wonderful year. Here's to stepping into 2016 tomorrow!

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Night Before Christmas

At the end of last year/beginning of this year I had the opportunity to illustrate a version of The Night Before Christmas - a poem by Clement C Moore. I was very pleased to be asked because it is in fact a book I have always wanted to illustrate! In fact I wrote about it on my blog back in 2012.

I illustrated the whole book in 3d - using the same techniques I used for my Witch's Cat books and the Glitterbelle books. I thought I would show you some of the work that went into this book behind the scenes and a few of the final images. 

This image was used for the endpapers and is actually one of my favourites. 

The houses are actually all flat card cutouts standing in front of one another. They are not 3d houses. I just painted them to look 3d! I used fairylights behind the windows. I used yellow cellophane on the windows to really give them that warm glow. Here's a behind the scenes snap of the houses, before I lit the sky up. You can see the fairy lights and the wire in front.

I light the sky up by shining lamps from the back, though all the tiny pinprick holes and stars. It makes them very sparkly. You can tell I used a few different lamps to light up the whole sky as some of the light is a different colour. I quite like that though. Some of the stars are more of an ice white and some of them are a warmer white.

I think the scenes I enjoyed creating the most were the bedroom scenes. I always find bedroom scenes fun to make. I sewed some miniature christmassy patchwork quilts for the beds.

This was the parents room - before I put the characters in. I was quite pleased with how I made the little bedside lights. I bought some electric tealights from the pound shop and stuck the plastic flame bit through a hole in the top of the bedside table. Then I put a tracing paper tree in front of it. I like all the little details you can put in a bedroom, the snowman mugs by the bedside, the tiny little paper chains (fiddly to make!) the miniature paintings on the walls. I also designed the wallpaper.

This was the children's room. not quite the final image as the final image also has sweets and sugarplums floating in the air along with the fairies. Secretly I actually prefer this version though...

I made the Christmas tree out of pipe cleaners and stuck sequins on it for baubles. Then I used a string of dollshouse fairylights to light it up. I sewed the teddy and the rabbit on the top right.

These ones are 'in progress' shots...

The first image I created for the whole book was the one with Santa on the rooftop. I had to create a sleigh for this scene which was fun. I remember watching Mob Wives as I covered all the tiny presents in glitter. It's funny, I always remember what I was watching or listening to at the time of creating a piece of artwork when I look at that artwork again in the future.

Here's Santa in the chimney! This was before I changed his sack to one made from fabric. It didn't look very good like this...

Here's a test shot just to try and get the placement of everything right.

And another one. I used cotton wool for the snow. If you buy it in a roll then when you lay it out it looks like a sheet of soft pristine snow. 

This was the final image. You can see what a difference lighting makes! I think it looks much more cosy and Christmassy here with everything being darker. The stars glow more and I think it had more atmosphere. I sprinkled glitter on the cotton wool to make it look like the snow sparkling in the starlight.

I like how the reindeers had glitter and sequins on them. This one has various different moon and star sequins on him.

I had to make the reindeers in a smaller scale for another scene. Otherwise the set would have been HUGE! These reindeers are pretty small, about 2.5 cm.

I had to make the sleigh in a smaller scale too.

This was part of the final image. It wasn't possible to find fairy lights small enough for this scene so I had to add them in Photoshop. I MIGHT have been able to think of a way to create the illusion of very tiny fairy lights somehow if I had had more time. But I just didn't. 

Here are the reindeers flying in the sky!

To create something like this I put the reindeers on long stalks in front of the starry sky. Here's a test shot.

The houses also had to be made in two sizes. There was the scale I have shown above and then another even smaller scale.

I used electric tealights again to light up the insides of the houses.  They were... interesting to photograph. Basically it took me billions of shots to get this one right. I tried all sorts of different lighting effects...

The trees were all made from paper rolled into cones with V shapes cut out for the leaves/branches. And then glittered of course!

There are quite a few scenes in the book which are set in the living room. I quite liked making the living room. The tree was fun to do.

So sparkly!

Here's a test shot of the whole scene. I think a few things changed in it for the final version.

And here's the last scene in the book. Santa and his reindeer flying away!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the behind the scenes for this book. I enjoyed creating it.

There's a little video for it here too:

Hope you're having a festive December!


Friday, 4 December 2015

Celestine's Birthday and Catch Up!

It's been a while and I have a lot to catch up on. If you follow me on instagram then you'll probably have seen most of these photos already but I like to have them on my blog as well.

Firstly, Celestine's birthday. This was ages ago now - back in September! But I have had no time to edit/upload so that's why they're going up now.

Here she is at her birthday table. Her friend Matilda who has been featured before came to the party.


They had a lot of nice food (though there weren't a lot of savoury options...)

To Celestine and Matilda, sprinkles are like sweets!

Celestine wore her new necklace. It was made by Nalladris. It is so sparkly! I'm not going to lie, I did theme the whole party round the pink necklace...

And french fancies did have to be bought...

Matilda and Celestine started out quite demurely, sipping their tea (ahem whiskey for Matilda) from their cups. Henrietta made a crown for Matilda with the 3doodler.

But things soon went downhill...

Matilda had a little too much whiskey as usual...

And ended up in the cakes...

Then she partook in a bit of drunk driving on Celestine's scooter. Tut tut. Luckily there were no other miniature drivers on the patio that day. 

Overall though, it was a good party and Celestine and Matilda enjoyed themselves which in the important thing.

So that was that.

Speaking of Nalladris I also bought this absolutely exquisite little star tiara from there recently-ish. It's got 170 sparkling crystals in it. It is sooo beautiful! I will have to do a seperate post one day on all the jewellery Celestine owns....

 I dyed my hair pink again (quite a while ago now.)

We went on lots of walks, especially in Autumn.

And then there was Halloween!

We went to a wedding on actual Halloween. Celestine wrote a Halloween letter to her friends Dixie and Percy in her red witch's hat and cape. She enjoyed getting her pumpkin tea set out. (Made by Sally Meekins ceramics.)

And then there was fireworks night! Celestine came too of course and wore her bobble hat. There was a massive bonfire.

And let's just take a moment to admire this tiny little rainbow cardigan. Made by suedehead on etsy. It is so small!! I asked for the arms to be made a little bit longer because Celestine has longer arms than the dolls it is supposed to be made for.

It fits her perfectly. 

We also bought a new chest of drawers a few months ago and when we opened one of the drawers it had this tiny magic wand in it! I enjoyed that.

I just realised this whole post is basically just about Celestine! Whoops!

Well, that's probably because I have just been working mainly lately. Working working working. Which is fine because I enjoy it. But it seems Celestine has been living my life for me lately while I work! haha.