A Witch’s Garden – Game Update

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My Unity game ‘A Witch’s Garden’ is taking shape! The 2D games tutorial that I used as a starting point was a great way to kick things off. It makes use of the ‘Playground Project’ a very useful pack of ready made scripts and assets. After making their demo game, I was able to move on and use the scripts like puzzle pieces to create a simple, object collection game.

Initially I used the pack’s existing spaceship art to get the foundation of my game working, then I was ready to replace them with my own, witchy designs. I’m so inspired by beautiful, artsy games by developers like State of Play and Simogo,  making my own game has given me the opportunity to explore styles that I haven’t had the chance to use for client work yet.

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In A Witch’s Garden, you control a disembodied skeleton hand, guiding it around an ethereal garden to collect glowing pagan symbols whilst avoiding the monsters that lurk there. It’s going to be a long journey to finishing my game and I’ll have to remind myself to be patient, but the fact that i’ve already got the foundations in place feels like a big achievement. My next steps are to add as much polish as I can and then explore how I can share it with you all to play!

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The Playground Project is a free resource created by Ciro Constinisio 

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Tove Jansson & the Creative Process

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As a long time fan of Tove Jansson’s illustrations, seeing the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery before it closed was a big treat. Though the Moomins took centre stage, there was an excellent variety of her work on display.

Watercolours and drawings from Tove’s illustrated versions of Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. Large oil-painted self portraits and abstracts. Also a selection of her political cartoons and magazine covers, some of which were created during the Second World War. There was even a series of models, like this one of Snufkin (below) that I took the opportunity to sketch!

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However, what I enjoyed most about this exhibition was the touch of insight it gave me into Tove’s creative process. Evidence of pencil lines not quite rubbed out underneath delicate ink work. Some barely perceptible tippex-like corrections on typography. Roughs and layout sketches shown next to final versions. I noticed that a few of the watercolours had sections which appear to have been carefully cut out, perhaps by scalpel, and removed or replaced with a new layer of card fixed precisely in place over the top.

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It was very heartening to see these little human touches and imagine that even my illustration heroes made/make changes and tweaks to improve their work. That things don’t always come out perfectly first time and that there are many different ways to create. It’s all part of the process and one that we don’t always get to see – especially in today’s slick, Photoshop world.

I love it when illustrators share what goes on behind the scenes and how they make their work. I’ll be sure to share more of my creative process this year too!

The above Tove Jansson Illustration from Alice In Wonderland is used here without permission via Pinterest. 

Bird Themed Personal Project

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I’ve been working on a bird inspired personal project, on and off, for a couple of years now. It started with a visit to the Barbican to see ‘Magnificent Obsessions’. An excellent exhibition displaying the private (and in some cases bizarre) collections of famous artists, including Andy Warhol’s cookie jars and Peter Blake’s Edwardian dolls and puppets.

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I enjoyed drawing Damien Hirst’s taxidermy birds. Trapped in a glass bell jar, they caught my imagination and an idea for a book cover project slowly developed. Through this personal work i’ve been able to explore digital colouring, hand drawn typography, composition and print – though as is often the way, it’s had to take a back seat to other projects when life has been busy.

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However, I’m now on the home stretch! I’ve been making final adjustments this week as well as having fun with some more digital colouring/ bird experiments which I thought I’d share. If you have any personal projects or side hustles that your excited about this year, I’d love to hear about them!

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Photograph of Taxidermy birds used here without permission.
All other images are my own.

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Glen Baxter

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I’m currently enjoying Glen Baxter’s Blizzards of Tweed, a fabulous collection of whimsy and nonsense!

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I was lucky enough to receive my copy as part of a work-place Secret Santa (a rare occurrence when freelancing!). It must be the best one I’ve ever received and I felt pretty guilty for giving a standard chocolates and sweeties combo when I unwrapped it.

Baxter’s wonderfully ridiculous humour and embracing of the absurd aside – it really is a beauty to behold. The first part of the book is made up of elegant line drawings, then towards the middle he uses layers of coloured pencil to great effect.

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I find it can be difficult to do this well as sometimes the colours can turn muddy or the texture refuses to build up evenly, but he’s clearly mastered this.

I love that at first glance, any one of his sketches feels like it could be a legitimate illustration from a classic children’s book and it’s not until you look more closely that you can spot the oddities and weirdness of his storytelling. Lots of owls to enjoy too!

My January Rituals

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It’s 2018 and I’m actually quite excited for January. Though I love Christmas, the festive cosyness, sparkly lights, delicious food and drink, by New Year’s Eve I’m usually feeling ready to get back to normal. To try and eat a bit healthier, venture outside and asses my goals and plans for the new year. January also signals the approach back towards my preferred time of year…with more light in the evenings and (hopefully) warmer weather on the way!

As January can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming with resolutions and laying plans, I thought I’d share a couple of things that I find helpful and inspiring for getting back to it – Especially as a freelancer.


Yoga With Adrienne
Every January, YouTube yoga teacher Adriene releases a new ’30 Days of Yoga’ challenge. I’m no yoga expert but the videos are easy to follow and pretty accessible to everyone. I find that concentrating on breath, moving the body and stretching make me feel so much better and are a really good way to start the day. I’ve never managed to do the challenge on consecutive days, but I don’t think that matters!

Walking
It doesn’t have to be a long hike in the countryside (though that’s definitely a bonus when available!). A 10 or even 5 minute walk around the block on my lunch break always lifts my mood. It can be especially difficult to motivate myself to do this when it’s chilly or a rainy day. But a brisk walk seems to wake me up, give my brain a break and make me more productive in the afternoon.

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Writing
Putting pen to paper to note down how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking about is a useful way to clear the head and help order priorities. I grab a biro, whatever notebook is lying about (usually some nice new ones post Xmas!) and just jot down whatever pops into my head. Sometimes this can turn into a bit of a ramble, but the act of writing down my thoughts, just for me, always gives me a sense that I have a plan, or at least the start of one.

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So there you have it, my January rituals! I’d love to hear about any techniques or ideas you have in place for to kick start your 2018. Happy New Year!

Happy Christmas!

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Happy Christmas everyone! Wishing you a lovely festive break and chilled end to the year. Here’s a quick little sketch from our bracing walk on Ovingdean beach earlier today. I’m looking forward to more drawing challenges and adventures in 2018 – I’d love to hear about your creative resolutions if you have some. Until January 🤗🎄

Advent Countdown

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This year I’ve had a paper advent calendar instead of a chocolate one and I’ve really enjoyed it. My Winter Woodland advent calendar by illustrator Angela Harding is very satisfying. There’s a wide variety of wildlife, big and small – birds, stags, badgers, foxes and a healthy dose of owls!

The blue and white shades of the snow are set off by the reds of the berries and fur of the animals. The warm glow from the house in the distance stops it from feeling too chilly.

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I love the linocut style and the flowing composition which draws the eye around the scene. The numbers on the little doors are quite tricky to pick out, so sometimes it takes a while to find the right one but it’s well worth it when you’re rewarded with a miniature deer or leaping greyhound.

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A spell of pre-Xmas work in Brighton has drawn me away from my advent calendar – but it will be nice to discover all the other doors in January when I return to London and eek out the festivities a bit longer!

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