Finally saw the illustrations Sandra created for the Dick Institute and East Ayrshire libraries! Here they are at the lovely new refurbished and library and café. Libraries should all look as nice as this one if only they had enough funding.
We were commissioned by the Dick Institute, in Kilmarnock, to create two illustrations for their current library campaign. Sandra produced the artwork last summer to a precise brief: the images had to be bold and punchy black and white graphics that were at once inviting and unexpected. She proposed several versions of artwork during the rough stages, and our client chose the two below. We’re delighted to learn that the campaign has been a success: it was unrolled in several libraries and and has actually increased footfall. The images were featured on leaflets, posters and bus shelters as well as on social media.
We’re delighted to have been invited to contribute to the new, exciting, online comic The Infinite Corpse.
The chain comic currently has 213 artists contributing, among them no less than: Art Spiegelman, Paul Karasik, Matt Madden, Tom Hart, Aaron Renier, Paul Hornschemeier, Alison Bechdel, Nate Beaty, Lewis Trondheim, Peter Kuper, Michael Kupperman, Gabrielle Bell, Craig Thompson… and the list goes on!
The Infinite Corpse is inspired byThe Narrative Corpse book byRAW from the 90s, and by Scott McCloud’s idea of The Infinite Canvas (an online comic doesn’t need to be limited by page count). The story of The Infinite Corpse, in fact, has no beginning and no end. Each artist has contributed 3 panels to the story using the main character of “Corpsey”, following some basic rules. The story is also now open to submissions.
Recently Sandra created life-size illustrations for an exhibition at Borders Textile Towerhouse about the local high street. The exhibition, Vision 2014, was focused on Hawick’s delicatessen Turbull’s, and its rich history, dating back to 1855. A group of school pupils were given the task of brainstorming and setting up the exhibition, and we helped them during an afternoon of workshops.You can read more about the background of the exhibition and how it came about in our previous post here: http://metaphrog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/exhibition-at-borders-textile-towerhouse.html
This is the final artwork, and this blog examines how Sandra created it.
Sandra’s final artwork
First, very rough sketches were made during a brainstorming session with the pupils. Back in Glasgow Sandra then started by drawing blue pencils in Manga Studio.
The pencils were then inked, again in Manga Studio. The artwork having to be life-size, it seemed the best way to pencil and ink was directly on screen at high resolution, rather than making the drawings on paper and then scanning them. As the artworks were to be enlarged Sandra worked at 1200 dpi.
The inked drawing was then exported to Photoshop where the black ink was changed to a burgundy colour and a light pink. For the colouring, Sandra worked in layers using various artistic brushes to emulate paint and watercolour. She also used a number of textures for different parts of the drawing, which she manipulated in a collage-like way, changing the positioning, brightness, hue and saturation for example, until she achieved the desired effect.
Here are some more detailed views. The speech bubble in Detail 1 is made of old paper texture, and the garments are made up of manipulated fabric textures.
In Detail 2, a genuine whisky label from Turnbull’s (below) was incorporated: scanned in at high resolution and wrapped around the bottle. The barrel is made of a collage of wood textures and the Turnbull’s label was taken from the menu below.
Turnbull’s Whisky label
In Detail 3, the pot and tea cup were made up of a number of images (Pupils’ drawings 1, 2 and 3) superimposed in layers and manipulated (hue, saturation, brightness). The elaborate teapot of the Turnbull’s menu (above) was also used as a very faint back layer for added depth.
These three drawings were also made by the pupils during the workshop session with us. The drawings were scanned at high resolution, and Sandra then cleaned them up in photoshop, boosting contrast and changing hues. She then took parts of each drawing and layered them to create a new composite teacup and teapot.
Pupils’ drawing 1
Pupils’ drawing 2
Pupils’ drawing 3
The text parts of the images (on the barrel, board, and speech bubble), were created in Photoshop and manipulated with the Warp Text tool. The figures seen here in situ were printed on thick white board.
In February, we delivered a day workshop at Borders Textile Towerhouse. Pupils were there to come up with ideas and put an exhibition together, Vision 2014, about their local High Street. They concentrated on their local delicatessen, Turnbull’s, a fabulous little vintage café/shop.
Here we are with some of the pupils, helping them to brainstorm ideas.
To inspire them, we started by delivering a brief presentation introducing them to design, typography and illustration from the Victorian era until now. Turnbull’s has a long history dating back to 1855. So we had the opportunity to show them some of our favourite artwork. One of the images we showed was this William Morris pattern.
By an extraordinary coincidence this is the wallpaper currently adorning the walls of Turnbull’s. We’d never set foot there before, and only found this out when we went there for lunch on the day.
The wallpaper looks green here but it was the exact same colour!
Alphonse Mucha, 1899
George Barbier, illustrator
Antonio Lopez, illustrator
After lunch the girls announced that they wanted Sandra to create final artwork for two life-size figures based on their own drawings and ideas. We all did some more brainstorming together, and quick sketches were drawn for the final artwork Sandra would create back in Glasgow. Here is the result, and also the life-size cut out figures in situ at the exhibition opening on March 26th 2013 at Textile Borders Towerhouse.
Sandra’s drawings, life-size figures
Looking at the details, you can see that Sandra has incorporated some of the great drawings, pictured below, that the pupils did on the day.
The pupils setting up the displays
Ross Turnbull, the real proprietor of Turnbull’s, with his grandmother.
The pupils creating the displays
It was a real pleasure to be part of this fantastic project. The pupils really did a wonderful job, and we’re glad to say they were really happy with Sandra’s finished artwork. Many thanks to Kelsey Jubin for inviting us to take part. And what a great way to connect pupils to their local high street and history through art, design and creativity!
Last year, Sandra illustrated the Pig series of books, by author Barbara Catchpole, for Ransom Publishing. All six titles are now to be published in Poland. Here are the covers and also an extract. Really like the cover designs – they’re bold and almost retro. And we love the card inserts! A really nice touch!
Can’t believe another year has gone by already! It’s been another incredibly busy twelve months – hardly had the chance to take a breath.
As well as travelling regularly for author visits we had the opportunity to create illustrations for manifold projects.
This year saw us commissioned to create a graphic novel, and we spent the summer and most of the autumn working round the clock to produce it. At this moment we still can’t say much more about it, but it should be released in 2013.
Our short story The Photographs was published in New Writing Scotland 30, the first ever piece of comic form fiction to be included in the anthology.
New Writing Scotland 30 was included in the annual literature round-up in The Skinny.
She also had the pleasure and privilege of creating illustrations for an iPad game, Book of the Dead: Afterlife for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, as part of the British Museum’s touring exhibition Pharaoh: King of Egypt.
All these projects were highly enjoyable!
Author visits took us all over Britain and even as far afield as The Netherlands!
Several events were highlights:
The Netherlands trip saw us invited to Eindhoven for two days of talks and workshops at the vibrant and bustling International School.
At the Eindhoven International School
It was a pleasure to speak at the Advance Higher Creative Writing Conference at Edinburgh University – our workshop was filled with highly-motivated and bright-eyed students. Also speaking there were Alan Bisset (as keynote speaker), Roy Gill, and the wonderful Cathy MacPhail (we just thoroughly enjoyed reading her book Out of the Depths).
And, it was an honour to be invited as keynote speakers at the National Literacy Network Meeting at Stirling University, where we spoke to over 70 delegates. It was an opportunity to discuss comics and graphic novels and their increasing popularity in our culture and indeed in the classroom. We wrote a blog summarising our thoughts on comics in the classroom here.
We also visited Wales for a fun two days of workshops with KS2 pupils, and returned to Taunton for the third consecutive year for a talk and full day of workshops.
Workshops with KS2 pupils in Newport
For the past few years we’ve been participating in the Aye Write! festival, and this time we also had the pleasure of meeting the incredibly funny and hirsute Philip Ardagh (The Grunts) and the equally funny Jonathan Meres (The World of Norm). Here’s a drawing Sandra did recently of Mr. Ardagh on tour, although even the keen-eyed reader may have difficulty spotting him. And we’ll be back for Aye Write 2013! This will be our fourth year and we’re really looking forward to it!
In a Dumfries’ school for events during the Scottish Mental Health and Film Festival, and kids showing their comics at Gallashiels Museum
Most recently we were part of the first ever Book Week Scotland, which took us to various places, including a school, a library, CRISIS centres and also a prison! We met people from all walks of life.
Every year, children’s authors and illustrators gather for a Xmas lunch in Edinburgh. It’s a great way to catch up and to round off the year, and this time was no exception. Sandra took the picture and you can see Keith Gray, John Fardell, Linda Strachan, Vivian French, Alette J Willis, John Ward, Keith Charters, to name a few, as well as the top of John’s head somewhere in the middle.
Children’s authors and illustrators – Xmas lunch 2012
And we couldn’t resist re-posting these photos Sandra took after one of the previous Xmas lunches a few years ago in Edinburgh.
We’ve just completed artwork for an ipad game for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The Ancient Egypt themed game, Book of the Dead: Afterlife, is currently on display at the museum as part of the Pharaoh: King of Egypt touring exhibition from the British Museum, as well as in the permanent exhibition on Ancient Egypt. Here are a couple of images from the game:
Main screen of the game
One of the pop-up screen elements
Working on this game was amazing, and working with Kelvingrove Museum was fantastic! Ancient Egypt is a fascinating subject so it was difficult not to get excited by the theme of the game. We were really inspired visiting the permanent exhibition.
It was also the first time we’d worked on an ipad game, and that was very refreshing. For this type of work we had to keep in mind at all time that functionality is key and that design must always serve this purpose, as all the different elements are interactive and work in different combinations. This is something that doesn’t normally come into play when creating book or web illustrations, and is completely different from the separate dynamics of sequential art and visual storytelling. It’s been great fun, and we’d love to do more of this kind of work!
Here are a couple of roughs we made in the early stages of the project. The mummy had to be removed to be replaced by a sarcophagus as the exhibition is mummy-free. Although we had been looking forward to doing final artwork on the mummy, we really enjoyed doing the intricate coffin too. The mummy will find its way into another drawing at some point, we’re sure!
We had the pleasure of attending the launch and preview of the exhibition and of seeing the game in situ for the first time last Friday. And the Pharaoh: King of Egypt exhibiton, which will be on for the next few months, is absolutely brilliant (we were especially impressed by the giant wooden sculpture – but we are not allowed to post a picture of it, so if you are in Glasgow you’ll have to go and see it for yourselves!).
Arriving at Kelvingrove Museum by night
The ipad game in situ
Night of the launch, courtesy of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Facebook page
We’ve just completed an illustration job for a series of chapter books aimed at children age 7-12.
Sandra had great fun creating over 240 different images for the Pig series, a set of six, funny and touching stories, written from the point of view of a 12 year old boy.
The books, out now, are written by Barbara Catchpole and published by Ransom Publishing.
‘Meet Peter Ian Green – PIG for short.
All his friends and family call him Pig. Even the teachers. Pig is 12 and is small for his age. He has sticky-out ears and bright red hair which is also sticky up. He attends Coalpits Road High School (or ‘The Pits’ as it is known locally) and lives with his mum. Pig is small for his age, but says his mum is huge for hers. She is a single mum, but Pig says she looks more like a double mum or even a treble mum.
These engaging stories – all written by Pig himself – will appeal to all readers who have experienced being a child in a world that is sometimes a bit too big for them.’
It’s been a busy last few months, juggling different projects and continuing to deliver comic workshops and talks. We have had the pleasure of working on a few illustration jobs: for a series of chapter books due for release soon by Ransom Publishing, and also for educational resources online and in print. Here are a couple of sample illustrations, and some of this work can be viewed on our online portfolio …we’ll reveal more in due course.
We’re also beginning to embark, as we type, on an exciting, new graphic novel project, due to be released in the later part of 2012. But it is top secret for now…
Last week, we visited a local school, in Glasgow, where we had fun helping P5/P6 pupils develop comic characters.
We always feel recharged working with young and enthusiastic people. But this was a change for us, being so close to home, as we’ve been doing a lot of travelling around the UK, and even beyond. Below are just a few of the many places we have visited.
Group photo after one of our workshops, at Mearns Academy
The past few months also saw us visit Airdrie library, touring the excellent observatory, as well as returning to Springburn Academy, Hillpark and participating in the Aye Write! festival for the third year in row (where we had the pleasure of sharing jokes with Philip Ardagh and Jonathan Meres). We also returned for a third time to Bishop Fox’s School in Taunton for their annual conference day.
Other highlights included: a visit to Newport to talk to Primary School boys; a trip to the Eindhoven International School in The Netherlands (read the blog here); flying to Guernsey earlier in the year for a marathon series of events and also to Leeds for Thought Bubble and the Graphic Novel Awards, as Louis – Night Salad was a nominee (read the blog here). We also had the pleasure of participating in World Book Night events at Polmont library, where graphic novels were celebrated and we talked and shared a panel with David Bishop, Emancipation Studio and Rough Cut Comics.
John zooming around before our event at World Book Night
More enriching experiences included visiting Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow to deliver a comic workshop to a small group of inmates, and a visit to Kaimes School for special needs in Edinburgh – we wrote a blog for the Scottish Book Trust here.