Martin Salisbury (my lecturer and famed professor of children's book illustration) turned 60 last month and students all drew a little postcard-sized portrait of him as a gift. I did this quite some time ago, but didn't post it as it was intended as a surprise. Anyway, here it is!

This is a quick view on what I'm currently working on for my course. It's part of a sequential image project. One of the (many!) challenges, after the sequence has been worked out, is trying to maintain the same colours from image to image. The one on the right is a complete one, while the one on the left is the one in progress. First time trying out pastels, and I quite like it!

This is a continuation of my observational drawing project. I decided to experiment with a bigger format using charcoal. I'm pretty pleased with the result. I think I'll try soft pastels next.

New Square, Cambridge

A row of shophouses facing Market Square, Cambridge

View over Market Square

Kings College, Cambridge

Ok, so today is the 10th of November 2012. So I thought that I'd post some of the sketches I did for an observational drawing project. My chosen theme was people and food.

A quick sketch from the window of Yo! Sushi restaurant in Cambridge

Market Square in Cambridge

Caffe Mobile at Market Square

Michaelhouse Cafe, Cambridge (church converted to a restaurant)

Bill's restaurant in Cambridge

jocalatte near Grafton Centre, Cambridge

Nero Cafe, Fitzroy St, Cambridge

Patisserie Valerie, Cambridge

CB1 Cafe, Mill Rd, Cambridge

 Yes, I'm in Cambridge!

Ok, so I haven't been updating this blog for some time. Well I have an excuse! I was busy applying for the MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. There was a whole lot of preparation to do: visa, new accommodation arrangements, fees, and not least of all the move from London to Cambridge.

Once here, I've been getting acquainted with this lovely city. The photo on the right is of St John's College. No, this is not my college (I wish!) but one of the many colleges of University of Cambridge. I've also been busy sketching everyday for my first assignment, and once I have some decent sketches, I'll post them.

Stay tuned!

The following pieces are for the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2013. They are based on The Wild Swans, the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. I picked this story to illustrate as I wanted a fairytale that is not too well-known. After trying a few different techniques and materials, I settled on simple black and white pencil drawings, not unlike what I did for The Bloody Chamber.

Right, I had painted a really simple picture with just brush and ink and I decided to scan it in and see what I can do with Photoshop. I have been learning a lot through videos and thought maybe I could practice some of the techniques I learned (before they all go poof in a month's time). So this is the brush painting I started of with this:

...and ended up with this (sort of like an old chinese mural):

I loved the wolf I created in my previous post so much that I created another one. Trying to imbue more "character" into my characters.

I decided to try my hand at ink illustrations, since it's supposedly still a popular form of children's book illustrations. I chose The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe to illustrate. This was a good learning experience, I never realised just how hard it is to create tone just with ink alone.

Painted these four pictures for a project, to illustrate Animal Farm by George Orwell.

singing 'Beasts of England'

the Seven Commandments

Napoleon and his piebald piggies

What deeds are performed at night

I have been rushing to finish my projects prior to flying home a few weeks before term ends (my brother is getting married!). Been awhile since I've been this frazzled. I painted this for a project, but it really sums up how I feel. Apparently people tell me that this is how they see me as well!

I made these pictures for a t-shirt contest, completed it in less than 1 day (as the deadline was the next day!). Well I didn't win, but it was all in good fun! These are two of my favourite foods/beverages.

My favourite gelato flavours

Caffeine heaven

I remembered I used to do this as a child. 
The dog is entirely imaginary though.

I did these a few weeks ago, but just got around to scanning them in college after term started. Just playing around with black and white pencil images but with highlighted areas in watercolour to see how the effect will turn out.

Waiting for her halo

Little angels in training

These are some sketches I did of Mook's older sister, created at the same time as Mook. I think I prefer this version of the underwater sleigh, and I quite like the second sketch too.

Underwater sleigh

Hi there

I did this for a class assignment last semester. (I'd rather think I left the role on the left behind not too long ago). The inspiration came from a Tibetan statue of the Goddess of Tara (or Goddess of Mercy). The type could be better though.

This is the project that has been keeping me busy the weeks running up to the Bologna Children's Book Fair. We were given a brief that requires us to produce 4 images that will promote a silent film festival held in New York, Manhattan. The films that were being promoted are films by the following stars: Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and Harold Lloyd. Instead of producing 4 film posters, I decided to use this brief as an opportunity to learn more about the etching process by creating 4 etching portraits. The following are the final results: printed on A3-sized Fabriano paper. The signatures were inked in after the print.

Charlie Chaplin

 Buster Keaton

Harold Lloyd

Laurel and Hardy

I was walking around in Bologna a lot, and catching up with a friend, and busy snapping away with my camera, that I didn't have time to sketch a lot. And I think these were the only sketches worth showing!

Piazza Maggiore

Listened to Page Tsou (winner of SM Foundation International Award for Illustration 2011) talk of his experiences at the Illustrators' Cafe during the Bologna Children's Book Fair, and I sketched him and jotted down notes

 And so I went, I saw, and I learned.

Illustrators are really a hardy bunch. They work hard at their craft. They will queue up for hours for a chance to show someone their work, with the hope of getting some recognition for their talent, only to be told that their work is not what the reviewers are looking for. Then they move on to the next queue. And they do the same the next day.

And they do this every year!

This is the wall where illustrators post up samples of their work with their contact details. There are postcards and business cards. Some illustrators post their details on more than one wall. You can tell that some of them are veterans: they come with their boxes full of materials including tape, pins, staples, and clear plastic sheets. They go around every now and then and refill their placeholders when they're empty!

Here's my own little post on the wall. I painted the picture the night before, on the back page of a flyer I took from this same wall! I wasn't handing out my business cards as many times as I originally thought, so I thought I'll just leave them here. I know that most samples are picked up by other illustrators rather than editors and publishers (whom I saw prefer to take photos of the work instead), but I figured that it'd be nice if other illustrators took an interest in my work and visit my blog.

Portugal is the country guest of honour. And they were showcasing some of the best illustrations from Portugal. I loved how they displayed the work, in mock-up portfolio cases.

This is one of my favourite illustrations by a Korean illustrator Sae Young Park on exhibit at the illustrators' exhibition (work that was chosen to be included in the illustrators' manual for 2012). I love brushwork, and I loved how this can be incorporated into a children's picture illustration!

Another of my favourites: lovely watercolour work by Marcolin Marina, also selected.

An illustration from The Toy Soldier by last year's winner of the SM Foundation International Award for Illustration, Page Tsou.

The fair lasted for 4 days, but I was there only for the first 2 days. It was at times inspiring, overwhelming, tiring, but mostly an eye-opening learning experience. Amongst such talent, there were times when I wondered if I have what it takes. But what I've also found is that illustrators are really friendly, helpful, and supportive of each other. And so were all the publishers I've shown my work to (although they essentially said no).

I now have such a respect for all illustrators. It takes a certain courage to do this over and over again, year after year. I hope I still have the courage to do this next year!