Ever wanted to know how a children’s book illustrator designs a book cover?
Designing characters is one of my favourite parts of the job. There are lots of little tricks and techniques you can use to design great characters – here’s how I do it.
*** COMING SOON: 4th AUG 2020 ***
The adventures at Toffle Towers hotel continue as the manager – 10-year-old Chegwin Toffle – battles with blizzards, rioting guests and hostile takeover attempts!
Join Chegwin Toffle for more fun and frolics as Toffle Towers gets snowed in. Amid the snowball fights, things start to go wrong when guests’ precious belongings go missing and Brontessa Braxton launches yet another assault to take over the hotel.
Will Chegwin catch the culprit? Will he be able to beat Brontessa in court to save his beloved hotel and staff? And will he ever find the missing room 50 and the hotel’s mystery guest?
Another stellar story written by Tim Harris, and illustrated by James.
PRE-ORDER YOUR SIGNED COPY
– Paper Bird Children’s Books
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More books in the series:
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Month of June: drawing demo and Q&A (for kids, ONLINE)
AVAILABLE: the month of June ***PLEASE NOTE – THIS WORKSHOP IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE***
Thanks to the City of Gosnells libraries for commissioning this session.
June 20: Character Design workshop – (for 10-17yo, ONLINE)
In this workshop participants learn how colour, shape, costume and body language all make great unique characters, and learn to design their own characters for their own stories. Thanks to Victoria Park library for organising this session.
A link will be sent to registered participants prior to the workshop for access.
WHEN: Saturday June 20th
AGES: 10-17 yo
BOOKINGS: essential, via the Victoria Park website.
Calling all young creatives in Western Australia – it’s your time to shine and WIN up to $500 in prizes!
Connecting Through Creativity – what’s it about?
Create your artistic response, to the theme Connectivity, in any visual method that inspires you! Some examples include 2D Arts (drawing, illustration, painting, collage, photography, comics, etc.); Video (video diary, performance, stop motion, interview, short film, etc.); and 3D Arts (ephemeral art, land art, sculpture, pop up books, etc.).
The competition is open to Primary and Secondary aged kids from ALL OVER Western Australia, with $500 in prizes up for grabs!
Want Some Inspiration?
I’m one of four ‘creative mentors’ helping the project (along with Cristy Burne, Beci Orpin and Remy Lai ) – we’re sharing tricks of the trade through a series of video and blog posts over the coming weeks. We’ll help guide you on your artistic journey with inside peeks to our own creative processes, how-tos, and answers to your burning questions.
I made a video for the competition about how being curious helps your creativity.
How To Enter
Check out the official competition page on the Scribblers website for more info. Entries close June 26.
Join me this Wednesday May 6th for a free online workshop called Writing and Illustrating Comics 101.
I’ll show you the basics of how to make your own comics. You’ll learn how to write and edit a script, design characters, and use speech bubbles to make a short comic story.
This workshop is provided by the State Library of NSW but is open to kids across Australia.
WHEN: Wednesday May 6th
TIMES: 8am-9am (WA time) / 10am-11am (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
WHERE: online (link provided when you register)
AGES: 8-12 yo
BOOKINGS: essential. Click here to reserve your place.
Hi everyone! I hope you’re all staying safe and well in these strange times.
Looking for free stuff to help with your homeschooling? I’ve got you covered.
check out my Teacher resource page. It’s a comprehensive list of resources related to all my books. There’s a bunch of bonus activities and content at the bottom of the page.
FREE VIDEO LESSONS
Check out the free videos below (if the videos don’t come up, please try the online version of this blog post).
Also – while schools might not be going back to normal for a little while, I’m still available to do presentations for school groups – either live or pre-recorded. Get in contact to find out more.
Littlescribe also has a bunch more free creative writing lessons on their Youtube channel. They also offer full terms’ worth of creative writing programs for a fee via their website; each writing program is developed in conjunction with professional Aussie children’s authors (including me).
10% OFF MY BOOKS + FREE ACTIVITY PACKS
My publisher Fremantle Press is offering 10% off my junior graphic novels, and is throwing in a ‘Kids At Home’ pack too – a bunch of freebies and activity sheets! Use the discount code ATHOME at the checkout to get your discount and freebies. Head to the Fremantle Press website for more info.
*** This offer lasts until Easter 2020. ***
Look after yourselves – wash your hands, keep up your social distancing – and we’ll meet up again on the other side of this.
A primary school student contacted me recently and said they want to be an author when they grow up; they asked if I had any tips. I boiled it all down to three things: read, write, and have fun. This may sound super simplistic, but I think these are ultimately the basics you need to have.
Note to aspiring illustrators: these tips apply to you too! Just replace the word ‘write’ with ‘draw’, and ‘author’ with ‘illustrator’.
Read lots of things. Read lots of different types of things. Even read things that you think you might not like (and even read things that you know you don’t like). The more you read, the more you learn about what kind of stories you like, but also about how stories work. And if you’re reading a story that you don’t like, ask yourself – why isn’t this working for me? What would I change to make this story better?
Write a little bit each week, just for fun, just for you. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Try writing things out by hand. Try writing things on a computer. Try writing different types of things. The more you write, the more you learn about WHAT you like to write, and HOW you like to write. You don’t have to wait until you grow up to be an author; you don’t have to wait until you are published to ‘be’ an author; if you write stories then you are an author.
3. HAVE FUN.
If this is your main aim then you can never really fail, and you won’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure in the creative process. But if your main aim is to sell a squllion books and get super rich and famous, then you’ll probably get disappointed! Also, if you’re having fun then it’s easier to persist and persist and persist until the work is done (because writing takes a loooooong time).
So that’s it – my three top tips for aspiring writers! If you’d like to read some more detailed advice, check out some of my earlier posts:
- Advice for aspiring writers and illustrators
- Tips for aspiring writers and illustrators
- 6 books to help you make better picture books
- 10 tips for budding graphic novelists
Meet Western Australian children’s authors and illustrators and have your favourite book signed.Entry is $20 per family (of up to six). Hand in your ticket at the book sales table on the day for $20 credit toward the book(s) of your choice.•• You only need to book ONE FAMILY TICKET per family/group of up to six people ••
•• Receive ONE $20 credit voucher toward book(s) per family/group booking only ••
TIMES: 10am – 12:45pm
WHERE: State Library of WA, Francis St, Perth
COST: $20 per family (up to six people) – and each family group receives one $20 credit voucher to spend on books on the day.
BOOKINGS: Essential. Click here to reserve your place.
Jan 31: Joondalup Libraries Summer Reading Challenge closing party (for kids)
The City of Joondalup Libraries are holding a Summer Reading Challenge from Sunday 1 December 2019 to Friday 31 January 2020. Are you up for the challenge?
- Kindergarten to year three students – aim to read for 10 hours on your own or with your family
- Year four to year six students – aim to read for 15 hours
Pick up a reading log from your nearest City of Joondalup library, or download it here – Summer reading challenge A5 Booklet.
Participation in the challenge is free. All kids who complete the challenge get invited to the closing party with me, your friendly neighbourhood children’s author/illustrator.
DETAILS: to be advised
ENTRY: By invitation only – to all kids who complete a reading log for the Summer Reading Challenge. More info here.
James here, finding a quiet moment while the toddler is asleep to update my blog. And there’s lots of news to share …
FUNNY BONES out now
I’ve got a couple of pages of comics in there, but you’ll also find Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, Garth Nix, Jacqueline Harvey, Richard Roxburgh, Sally Rippin, Tristan Banks, Gus Gordon … you name them, they’re probably featured in here. It’s a brilliant book for a brilliant cause, and would make an absolutely brilliant Christmas present.
… or ask your local indie bookshop for a copy.
TOFFLE TOWERS 2 out in January
The next installment in the adventures of young hotel manager Chegwin Toffle will land in bookstores in January 2020. Words by the incomparable Tim Harris; illustrations by me.
This time around, Chegwin’s hotel staff are ‘reverse mugged’ by two mysterious men. Chaos ensues and it’s Chegwin’s job to get to the bottom of these attacks before Toffle Towers loses all its hard-earned guests. Meanwhile, the town of Alandale is preparing for the annual Great River Race. Once Chegwin discovers his saboteur is none other than Brontessa Braxton, owner of the rival hotel in town, Chegwin find himself preparing to go head to head with her in the Great River Race to save his beloved staff and Toffle Towers.You can pre-order Toffle Towers book 2 here:
– Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
– Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
– QBD (Australia only)
… or ask your local indie bookshop to order it in for you.
More books coming in 2020/21
Look out for these projects coming next (I’m excited!):
– Chickensaurus (Sally Tinker book 4)
– Toffle Towers Book 3
– the follow-up picture book to cult favourite My Dead Bunny (more details on that soon)
– Stellarphant, a new picture book written and illustrated by me
That’s all the new book news for now! Thanks for reading.