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Our July Competition Winner

I was in Carnarvon this past week, doing workshops with Primary and High School students. Thanks to the Shire of Carnarvon for having me, and an extra special thanks to Natalie Whitley, Regional Librarian, for organising the trip.

While there, I met our July Competition winner, Rachel Loffler, who works in the library at Carnarvon Senior High School.

Here’s Rachel and I with her prize- 10 books from Fremantle Press.

The colander helmet seemed like a good idea at the time.

There’s still time to enter our August competition– you could win a signed copy of In Flanders Fields. But, you’ve only got until the 24th to enter. Enter here

Creating the character of Knut- part 3

I started working on a new version of Knut, one without the big nose.

pointy-chin-version-1
some very early pointy-chin sketches, with a little bit of Nick coming through
pointy-chin-version-2
lots more pointy chin sketches

You can see here that I’m trying to draw the same face over and over again while keeping it consistent. Well, I’m trying at least! I’m also trying some profile sketches so I know what Knut looks like from different angles.

I was pretty happy with Knut at this point. I had a meeting coming up with Cate, our editor at Fremantle Press, and I needed to show a watercolour sample of Knut. I used one of the big-nose sketches as a guide, but made his face more pointy-chinned…

Knut-sword-pose-version-1-and-2
Sword pose- big nose and pointy chin versions. I've added a colander hemet for Wolverine
knut-sword-pose-v2
Sword pose- colour testing on the computer before using watercolour
knut-sword-pose-v2-watercolour
the finished sample using watercolour- dated 11/10/09

I do enjoy colouring on the computer for the ease of use, the speed, and the amount of control you get- but you can’t beat the feeling of using a real brush, real water, and real watercolour paint. I reckon the finished product looks a lot better too.

Next week I’ll tell you what Cate thought of the character design so far, and the improvements that were made after the meeting.

Creating the character of Knut- part 2

The first version of Josh/Knut had a huge nose. I made a small clay sculpture which seemed to be cute… but when I translated it into drawings his nose was enormous.

sculpture and sketches
big-nose sculpture and sketches
big nose version image 1
You can pick your friends...
 big nose version image 2
...and you can pick your nose...
big nose version image 3
...but you can't pick your friend's nose.

His character was starting to come through here- alternately brave and afraid, with his faithful Viking dog Wolverine by his side. But the nose had to go, it’s far too big for a young boy.

Character design tip-
Did you know that our ears and noses continue to grow for our whole lives? Babies and kids have small ears and noses compared to their head size, but older people have much bigger noses and ears. If you draw a character with big ears and a big nose, it will make them seem older. Unless of course your character is a baby elephant. In this case I’d recommend making their eyes much bigger than usual. The babies of all animals have bigger eyes than the adults, compared to their head size. Except those blind cave fish, they don’t have any eyes. And tadpoles, they’ve got tiny eyes. And… sorry where was I?

Right, yes, I was getting rid of Knut’s big nose.

The next version of Knut is the ‘pointy-chin’ version, you can see his nose is much smaller:

pointy-chin-version-detail

I’ll show you some more of this version next week, including an early watercolour sample.

Creating the character of Knut- part 1

So, after building the ship with Nick, I used some of the photos as reference for character sketches.

pics of Nick
pics of Nick
sketches of Nick, and character ideas
ship building sketches 1
ship building sketches, featuring a very early 'Wolverine' (Knut's dog).
ship building sketch 2
Nick performing cardboard dragon dentistry

These sketches look very similar to the final roughs for the book- I’ll show their development in a future post.

From this point I started developing a very early version of Knut, which looks nothing like the final version… I call it the ‘big-nose’ version. Here’s a peek:

big nose detail
One of the first Knut sketches, dated 6/10/09

More next week!

Competition for August- win a signed copy of ‘In Flanders Fields’

This month, you could win a copy of In Flanders Fields, signed by the author Norman Jorgensen!

in flanders fieldsYour task is simple- think of a question you’d like Norman or myself to answer, then add your question to the comments section of this post before August 24th.

We’ll randomly select one of the questions, and whoever submitted it will win this month’s prize!

We’ll also select our favourite questions and record a video interview, which we’ll upload at the end of August.

Parkinson
Parkinson interviews James and Norm
Enough Rope
James and Norm appear on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. That's Andrew on the right. I think.

The fine print: this competition runs from 6 August to 24 August. Winners will be drawn on 24 August at 2 pm WST and announced on the blog on August 31. To be eligible, blog readers must submit a question for Norman and/or James in the comment field of this post. Employees of Fremantle Press or their families are ineligible to win.

Building a Longship- final construction (part 3 of 3)

With the cardboard cut and painted, it was time for Nick and I to put the pieces together.

First we poked holes in the side of the ship with a screwdriver, then bolted the shields on.

Nick activates the ship's deflector shields
Nick activates the ship's deflector shields
One side finished
One side finished. It was around this point that we started getting funny looks from passers by.

Then we attached the two sides to each other.

The ship stands on its own
The ship stands up pretty well. Nick is finishing the sail, painting over the last of the floral print
Nick cuts the curtain rod
Nick cuts the curtain rod, while our ship bobs serenely on the driveway
The sail dries in the sun
The sail dries in the sun. The crossbeam of the mast is held by a bolt and some wire

We cut a hole in the sail so that the mast could poke through the middle- all finished!

Nick tests the boat
"Oy. Don't even think about christening the boat."

Time to set sail. (…there’s an awful lot of seagrass here.)

Onward to glory
To infinity, and beyond!

This process gave me lots of ideas for a sequence in the book, and for the character design of Josh/Knut. Next week I’ll show you some sketches I made from reference photos…

Building a Longship- spray painting (part 2 of 3)

Nick, Roy and I had finished cutting the cardboard– it was time to paint it. Roy bought some silver and brown spray paint, and Nick and I got started…

Nick with a metal hand
Nick tests out the paint
Nick paints the side of the ship
Nick paints the side of the ship

Continue reading “Building a Longship- spray painting (part 2 of 3)”

Building a Longship – Cardboard Engineering (part 1 of 3)

To recap-  a boy who lived across the road from my parents was helping me develop the main character for the book. This boy, Nick, seemed very much like the main character of Josh (Knut)- both are very inventive and creative boys, with vivid imaginations. For research purposes (and for fun), Nick, his dad Roy and I set about building a Viking longship out of a cardboard fridge box.

Step 1.

We laid the cardboard out flat and ruled a line straight down the middle- we’d be building two identical sides for our ship, so we would need to divide the cardboard in half.

Nick and his dad Roy measuring

Step 2.

We drew the outline of the boat onto one half of the cardboard, making one half of a ship.

Nick consults the blueprints
the dragon-head of our longship

Continue reading “Building a Longship – Cardboard Engineering (part 1 of 3)”

Quokka- boat tattooing

Yes, that’s right folks- boat tattooing. A new advertiser in the Quokka is painting tattoo designs on boats. This has got to be the weirdest request for a cover I ever received.

I tried to make up some sort of tribal-inspired anchor. Bit random, but a huge flaming skull probably wouldn’t have gone down too well.

20100708-726-boat-tattooing
Quokka, issue 726, July 8 2010- boat tattooing