Toffle Towers – cover design

To celebrate the upcoming release of Toffle Towers book 3, I’ve prepped a bunch of behind-the-scenes blog posts. I’ll show you how I designed the characters; how I designed the hotel’s interior and exterior; and how I designed other elements like the shuttle bus and the title typography. But today, I’m showing you how I designed the cover for book 1 in the series.

I started off by sketching a few ideas the publishers and I had.

   Then we tried another bunch of options … Continue reading “Toffle Towers – cover design”

Toffle Towers – character design

To celebrate the upcoming release of Toffle Towers book 3, I’ve prepped a bunch of behind-the-scenes blog posts. I’ll show you how I designed the hotel’s interior and exterior; how I designed the cover of book 1; and how I designed other elements like the shuttle bus and the title typography. But today, I’m showing you possibly the most important part of prepping for this series: how I designed the cast.

Toffle Towers is a chapter book series, fantastically written by Tim Harris and illustrated by me. Tim wrote a HUGE cast into the series, and I had to create all their character designs – partly based on descriptions Tim included in the text, and partly from my imagination.

Chegwin Toffle is the main character, so of course I started with him. Chegwin is a 10yo dreamer who inherits a hotel and becomes the manager.

Because I’d be drawing Chegwin so many times throughout the series, I drew a quick turnaround sheet for him too.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers – character design”

Toffle Towers 3 out in August

*** 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

Pre-Order Local
Find your local bookshop

Pre-order online:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Dymocks
QBD (Australia only)
Readings
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
Book Depository


More books in the series:

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked
Toffle Towers 2: The Great River Race

New book out now (and more on the way)

Hello readers!

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

Funny Bones came out just this week. It’s a whopping 700-page kids’ anthology from the funniest Australian authors and illustrators, with all royalties going to the charity War Child Australia.

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.

Grab your copy of Funny Bones here:
Allen & Unwin
Dymocks
Booktopia (Aus/NZ only)

… 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)
Dymocks
Readings

… 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.

– James

Brobot in The West newspaper, term 3

Brobot book cover

Sally Tinker and Brobot are coming to the West Australian newspaper’s ED! liftout every week in term 3.

It was a big challenge to reformat the story – I had to edit it down, rearrange the panels to fit the newspaper’s dimensions, AND divide it into 10 episodes.

Your school can get in on the action with an ED! section subscription: full details here.

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked – cover reveal!

Great news!

I’m illustrating a new chapter book series written by the very talented Tim Harris.

The series is called TOFFLE TOWERS, and the first book is out August 6th.

Here’s the cover …

… and here’s the official synopsis:

Toffle Towers hotel has been run by a Toffle for over one hundred years – and it’s about to be inherited by the next generation.

Chegwin Toffle is only ten years old. But he isn’t going to let that stop him from turning this run-down hotel into a success. Chegwin is determined to transform Toffle Towers from a boring hotel for grown-ups into an incredibly exciting destination for children (and their families).

But running a hotel isn’t easy. Chegwin has a lot to learn, and his tendency to drift off into daydreams isn’t helping.

Chegwin has plenty of ideas. But can he turn his madcap daydreams into reality?

Toffle Towers 1: Fully Booked is published by Penguin Books Australia, and available in all good bookshops from August 6th, 2019!

PRE-ORDER your copy now:
Booktopia (Australia/NZ only)
Kinokuniya (Australia only)
Angus & Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Dymocks
Readings
Or find your local bookseller

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I illustrated the front cover.

Step 1: cover design

Here’s my final rough:

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 3: cover design

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I designed the robots and vehicles in the story.

Quick recap: Sally Tinker is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve. In Gastronauts, Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows her latest invention. So Sally and her friend Charli shrink themselves down in a tiny submarine and journey into Joe’s body.

Here’s how I designed the cover.

Step 1: really bad first sketches

Sometimes you get the cover idea pretty quickly and clearly from the start.

This was not one of those times.

I struggled with this a lot at first; I couldn’t figure out how to show the reader that Sally and Charli were inside a sub, inside Joe, and make Sally and Charli big enough so that they were recognisable, without being too big that the scale stopped being anatomically correct.

None of these ideas really work, but I’ve included them here to show you how a cover design process can go. There are usually lots of rejected, fairly ordinary ideas.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 3: cover design”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 2: submarine & robot design

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I designed the robots and submarine in the story.

Quick recap: Sally Tinker is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve. In Gastronauts, Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows an invention called the smartCHIP, along with a bunch of tiny robots called smartbots, and also a tiny shrunken submarine containing Sally and her friend Charli.

Here’s how I designed Sally’s SUB and the smartbots. But:

**SPOILER ALERT***

I’ll discuss plot points for the book, so if you haven’t read the book yet, go do that first, then come back.

All good?

Have you gone and read the book?

Ok, here’s how I designed the SUB and the smartbots.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 2: submarine & robot design”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 1: illustration process

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I made the illustrations.

Here’s one of my favourite spreads from the book. It’s where Sally leads her friend Charli into the SUB (Sally’s Underwater Boat) for the first time.

I thought it would be easiest to show the insides of the SUB by just drawing a massive cut-away diagram. Here’s how I drew it.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 1: illustration process”