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”

Free online workshops in June

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– subscribe to new posts via the little box on the right.
– sign up for my newsletter, The James Foley-o, and get all my news and events in a quarterly email.

 


Month of June: drawing demo and Q&A (for kids, ONLINE)

AVAILABLE: the month of June
COST: free! Simply watch the video above.

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
TIMES: 1-2pm
WHERE: online
AGES: 10-17 yo
COST: free
BOOKINGS: essential, via the Victoria Park website.

Win $500 in prizes in the ‘Connecting Through Creativity’ competition

Calling all young creatives in Western Australia – it’s your time to shine and WIN up to $500 in prizes!

To explore how creativity can play a part in staying connected, Scribblers Festival and CBH Group have joined forces to launch a new visual storytelling competition: Connecting Through Creativity.

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.

I also wrote a blog post about curiosity and creativity which you can find here.

How To Enter

Check out the official competition page on the Scribblers website for more info. Entries close June 26.

Good luck!

Free online comics workshop this Wednesday

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
COST: free
BOOKINGS: essential. Click here to reserve your place.

 

 

Free resources for homeschooling + 10% my books!

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.

FREE RESOURCES

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.

There are heaps more videos on my youtube channel and also on my Teacher resource page.

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.

 

– James

My three top tips for aspiring writers

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’. 

1. READ.

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?

2. WRITE.

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:

 

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.

Win a school visit from me!

Visiting-Author---James-Foley---19-Aug-2015-(18)Attention teachers! Fremantle Press is giving one lucky Perth metro school a free author visit from me.

To win the visit, all you need to do is check out the latest edition of Fremantle Press’ education newsletter, Classroom Express, here – then click on the ‘Forward to a Friend’ button at the top right and send it to your colleagues. The school with the most teachers subscribed to Classroom Express by 30 June 2019 will win the author visit!

But wait – there’s a second prize up for grabs! If you also happen to be a subscriber to the Classroom Express newsletter (you can subscribe here), AND you get the most friends signed up using the ‘Forward to a Friend’ button, then you’ll win 10 Fremantle Press books for your school library valued at $200.

So pass it on! And tell your colleagues, friends, parents and more about the competitions, teaching resources, activities and merchandise that they can get from The Classroom Express.

Both competitions close on Sunday 30 June 2019. The winner for each competition will be notified by email after this date. The winners will be announced in the Term 3 issue of The Classroom Express.

Teacher resources for Gastronauts

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

I’ve pulled together a bunch of free resources for teachers (and interested kids). You can find the full set on my website, but here’s some of my highlights:

Teaching Notes

Heaps of ideas for discussion and links to curriculum.
Download the teaching notes (pdf).

Read a free sample

Read the first 16 pages before you buy the book.
Also great for using to read the start of the book to a class.
Download the free sample (pdf).

‘Make Your Own see-through body’ activity

This is a super fun activity. You need scissors, glue, string and a piece of A3 coloured card – and a print out of the worksheet for each student. (And don’t forget to print the teacher cheat-sheet for you.)
You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Continue reading “Teacher resources for Gastronauts”

World Change Challenge 2018

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  • Did you know that there are nearly 800 million people in the world who can’t read?
  • Or that two thirds of those people are women and girls?

That’s why I support the amazing charity Room To Read as a Writer Ambassador.

Room To Read is looking for 50 schools around Australia to support 50 girls in the developing world. Each school needs to raise just $365 – that’s enough to send a girl to school for a year.

Two of the schools I’ve visited this year have already got involved. Maybe your school would like to organise a fundraiser around Book Week?

You can read more about the campaign (including more fundraising ideas) on Tristan Bancks’ website.

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