My new picture book took 7 years to make

My new picture book Stellarphant is out in November this year. I’ve been working on it since 2014, so it’s been 7 years in the making.

That might not seem like much compared to Jurassic Park‘s ’65 million years in the making’. But it’s still a lot … but I digress.

Stellarphant 3D 500px square

I drew the first sketch for what would become Stellarphant on a whim in June 2014. I was sitting with my illustrator buddies in a cottage on Rottnest Island for our annual SCBWI WA Retreat, when I started sketching an elephant and a penguin in spacesuits. No reason why – it just came out on the page. I added some colour and there was the beginnings of a story. The image stayed with me, and I started trying to write something to go with it.

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Toffle Towers: old-school hand-lettering & a rocket-powered bus

Ever wondered how the title type for a series gets designed? I’ll show you my inspirations for the title type of the Toffle Towers series. I’ll also show you how I designed the series’ quirky shuttle bus vehicle.

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Toffle Towers: designing a hotel interior

The Toffle Towers series takes place in and around the eponymous hotel – it’s historic, a bit shabby and definitely quirky.  In this post I’ll show you how I designed the hotel’s lobby.

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Toffle Towers: designing a hotel exterior

Many scenes in the Toffle Towers series happen in and around the eponymous hotel. So it was down to me – an illustrator with absolutely no architecture experience (!) – to design the exterior of the building. It needed to look historic, a little shabby but also exciting and quirky. Here’s how I designed it.

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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:

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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.

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