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.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers: old-school hand-lettering & a rocket-powered bus”

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.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers: designing a hotel interior”

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.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers: designing a hotel exterior”

Free online workshops in June

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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***
COST: free!

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 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: