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 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”

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”

Gastronauts is officially released today (and a Dead Bunny is back)

My new book Gastronauts is officially released today!

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out … though I do wonder if I crossed the grossness threshold with this one.

Here’s the synopsis:

Sally Tinker – the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve – has developed her greatest invention yet. But when Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows it with disastrous (and gaseous) consequences, Sally and her friend Charli must shrink themselves, venture into the very bowels of Joe, and shut down the invention before it’s too late. What could possibly go wrong?

Magpies magazine calls it ‘hilariously funny … it will  be devoured by emerging readers. Perfect for school and public libraries.’ Cheers, Magpies!

You can read a free sample here, and check out some of my favourite images below.

Continue reading “Gastronauts is officially released today (and a Dead Bunny is back)”

Here comes the Gastronauts book tour

My new book Gastronauts is out in bookstores!

Even though the official release date is Oct 1st, there was a sneaky early release, so you can find it across the country and online. If your local bookshop doesn’t have a copy, you can always ask them to order it in.

To celebrate, I’m traveling around WA, NSW and VIC from Sep 26-Oct 14 to do four book launches, a bunch of comic-drawing workshops and a couple of festivals too.

Scroll down for the list of events and dates. For full details, please visit my events page.

See you on the road 🙂

– James


Gastronauts

Buy local – find your closest bookshop

Or order online:
– Booktopia (Australia and NZ only)
Angus and Robertson (Australia only)
QBD (Australia only)
Boffins
Dymocks
Book Depository

 

The evolution of Sally Tinker

My latest book, Brobot, was released in 2016. It’s a graphic novel for younger readers. I first started working on it in 2012. Over those four years I drew many different versions of the main characters – Sally, Joe and Brobot – and I’ll be sharing some of those over the next few months on this blog.

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ABOVE: One of the earliest sketches of Sally Tinker. From 2012. This is from the very first draft picture book (well before we realised it needed to be a comic). She’s very cute here, and is in much the same style as Josh from The Last Viking. She has a tiny hint of the attitude she shows in the final book.

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ABOVE: Another early sketch of Sally, from 2013, back when I was still trying to figure out her hairstyle and costume. Note that here she still has dots for eyes like Josh did in The Last Viking, rather than the cartoony circular eyes she has in the final book.

 

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ABOVE: Another version of Sally, from 2015. Closer to her final version but not quite there. She now has circles for eyes, and her grumpy demeanour. The oversized rubber gloves didn’t make it to the final version.

ABOVE: Maquettes are super helpful when you want to figure out how a character looks in 3D. I was having particular trouble with Sally’s hairstyle and profile, and a maquette helped me figure that out. This is from January 2016, just as I started the final artwork.

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ABOVE: The final version of Sally Tinker, Feb 2016. When you draw the character from different angles like this, it’s called a ‘turnaround’. It’s a reference you keep by your desk when you illustrate a story so that you can keep your character consistent (ie this is also called keeping your character “on model”). I drew this after I had completed the final illustrations for the book. Pro tip: you should really make your turnaround sheets BEFORE you do the final illustrations, not after 😉


Brobot-3d-final-400pxBuy ‘Brobot’ now

Brobot: from roughs to final artwork

Hello! I’ve pulled together some gifs to show you how I made some of the illustrations in Brobot. You can see how I got from the first rough drawing to the final artwork for each illustration. Check them out below.

(NB: if you’re receiving this post by email and the gifs don’t appear, just click on the post title above to view the original post on my website).


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Brobot-3d-final-400pxBuy ‘Brobot’ now

My new book ‘Brobot’ is out now

img_8485It’s finally here! My new book Brobot is now available in bookshops.

Brobot is about a young inventor called Sally Tinker. She gets sick of her baby brother Joe, so she builds a new one, called Brobot.

Here’s some more info on the characters …

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And here, for your viewing pleasure, is the Brobot book trailer! I had heaps of fun playing with a program called Adobe Character Animator to bring Sally to life.


Brobot-3d-final-400pxBuy ‘Brobot’ now

 

 

 

Win a copy of my new book, Brobot

It’s almost here!

My new book is called Brobot. It’s a graphic novel for younger readers and it’s coming out with Fremantle Press on September 1st.

Sally Tinker makes machines … and Joe Tinker breaks them. As the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, Sally knows she can build a better brother than Joe. But is her invention – Brobot – really all that a brother should be?

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Want a cheeky sneak-peek? Click here to read the first 16 pages for free.

Want to use the book in the classroom? Teacher notes are available now.

Want to order a copy? Ask at your local bookshop. If you don’t have one near you, Booktopia is taking pre-orders.

Win a copy of Brobot for you and your school

Fremantle Press is offering five lucky schools the chance to win two special Brobot gift packs: one for the classroom and one for the person who designs the best robot. Each gift pack features a poster and bookmark plus a signed copy of Brobot the book!

Want to enter? Visit the Fremantle Press website for entry information.

Entries close October 15th, 2016. Good luck!