Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Illustrator of the week

Those nice people over at Children's Illustrators decided I am their Illustrator of the Week.
That's mighty nice of them. I didn't even have to buy them sweeties or make tea or anything.

It's nice when someone notices what you do without having to jump up and down like a crazy thing.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

In praise of collectors...

My wife has a thing about a specific brand of pottery. She's not shown any previous signs of becoming a collector until now. So, when she sees a piece she wants, she tells me that she 'NEEDS' it.
There are three people that live in our house, yet we have over thirty of this particular make of mug.
Still, as long a it makes her happy.
It got me thinking about what type of obscure things other people might collect.
The star attraction of this fella's collection is a classic original 1963 key from a Fray Bentos corned beef can.
It's amazing what can be found when researching stuff. Apparently, in 1963-64, inadequate chlorination of water used at the Fray Bentos factory in Argentina led to an outbreak of typhoid in England and a particularly nasty occurence in Aberdeen in 1964 when over 500 people were hospitalised. Enough to make a celebrity out of a corned beef key. Let's call it the 'Typhoid Key'.

Once I'd inked the piece, I scanned the line art, just in case it went wrong. Well, it would be such a shame for all that pen work to be wasted.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


I had a little time on my hands this week and was flipping through some of my sketches. I found one that called out to me to progress it. So I did.

Minnow - 10" x 4" pen and ink with acrylic ink wash.

 And a closer look.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas doodle

I started this earlier today as a simple doodle and couldn't walk away until I was happy with it.
It would make a pretty creepy 2014 Christmas card, don't you agree?

Monday, 13 October 2014


I forgot to show you this. I could ink stuff like this all day, for days or weeks or even months!
I love working in traditional pen and ink.
Here's the whole thing and some details for those that like to lean in close.

Thinking in the bath

A morning sketch

Sunday, 5 October 2014

I was hunting dragons....

I had to produce a piece of art which involves a dragon. Now, I don't have a 'standard dragon' to trot out as and when the situation arises, so, rather than simply crank out a regular dragon, I wanted to arrive at one I was happy with. Before the meeting to discuss the piece, I sat and sketched on a couple of occasions to get a feel for dragons. One of the sessions wasn't going so well, and I 'accidentally' drew stuff that felt more comfortable.
They might not be particularly 'dragonny', but I think they're worth showing.
I'm including one dragon, just to prove I aimed at the target at least once.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Little Safety Net

Often, when sketching in blue pencil particularly, I'll come to an area that I expect to have to rework and fine tune - Yep, that's right, I don't get everything right first time.
When I reach that point, I'll switch to regular graphite or tape on a section of layout paper which accepts erasure more forgivingly so the area in question doesn't become ragged and tatty.
Here's an example where I was working on 'Weeeeeee!'. In this instance it allowed me to fool around with the angle of the head to achieve the desired effect.

In other areas I will apply graphite to firm up any indecision, or simply enjoy the process - like here in the detail of the 'steering mechanism'.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Pushing Faces at Bedtime

In the Eighties and Nineties before the internet became all-powerful, I used to do a fair amount of work with photographers and model agencies. One agency specialised in 'characterful' faces and individuals. Every year, the agency released a catalogue, a printed one on paper with pages you could flip through and everything. I have several of those books and to me they are a playground and schoolroom.
Faces that show the lumps and bumps, the creases and the scars inflicted by life - things of beauty.
As I've said in previous posts, often as I'm shutting down the studio for the night, I'll do some 'wind down' sketches. My model catalogues are gleeful companions for such occasions and regularly provide inspiration.
I tend not to strive for likenesses, more that I look at how a face fits together. Often a face can look too 'real' for my work, so I'll nudge it in the right direction until it feels more mine.
Here's one from last night and the young man above is from some time last week.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Eyebrow Topiary

While waiting in for a mattress to be delivered, I explored the subject of eyebrow topiary. Seriously, some people have the type of eyebrows that would lend themselves to a little decorative trimming.

Having dazzled the judges in the early heats, Aubrey had certainly upped his game for the final and romped to victory with his cockerel and cup and saucer combination.

Despite owning the best scissors money could buy, the sad fact was that Gerald simply didn't have the eyebrows to be a serious contender and could only look on bitterly at the stunning work by the finalists.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Digital Safety Net

While the majority of my work is produced using traditional processes, I often rely on digital methods to fine tune an image. Take for instance the recent cover art for The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Looking at the scanned art, I decided I'd like the rats to be more in shadow, so I used Photoshop to deepen the shadows in and around the rats and to add to the moonlit highlight. I also lengthened the sky at the top edge to better accommodate the title panel.
For anyone who likes to play 'Spot the Difference', here's the original scan and how the image sits on the cover.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Piper, mostly inked.

I spent most of yesterday inking this piece. I erased the pencil drawing this morning, having left the ink overnight to fully dry. It can be a little bit heartbreaking to run an eraser over the work too soon and discover ink that smudges.
I need to give this a good look over to make sure I'm happy with it before applying colour washes.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

She was always a musical child

Here's a hint of a project I'm working on. Anyone familiar pipers, pied or otherwise, will see what's going on.
Currently I'm inking with good old traditional pen and ink (I love this stage) prior to adding colour washes. As Captain Lawrence Oates said, "I may be some time."

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Happy Bug Band Day!

I was asked to produce a sketch for a birthday gift. Sarah will be 29 years old today, on May 29. One of those quirky date alignments we all get to experience only once.
I hope she likes her Ladybird Band.

Squiggles and Faces

I play this game with myself. Without looking, I make a squiggle shape on the paper, then try and turn it into a face. Sometimes I fail miserably, other times it works. Rather like finding shapes in clouds, I'll stare at a shape until it tells me where to add my own marks.
As an exercise, it proves that traditional proportions aren't necessarily essential for a characterful face.
Here are a few examples of befores and afters.
You should try some for yourself.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Coming up for air

In October 2013 I was contacted by a new client asking if I'd like to illustrate an American Folk Tale.
21 Illustrations to be delivered Feb 28 2014.
My schedule was accommodating enough and I'd never tackled any classic American tales, so I accepted the commission.
The contract is quite binding, but I had it adjusted so I can share some of the details and images here.
An enjoyable project that gathered momentum right up to the moment I delivered the final image a week before the deadline. The book is scheduled for release in Q3 2014. I should be able to share more info then.

I don't know if I'm just lucky, but in recent years I've been blessed with the most wonderful of clients. Polite, efficient, communicative and a joy to work with.

Here are a few of images from the project that has had my face pressed to the drawing board in recent months.

By the way - Happy New Year!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Finding my inner 'gator

I'm currently working on a series of book illustrations which show an American alligator. The project requires delivery of the cover art in a week or so and shows the gator swimming menacingly toward the protagonist. There's only a limited amount visible above water, but what happens on the cover pins down the style of the characters for the rest of the book. The remainder of the art will slide over the next four months. The problem was, I wasn't totally happy with my 'gator.
As is often the case when I'm going to depict a character or creature in a variety of situations, I need to 'know' it - to own it if you like. So, yesterday I sat and sketched to find 'my' gator so I could carry him happily through the book.
I'm more comfortable with the way he's developing facially, I can explore the anatomy later.
The important part is done.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Just before 'lights out'....

I've mentioned before about how I'll often go to shut down my studio for the night and pick up a pencil end up sketching out something that works. Same thing happened again this week. A little scribble spread like a stain across a 5" square piece of watercolour paper that just happened to be lying around.
I revisited it several times in recent days and put the finishing touches to it this afternoon.
Thought you'd like a peek.
It needs a caption though. If I think of one or someone suggests a good one, I'll add it later.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Here Be Monsters!

A while back I did a series of monster illustrations. They were to be used as promotional pieces for an advertising agency and I agreed not to show them until a reasonable time had passed.

I was given just a set of character traits and a free hand to arrive at a monster to carry them off.
Here are some of the creatures I sketched in development and had a fabulous time doing them.  In fact, some of these are too good to be languishing in a 'dormant' file.

I'll dig out the colour images as soon as I get round to it.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Just Screwing Around!

There are projects that are like walking through treacle laid down good and thick. Then there are the ones that come along like this:

Brief: "three screws, with human characteristics. Screw one is male flat head screw, who is surrounded by two female Philip head screws - the male is obviously flirting with and the girls are attracted to him and smiling and laughing.  The screws are standing on their points. The male has his arms around the females. He has a sly-lover boy grin. The girls swoon over him."

What's not to enjoy?

Pen and ink with watercolour wash.

Ride or Die

I had an interesting project during September. My client wanted a version of a scene from The Fast and the Furious 6 movie using kids on 'big wheel' trikes.
The pencil stage went smooth enough and I had a great time inking the line art. I resisted the temptation to ink every brick - something I find oddly relaxing.
I'd normally add watercolour washes to my inked art, but because neither the client or I had an immediate solution to the colour scheme of the city skyline, I decided to colour digitally keeping the colour on a separate layer to allow for adjustments
Thankfully, my initial block out was approved and the project sailed through without a hitch.
I was particularly pleased with the girl - she looks trouble, that one.

Images used courtesy of Packed House Publications

More Blue Bunnies

Those nice folks over at Align Technology, providers of the amazing Invisalign dental braces, decided there were gaps in their training plan and called on me to provide another batch of blue bunnies. I probably told you the reason the bunnies are blue is because I had to restrict my palette to match a Powerpoint presentation.
This batch went even smoother than the first time around, helped by me having already established the character.
I inked traditionally and converted the line to vectors and coloured everything in Illustrator.
The client wants the option of recolouring the entire collection, so it makes sense to keep everything as vector art.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Grab it before it goes!

Get your copy before they are all gone!

Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet [Paperback]

Now only £12.99

This book is a showcase of what was received, and in some cases lost, in the post. The entire Short & Sweet project is featured: the good, the wonderful and the downright amazing!

I've got mine!

Snaggy Tees

Packed House Publications have a clothing business, goes by the name of 'Snaggy Tees'. They recently asked me to look at creating a corporate ID for them. The brief was precise in that I needed to incorporate an anthropomorphic dog, in shades, T-shirt (bearing a specific slogan) and jeans.
As is usual with Packed House, their communication and responses to my proposals were swift and efficient and all went nice and smoothly. The final art needed to be sent as a layered Photoshop file and had to be high enough resolution to be reproduced on the website and printed large. The final file was good enough to be printed with the dog being about 4ft tall with no loss of quality. That should do it. The resulting file was a bit of a whopper, with Drop Box coming to the rescue when it came to delivery time.

I look forward to seeing the results on the website.

Image reproduced with the kind permission of Packed House Publications

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Emerald Pirate

Colour added. A fun way to spend most of a Sunday. I don't mean that wrestling an octopus is a good way to spend.. Aww, you know what I mean!

Emerald Pirate - Pen and ink with watercolour 330mm x 240mm

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Troublesome Traveller

After inking, I am enthused to get some colour into this. Here's the story so far, having laid in the overall wash and first tints, this is where I'm at. Next comes the good part when I begin adding depth, richer colour and contrast.

Plus a detail, because everybody likes to see the twiddly bits!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Falling off the edge

Often, as I'm 'searching' for a shape, a gesture or a character, I'll draw and draw and draw. Suddenly, something clicks, the gears of creativity and imagination or whatever you want to call it clunk into place. Gears mesh and I'm away, usually wondering why it takes a while for the drive to engage.
The annoying thing is, the moment things start to happen, I've already filled the sheet with rubbish that looks like the five-year-old me was temporarily in control. I've drawn myself into the corner of the sheet and there's nowhere to go. I've lost count of the times where something great happens in the corner or edge of a sheet full of rubbish. When that happens, to maintain the spirit of the original, I simply add paper, taping and butting up one sheet to another for as long as the layout needs, and continue drawing, expanding onto a patchwork of paper.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hooked in record time!

Just once in a while a project goes so smoothly, I have to ask myself ‘Why can’t they all be like that?’

I've never known a project go so easy and so fast, I have to share it with you.
This is how it went:
29 May - Having seen my work on www.hireanillustrator.com, Packed House Publications contacted me to ask if I did work for hire.
2 June - I’m given the brief so I can give an indication of cost.
5 June - Agreements signed and 50% deposit paid
6 June - First Sketches emailed
7 June - Amended Sketch and subsequent Inked linework emailed for approval
8 June - Colour Vector art sent for approval and amended colour art sent for approval
9 June - Delivery of final vector art and final payment made.

I confess, as soon as I read the brief, I knew it was an image I'd enjoy arriving at, so I eased other work aside to accommodate it in my schedule. I was right, it was great fun.

A sweet little job made all the more enjoyable by efficient communication and professionalism of Packed House Publications.

Here’s what Packed House had to say:
"It has been a pleasure working with Peter George.  He was the ultimate professional, and not only did his illustration far exceed our expectations, but he completed the project ahead of our timeline. We look forward to working with him again."

What made this occasion more impressive was the fact that it was for a new client who was four thousand six hundred miles away with six hours time difference between us and I was on a three day camping trip in Norfolk when the initial inquiry landed - What would we do without smartphones?

Why can't they all be like that?

All images kindly reproduced courtesy of Packed House Publications.