Stepping out (a home leavers survival guide to the big wide world)

I found the need to form a group on facebook for the four of us that are involved in the development of the magazine. This enables us to communicate a little easier through facebook, which everyone visits at some point in the day from my experience.

Hopefully this will help us come together with a bit more ease as up until now there has not been moch correspondence between the four of us, and we need to start communicating more.

So, hopefully this group will get things moving.



I think it is about time I tried to get recognized by some artist/illustration agencies and get some representation before I do actually step out into the art world after University, because the end of the course will come around all too quick and a bit of work whilst I am still studying will, I am sure greatly benefit me.

So far I have sent my website link to:

We will see what comes of it, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Dodie Smith’s ‘I Capture The Castle’ book jacket.

Well it has taken a lot of work and research and pulling out of hair but I think I got the feel for the book I am after and something I am reasonably pleased with (I am never 100% happy with anything I do).

The book was a hardback jacket aimed at Grandmothers and Aunties who would be buying the book for themselves or as a gift. I have gone for the back ground colour because of the traditional look and the fact that it was not in your face but the design of the jacket still stands out, bold block colours in my opinion stand out more than a busy and fussy cover, the cover looks clean cut and simple.

The image on the front cover shows the ruined castle in which the Mortmain family live. As the book is all about Cassandra writing her journal, I thought it only right to show her browsing back at what she had written, lying in a field with the suggestion of bluebells in the field, I did try putting in some trees but it didn’t work for me, so I left them out. The pose or the position in which she lay on the cover was quite important, not too big but not too far away either.

Every time I scanned in or took photographs of the images I had drawn they always seemed to not show the true colours and textures that was in the original image so I took the drawing in to photoshop to alter the brightness and contrast, and the colours a little to sring them out some. I then used the artistic filter-pallet knife (in photoshop cs3) which seemed to give the image I had created a softer finish and just gave it that something that it was missing. Some might say that it is cheating but after all I am an illustrator not a fine artist and used a process to achieve my desired result.

The image on the back is just items to represent members of the Mortmain family. I used the journal for Cassandra, a £20 note for Rose seeing as the only reason she married was to marry into money not for love. The father was represented by an ink pot with the pen stationery, I thought about cob webs and decided against it, Topaz, the stepmother was easy I has a choice of two representations, paints and brushes or an item of under garment which had been disguarded, I chose the latter.

Over all I am reasonably satisfied with the jacket as a whole but I would love to have some other opinions.

I found all my old Enid Blyton books

I have been researching book jackets as we are to re illustrate the novel by ‘Dodie Smith’ I Capture The Castle. I thought that I would scan in all the books that I own too for part of my research. I knew that I had some old books from my childhood too with great illustrations so I started scanning all the books that are out on display now, then got my old box out of the shed with all my old Enid Blyton books in (she was my favourite author when I was a child).

There were some hardback versions that I did not have covers for so after scanning in all the paperback books I had by her I went on the internet to see if I could find the artwork for the covers for the books that did not have covers. I was quite surprised to find that the books that I own are in fact 1st editions:

Five go off in a caravan, published by Hodder & Soughton

The famous five books below were all illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Five Go To Mystery Moor, published by Hodder & Soughton

Five On A secret Trail, published by Hodder & Soughton

Five Go Adventuring Again, p[ublished by Hodder & Soughton

Five Go To Smuggler’s Top, published by Hodder & Soughton

Five Go Down To The Sea, published by Hodder & Soughton

Holiday House (a one off story) published by Evans Brothers Limited

The illustrations for this book were done by Grace Lodge and are amazing

Sadly the book that I remember still 25 years later is ‘The Boy Next Door’, which I did have once but over the years it has disappeared but the artwork from this book really brought the book to life for me.

I would say that this book is a must for every young boy to read.

I have kept more or less all the books from my childhood as I want my children to be able to read them and enjoy them as I once did, so here is a slideshow of all the books that I still own, I did not realize that I still had so many.

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Harriet Buckley Animator

The first session this afternoon was with Harriet Buckley, an animator who is a freelance illustrator who moved over to animation, she states that illustration is a lonely whilst animation companies bring people together.

I found Harriet’s talk very interesting as I could see myself going down the same road that she has taken – from illustration to a mixture of illustration and animation.

She, as with the previous talker this morning, Barry Purves both state that to be an animator means to be able to work all over the world and work with the most established animators. The achievement of seeing a character that you have created is one thing but actually bringing that character to life is something else, wouldn’t you say?

Harriet also states that animation is a very logistical process and is a mix of numerous people doing their job right will bring the final animation efficiently to a screen. I think that this is the same in any working environment, each employee is a small cog in a big machine and each cog needs to do it’s job to get a satisfactory end result.

Harriet showed us a piece of animation which was filmed up in Glasgow titled Knife Crime. She went on to describe the amount of organisation involved in filming this or a similar project, from the person making the tea to the person seeking permissions, from the storyboarding to materials, the list could go on and on. So it’s not just a case of grabbing some paint and painting on a wall or two, but a military style operation in many senses. here’s the film 

Hand drawn animation will hopefully make a come back she stated. A number of animation companies have attempted to bring it back recently, the most famous being Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. I hope she is right as I find that you cant beat animation that has been created with human hands, there is just such a difference in the look and feel of a hand done piece of animation, lets bring it back and keep the skill going for as long as we can please.

As for working in the industry that Harriet is in then you must be willing to work for free or next to nothing to get that placement as experience is so, so important. Be willing to travel where ever the work takes you. Be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. Do not be precious about your work and take any knock backs on the chin.

It is also important to, once contacts are made to regularly keep in touch with them as animation is an international community. This is something that I need to think about doing pretty soon – making contacts

But most importantly, when working freelance is always be thinking about that next job

Map Of Denbigh Castle As It Was In 1611 AD

Click to enlarge

This is the final illustration for my map brief. I am not happy with it because I have had to rushed it, I did have something completely different in mind originally.

The map consists of a map by John Speed  dated 1611 AD as the main part of the map with 6 of my illustrations placed around the focal image.

The first, if I start from the left is an illustration of the Sally Port which gave the inhabitants of the castle a secret passage in and out. Only the steps down into it and the entrance which turns left immediately at the bottom have survived.

Next was the path along the walls from the Red Tower to the Exchequer Gate. Again this is no longer there, well a ruined tower and a very uneven broken  wall sits in place but the gate is no longer there, only the outline of one side of one of the towers from the gate in visible, if it wasn’t for this then there would be absolutely no trace, so it seemed right to try and visualize it.

Thirdly is the prison cell which was found at the bottom of the Prison Tower. A very narrow and steep set of uneven steps lead down to the prison ‘room’ which would have had no light entering and I presume they only used candle light. It was a hexagonal room about 10 ft high and must have been a very miserable place to be held.

Goblin Tower must have been a prominent part of the castle walls as it contained its own well, named Bloody Well, with steps leading down the side in an enclosed tunnel, leading to a concealed entrance at the bottom of the well/tower. The tower housed a number of cannons which had a clear shot of any advancing enemies.

The castle walls leading from Goblin Tower up to the castle and the little known cave known as Cats Eyes are to the left of Goblin Tower. The rock which Denbigh is built upon clearly visible from here and even shown signs of running water wearing away the rock, which leads me to believe that there was once, and maybe still, a system of running water beneath and within the rock. If you look at the tunnel walls there was no way that it could have been man made but water on the other hand, over thousands of years will wear away even the most sturdiest of materials. Also there is a river that flows beneath Denbigh, it must originate from somewhere? If anyone has the answer then I would be most interested to hear them.

Signs of water wearing away the rock

The well in Goblin Tower viewed from the walls above the tower

The dark spot central right is Cats Eyes


The entrance to the steps down to the bottom of the well in Goblin Tower

Leicester Church was supposed to be larger than St Asaph Cathedral and would have gave Denbigh a city status but the money was used to fund the war into Ireland and so the church was sadly never completed

Denbigh Castle’s Triple Towered Gatehouse

A gargoyle still survives and can be found in the cellar of the Green Chamber

The ‘Bloody Well’ in Gobln Tower

The remains of the cellars in the Green Chamber

Those were just a few of the photographs I took of Denbigh Castle and its walls


Graphics and layout

I have been looking into the layout , fonts and graphics used efficiently in magazines today. It is obvious that everything must be pleasing to the readers eye and the contents of the pages must lead the reader in the direction the pages were intended to be read.

Graphics are a huge part of the visual communication aspect of a magazine. After all if your average young man was flicking through a magazine and there was 2 articles, both of interest to him then it is more likely that he will read an article which has nicely designed layout with eye catching graphics and images to feed his mind and help him visualize the article. If he were to read the 2nd article that just had a head line or title and was filled with words and nothing else I would say that he would, maybe start to read the article but soon lose interest. So the graphics and images as well as the text all help to make the article a more pleasurable experience.

Colour scheme is also a major part of the visual appearance. If the article looks boring and dull then the reader will pass by the article and be more likely to stop at something that catches his eye.

The cover, how ever interesting the contents are is what sells the magazine. If the cover is one that does not catch the eye of the potential buyer then all the work that has gone in to the content of the magazine has been a waste of time. It must inform the reader of the main stories , special features, guest interviews, the price. It must be illustrative, and make the reader want to pick it up and take it home and maybe the reader will look out for the next issue when he is in the newsagents the next time.

Al lot of magazines aimed at men use women to entice the reader to pick it up. This has been a very effective way of drawing the customer’s attention for many decades and will always be effective as long as there are red blooded males out there. But every other magazine has a ‘hot’ women, or men, if the magazine is aimed at women. Admittedly a fishing magazine would not benefit from this type of advertising (or would it?) so it seems that each cover needs to be assessed as to what will work but also what is relevant on its cover.

Back to the layout. You’ll also need a software that allows you to create different design elements and edit photos to incorporate into your layout. Here are some of the ones that I have come across so far:

After deciding which software you’re going to use to execute your magazine layout and design you’ll need to learn about colors, ad placement, design to enhance your magazine and finally how to bring it all together in pre-press before sending it to the printer.

Magazine Subscriptions: One of the most effective ways for designers to get a good grasp on magazine design and magazine layout is to study the many different styles of magazine design concepts available today. You are encouraged to visit your local book store and browse through the magazine racks and find magazines that are related to your publication.

One way to be sure you get quality magazines that pertain to your interests is to order a subscription and study the way the artists and editors work together month after month to maintain consistency and uniformity with each issue, and at the same time present a completely new and fresh publication every month.

There are many quality magazine subscriptions for you to choose from that should satisfy your requirements. Browse the Internet and find publications that are related to your field of interest.






Well on with the research…(to be continued)