We were introduced to Claire Fouquet today. A french animator who had taken the time to come over to Wales and give a talk.
She is, or has been an artist in residence at ‘La Maison Du Auteurs’ in france (somewhere) and had received a 2 year place with them.
I found the talk today most informative as I have always wanted to work with animation but the course I am on does not allow for that due to the quick turn around of work that I must submit, and not having years to produce a masterpiece, (one day, eh?)
She mainly spoke of ‘Adaptation’ which is to choose a graphic novel and adapt it to the screen using animation.
We learnt that to make a project work we had to follow certain guidelines.
*Make it feasable-write the script according to your production capabilities (It might mean that you may need to shorten or shrink)
*Outline the project throughout the pre-production work: prepare all the elements needed that are needed by the production team.
*Production: get funded or do it yourself/with friends-premier it, send it to festivals, travel and get famous (if it’s good and selected, of course).
Then she gave us some pre-production musts for any animation production team to follow:
*Script writing.
*Choice of animation techniques, tests.
*Graphic bible;global aesthetics, main background, characters viewed from different angles, expressions etc.
*Storyboarding according to your budget and technique chosen.
*Animatic (optional)

Also, a big tip is to remember where the camera is positioned as when the camera revolves 180 degrees then you will get a completely different view.

I think I will email Claire to ask for advice as I am on an illustration course but would love to move over and use animation to make my illustrations move, I have wanted to do this for years but have never had the opportunity until now.


Feedback for the ‘I capture the castle’ brief.

Yesterday we gathered around the Des’ laptop in her office for a feedback session from the Art Director of Egmond Books. She went through all the submitted book jackets one by one. The feedback she gave was very constructive and, I think, gave us all who attended plenty to think about.

She pointed out what a book jacket should do:

1. We should ask ourselves who the book is for.

2.How do you know it will hit the right spot with the viewer.

3.Would the shop want it on their shelves.

4.What is your message within the illustration.

5.Remember most books, when they are on the shelf are viewed ‘spine on’.

When it came to my turn for feedback I was not expecting mind blowing praise, because, throughout the design stage of the front of the cover I was never happy and Des had pointed out what I already knew.

I should have put something in the wings, the text was all wrong and after seeing the front illustration yesterday after not looking at it for a number of weeks I must admit I cringed.

The look I was after with the book originally was something simple but pleasing to the eye. Flowing text that would have suited that era but easy to read because the cover was not too fussy.

The illustration of the girl on the cover was supposed to leave a bit of the appearance of the young Cassandra to the imagination, with a little help from the illustration.

The image on the back of the cover was supposed to represent Cassandra’s family-Cassandra was represented by the book and writing implement, the father was represented by the pen resting in the pot of ink, the sister was driven by money not love and so she was represented by a £20 note and finally the step-mother was represented by a discarded bra. The whole arrangement of these items was photographed in poor light to give a sense of the castle (I do not know if it did what it was meant to, but that was the plan).

‘The Art Director’ (I can not remember her real; name, so this will suffice for now) commented on the text looking as if it came from the 70’s, not the 30’s which is the era the book was meant to be based. She also commented on the illustration, stating that Cassandra looked too old, maybe, but how could you tell, the summer hat was covering her face, as the look of Cassandra was left to the imagination.She did, however state that she liked the photo on the back of the book jacket and remarked that, maybe this should be the way that I take my work…hmmm, worth thinking about!

All in all her criticism was welcomed and I have taken on board what was said to me, and to the others in the room and hopefully, with time permitting I will revisit the book design and try and better it.


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.

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


Photo’s of Denbigh castle

I have taken hundreds of photo’s to assist me in my map brief and have found the whole researching of Denbigh Castle extremely fascinating, I think illustrating historical events may be one of my callings

links to my facebook fan page where I store all my photographs

If you are interested in historical buildings then these pictures are well worth a look

Denbigh castle illustrated in all it’s glory.


The History of Denbigh Castle

The History of the site of Denbigh Castle dates back to the Iron Age Hillforts. The first stone fortress which was built by the Welsh in the early 1200’s and occupied by occupied by Dafydd ap Grufudd. The Welsh name ‘Denbigh’ means “little fort”. The lordship of Denbigh were granted to Henry de Lacy (1249-1311), third Earl of Lincoln, of the great de Lacy family of the Honors of Pontefract. He ensured that all traces of the original Welsh castle was destroyed. He wanted to stamp the mark of himself and the English on the castle and even the doorway of Denbigh Castle carries his effigy in stone. His son, Edmund, drowned in a well at the Red Tower in Denbigh Castle in Wales and it is said that this tragic incident led to De Lacey losing all interest in the construction of the castle – it was never fully completed. The castle was a massive stronghold and Denbigh Castle was used by the Royalist during the English Civil War in 1642. In 1646 much of the the castle was ruined by the Roundheads, the Parliamentary forces. All that was left of Denbigh Castle were ruins and so they still remain.

The Building of Denbigh Castle

The history of the building of Denbigh Castle is fascinating. In just a relatively short period of time a significant number of new Welsh Medieval Castles were built or modernised under the instructions of King Edward I (1272-1307) including Denbigh Castle. King Edward employed the services of an architect and master builder called Master James of St George to carry out many of these ambitious plans for a chain of Medieval castles to be built in Wales. Denbigh Castle was built in 1282 in Wales on the estuary of the River Clwyd flowing down to the sea. An important feature of Denbigh Castle is its access to the sea. During the construction of Denbigh Castle men, equipment and building materials were easily transported by boats to the site of the castle. Once Denbigh Castle was built fresh supplies, provisions and reinforcements prevented the castle occupants from being starved into submission during siege warfare. The advantages of swift and easy accessibility via the sea ensured that the new fortified town, which was built at the same time as the castle, became a successful and prosperous stronghold for its English inhabitants.


Denbigh – A Concentric Castle Design

Welsh Castles including Denbigh Castle, built by Edward I, are referred to as Concentric Castles. The Gothic architecture of the Medieval era together with the design of Concentric Castles encompassed some, or all, of the following elements:

A Stronger central Keep or Main Tower

A Round or Circular Shaped Keep

A High wall, complete with towers surrounded the Keep and the Inner Bailey

At least one lower, outer wall surrounded the Inner High Wall

Several Outer Walls and Outer Baileys were often added!

Several Gatehouses were featured

Moats were added which surrounded the whole Concentric Castle complex

Concentric castles were bigger than any previous castles! The walls were thicker, stronger and higher with turrets! The Inner Walls were higher than Outer walls! Drawbridges were added! The interiors were more comfortable, even luxurious! Concentric Castles, like Denbigh, were very expensive!

Denbigh – A Welsh Fortified Town (aka Bastide or Burgh)

Denbigh Castle was constructed in conjunction with a new, fortified town. The idea of building fortified, purpose-built townships were based on a combination of the Bastides of Gascony and the Burghs, or Burhs, built by King Alfred the Great of England. Welsh Medieval Fortified Townships. The ‘Bastide’ at Denbigh was a strongly defended town, the construction of which, had been subject to proper planning and architectural design. The layout of the town at Denbigh took into consideration the following defence factors:

The layout of the town’s houses and buildings in Denbigh were planned so that they would not impede the circulation of troops

The rapid movement of the troops garrisoned at Denbigh was ensured by building a main road which provided direct access to the curtain wall and the main gate and towers

The central public square in the Denbigh township doubled as a mustering point for all troops

Wall Towers could only be accessed from a doorway on the battlement accessed via a moveable wooden staircase on the inside of the wall

The central public square doubled as a mustering point for all troops

The Town wall was defended by a number of towers

The weakest points of any building are the corners – these towers were therefore round

Wall Towers could only be accessed from a doorway on the battlement accessed via a moveable wooden staircase on the inside of the wall

Denbigh Castle

Denbigh Castle was one of the ten key Welsh Medieval Castles which were commissioned by King Edward I. The Welsh Medieval Castles built by the English under the direction of King Edward I provided a power base for the Medieval Plantagenet King and ensured that the Welsh were subservient to the new English rule. Edward crushed the Welsh rebellion under Llewellyn ap Gruffudd and conquered his kingdom of Gwynedd in Northern Wales. Wales was conquered by Edward I and became incorporated into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan ( also called the Statute of Wales ) in 1284 – the building of Denbigh Castle helped King Edward I to achieve his ambitions.

The text up to now was taken from

My intention:-

I have come across many of illustrations in my research on Denbigh castle, the majority of them show the castle in it’s ruined state. The few illustrations which I have come across that show Denbigh castle in all it’s magnificent splendor only show the front of the castle.

My intention, as a young boy who grew up in Denbigh and has lived in the town all his life is to map out and illustrate the old castle whilst it actually was a castle  and make it as true to its origins as I can.

I feel that I am at an advantage as when I was a young boy and teenager I would spend many, many hours up there in the castle exploring all its secret places and once I have got a true feel for the castle as it was and examined the hundreds of photographs that I have taken then I will know what needs to be done.

I will look at other castles built in the same time period by Master James of St George and find out how he built his castles.

Until I undertook this brief I had no idea how large Denbigh castle was and how important and strong it was.

I will be attempting to find out all about all Denbigh’s underground tunnels also, as there are many. Many are here say, so I will try to verify there existence if possible. Such tunnels are the tunnel which apparently starts at the bottom of the well in the grounds of the castle (but I think it starts just at the edge of the Triple Tower gatehouse, as I started going down this tunnel as a boy-not too far though) then travels down to the well at the Bull Hotel, which has another name now, then carries on to an outlet at the monument on Vale Street and apparently finishes (or starts) at the Friary on Rhyl Road.

Also I know of an underground river that was shown to me, which travels through the cellar of a house I know of.

I did not think that this would be as big a project as it has turned out to be, so I will post up the results and illustrations when they are completed.

A North view of Denbigh painted 1750 AD

A North view of Denbigh castle by Samuel and Nathaniel Bucks 1742 AD engraving

A North east view of Denbigh Castle by Samuel and Nathaniel Bucks 1742 AD engraving

Prince Crogen of Chirkland

After going through a few ideas in my head and in my sketch pad (after a slow start) I thought about an A1 poster for Chirk Castle but decided against this. I researched the history, and went back back to the period when the castle was built, but whilst doing this I came across an article stating that the present castle is built on the foundations of an older castle – ‘Castell Crogen’ which was supposedly built approx 2 centuries earlier. The explanation of the ‘Red Hand’ legend seemed to be more plausible than the more well known story of the two brothers racing for the inheritance of their dying father, and the first to touch their dying father’s bed would inherit everything. So the losing brother hacked off his hand and threw it at his father’s bed……..Nah, sorry but in the midst of a race it would take much too long to hack off your own hand.

The story I came across, which sounds much more realistic is that Prince Crogen whilst on the battle field, losing his standard picked up a flag and with a bloodied hand which lay on the ground close by marked out the ogham for ‘C’ which is four vertical lines. Sorry, but which story sounds more believable?

Anyway, I read up the story of Prince Crogen and became increasingly more interested in this era of the castle’s history – The Dark Ages and The Battle of Crogen. This was much more interesting and much more my type of thing.

I found out that the original castle was built in 1013 ad, almost 1000 years and maybe this anniversary might be worth celebrating to certain folk, and went along the lines of designing a commemorative shield. Then it was pointed out to me that I should be working in the style that I want to work when I finish my degree course, so…I went home, sat back and thought about what I do actually want to do when I finish, because in the beginning I was hoping to just fall into something that interested me, but waiting for the lightening to strike was taking too long. I sat and thought about my future and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, realising that this was quite an important decision.

It came to me, Films, DVD’s, Music, Events, they all need artwork and design work and this is the way I wanted to go, and my work suited this, so I gave it a go. ‘C rogen’- a movie about the battle at Chirk, Oswestry, Corwen and some other villages in that area. This film needed a DVD cover and promotional poster, this will be my first.

I rooted around for the right image for this fictional movie but could not find the right one, so I got my camera out and a sword I had lying around the house, well in the garage, and I rummaged around for a motorbike chain that I knew I had somewhere. Dressed somewhat minimal and took about 100 photos in different poses. I made sure no one could see me as I wandered what the neighbours might think.

I took over 100 photos and picked the 2 that I thought I could work with (I tell you holding your stomach in for all those photos wasn’t easy)

I looked at other DVD cover to see what they contained, I looked at composition and text and took all this into photoshop and came up with these three trial runs.




I came up with these three covers, which, in my opinion still need some work and am torn between which version to carry on working with. They all have different appeal and feel that some other person’s input might be needed, so if anyone feels that they can spare the time to tell my which version they prefer, and why, then your opinion would be most appreciated.

See more at thanks, Martin