Make your own zine with “Electric Zine Maker”

Hi! Has been a long time of quiet! Apologies for radio silence, I was hoping to get time to put up some more creative tutorials but in between making an animation and putting together my first kids’ picture book it just hasnt happened 😦

BUT here’s a great activity for kids and grownups alike! A free downloadable app that helps you create your own zine (short for magazine, have a look here if you want more info)

And here’s a blog post for teachers by Scholastic about making zines and improving literacy

I’m definitely going to have a go at this myself, and with an online group I run. Here are a few pics to inspire you!

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone’s getting their making mojo on for Halloween??!!

I love this animation we made at Acorns Children’s Hospice in Selly Oak Birmingham. All conceived and made by life-limited and profoundly disabled kids and their carers. I think my favourite is the very bonkers-looking cat…

Have a look and then why not make your own 3D animation to spook your friends and family? See the free download at the end of this post!

A Polar Bear in the Snow

I’ve never “advertised” anything on my blog before, but this new picture book by Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris is gorgeous, both thoughtful and beautiful. What must it be like to be a polar bear, and where is this polar bear going? In this book Mac and Shawn create a magical starting point, leaving us to go on and explore the polar bear’s life in our own minds and imaginations.

Mac Barnett’s text is sparse and crisp, with lots of space, just like the snowy arctic landscape, while Shawn Harris’s cutout and torn paper illustrations give a wonderful visual interpretation of the polar bear’s world. It really is a magical book 🙂

It’s published by Candlewick in the US on 13th October and available to order there from super-friendly Copperfield Books. Out in the UK on November 5th, you can preorder through your favourite local bookshop, which in my case is the brilliant Harbour Bookshop in Kingsbridge :).

If you love Polar Bears and want to learn more about them, see below to download my free Creative Learning pdf full of information about their lives – including a link to a Polar Bear tracker way up in the far north of Canada.

Have fun and learn stuff! 🙂

“The Girl Without a Face”

I’m starting work on a new stop motion music video – very exciting – for Max Simpson & Sam Owen, aka Two Dogs and members of Birmingham indie gods Pram.

So chuffed to be asked to work for them again!

Very much a noir-spooky vibe to this one, hoping to achieve lots of lush, dark textures and chalky whites..

Will keep you posted 🙂

Make Your Own Puppet Theatre

I promised a while back to put up a tutorial for making a puppet theatre like the amazing one made for “I Want My Hat Back!” for Little Angel Theatre by Sam Wilde.

Then in July I was commissioned to make it by the lovely Magic Carpet Arts in Exeter 🙂

It’s a very easy make with a little help from a grown up if you’re under the age of eight – and always remember be careful with scissors whatever your age!

Take care and have fun everyone! 🙂

Image-making with stencils

I’ve been experimenting with stencils to create lines and textures in my work recently – the image above is one outcome, and it was all done using torn paper edges and charcoal (see below). I was fascinated during the process how you can create exciting marks and textures with such a simple technique.

The process seems to work really well using a smudgy/flowing medium with bold graphic lines. So here I used charcoal, but pastels, watercolour, gouache would all work well, I think.

Canadian artist Sydney Smith is one of my favourite children’s illustrators, and he uses stencils brilliantly in his work, and it was after seeing the video below that I decided to have a go myself. Here it is:

Stencils are a popular tool in digital drawing and illustration. Drawing a simple shape and filling it with a complex texture is widely used in children’s book illustration – Jon Klassen (another Canadian illustrator) uses this technique to great effect. Here he is talking about his work to a man and a group of (distracted!) children in Melbourne; it gives an insight into his process, and how he got to this point in his career:

I’ve submitted my drawing to Double Elephant Print Workshop’s “Riddle 57” project, based on an Anglo-Saxon riddle from the Exeter Book, a World Heritage Book kept in the amazing library at Exeter Cathedral, and I was lucky enough to have a look through the book when I was studying A Level English – mind blown!!

“Charley says…” BFI kids online

The British Film Institute have put up a collection of films for under-5s online. It’s a real mixed bag! Some of them I remember from childhood – LOTS of public safety films for children, the best ones being the “Charley Says…” series.

I’m not sure many 21st Century Children will really enjoy some of them – black and white is a hard sell to under-5s these days, but the Charley films are funny and informative, with messages that are still relevant to children now. Take a look 🙂

Oh yes, and they are all free to view..

Live Drawing Online Tonight!

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but it is so exciting!! I’m going to be live illustrating today on Instagram 3pm EST – 8pm GMT with the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NYC!!!

Their children’s books specialist Philipp Goedicke reads classic children’s stories live on Insta every day and invites an illustrator to draw along. If you’re on Instagram take a look, either on my feed @small_world_animations or theirs @communitybookstore.

Tonight is Chapter 20 something from “Tom’s Midnight Garden”

The pictures show what I managed to draw/make in the 30 minutes or so I had. It was a lot of fun, and Philipp was so lovely to chat with! 🙂