It’s been a peripatetic kind of month, both with living arrangements and work, so there’s a lot to get through.

First up, The Forbidden Library debacle. Every now and then, a book cover just doesn’t work out; despite every effort. I had to abandon the project in the end as I needed to get on with the Crooked Imp, but luckily the publishers weren’t too disgusted with my failure and let me do some illustrations for the inside (hence the girl in the library above – more books! I can’t get enough of them…). Here are some of the roughs for the cover:



Then it was back to Oxford, where the landscape had changed somewhat since my last visit.



These are the same willows as in my previous post; a couple of days after this was taken the tow path was completely submerged which curtailed my walks somewhat. I quite enjoyed watching surprised looking Coots and Grebes plop into the water only to zoom off down the river, which had become a fast flowing lake/bird motorway.

Coots and Grebe. Sounds like a firm of solicitors from a Dickens novel.

Like the Thames, Alfie the cat had expanded too.



Luckily he still had kittenish tendencies and was a fun, if occasionally psychotic, companion.

People often ask me advice about how to become an illustrator, or how to draw, etc. My usual answer is to demand they draw a lot, especially from life; it really helps develop the artist’s powers of observation. Do I follow my own advice? Do I heck.

But I did do a little sketch in the Sheldonian Theatre whilst waiting for the Elias Quartet to show up and swathe me in lovely music…



Not a particularly interesting image, but it meant I had a really good look around and absorbed things into my visual memory that would normally slip away very quickly. Having said that, I’m not sure if a host of golden cupids parping away on trumpets will be particularly useful in the future, but you get the idea…

When sketching in these situations, I always think to myself I should make more of a habit of it so I feel less of a hypocrite when I suggest others should do likewise. The evidence of my slackness is manifest in my sketchbook – here is the last picture I did in situ, which was at least 3 years ago, I think.



Meanwhile, The Crooked Imp progresses (hobbles?) further to completion. I’ve just finished page 34, and begun some promotional bits and bobs.



To avoid spoilers (and the fact I want people to actually buy it) I can’t show too much in the way of finished pages, but here’s one (minus speech balloons) featuring the Jellicoe gang in their hideout… 


9 Replies to “Smatterings”

  1. David,
    What a nice piece to read about in the morn, when I am having my first cup. I think there is more here than just a few lines, gentle rumblings in a few lines of text about rejection, Oxford and some artwork to make me jealous of an unknown talents abilities. (I don’t know many creative souls but in addition to their inspired writing, images and personal inspiration, I submit to twinges of jealousy)
    Just wanted to say Thank You for sharing and for waking my brain up on the quiet blue desert dawn.

  2. thank you for your notes & progress – i love your work!!
    if u happen 2 have the time i have a question 4 u:
    i’ve drawn various fantasy creatures all my life, however, when it comes to drawing
    cottages/houses/castles i just can’t seem to think “outside” the normal box! i’ve studied
    various “storybook” house frames, but everything is much 2… normal.
    do you have any suggestions/tips on inventing the impossible architecture?
    thank you so much, and wishing u endless inspiration w/ur projects! -jo

    1. Thanks Jo.
      This can be tricky if you aren’t surrounded by old cottages/house/castles. I am, so it’s relatively easy. I find seeing these types of places in real life really helps create a believable structure when illustrating. If you don’t have access to this sort of thing, you might find it helpful to start by thinking outside the building – the landscape it sits in, the people that use it, etc. Once you have established that, it will narrow down your reference so you can look at specific historical periods, building materials, and architectural styles. Then mash it all up and bring some of your own imagination to it… good luck!

  3. Hello, I recently picked up a copy of the Forbidden Library and the the cover is still yours, a very similar design to the ones you’ve shown here. So I guess they did go with your cover in the end?

    1. I’ve not seen the cover yet, so I don’t know what they did. I supplied lots of ‘bits’ that they could play around with, but I assumed they’d start from scratch as we weren’t getting far with all my variations. The cover displayed on Amazon looks like the version used for the preview copies (which are usually different from the final cover) – I’d be interested to see if they just went with that in the end…

      1. Hi again, yes the cover on amazon is the final cover. The eye looking through the rip. I liked it, it made me pick up the book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s