Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas 2015

And a Happy 2016 to come!

Monday, 2 November 2015

"Moanday's Child..." - Halloween 2015

A little something I drew for Halloween this year =)

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Christmas Pantomime Posters - 2013

A few years back, I submitted some designs for a theatrical company, who were looking for someone to design a poster of their latest Christmas Pantomime at the time. From the brief, it focused on the popular song of the same name. 

As ever, I sent them my stuff - two versions to choose from - and never heard anything back...but here they are to see anyway!

Click on the images for a larger view.

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Adventures of Massey Ferguson (2004)

As mentioned before in previous blogs, farms are one of the most popular settings for a children's series, but it takes a lot of imagination and research to make one show different from most. This one manages to do so in so many ways...

Very much like Tractor Tom, the main characters in Massey Ferguson are the various anthropomorphic farm vehicles - including the title character himself, named after the type of tractor he is based from. Keeping Massey company are his friends Gracie the quad-bike, Beaut the Ute, Max the Big Green Tractor, Mrs Milk the milk tanker, Rusty the old car and Slow-Mo, the mobility scooter.

Massey and 'Genny' the Generator
And it's not just the farm vehicles that can talk either - generators, chainsaws, even railway crossing barriers manage to play their part across the series' run.

Based on Ferguson Farm, all the machines provide work for Farmer Murray, his wife Heather and dear old Gran whilst encountering various problems within and beyond the farm. That's where Massey uses the "tractor factor" to help put things right. It not only encourages friendship and teamwork but it also teaches its preschool audience how to appreciate and look after the countryside.

But here's what else makes this series stand out...

Don't let their accents fool you - the show takes place not in Australia, but in New Zealand! And because of the setting, it gives children across the world an insight of a different way of life rarely seen in cities or British farms even.
The show demonstrates the rural areas of New Zealanders, seeing the characters going through droughts, floods and how to "lay a Hangi" using honey stones, not to mention coming across the local wildlife like Possoms and Pukekos. One episode even features a Rally Car from the New Zealand Rally Championships!

Rebelling Pukekos!
As well as covering every area of New Zealand farm life, the strongest force in the episodes are, of course, the characters themselves. Each one has their own recognisable traits that help to drive the storylines along - from Mrs Milk's motherly nature, to Beaut's vanity, to Rusty's grumpiness, no character is left by the wayside for long. And they're all brought to life just wonderfully by the small yet versatile voice cast: Jim Mora, Jason Hoyt and Jackie Clarke

Massey meets 'Snowy' and Sir Edmund
The greatest surprise comes near the end of the series where Massey learns more about his basis - meeting the famous mountaineer / explorer Sir Edmund Hillary and the original Massey Ferguson tractor used for his venture across the South Pole many years ago.

The visuals of this show was another aspect that grabbed my attention - a seamless blend of CGI and 2D Animation, with a unique design by animator Eion NcNaught and animation provided by Flux Animation Studios (funded by New Zealand On Air). Although the the vehicle characters were intentionally given colours to help make them stand out more, the 2D Animation for both human and animal characters offers such great, expressive acting. To see them in action, it's clear that no corners have been cut at all to provide such high-quality stuff.

The show was created, written and produced by Jim Mora and Brent Chambers. Thanks to its inspirational setting and a strong cast of characters, each of the five-minute stories are clever, fun and just right for the youngsters to enjoy "the greatest little tractor in the land" from beginning to end.

There's no denying it, New Zealand has used the best they had to offer here, with little to no outsourcing required!

"That's the Tractor Factor!"


Saturday, 8 August 2015


Behold! An Otter + Gemsbok combination - those horns are very useful when fishing, I can tell you... ;P

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Coffee Cup London

Coffee cup design for a contest. Drawing London UPA-style!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Monday, 9 March 2015

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Brother and Sister Designs

Someone had written several stories for children. Same someone was looking for an illustrator. I applied with these designs. Haven't heard back since. So here they are!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Just So Stories (1991)

Personally speaking, it seems a little unfair that of all the books and stories written by Rudyard Kipling, the only one film-makers seem to be interested in adapting is 'The Jungle Book'. Even before Disney's 1967 animated feature became widely recognised, the story of Mowgli has been told and retold in live-action, audio, theatre and various animated forms from Animé to CGI, as well as earning itself a lesser-known sequel 'The Third Jungle Book'.

With this in mind, anyone would think that Jungle Book was the only story Kipling had ever written. Very rarely has anyone else attempted to adapt any of his other tales - small exceptions being Chuck Jones, who took a stab at The White Seal and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi sometime in the 70's.

Born in Bombay during the late 1800's, Kipling spent much of his life writing poems of British Soliders in India as well as various stories for adults and children - The Day's Work, Rewards and Fairies, Puck of Pook's Hill - but his most famous collection of tales has been the 'Just So Stories'.

My copy of the Just So Stories - printed in 1987
First published in 1902, these twelve stories told how things in this world came to be as they are, to be "just so". It mostly tells how particular animals were given their distinctive traits - How the Leopard got his Spots, How the Camel got his Hump and How the satiable Elephant's Child got his Trunk. But some stories featured a little cave girl called Taffy, which told how she and her Father created the first alphabet. It is said that Taffy was based on Kipling's own daughter, Josephine.

Each story has its own flavour, inspired by Kipling's travels across the world - family holidays in South Africa, seeing the shores of Arabia from a ship's deck and even brief visits to Australia. These have been enjoyed by children and adults alike, and have rarely been out of print since.

Long before my Grandparents gave me their copy of the original book, which sits with pride on my book shelf, I became aware of the Just So Stories by a little-known animated series on the BBC in the early 90's.

This particular series was adapted by Timothy Forder, who also directed the episodes - though much of Kipling's detailed and colourful descriptions had to be edited to fit within the 8-minute format, what was televised was still adapted fairly well. The animation itself isn't anything grand, but basic enough for its intended audience to enjoy.
'The Butterfly That Stamped'
Curiously, the company who made the series, Bevanfield Films, seemed to have done a lot better here than when they tried to make their versions of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast at about the same time, shortly before going bankrupt for reasons as yet unknown...
'The Elephant's Child'
However, as with most animation companies, at least there are other positive aspects when the visual quality is somewhat lacking;
  • The music composed by Kick Productions is delightfully catchy and suits the timeless feel of Kipling's stories well. 
  • The narration by Geoffrey Matthews is enjoyable where, next to his variety of voices, he also throws in aside mutterings and improvisations for the characters, leading or secondary.
  • And the background artwork - let's take a moment to marvel at the quality put into them here by one Ian Henderson;
Sadly, this particular animated series is one of the hardest to find. Even the DVD which was released in 2001 seems to have disappeared without trace...and which I was fortunate enough to have found a copy somewhere online. The only signs that this series existed are VHS cassette covers scattered across Amazon and a recreation of the theme tune...

Perhaps one day, Classic Media might be tempted to reissue the DVD. But for now...who knows?

'How the Whale got his Throat'

Friday, 27 February 2015

Number Character Designs

Here's some more concept artwork for something that never came about - character designs for a
numeracy program, which would teach children about numbers, how to calculate currencies and so on.

It's been seen on just about every job website online, so I decided to apply for it. The request was that all the characters had to be robots and each show a different, unique function on how they could teach numbers to kids. They also requested all concept art to be saved as .gif formats, so apologies if the images don't appear as crisp...