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Apr. 17th, 2014 @ 11:53 pm
So, I have to admit that I've got no frickin' clue what I'm doing for cards for the sheep shows. So I'd like some help. If you could?

Here's the deal: I will send a free card or five to anyone who inspires one. (Or hi-res digital copy, if you prefer.) Requests, prompts, top-of-the-mind surface thoughts... anything you'd like to see, I'd love to hear it, because I'm running dry.

Keeping in mind that this is for a sheep and wool festival. (In general, this is going to mean wool animals--rabbits, goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas--as well as herding dogs, wool, knitting, crocheting, weaving, dying, tatting...) But on the other hand, one of the really fun parts of art can be combining unlike things, so don't feel bound by that.

No guarantee I'm making anything in particular, but I'd love to try.

Examples of sheep-related projects I've done:


Sheeple: Bleatnik


(I can't find the original of this one...! It's in my portfolio, but that appears to have vanished. ARGH. I love this one and wanted to make prints!)

So. Help me! Link this around to people who might be interested! You in? Let's see what we can do. :)

(Legal disclaimer: As the creator, I keep all ownership of any art created, including reproduction rights and any money earned. Figure there's no confusion about that, but it's always worth stating outright. :) )

Apr. 17th, 2014 @ 09:42 pm
I need to use this to reply to most everything I see ever.

Current Mood: amusedamused

Apr. 17th, 2014 @ 10:00 am
Birthday on the 28th.

My Wish List

Paypal is shingadinga (at)

I like things and money (mostly for things like bills and food but generally if I get enough on my birthday I actually do spend at least a bit on fun things).

As of right now I have no solid plans for my birthday outside of a scheduled massage that morning - birthday is on a Monday so I need to make an extra effort in making sure the day is not balls. ;)

My tweets Apr. 17th, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

designing seawigs Apr. 17th, 2014 @ 09:25 am
Big congratulations to Lucy Yewman, age 6, for winning Moontrug's top prize for describing and drawing her own Seawig! This one's a corker! Keep an eye on Moontrug's website as she's always running good competitions.

I just remembered, for a dinner at the Bologna Book Fair last year, I designed this Draw-Your-Own-Seawig sheet for all the adults to draw at the table. But I can't remember if I posted it on my blog, so here it is, if you'd like to give Cliff a Seawig! You'll make this Rambling Isle very happy. WHAT can you pile on his head? Use drawing, magazine collage, whatever you like! Download the PDF here.

And I'd love to see yours! If you get a chance, tweet me your results (I'm @jabberworks), tag me on Instagram (jabberworks) or post them on my Facebook Author page.

Another Test Post Apr. 16th, 2014 @ 09:36 pm
Something may be wrong with Facebook. I'm going to see if it picks up this entry here.

The Mad Music Dementia Top 20 Revenge! Apr. 16th, 2014 @ 11:56 am
Vote for your favorites on the Mad Music Top 20 Revenge!!!

Vote for "Fake Adult", the 9 new songs from "Because Of Bob: Luke Ski's Kickstarter FAWM album (songs I wrote about people for money)", "Surfin' Bird (Family Guy Remix)", live MarsCon music & more!

Sign up at in order to be among the voting crowd! :)

Apr. 16th, 2014 @ 12:45 pm
Lots to do today!

First, fold the laundry (I've got several clean loads sitting on top of the dryer--Mount McLinty? It's clean, so it hasn't risen to the top of the list before, but... it's about to topple.) Second, do the dishes and straighten up the kitchen (should be easy, we've been chipping away at the clutter for days.) Straighten up the computer room and bedroom (seriously, a nice workspace works wonders--and that is NOT what I've got now.) MAKE SURE TO SWEEP--for a short-haired dog, Lumpa surely sheds hair like a flower sheds pollen.

Do art. Specifically, sheep/goat/bunny/llama art--the Sheep & Wool festivals are coming up, and I've got NOTHING! (Helpfully, the first shows are AFTER Easter, too... so, can't go easy with it and make Easter cards.)

(I love making cards.)

Also need to get some good walking done in this weather--that doesn't sound like it really belongs on a to-do list, but between exercise and much-missed sunlight, I really do think that falls under taking-care-of-one's-health. (Yes, Bill and I are going to the college gym tonight, but it's really not the SAME--a better workout, but with climate control and no direct sunlight.)

(Usually I like climate control, but this weather deserves to be enjoyed for its own sake.)

Anyway, that's that! As a follow up, have a picture of my dog wearing sunglasses and a picture of some of my old sheep-cards I still have:



My tweets Apr. 16th, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

top tip for putting together a picture book Apr. 16th, 2014 @ 08:21 am
My desk is a sea of paper, so yesterday I tried to tackle some of the mess and found these thumbnail roughs for You Can't Scare a Princess!, my picture book with Gillian Rogerson. Thumbnail roughs are called that because often they're very small, just a doodle that lets my editor and art director know how I plan to lay out the page before I draw a more complicated full-size rough in pencil.

If you know the book, you'll see that, except for pages 20-21 (the treasure digging scene), I pretty much followed these layouts in the final artwork.

Top tip: the grid here looks a bit dull, but if you've ever tried to get a picture book published, you'll know this template is solid gold. It takes most aspiring writers and illustrators ages to figure out this basic layout. If you go into a shop and count picture book pages, they'll vary slightly, which is confusing. That's because publishers have a little leeway with how they engineer the endpapers, so you might get some extra pages. But if you want to get published, this is the most cost-efficient way of cutting one big sheet of paper into a book, so an editor will be far, far more interested in your book if you work to this format.

In some ways, it can make your job easier, because you think Here's the set number of pages I have; how am I going to fill them? I often print out the grid and write the story right into it. Don't forget, you'll need a title page and a page for all that small-print information, so the words in your story may not really start going until page 6.

Often a paperback will have two more pages than the hardcover version because the endpapers aren't glued down to the covers. Here's There's a Shark in the Bath; you can see the paperback, top, has an extra page. In the hardcover version, bottom, this page would be glued down to the cover board, which holds the pages into the book.

You don't have to stick to the template exactly, with the title page on page 5. Sometimes people put the small-print information at the end of the book, and often the story starts right in the front endpapers, not after the title page. (I like to use the endpapers to set the scene for the book.) But if you stray from this format, it's good to have a well-thought-out reason why you've done it. Board books are usually shorter than this, since the pages are thicker. If you want to see the variations, get yourself down to your local bookshop or library and start counting pages.

Some useful terms:

Double-page spread: When you open a book and two pages look up at you, this is a double-page spread. You can either have a picture or pictures on each page, or you can have one big picture spanning both pages. These spreads can be very effective; think about the size of a child. When they're reading or being read to, the picture wraps around them, plunging them into the world you've made.

Gutter: This is the middle of the book, where the pages come together. Try not to put any very important things here, such as eyes, or text, because they might disappear down the gap.

Endpapers: the pages holding the book into its cover. These might be made of a single-coloured piece of paper with nothing printed on it (the cheapest method), decorated with pictures in one colour of ink (mid-price) or full colour (the most expensive).

Pagination: Anything to do with pages. Traditionally in a 32-page picture book, the front cover is page 1. Left-hand pages are always even-numbered, right-hand pages always odd-numbered.

Bleed: When you do the final artwork, you'll slightly need to extend the edges of the picture (let it 'bleed') if you're doing a picture that goes right to the edge of the page. So paint your picture a little longer and wider than the page itself, or if you're laying out the page digitally, give extra room around the edges. Talk with your designer; the bleed will be anything from 5mm - 15mm each side. This is in case the printer doesn't cut the paper exactly right, there won't be white bits showing on the edges of the pages. Or if there's a problem fitting text, your designer will have a bit of wiggle room to move things around. (I must confess the term 'bleed' made me smile while I was working on the shark book.)

Right, hope that might be helpful for a few people! I wish I'd been given the 32-page template when I first started making books; it would have saved me a lot of time. You can find a few more tips over on the FAQ section of my website.

Other news: this year's Manchester Children's Book Festival is all Sea Monkeys! I was thrilled when they asked us to give the entire festival a Seawigs theme. If you're near Manchester on Sat, 28 July, do drop by, learn how to draw your own Sea Monkey and have us sign and draw in your book! (Booking details here).

Last thing: one of my university friends posted this video on her Facebook page (via Sploid) and it is so, so wonderful. It follows the adventure of two elderly ladies, An and Ria, as they take go on their very first flight. One of them has a laugh that's so contagious, I was laughing out loud while I was watching it.

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