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Monday, November 10, 2014

Moving to wordpress

To make my social media easier to handle. I am moving my blog information to my new Wordpress site


As I am juggling heaps of projects and events, this should enable me to manage things better. Please follow on Wordpress and I will endeavour to keep you informed on developments, show you work in progress and pass on tips when I can.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Randell Hidalgo

One of my students surprised me today with an interesting update on one of my Billy is a Dragon illustrations. I have attached them as I love the textures. You can see that he has taken the original image and manipulated it in Photoshop. Adding in textures to the image where I have used watercolour washes.


Randell's version (1)

                                                               Randell's version (2)

Monday, May 26, 2014

3D Chalk Dragon at Sydney Writer's Festival

A word of advice to my fellow illustrators, unless you want to spend 2 days bent over, kneeling on concrete covered in bright coloured chalks. Never tell your publisher that you can do 3D chalk art! 

Having said that, I had a blast at the 2014 Sydney Writer’s Festival drawing a 3D chalk version of the main character from my book series ‘Billy is a Dragon’ (author Nick Falk).  I also took part in the illustrator battle rounds as was taken out by the talented Gus Gordon.

battle in progress

Back to the chalk, if you have ever looked at the images of 3D chalk on the internet and wondered how it works. It is quite simple. It works by altering the viewer perception of perspective.  Our minds read the world around us in 3D with a basic understanding that things that are further away from us look smaller. This reduction in size starts to occur when the angle we view an object is greater than 45 degrees. i.e when we look at train tracks on the ground, from a standing eye height of 170cm, anything greater the 170cm away from our feet starts reduce in size. The effect is also changes over distance. The reduction (distortion) at 200cm in smaller that the distortion at 500cm

So what happens when you create a 3d illusion or 3D chalk art image. These images work on a single point focus. So firstly you need a lens (normally camera lens) to see them. Secondly they achieve their illusion by stretching and expanding an image as it moves away from the viewer.

You can see here the step by step process of creating the image from the intended viewing point. Note in the image of the crowd of kids that the shadow of the girl behind the object falls onto the Dragon. This interferes with the illusion. But the kids were still having fun so it didn’t matter.

Now in the next photos you can see how the image has been stretched and distorted. I decided that as I only had 2 days to draw this image I wouldn’t make it too big. I also wanted people to be able to enjoy the image with out the aid of a camera, so I haven’t distorted it to much. Just a quick note you will see from one of these images that the whole thing would have been quicker to draw if people didn’t keep walking over it while I was drawing. I spend a good amount of time repairing pedestrian damage to the image.

So the basic principal works because of,

1.     distorted perspective
2.     single focus point (camera lens)

3.     artist liking to get messy and talk to people while they draw

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Billy is a Dragon review by Barbara Braxton

Billy’s life changes the day he walks into Benny’s Pet Shop because they are having special discounts for 10th birthday presents for boys named Billy.  Billy already has Bertha, an ageing bulldog whom he loves very much, so he thinks about a fish or a parrot.  But Benny leads him towards the lizards, and even though Billy knows both his mum and sister are terrified of them, he is captivated by one which Benny tells him is called the dragON lizard.  Determined to know what it feels like he sticks his finger in the cage … and it bites him.  With a painfully swollen finger which keeps swelling, they head home and eventually Billy goes to bed nursing it as it continues to swell and thinking of his upcoming birthday party.  Next morning, while his finger no longer hurts, he’s amazed to discover it has turned green and grown an enormous black claw!  And that’s just the start of it… even though Billy might find being a dragon protects him from bullies, teachers and his sister Becky, when his parents decide that dragons belong in a zoo he has to make a critical decision as well as an agonising discovery.  Is he a Shifter who can change shape or a Plain who stays stuck as he is?

Written at a fast clip, interspersed with eye-catching fonts to emphasise the mood and the meaning, this is a new series from the creators of Saurus Street written to capture the imaginations of those on the cusp of being independent readers and moving onto novels. Billy’s adventures will appeal to all those who can think of better ways to spend their days than being at school, secretly wishing the teacher would disappear in a puff of smoke – which is almost what happens when he sets her hair on fire as he morphs into a dragon in the classroom. And his new persona is very helpful when dealing with bullies. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?  With the continuing popularity of characters with super powers and creatures from the realm of fantasy, the series is a great introduction to a new genre that ventures beyond the more traditional witches and wizards.

Tony Flowers’ quirky illustrations are more than just decoration – they are an integral part of the story that teach as much as they tell.  While they have a cartoon-like appearance, the detail in the diagrams and the accompanying text not only explain the story but also provide a model for the reader to produce their own. Not only has Tony Flowers tapped into his imagination, but he has offered an opportunity for the reader to get inside theirs. For example, just what does a bully look like on the inside?  How else would you explain the characteristics of a shifter or a squiff?  How empowering it would be for a child to dissect their own fears in such a way. Perhaps there is even an outlet for the writers and drawers in the class to co-produce their own story about being a dragon, or persuading the principal that such a creature would be an asset to the school.

Series are a perfect way to support the developing reader as they already bring their knowledge of the characters and circumstances to the sequels, providing a familiarity that helps them cross the bridge to independence just that bit more easily. This series (with two more episodes due in June) are sure to capture the attention and imagination of a clientele who can be hard to engage.

Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children's Services)
Dromkeen Librarian's Award 2003
Together, we learn from each other

Monday, May 19, 2014

Read-a-thon 2014, Crown Street Public School

Myself and the wonderful Jacqueline Harvey will be talking at the Crown Street Public School read-a-thon wednesday the 21st of May. Please come along and join in the fun between 7 and 7:40pm

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Somerset wrap up

A wonderful time was had by all at the Somerset Celebration of Literature. A great set of authors and illustrators. Fantastic students, teachers and volunteers, and brilliant community support for the event.

Nick Falk in action

 Not only did Nick and I have a ball talking about and books and doing heaps of silly drawing. I also seemed to draw a lot of dinosaur and dragon tattoos on fellow authors and teachers.