November 27, 2017

Koby Cumulus Children's Picture Book released!

How exciting, my latest Children's Picture Book has been released!

Koby Cumulus, written by Melissa Doughty and illustrated by me :)

It's called Koby Cumulus and I've been blogging about the process (3rd and last blog post still due, but you can read blog posts one and two here and here respectively.)

The book turned out beautifully, and we were all very happy with the printing and the papers used. What a nerve racking experience to see the book you've been working on for the last 6 months appear; knowing that it's too late to change anything if need be!

The endpapers

Koby Cumulus is a 6 year old cloud who loves life... until he hears people grumbling about the weather.

It's a beautiful story about realising your own self worth in the face of negativity and rejection. Koby also has a mentor, who is his granny, so it'd be a lovely book for a grandparent to read to their grandchild! 

I have favourite parts of the book that I have illustrated, I like how this horse turned out and the ripples in the water. It reminds me of a book from my past that I can't quite put my finger on... 

And my favourite page is where Koby is sprinkling a light shower over some red roofed homes.

Lots of kids like the page with the rainbow!

Melissa has done a beautiful job of creating a story with a message of self confidence that can be used as a tool to help children become more resilient.

I'm so happy to finally share this with you all!

If you'd like to learn more about Koby Cumulus or purchase a copy head over to Published Panda where they have low shipping for the rest of this year.

Jules :)

October 31, 2017

The Making of an Illustrated Children's Picture Book: Part 2

So I left the last post about illustrating a children's picture book at the story board stage. You can read about part one here.

*Update. Things have been a little slow here lately on the blog. I have reevaluated my priorities and time commitments and for the rest of the year I will still post here, but not as frequently as I was. I will reassess in the new year and decide what direction I want to take with all my arty and crafty projects. I'm still producing tutorials, and will update here on my creative life now that my latest kids book is finished, but for the rest of the year it's going to be a bit slower here on the old blog! Ok, back to the blog post!*

After everyone is happy with the way the whole book goes together, it's time for the final roughs.

With this book, some of the pages were shuffled around and text needed to move and new quick roughs needed to be done. It is in this stage when you see the images with the text that something you feel needs to be changed will become apparent, where it might not have been before.

A section of a rough from one of my favourite pages

The text is a huge part of the book and needs to not be an afterthought. I designed where the text would go in this book, and had a lot of help from a designer. The space for type is allocated before the final roughs are done.

Looking through kid's picture books is interesting to look at the amount of space type takes, the placement, size and font choices. You'll see wavy text, enlarged text, bold text, hand written text. The choices are varied, just as the illustration choices are.

I do my roughs to scale. I did mine larger than the final book would be, so I can fit more detail in where needed.

Some pages need more nutting-out than others. Some I wrestle with and redraw parts, and I also use my scanner and photoshop to help me rearrange parts of the roughs if it's not working for me on paper. Modern technology!

Some come easily. I'm sure this is similar to the workings of many different creative pursuits.

Things that I have to keep in mind when doing the roughs are character continuity, and keeping the style throughout the whole book. I also nut out landmarks or features if there are a few pages that will feature the same area. You want the same colour & shaped roof on the same house on different pages for example. Notes are helpful for you to remember things when it comes time to render the final illustrations.

I read and reread the text, as it's easy to miss out on little details that you thought you would remember.

Once the roughs are all done they are scanned in, edited and compiled into a PDF for viewing by the publisher. For my last kids book, I made a little dummy book which I loved. It was great to be able to pick it up and hold it and flick through the pages and get an idea of the final look and feel of the real book.

Extra detail is added into the final roughs, and I like little surprises such as continuing themes that aren't in the text of a book. It's great to think of all your characters (and even background characters) as total individuals so you can make them unique in their expressions or what they're wearing.

Taking breaks is important. Minds go stale and tired, and after a break I return fresh with new perspective.

So many tea breaks :)

If I get a bad case of the fears, also known as procrastination, I remind myself that no matter what I do, I will always be better off sitting down and doing an hour or so of work. If will learn something. I will progress, even if just by a tiny bit. Even if it's a stuff up, it's a stuff up that needed to happen as it is part of the process. This mindset has helped me deal with procrastination a lot. No matter how dull and practical and unmystical that is!

The cover design needs some in-depth thought and a fantastic illustration. I'm hoping mine lives up to the task! It is after all the first thing you see, and it either catches your eye or it doesn't. I did a couple of different layouts, and it was funny that in a survey to some little people they all chose the one I liked least! Considering it's for kids, we decided to trust those fresh untainted opinions, and that they knew best.

The next instalment will be regarding painting the finals, and the final book will be on it's way very soon! Stay tuned!

Next up... painting the final illustrations

Jules :)

September 28, 2017

DIY Pet Memorial Stone

A craft DIY for you today in the form of pet memorial stones, if you have any furry friends to honour.

Just before our new pup came along I had a pang of guilt that I hadn’t yet made memorial stones for my two previous fur babies who have since passed on. So in their honour, I purchased a bag of mortar mix, dreamed up the project and completed the task. I couldn't find what I wanted them to look like online, so I came up with a project myself.

You will need:

-Mortar mix
-Cement additive/ fortifier (optional- but gives your finished piece extra strength)
-Chicken wire (use a small gauge- not the big size)
-Masking Tape
-Acrylic paint in black and white
-Matte medium

Tools & other useful items:

Pliers, metal spatula, rubber gloves, various clay tools or skewer, stamps, paintbrush, rags, plastic bags.

To start with draw on a piece of paper how big you want your stone to be. Scrunch up some newspaper and wrap it in masking tape. Make the scrunched newspaper shape about two thirds the size you want your final stone, as adding wire and cement layers will add extra bulk.

Cut some lengths of chicken wire and start wrapping around your newspaper shape. Cover the shape with approximately 3 layers of chicken wire. Use pliers to twist ends together and inwards so there are no spikes sticking out.

Take your mortar mix and mix some up adding some cement fortifier as per instructions. I used Bondcrete. I guess how much cement I’m going to use, trying not to make too much as I can always make more. Make your mix on the drier side rather than making it too wet. You will get better detail when it comes to making the marks, and a stronger mix.

Working on a plastic work surface start pressing your cement mix into the chicken wire. You need to do this all over the stone shape, including underneath. 

Keep adding cement until all of the wire is covered. My stones ended up having a flat base, and I just smoothed the cement all around the bottom edge for a neat appearance. On the top of the stones you need a fairly thick layer of cement, so that you can stamp & draw some elements in without hitting the chicken wire underneath.

When this is all done make the whole stone nice and smooth using your gloved hand or a metal spatula. It’s quite fun- similar to icing a cake.

Use a clay tool to write words by pressing into the cement rather than ‘drawing’, and use stamps with bold shapes to press into the surface. Fine detailed stamps will not show up so well. I made some stamps out of polymer clay specifically for this project.

Once you are happy with your creation, leave to set under plastic. Wrap the plastic around the stone loosely, as you do not want the plastic to disturb the surface of the stone.

Once the cement has set (keep checking at half hour intervals. It might take 1-3 hours and it still should be wet), come back and wrap wet rags around the stone, then wrap in plastic and leave to cure for 3- 7 days. Curing cement slowly like this gives it extra strength.

Once the stone has had decent time to cure let it dry, and mix some black acrylic paint with equal parts matte medium and enough water to make a runny mix. Working quickly, paint the black paint mix into the stamped and written crevices, and wipe the excess away using a damp rag. As I used a cement fortifier, my cement wasn’t super porous, so this stopped a lot of paint seeping in where I didn’t want it too. If you didn’t use fortifier, wetting the stone first might help.

If you want extra depth and contrast to your stone, dry brush some white acrylic paint over the top to highlight. You do this by getting paint on your brush (not diluted) then brush most of it off on some paper so that when you paint your stone only minimal paint is being transferred. 

Place your stone in the garden and you can remember those furry friends every time you wander in the backyard.

Yes, we named our previous dogs after Futurama characters!

RIP you guys.. miss you xx

I’m also thinking this project would work well as gifts to grandparents with little handprints pressed in with names and dates, heart shapes and pebbles pressed in.
Have fun,

Jules :)

September 21, 2017


Hello! My book project is nearly done, so I will be back babbling on here again in no time. I am dreaming up lots of outdoor crafty projects, as I want to get outside and away from the computer now that the weather is warming up. I'm thinking mosaics! And cement! I have caught the cementing bug :)

We have mostly an Australian native garden here but I still manage to find some colour for a vase

Spring has arrived in the land down under and it is a sight for sore eyes. I think the winter just gone was the coldest ever, or maybe it's just that I'm getting older? I'm not built for the cold.

Another reason for getting outside more is this little guy:

Meet Archie! The cheeky fluff- ball bundle of mayhem! Our newest family member.

And in honour of our not-too-long-ago-passed previous fur babies, I have finally made them memorial stones for their graves in the backyard. That was a project I'd been meaning to do for a long time. I have made it into a tutorial too, as I couldn't find instructions online specifically for what I wanted, so stay tuned for that one.

Another thing that's been taking up a lot of my time is cooking. Miss 6 has been put on a special diet by her integrative doctor which is similar to the paleo/ gaps way of eating. I'd go into why, but don't really want to get into finer details but I will say that I think functional/ integrative medicine is the way of the future! I'm doing the diet too as I just feel so much better when I eat this way. I do it mainly to tackle some niggling health issues that I have. I always believe in addressing the root cause of issues and asking the question "why?" Because I'm never satisfied with "it just is." :)

The authors healed ailments such as eczema and OCD through diet, and this just fascinates me no end.

My favourite cook book at the moment Life Changing Food

Mmmm veggie seaweed crackers and baba ganoush- from the book

Gluten free sausage rolls with homemade tomato sauce (both in the book) with a side serve of steamed cabbage and kombucha

I just wish I could eat this way and not have to make all of it. And the dishes are mountainous! I've started asking the kids to help me with washing up, and they can earn a bit of pocket money on the side.

So combined with puppy mayhem (it's like having a baby again!), masses of cooking, and the kids book I've been working on, things got a little crazy busy. I'm looking forward to chilling out a bit more in the warmer weather and focussing on what's important, and not trying to do everything and be everything to everyone. I think as mama's or even women we can easily get stuck in that trap, until we realise we must do some tweaking for everyone's sanity and ease back on some things. Hence the break from the blog. And I decided, that was OK.

Here's another little snippet from the book:

This dog is quite small within the illustration I did for this page, but I'm interested in enlarging parts I've done so I can see individual line marks and colours. I love seeing brush stories and paint marks.

I'm at the stage now where I'm touching up and editing images, so... nearly there.

Catch you soon,

Jules :)

August 31, 2017

Taking a Short break...

I have entered an intense period illustrating my latest book. Consequently, I've realised I'm not superwoman and I just can't do everything! So I'm taking a break from the blog for a few weeks, so I can concentrate on this book. I'll be back soon! Here's a sneak peak:

See you soon,
Jules :)

August 19, 2017

Painted Doilies as Wall Art

Hello creative souls!

I have a craft tutorial for you today to make some wall art using doilies. The fun thing about this one is that it's easy to do but looks really effective. And if you're a craft hoarder collector like me, you might just have some doilies lying around waiting for the perfect craft to upcycle them!

This tutorial recently appeared on Alisa Burke's blog. I like to post my tutorials here too so that you can find all my crafty projects under the one roof, so to speak. 

So, here's how you do it...

Painted Doilies as Wall Art

I had some lovely friends share their doily collections with me for this tutorial. It's great when others share their stashes with you for crafts sake!

For this project you will need:

-A collection of crocheted doilies
-PVA glue
-acrylic paints

The original doilies before receiving their make-over

First, I dipped my doilies into water and then wrung them out so that they were damp when I painted them. This makes them easier to paint. If the doilies are dry when you start they will just draw so much of the paint and water out of your brush that you will find you are forever adding more paint.

I watered down my acrylic colours to make them work more like watercolours. You’ll get a feel for how runny to make the paint once you start. Keep in mind your doilies will really lighten as they dry too, so even though my colours looked quite strong as I was painting them, they really lightened to pastel tones when they dried. You do need to use acrylic paints because we want those colours to be waterproof for the next step, and acrylics are waterproof when they are dry.

Paint all of the doilies, filling them all up with colour.

Once painted, leave them to completely dry.

Next, make a 1:1 ratio mix of water and PVA glue and stir well. Dip each doily in, saturate it with the glue solution then gently squeeze each doily out and lay flat on a sheet of plastic to dry (they won't stick to the plastic). You don’t want to squeeze them out too tightly that you are not left with much of the glue solution in the doilies, but you also don’t want blobs of glue in the little gaps either.

Now leave them to dry completely.

Once dry they can attached to a wall and will hold their shape. I think they look great in clusters. The more the merrier. I must get my hands on some more!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Jules :)


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