Celebrating 10 Years in Business

My little design business is celebrating its 10th Birthday this week!

It’s been an amazing journey so far and I’d like to thank everyone who has been a part of it – for all the commissions, collaborations, referrals, advice, and just generally being awesome and supportive over the years. I wouldn’t be in business without you!

Here’s to the next 10 years and beyond!

Infohackit: Communicating Science with Infographics

One of my favourite things about designing infographics is that I always get to learn something new! This was very much the case whilst taking part in Infohackit Manchester. The hackathon style event, hosted by Made Agency, invited participating Designers and PHD students to create compelling infographics, all within a timed 12 hour period.

Soon after arriving (and fueling up on complimentary tea and and pastries) I was paired up with Students Ross Grant and Tabitha Pearman, and tasked with working alongside them to create an infographic based on their chosen topic.

As my design style is on the more playful side, we decided to target our infographic at Primary School (KS1) kids and teach them about how Seismic and Sonar equipment can be used to look beneath the ocean. This was something I knew very little about, so hearing how it’s done was fascinating.

Infohackit Manchester - How to look beneath the sea

After roughing out a layout on a flipchart, we all got stuck-in creating elements in Adobe Illustrator, whilst piecing it all together in a master document as we went along. The design process was fully collaborative from start to finish.

As the infographic was aimed at KS1 kids, we kept the message straightforward and the language simple, using analogies and exaggerated scale and proportions to help communicate the concepts.

Infohackit Manchester - How to look beneath the sea

We presented the finished results and received some good feedback from the judges and attendees, including a few requests to make it available as a printable teaching resource after the event. We’ve decided to do just that and have uploaded the high res version to Dropbox for anyone who wants to use this as a free educational resource.

The PDF can be downloaded using the link below. It’s fully scalable too making it suitable for showing on everything from a mobile device to a large scale poster.

Download Here

Big thanks to all the organisers and attendees for the awesome day! I had a blast and will be keeping an eye out for the next event!

Top 5 Pens for Illustrating

I’m a big believer in the best pens being whatever you have to hand, as when you have an idea any pen will do! I’ve seen some amazing pieces created with some of the cheapest biros, so not having “the right pens” shouldn’t be an excuse (unless you’re attempting to paint a mural with nothing but an old potato).

That being said, I get a lot of people asking me which pens I use for my sketchbook and hand drawn work – so I thought I’d share some of my favourites in a blog post.

I love a good geek-out over pens so if you’d like to share some of your own favourites, please do so in the comments section!

Kuretake Mangaka Flexible
Favourite for: Outlining

I really like the flexible tip on this one as it allows me to use different pressures to achive both thick and thin lines. The ink comes out smoothly and is smudge proof when dry, which makes them particularly nice for outlining.

Kuretake Zig Brushables
Favourite for: Shading and adding colour

I use a lot of different markers for colouring but I keep coming back to these for my sketchbook work. The markers have dual tips with a tint of the same colour at the opposite end, which makes them great for adding highlights and shading. They are a bit unforgiving when using for large blocks of colour (so much so that I usually switch to Promarkers for this) but the brush responds well to changes in speed and pressure when applying single strokes, so I find them really comfortable to sketch with.

Uni Pin Fine Line
Favourite for: Detailing

I find this pen really versatile and use with all kinds of papers and mediums, but mainly for detailing. The ink dries quickly can withstand a good amount of layering with watercolours or markers without bleeding. I can be a bit heavy handed sometimes but the nibs are durable and can withstand it well. They’re more expensive than other fine liners but I find they last longer so I don’t replace them as much.

POSCA Chisel Tip
Favourite for: Large scale and live drawing

The 8mm chisel tip is always my go-to for big work, particularly live drawing events. The ink comes out clean and opaque, dries fast and leaves a nice finish. The chunky barrel and sturdy flat tip makes it easier to keep steady when working at odd angles. The ink doesn’t come out so fast that it drips, but you can pump it to get that effect when you need it.

Koh-i-noor Toison D’oh Lead Holder
Favourite for: Sketching and Shading

Ok, so this is technically a pencil, but it would be a shame not to include it as I use this pencil during pretty much every stage of my process! From the initial sketch through to the final details. The lead is nice and durable so I’ve even used it for marking out scale when starting a mural. It comes with a handy sharpening tool at the end too!

Valentines Giveaway!

Owls are a traditional Valentine’s thing, aren’t they? Either way, I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day by giving away these hand-drawn owl illustrations to a pair of lucky winners over on my Instagram!

These one-off pieces have been hand-drawn with fine liners and metallic marker on art paper. The design has been loosely inspired by Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs, with a geometric twist. And if you place the two owls together, their wings form a chevron heart.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply head over to this post and tag one of your favourite humans in the comments. It could be your bestie, significant other, or just someone who you think would like the piece – leave them a nice message and let’s spread some love!

Sketchbook Stuff vol 7

I’ve been neglecting my sketchbooks a bit lately as my iPad and Apple Pencil combo has become more convenient for rough work.

My sketchbooks haven’t disappeared from my workflow though and I’m still using them for playing with traditional media and enjoying time away from my screens. 

Here are a few favourites since my last post.