My Grandma – Jacqui Taub, 2014

I love pizza, hot or cold,
Grandma loves it – she is old -
Although it sticks between each gum
She still thinks eating Pizza’s fun.
She gets into a dreadful mess,
when it dribbles down her dress -
But Grandma only gives a grin
And then she puts her teeth back in!

The Right Way to Hire an Illustrator


Do you need illustration for your business and simply don’t know where to start? Do you know who the right illustrator is for you? This post will hopefully demystify the process.

What do you want your artwork to achieve?
Getting this absolutely clear is the crucial first step to hiring an illustrator. Knowing this will impact on how you go about hiring, who you hire and what your budget should be. Is it to attract new clients to your business? Is it to boost sales? Or is it for your child’s 5th birthday party?
What is the value of the artwork to you?
Every piece of art has its own value. How much will the artwork impact on your goals? How important is the quality of the illustration? How much do you need your artist to be available to discuss design at length? How much time, effort and money do you think is worth investing in this project? How will this artwork impact you or your business?
How much are you prepared to spend?
Once you know the value of the artwork to you or your business, you should have a rough idea as to what you would be prepared to spend. A professional illustrator should also be able to discuss rates openly with you. Your budget will impact on the experience and quality of the illustrator you hire. Usually in the art business, an illustrator charging extremely low prices is a sign that he is not professional and has little or no experience.
Example 1: A logo or corporate mascot design will affect how your potential clients perceive your brand. Therefore it makes sense to view the budget for your artwork as part of the initial setup costs of your business. One would not start a business without the right equipment and one should not start a business without quality branding. It would be a wise choice to hire an experienced illustrator who will provide a professional service rather than look for a good bargain.
Example 2: A picture for a children’s party would not require a professional illustrator. Therefore hiring someone with less experience would probably better suit your budget.
What style do you need?
Deciding what style you need is important for two reasons:
1. More often than not, the style of your illustration will impact on whether or not you will appeal to your specific market audience.

Example: If you are marketing a product for children between the ages of 2 and 6, a clear, simple illustration with bright saturated colours will work best. On the other hand, if you are marketing to teenagers, bright colours and an over simplified image might be perceived as babyish and therefore off putting.

2. Typically good illustrators specialize in one style and attempt to master that style. Although there are exceptions to this rule, the generalist illustrator often doesn’t reach a level of excellence in any style because he is trying to be generic. Therefore choosing a style will also direct you to your choice of illustrator.

Find an illustrator
Once you are clear what you want the artwork to achieve, have a rough budget, and have an idea of which style would meet your needs, you are ready to look for an illustrator.

In conclusion

Really there are many more points to discuss, but the post would be really long. Let me know in the comments or the contact form if this post is useful to you, and if I should elaborate more. Also let me know if you have specific questions. If I can, I would be more than happy to answer them for you.

Doodle bug

How to design a web banner effectively

Wave header

I find that designing web page banners has an inbuilt challenge to it. The shape is too narrow and awkward. Because of the narrowness, any design elements such as logos or other graphics have to be scaled down and tend to look lost. The space doesn’t tie the images together and as a result the banner tends to look dis-unified and jumbled.

I think the solution lies in the following idea. When we go to the theatre to watch a play, the stage represents the world. All the action happens on the stage. The same is true of a drawing. All the graphic elements need to exist in a context not unlike a stage. This tells the viewer where to look and what to look at. The picture becomes logical and easy to read. Also the graphic elements don’t look lost, but have a sense of belonging. This might sound a little abstract at the moment, but keep reading and you will see what I mean with the example below.


In the surfer banner I have basically created two separate stages. The one stage presents the text and the other presents the surfer illustration. The way I achieved that is by the use of the wave shape. The wave curls around the surfer essentially framing the space. The surfer fits comfortably in the space. The frame tells the viewer where to look. This is similar to the frame of a painting.
The wave then curls around the space where the text is. This also creates a frame around that space, making the text feel like it belongs.
I think the overall effect is a unified image witch is clear and logical. This makes it enjoyable to look at.

The great thing about this technique is it can be used in any image. The banner I am presenting here is primarily made up of flat shapes. This doesn’t mean the technique can only work with flat shapes. It will work in a realistic painting too. A tree can be used to frame a character. A door frame makes a great compositional frame. Anything can be used as long as it frames a focal part of your image.

How do you make your compositions clear and logical? Do you have your own techniques? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Doodle bug

Raging Bull Corporate Mascot

raging bull

Here is a corporate mascot design. I really had fun with it. I was really trying to portray raw attitude in this design. To achieve that I chose angry red as the dominant colour. I also added a seething red glow. The silhouette of the mascot has a strong diagonal line to portray a dynamic unstable feeling. Breaking the diagonal are the sharp horns.

For the text, I wanted the word ‘Raging’ to really have that out of control feeling. The font hit the spot with its irregular shapes. I used the same red dominant colour and used a hot orange highlight colour. I wanted the word ‘Bull’ to not have the same out of control feeling as ‘Raging’. Instead I used a bold strong font.


Here are some of the separate elements. The illustration was inked on paper with a brush. This is my preferred method for inking as I find the brush to be more organic than inking digitally. That was scanned and brought into photoshop. I then coloured it initially with the dominant red colour.

raging bullcraging bulb

I then painted on a different layer. During the painting phase, I used light and shade to give the illustration a sense of form, so as not to leave it looking flat. Something was missing at this stage. I realized that a black background would tie the illustration together.


raging bulla

If you have any comments or ideas for the illustration, let me know in the comments.

Candle Quest


Candle Quest slip cover v1-0

I’m really excited to announce that my first board game is now available to buy on line. If you are interested in the game, here is the link:


Here is the illustration for the box cover. I’m sharing a bit of the behind the scenes process.

Stage 1


A good painting starts with a strong drawing. At this stage I try to establish a great line drawing. This means a good silhouette. I pay attention to details like the eyes, as the eyes express the whole personality of the character. At this stage I also spend time establishing the light and shade of the drawing.

Stage 2


At this stage I work out the general colour of the painting. I’m not trying to do too much modelling at this stage, but glazing over the pencil drawing to establish the general colours.

Stage 3


I’m now painting over the colours I have established in stage 2. I am modeling the forms using light and shade. This stage is the most fun and time consuming part.

Stage 4


I keep modeling the forms, starting with the central candle stickm then to the arms, including all of the detail until the painting is finished.

Again here is the link for those of you who are interested in buying the game:


Warm up doodle

warm up doodleBefore starting to ink any project, I always start off with a warm up sketch. This improves the quality of the line work as I loosten up and let everything just flow. Occasionally I really like the warm up drawing and end up colouring it just for fun.

Here is one of my warm up inks. I’ve broken up the image to show how I created it. If you like it let me know in the comments.


Here is the ink. I created the image by first drawing the image on paper, and then inking it with a brush. I then scanned it and brought it into photoshop.

- colour

Once in photoshop, I choose a dominant colour. When creating a doodle for fun, I simply use it as a background colour. Here I have chosen violet. The dominant colour helps me to create colour harmony. (More on this in a later post.) One of the ways it helps for colour harmony is I don’t paint at 100% opacity. As a result the background colour shows through and mixes into all of the other colours.

- textureNext stage, I paint in the colour. I set the ink layer to multiply on the blending modes on the layers pallette. This makes the white transparent while the black of the ink stays opaque. This allows me to paint the colours on a layer underneath the ink layer.

warm up doodle

Finally I added the texture to the shirt.

Creation of a mascot part 3


Creation of a mascot part 3

This is the final stage and of course the fun part. Here I set up the drawing in 4 layers. The top layer is the ink layer. The bottom layer is my pencil drawing. Inbetween these I create a flat colour layer. What this means is, I colour the image in using flat colour. I make sure that the layer blending mode is set to multiply mode. What this does is it makes the layer transparent allowing the pencil drawing to show through the
colour layer. The advantage of this is that I can still see my tonal values.  In the case of this illustration, I have painted this layer red.
I then create another layer on top of this layer. This new layer’s blending mode is set to ‘normal’. What this means is this layer is completely opaque. I can paint over the previous layers and they won’t show through. I paint on this layer in the same way I would paint with acrylic paints. I paint highlights and shadows.
Hopefully I will be able to elaborate on this process in future posts.

The creation of a mascot part 2.

PrintHere is the image after the inking stage. I sometimes ink using a brush and ink, but in this image I chose to ink it in illustrator. The reason for this is the digital ink is much more slick than inking on paper with a brush. For a mascot the slick lines work better.

As you can see in this image I have inked over the pencil drawing, and I have kept the pencil drawing intact (on a different layer). The reason for this is that I paint the colour over the pencil layer using a (digital) glaze technique. That way I the pencil drawing shows through the paint while I am working, so I can still see the light and shade created by the pencil drawing. This saves me hours of time, as I am not painting on a white canvas. My tones have already been worked out in the pencil stage. I simply have to focus on colour.

I’ll post the final coloured image next.

The creation of a mascot.



This is a character drawing of a pomegranate, which was designed to be used as a mascot.

My illustration process begins with some loose sketches. After a refining process, I end up with a final sketch. I then take the sketch and make a tonal drawing of it. The above drawing is a tonal drawing. I have basically started with a line drawing. I then decide where the light source is coming from. In this drawing it is coming from the top right. I then draw in all the shadow areas. What I end up with is a black and white version of what the final illustration will look like.

I’ll show the next stage of this illustration in the next post.

The reason I always do this before moving on to the painting or inking stage is it saves me huge amounts of time during the colouring stage. I already know where my highlights will be and where my shadows will be, I know how light and how dark to make it. Also I was able to concentrate on the tone without being distracted by colour.