Follow @tinyrexwrecks

Friday 17 November 2023

Cover reveal!

 This is the front cover of my next book, Watts and Whiskerton: Buried Bones and Troublesome Treasure.

This book will be a two colour chapter book for slightly older readers than my usual work. The plot is a mystery so it's a little more complex than a picture book but it's very highly illustrated so really ages 5 and up can enjoy it.

You can pre-order the book by clicking here. Pre-ordering is really helpful for authors because it lets people know you are interested in their books. So if you want a copy of any book don't be afraid to ask your local bookshop to order it in before it's released. You can also order online early.

I'll post a blog about how the cover art was made soon.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Book one done!

 This was me last week.

I finally finished the artwork for my next book, Watts and Whiskerton: Buried Bones and Troublesome Treasure. It is the first book in my young fiction series to be published by Piccadilly Press. You can read more about it by clicking here.

I'm really excited about. It's a highly illustrated mystery featuring Watts, the dog, and Pearl Whiskerton, the cat. Together they team up and solves a series of mysterious goings on at Whiskerton Manor.

Buried Bones and Troublesome Treasure will publish in July 2024.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Waterstones Best (wee) Books 2023

 I was really excited this week to find out that Wee Unicorn is on Waterstones Best Books 2023!

It's in amongst a lovely bunch of children's books, a great place to start your xmas list making. I've already spotted a few I'd like this year. There are lists of grown up books too but let's face it, the children's sections are the best ones. Thank you to all the lovely bookshops and booksellers who have been kind enough to recommend my book this year.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Wee Unicorn - Colour Palette

As someone who loves printmaking I have always been a fan of the limited colour palette. My previous books have all featured items in whatever colour they needed to be but Wee Unicorn is different. I knew I was making a fantastical world and decided that would be the perfect environment to use heightened colour.

In the months prior to making the book I'd been doing a lot of sketching using only two or three coloured pencils. I was used to working in a limited way, and I loved the challenges it created.

I had one other reason: I knew my book was going to feature a Loch Ness monster style creature. Now, I live in the heart of Loch Ness monster country and there's a very distinctive colour I associate with it and many of the books about it. You can see it right in the middle of this Emily Mackenzie poster. Four rows down, four across: she calls it 'Nessie'.  

I wanted to avoid this colour. I wanted to make something contemporary and visually different so I decided to get rid of the green. Of course, I can create a green with my blue and yellow but I wanted to use it sparingly and definitely not for Ness. I also started sketching ideas for the book over winter when many of the greens were gone. We have so many burnt oranges, deep burgundies and purples in our landscape that I wanted to celebrate. When I started sketching the book I used these four colours.  

A peek in the sketchbook

And I really liked them. When it came time to make the artwork for the book I did wonder if they'd be too overwhelming so I did a test page. This is a quick test on my Ipad to see how the blocks of colour might look.

Next I did a proper layout with the textures I was planning on using.


The larger image are the colours I ended up using. The smaller was an alternative I explored. As you can see they're incredibly similar but the turquoise was a little bluer, the pink a little brighter. And although these shades worked nicely, the secondary colours they created weren't as good.

These are my four final colours.

I used these four colours and layered them to make the secondary colours. If you imagine each colour is a layer of coloured glass it makes more sense to understand that when two of them overlap a new colour is created.  

You get even more variation when you start layering three or four of the colours together.  Here are a few different combinations from the book.

I like that the cover ended up being a nod to the colour palette.

I'm really pleased with the way the book turned out, and I really enjoyed working this way.  I'd love to do a book with only two colours someday.

Wee Unicorn is available to buy now. Click here for links.

Or you can look for it at your local library.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Wee Unicorn - Character Design

The weird thing about living in Scotland is that there are unicorns everywhere.  On flags, as statues, and on coats of arms, but after a while you stop noticing them.  They're our national animal.  Here are a few of the Inverness unicorns.

Before I wrote Wee Unicorn I hadn't given them a lot of thought.  And I'd unfairly been a little dismissive of them lately.  There seemed to be unicorns everywhere. 

Normally when I write a book I come up with the character first.  For Wee Unicorn I'd been discussing Scottish folklore ideas and creatures with my editor and so I didn't actually have a character yet.  The first challenge for me was to see if I could draw a unicorn (at all!) but, more importantly, one that felt like mine.

My immediate worry was that unicorns are horses, and wise illustrators know to avoid these because horses are hard to draw.  But all of my main characters are very young, they're the equivalent age of the child reading the book, so they're often small too.  Lesson one: small horses are easier to draw than tall ones.  Manes are harder to draw than you'd expect.  These are the first sketches I did. 

It's hard to describe what I'm looking for when I do these.  I'm obviously looking at things like face shape and proportion, trying to make the most appealing version I can, but I'm also looking for personality.  A drawing that is not just a drawing but that has a little bit of life in it: a character.  It's one of those know it when you see it sort of things.

You can see I'm experimenting with textures, the mane, the first inkling of a scarf, and I'm adding little bits of information that will eventually make up the story.  I don't really know anything about character design but I always draw mine in different moods and situations.  My character design always ends up being how I figure out what the book is about.

Here I've moved on to playing with colour and working out what a Wee Unicorn might actually do all day.  There were many things to consider.  Does my character use their hooves like hands?  Walk on hind legs?  I wanted her to be essentially horse-like, but that does limit what the character can do, especially one so small.  I kept hearing talk of unicorns being magic but it made no sense to me.  I didn't understand how they were magic, what their powers were or why.  Funnily enough, this became my way into the book.  I decided to write about a unicorn who was very small, loud and not magic, even though everyone expected her to be.  I wanted her everyday qualities, ones that were taken for granted, to be what was truly magical about her.  Once you know who your character is they are easier to write about.

Even though I'm experimenting with markings you can she's almost the Wee Unicorn from the book.

I knew my backgrounds were going to be very vibrant so I wasn't too worried about Wee Unicorn being pure white.  I thought she'd stand out nicely but I did want to give her a little something.  I thought a scarf would be a nice detail.  You get a lot of movement in a scarf if your character is running or the wind is blowing.  It's a nice pop of colour and it's cold in the highlands too.

I wanted to keep it traditional looking so I made my version of a Fair Isle knit.  I chose the crown as a motif because unicorns are seen with a crown around their necks on the coat of arms.  I wanted to add a little nod to that.

Wee Unicorn is published by Hachette Children's Books and is available to pre-order now.
Please support your local bookshop or an online indie if you can.

Here are a few places you can buy it CLICK HERE

Monday 19 December 2022

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Christmas Shop

 My shop will be open until December 6th.

Due to ongoing postal disruption, and the dreaded Christmas post office queue, I'm going to shut up shop early this year.  But until then I still have plenty of Xmas gifts.

Christmas Knits 

Like this pack of 4 christmas mice cards CLICK HERE

I've also added some etchings all of which can be found by CLICKING HERE

An original gouache painting 

I have blank notebooks to draw and write in.  Made from recycled materials.  

I have plenty of prints and things too.  Feel free to look around.  On December 6th my shop will shut and I'll eat biscuits.  Thank you for supporting small businesses.