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Summer Reading Challenge

Here at Nobrow & Flying Eye we’re so pleased to be part of this year’s Space Chase themed Summer Reading Challenge!

We’ve got a bunch of Flying Eye titles available at your local library ready to be read as part of the challenge, from Professor Astro Cat to The Secret of Black Rock.

If you’ve not heard of it before, the Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year during the summer holidays. You can sign up at your local library, then read six library books of your choice to complete it.

And best thing is, it’s completely free!

To see if your local library is taking part head over to the SRC website here

We’re also giving away some special books to those who take part, just take a photo of a Flying Eye book one of your family have read as part of the challenge in your local library, and tag @FlyingEyeBooks on Twitter or Instagram.

And whether you’re a librarian, a care-giver, or a parent looking for some extra activities for your kids this summer, we’ve got you covered. As part of the programme we’re giving away these free Space Chase themed work and colouring in sheets, which you can see below

(For the large versions just email peony@nobrow.net with Summer Reading Challenge in the title)

Happy reading space chasers!


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Talking Ancient Wonders with Avalon Nuovo

I’m sure we can all agree that the artwork for Ancient Wonders, our latest non-fiction Flying Eye title about the mysteries and marvels of the Ancient World, is absolutely stunning.

Fully illustrated throughout by Avalon Nuovo, you can feel the awe-inspiring nature of everything from the Pyramids of Giza to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon emanating through the pages. The depth and sense of scale that Avalon creates in her illustrations is incredibly impressive – bringing a monument to life that hasn’t actually been seen for thousands of years is no small feat! 

To celebrate the publication of Ancient Wonders we decided to dig a little bit deeper into Avalon’s working process, and she let us in on some of the secrets behind how she puts together her illustrations.

Avalon was also generous enough to send us some of her work-in-progress videos, which document her entire drawing process. See below for a time-lapse of one of her double page spreads coming to life!

So how do you begin your illustrations, do you use one program for every element? 

For the roughs, I always work in Photoshop on a big Cintiq monitor. The roughs of each page are really more about design than they are about drawing, so I’ve found it really important to do the roughs on a large screen, where I can view each spread at the same size as the printed book while I’m drawing. If I don’t, I often make something that looks nice at half-size, but when it’s enlarged to actual size, it might look totally awkward! 

I tend to make the rough illustrations really, really detailed— they’re in black and white, but I basically paint in all of the darks and lights and make it look pretty finished. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work for something that really only a handful of people will see, but it’s so helpful to to be super clear when showing the designer/editor what exactly what it’s going to look like, so that we can do all the decision-making before the final illustration. 

It’s also a lot more enjoyable for me to make all those decisions in the sketches, so that when I do the final illustrations, I get to sit back and let my mind wander and just enjoy the drawing (and some music/podcasts/netflix to keep me company!)

And what do you do when it’s time to move on from the roughs?

Once they’re all approved, I turn the photoshop files into flat JPEGs and send them to my iPad. I use Procreate on my iPad Pro to make the final illustrations, and as you can see from the time-lapse videos, I basically use the rough sketch as an underlay. 

I usually draw over all the linework first with the sketch at low opacity underneath. After that, I keep the sketch layer turned off while I fill in the color, but I continue to use it as reference for all the lighting and darks/lights that I’ve already figured out in the rough sketch. I send it back to my computer when I’m done, change the document from RGB color mode to CMYK (Procreate only support sRGB at the moment— hopefully that changes soon!), and it’s done! 

What makes you prefer using an iPad over a computer? 

I could definitely do the final artwork on my computer, but using my iPad really just became a habit because— aside from the fact that I LOVE the workflow in Procreate— I had to do a fair bit of traveling for Christmas holidays and other jobs while I was working on Ancient Wonders, and working on my iPad meant that I could be working on final illustrations pretty much anywhere. 

That’s made for some really nice memories associated with the book, personally— when I look at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon spread, I remember working on it while watching an (American) football game with my family in northern California while visiting for Christmas, and when I look at the Inspiration: Artemis spread, I remember making it while on a trip to Finland to meet my partner’s family for the first time!

And what about the analogue vs. digital debate, are you firmly a digital person?

I actually really love working with analogue media— I’m a really dedicated sketchbook keeper and when I’m making illustrations just for fun, I still find it most satisfying to use ink, gouache and colored pencils. 

I have two desks in my home studio— one with my monitor/computer, and one that has a tilting top for good old-fashioned drawing. I haven’t used it a lot these days though— ultimately I’ve realized that because my work is so detailed, it’s more realistic to work digitally for my professional work. 

As a result, I haven’t used traditional materials much lately— nowadays my drawing desk is where my partner sits so that we can keep each other company while we both work late into the night (or, now that my partner has finished their thesis, so that we can still hang out while I work and they play Skyrim!)


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Hilda: A Definitive Guide

Hands up who’s been watching Hilda the series?

Invented by Luke Pearson, beloved by us, Hilda follows the adventures of a fearless blue-haired girl as she travels from her home in a vast magical wilderness full of elves and giants, to a bustling city packed with new friends and mysterious creatures

And whether you’ve been following the Netflix series or not, you can follow along with Hilda’s adventures in our illustrated fiction series!

These tie-in titles expand on Hilda’s adventure’s in the show’s first series, giving you a new insight into both Hilda’s world and her own thoughts and feelings

This makes the books perfect for either a lover of the animated series, or someone only just setting out on their first Hilda adventure

There’s three titles in this series so far:

Each book is beautifully illustrated by Seaerra Miller, who captures all the citizens of Trollberg perfectly

And if you didn’t already know, Hilda actually first began as a graphic novel way back when we published Luke Pearson’s Hilda and the Troll! Have a look at a page below and you can see how far Luke Pearson’s drawing style has changed

Since Hilda and the Troll we’ve published four more graphic novels following her journey:

And in September 2019 we will be publishing Hilda and the Mountain King, the next instalment in the series that will follow on from The Stone Forest’s chilling cliffhanger ending…


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ELCAF: The Recap

Zines, comics, sun, beer – this years ELCAF had it all!

It’s coming up to a month since the end of East London’s greatest (at least in our opinion) annual comics and illustration fair, so we thought we’d do a little recap

A huge huge thank you to everyone who came and braved the weekend crowds for some illustrated goodness, the fest was one of the busiest it’s ever been

Whilst there’s almost too much to mention, we’ve picked out a couple of highlights to show you below…

The festival’s artist in residence, Jon McNaught, was selling some of his beautiful prints all weekend, whilst also signing copies of Kingdom. Jon also did a sold-out talk on the process of creating Kingdom, branching out to speak more generally about printmaking, poetry, and the use of comics to explore distant memories and the passing of time

Tom Haugomat’s stencil workshop created some amazing works of printed art – all with only the use of simple stamp ink pads! You could also find Tom at our own Nobrow stall, signing copies of the wonderful Through A Life

We also loved taking part in Carles Porta’s Silly Ballet workshop, creating dancing stop motion works of art

David Biskup was the winner of 2019’s ELCAF x WeTransfer Award, where he won funding to complete his book There’s Only One Place This Road Ever Ends Up. We can’t wait to see what David gets up to over the next year- make sure to come to ELCAF 2020 to see the results!

Here’s a few more photos of the fest to keep you busy, and we hope to see you all again next year!