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 [email protected] with Summer Reading Challenge in the title)
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!)
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
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:
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!
We have the pleasure to announce ourselves as a supporter of Pathways, an exciting new initiative for diverse, ambitious and talented artists who believe they can be the next generation of children’s illustrators.
Pathways is exclusively for those from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds and is open to both those with no formal illustration training, and well as to undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates.
The programme is a two year course, during which you will be taught by tutors from BA and MA illustration courses from ten affiliated Universities. A wide range of world-renowned illustrators, editors, art directors and designers will also be taking part as mentors – that includes some of us here at Nobrow & Flying Eye! Members from our very own editorial and marketing teams will be working with Pathways to help you get the very best start in the world of publishing.
Check out their website for further details, and don’t forget – applications close September 2nd!
It’s our favourite time of year again here at Nobrow and Flying Eye – ELCAF 2019 is upon us!
Celebrating the very best in illustration and comics the East London Comics & Arts Festival is now in its 8thyear, and this year’s programme is bursting with talks, workshops, screenings and masterclasses.
The festival takes place at the Round Chapel in London, and will be open 12 to 7pm Friday 7th, Saturday 8th, and Sunday 9thJune (head on over to the ELCAF website for further details).
Take a look at our pick below to see when and where you can catch the best of the weekend…
Francesca Sanna of The Journey fame joins Rui Tenreiro, Samandal, and Warren Bernard for this panel talk about what role comics and illustration have to play in the 21stcentury. Head over for what will no doubt be a fascinating discussion on how powerful a tool illustration truly can be.
Finally, an opportunity to achieve your lifelong dream of taking part in a cardboard paper puppet ballet! Illustrator, animator and graphic designer Carles Porta will be heading this workshop, teaching you how to bring your dancer to life through stop motion animation.
Francesca Sanna will take you behind the scenes of her latest picture book Me and My Fear, which is a heart-warming tale about sharing and overcoming the things that scare you the most. As well as talking about her illustrative process Francesca will be talking about the months that she spent working with a research group from Birkbeck University, and how their work influenced both the story and design of the book.
Come along to hear some insights into AJ Dungo’s In Waves, his debut graphic novel that covers the topics of love, loss, and the solace of surfing. As well as covering the book’s life from concept to creation, AJ will also be talking about the role of comics have to play in escapism.
ELCAF 2019’s artist-in-residence Jon McNaught joins us for this very special talk, which has Jon talking in depth about Kingdom, his latest comic. An illustrator with an approach and aesthetic like no other, Jon will also be talking about printmaking, poetry, and the use of comics to explore distance memories and the passing of time.
All talks come free with an ELCAF all access ticket
Having spent quite some time building (and writing about) my treasured collection of Nobrow and Flying Eye Books titles, choosing my favourite is a very hard decision indeed. However, if there was a gun to my head (an unlikely scenario, I know, but it is always good to be prepared) then Simona Ciraolo’s debut Flying Eye Book Hug Me would have to be my top choice.
Hug Me brings together an unbeatable combination of quirk, humour and heart to tell a story of Felipe, a cactus in search of friendship and, of course, hugs. This adorable starting point alone makes Hug Me a strong contender for the top spot and add in the book’s warm, rustic aesthetic, surprising and hilarious plot twists and heartwarming happy ending and you have, in my opinion, the perfect picture book.
So we have established I am a fan of Simona’s debut title (I think that is pretty clear, right?) and so it will come as no surprise that when her second Flying Eye Book was released, I was excited to say the least. At this time, knowing there were people like me eagerly awaiting her next title, Simona herself was feeling the pressure.
“You can’t help but fear that there’s perhaps a higher expectation towards your second book: someone who liked the first might draw comparisons between the two and, well, find it disappointing! But really what made working on the first one a lot less daunting was that things moved so quickly I hardly had a chance to dwell over it.”
– Simona Ciraolo
Whatever Happened to My Sister?, Simona’s second title, looks at a girl’s bemusement at seeing her older sister growing up and is not Hug Me 2 in any way, shape or form. The biggest changes between the two books is aesthetic. Simona’s second book relies more heavily on smoother, watery textures as well as a moodier colour palette to capture the feelings of change and confusion in the air. This noticeable change could be seen as an obvious way of avoiding comparison but it was in fact purely down to the change in subject matter as Whatever Happened to my Sister? was actually in development before Hug Me was created.
Although, I don’t believe in the “a bad sequel can ruin the original” train of thought, I was a little apprehensive as to how Simona could ever top Hug Me. However, thanks to Simona retaining her clever wit and illustrative charm, I was just as impressed with Simona’s second offering. And after much examination, I found the two titles not to be so different after all. Simona may have jumped from succulents to sisters with her main characters but her core themes moving from making friends to drifting apart from family is a much less dramatic leap. In this way, Whatever Happened to my Sister? is Hug Me’s spiritual successor.
And Simona’s next Flying Eye Book takes another natural step to look at ageing and its effect on relationships. The Lines on Nana’s Face sees signs of old age turn into wrinkles of wonder as a little girl learns about the important moments in her grandma’s life. As ever the concept in this new title is prominent. Simona’s illustrative talent is immense – her spontaneous, energetic use of line and texture is almost reminiscent of Quentin Blake and her use of calm colour is warm and uplifting – she believes having a story you need to tell, or a powerful idea, is most important of all.
“Being a competent artist is a great help to the extent that it makes it easier to create a readable narrative and an object that’s pleasant to look at, but should not in itself be the most important aspect of creating a book. That being said, I do believe there’s an intrinsic value in the beauty of pictures and their striking ability to reach places that are difficult to get to with words alone.”
– Simona Ciraolo
As for what could be next for Simona, the possibilities seem endless. A cacti-led take catching up with a fully grown Felipe (a part of me will always secretly be hoping for this) or something entirely new and different? With each title added to the Ciraolo library, I am more and more confident the next will be a success. Each title seems just as witty, intelligent, emotive and beautiful as the last and I can’t wait to watch as Simona’s glittering career unfolds – a picture book legend in the making I am sure.
This is a guest post from Greg McIndoe who blogs at Headless Greg.