Character-based Sketchbook & More Drawing

I wanted to be doing more drawing in my spare time so a few weeks ago I started a new sketchbook. I decided to give this sketchbook a character-based theme and this has really helped overcome the ‘what do I draw’ dilemma and focused my drawing. It has brought back my appetite for doodling in my spare time. Here are some pages…

character sketchbook 01character sketchbook 02character sketchbook 03

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Fabula & Many Ways to Tell a Story


My project, The Animators of Pre-Cinema & Their Demons, has been included as part of Fabula’s ‘Many Ways to Tell a Story’ exhibition at Hove Museum. Fabula is a collective of graduates from Brighton’s MA Sequential Design/Illustration and Design by Independent Project courses, who explore visual storytelling through collaborative projects, workshops and exhibitions. This exhibition, which runs until 9th May 2017, includes work in the form of picture books, films, textiles, puppets and a ‘story cabinet’ as its centre piece. I’m very happy to contribute my books, which tell the story of the development of moving images in victorian times, and praxinoscope optical toy to the display (images below).

You can read more about Fabula and the exhibition here –


Photographs from Clara Wei Fu

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The Unfinished Dream & Animated Projection for Performance

The Unfinished Dream is a collaborative project between myself and writer Sally-Shakti Willow. The project explores the idea of the book as an invisible object in the act of reading. We have used a series of exercise books as a starting point for interactions between fragmented cut and paste poetry and drawings that mutate from one version to the next.

We have also staged live performances of the work involving looping film projections with hand-drawn animations projected onto Sally-Shakti as she reads.

To find out more about The Unfinished Dream see Sally-Shakti’s post here

Cover v02

unfinished dream sequence

unfinished book images

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Drawing Stories & Flying with Books

My Drawing Stories Course is due to run again from next Thursday (21st April) at Evolution Arts, details here – Drawing Stories – and now I’m also set to run a one day picture book workshop in the summer there too – Make a Picture Book in a Day

These courses at Evolution Arts stem from the idea that there are lots of great writing and short story courses out there, but not many that use drawing as a means of storytelling.

They have been a great way for participants (and myself!) to explore how imaginative drawing and story tasks can help to shape picture book, storyboard and comic book projects and how experimenting with structure and formula can provide a springboard for creative ideas to take flight.

Flying with books sketchesEel Version Arts

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Outside Observations & Drawing Over Them

I was at a writing workshop in an art gallery and I was drawing more than writing. It felt good to be drawing outside of my familiar surroundings. It is something I would like to get into the habit of doing more often. I was drawing from life, making quick sketches of the people around me, mostly fellow participants in the writing workshop. But also I was drawing bits of the artwork – the bulbous abstract sculpture, the banknotes pegged to a washing line – and I was wondering if this was drawing from life too.

Later, I was drawing over the top of what I had drawn from observation. Doodling between the lines, extending the pencil marks, pushing the shapes in different directions, finding new interpretations. A kind of redrafting. It’s good when reality and fantasy can feed into each other.

Drawn to Pages

The exhibition-based writing workshops are called Drawn to the Page and I can recommend them – more info here

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A New Year & A Mystical Marmoset

With last year dominated by the completion of my MA Sequential Design/Illustration, this year my path will be split in three directions (but they will hopefully support each other). Firstly, I am writing a PhD proposal exploring the development of early animation. Secondly, I am developing the workshops and story-based drawing courses I’ve been running into content I can start teaching at degree level. Finally, I will continue working on exciting creative freelance commissions and collaborative projects.

I will also keep drawing for myself and generating images like the mystical marmoset, welcoming in 2016, below. Happy New Year.

Monkey Time small


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The Exhibition & The End of the MA

So I’ve completed my Sequential Design/Illustration MA. The exhibition, from all the feedback we’ve had, was a great success. It was great to see everyone’s work up on the walls and to feel like we’d worked together to make it happen. And I’m pretty pleased to have achieved a distinction at this level. But more importantly than that, I’ve opened up a research area that I plan on exploring much further. The development of the language of moving images, from looping animations in optical toys, narrated magic lantern shows and experiments with sequential photography; feels like it is worth more investigation.

My project explores the stories of Charles-Emile Reynaud, George Albert Smith and Eadweard Muybridge and looks to express how creation and destruction can go hand in hand.

Below are some images of my space in the exhibition: three phenakistiscope optical toys with looping animations (viewed in mirror through slots of disc when spun) that relate to each of the three graphic biographies on the shelf below them. Also below, the rough digital test versions of the looping animations.

(photography by Joe Lau)

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The Animators of Pre-Cinema & Their Demons

Just under a year ago I began my MA in Sequential Design/Illustration. And now my final submission has been completed and I am eagerly awaiting our exhibition, beginning next week.

Exhibition at The University of Brighton, Grand Parade Gallery

10am – 5pm Saturday 19th and Monday 21st – Friday 25th September 2015 

The course, and the project I proposed, have been quite an undertaking. There have been lots of late nights and stressful moments. But also, it has been immensely rewarding. Not just in the development of my project, but also in how involving the course has been and in how brilliant the people I’ve met on the course have been.

My project is described like this:

The Animators of Pre-Cinema & Their Demons: How cinema was created through destruction

Graphic biographies of three moving image pioneers representing three strands of animation development (chronophotography, optical toys, magic lanterns), their paths converging with the emergence of cinema. The three books will be supported by three looping animations.

It was a lot to get my teeth into with so much historical information to uncover and so much interesting imagery to explore. But I really benefited from lots of support from staff and peers and expertise from within the University and beyond it. And moving image history is a subject I plan on investigating further. Below are a few taster images from the chronophotography story.

JE 03JE 01Muybridge Bulb edit

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Out of the Woods & Onto the Walls

So a few years ago I attended a Myths & Fairy Tales course in creative writing (at Evolution Arts) with the idea of developing my storytelling skills. I enjoyed the writing but I also couldn’t resist responding to each of the sessions with some little sketches too. From the Red Riding Hood session I created a series of drawings that became the ‘Wolf Woods’ image below. The course tutor, Wendy, suggested they use the image in the course brochure and from there people have seen it and contacted me for canvas prints to put on their walls. It’s exciting that doodles on the margins of a notepad can go on such a journey!

Wolf WoodWolf on the Walls

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Rumpelstiltskin & Spinning Discs

For my Visual Narrative unit on my MA course I had to create a sequential response to the story of Rumpelstiltskin. To relate this to my main project (looking at early animation techniques) I decided to create three phenakistoscopes showing looping animation sequences based on imagery from the story. A phenakistoscope animation is displayed when the disc is spun facing a mirror and the viewer looks through the slots around the edge of the disc as they pass by the eye; creating a flickering image in the mirror. It was interesting to note that the flickering effect dulls and disrupts the colour sequences much more than the silhouettes. But still, I tried to be quite ambitious with the content of the 12 frame loops.

Below: I’ve included an image showing the development of one of the discs, scanned line tests from youtube and an image of the three final discs together.


three discs

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