Friday 21 December 2012

Caran D'Ache product review

Last week I was lucky enough to receive these two gorgeous sets of Caran D'Ache artist's materials through my letter box.  

So, excitedly, I spent a day or two having a play with them and trying out various mark making techniques.  It's always nice for me to be able to spend some time really indulging in the physical process of drawing - sure I draw a lot on my graphic's tablet, it can be easy to get caught up in the convenience of it; but it's never quite the same as the 'realness' of using materials like the these (and the joy of being away from the loud hum of my laptop!). 

Okay first up is the pack of 'Neocolor I' pastels. Here's an illustrated version of my first impressions when using them (if you can't read my writing, basically it says very nice texture/colours and brings out that experimental inner child). As you can see, I tried out a few different mark making techniques, in particular how the colours work together (layered etc) and using more precise marks.

I think these are fab, I really do. They made me feel very free and experimental with my work - which is something that's easily lost when working on professional projects.  I think these are great for idea generation, colour mapping and character sketching (although keep a sharpener on hand for tiny lines, they blunt quite quickly).

Now, let's talk Prismalo watercolour pencils.
I haven't used watercolour pencils in a long while, I had a stint at uni of trying them out but often felt that I was "using them the wrong way". To be honest though, I don't think that there is a wrong way to use any art materials, but I do think that these need a certain amount of experimentation before you find the way that works best for you. I haven't, however, tried these Caran D'Ache Prismalo pencils before - let's try 'em.

As with the pastels I tried out various techniques (some of which are noted in a wee leaflet in the tin): wet brush on sketch, pencil on wet paper etc.  You can use these to produce a range of styles -  a combination of pencil texture and paint works well for characters, more painterly as watercolours and the pencil line on wet paper gives a great effect for more naive and bold styles.

The range of colours here is ace, and obviously you can mix them up to your heart's content. I did particularly like that the watercolour effect brought a sense of life and movement to the characters but I think these work very well for still objects, patterns and background illustration too.

I do think that with these I need a little more time to work out how they would work best with my style of illustration as I don't usually use watercolours. As I said, there's so many options for technique here - I'm looking forward to finding the best way to integrate it. At the moment I've been using these for some storyboarding for a new book I'm illustrating and it's working well!

These are very pretty and great quality. Can't wait to play with them more!
Let me know what you think! Fancy trying them for yourself?

Note: I received these packs as samples for review from Caran D'Ache. I wasn't paid to write this (hey, you know I've got integrity!) and this is my honest opinion.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Ten Paces and Draw holiday gift guide

Looking for some last minute illustrated gifts? Well I've made a little gift guide for Ten Paces and Draw with some great products by the likes of Alice Potter, Poketo, Kate Slater and Karolin Schnoor. See the post here.

  1. Vintage BOAC airline fan, £15 + S/H, Retropolitan
  2. Blue single pattern greetings card, £2.50 + S/H, Alice Potter
  3. Sweater screenprint, $25 + S/H, Karolin Schnoor
  4. Berries on feet earrings, £35 + S/H, Hirn & Hers
  5. Green Woodpecker Brooch, £24 + S/H, Kate Slater
  6. Pegasus Locket, £19 + S/H, Bonbi Forest
  7. Fallen Flowers phone case, £25 + S/H, Ohh Deer
  8. Bird in Tree Stacking Cups Set, $54 + S/H, Poketo
  9. Sylvester and the New Year by Emmeline Pidgen, (Hardback) £9.99, Amazon
  10. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, £16, Amazon
  11. Anke Weckmann Darjeeling Travel Notebook, $68 + S/H, Monoblock

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Emmeline's Christmas Giveaway

So it's that time of year again.
I've been feeling pretty casual about it all so far, no present panics for me - but if you're hunting for something special for someone, or you fancy an early treat yourself - then you're in luck.

I'm giving away one very lovely signed canvas print of my 'Snow' illustration (along with a few postcards) and a runner's up prize of a pretty sticker set (and again, yes, some postcards!).

It's just a simple entry draw, so you might as well. You can even get one free entry if you do a festive dance (I trust that you guys wouldn't cheat!). 
The Giveaway will only run until this Sunday (16th) evening as I'll need to get everything sent out stat if anyone wants to give these as a Christmas presents - so they'll be posted first class on Monday!

Note: The giveaway is now over! We had nearly 200 entries but the lucky Louise W and Sophie J were the winners!

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Lumberjacks and Lumberjills

I'm a bit late at showing you this, but I've been so excited about it for months now!  So here's the big reveal - my illustration for Ammo magazine's gorgeous special edition 'The Lumberjack's illustrated guide to wood cutting'.

The magazine's fantastic.  Full to the brim with really talented illustrators showing their wares.  It's especially exciting with this issue as it's twice the size than normal, has a free letterpress print by Nick Deakin/Blush Publishing and the illustrators have brought a ton of unusual interpretations of the theme into it.

I had been considering illustrating some of the WWII Lumberjills (Women's Timber Corps, an offshoot of the Women's Land Army) for a fair while before I was invited to take part in this issue.  They really sparked my interest as they played a truly fundamental role in history, but are often overlooked.  Hell, I searched google and couldn't find a single illustration celebrating them and the work they did.  So it was great that they could fit in so nicely with the given theme for this Ammo issue, but be a bit unusual at the same time.

I'd also just taken a trip to Scotland and in fact very nearby to some of the locations that the Lumberjills worked. I felt oh-so-inspired by the stunning mountainous scenery and forests (and yes, I climbed the Ben Nevis mountain!).  I'm sure you can feel that influence in the illustration.

I'm sure you're all aware that I enjoy drawing ladies, and these two in particular are some of my favourites.  They just look so damn cool (well, and proud, tough, patriotic and stylish in their work uniforms!). Don't you just want to be friends with them?! I tried to keep the costuming as close to the actual uniforms as possible, it was a nice change for me to be able to work from some solid historical reference.

Here's a few of my favourites from the issue by some very talented folks ( TL - BR:  Katherine Tromans, James Shedden, Ed J Brown, James Burlinson) -

You can get yourself a copy of the magazine here!
Definitely go and have a lunchtime read about the Lumberjills too, it's really interesting.

Speak soon, Emmeline.

The Enchanted Forest exhibition & London adventure

Hi everyone,

As you know I've been a very busy bee lately, flying from one end of the country to the other to set up and enjoy the Enchanted Forest exhibition at Foyles.
Sadly, the exhibition is all done and dusted now (it ran from 29th Novemeber - 7th December) but boy did we get some good feedback on it! The show was an absolute joy to be involved in and I loved getting the chance to work with and meet such a lovely bunch of talented illustrators.

I'm going to keep this brief, and you can see many more pictures from the exhibition and event over at the photo album on my facebook page.

The Gallery space up on the third floor of Foyles (Charing Cross Road) is gorgeous. Nice and airy, with bright lighting on the walls and pretty wooden beams.  We ordered some self-adhesive wall decals to add a bit of life to the show too, keeps the visual rhythm flowing and makes it a little more interesting for the kids!

The private view went fantastically, we had a brilliant turn out (and yes, there was a lot of wine flowing). I certainly didn't get enough time to meet everyone, which was a shame, but it was a great atmosphere to soak in.  If you were there but didn't get a chance to say hi, drop me a line! It'd be great to hear what you thought of the show.

There's been a lot of really great press for the exhibition (thanks to all of you!) and it was very exciting that we all got interviewed by the BBC for the World Service radio station whilst setting up the show.  I have to say that was a very surreal day! I also popped down to the lovely Watermark Books shop in Kings Cross station to sign some copies of Sylvester and the New Year and saw the book on the front row in Selfridges, exciting!

I've been trying to wind myself down after all the excitement of the show and get back into my normal work and Christmas preparations (I've been flat out ill since the show, but I suspect that might be from long days walking the streets and sights of London and over-use of the Underground in Winter).  It's been a great adventure, and definitely good for me to break out of my studio into the public realm for a while.

Do comment your reviews of the show, as I said it would be great to hear what everyone thought of it.  Here's hoping I'll be involved in more exhibitions like this in the new year! Speak soon!

Monday 26 November 2012

Lovely New Home

The 'Lovely New Home' cards I designed for Ohh Deer arrived! I'm very happy with them. They're available to buy over at

Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Wren & The Bear process

Recently I've been working on a brand new illustration for the Enchanted Forest exhibition (for the 200 years of Grimm's fairytales celebration).

I've been taking a couple of snapshots as I've gone along to show my progress. I don't often do this, but I think it's nice for people to get a glimpse into how I work!

As usual I started building the illustration using pencil sketches with ink brush lines on top.  I always try to keep the lines loose and not worry about making mistakes.  I rarely plan my drawings precisely, it's a bit cliché but I find there's a beauty in mistakes and it can often inspire a new idea.  Aesthetically it gives it a more natural feel and is generally more fun (for me) to do.

After I've scanned in a few samples of the rough inkwork, I tend to delve into working out the basic composition and colours through digital means (often I do this before the linework, but I couldn't resist drawing some inky bears and wolves that afternoon).  This is always really rough, and again I don't worry about being precise (er, as you can see!).  I had the vision in my head of the composition and jumped straight to these colours as a basis.  The story the illustration is based on is basically about a battle between the four legged creatures and the winged ones - so obviously that element affected the composition and positioning of the animals - but I wanted to keep the illustration working effectively as a standalone piece for anyone who hasn't read the tale as well.

From now on the process is more or less a case of refining lines, trying out different colour levels and building up textures.  I'm never too precious over an element in the illustration, even if I've spent a long time drawing it - if it doesn't work I won't be afraid to completely change it, or scrap it all together.  Here you can see textural elements coming in, most of these are brush marks in gouache paint that I've scanned and subtly layered. It just brings more depth and a feeling of 'the handmade' that I love to work with in my more digital based illustrations.

Well, here's the final illustration! As you can see I completely changed the style of the wolf and the owl.  It usually takes me posting the illustration on facebook to notice tiny things I don't like - so I quickly delete the post and change it.  I suppose making it public forces me to draw an objective eye over the work and scrutinise it down to the tiny details - I'm not sure exactly why I can't do this beforehand, it would save me a lot of panicky post deleting! 

I knocked back a lot of the line work to make the whole image more cohesive, added flecks of light/dust/insects to give a bit more depth and a more 'magical' atmosphere.  Colourwise I felt the white wolf worked a lot better tonally with the highlights of the white birds.  If you squint your eyes at the before and after you can see the tonal difference between the four legged animals and the winged animals is much more even afterwards. I also made a big change with the owl, again due to colour tones.  The rich, darkness of the tawny owl just wasn't working with the other birds, so the lighter coloured barn owl worked better in this respect.  

There's a lot of variety in line and texturing techniques in this illustration, but I feel it works well - I did have to force myself to stop working on it at one point though! It takes a lot for an illustration to ever feel completely finished.

You can see above that I also tried playing around with hand-drawn text (of the title of the Grimm's tale this illustration is based on).  I seriously have a thing for integrating white, hand rendered typography in illustrations - I'd love this to be some sort of wraparound book cover or poster! 

Anyway, I hope that was insightful! Let me know your thoughts or questions in a comment below...and do make sure you come and see this in real life at the Enchanted Forest Exhibition in London (Foyles bookshop, Charring Cross) from 29th November - 7th December.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Sylvester and the New Year in The Telegraph

You may have seen me post about this already (well, it is REALLY exciting) but it's certainly worth me sharing here.  Last Saturday my new book 'Sylvester and the New Year' was featured in The Telegraph's Winter Essentials supplement! Wowie!

It's really fantastic that Sylvester's receiving so much recognition - it's a great confidence boost for me as I work on my other projects.
SO! Keep an eye out for it! I'm not just saying it because I'm blatantly biased, but I really do think this book would make a good Christmas present.  It's snowy, magical, New Year's related and the hardback edition has gorgeous silver foil on the dustjacket (it looks really pretty!).

A big hip hip horray for everyone involved in making this book so special :-)

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Lovely new home card

Good news! A pretty new card design I finished a few weeks ago has been unveiled on the Ohh Deer website!
So if you know anyone re-nesting in a new place, why not wish them well with this : )

Grab one here!

Monday 5 November 2012

BIG news!

Hi everyone!

In case you haven't already heard, my new children's book 'Sylvester and the New Year' is officially out TODAY! 
So far I've worked harder on this book than anything I've else I've done in my career, and so it being out in the open for scrutiny and/or praise is nervewracking to say the least.  But let's hope it's all on the positive side!

It's been fantastic working with Far Far Away Books on this project (and the other two books I'm currently working with them on).  They've been really supportive and driven in developing the books into being the best that they can be, and with this one in particular we're all hoping it'll be one of those annual traditions that the family brings the book out each New Year's eve.
We've had some really great feedback from bookbuyers so far and apparently they had to ship copies out in advance because of the demand!

It's a really magical story and was a joy to illustrate.  I started working on it in January of this year, which seems like the distant past now!  It really was a labour of love, and I poured everything into it.  
Sadly, whilst I was working on the book earlier this year my Grandad passed away, which was truly heartbreaking.  He was always so proud of me and my work, encouraging my interest in art and keeping all of my childhood drawings (even the really bad ones).  Happily though, the last time I saw him I was able to let him know that I was dedicating this book to him and my Granny - I know he would be so proud to see it finished.
I feel like working on this book has really developed my illustration practice, in terms of both style and process.  Of course 'style' is a ongoing thing and I don't believe it's ever quite set (or should be) but I've stepped up another rung in the ladder of feeling more relaxed and confident in the work I'm doing. 

Illustrating children's books is a gruelling (but delightful!) learning curve.  At times it's absolutely daunting with the sheer amount of work that goes into it, but you pick up so many skills along the way and learn so much about the way you work best.  At one point during this project I was illustrating two other books at the same time! Trial by fire I'll tell you. But! As I said, I think I'm a better illustrator for it - I've been forced to think and work faster in terms of visual problem solving, develop new ways of working and make and accept harsh edits for the greater good.

I'll let you know a little further on where you can get your hands on a copy, and if you do, especially if you have kids, let me know what you/they think. I know my younger self would've enjoyed this book (I bring her out every time I'm illustrating for children, she's a real magical adventure fan!) - it'd be great to hear some feedback from little'uns. 

The book will be available to buy in bookshops (I'll have a full stocklist soon), online and at the Enchanted Forest exhibition I'm in at Foyles (Charing Cross, London) from 29th Nov - 7th Dec this year.

For now you can grab an online copy at places like -

Sainsbury's Entertainment

(Note, these links are all to the hardback editions because the silverfoil on the dustjacket is goooorgeous.  But you can also get cheaper paperback editions!) 

There's also now a Goodreads page for the book, so if you have yourself a shelf you can add it to your 'to-read' section if you like!

If you have any questions about the book or my processes in it post me a comment below! I'm happy to answer anything about it.

I hope you're having a good day! Speak soon, 


Tuesday 30 October 2012

Cinderella & Grimm's Fairytale exhibition

I hope you're cosy and cheery despite the grumpy weather.

I've been a little bad at updating my blog recently.  I've been trying to spend some time away from screens, it's not exactly easy though when your job often revolves around them, but I've attempted to swap a lot of digital work for some good old fashioned paints - as you'll see below!

Now, if you haven't heard, at the end of November (29th - 7th December) I'm going to be involved in an exhibition celebrating 200 years of Grimm's Fairytales at Foyles bookshop in London.  
There are only a few of us involved, and I must say there's some increeeeedibly talented ladies taking part - so definitely scribble that on your calendar and come on down!

There'll be some spreads from my new book Sylvester and the New Year up there too (well, it's a fairytale!) aaand hopefully you'll be able to snag a copy! 

Here's a sneaky peek at one of the illustration's I've recently finished for the exhibition - the lovely Cinderella.  It might be a little different from the version we're all so used to - the big blue dress, the pumpkin carriage - but take some time to go and read the Grimm's version!

Let me know what you think of it, and if you'll be attending the exhibition! It'd be great to see you there!

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Books, books, books!

Well, this is a little overdue since they arrived a few weeks ago...but...

 Check out the silverfoil on the hardback edition! Pretty snazzy hey?

Okay, I know it says 'Out Nov 12th' on that picture but that's a blatant lie - it's actually out on November the 5th 2012 and I just got a little confused.  So write it in your diaries - November 5th is the official release of Sylvester and the New Year! Whoopie!

You'll also be able to see some of the spreads in an upcoming exhibition at Foyles London at the end of November - more details very soon.

I hope you're all doing well.  Keep in touch! Let me know what you think of the book.

Emmeline xx

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Jackie Magpie interview

Check out the front page of Jackie Magpie today! There's a fab interview with little me all about my illustration work, my articles for Ten Paces and Draw, my sketchbooks and some advice for illustrators!  Have a read, send it around and leave a comment! Hope you enjoy it : )

p.s. I'm off on holiday very soon to sunny, sunny Crete. So, yes, that does mean a break from the internet (which is quite a good thing I think) - so I'll speak to you again when I get home!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Lovely ladies

I’ve been sketching lovely ladies today! Just quick, colourful, digital sketches. What do you think of them? Who’s your favourite?!

Monday 17 September 2012

Wild, Wild West.

How good is this Cowgirl themed scrap of fabric I bought from a little shop recently? Very cool I say - I just have to think about what on earth I can make with it! Any suggestions anyone?

Luckily this scrap came with the details on the white border, so I looked 'em up and found out it's by Alexander Henry's 'From the hip' collection.  So if any of you want some cowgirl fabric for yourselves, that's the place to go.

The Wild West theme has been running feverishly through my head recently.  Last week I finally got around to watching 'True Grit' (the 2010 Coen Brother's version) and I loved it.  I felt compelled to create an illustration inspired by it, and decided an ace snapshot of the spirited character Mattie Ross racing through the trees would work well - maybe one day I'll attempt to draw Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, but until then I'll let their gruff, highly moustached faces be. It's not finished yet but you can see some process shots and sneak peeks below. I have to say, I'm more than a little bit proud of that horse!  They're certainly not the easiest things to draw, but I'm getting there.

There's an awful lot of background rendering to do and I'm playing with at least twelve million different composition ideas - but Mattie and her horse are more or less done now! Although saying that there will probably be some more tweaking later (there always is!).  I'll make sure I give you an update when it's done.  

Until then, stay in touch lovelies, tell me what you think!

Thursday 13 September 2012


Hurray! Today is Roald Dahl day!

 I'm sure most of us grew up reading his stories and jumping into the worlds he created (with a bit of help from Quentin Blake!), it's good to celebrate that childhood sense of magic and adventure, and remember to hold on to it through the mundane patches of grown-up life!

I wanted to share this illustration I did last year for Roald Dahl day.  It was inspired by his quote 'Those who don't believe in magic will never find it' - which I love. 

So today make some time to read magical stories, or go exploring! Have an adventure and forget about work/money/chores for a while.  Just go out and look at things as if you'd never seen them before.  I'll be out there! Well, after a bit of drawing... :-)

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Whilst I'm here

It was one of those nights last night.  One of those self-doubt-fuelled inspiration deserts.  We all get them from time to time.  In these circumstances the best plan, I find, is to just grab a sketchbook and draw until something you feel good about drops onto the page.  
So I feverishly grasped my brush pen in my clammy, little hand and let the drawings fly.
Eventually this character popped up, and the snippet of conversation with her.
Everyone will probably think she looks like me, but she's not me - and my mum's not like that.  So suspend disbelief and just go with it for now.  It'd be good for this to develop into a proper story, maybe even a comic or graphic novel of sorts - some dots appeared and now I need to connect them.  I think people (including myself!) often forget that I'm not just a children's illustrator - I love working for grown-ups too and hopefully with a little more time I'll develop this and really get some older audience narrative work going.
Let me know what you think of these, got any potential?

Speak soon! 

Monday 10 September 2012

Simple & Pure - We don't need.

Yeah it's a silly one (we all need one of those from time to time).  I picked this record up for one euro at a weird little shop in Amsterdam - as a present for my brother.  It's just one of those finds that makes the rest of your life a challenge to top - their faces, the title, their pose, the sticker, the Dutch scrawling - everything is just...perfect.  I was lacking inspiration and feeling a little stylistically down-trodden tonight so I did a quick sketch of the record cover.  It was sitting right on my desk (I haven't seen my brother in a while, don't worry it'll get to him one day) and I always find it's best to grab some inspiration from around you when you're in a drawing rut. So there we go.

I've yet to listen to the record...I'll let you know if it's good.

Friday 7 September 2012

Creative Tips & Resources

Just a quick note - 

If you haven't seen these before and you're stepping out into the world of creative freelancing - they could very well be useful!
I've been writing (almost) monthly articles about Creative Tips & Resources for your fight through the freelance jungle over at Ten Paces and Draw. So far I've covered how to get your portfolio looking gorgeous (and professional!), using brushes & textures in digital illustration and 'Getting started, getting seen' - with plenty more topics on the way!

Now, I promise it's not just all ramblings from me in there! I've been in touch with some amazingly talented illustrators, industry professionals and all round fountains of knowledge who have given their insights, advice and processes to help you along your way (think the likes of Kali Ciesemier, Tigerprint, Advocate Art, Fig Taylor of the AOI etc etc etc)

Each article has a plethora (yes that's right, a plethora!) of useful links and pointers to fantastic creative freelancer resources from all across the digital plain. 

So get on over and broaden your freelancing artillery - it's a tough world out there!

Tell your friends!