Tuesday, April 6, 2021


A catch up with all of my Oz related illustrations this past year. Some of these are super recent so I show no signs of stopping yet!

return to oz mumby digital illustration

I've been wanting to draw something from Return to Oz for ages. It's actually my favourite Oz related movie - I can take or leave the Judy Garland movie to be honest, I don't know if that's controversial but it's the book of the Wizard of Oz that captivated me rather than the movie version. I grew up watching Return to Oz and I think it's what gave me such a love of horror as scenes like the Wheelers and Mombi's hallway of decapitated heads both terrified and enthralled me! And as an adult I was so excited when I picked up Baum's books for the first time and realised they were much more in keeping with Return To Oz rather than the overly saccharine MGM movie. I want to draw more from Return to Oz at some point, but here's a start! Princess Mombi and a few of her heads.

the wizard of oz scarecrow field with dorothy gale digital illustration

After I first read The Wizard of Oz I drew the scene of Dorothy meeting the Scarecrow and it's what catapulted me down this whole art journey I've been on these past two years. My style has developed a lot since then as I was still very much finding my feet back then, and it's a scene I wanted to revisit. I'd love to know which version you prefer! I had to make references to the Scarecrow being Fiyero because this is me drawing it after all!

the wizard of oz scarecrow tinman dorothy gale digital illustration

And I figured I'd draw the following scene where they meet Boq the Tin Man! He was a lot more of a challenge to draw than I realised he'd be, and whilst I originally wanted to do my own take I did end up taking a lot of inspiration from Denslow's original illustrations. Most of the difficulty came because a tin man would obviously be very rigid, whereas my art style is much more fluid and I wanted him to look stuck, not stiff and lifeless.

fiyero and glinda wicked musical broadway digital illustration

Drawing Wicked characters is my happy comfort place. I've been playing around with trying to give Fiyero his blue diamond tattoos he has in the books to try and give him back some of his cultural identity that they took away in the musical, but it's difficult not to make them look crap.

wicked musical broadway elphaba glinda popular digital illustration

I can't believe it took me this long to draw this scene honestly!

the wizard of oz scarecrow digital illustration

This is a really old drawing that I did for Inktober of 2019, and I've been wanting to colour it for ages and finally got around to it last week! So this literally brings everything bang up to date. I don't know if you can even really tell, but I've been trying with a slightly more painterly style as my colouring process was starting to feel a little formulaic and dull. It's always really intrigued me with how many story possibilities there are with Fiyero turning into a Scarecrow and how that would effect him, his relationships, and how he interacts with the world around him. But unfortunately no one else seems to care about anything beyond "Gelphie" and I'm not a writer, so I just try and touch on it in my illustrations as best I can.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Inside my sketchbook

I haven't been posting here much because I've got so much art to post and catch you up on that it's a little overwhelming tbh! I've been feeling similarly about Instagram - I hear everyone say about how it's good for engagement to post every day so I saved a whole bunch of work up, but I can't say posting every day has made a jot of difference to my engagement whatsoever, and being less spontaneous about it all has sucked all the fun from my account. I was scrolling back through my feed and I honestly think I was doing better before I started overanalysing it, so once I've caught up it'll be back to basics for me! Sharing things I'm excited about as soon as I've created them.

So this is going to be a bit of a catch up post!

new york city illustration

I'm still getting used to trying to draw backgrounds and perspective and stuff, but also in a more simplified way. I don't know if it's because I draw realism as well, but when I draw a location I tend to get caught up in all of the little details rather than catching a mood or energy of a place and it's something I'm trying to work on as it's a style I really admire. I also think it would be a really nice practice to get into for my travels too. I drew this from a photograph and I was quite pleased with how it came out!

moulin rouge broadway illustration

I originally wanted to digitalise this, but I also drew it so long ago that I've kind of lost all motivation and would rather work on new ideas ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ When the world first went into lockdown a year ago (OMG!) I had a ton of ideas, more illustrations than I could keep up with and so many that I wanted to colour digitally and turn into "proper" works, but I ended up with such a backlog that it began to feel like a chore and I've given up on a lot of them for now at least. I at least painted this one so the idea is still kind of there! I had wanted to incorporate some of their key lyrics into their clothing and background.

mika portrait illustration

I kept working at my ballpoint illustrations, and here's one of Mika I did last summer before I went to Kyoto. Stations in Japan have all different stamps and I love how they looked in my sketchbook.

cowardly lion wizard of oz illustration

I realised I never drew the Cowardly Lion! I'm very out of practice with drawing animals so they're always a challenge for me.

aaron tveit ballpoint portrait aaron tveit ballpoint portrait aaron tveit ballpoint portrait

Of course I've still been drawing Aaron.

joaquin phoenix joker movie ballpoint portrait

And the Joker too! I tried before to colour the Joker's makeup after I drew it, and last time I used Copics which turned out way too vivid and kind of killed the drawing. I still really wanted to try the idea though, so I used coloured pencils this time which I think worked out much better! And I did the blood in gouache to make it really stand out.

I had this idea of a friendly bear for a while, I kind of want to put it on a shirt? 'Goddag' is just a way of saying Hello in Danish, I'm trying to incorporate more of it into my work to show a bit more of my cultural identity instead of defaulting to English all of the time.

It was autumn and I wanted to draw something cozy! This is like, my ideal day to me. Books, candles, music, cookies, and a raging storm outside. If you zoom right in the books on the shelf are some of my favourites I grew up with!

enjolras les miserables victor hugo musicals broadway illustration

Branching out in my musicals, ey? XD Les Mis is one of my original musical obsessions way back and I wanted to show it a little love. I tried to blend Enjolras's stage and movie costumes - I had to do the vest because it's iconic, but I prefer the movie's pants and blond wig.

I have a whole bunch of Oz illustrations too, but I'll add them to their own post!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Godt Nytår

asootsprite illustration raccoon woodland new year
Happy New Year!
Wishing you all the best for 2021

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Snow Queen

I've got such a backlog of artwork to share that it's difficult to know which order to even go in! I've written out a list and there's literally 20 things on it that I need to post here, so buckle up I guess as I'll try and post as much of it as I can over the coming weeks.

My recently completed Snow Queen project feels like the most natural place to start, as it's been occupying a large part of my mind for most of the year. Back in June I shared some original sketches that I'd created back in May, and even before then it was a project that I knew was looming for me. 

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen is probably my all time favourite fairy tale, and it's something I go way back with. When I was in my foundation year of art school for my big final project I decided I wanted to illustrate my own version of The Snow Queen. The artwork is 10 years old and kind of cringey to me now, but it was a labour of love as The Snow Queen is an epic in length for being a fairy tale, and a lot of background research went into everything.

This feels really embarrassing to be sharing, but I also think it's really important to show that we all start somewhere as it's easy to fall into the idea that people can just magically draw like that when in fact it's taken years upon years of practise, hard work, and trial and error. I was definitely bound by the limitations of my skill level (perspective, what's that??) but when I look at all 23 illustrations I can see that I had some good ideas, and it's something I've been wanting to update for a long time. I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll recreate the whole book as like I said it's a long one, but I'm really proud of these illustrations as they stand right now and am pleased to add them to my portfolio:

The Snow Queen illustration

You can tell that this is supposed to be a direct update of one of the old illustrations above, and I think because of that it really shows just how much I've grown as an artist. One of the biggest things I learnt at art school was the importance of backgrounds in telling the story and setting the scene - I can distinctly remember my tutor looking at my illustration of Baba Yaga and suggesting giving the fir trees a character of their own: "maybe they could look like they're leaning in and listening". And as much as I loathe backgrounds, it undeniably makes a huge difference! I did take Danish architecture into account, although I think there's so little of the buildings on show that it could also be anywhere which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

I think my biggest struggle with this particular illustration was whether it matched the mood of the others and looked cohesive next to them as the colours are much brighter, but it's also at the very beginning of the story before the Snow Queen tries to ruin Kai's life so I figured it worked in that sense. The Snow Queen is essentially a coming of age story detailing the passage between childhood and adulthood, so I wanted them to look on the cusp of that.

The Snow Queen illustration

I've always loved this section of the tale where Kai is looking out the window at the falling snow, and suddenly the Snow Queen appears and looks at him through the window and beckons. Considering the magic mirror hadn't entered his life yet I've always found this passage a really interesting part of the narrative. This was the very last illustration I created, and it underwent the most changes from sketch to final piece as I'd originally envisioned the Snow Queen smaller, almost like a fairy, as she's described as a snowflake getting brighter and brighter until it formed the shape of a woman. But I didn't like the idea of her shifting sizes as it didn't make much sense, and as her size isn't mentioned in the book I changed it and I like it much better this way. 

The Snow Queen illustration

The mirror falling into Kai's eye and heart while it snows. I intended this to be more of a spot illustration to be surrounded by text.

The Snow Queen illustration

This was the first illustration I digitally painted, and it really set the mood for everything else. It's when the Snow Queen comes to take Kai away and kisses his forehead and touches his heart to freeze him where the shards of mirror are. 

I really wanted to keep some design elements of my original Snow Queen, as well as keeping it as far removed from anything to do with Elsa as possible! The character is always portrayed as a woman so white she's almost albino with equally white hair, and it's an interpretation that's never made much sense to me as I always figured she'd look more indigenous than anything else. But at the same time I didn't want to appropriate Sámi culture or identify it to any particular real world group in any way as she's a magical being and not a person. I tried to make her dress quite fantastical and kept it from following any historical period to keep that other worldly vibe, and as she lives in the mountains I figured she'd make do with the things around her such as a cloak made from the hide of a polar bear, and a crown fashioned from reindeer antlers strung together with brambles. 

Kai's design is the only subtle reference to Frozen as I wanted him to kind of resemble Prince Hans.

The Snow Queen illustration

Again this is another illustration directly based on one of my old ones, except this time I actually used reference for a running reindeer (I think I used a reference for a horse before and it shows!) I kept the red cloak as I love the pop of colour it gives to an otherwise very muted palette. I generally made Gerda very warm toned, and Kai very cool toned which I felt matched their character arcs.

The Snow Queen illustration

I think this one took the most work, but it paid off in the end! The hardest part was getting all of the ice to actually look like ice and not rocks or pieces of slate. I also tried to adjust Kai's skin tone to show how he's slowly freezing. I looked up pictures of frostbite but that was a bit too knarly for what I was going for! I also gave him heterochromia to signify the shard of mirror in one of his eyes.

I tried to create a selection from all different parts of the book, in the hopes that it would tell a condensed version of the story regardless of whether I expand on it. I'd love to create the whole book and self publish it, but at the same time these took so much work that I just need a break from it so I guess we'll see if that ever happens! I created these for my portfolio more than anything, as a self commissioned project to show an example of sequential illustration to any potential clients, but it seems a shame to just shove it in my portfolio and forget about it so I'm hoping to perhaps create some things for my shop out of the designs. Definitely a postcard set, but I'd like to do more with it if possible as it's all of my own original design and I want to move into selling my own characters more. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Ohuhu markers

ohuhu markers

I've heard a lot of buzz online about Ohuhu markers, and as alcohol markers are my favourite traditional art medium I've been intrigued for a while. The only brands of markers I've ever used before have been Prismacolor and Copic, but I've been using those brands for about 15 years so I feel like I know what constitutes a good marker! Still, I couldn't justify buying a whole new set just to satisfy my curiosity when I have literally hundreds of Copics and Prismacolor markers at my disposal - or at least I did until I came to Japan.

I've bought a modest collection of Copic markers since being in Japan - they are Japanese afterall, and much cheaper here than they can be bought for in the West. But I'd often still feel limited by my colour palette, so when I saw the Ohuhu markers on offer on Amazon for what translated to £23 for 80, well I couldn't resist!

ohuhu markers ohuhu markers

And so far? I absolutely love these markers. To my mind they're on equal par to the Prismacolor markers - particularly as I got the bullet nib set. I've always found Prismacolor more vibrant and punchy than Copics, and the Ohuhu are the same in that regard. The Ohuhu are also super juicey, and I used them on thick watercolor paper that would dry out my Copics in no time yet these still feel like they have ages left to go.

So if like me you've ever wondered about Ohuhu markers, I wholeheartedly recommend them. They come in a preselected set, which I don't mind as it's a good starting off point. They're not sold singularly so if one does dry out you're a bit stuck, but you could always replace that one marker with a Primsacolor or Winsor & Newton or even a Copic to keep your set. I also like the case the Ohuhus come in - as I'm travelling it's absolutely perfect for me, and it comes with a plastic sheet to stop bleed through and paper swatch sheets to fill out which are welcome additions.

I did a quick drawing of Fiyero and Glinda as they're two characters I draw a lot and are familiar with and I was really pleased with how they came out - it's 100% Ohuhu markers. I think they'll work really well with the Copics I do have here and I'm really excited with how much more option I have now.

ohuhu markers art philosophy watercolor confections decadent pies

Not related to Ohuhu but another art supply I got lately were these watercolors by Art Philosophy. This is another art supply I saw online and got intrigued by, and as I have no watercolors here I decided to go for it.

I love the unusual colour choices they offer, and I went for 'Decadent Pies' as it seemed like a good all rounder. I hate the usual standard watercolor palettes as I find the colours too vibrant for what I like to paint, so I really loved the idea of these but unfortunately I was disappointed when it actually arrived. The colours are nicely pigmented as you can see from the swatches - in that regard they're everything I wanted! But half of them are also metallic, which is not advertised and certainly not what I wanted. You can't tell from the swatch sheet, but basically the whole top row except 'pecan' has micro glitter which is pretty but not very practical and means you can't really mix them. I suppose these palettes are OK if you want to collect all of them, but I don't, and it certainly stops them from being as cheap as they appear. Oh well, not everything can be a winner!

art philosophy watercolor confections decadent pies art philosophy watercolor confections decadent pies

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Planner product research

Oh wow, I didn't realise how long it had been since I updated! Because I'm not uploading everything to Instagram as soon as it's finished for my experiment I keep forgetting to post anything to anywere! So a giant catch up is definitely in order. But in the meantime, some fun research!

Now it's autumn stores are full of 2021 diaries and planners which are one of my favourite things to browse. It's such an exciting time for me, getting to pick which planner I want to stare at for the next 365 days! Which is the most practical, and will fit my needs? It's particularly exciting as I currently live in Japan so it's interesting to me to see how planners differ here.

Because I'm really into the whole planner thing it's always been a dream of mine to one day create my own featuring my illustrations. So I figured as Japan has a lot of cute illustrated planners I'd make the most of being here and buy a few as research so that I've still got them for reference when I eventually have the time and money to invest in creating my own. And I thought I'd share them here, partly because I know this stuff isn't accessible and maybe it'll help others with similar research, partly in the hopes of getting some feedback in what you look for in a planner, and also just to nerd out over planners a little because stationary and art supplies are my favourite thing in the whole world!

These are the three I bought! They're not full planners, these 'schedule planners' seem to be far more popular over here. They're like little exercise books and show each month at more of a glance. For me this isn't detailed enough and I would make more of a full planner with weekly spreads, but these are a nice kind of thing to slip into your bag and take on the go, allowing me to leave my larger planner at home.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Doubt Comes In

I've really fallen head over heels in love with Hadestown lately. I've been listening to it for a long time, but as I've had renewed interest in Greek mythology and love musical theatre so much it's scratching both itches for me. I wanted to go see it when I was in New York but it had recently won it's slew of Tonys and the only seats left were in the nosebleeds and for ridiculous prices considering they were restricted view so I left it - which right now I'm feeling regretful of, especially with everything shut down as it is!

Originally this was just going to be Orpheus and Eurydice from the myth, but then I figured why try and fight making them look like their musical counterparts and not just go with it? So I did. Reeve Carney kinda looks like my characters anyway so it's perfect! I tried to combine it with the myth, which is why I gave Orpheus an actual lyre and not the guitar he uses in the musical. I took inspiration from this painting by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein-Stub, and this painting by Emily Balivet.

My favourite aspect of Hadestown is how it re-characterises these well known figures. Orpheus is quite arrogant in the myth, very sure of himself and his own abilities, and he enters the Underworld with complete certainty that Hades will return Eurydice to him. When he turns back to Eurydice it's with a triumphant air of "I did it!" before he realises that Eurydice isn't in the light yet and so the task is failed. I much prefer the anxious naive Orpheus of the musical, so consumed with self doubt, his journey from optimistically seeing the way the world could be to seeing it the way it is. It makes the tale far more of a tragedy than the original myth for that reason alone because the world beats us all down eventually, as Eurydice knew from the start.

"I'll tell you where the real road lies:
Between your ears, behind your eyes
That is the path to Paradise
Likewise, the road to ruin"
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