Retrospective: The Toff

In 2010 I was commissioned by FHM magazine to do an Illustration to go with an article “How to Pull a Toff”.


I had less than 2 days to do the job with some guidelines of how they wanted the character to be dressed- quite specific and stereotypical- a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, shorts and tights, Ugg boots and wearing sunglasses on her head. It was my first real experience of a published Illustration commission- the money really helped me that year as I only had a temporary job and I was proud to work for an established magazine. I remember at the time I wanted to create an Illustration of the character that wasn’t distrespectful to women and chanelled a sort of “Lara Croft attitude” as that was my initial idea of an educated, young, rich, fashionable, horse riding sort of woman at the time. In short I wanted her to look like she was saying- “you can try to pull me but don’t for one minute think you actually can”.



Digital Art Software News

Although I’m spending a lot more time using traditional mediums now I’m still keeping an interested eye on developments in digital art since I’ve been using digital art since I was a child (remember Degas Elite anyone?) and I appreciate the medium despite not loving computers.

I’ve been using a program called Corel Painter since 2003 but it seems to get more complicated with each release although I liked the 12 update which was an improvement despite the many patches to get it working in a stable fashion.

Here are some new-ish programs I’ve heard of recently:

Mischief (infinite canvas)

Black Ink (algorithimic digital art brushes)

Krita (open source digital painting)

Gravit (Vector Design)

Affinity Designer (Vector Design- Mac only)

I’m going to be trying Mischief which I got in the Black Friday sale but it has really gone down in price anyway, and Krita at some point (it’s free!) and I did try Black Ink during my course which I thought was very interesting and intutive to use- probably good for concept artists more than me though- but fun effects non-the-less. There seems to be a growing trend for algorithimic art at present which I think is reflected in these programs.

Wrapping up Autumn

It looks like winter is well on the way now with the colder and wetter weather. It seems to get dark so soon these days.

Here are some sketches I made this Autumn. I have a better scanner now so the quality will be truer to the originals in these images than in previous posts.

birds mushrooms owls

bird squirrel cats

Samhain Sketches

Today is Samhain or Halloween or All Hallows Eve depending on your preference- it’s probably called a lot of other things as well which you can look up here on Wikipedia.

Here are a selection of sketches and studies I’ve done over the last few weeks using coloured pencils, paint thinner, pen, gouache, watercolour pencils and the odd bit of acrylic.

It’s all quite new to me having some space at last to do some traditional art mediums and I am enjoying it. I got a little obsessed with digital art over the last 10 years but I’m planning on doing more traditional medium and then mix the two and see what happens.

WordPress Themes for Portfolios

I’ve bookmarked a few nice free WordPress themes that I’ve seen recently that would be good as portfolios.

Sketch Theme- This takes advantage of the new Portfolio feature on

Illustratr Theme
- This takes advantage of the new Portfolio feature on

Espied- This takes advantage of the new Portfolio feature on

Pictorico- This takes advantage of the new Portfolio feature on

Pho- this theme makes posts appear in a masonry grid

Fukasawa- this theme makes posts appear in a masonry grid

Touchfolio- Responsive touch optimised portfolio theme

Personally though I’m pondering making my Illustration portfolio using good old static CSS and HTML files without a content management system this time- perhaps a bit of Jquery here and there because I won’t really need another blog and I might play with the one page website idea.

Illustration and Web Design: Alice in Wonderland

I’m in the process of turning this website into a dedicated blog on things that interest me. My Illustration portfolio website will be at a different web address to avoid future confusion. So here goes:

This is a rather interesting video on an experiment by Adobe and a design team called Ultranoir on how CSS shapes can be used to enhance visual storytelling.

This reminds me of my earlier days of web design when I was messing about and having more fun with CSS and images.

A Quick Update

I just thought I should write something here because it’s been a while.

I’ve been very busy on the mend getting back to something a lot better than how I was. I’m getting into doing more exercise and working in my sketchbooks on new ideas. After completing the course it boosted my confidence and made me unlock some of my old self before life got in the way. I’ll get some sketches uploaded soon of some studies and things.

The concept of looking after myself is all quite new to me rather than working on stress and repetitive strain syndrome. I would definitely have to recommend it though.

Here’s some advise if you are reading this- you are worth it, looking after yourself is not selfish, it’s essential.

A New Beginning

I’ve had a chance to reflect on things over the course of this year and have also come to a few decisions about the future direction of this website.

At present I want to make this website into an Illustrated blog about my interests and things I find useful. I aim to Illustrate articles on Folklore, Mythology and other things within my experience (including art and Illustration of course). In short I want to have a bit of fun with it for a while whilst building a body of work.

I took down the galleries from my coursework for the present because I’m still not sure how best to present such work with it being quite development / student based, but the work from my Final Major Project can be seen at and I will continue to develop this project.