Safari Family Photo – Process part 1

This isn’t finished yet (maybe tomorrow), but I wanted to post up the work-in-progress to show the general process of how I work and how much things can change from the original idea.

I almost always start with a rough pencil drawing (left) – this can take a few tries, but the sketch is only small, hence why we call it a “thumbnail”. These type of drawings should only take a couple of minutes and often they are barely comprehensible to anyone but the artist drawing them.

The second stage shown here (top right) is just an expansion of the original pencil sketch, but done digitally and more refined. Personally, I move quickly to digital because it is far more forgiving than traditional media for erasing and changing things – again I can be super loose here, sometimes expressing characters as simple shapes that get tightened up as I progress. The original image was pretty similar to the thumbnail sketch, but then I added the cheetah and the water buffalo… and then I got carried away and made things difficult for myself… Anyway, because things became more complex I had to balance the composition. The Lion is central, while the giraffe splits the image diagonally. Either side of the diagonal are five animals, not including the lion and giraffe.

Once the overall composition is complete it’s time to add colour. I tend to use blocks of colour first to get the basic shapes of the characters down and then after that I go in with a different value (tone/shade) and a textured brush to give the basic colour some variation.

I’ll post the rest of the process tomorrow… see you then!

Loch Ness Monster?

Playing around with some ideas for children’s books. I like the thought that there’s someone that lives by Loch Ness who’s friends with the monster and has been trying to bribe it with fish to stay hidden and safe.

Tip of the Pandemic Iceberg

Victoria Gill, a BBC science correspondent, recently wrote an article about how the current Coronavirus pandemic likely will not the last pandemic we experience during our lifetime. As humans encroach on the natural world the potential for a viral “spillover” becomes more and more certain. The pandemic we are experiencing is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

In the last twenty or so years we have experienced the Hendra virus, SARS, MERS, Ebola (there are eight types), avian flu, and swine flu. All of the viruses mentioned here are what we call “zoonotic”, meaning they have been passed on to humans through animals. Zoonosis occurs more often than not when a living reservoir host, such as a plant or animal, harbors a pathogen which is then passed on to an intermediate host. The intermediate host then passes the pathogen on to humans.

In his book “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic” (2012) David Quammen outlines the case of the little known Hendra virus, first appearing in Australia, as a prime example of a zoonosis. First appearing in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra in 1994, the virus found it’s natural reservoir host in fruit bats. These fruit bats then passed the pathogen on to horses which would later show symptoms of fever, swelling, bloody froth and exhaustion. According to the World Heath Organization website “The [original] outbreak involved 21 stabled racehorses and two human cases. As of July 2016, 53 disease incidents involving over 70 horses have been reported. These incidents were all confined to the north-eastern coast of Australia. A total of seven humans have contracted Hendra virus from infected horses, particularly through close contact during care or necropsy of ill or dead horses”

UK’s largest solar farm given the go-ahead in Kent

I’m not going to pretend to know much about this, because… well, I don’t. What i do know is that the proposed site is called Cleve Hill in Kent. The solar farm will cover over 900 acres and provide energy for 91,000 homes – for comparisons sake an average coal power-plant is about 19 acres (not including the land required and disrupted in the coal extraction process). There are environmental concerns mainly focused on disturbances to wildlife, however the argument has been made that the land was intensively farmed anyway (with use of pesticides and other chemicals). The venture has been funded by Wirsol Energy Ltd. and Hive Energy Ltd. and will cost £450 million. Both companies are privately held.

Personally I think this is a step in the right direction. Clean energy production needs to be a priority moving forward if we are to continue to evolve as a society. Will this mean job losses in the fossil fuel industry? Probably, but the subsequent jobs created in renewable energy will sure make up for this.

For more (reliable) information visit

Empty Stadiums

Sport is making a return. Finally! I’m a huge NFL fan and thankfully our season hasn’t been impacted as of yet. However, there’s a very real possibility that games may be played in empty stadiums. That has certainly been the case for the Bundesliga, where football (soccer) fans have been forced to watch from the safety of their own homes. The NFL league office is optimistic that fans will be able to attend games, but with – as yet to be confirmed – social distancing protocols in place. It has been rumored that should stadiums remain empty due to the pandemic then fake crowd noise will be piped in to give games a more realistic feel… which is incredibly unrealistic for the LA Chargers, as they don’t have any fans. Here’s an editorial piece about this very story. Enjoy.

Twitter fact-checks Trumps tweets

This is golden. Trumps social media platform of choice is turning on him. As per CNN “Twitter highlighted two of Trump’s tweets that falsely claimed mail-in ballots would lead to widespread voter fraud, appending a message the company has introduced to combat misinformation and disputed or unverified claims.”