Tatty Teddy / Me to You card illustrations

I got my start in the industry drawing Tatty Teddy (the Me to You bear) for cards back in 2007.

I believe all of the illustrations are digital now, but back when I was working on the brand everything was done in good old graphite pencil and watercolour.

This guy is surprisingly difficult to get right, and the small size of the originals (a bear would be drawn at about 3 to 4 inches tall) meant you needed a steady hand and eyes like a bloody hawk in order to get all the tiny 'ticks' of hair right.

I'll be honest, it was a painstaking process which I don't miss, but it did teach me a lot about drawing characters for greetings cards.  I still see them in stores occasionally, which is strange considering some of them were drawn nearly seven years ago.

Above is a mega sheet of every Tatty Teddy card image I drew during my time at Carte Blanche Greetings, if you spot one in there you want to see in more detail let me know and I'll add it to this post;

One more CBG post to go!



Blue Nose Summer beach

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings
As the weather's so amazing at the moment I thought this painting would be approriate.  Enjoy the summer while it lasts!

I feel it's time I closed the blue nose chapter of my illustration career, so I'm only going to post a few more of my Carte Blanche images, after which it'll just be personal work and anything I get approval to post from my current job.


Pirate Crew of Cthulhu

My week 3 assignment for Nate Wragg's course, 'Character Design for Animation' over at the CG Master Academy.

Tried not to include too many pirate clichés with these guys, hence the lack of parrots, hooks and skull and crossbones.

Loving the course so far - five more assignments to go!


Blue Nose Friends Blossom Pond

Image Courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings

A promotional illustration created for the launch of the included characters in plush form.  I always enjoy painting water and it was fun experimenting with different colours and levels of transparency in this piece.


Dexter's Dinosaurs

When my Son, Dexter, was six months old I started this piece.  It marked the start of my first proper oil painting (shameful I know!) so I was full of enthusiasm for a new project, new medium and it was dinosaurs - what could go wrong?  Well, as it turns out, oil painting is actually pretty bloody difficult which is why my son has just turned two and I've only just finished it!

I could make excuses about house moves, job changes, and wrestling with different techniques, but the truth is that I didn't have a dedicated painting space at the time, and the fact that I'm so accustomed to working digitally meant the mere thought of setting up all my materials, mixing colours, being frustrated for several hours and then clearing up again, every time I wanted to paint, was enough to put me off.

I had messed about with oil colours before but never got much further than a few sketches, the required use of solvents really put me off and is why I didn't touch them again for nearly ten years.

The discovery of Winsor & Newton Artisan water soluble oil paints is what brought me back, the ability to use water for clean up making everything infinitely more convenient and enabling me to paint without worrying about the health of myself or my family.  I would highly recommend them.

But I finally found a technique that I was happy with and fought through to the bitter end, the painting now hanging proudly on my little boy's bedroom wall.

Below are some closeups of the individual letters;


Blue Twit

I'm currently working my way through Nate Wragg's course, 'Character Design for Animation' over at the CG Master Academy and am really enjoying it so far, the creature above was my week 1 assignment.

I've been designing characters for years, but have never really put any thought behind my process, so the course is really helping me to rationalise my design choices, leading to better characters in less time.

I'll be posting my work from each assignment so stay tuned!


The Lost Lumberjack

I'm back!  Life has been pretty frantic lately, but I think it's about time I got back on top of this blogging thing, so expect a good few months of consistent weekly posts.

Since joining the creative team at Gemma last October I've been working on some pretty exciting stuff, but unfortunately I can't actually show any of it until the Autumn at the earliest.  But the good news is that I have a bunch of new personal work to fill the coming weeks, along with the last few pieces of Blue Nose Friends artwork I illustrated before leaving Carte Blanche Greetings.

First up is the guy above, a portfolio piece painted prior to visiting Eurogamer Expo on a job hunting mission at the end of last year.

If he seems familiar, it's because he's basically a rendered version of this earlier sketch.


Hello 2013...

Year of the snake and all that...

Hope you have a good one!


Blue Nose Friends Sunset Snow House and end of year recap

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
So 2012 is nearly over, and it's been an interesting year to say the least.  The first half started out pretty much as normal; Working away on Blue Nose Friends illustrations and squeezing in the odd personal piece when by amazing, but very distracting, 1 year old son allowed.

Then the greetings industry started to change, some well established high street names nearly went under, and I realised that I needed a safety net.  So with the intention of building a freelance client base I spent the latter half of the year putting together a portfolio, website (stop by www.ShaneMadeArt.com!), business cards and a cool little pack to send out.  Beyond freelance opportunities I also hoped to use this work to break into the videogame industry, so I headed off to the Eurogamer Expo to show my stuff.  Although I received some excellent and positive feedback from some well respected industry professionals, it also made me realise that maybe the industry I choose isn't as important as I think it is, as long I enjoy what I'm doing.

This was further confirmed after attending the Schoolism.com live workshop in London and listening to the advice of Bobby Chiu.  Inspirational is an understatement;  After the four hour lecture I finally felt I had direction, and that direction was to do what I loved doing and do it well.

So although I had put a LOT of work into my videogames focussed portfolio, it turns out it hadn't gone unnoticed.  Soon after I was offered pretty much the best job I could possibly get within the greetings industry, a role with so much potential it's almost daunting!  So I packed up my pencils and left the home of Tatty Teddy.  For better or worse this obviously means that I will no longer be illustrating My Blue Nose Friends, therefore the above image will be the last MBNF christmas image I ever post - it was used on this years Blue Nose Friends advent calendar by the way.  It's been a good run but I'm glad to move on to something different and stretch my artistic legs a bit.

2013 is going to be a super exciting year for me and I hope to show of some of the work I've done for my new employer as soon as I can.  In the meantime I still have a few unseen pieces to keep things ticking over.

This blog will live on!

Have a great Christmas and a fulfilling new year,

All the best,


Dust Bunny

A finished painting of this earlier sketch done for my new portfolio site over at www.ShaneMadeArt.com.

Fur is always fun, but challenging, to paint.


Phew...glad that's over

After a month long absence I'm finally back to get this blog back up and running.

Rather than enjoying the sun I've been frantically working on my website, portfolio and a few other promotional bits (that I'll post about on here in the coming weeks) in an attempt to break into the daunting world of freelance illustration.

So if you have a few minutes please stop by www.ShaneMadeArt.com and let me know what you think...good or bad.  In time this blog will be altered to match my website and eventually they'll be integrated.

Until next time here's my newly created logo;
It represents the fact that I like to illustrate both cute and creepy subjects, and sometimes a combination of both.  It's based on the idea of the kind of creature that would hatch from this "Hybrid Egg" that I previously used as a placeholder image while the site was being built.  Pretty apt I guess!


Quaint toy fireplace

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
A painting used as a decal inside "Tatty Teddy's heart shaped house", a new toy that's part of a range from Worlds Apart.

In the snap below you can see it on TV, the second time my artwork's been shown on the small screen (the first was the result of a competition I entered when I was 8 so it doesn't really count);

Check out www.TattyTeddyToys.com to see the rest of the toy range.


Sketch commissions

A few recent sketch commisions.

Want one of your own?  Send me a message and I'll see what I can do.


Blue Nose Friends Character designs Part 3

Images courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

Part three of the ongoing series where I post some of the Blue Nose Friends characters I have designed which made it onto store shelves in plush form.

From the top;
Float the Manatee
Ramble the Centipede
Shelter the Woodlouse
Treetops the Gorilla (actually based on an initial concept by my colleague, I illustrated the final design)
Ocean the Sea turtle
Foo the Pug

As usual, stop by Mybluenosefriends.com or your local card retailer (in the UK) to buy them!


Cute, creepy and everything in between...

After ten years of using free gallery sites to show my work to the world I've finally bought my own little corner of the web and am creating a dedicated portfolio site.

Turns out that things have changed quite a bit since I last dabbled with HTML back in 2000, so it's taking a bit longer than expected to get everything to a state I'm happy with.  Until the main site is ready you'll be greeted with a good old 'Under Construction' placeholder page displaying the weird thing above.

What is it?  It started out as an egg that's meant to be half nice and sweet, and half creepy and gross to show that I enjoy illustrating cute things as well as um...not so cute things.

Successful or not, it was a good oppertunity to experiment with different textures and lighting.

To see the hybrid egg in it's natural habitat head over to www.ShaneMadeArt.com.


Tatty Teddy and Blue Nose Friends Sky Scape

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings

An image used in a kind of trailer animation for the newly released Tatty Teddy and My Blue Nose Friends toys.

This is what I call the 'Sky Scape', an aerial kingdom found within the sky door (to be shown in a future post).

About the new toys, got to www.tattyteddytoys.com to check them out; Your small female relatives will love 'em!


Woody and Buzz watercolour

I painted this a few months ago for a very poorly little boy who loves Toy Story.  His favourite character is Woody, and his twin brother's is Buzz.  The final version included both of their names side by side on the soles of the character's touching feet.  I didn't think it was appropriate to post that version online but it does add some context to the poses if you visualise it.

As cheesy as it sounds, the original Toy Story means a lot to me.  Along with it's influence on my artistic development (which you can read about here), I used to watch it with my little brother when he was a toddler and the soundtrack as much as the visuals bring back a lot of great memories of time spent with him.  Now thirteen years later I plan on watching it all over again with my own little boy.

I can't imagine how it must feel to watch your child suffer and not be able to do anything to help, and that's what made this so heartbreaking to paint as a new parent myself.  Toy Story also has a pretty emotional soundtrack, unfortunately listening to it while trying to paint wasn't very productive - it was hard to see the details through teary eyes.


Dragon VS unicorn...

Image and characters property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

...in a battle of cuteness.  Sorry if you thought the post title would lead to the depiction of an epic and bloody mythical fight to the death - maybe next time.  :)

This was a promotional image for My Blue Nose Friends.

Love painting swirly clouds, a habit I haven't been able to shake since playing The Curse of Monkey Island in 1998.  Only now am I realising what a huge influence Bill Tiller's art has had on my work, shame I forgot to put him on my creative influence map, oops.