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My little wooden puppet family

As an anniversary gift for my wife I thought it would be nice to paint our family as little wooden puppets.  A strange visual style you may think, but it's actually a more refined version of an approach I took with my card range Whittle Mill - a character range which was inspired my mine and my wife's relationship - and now it's come full circle!

I finished it off by etching a sweet little caption in wood to mirror the nature of the characters, then framing everything in a rustic wooden frame.

I'm happy to say that she loved it!



My greatest portrait commission info

Graphite on Bristol 8 x 10 inches
This is my greatest creation.

No, not the drawing, but the two little boys - my boys - depicted in it.  It was done as a Christmas gift to my lovely Wife (their Mum) and it got the exact tearful reaction I was hoping for, which is often the best confirmation of a good likeness.  :)

I rarely draw portraits, in fact this is my first one in over eight years, but it was such a satisfying piece to work on that I've decided to start accepting portrait commissions!

So if you, or someone you know, might be interested in an original, one of a kind piece of art featuring a loved one, themselves, or even a pet, meticulously rendered in graphite - I'm your man!

A few extra details;

  • I work from photos, so no need for lengthy sittings in person
  • I'm able to combine elements from different photos (for example, five images were used for the drawing above)
  • Can work to a size of your choice (if you have the perfect frame in mind this is often a good starting point for a quote)
  • Include as many people/animals as you like
  • Can ship internationally
"How much will it cost?" you may ask.  Well, it's always difficult to provide a universal answer to this question as there are so many variables with each commission, so the best thing to do is send a message to listing all of your requirements and we'll take it from there with a free, no obligation, quote.  If you're not a fan of good old email then you can always get hold of me on Facebook at  

When you consider the cost of a professional photography shoot and prints, I like to think that my portraits are very good value when you take into account the time and care that goes into each one.

Get in there quick before the waiting list gets too long!  And even if you're not interested at the moment, a share would be very much appreciated.



P.S. The drawing looks better in real life (my scanner isn't exactly state of the art), but you'll just have to take my word for it!

I can finally show 'Retrocave', my illustration for art book #EVERYDAYISPLAY by @Gamepaused


Super proud to have this painting included in the stunning coffee table art book "Every Day is Play", now available on

From an early age I've been pretty obsessed with video games, and this painting has several meanings (as well as a bunch of game references - can you spot them all?);

1, It depicts how a single controller (in my case my first time was with a NES) can be a gateway into another world for a highly imaginative kid.

2, It shows how often, when we revisit the things we remember fondly from our past (especially old games), they haven't aged too well and don't live up to the amazing memories we have of them.

The kid dangling from the wire is me in the early 90's at the height of my obsession - a simpler time when games were 2D, all multiplayer was local and the most important thing in a game was how 'cool' the mascot was.  Ahh, good times!

Below are some shots of the book itself;

You can order your own copy from and it's well worth the money.


Introducing Whittle Mill, plus cover illustration for 'Progressive Greetings' magazine

In January this year my sentiment driven card range for Gemma International, Whittle Mill, launched into Clintons stores nationwide!  It recently featured on the cover of Progressive Greetings, the number one magazine of the UK greetings industry, which was really satisfying to create and see in print.

Whittle Mill is a cute sentimental range centred around two wooden puppets. There’s a sweet little story to accompany them which tells of how, long ago, a couple carved a heart into a tree which sealed their love inside it forever. Years later a branch falls from the tree and is carved into two puppets who, imbued with the love once sealed in the wood, come to life to be reunited.

This range is very much a love letter to my Wife, who inspired the relationship based illustrations as well as the background story (below) and the verse inside—which in its self was a whole new, and very rewarding, experience to write.

The story on the back of every cards reads (get ready for the feels!);

"A long time ago, before you and me,
A happy couple sat under a tree.

Into the bark they each carved a heart,
And swore to each other they never would part.

In leaving the hearts their promise was kept,
And for many years in the wood their love slept.

Then on one windy day a branch snapped and fell,
Landing next to a sculptor, who said with a yell...

“This wood is perfect for the toys I’ve drafted!”
And from the branch two puppets were crafted.

The sculptor examined his work, delighted,
The happy couple at last reunited."

But my illustrations would be nothing on cards without the expert graphic design skills of fellow Gemma creative Adam Martin which frames them so perfectly.  

As previously mentioned, Whittle Mill is currently in Clintons stores across the UK, and will soon be sneaking into Tesco and WH Smith.

This post contains excerpts from a recent interview I did for Tuts+ which you can read here.


Death meets his number one fan...

I like to include elements of story in my illustrations when possible, and this little idea had been floating around in my head for a while so I thought I'd use it as a chance to experiment with a simpler style than I usually use.


Sketch commissions

A few recent sketch commisions.

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


Creative influence map

Loads more I wanted to include but decided to stick with the grid ‘rules’ on the bottom of the template instead.

I mainly included artists that have influenced my work and technique directly rather than just a bunch that I loved but didn’t consciously take anything from, hence no James Jean, Da Vinci or Watterson.

I'm always interested to find out the creative origins of artists I admire, so have been checking out a whole bunch of these things online lately.  A few highlights are those of Sam Nielson (surprising how similar my own influences are to his, unfortunately I left off Monkey Island but I haven't been able to draw clouds without including a spiral since playing MI3!), and Sebastien gallego.

Download the template file from the creator's DeviantArt page at and create your own.

Shane S

Elvgren digital pin-up study

Thought I'd try my hand at this Pin up thing, so here's a test I did trying to emulate the Gil Elvgren style digitally.

I focussed more on the technique than an exact likeness of Elvgren's original but I'm pretty happy with the results.

Look out for some original paintings (and a step by step of this piece) in the near future!

Shane S

Self caricature

I thought it was about time I updated my online persona with something that at least slightly resembled me, and as I'm not quite ready to use a photo I took the opportunity to paint this,

I guess the partially glowing lightbulb represents one of those ideas that didn't get a chance to fully illuminate before it was extinguished by something new and fancy.  I'm assuming other creative minds work in a similar way.

Shane S