Project index

Click on a thumbnail to jump directly to the project sub page, or just scroll down and take in the view!

 


murray monster

'Murray Monster' brand logo

Murray Monster is a greetings card brand I created to appeal to 3-7 year old boys.  Inspired by a character I created previously for a personal project, I adjusted the proportions, colour palette and facial features to appeal to a younger audience. 

A lot of time was spent getting the look of the fur right as I felt it was important to give him a cuddly, tactile appearance whilst still being a monster.  I’m a huge Pixar fan and always loved the character designs in the Monsters Inc. movies, and I’d like to think that Murray wouldn’t look out of place stood next to James P. Sullivan or Mike Wazowski!

My contributions to the project included;

  • Brand concept creation and naming   
  • Character design
  • All illustrations
  • Logo design
  • Providing feedback on the finished card designs



Rocket Knights

"Rocket Knights" is my spin on creating a superhero team.  

The Rocket Knights are a group of friends who encounter  four animal robots of alien origin.  When activated, these animals transform and bond with the wearer, creating a suit of ultra strong, super powered armour.

The names, animals, armour designs and symbology used are all interconnected with the planets and their association with Roman gods.

Influenced by the things I loved growing up, such as Transformers, Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles and the Rocketeer, with a hint of Avengers and Game of Thrones, Rocket Knights was my most challenging creation for Gemma due to the technical nature of armour design combined with the use of human and animal forms.  I loved working on it though!

I would have really liked to have seen this progress into a comic book or even a TV show.



game paused

As a lifelong gamer it's always great to collaborate with other enthusiasts, so when Matthew Kenyon’s Gamepaused launched a kickstarter campaign to create a book filled with videogame related illustrations I jumped on board without hesitation.

I've contributed art to two projects; Every Day is Play (funded by the aforementioned Kickstarter) and an upcoming Super Mario themed book.

Retrocave – Sometimes it’s best to keep nostalgia locked safely in our brains as a warm fuzzy childhood memory.  Often even the most fondly remembered old games don’t age well, and this illustration shows that decline by depicting some of my most iconic gaming memories in an abandoned state of decay.  That's not to say that Super Mario Bros, A Link to the Past and Tetris aren’t still amazing games, but you get my point!

Supa Mario Kaiju Faito – What if Mario just kept munching on those mushrooms?  What if Bowser did the same?  This is a fun snapshot of what might happen to the Mushroom Kingdom in such an event.  For this image I was restricted to using just two colours, red and blue.  Initially I thought it would be very limiting, but once I figured out a method to combine the two in a painterly way it was really fun to see how far I could push it.  It was also a good chance to experiment with a more painterly style.



Noah's park

Noah’s Park is my take on an animal themed character brand aimed at pre-school age children.  Noah and his group of Friends live in a zoo at the centre of a theme park (hence the rollercoaster integrated into the logo).

Animals are a very common theme amongst this age group and the illustration style used to depict them is often flat and simplified.  For my approach I took inspiration from popular computer generated animated movies and TV shows to create a style which appears 3D, but is in fact rendered entirely in Photoshop. 

I love the name ‘Noah’s Park’, as it works on so many levels, but I’ve got to give credit to the talented designer, Becky Clayton, who came up with it.

My contributions to the project included;

Noah's Park was also nominated for a greetings industry Henries award!

Noah's Park was also nominated for a greetings industry Henries award!

  • Brand concept creation
  • Character design and naming
  • All character and prop illustrations
  • Logo design
  • Providing feedback on the finished greeting card and partyware designs



Blue Nose Friends - plush character design

My Blue Nose friends is a successful spin off brand of the popular greetings card character Tatty Teddy.

I was heavily involved in the brand’s creation and contributed several character designs to the first wave of plush toys launched to market.  I then went on to become the principal artist for the brand, designing the majority of the one hundred plus characters which made it to market during my time at Carte Blanche Greetings.  The brand is still going strong and toys based on sketches I did six years ago are still being produced!

My involvement with the project included

  • Contributed to brand creation
  • Character design and illustration for plush, tags, other merchandise and promotional materials
  • Illustration approval when not produced by myself
  • Logo design
  • Providing feedback on plush samples



Blue Nose Friends - environment design

The Blue Nose Friends plush toys were an instant success, so to build on their backstory and inspire new characters I began illustrating the world they inhabited.  This started out with Tatty Teddy’s old house full of vintage furniture - all painted in cool, muted hues which reflected his shy, melancholy nature.  But once you step through his magical wardrobe a whole variety of new and colourful worlds await, ranging from cozy cabins in the snow, rainbow lit forests and sunsets in the clouds.  All designed to be the home of as many animals as possible.

These images could then be used to inspire new products, such as toy play sets, or have characters added to them for use on promotional materials.

 Environment design was relatively new venture for me, but I learned so much about light and colour it led to a huge jump in the quality of my work, and has resulted in some of my best professional pieces to date, such as the forest world panorama below.

Forest world design (click to zoom)



WHITTLE MILL

The tree where the characters carved their hearts (click to enlarge)

 

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.

 

Whittle Mill is a warm sentimental card range I created which is very close to my heart.  The whimsical characters and the situations I illustrated them in are very much inspired by the relationship between my Wife and I, so I can’t help but feel a personal connection with this little wooden couple.

This was also the first time I had the chance to write for greetings cards, which is a whole new creative area for me and one I intend to explore further in future projects.  In fact, once the initial characters designs were complete, I would write the copy first, which would then inspire the illustration to accompany it.  It was then down to the super talented graphic designer, Adam Martin, to bring it all together in card form using the subtle, contemporary design theme you see below.

Whittle Mill cards have been sold in Clintons, Asda, Tesco, WH Smiths and several other retailers.

My involvement with the project included.

  • Brand concept creation and naming
  • Brand story (above) and copy writing
  • Character design and illustration
  • Logo design
  • Providing feedback on the final design of cards



Ruffles

Ruffles is one of multiple characters I designed in answer to a brief from Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer.

They requested a new cute character which, whilst still being huggably appealing, was to be different to other well established cute characters in the greetings market.  Instead of just choosing one character, they actually picked up two, this guy as well as Little Oink, a tiny pig which you can read all about here.

Ruffles is a shy little raccoon.  Although often seen as a bit of a pest, raccoons work perfectly as a cute characters due to their fluffiness, cute proportions and sad banded eyes.  It also helps that they have tiny little hands which really help to add expression to the character poses.  Raccoons are also quite mischievous which allows for a lot of fun situations to draw!

When illustrating a love situation for cute cards, which would typically involve a male and a female character, it’s quite common to simply use a duplicate of the main character in different clothing.  Neither I, nor the Tesco card buyer was keen on this approach, so I designed a secondary female character, Maple, especially for this purpose.

  • Brand concept creation and naming
  • Character design and illustration
  • Logo design
  • Providing feedback on the final design of cards



Kids themes

As well as character ranges, my flexibility allows me to work on pretty much any theme in any style that’s needed.  This is particularly useful when designs for different ages are required. 

This versatility is demonstrated below and arranged by subject for easy viewing.  A lot of these illustrations were created for supermarket chain ASDA for use on greetings cards, wrap and partyware, and I enjoyed illustrating them all – a bit of variety is always useful for stretching my creative legs!

 

Superheroes & comic book

Dinosaurs

Pixel art & gaming

Space

Graffiti

Vehicles

Animals

Baby

Misc



Little oink

Hold out your hand and close your eyes,

Now imagine a piggy who’s just the right size,

To sit on your palm with no trouble at all,

Yes, this little pink oinker is really that small!

Whilst being itty-bitty is what makes him so cute,

It’s easy to get lost when you’re so minute.

If you never want to be apart,

Keep him safe in your pocket, close to your heart.

 

Little Oink is the tiny piglet with a big heart.

Being so small, the giant world around him can be quite daunting, so he’s a little shy by nature and can often be found snuggled in a sock or relaxing in a teacup, comfortably out of sight.

Being such a titch does have its advantages though; Cakes and sweets are HUGE!

It’s this use of oversized props and accessories, combined with his baby-like proportions, which are the key to Little Oink’s cute appeal.

Little Oink is was designed in answer to a brief from Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, to create a cute character which is different than the usual bears, dogs and rabbits so common on the shelves of greeting card stores across the country.

Along with 'Ruffles' the raccoon (read all about him here), this little guy was also selected to make it into stores.

Although the obvious target audience would seem to be female shoppers, he actually works quite well on certain male captions too.

My responsibilities on this projects included;

  • Brand concept creation
  • Brand name and story
  • Character design and illustration
  • Logo design
  • Providing feedback on the final design of cards
  • Style guide creation


Biscuit Bear

Shortly after creating cute card characters Ruffles and Little Oink I was personally approached by Tesco in order to design a traditional bear character for them.

After a lot of sketching and experimentation we finally arrived at the character you see below.

 

Unlike my other cute brands I decided to use a style which didn't include an outline.  This gaves the fur a softer appearance and allowed me to use more realistic lighting than I usually would.



blue nose friends - baby range

During my time as Principal artist for the 'My Blue Nose Friends' character brand I became a Dad for the first time.  This new chapter of my life was accompanied by an all consuming barrage of baby products which inevitably had an effect on my work.

This led to the creation of 'Baby Blue Nose Friends', a re-imagining of the original characters but styled for nursery products.

I always enjoy redesigning existing characters, and designing these guys with my children in mind made the project extra special and gave me the motivation to do all of the work in my own time.

Part of my pitch was a range of plush toys, but rather than have prototypes sampled I developed a painting style which emulates the textures and embroidery effects needed to create a convincing look.  

This 2D plush style then replaced the original cel-shaded look for the final illustrations.

I also suggested some tweaks to the existing Tiny Tatty Teddy (a nursery version of Tatty Teddy) design in order to integrate him with the Baby Blue Nose Friends, but ultimately his original style started gaining traction at retail so my pitch wasn't progressed beyond product sampling.



Turtley cute

The character of 'Turtley Cute' actually originated during development of my other range, Noah's Park.  He sat on the sidelines for a while, but after several people commented on his appeal I thought I'd see if he could stand up on his own.

It was only after the sketches were combined with tortoise based puns that everything clicked. 

I was happy to see my concept sketch style carried through to the final designs as it really adds to the handmade feel of the final cards.

My contribution to the project included;

  • Range concept creation
  • Character design and illustration
  • Tortoise-based Pun writing :)


Gem Fairies

Rendering style test (click to zoom)

'Gem Fairies' is Gemma International's own take on the evergreen Princesses and fairies theme.

The actual character illustrations were already completed when I came on board, so my contributions were mainly to create supporting images which included a new environment scene and numerous graphic elements to be included in an updated style guide.

As part of a potential change in design direction I also created the illustration you see on the left, which was inspired by successful computer animated movies such as Disney's Tangled and Frozen.



Me to you (tatty teddy) - character illustrations

My first ever published illustration! (click to zoom)

I was lucky enough to have my start as a professional illustrator drawing Tatty Teddy, the main character of the 'Me to You' card, plush and toy range from Carte Blanche Greetings.

This little guy is surprisingly hard to draw and getting his fur pattern (called 'ticks' by the in house artists) is an art in itself. 

Until recently every image was drawn traditionally using graphite and watercolour paint, so the slightest mistake could mean hours of reworking.  Long live digital illustration and CTRL+Z!

The illustration on the right was my first published image, not just on this project, but as a professional illustrator.

It was the first of many which were printed on greetings cards, stationery, clothing, mugs and pretty much anything else you can put an image on.



Shane Made Art

A big part of being an artist is showing your work to the world (or at least trying to!).  As part of my personal branding I created a logo, business card and coded a portfolio website from scratch.  That site has since been replaced with the one you're browsing now, but I liked the hand crafted style of the banner so I'm including it here.

The logo is designed to represent the different aspects of my artistic tastes, ranging from the cute and cuddly to the creepy and gruesome (much more of that kind of thing coming up in a future project!).

The business card features a more detailed version of the creature from the logo and, when cut out and folded as per the instructions, can be placed showing the mean guy or the cutie pie.



mr.men

3D CGI style test (click to zoom)

Although most of my work focuses on the creation of original characters and worlds, occasionally the opportunity comes along to work on some well known existing brands, such was the case when I had the chance to go completely 'off style guide' for a Mr. Men card pitch for Gemma International.

Having grown up with the brand I was keen to put my own twist on such a well loved bunch of characters.  As the brand owners are protective over the character designs, and rightly so, I decided to focus on the rendering style rather than make any dramatic changes.

So I went to town and covered as many materials and mediums as I had time for, including felt, plasticine, denim, silk, spray paint, pastels, fabric applique, watercolour, 3D CGI, flat shaded and even pixel art.  All of these and more are shown on the moodboards below. 



Blue Nose Friends - promo illustrations

Illustration for use on an advent calendar (click to enlarge)

I find that characters really come to life when you put them in the right environment, so after designing the 'Blue Nose Friends' and creating their world it was time to throw them all together!

For each plush launch (usually four characters at a time, every three months) I illustrated a full scene to be used on the brand website and marketing materials, such as leaflets, posters and in store displays in retailers such as Clinton's and Tesco.

Occasionally a scene would also be used on other products, such as advent calendars, stationery, partyware and even apparel.

During my time at Carte Blanche Greetings these were the most fun pieces to work on as they included characters, environments and storytelling elements, all rendered with believable lighting schemes - all of my favourite things!



Blue nose friends - character design pitch

'Georgina' the dragon - click to enlarge

When the 'My Blue Nose Friends' brand was around four years old it was decided it was due a bit of a revamp.  I was briefed to punch up the colours and use some trendy patterns to make the plush toys a bit more funky for the early fans who were potentially growing out of the brand.  

Rather than do a simple palette swap I went a step further and developed a whole new character concept pitch made up of themed characters based on a whole bunch of fun stuff rather than just animals.

With this amount of freedom I was in my element, and I'm still proud of the characters I created, even if ultimately it was a bit of an experiment.

 



Blue Nose friends - app development

I'm a huge gamer, so to get a look behind the scenes of how they're made was super-interesting, and having the opportunity to contribute to two of them was even better!

I worked mainly as a concept artist and occasional brand consultant on both of the games listed below;

  • 'Blue Nose Friends, Tatty Puppy' (iOS and Android app) - Working with developer Masters of Pie providing feedback on character models and concept art for backgrounds.  Several of my existing illustrations were also used as assets throughout the app.
    .
  • 'Me to You, My Place' (Facebook game) - Assisting Sharkius Games providing isometric character turnarounds, asset designs and feedback on  externally produced artwork.
 
 
Shane was not only an easy chap to get along with but gave vital feedback in a clear and constructive manner that illustrated his professionalism and expertise.
His obvious artistic talent is a given, but his positive attitude throughout made it a joy to work with him.
— Karl Maddix - Director, Masters of Pie


Me to you (Tatty teddy) - environment design

Many cards and products featuring Tatty Teddy often required a background to place him on.  This was especially true of 'pop-up' greeting cards, which commonly used several layers to create the illusion of depth.  

Some of the illustrations below look oddly flat, but this was to account for the fact that they would be printed on folding areas of the card and therefore the perspective would be completely skewed depending on the angle of the layer.

Just like the original Tatty Teddy illustrations, each image in this section is drawn traditionally in graphite with watercolour accents.

 



Gemma corporate and marketing

As Gemma International's Senior Illustrator I'm often called upon to help out when illustrations are needed for marketing and corporate materials.

This is often a chance to do something a bit more 'designy' and technical, but can also involve some fun character work if needed!



tatty teddy & Blue nose friends - figurine design

As well as creating illustrations for 2D print products, I also had the chance to design dozens of collectible resin figurines featuring blue nose characters in a wide variety of situations. 

Working with the final product in mind really helped to hone my visualisation skills, and even though I didn't sculpt the actual models, everything I've drawn since is imagined in 3D before it's put onto paper.

Below is a selection of some of my favourite collectibles produced from my drawings.



General cute

In my time as an illustrator I've designed hundreds of characters, some of which never make it beyond a single sketch.  

Others might have wide appeal, such as Ruffles or Little Oink - which justify the creation of an entire greeting card range - and some might perfectly suit a few niche sending occasions.

Below are several characters just like this.



Jigsaw puzzle illustrations

The detailed world of Tatty Teddy and My Blue Nose Friends lends itself perfectly to jigsaw puzzles, which is why the world's number one jigsaw puzzle maker, Ravensberger, were so keen to include some Tatty Teddy products in their range.

As a result of this partnership I created multiple illustrations which you can see in their final format below.

To maintain the customer's interest a puzzle illustration must be packed full of details.  This means that they are quite time consuming to create but it's also a bunch of fun trying to think of props to include and how they can be incorporated in a compelling way.



Disney

Working for Disney has been an ambition of mine for as long as I can remember, and although I haven't relocated to California (yet!), in a roundabout way I've come close to achieving this goal through the work I've contributed below.  These were;

  • Winnie the Pooh - Original pose concepts for a new plush toy range.
     
  • Alice in Wonderland - 'Off styleguide' approach to the Disney classic for use on high end licensed gift wrap and bags.  The poses below are a mixture of existing, new, and a combination of the two.
     
  • Baby Pooh & Pals - A reimagining of Winnie the Pooh and his friends as babies created for a personal project.


Tatty teddy & my blue nose friends - toy range

A lot of my Blue Nose Friends environment illustrations went on to inspire the look and feel of the award-winning toy play sets produced by Worlds Apart, but I also had the chance to contribute to them directly by illustrating many of the stickers used to decorate their interiors.

Having to fit the art around physical objects made the process feel a lot like dressing an imaginary stage set, which was a new experience for me.

A personal highlight was designing the ice cream parlour posters as I don't often get a chance to dabble in illustrative graphic design.

A fireplace illustration featured in the Tatty Teddy 'Heart house' play set

The Tatty Teddy toys TV ad



blue nose friends- animated shorts

If I wasn't so focussed on illustration then I would definitely like to devote some time to learning and producing animation, as seeing my characters moving and acting brings them to life in a way a static image can't even come close to.

These two shorts were created as promotional campaigns for the 'My Blue Nose Friends' brand, and were produced from scratch in little under a month each, with myself as the only artist and the talented guys over at Gizmo taking on animation duties as well as all the technical bits and bobs.

My responsibilities included;

  • Storyboarding both shorts
  • Illustrating all character and background assets
  • Animation direction
Shane created all of the content we used to create the animations. We worked closely together to achieve the finished piece.

He created a very detailed storyboard for us to follow and was always open to drawing new character frames as the process went along. He also suggested methods we might use to achieve the desired look in a time and cost-effective manner.

He is a very talented and meticulous illustrator who quickly turned his hand to using his talents for animation, gaining a solid grasp of the processes involved and what was required by us.

I would not hesitate to recommend him as a talented and diligent artist and we hope to work with him again some day.
— Steve Whiteley - Animation Director & Owner, Gizmo Animation