Monday, 30 December 2013

Accurate drawing

Don’t choose to be more expressive simply because you’re not capable of accuracy yet. Expand your abilities so that you have the choice. 

Monday, 23 December 2013


How many weak designs have you tried to correct by adding something?

Each addition subtracts.

Instead, distill your message to its essence. An image. A word. A thought.

It’s true for speaking, it’s true for writing, and it’s true for design.
John McWade
Whole (short) article here.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Virgin birth

Who in their right mind would believe in a virgin birth today? Probably about the same number of people who would have believed it 2,000 years ago.
David Robertson

Friday, 22 November 2013

50th anniversary of CS Lewis's death

If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Using computers to fix your mistakes :-)

No idea why the white paper looks grey!
On the left: My pencil drawing.
On the right: Face smaller on head, head smaller, neck longer, waist longer, thighs longer, not falling over! Still not superhero proportions, but at least not completely weird looking!

And here she is inked and coloured:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Using photo reference for illustrations

If it’s right (ie, looks just like the photo) but looks wrong (ie, the drawing looks weird) then it’s wrong.

If it’s wrong (ie, doesn’t look exactly like the photo) but right (ie, looks good as a drawing) then it’s right.
Declan Shalvey

Ancient Hebrew music

This lady thinks she has decoded the ancient hebrew music for the Psalms etc. Whether or not she's right, this is beautiful:

You could fit the English words to it as well, if you wanted.

It's a nice soundtrack to my work, although ironically I am drawing the musicians from Daniel 3!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Girly misogyny?

Just had a thought.

One half* of the population is put off Christianity because it's twee and girly, or a nice thing for old ladies and small children, not real men.

The other half** is put off Christianity because it's misogynist, patriarchal and oppresses women.

Would it be fanciful to suggest that the devil is rubbing his hands in glee?

Might this not also suggest that, if Christianity is being interpreted in such contradictory ways, it's just possible neither interpretation is true?

*This is hyperbole.
** As is this.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A little organic shape in a sea of rectangles.

My mum said she didn't think my dad had ever been described like that before.
But that's what I immediately thought when I saw him sorting out boxes.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


It's not surprising we have such problems decoding ancient symbols.

I mean -  this symbol is fairly clear to me:

by Adam Whitcroft, from The Noun Project

but if an archaeologist 1000 years in the future, in a completely different society, was looking at it, would 'upload to the internet' immediately spring to mind? Particularly if the internet and the concept of uploading to it were unknown.

What do you think they might decide it symbolised?

Friday, 4 October 2013

I wish I didn't care about historical accuracy

What I'm supposed to be doing is drawing David & Goliath.

What I'm actually doing is worrying over what Goliath's armour should look like. It says bronze scale armour, but the only kind of armour I've ever seen Philistines wearing looks more like plate armour, or perhaps leather armour. But maybe it is scale armour, with the plates drawn in rows? And how do the shoulder pieces fit? Were the Egyptians even drawing it accurately? Maybe I should look at other ancient scale armour instead? But the pictures are so vague! And what kind of tunic and armour did Saul lend David? What are the Hebrew words? And what are the other instances when these Hebrew words are used? And why is my database of Biblical costume words not working? And...

I'm not over-thinking this at all :-)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Samson & Delilah

This was a fun one! (Should such a tragic story be fun?)

I decided dreadlocks made the most sense of the story, and they almost took on a character of their own (they also seem to mysteriously alter their length from picture to picture - oops!)


Delilah was tricky, as I have no idea what Philistine women wore. So I based her outfit on Minoan/Mycenaean women, as they were Sea Peoples like the Philistines. 


I did think this might be a problem, as the favoured style amongst Minoan/Mycenaean women was a frontless blouse. While I'm sure Samson would have appreciated that, Sunday School teachers might not...

So I was glad to find this statue with a decently fastened-up dress!

Minoan lady
 Btw, if you don't know the story you can read it here.

And you can buy my PowerPoint presentation here.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

I wonder which answer sounds more odd?

Q: Do you have a mobile number you could give me?
A: No, I don't


Q: Do you have a mobile number you could give me?
A: Well, I do have one - but it's never switched on ...

Both, of course, followed by 'but you can contact me on my landline.'

I am an oddity, I know :-)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Coming soon to a classroom near you

This would be so much easier if I actually knew the muscles and didn't need reference for absolutely everything.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

I'm not a Luddite

I am, for example, quite happy to buy stuff online.

However, when I go into a brick and mortar shop, I want to be served by a flesh and blood person. Someone who I can say hello and thank you to and will do the same to me. We might smile at each other - even enjoy a brief joke or some other form of human communication.

Self-service checkouts are fine for those who want to use them. Choice is good. But my personal choice is to stand in the queue and wait. Please don't require your employees to try to cajole me to do otherwise.

Thank you.

Monday, 2 September 2013


I wrote this a while back and never posted it:

I'm about to start a new series of illustrations on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I'm trying to design the characters properly, as I did the 12 disciples a while back. However, I'm finding it a lot more difficult to get a sense of these characters. It's hard to nail them down.

I think one reason may be that it's a different kind of writing. The gospels were written by people close to the events - by the disciples themselves, by people who knew them, or by people who knew people who knew them. Genesis is different: Moses was writing six or seven hundred years after the events (presumably based on early written or oral sources, but there's still not the same immediacy).

Perhaps partly because of this, the two types of writing have a very different feel. Genesis - particularly the story of Abraham - is epic. You get the sense of long distances travelled, sweeping views, vast starry skies, heroic battles. We are rarely in a city or even a village. Although you know there are a lot of people around (Abraham has a large entourage, including a private army of 318 trained men!) you get more of a feeling of a solitary hero.

The gospels are much more homely in feel - village life, city streets, jostling crowds, ordinary people. Although some of the travel is similarly extensive, even over some of the same territory, it feels much smaller and more enclosed.

And you know, that makes sense. When God chose a man, he made him great. But when God himself came to earth, he didn't come as a respected tribal chief with great wealth, many servants and a private army. He came as an average working class man from an unimportant town.

(You can see the pictures I ended up with here - click on buttons:)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Introducing Lamp Bible Pictures

Are you looking for PowerPoints for teaching the Bible to children?

I have a new site called...

You can click on the logo above to go there.

My aim with these PowerPoints is that they should be:
  • Clear and simple.
  • Easy to use.
  • Biblically accurate.
  • Historically accurate.

There are only a few PowerPoints available as yet. However, there are many more coming shortly...

If you join the mailing list ( you will receive an email whenever a new story is available. You will have the opportunity to download a free upgrade whenever I do a new improved version of a story you have already bought.

Presentations have between 5 and 10 pictures each. They cost £5 or £6 (approx $7.75 or $9.30), depending on size.

Any text used on the slides is editable, so they can be used in any translation or language.

Thanks to the people on the Grid graphic design forum for advice on the logo.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Inside a computer keyboard

This is what you will see if you happen to spill Irn Bru (or another drink) on your keyboard, and you have to take it apart to dry it out.

No technical skill or fancy tools needed, just care, a screwdriver and a paper towel. 
  1. Unscrew all screws and lift off back plate.
  2. Lift off the acetate with the lines on it.
  3. Lift off little rubber cup things (shown in tub). They are what make the keys bounce up again when you press them.
  4. Dry any dampness on back of keyboard.
  5. Dry acetate. It's three layers - dry between them if necessary.
  6. Put little rubber cups back in all the circles (cup side up).
  7. Place acetate back where it was - line up screw holes.
  8. Place on back plate and screw.
  9. Make a mental note not to put open Irn Bru bottles down beside your keyboard.
  10. Continue with the work you actually intended doing today.

hand37y h8int

d3on't sp8ill 8i5rn b5ru on 7you5r compute5r ke7yboa5rd3...

Friday, 23 August 2013

How to commission an illustrator

A very useful wee booklet aimed at self-publishers.
(Click on picture)

My only issue with it is that it doesn't make enough of the fact that freelancers have overheads. It talks about 'how much do you think they should earn', but of course what we earn is only a proportion of our fee (just as any company has expenses other than wages).


“Design looks easier than it is, and it’s more important than it looks.”
— John McWade, Before & After

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The epitome of randomness

An imperial stormtrooper in a kilt.
Saw this in Central Station.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Avoid distraction on the internet!

I have just found this add-on for Firefox called Leechblock.

It allows you to block certain websites on your browser. I have added a number to it already - sites which are addictive and a complete waste of time. I have tried just using willpower before, but...

What you can do:
  • Block certain sites all the time.
  • Block sites only at certain times (e.g. when you're supposed to be working).
  • Allow yourself a limited daily dose (e.g 10 mins only).
  • Set a temporary block if you want (e.g. not allowed in for 4 hours.)
  • Set a password (though some reviews say it's easy to get around, so not ideal for strict parental control) but you don't need to, and can just use it as a tool for self-discipline.
  • Sort your sites into different groups with different rules.
  • Block all internet access except x. This could be useful when the only reason I need to connect to the internet is to listen to the radio or podcasts.
Wht it doesn't do: block all access to the internet except that which is genuinely work-related. I suppose mind-reading hasn't come that far yet.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Time flies

To a 10 year old today, the 90s are as ancient as the 60s were to me.

(early 90s and late 60s, but still...)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Historical treasures

It's ages since I posted. In my defence, I was on holiday for two weeks.

Here's a somewhat lengthy quote from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (1889).

Why, all our art treasures of to-day are only the dug-up commonplaces of three or four hundred years ago.  I wonder if there is real intrinsic beauty in the old soup-plates, beer-mugs, and candle-snuffers that we prize so now, or if it is only the halo of age glowing around them that gives them their charms in our eyes.  The “old blue” that we hang about our walls as ornaments were the common every-day household utensils of a few centuries ago; and the pink shepherds and the yellow shepherdesses that we hand round now for all our friends to gush over, and pretend they understand, were the unvalued mantel-ornaments that the mother of the eighteenth century would have given the baby to suck when he cried.

Will it be the same in the future?  Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before?  Will rows of our willow-pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd?  Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?

That china dog that ornaments the bedroom of my furnished lodgings.  It is a white dog.  Its eyes blue.  Its nose is a delicate red, with spots.  Its head is painfully erect, its expression is amiability carried to verge of imbecility.  I do not admire it myself.  Considered as a work of art, I may say it irritates me.  Thoughtless friends jeer at it, and even my landlady herself has no admiration for it, and excuses its presence by the circumstance that her aunt gave it to her.

But in 200 years’ time it is more than probable that that dog will be dug up from somewhere or other, minus its legs, and with its tail broken, and will be sold for old china, and put in a glass cabinet.  And people will pass it round, and admire it.  They will be struck by the wonderful depth of the colour on the nose, and speculate as to how beautiful the bit of the tail that is lost no doubt was.

We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog.  We are too familiar with it.  It is like the sunset and the stars: we are not awed by their loveliness because they are common to our eyes.  So it is with that china dog.  In 2288 people will gush over it.  The making of such dogs will have become a lost art.  Our descendants will wonder how we did it, and say how clever we were.  We shall be referred to lovingly as “those grand old artists that flourished in the nineteenth century, and produced those china dogs.”

The “sampler” that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as “tapestry of the Victorian era,” and be almost priceless.  The blue-and-white mugs of the present-day roadside inn will be hunted up, all cracked and chipped, and sold for their weight in gold, and rich people will use them for claret cups; and travellers from Japan will buy up all the “Presents from Ramsgate,” and “Souvenirs of Margate,” that may have escaped destruction, and take them back to Jedo as ancient English curios.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

New website

Forgot to say, I now have a new website. This is not just a slightly rearranged portfolio, but a complete site with lots of different portfolios, which is far less confusing.

Still needs a few tweaks - like things not lining up properly due to program having no guidelines.
And I will add/adapt the content too.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Tax return

I filed my tax return yesterday.

I was needing to know my profit for the year, and having got that far, it made sense to complete it and send it in. But it feels very odd. I half thought of keeping the actual sending till 31st Jan (final deadline) just for tradition's sake!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Friday, 21 June 2013

From a job ad

Excellent English and grammer skills is essential as copywriting will be an integral part of this job.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


I now have blinds in my studio.

Sorry for poor quality phone picture!

I was getting the afternoon sun blazing in, turning the room into an oven and reflecting off my screen. Which was not helping my work. The blinds make a huge difference.

The colour makes me think of blue houses in India or Greece, and Cambridge blue lobelias.

Thanks to my dad and his step ladder.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Snowy light

A nice seasonal picture. (As always, this is a colour study, not a good picture)

10am, Feb 5, looking North towards Glasgow

Friday, 7 June 2013

Lydia purple

Have just recently been illustrating Lydia.

I've tried to make the purple as accurate as possible, while still being 'purple'. Do you think I've got the balance right? Does this look like purple to you?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Five have a safe, sensible time.

I dreamed I wrote this blog post, so here it is:
Once upon a time, there were three children called Julian, Dick and Anne. One summer, they went to stay with their cousin, George. They played in the garden, with George's dog, Timmy. Sometimes, if Aunt Fanny was there to look after them, they went to the beach. In the distance, there was an island. "Maybe I'll go there one day," said George. 
The end.
I have such profound dreams. 

It was possibly because I've been re-reading Shirley Hughes' autobiography, and she comments that modern publishers tend to make books about real-world children (as opposed to fantasy) very tame, for fear of giving children ideas.

Monday, 3 June 2013


From the newsletter of the author of the book I illustrated:

There has been considerable encouragement recently concerning The Journey of Life (Ulendo wa Moyo). One missionary couple reports that they have had people queuing up in the villages to buy the book! We now know of two Bible schools that have started using the book with their students and a big, private Christian secondary school in Blantyre has made it part of their curriculum for their first years. There have also been some very touching stories, such as the orphanage that could only afford one copy where that single book was read, according to a missionary, by every child until it was almost in pieces! We thank the Lord that we are beginning to see the first fruits of a project that we undertook to bless Malawi with a version of Pilgrim’s Progress that would be meaningful and relevant to its people.

You can buy the book here.
More about making the book here.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Do not worry

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

‘And why do you worry about clothes? 

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If you would like to use these pictures, you can buy a PowerPoint of them here.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Spring in the city

I love this little patch of bluebells, right beside the motorway.

Bluebells at Anderston

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Portfolio thoughts

Just rearranged the illustrations in my portfolio. I realised that if my two main selling points were 'historical' and 'educational' it might be a good idea if the first pictures in my portfolio actually fitted this category.

I know that my illustration is very average (should I be saying that in public?) compared to others. Where my real strength lies is in my historical knowledge, attention to detail etc. I know I'm good at this, and I need to play to my strengths.

Friday, 17 May 2013

A Million Dollar idea

Pretty sure my ideas aren't worth millions. But the principle still applies.

Video by Jason Brubaker. Btw his comic, reMIND is well worth checking out (if a comic about a cartoon cat, a girl, and lizard men, described as 'a mystical sci-fi about faith, love and brain transplantation.' is the kind of thing that appeals to you.)


When it comes to media ... We really need people to be sceptical about the way they receive the news.
Germaine Greer

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Ballgowns etc

Just watched a very interesting programme where they recreate an authentic ball from Pride & Prejudice.

They have some other extra wee videos. Here's a nice one of 1813 fashion:


At Sunday school we had a picture of King David. One of the 6-year-olds found it very amusing.
Child: He has a beard!
Me: What's so funny about that? Your dad has a beard.
Child: I think that, since my dad has a beard, my mum should grow one too.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Friday, 19 April 2013


What are we trying to do here? Again, what is the key goal? That is: to get the project out there. To get it finished.
Chris Oatley in a time management podcast


The fact that your mind is capable of taking a circle, two dots and a line and turning them into a face is nothing short of incredible.
Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics

Saturday, 13 April 2013

1 C4N R34D 7H15 -- C4N Y0U?

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD, BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17. B3
PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15!

Monday, 8 April 2013

So many ideas, so little time...

I have just thought of an idea for another picture book. 

I think that's five books I have in my head now. 

Will any of them ever happen?

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Christ is Risen!
Empty now the threat of death
As empty lay the grave
And all whose faith is in his life
Will know His power to save

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Judas & Judah

Some thoughts I was having on the train.

In our culture, 'Judas' is a name with a wholly negative meaning - traitor. But at the time of Jesus, it was just an ordinary name. Another of Jesus' disciples was called Judas, as was one of his brothers, one of the early church leaders, and some other random people.

In fact, it was probably quite a good name - a bit patriotic for someone living in Judæa, like 'Scott' might be here.

Judæa comes from Judah, the ancestor of one of the Israelite tribes the brother of Joseph (of technicolour dreamcoat fame). And that got me thinking about some similarities and differences between Judas Iscariot and the first Judah. I hope this all makes sense, as I don't have time to write much; I've just listed quotes with headings.


Who he was


one of Jacob's 12 sons

Jacob had twelve sons: The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. Genesis 35:23-26
note: Benjamin has not been born yet. There are 12 here because Dinah is included.


One of Jesus' 12 apostles

he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:13-15
Judas is the last one

What he did:


sold his brother for money

Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites [...] So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. Genesis 37:26-28


betrayed his Lord for money

Then one of the Twelve [disciples]—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver [Jesus] over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-15

How he felt afterwards


realised he had done wrong

They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen’ Genesis 42:21


realised he had done wrong

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ Matthew 27:3,4

What he did about it


showed he meant it by a changed life

[When Joseph was threatening to keep Benjamin as a slave, he said:] ‘Now then, please let [me] remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. Genesis 44:33

asked for forgiveness (and was forgiven)

"... forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.” Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.’ Genesis 50:17


did not ask for forgiveness and ended in tragedy

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5

His legacy


The ancestor of one of the tribes of Israel, all their kings, and Jesus himself

Judah, your brothers will praise you [...] The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come. Genesis 49:8,10
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: [...] Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers [...] King David[...] and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1:1-16
See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Revelation 5:5



‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’ Acts 1:20

But, behind the scenes, God is at work...


his evil plan brought about God's good plan

[Joseph said] "‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  [...] God sent me ahead of you [...] So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:4-8
'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good   Genesis 50:20-21


his evil plan brought about God's good plan

[Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to a cross. Acts 2:23
[The early church prayed] Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Acts 4:27-28

The result


physical lives are saved

[Joseph said] it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no ploughing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance ...You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there’ Genesis 45:5-11


spiritual lives are saved

He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:9-10

Monday, 25 March 2013

Did you know?

The ancient Egyptians had penicillin. They used mouldy bread as a treatment for wounds.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Making reinforced concrete foundations

Just in case you wanted to know how they do it...
The concrete goes all the way up to the top of the red crane thing, and then all the way down!

Paper is not dead

Best viewed full screen.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Banana Matzo

OK, I don't really think I need to give a recipe for this. Except that you should butter the Matzo so the banana doesn't fall off.


Hope you're not yet bored of purple dyes...
I have just discovered that Alizarin comes from the Madder plant - which is what Thyatiran 'Purple' was made from.

It's a bit too red in the photo.

Alizarin Crimson paint is actually now often made from Quinacridone, which is more lightfast, but has nothing like as nice a name. Nor as nice a colour.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Natural pigments

Here's a very interesting set of posts on making paint from natural materials.

One of the colours she used was madder, which is particularly interesting in the light of my previous post about purple. In Thyatira, purple was made from the madder plant, not shellfish. This means it would be even redder than most ancient purple. 

Interesting conundrum for illustrating: do I make Lydia's 'purple' completely historically accurate, therefore not actually what we would call purple at all? Or do I make it closer to what we would call purple - not being strictly accurate, but going as red as possible while still being purple to our eyes?

I think I would lean to the latter for illustrations to be used while telling a story. It has to make sense, and it's enough to have to stop and explain to the children that purple clothes were very expensive in those days, without trying to explain that they also weren't actually purple at all... In an information-type book, however, you could give more of an explanation. 

Sometimes you need to use a wee bit of artists' license.

Monday, 4 March 2013


These are the colours in my palette that I would consider to be purples:

 Particularly, these types of colours: 

c60 m60 y0 k0;   c60 m80 y0 k0;   c50 m90 y0 k0;   c40 m100 y0 k0

Purple is actually a tricky colour to show on screen.

For paint, I would consider dioxazine violet to be a very typical purple (mauve too, to a certain extent).

However, in ancient times, purple was a bit different.
It could vary too, but was closer to this:

r102 g2 b60 (approx c52 m99 y81 k7)

I've just added this to my palette. I have others that would work well too - but only the last one was in my original 'purple' chart:

c22 m100 y40 k46;   c15 m100 y40 k35;   c20 m100 y30 k15