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All works © helen dodsworth.
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Friday, 15 July 2016

New greetings cards now available in my Etsy shop, see link below :)

This is my entry for the Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2016, for the theme of Nonsense literature with a modern twist. I was thinking about lies we tell to explain things it’s hard to understand, with explaining where babies come from to children being a classic example. In my image I’ve included some of the things adults tell children, but also some of the stories children tell to themselves to explain where they come from. I think my favourite one was that they parachute out of an aeroplane and their dad’s catch them on the hospital roof!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Down the rabbit hole with Essex libraries

I was commissioned to create some illustrations for Essex Libraries (funded by Arts Council England). My illustrations were put on display across libraries in Essex to make a Wonderland trail as part of their Down the rabbit hole event to celebrate the 150yr anniversary of Alice in Wonderland.

You can see all the illustrations on my website www.helendodsworth.carbonmade.com but I thought I'd post a few here too.

Workshop for Down the Rabbit Hole event at Essex libraries

As part of this project I ran a workshop at Chelmsford library, to consult with a group of young people about what parts of the story they would like me to illustrate, and to think about character design.
The work shown here is by Katie, Rebecca, Eloise, Sarah, Jessica, Gabriella and Ella.
A big thank you to you all for joining in, it was great to work with you all.

This is a close up of the quick thumbnail sketches I drew for each scene, under direction from the group, during the workshop. Although the exact composition was tweaked and added to when I worked on the final illustrations, I kept these in mind whilst drawing, with a few extra details added here and there.

I thought I’d post a photo of my work space. Whilst I was working on the illustrations I had copies of the drawings from the workshop stuck on the wall next to me, along with the written descriptions for the characters that the group gave me, and layout ideas for each scene.

Here are some drawings from the workshop for the scene where Alice meets the Cheshire cat. In the story the cat is up the tree with Alice stood below looking up, but I loved the groups idea of having Alice and the cat in the tree together instead, it just seemed more fun that way. I love Alice’s expression in this drawing and the way she is leaning towards the cat, they look deep in conversation!

Wonderland trail images for Down the Rabbit Hole at Essex libraries

This is my final illustration for this scene, which I think is pretty close to the original idea. I couldn’t resist adding the blue caterpillar to the branch below though (as Alice meeting the caterpillar wasn’t a scene chosen by the group I thought it would be nice if he still made a guest appearance somewhere!)

This is one of my favourite scenes. I have made this one a little more chaotic, I thought it would be fun to have the accused thief the knave of hearts sneaking away and one of the animals stealing a tart, both taking advantage of the queen being distracted by Alice.

This is a design created by one of the group at the workshop, showing how the cards running to capture Alice could start turning into leaves as she wakes up on the river bank.

Alice waking up. I couldn’t resist adding the blue caterpillar again hiding in her apron pocket. I liked the idea of a bit of wonderland still being with her after she had woken up.

Activity for the wonderland trail for Down the Rabbit Hole at Essex libraries

Each image on this scene is printed out on a separate piece of A4 paper, which will then be stuck on a wall inside each library and arranged into the scene above.
After the children have followed the images of Alice in Wonderland around a trail within the library they will get to this scene. They will then take part in an activity where they can colour in a card soldier template to cut out and add to the scene, then colour one of the white roses on the bushes red to help their card before the queen arrives.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Delivery by Owl for the Big Hoot 2015 in Birmingham

This is the design I entered to decorate an owl sculpture for the Big Hoot, a large scale art event across the streets of Birmingham in 2015. The brief was very open, the design could be based on anything to do with Birmingham, or owls, or really anything at all that you fancied (so long as it wouldn't cause offense!)

I started by researching things to do with Birmingham. I had no idea just how many interesting things were connected to the city, or how many inventions were created there. I ended up with quite a long list, and didn't really want to leave any out. The postage stamp was invented in Birmingham and covering my owl in stamps gave me the perfect excuse to include them all.
I worked on decorating my owl at home, in my living room. I got used to having him about and had a bit of empty nest syndrome once he was taken away.
The stamps are based on: Birmingham Sea life centre had Olive the psychic octopus (I think she was inspired by Paul the octopus that predicted the world cup scores).
Birmingham also has an International Military Tattoo (that the little owl stamp is dressed up for).
 The other owl is dressed as Sherlock Holmes as Arthur Conan Doyle lived here when he had his first work published.
The wizard is there as the writer of Lord of the rings JRR Tolkien spent his childhood here.
Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park has Capybaras (I love these giant guinea pigs).
The satellite dish is there as a key component of radar was created here.
What big eyes he has.......all the better to see you with!
My owl has a canal boat on his head as Birmingham is also known as 'canal city' (it has more canals than Venice)
Two great bands from Birmingham, Dexys Midnight Runners and Black Sabbath (I had 'Come on Eileen' as an earworm for sometime painting this).
Also did you know there is a crater on the moon called Birmingham?
The tower at the bottom is Perrott's Folly, which JRR Tolkien lived near as a child and said it inspired his novels (it isn't actually white, that was a bit of artistic licence on my part-you could say the magical lightening flashes are turning it white).
The first x-ray was taken in Birmingham too.  
There used to be a King Kong statue outside the old bull ring shopping centre, he looked great from the photos of him I've seen, so I had to include him.
Novacon is an annual science fiction convention that started in Birmingham in 1971 (I'm sure a dalek must've attended at some point)
To me the bull statue at the new bull ring centre looks a bit miffed. I think he gets a bit tired of all the tourists wanting to have their picture taken with him, but it's his own fault for looking so great.
Birmingham planetarium is definitely worth a visit.
The University of Birmingham has a robotics laboratory, you can also see some great robots at the Thinktank science museum.
This lizard is a Blue-Tongued Skink (one of the best names I've ever heard so I had to include it just for that), it lives at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park
The top one on the side is a sculpture at Moseley Bog, a place that is said to have inspired the Old Forest in Lord of the Rings
You can find the Emperor Monkey at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park too (who could resist a monkey with a moustache?!)
Birmingham's Castle Bromwich factory produced over 10,000 Spitfires, including the one at the Thinktank science museum.
I have added some work in progress photos below too

 But it felt a bit slow so I alternated between colours in the end and it made him come to life a little quicker.
I started by adding all the areas of the same colour at the same time, one by one.
 Once I had all the sketching out done I could start with the blocks of colour. Each colour took a few layers to properly apply, but it was a nice smooth surface to work on and quite therapeutic.
After working out what was going where, I started drawing in pencil. The drawing flowed quite nicely but the frilly edges were slightly troublesome at first.
 There's a big difference between drawing on a flat A4 design and painting a curved owl that's bigger than you, so I spent a bit of time working out layout and sizes. The original paper template was front and back only, but I'd had some extra stamp designs I'd had to leave off, so I was happy to add them back on again to the sides of my owl.

Unwrapping my owl in my living room, such a lovely blank canvas to work with!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Mummy and Me Bake (DK Books)

I was very happy to get my copy of this book, it’s my first book for DK Books that I have been the sole illustrator for which was exciting!

For this commission I worked with another great senior designer, Hannah Moore. Hannah would give me a brief for the illustrations she wanted and then she added the photos and the text. I really like the way she added the photos of the veg underneath on this one.
I really enjoyed drawing the little bouncy olives
I think the veg pages were my favourites!
Keeping the illustrations very simple, with any people drawn in a childlike style, was key for this project. It was also good practice for me in drawing in a freer, doodling way.
I loved how playful and inventive Hannah was in adding the photos, the broccoli trees are brilliant (I do love broccoli though so I might be slightly biased)
As well as all the great recipes it also has some good educational sections
The teddy bear crops up a few times throughout the book. I love the cheerfulness of this page design, think I might make that cake myself too!
Here he is in a few of the other pages
I also enjoyed adding a few little bees and bugs to a page on making 'blossom biscuits'
I like the idea of a building made out of blocks of brownies, would be a bit too hard to resist though I think!
This book was great fun to work on, doodling over the top of these pasties to turn them into chickens didn't feel like work at all!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Ultimate Factivity Dinosaurs

Another educational activity book by DK Books, I really enjoy working on these titles.

I worked with another brilliant designer, Ria Holland on this one. She would send me the brief for the illustration, and then add the text and the background. I really like the background for this one, I think it's my favourite page design in the book.

An illustration to be coloured in. I like adding little details, in this one it was the tiny dino hitching a lift on a slightly bigger one. This series of books have a lot of stickers in the back to be added to the pages, I used to love stickers as a child (my bedroom door was covered in them) and would've loved these books.

    Another fossil themed spread, I couldn't resit having the small dino fossil biting the big one!

I also had some of my little illustration peaking out in some of the other pages, these two were my favourite