I’ve decided to create a short preview version of my fantasy gamebook Beyond the Morning Mountains as a free download available to anyone interested in sampling my creation and trying out the unique gameplay of the Tales of Quahnarren series. Here’s a few spreads from the preview pdf:
Progress in writing and illustrating the complete book has been continuing well (currently at around 55,000 words), although it was recently halted to produce this special preview version of an early section within the full adventure. The pdf is available to download from the Tales of Quahnarren website here and I’m keen to receive any comments or feedback on the project from those who play this preview version.
The main title was hand lettered by me using PITT artist pens, referencing the early lettering style of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz. As a huge fan of his work, I was very keen to create a colourful design that respectfully conveyed a classic comic style with an obvious Peanuts feel, while also matching the set design which will feature large comic panel sections on the stage backdrop. Charlie Brown’s iconic zigzag T-shirt, which was also hand drawn and inked, became an important central element in the design as it offers a strongly contrasting and very striking pattern.
Further promotional design work for this production will use these key elements in a variety of different combinations, which have been deliberately created to provide a flexible system of components for any desired layout or format.
Petrel Cove is a small beach situated at Encounter Bay on the coast of South Australia. Pictured here is the steep bluff of Rosetta Head, together with some of the steeply dipping metasedimentary rocks, which form prominent jagged rock platforms. There is just a 50m pocket of open sand and a bar, which is also the location of a permanent rip. Petrel Cove is a notorious spot on the south coast, causing trouble for swimmers and surfers with its dangerous currents, large waves and rocks, or for those exploring the slippery and hazardous rock pools.
I’ve recently been creating several illustrated articles for my Tales of Quahnarren project site, detailing some of the unique items to be found within the world of Quahnarren. The Objects and Artefacts page will be regularly updated with further new pieces as they are completed, and will eventually contain a wealth of information regarding the daily lives of the Quahneri people, their possessions, customs and beliefs.
My poster design for Children of the Black Skirt is currently enjoying a second coming as it is now being used again to promote the new shows by Ink Pot Arts Inc for the 2015 Adelaide Fringe. I’ve slightly altered the positioning of the main title to accommodate the ticketing and support requirements, which has actually improved the design slightly in comparison to the original poster.
A fun little piece that shows me hand lettering in the sky for Gone Troppo.
I’ve created a 16-page pdf booklet as a bonus download on bandcamp, which features a selection of the photos taken by me during filming, together with a few video stills of the pro surfers shown in action during the video clip. All of the images have been given an appropriate ‘grunge’ surfing look, adding texture and colour enhancements to accurately capture the coastal feel. Here’s four images from the booklet:
The previously posted music video can also be found here.
I was contacted in December last year by talented artist Ruth Fabiano, who designs and sells wooden boxes that look like real books. She was keen to create a box using my artwork for Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes – one of my favourite fantasy stories from the master storyteller. I was more than happy to see her use my design to make one of her fabulous boxes, and as you can see above she has done a great job in capturing the cover with her wood-burning and hand-decoration techniques.
Here’s my original cover design:
You can check out further images of the box here on Ruth’s Etsy site, where you can also view her many other designs for such books as The Lord of the Rings, Peter Pan, A Game of Thrones, The Mists of Avalon, Alice in Wonderland, and many more.
Music video for Gone Troppo‘s surf-rock instrumental Last Wave at Waitpinga. The video was a simple production shot quickly with a basic camera and then edited within iMovie, showing the story of local beach culture and the surfing journey from novice to professional on the fabulous beaches along the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia. We visited beaches at Middleton, Port Elliot and Waitpinga, recording footage from late morning through to the evening, capturing the people, the landscape and all of the superb ocean views available.
A major emergency has been declared at Sampson Flat in the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges, north-east of Adelaide, South Australia. The out-of-control bushfire is acting erratically and unpredictably, and is burning freely in all directions, driven by shifting, gusty winds and scattered thunderstorms.
My first two images of the forming smoke clouds were taken yesterday afternoon, and the following four images were taken at about 10am this morning as massive smoke clouds built up again. I live a safe distance away near to the south of Mount Lofty, so am able to take these photographs from an elevated position looking north-east across the Adelaide Hills. These fascinating and quite spectacular formations are only a minor part of the devastation happening unseen to me down on the ground, and I hope that the great work of all our emergency services can save lives and property over the coming days that this fire is expected to burn.
Cover designs for a new track by art-music collective Gone Troppo. This was an interesting design process, due to the songwriter requesting the investigation of an alternative approach that further referenced the ‘sand’ element from the song. My initial thoughts were that without the high contrast of the original blue & yellow design, the overall impression created by the thin linework would be too diluted and therefore not stand out enough at the small scale of an icon, which is where this artwork would mainly be viewed.
As it turned out, the design still works well with a lighter textured background and my concerns were proven incorrect. This is always an interesting part of the design process for me, and something I’ve regularly communicated to clients when changes are discussed. Many requested changes are often very difficult to judge accurately before simply trying them to see the actual impact on the finished design. Experience has shown me that some small adjustments can have a significant negative effect on a design, dramatically changing the flow, appearance or readability in a way that myself and/or the client will not accept. Current digital production methods certainly make it far easier to alter artwork and investigate options, especially compared to when my artwork was mostly hand drawn and assembled – but any changes incur extra time (and usually money) so the designer is responsible for efficiently advising a client and resolving all queries without futile and costly exploration.
My design features various elements from the song itself: a diamond, travel, a broken heart, the universe and a sunrise. The track is available to download at CD Baby.
I recently watched John Carpenter’s classic sci-fi film Escape from New York again, and was inspired to create a design featuring lead character Snake Plissken, played with rebellious coolness by Kurt Russell.
In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple: once you go in, you don’t come out.
I’ve always liked the setting, atmosphere, music and general style of this cult movie since first seeing it back as a young teenager. Snake is a great hero character and was to later be the inspiration for Solid Snake from the popular Metal Gear video game series.
The typography I’ve created is based on the font style used in the film for the prison signage, which I think really captures the unique 80’s look of type design during this period and is what I believe to be the signature font for this great film.
Prints, t-shirts and more available to purchase at søciety6.
A small wooden statue carved to represent a Qadhul, made by an accomplished craftsperson from the ancient Guahn peoples. The mythical Qadhul were menacingly intimidating creatures featuring a long prehensile trunk similar to the modern Makkhra, and historically were widely worshipped as significant spiritual creatures with divine attributes.
This example stands roughly one hand tall and was used as an incense burner, as it features a hole at the top of the head in which numerous sticks of incense can be inserted. It is therefore likely that this statue was of regular ceremonial use, appeasing the vengeful gods with aromatic smoke in combination with small gifts, prayers and songs of praise.
Recently I’ve been researching the early history of Australia as part of a script writing project, discovering many interesting facts and stories from this colonial period, particularly regarding the difficult life facing those arriving in the new colony under chains, and of those who became the first free citizens to be born in the new Australian nation.
After the arrival of the First Fleet into Botany Bay in 1788, the convicts were set to work building their own penal accommodation and the infrastructure required for the new settlement. Conditions were very harsh and punishment was brutally swift and extreme, which soon saw escapees bolting for the bush in the hope of surviving long enough to reach unknown settlements or to make their way across the seas to distant neighbouring countries. These ‘bolters’ were hopelessly inexperienced and ignorant of the vastness of the Australian bush and many perished from exposure, the lack of sufficient food, violence from their fellow absconders (including a number of victims who were killed and eaten by their desperately hungry freedom seeking mates) and deadly encounters with hostile natives.
By the 1820’s bushranging had become a widespread problem with many men choosing to take up arms and lead a life of horse, sheep and cattle stealing, raiding of settlers’ homesteads and farmhouses, and bold highway robberies. The Bushrangers Act was introduced in 1830 as a deterrent to those committing or assisting others to commit unlawful acts, giving powers to anyone to apprehend suspected criminals, or to search any suspicious individual thought to have firearms or other instruments of violent nature hidden or concealed about their person.
These brigands were often aided and supported by those who still sympathised with the plight of the outlaws after completing their own sentence and having been granted their freedom. Many citizens also continued to hold little respect for the authorities and governors of the colonies and were easily persuaded to help the bushrangers evade the lawmen, especially when they profited themselves from the goods looted and then offered cheaply.
The shocking, sensational and violent stories of men such as John ‘Black’ Caesar, Michael Howe, Alexander ‘The Cannibal’ Pearce, Thomas ‘The Monster’ Jeffery, Mathew Brady, Martin Cash, and Jack ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ Donohoe were eagerly devoured by a populace desiring for local stories telling true and engaging tales of undeserved injustice, criminal adventure and villainous acts to satisfy their need for diversionary entertainment from their lives of tiresome labour, constant struggle and hardship.
Gold was then discovered near Bathurst, New South Wales in 1851, and also in Victoria later that year, which soon saw many bushrangers taking to the roads to hold up the rapidly increasing numbers of ‘diggers’, gold convoys and coaches travelling across the country. Bail ups were now common across the goldfields and robbery under arms was a constant danger for everyone using the roads by foot, horseback or vehicle.
Gangs of bushrangers would stop travellers with threats of violence and death, rob them of valuables and then tie them up off the road so that they could not continue to raise the alarm at the next town. The bushrangers were often talented horsemen who stole the fastest horses and regularly led the police troopers on embarrassingly protracted and unsuccessful chases through their ‘home’ of endless mountain ranges and dense bush territory. Bushrangers like Frank ‘Darkie’ Gardiner, Black Douglas, Frank ‘Captain Melville’ McCallum, John ‘Bogong Jack’ Payne, and Daniel ‘Mad Dan’ Morgan had escaped from numerous attempts to apprehend them with their superior mounts and greater knowledge of the land. It was only when using the expertise of Aboriginal trackers that the police seemed to have any real hope of quickly catching their quarry.
The new colony was soon to see its first native-born bushrangers and amongst the locally born citizens feelings still ran deep against the English rule. The settlers were keen to see an end to further transportation of convicts to Australian shores and desired the federation of the individual colonies to form a commonwealth. These free Australians asked for greater personal rights and a larger say in the formation and direction of the nation, and as the gold rush continued to swell the numbers looking to find their fortune, unrest intensified at the high licence fee demanded by the government to access the goldfields and of the generally poor living conditions and often severe punishment handed out to the unlicenced diggers. This widespread disagreement would eventually come to a head in December 1854 when the ‘Eureka Stockade’ battle took place at Ballarat, Victoria.
The government responded to the escalating lawlessness of the bushrangers by introducing the Felon’s Apprehension Act, which decreed that any criminals named in a general summons were to give themselves up and to stand trial, or they could legally be brought in by any person – dead or alive. Wanted felons like Ben Hall, Johnnie Gilbert, John Dunn, Harry Power, and brothers Thomas and John Clarke would now be officially outlawed and face possible death from any meeting with the police or public.
By the 1860’s a new breed of highly popular bushranger had emerged due to the introduction of the electric telegraph. News and information now flowed quickly from communities across the nation and people were eager to hear the exciting tales of Andrew ‘Captain Moonlite’ Scott, The Kelly Gang, and Frederick ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ Ward. It was to be the Kellys who would come to define the Australian bushranger, with brothers Ned and Dan Kelly, together with friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne, providing a lengthy and ongoing saga that would famously culminate in a siege at the Glenrowan Hotel – the scene of Ned’s early morning attack on the police wearing his heavy suit of steel armour. Ned was captured alive for trial and the rest of his gang killed in the shoot-out and subsequent fire. Ned Kelly was found guilty of murdering Constable Lonigan and sentenced to hang on November 11th 1880 at the Old Melbourne Gaol in Victoria.
As the 19th century came to a close the bushrangers no longer frequented the Australian bush as they had before. A murderous gang of three, led by brothers Jimmy and Joe Governor, murdered and robbed their way across New South Wales until all were captured or killed by early 1901. The dramatic days of the colonial bushranger were all but over, although the young nation would continue to know many more rebellious outlaws and freedom fighting heroes for personal justice throughout the following centuries.
All images courtesy of Trove – National Library of Australia, State Library of Queensland (Ben Hall portrait) and the State Library of Victoria (Power capture).