Through the windscreen from Cape Town to Durban

Some pictures taken through the windscreen en route from Cape Town to Durban, and a few from the journey back again. We took four days to get there, and three days to drive back again. Unfortunately the photos of the most beautiful part (through the Swartberge) came out all blurry so I had to leave those out.  The map of our route is right at the end.

11_0711_1011_2111_2814_0614_2614_2714_28day2_10_18day2_12_02day2_12_03day2_14_30day2_14_38day3_11_57day3_13_32day3_11_55day4_08_28day4_08_27day6_14_29day7_16_47

route_to_durban

Spyker Work in progress

Some more work on a character design – a little person who might be called “Spyker”. Not sure of that name yet.  He has an affinity with electricity, and is a thief, as well as a graffiti artist.

spyker-work-in-progress2

 

The speckles on his skin might change – I’m not sure if he has patterns, or pimples :)

In which I meet Three Thieves

Sometimes, when I get a bit stuck with my writing, it helps to draw the characters.  These are for my current work in progress, which is the sequel to Crooks and Straights.  I knew one of my characters had to have an unexpected meeting late at night, but I didn’t know who he would run into.  So I started drawing, and these three guys emerged:

three-thieves2

 

I don’t know their names yet – Brendon says the big guy is called “Billy Bong”.  All I know is that they are thieves, that the big one is calm and even tempered, the little one is suspicious and has a nasty temper, and the creature is the sensible one of the group.

What’s in the Bowl

Once a week, I volunteer at the Two Oceans Aquarium, at the microscope display. It’s always a bit of a surprise what you’ll find in the bowls.  This one contains, among other creatures 

  • Anemone (not sure what kind,  the thing like a golden chrysanthemum in the middle there)
  • A Pycnogonida, or scarlet sea spider with egg pouches (see him just above the anemone)
  • A Red chested sea cucumber (little dude on the left that looks like a chilli with a moustache)
  • Golden sea cucumber, (peachy thingimajig bottom left)
  • Feather star (bristly person upper right)
  • Several barnacles
  • Nudibranch (not really visible against the left edge)
  • Billions of brine shrimp all over the place

microscope_bowl

Interlude with skink

 

Found this tiny fellow on my writing desk just now.  He was quite unafraid of me.

small_skink

He was also not at all keen to go outside.  Snapped at me, even!  Brave little chap.

small_skink_escape

Crooks and Straights is published!

At long last, after months of writing, rewriting, editing, illustrating, proofreading and formatting, the book exists and is for sale.  At the moment, as an e-book on Amazon, but soon there’ll be a print version as well.

Crooks_straights_e_cover-thumb

Book Description:

Gia’s brother Nico is different from other boys. And being different can be dangerous in Gia’s world. Cape Town is no longer the haven for magical refugees that it once was. The Purists want to get rid of all magic and the newspapers are full of dreadful stories about the Belle Gente, the magical terrorists.

None of this concerns Gia, until the Special Branch— police who investigate the illegal use of magic—come knocking at her door, looking for Nico.  When Gia turns to her parents for help, she finds only more secrets. Then she realises that she was the one who put her brother in danger.

Available from:

Online sample:

You can read the first chapter here: Crooks and Straights sample page

Cover Reveal for Crooks and Straights!

 The book is finished.  All I have to do is format it and insert the illustrations.  And then…publish!  (If you want to be notified when this book is launched, please join my new release mailing list.  The ebook will be released first, and the print version some time later.)

Here is the cover – which took me simply ages to get right.

Crooks_and_straights_cover

 

Just to give an idea, here is just a small sample of the contortions I went through to arrive at this design :)  First, a very “Deon Meyer” looking cover with a image of the neighbourhood that the book is set in.

coverprogress1

 

Then a starry one that looks far too much like a children’s story. Or maybe not.  What on earth does this look like?

coverprogress3

 

Then, a much more dreamy one featuring the full moon, which is an important symbol in this story. Also – I found the right typeface.

coverprogress5

 

…but the moon is not as important as other things!  Must have a  captured swan, and drops of blood!  Things start falling apart a bit here:

coverprogress4

 

Nope, that didn’t work, although I like the blue, red and white.  Maybe a combination of the swan, and Deon Meyer?

coverprogress2

 

People said they could not figure out that it IS a swan.  Maybe if I zoom in on the thing, it will be better?

coverprogress6

 

No.  Not working.  Need a completely different direction.

coverprogress7

 

And after much fiddling, and combining with this image below, I arrived at the final cover, which is the one you see right at the top of this post :) .

rockdoll
And that’s that!  Such a relief to have it all done.

 

Pretty Covers

I just got these proof copies of my “Sisters” series –  the new matte covers look really good.  I liked the glossy covers too, but I think these are better.  The illustrations inside came out nicely too.

You can get these from Amazon,  but if you buy them from The Book Depository then you get free international shipping.

matte

Digital Strange

I do my illustrations on Photoshop – often in many layers.  This can create some strange effects.  Here I switched on all the layers of multiple illustration projects in one Photoshop file, so that multiple drawings are superimposed over one another.  Quite evocative :)

layers

Two more creatures from Crooks and Straights

Two more creature-portraits from Crooks and Straights.

This is a haarskeerder – a kind of fae.  They are winged, and live in communal nests very similar to the way wasps do.  They line their homes with anything soft – including human hair (hence their name) and they like collecting small glittering objects.  They can be dangerous, as they have the ability to hypnotise any human that threatens their nest.

haarskeerder_progress

This is Paddavis, a household spirit similar to a brownie or a niss.  He is originally from Ireland, but has lived in South Africa for many years now.  He still gets sunburnt though!  Not the most reliable creature, he likes stealing food out of cupboards and leaving mouse droppings behind to cast the blame of his thefts elsewhere.

 

paddavis_process2

Rock Doll

A drawing that emerged as a result of my testing some Photoshop techniques.

rockdoll

Character drawings: Nico and Brakman

More illustrations in progress for “Crooks and Straights”
This is Nico, my main character’s younger brother.  The book is pretty much about her attempts to protect him from danger.

nico_progress

 

This is Brakman, a poor old man who used to be a werewolf.  Now he makes his living as a IT guy and does a bit of hacking on the side, if anyone is willing to pay him.brakman_progress

Tea-cup Genie

More work in progress – illustrations for my book Crooks and Straights.

This is of a teacup genie.  It’s not finished yet, but nearly there.  At first I got the face all wrong.  Far too serene for this character.

geni

Second attempt is better, but now he looks a bit too wise:

geni-face

The teacup was fun to do:

geni-progress

geni-progress2

Not finished yet – but it’s looking a lot better now.  Struggling a bit with all the pale shades of grey.  I think his face needs a bit more work…

geni-progress4

 

 

Slow, slow progress of an illustration

This drawing gave me trouble.  I finally figured out that the composition wasn’t working and after I cropped it, things became better.

doll

I wanted to use shades of grey this time round, rather than just black and white as in my previous book illustrations. First try didn’t go that well:

doll_progress2

I went back to the text and found that there’s supposed to be a newspaper on the table under her, so that helped with the background.

doll_progress3

It’s not finished yet, but mostly there.  Time to move onto a new drawing.

doll_progress4

 

Geni gets a new face

More new drawings for “Crooks and Straights”.  This is of a geni  -  but I got his face wrong the first time round.  Below is the second attempt.  He’s supposed to be plump and quite friendly.
geni

geni-face

 

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