Archives for category: animation
©Malachi James 2020

Malachi James has always loved drawing. His school notebooks were crowded with cartoon characters, and in high school he designed and produced his own comic books which he sold to his classmates. He was determined to become a storyboard artist, and worked hard to get into a top animation course in London.

Today Mal has his dream job, working for Moonbug Entertainment. He draws on a cintiq tablet with a special pen and a two-fingered glove (so his hand doesn’t touch the screen). He works long hours on his storyboard drawings, and then in his free time he does more drawing!

Sometimes when he’s working he listens to his favourite music. One day, listening to some classic jazz tracks, he thought of a new drawing project. He could do stylised portraits of all the greatest jazz musicians! He created a series of ten drawings, and each one is unique, with so much character shining through. Most of the musicians are ones I have heard of, but a few are new to me.

©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020
©Malachi James 2020

I love all of these drawings, even though I don’t know much about jazz. They all have a lot of personality and convey so much emotion. Mal’s style is similar to caricature (where features are often exaggerated and stylised to look ridiculous), but these guys remain classy and cool.

Mal has a lot of talent and a real passion for his art. If you want to see more of his work, he has an Instagram account HERE. He also makes inspirational videos on YouTube to support other young people wanting to establish themselves as freelance artists and animators. You can watch those HERE. Remember the name. Malachi James is going places.

The other day I went to visit a friend of mine who is a brilliant illustrator. Like me, she is a North American living in Scotland, and like me she has two kids who sort of inspired her to get into writing and illustrating children’s books. Her name is Sara Pinto and she is full of amazing and incredible ideas!

For example, one of her books is called Apples and Oranges: Going Bananas with Pairs. The idea for this book came from a question a teacher once asked Sara when she was five years old. The question was, “What do apples and oranges have in common?” The teacher was probably expecting her to say that they are both fruit. What she actually answered was, “They both don’t wear glasses.” I’m sure the teacher was surprised, but she couldn’t argue because it was true!

Sara’s books are always quirky and full of surprises. Her first book, The Alphabet Room, has a door on each page that you open up to find new things (Apples, Bowls, a Cat, a Dog) filling up the room. Each time a new page is turned the things have changed places so you have to search each time to find them all.

As a follow-up to her clever ABC book, Sara then wrote and illustrated a counting book called The Number Garden. This one uses little gates you have to open to find one sun, two rabbits, three lawn chairs, and so on.

Sara’s most recent creation, The Color Closet, is an iBook for the iPad. It’s all about colours, but these are colours you’ve never heard of before! As you click to open up the closet, all sorts of unusual things appear, and a touch will turn them lime, turquoise, mustard, cerulean or custard. What a fun way to discover how many colours there are!

Here are some examples of the things you can find in this colourful closet:

It’s always a pleasure to spend time with Sara as she is so full of fun and crazy ideas. I always come away feeling inspired and encouraged! Thanks, Sara!

When I was young, I used to love watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Back then there were no DVDs or computers to watch your favourite shows whenever you liked. You had to watch what was on, when it was on! One of my favourite shows was Gumby and Pokey, about a funny green boy and his best friend who happened to be an orange horse.

This was one of the earliest examples of “claymation” which used plasticine and stop-motion animation to create cartoon characters. Since then there have been lots of other similar shows, like Morph, Bob the Builder, Postman Pat and Shaun the Sheep. Wallace and Gromit are also made of plasticine and use stop-motion animation.

Gumby and Pokey had lots of fun adventures. Here is a link to one episode from 1968 called A Point of Honour. It’s fun and full of action, and a lot of the toys in it I remember from when I was little. At the beginning Gumby knocks over a Barrel of Monkeys (colourful plastic monkeys with curved arms). I had a set just like it!

I also had lots of colours of plasticine, and I used to sit and make all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures with it as I watched TV. Plasticine never hardens, so I wasn’t able to keep any of my little figures, but when my daughter was small she used FIMO clay which you can bake. Here are some of her little creations. I have put a paperclip next to them so you can see how small they are!

Shows like Gumby and Pokey were very inspiring because the characters could change into anything they liked. Watching the show gave me lots of ideas for making things. I also had some bendy rubber toys of Gumby and Pokey so I could make up my own adventures for them. Since they first came out in 1957, Gumby and Pokey have been made into movies, comics and even computer games! They have become classic toys for generations of children.

When I write stories I often start with a character. I choose a name and think about what that character is like (shy and quiet, funny and full of mischief, clever and brave). Here is a picture of a group of characters I came up with. Don’t they look delicious?

They are all friends and they live on Treat Street. What sort of personalities do you think they would have? What kind of adventures might they get up to? Maybe one is planning a party, or another is trying to get fit and healthy. Maybe you can write a story about the Treat Street friends. Then click on the little grey speech bubble on the top left and tell me all about it!