Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Release: Sparkle Creations Rubber Stamps

Two new stamps have been added to the Sparkle Creations Rubber stamps store! The first is Hokey Oliver!
I didn't know until I have read Sparkle's blog, her hubby is a hokey player. Hope he approves of my illustration...

As expected Simonne has created a beautiful card with this new stamp! If you read her post you will see that she did a bit of research to make sure she got all the proportions right for the Union Jack Flag.

The second new stamp is Ice Skating Chloe! I wish I was as active as her... I was bought up in Nagano (a city where they held winter Olympic Sports some years ago...) During winter there would be ice skating classes at my old primary school. I think I was the only one who couldn't skate, even after two winter seasons! I guess I just suck at it...
Anyway, Chloe went through a couple to roughs to get things right!

Above is a very cute card made by Kim. Loving the colour combinations and the added ribbon!

Monday, December 5, 2011


I hope everyone is starting to enjoy the Xmas season now that we are well into the festive month! Here is a little illustration of Summer Santa in a wetsuit to help bring on the spirit (it's summer now here in NZ).

I remember the cold and cozy white Christmas when I was still living in Japan. We lived in a rural town called Nagano. It fell well below minus10 degrees Celsius during winter and we spent the Christmas making snow huts and eating snow with strawberry candies (tasted like strawberry slushies).
Now being living in New Zealand for over 20 years I'm really enjoying the summer Christmas here. People get very active during the summer break! Also we still get "white Christmas" at home as our garden has overgrown and we have white flowers (weed) everywhere! (not an ideal place for hay fever sufferers...)

Anyway Only a little left of 2011, will make the most f it! Back to work!

Fashion Illustration Entry

Above is my entry for the Fashion Illustration Rally. 
The instructions were to create a work that is inspired by the photos from the wonderful RedRock boutique clothing line.
The photos I have used were:

It's fun to illustrate something different for a change! :) Now back to work!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aki is moving!

Hi everyone. I have moved out of my old apartment and will be house sitting a friends' house for the next few months while they go on an overseas trip. I will have to look for another place once they return but in the mean while I will enjoy eating looking after their vege garden, fruit trees, compost, rabbits and playing on their trampoline!
Above is a little illustration I have sent out to my work contacts (do let me know if I have missed you!).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sparkle Creations November Preview: Snow Angel Ruby

Today is the November Release Day for Sparkle Creations Rubber Stamps Store and we are previewing the second new stamp Snow Angel Ruby.
Scroll down my blog for the previous preview of Snow Bunny Lucy Stamp.

Initially I have misread the brief (it must have been during one of those sleepless nights..) and did a rough for Snow Angel Chloe. Felt a bit stupid redrawing the whole image after realizing the mix-up. Ruby is wearing earmuffs, scarf and winter boots that the craft makers can have fun colouring in! Hope you like her!

Again Sparkle is GIVING AWAY Snow Angel Ruby to one lucky person! To find out how visit SCRS blog and follow the instructions! It's simple really, all you need to do is visit the blogs of the designers through the links provided and leave a comment on each blogs. You will have fun seeing how the designers utilized Snow Angel Ruby for their creations!

I've selected some to share with you for some inspiration!

 Simonne Clay : Love the combination of grey tones and deep red!

Sparkle Smith : She's the wonderful creator and owner of SCRS!

Jen Shults, she's a guest designer for this month's release!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sparkle Creations November Preview: Snow Bunny Lucy

Welcome to the first preview for the November release for Sparkle Creations Rubber StampsSparkle is releasing 2 new stamps illustrated by me and 1 new Karber clear set this Saturday! Today SCRS is previewing Snow Bunny Lucy and sentiment, "Warm Winter Wishes"!

As you can see, I was being too literal with the word "Bunny" when Sparkle first briefed me for this image. With a few adjustments we ended up with with the final image.

If  you are thinking about getting crafty for the Christmas season this stamp will be perfect for making greeting cards, tags, decorating paper bags for wrapping up presents or stamping Christmas recipes or part invitations??? 

Check out some of the greeting cards the designers have created using Snow Bunny Lucy!
Many of the designers of SCRS sell their cards so if you are too busy to get crafty yourself maybe contact the designers to get hold of some unique cards!

I love how Kim Yu used white as her main colour scheme for her card. Loving all the embossing.

Shaela Odd has also made another beautiful card!

Sparkle will be giving away Snow Bunny Lucy to one lucky person! For a chance to win visit SCRS Blog and follow the instructions! Good Luck!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lily Lands in Bubble Trouble: November Release

The fourth book in Lily the Littlest Angel series is out in bookshop around New Zealand now!
Announcing the release of "Lily Lands in Bubble Trouble"! Published by Scholastic.

I had so much fun illustrating this one. Especially since I got to draw a lot of Frumplepuss! I have made sure that the two roughs featured Frumplepuss so that the final design will have him on the cover!

Above is the final coloured illustration I've sent to the designer. The designer played around with the layout and colour options......

I remember feeling a bit sad seeing Frumplepuss being casted to the side, being cropped off....

And here goes the final design!! NO Frumplepuss!

Actually he got to feature on the back cover! Yay. He gets to have the entire page for himself! (actually the synopsis takes up majority of the back cover space, nevertheless I am happy!)
Angel Freya, Amelia's Angel Academy's nurse appears in this book. She is a strict, neat-freak Angel. Still, I wanted to make her likable. 

Lily interacts a lot with Frumplepuss. 
Aaaahh.. had so much fun drawing them playing (?) together. :)

Check out Lily's Blog written by the author Elizabeth Pulford
You can see the real-Frumplefuss there.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Go Girl "Best Christmas Ever": November Release

"Greatest Christmas Ever!", a new book in the Go Girl series is out in stores around Australia and New Zealand, published by Hardie Grant Egmont

Unlike the other series like Billie B Brown and Lily the Littlest Angel, Go Girl books focus on one different girl character per each book. So the readers get to experience stories from many different view points and since all girls have different personalities, the readers will hopefully find it easy to see a bit of themselves or their friends or sisters in the featured characters.
Also all the girls in the series attend same schools and you will see that many of the characters and teachers reappear amongst different books. I find it quite fun connecting  all the characters as I read more stories, it's like connecting a bit puzzle.

Anyway below are two roughs I did for the new character Ching Ching. Actually she appeared in "Sleep Over", the first book in the series, But this is my first time illustrating Ching Ching.

Above is the first version of the cover, eventually we settled on the final design below!

I can't believe we already have 8 books out for this series. I have just finished working on the 9th book last month. Working on the 10 and 11 now! Exciting :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

What's on my working board now.

 I'm working on some really fun commissions for educational materials right now. I can't share any of the illustrations for the actual books but here goes some roughs I did for the character designs.

It's based on a famous Japanese folktale, about Tengu and their magical fan. It's going to be published in the US so some western taste has been added to the story I feel. Tengu are Japaneses mystical forrest creatures with red long nose and wings, they wear outfits with specific features including geta footwear and little headpieces.

And here goes more character roughs. Beautiful girl and her wealthy father. The sneaky Badger and the Badger in his human form. The book should be published next year, I will upload more images then!
And here goes more sneak peeks from another educational book I just finished working on for Pearson publishers. Schools around New Zealand should have them in their bookshelves sometime next year!

This story is set in a modern classroom. I wanted to show as much diversity in the students' nationalities and features.

I think designing characters is one of my favorite stages in the illustration process. I love putting in balance and variations amongst the character designs to give them depth and individuality.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Release: Lily Goes Skitter Skating

I have a few books coming out this month! Exciting! :) 
Today's post is the "Behind-the-scene" of the third book in the Lily the Littlest Angel Series: "Lily Goes Skitter Skating", written by the wonderful author Elizabeth Pulford, published by Scholastic.

I did a couple of roughs for the cover. I wasn't happy with the initial design I did for the "cloak" Lily wears over her "winter gown". Sleeveless cloak seemed unsuitable for the Winter Sports that Lily takes part in.

Did a little sketch to work out her "winter gown" with "winter boots".

After playing around with the gown colours we have finalized the cover design!

Many new characters feature in the story. My favorite is Wanda. The bully-from-the-past character. She causes a lot of trouble in the story and poor Lily has to face all the consequences.

There is a scene where  "tip of Lily's skating boots and tip of Wanda's nose" crosses the finishing line at the same time. Went through a few roughs to get this scene right. I have ended up with a layout that captures the race feeling rather than being too literal with the text.

My other favorite character in this book is the athletic teacher, Angel Zara. After reading the manuscript, I decided to make her funky, active and young!

I must say, I am really falling in love with all these characters. Like the "Billie B Brown" series, I feel that when you illustrate for a series the characters really do grow on you to the point that you start to believe that they really do exist. When we're not writing about them the characters are still living, getting on with their daily routines. And when something exciting happens the authors put it into stories, and I illustrate them and the character's little "happenings" and "adventures" become books that we read for entertainment. 
For Billie's series I felt this taking effect from the 5th book. Maybe because the first four books were illustrated at the same time and I had no time to adsorb the characters and the stories fully. For Lily's series, this third book proved that the characters were becoming real for me. I couldn't help but to cry when I read the ending. Now, the book does not have a sad ending, or even a heavily dramatic one, but I was so proud of Lily that I had tears in my eyes, my motherhood must have kicked in. 
My partner was very confused at my attempt to describe this phenomenon after he caught me crying with the manuscript in my hands. To him these manuscripts are girly-cheerful-Harry-Potter-stories sprinkled with sparkles and fairy dust... and that's not bad either!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sparkle Creations October Release Preview: Sunflower Charlotte

Welcome to my second preview post for the October release for Sparkle Creations Rubber StampsSparkle is releasing 2 new stamps illustrated by me and 1 new Karber clear stamp set, and they are available in the store NOW! Today the store is previewing the final new release Sunflower Charlotte 

 Sparkle will be giving away a Sunflower Charlotte to one lucky person! For a chance to win follow the instructions here!

If you want some inspirations on how to use the stamp check out this lovely card made by Stephanie Kraft!

I also love the colour combinations used by Shaela Odd below.

October last year we released other fall themed stamps. I really enjoyed drawing up Pumpkin Charlotte. 

But my all time favorite October stamp is the Broomstick Lucy! When I have a spare time would love to colour her up!

I love Halloween, bummed that it's not really a major event here in New Zealand. I'm living in an apartment now and we usually get some kids coming by for Trick or Treat. I will be ready this year with a big bag of sweets! :)
I was brought up on a farm which meant that the closest neighbors were at least a few kilometers away... a bit too far to walk for just a treat! So gotta make the most of Halloween spirit while I live here in the city!

Sparkle Creations Rubber Stamps store is doing LUCY promotion this month so check out all the Lucy stamps!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sparkle Creations October Release Preview: Autumn Rin

Hi stamp and craft lovers, here's a post for you!
Welcome to the first day of Sparkle Creations Rubber Stamps October previews! October is the season of fall... if you live in the North hemisphere. Feels funny being asked to draw up a design for Autumn Rin stamp while we are just getting over winter here in New Zealand :)

Another new stamp designed by me will be previewed in a couple of days so stay tuned! All new stamps will be available from the store on Saturday, October 8, 2011.

 Sparkle will be giving awayAutumn Rin to one lucky person! For a chance to win read the instruction HERE! Good luck!

Amy Tsuruta has made a beautiful card using this new stamp! Loving all the rich autumn colours!