The Book Curator Interview

The attached article (below) is an interesting interview about one of my new books with Nick Falk, ‘How to stop an alien invasion using Shakespeare”.

Cover book 1 How toThis is the first in a series that Nick and I are working on. The next book in this series, “How to beat Genghis Khan in an arm wrestle” will be released in the next few weeks.

Cover Bk 2 How To

This interview is one of the first where I have been able to not only talk about my work as an illustrator but also include insights gained from my reading and research for my PhD at the University of Canberra.

If you’re interested in illustration and illustrative practices or theories of Visual Literacy, you will most likely enjoy this interview.

The Interview:

April 2016 Interview HowTo_TheBookCurator


tee shirt 4 portrait

Golden Ratios in illustration

When planning an illustration there are many composition theories that can be applied. One of my favourite is ‘the Golden Ratio’. Some times referred to a ‘Di Vinci’s Golden Section’ or ‘Golden Spiral’. That is Leonardo Di Vinci not the Mutant Ninja Turtle. “The Golden Proportion is considered as the most pleasing to human visual sensation and not limited to aesthetic beauty but also be found its existence in natural world through the body proportions of living beings, the growth patterns of many plants, insects and also in the model of enigmatic universe” (Akhtaruzzaman & Shafie 2011) BK2 p 66 and 67 Battle image web This image from book 2 of the Samurai vs Ninja series is based on a double ‘Golden Ratio’ spiral composition. Calculating the Golden Ration is very involved and there numerous complex mathematical models are available in print or online. But to keep it simple the ration roughly works out as 1:1.6. This works a grid of rectangles is formed based on the short length of the rectangle being multiplied by 1.6 to give the longer length. Golden Ratio grid 2 MAR2015 Once you had one grid calculated it is simp a mater of ceasing a series of rectangles that for a grid pattern. Golden Ratio grid 1 MAR2015 Each of the intersection or grid line form strong focal points in an illustration. A spiral can be plotted through the intersecting lines. BK2 p 66 and 67 Battle image web In this diagram you can see the spirals have been overlaid on the grids and I have rotated the 1st grid (and spiral) 180 degrees to create a complimentary balance from one page to the next. BK2 p 66 and 67 Battle image explained web The resulting focal point and elements of the illustration that imply the spiral as shown above. So why have I bother to use this technique in such detail? This image is printed in black and white on a small page. I wanted to give a scenes of chaos while maintaining easy readability. The section of battle on the left hand page is cluttered and the characters body become merged together. I have used the spiral to guide the readers eye into the image. On the right hand page I wanted the battle to focus on the fight between the 2 main characters (brothers) Buta-sama and Kingyo-sama. The centre of this spiral leads down to the clash of their weapons. As the spirals are arranged in this way. the eye of the reader is guided form one spiral to the other in an endless loop. For more in-depth reading on he subject I recommend looking at Akhtaruzzaman,Md & Shafie, A.A, 2011.Geometrical Substantiation of Phi, the Golden Ratio and the Baroque of Nature, Architecture, Design and Engineering, International Journal of the Arts, 1(1), p1-22

Research into Visual Literacy

I have recently began a PhD in design at the University of Canberra, looking at the role of visual literacy in emerging reader chapter books.

The purpose of my study will be to investigate visual literacy from the perspective of the creators of illustrated works. From my initial readings on the topic of visual literacy, it is normally tackled by educators and literature experts. While this is highly appropriate, a unique perspective on the subject can be gained by discussing visual literacy with the people who create it.

Books that are narrative driven by text and illustrations occupy a unique phase of in a student’s journey to literacy. The transition from first concept books to pictures books then onto illustrated chapter books can set a student onto a path of life long reading.  As a professional illustrator my work is primarily in the area of emerging reader chapter books for 8 to 12 year olds. I feel that this a very important stage in the reading journey and that through greater understanding we can support children both learn to read and develop a love of books and literature.

While I have access to limited research funds, I am alway looking for more opportunities. One of which is a ‘Big Ideas – pitch for funding’ run through the University. I will have 3 minutes to explain my research proposal and the reason it is relevant and deserves funding. Unlike most of my other presentations, where I can draw illustrations or show an avalanche of images. I am limited to a single image to support my concept. below is my book bridge image for the presentation.

Big Ideas Pitch image Tony Flowers 2015 smf

I am hoping that the pitch will be successful and I receive some extra funding to assist with my research expenses. It is my aim that this research will have a practical out come, giving teachers resources to draw upon for a more in depth understanding of an illustrators work practices and the visual narrative devices they construct. Enhancing their ability to utilise illustrated works in supporting a student’s development of visual and text based literacy skills.

Please feel free to contact me at if you are interested in my research area.

Tony Flowers