With Book Week almost here, 21st to 26th of August, kids around Australia are starting to gear up for the all-important ‘come to school dressed as your favorite book character”’ day. My niece Eleanor has asked her mum help her make a Little Pig costume this year. So this is for you Eleanor I hope that it helps. I would love to see a photo of you all Ninjaed up.
If anybody else wants to try and dress up as Little Pig or one of the other Ninjas from my books, Samurai vs Ninja. I would love it if you could post your photos here as well.
I will be appearing at the Newcastle Writers Festival this week. If your in Newcastle come along and catch a session or see in the Newcastle Regional Library for book signings. I promise an original illustration in each book signed.
It is always fun when drawing a book if you can thread some of your life long influences into the work. I had such an opportunity in the Samurai vs Ninja series.
As a young boy growing up one of my favourite television shows was ‘Monkey’. Which was shown on ABC in the afternoon after school. Also known as ‘Monkey Magic’ and ‘Saiyūki’.
I loved this show so much I decided that it would be a great addition to the Samurai vs Ninja book. It may seem a little odd to people, to pay homage to a traditional Chinese story (Journey to the West) in a book set in Japan. Of course, anyone who knows the series will know that it was a Japanese production.
So each of the first 3 books has a character in it. Book 1 has Monkey, book 2 has Pigsy and book 3 has Sandy. They all turn up together in book 4 with Tripitaka.
When looking for extra activities for Samurai vs Ninja, I came across the game Kamizumo.
Kamizumo is a Japanese ‘paper wrestling’ game. Paper figures are place them on the Kamizumo paper ring. You tap your figures on the edge of the paper ring, the first figure knock over of out looses the round.
I have been hard at work on my first ever Kamizumo game. But before I start work on characters from the stories. I thought it would be fun to battle it out with Nick Falk. So the first characters are Nick and myself. If this proves popular, I plan to add other characters (Buta-sama, Kingyo-Sama, Skinny fish, Little pig, Sumo san, Mighty Fish).
Below is the character sheet, Print in landscape and set the scale to auto adjust to the page size.
and here is the ring. When you print it, it should automatically print in the centre of the paper. Just fold the paper edge under the ring to give a little extra spring. You can also place the ring on to a large book to add bounce.
When considering how to create and sustain the Edo period world of “Samurai vs Ninja”. It was important to undertake a lot of research. One of my favorite forms of art is the Ukiyo-e woodblock period of Japanese art. I love colour saturation, the strong line work and the masterful compositions.
The work of artist such as Katsushika Hokusai are synonymous with the art form. His ‘wave’ (The great wave off Kanagawa, from the 36 views of Mount Fuji series) image being one of the recognized images of Japanese Artist.
From the Edo period of Ukiyo-e woodblock artist, my favorite character artist is Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Kuniyoshi work from the early to mid 1800’s. One of his most recognize series being the images of the 47 Ronin. His distinctive black and white patterned sleves on the characters in this series was the inspiration of Buta-sama’s own clothes.
In Samurai vs Ninja (book3) Day of the Dreadful Undead (June 2015), The story required an image to over state the actions of the Mighty Kingyo-sama, Lord Goldfish of the Samurai. When asked by the ghost of a long dead relative “’Tell me, Master Goldfish,’ rumbled Fuka-Sama,’how many victories have YOU had in battle?’” (p41)
Kingyo’s assistant then tell of an epic battle against a mosquito. I thought it would be funny to have the battle commemorated in a woodblock print.
Know that Utagawa Kuniyoshi used to portray narrative based conflicts. I started to research into his battle images. I quickly found one of his more interesting compositional device was to place the conflict in the bottom 3rd of the image, suggesting the character on top had the upper hand and was overpowering his opponent.
I decided that this would be a dynamic/over the top way to portray such and under stated conflict.
I love it when my illustration work allows me to draw inspiration from and pay homage to such an amazing artist as Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I would certainly encourage anyone who love Ukiyo-e woodblock prints to have a look at his work on line.
i have been working through the last chapters for book 3 in the Samurai vs Ninja book series. One of the main characters appears on a ghost battle horse, ready to charge down a hill into battle. Below are some of my research images and sketches to create the battle horse character.
The finished image as it will appear in the book (below). This image was created using the horse illustration (above), a separate illustration for the ghost Samurai, another for the back ground, another for the speech buble and another to create the pattern for the fishbone border.
These are a few early concept ratings for Buta sama for book in the Samurai vs Ninja series. I am trying out a new cloak for Buta to wear to a festival event. I am liking it so far as I also get to play with it in a very Batman cape kind of way.