19th March 2019

Peblo 2.0

In my last post, I showed the first iteration of my Peblo animation. In case you missed it, here it is again.

On a basic level, I wanted to create a scene where the main character is caught off guard by a wave and bursts out in a fit of laughter. Before shortly returning back to normal. This is my first story using the character Peblo which I created a few years back. He's been steadily evolving into a more solid idea and style over the last few months in the bid to start creating short animations with him. The illustration was created in Procreate and animated using Adobe After Effects.

In my first iteration, I learnt how to control facial expressions using sub comps and hold frames to switch between different states e.g. blinking, smile changing to open mouth. To mimic how gravity effects your eyes, nose and cheeks when you jump upright - I learnt how to add a delay to a null object. That way when Peblo giggles and starts to move up and down, his features are offset so they move a fraction of a second after his body.

The problems I faced however were:

  • How do I make the water more obvious that it's water.
  • How do I make the scene feel more realistic but not compromise on style too much.
  • Is it clear that Peblo is giggling?
  • Does Peblo move in a natural/smooth way?
  • Is it clear that we're viewing the stone from above on a beach where the waves are crashing onto the shoreline?

This time, I used various effects to help achieve the final outcome. Through some experimentation, I managed to find an effect called "Dissolve melt" which allowed me  to create a layer which looked like water drying on a surface. I used this for Peblo's face, to show he wasn't submerged but sitting just above the top of the water.

I also revisited the background, opting to move away from a minimal detail view to something that felt more familiar with the texture and colour of Peblo. This was so the viewer felt the character was in his natural habitat, and therefore easier to identify.

Just like how if you get close enough up to sand, you start seeing different colour grains and materials, I added further spots of colour to visually convey how close the scene is from the camera. To exaggerate the movement of the water, I added a stick and blue bottle top to the scene - animating them in their own unique way to create depth and realism.

As for Peblo himself, I tweaked the delay of the null objects ever so slightly so the animation felt tight and subtle. To show he was laughing, I disrupted the water by adding ripples and a turbulent displace effect to distort the detail. (I'm now thinking I should also distort the shape of the stones underneath as you would be looking through the water at them)

30th January 2019

Peblo animation

I've been messing around in procreate a lot recently on my ipad in the bid to animate a little character called Peblo. Here's a rough animation test I did earlier today using After Effects. I really like the time delay for the facial features so it feels more realistic and charming at the same time.

Still some work to be done in animating the water and movement of Peblo as the water catches him by surprise.

20th January 2019

Danny’s old VW golf


I finally made good use of my half tone brushes in Procreate to illustrate a different classic car. When I was a kid, my uncle owned a Volkswagen Golf cabriolet that he customised by painting sky blue and was his pride of joy. I remember it well most because how could you forget a car in that colour!

4th December 2018

BMX Samurai


The other week I painted some lettering on the front of my bmx to freshen the look. I should have waited to do it another time instead of rushing through it. It’s a little bit sloppy and originally I wanted to create a custom sticker design to go there. I’ve toyed with the idea before but wanted to come up with something new to warrant ordering a batch of stickers.

I had a little downtime on Friday and created this samurai using Procreate. I used some reference material to help inform the shapes and shading. I’m thinking now this would be a perfect sticker design to use and share.

26th October 2018

Dad’s old Audi


Dad’s old Audi b2 remains one of my favourite cars to ever be manufactured. It was a really stylish car with sharp angles and rally style features. I just remember listening to AC/DC and Queen in that thing.

25th October 2018

Ghetto shed


This is one of my most favourite photographs to date. I took it whilst visiting my good friend Rob in Germany where we spent the two weeks riding and messing around on bikes. The then dubbed 'ghetto shed' was a derelict building that housed an array of obstacles and hand built ramps. I'm not sure if it still exists but I was lucky enough to be invited along with Rob to have a nose around.

21st August 2018

Folk art


My Nan has had a fascination with canal boats in recent years, she absolutely loves them! If she had the chance or the money, I expect she’d be quite happy living on one. Anytime we catch up we can’t help talking about Great Canal Journeys on channel 4 and the places they’ve been along with any mishaps. So when it came to thinking about what present I should get her for her 70th birthday this year, I thought it would be fitting to create a piece of traditional canal art to celebrate her life. Originally I wanted to commission a traditional sign writer to create something special and see the craft in all it’s glory. But following little planning, I found myself with a week to go until her birthday with little to no signwriting experience.

I had high hopes, a few ideas and little know how but I coughed up for everything on next day delivery just to be sure I had everything. Using my iPad I created an initial design to consider colour choices. At the end of the day I wanted to limit my colour palette and only buy the essentials for a good quality finish. I first decided on the medium - a metal watering can which is commonplace on most canal boats and perfect for my Nan who also enjoys gardening. In that case I needed enamel paint, paint thinner and a reasonably priced watering can. Ideally the can would be painted already to save myself a job and add depth to the art. I found a burgundy Molton Mill model for £20 which included next day delivery and got to work on the colours and design.


Having shown an interest in sign painting whilst at university, I had a few books to hand for inspiration and adopting a lettering style. I then used Pinterest to source examples of canal boat art and techniques for painting flowers which proved really beneficial when it came to the day. Whilst painting the letters was really tricky as I had to do everything without guides,  I soon improved as time went on at how I controlled the brush and manipulated it’s weight with pressure.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, if I’m honest I didn’t expect it to turn out quite as well as it did. After making a whole load of mistakes, I was able to adapt the lettering style to suit what I felt at least looked right. Going on to add detail and a shadow to the lettering as well as add depth by placing flowers both in front and behind was a further delight. Thankfully she liked it too.


12th August 2018

Know your Easter Eggs

At Six, I finally put myself forward to talk in what’s known as a 6 in 60. Basically its 6 speakers in 60 minutes that talk about something they’re passionate about but with some relevancy to what we do on a daily basis. Whilst I participate in and conduct formal reviews/presentations with clients as part of my job, I’m not a natural leader or like to boast about my work so having 10 mins all to myself seemed a little daunting but a goal to aim for nonetheless. For example, in the past designers have spoken about how skateboarding has shaped their attitude and way of learning along with account handlers talking about their favourite brand. Because it’s internal, it’s the perfect setting for anyone looking to practice their presenting skills such as time keeping or improving their confidence. Every employee has tried to do at least one in their lifetime so there’s tons of support too.

I missed the first 6 in 60 earlier in the year on purpose so I could get a sense of what they entail and how people chose to present. I knew that I should volunteer for the next one even if I felt really uncomfortable about it at the time. I’m not naturally outspoken or egocentric so I felt this would be a good opportunity to put me out of my comfort zone. It’s far too easy to sit there and not say much but with it coming up to a year since I first started at Six, I needed some of those first day nerves again.

For my 6 in 60, I chose to speak about Easter eggs. I could have easily bored people to death by mumbling on about my favourite the chocolate but instead I chose to talk about a different kind of Easter egg.


The kind that is littered in our industry. The kind where makers like to sneak a hidden feature or secret message into their work.

I first discovered them when my life revolved around 3 things. And when life was pretty damn simple.

  1. Beano comics - the way illustrators would add extra details and inside jokes to every nook and cranny of a comic strip like Calamity James was incredible.
  2. Wheres Wally? - the books even made a game out of finding hidden artefacts in plain sight.
  3. PlayStation games - lastly I was a bit of perfectionist when it came to collecting things in games like Spyro. More than often designers had intentionally created secret parts of a level for you to find and discover the remaining collectibles hidden there.


I then went on to showcase a handful of my favourite Easter eggs in amongst every type of medium (even though it was pretty difficult to shortlist) and filed them under 4 categories to make things as easy as possible to understand. I think generally everyone was really surprised and interested in the examples I showed. To wrap the presentation up I provided a few pointers for people to take away and demonstrate how Easter eggs aren’t just for fun but there to flex brand values and connect with users. For example, how Google can turn an annoying experience into a slightly more enjoyable one by distracting users with a mini game when they have a poor internet connection.


What I learnt

  • Practice is your friend - throughout the course of putting a presentation together and preparing what I might say I took advantage of talking with my mentor, Dan, who offered quick and honest feedback at every stage. I also timed it which scarily showed just how short 10 minutes is. Once I had cut down my patter, I ran through it with him with the same setup I’d have on the day. This helped me to relax and get any pre-match nerves out of the way.
  • Cut out the small talk - in an early draft I realised I was trying to say everything and anything on each slide. It’s not about painting the full picture, just say what you need to with enough context and move on.
  • Do it your way - I know myself it’s too easy to get stuck into the aesthetics of a presentation being the designer that I am, so this time I used the app Keynote to focus on content and limit my tools. I also chose to use a minimal amount of text that acted as prompts and varied the graphics to add pace and interest. To keep the audience on their toes, I hid a few of my own Easter eggs in there too.
  • Listen for timings - I found staying aware and gauging how the audience responded really useful. If you feel like your confusing people the more and more you say, don’t dwell on it, take a breather, speak more slowly and don’t be afraid to move on. This is where practicising your words beforehand goes a long way in helping others quickly grasp what your talking about. Also it helped me stick to my timings and not overrun.

All in all, it was a brilliant experience that I can utilise for future meetings and presentations.

12th August 2018

Fisherman’s cove


Last summer we spent a lovely week in Port Isaac in the cosiest fishing cottage we could find. It charmed us with it’s rickety beams, nautical decor and vast sounds and sights of the sea. We took great pleasure in exploring the village or simply winding time away at the house with a book or sketch pad. I became fixated on the different types of boats you could find in the bay and started drawing them from observation then from memory for fun. I really liked simplifying the level of detail and capturing their form in pencil. The other day, I found the pencil drawings and recreated them digitally so I could add more depth and personality using a range of textured brushes in full colour.

15th May 2018

Magic 8 ball

As a new initiative at work to practice more motion design, a couple of us have started a group called the Motion Mingle. It's fairly laid back and on a daily basis we talk through any ideas or concepts we're working on and see if we can help each other out. All of us have a very unique set of skills and experience that lends our thinking to different tasks. For our first mingle we decided to create piece of motion design based around the word 'Floating/Floaty'.

For mine, I wanted to try and mimic the floating action of an answer revealing on a magic 8 ball. I tried to study real footage of a ball in motion to mimic it as best as I could. In trying to figure out how to animate something like this, I learnt a number of new effects and tools. One in particular was using a high contrast plane to mimic liquid dissolving. For this I used an effect called 'Turbulent Diffuse' which I could manipulate over a period of time to create the idea of liquid dissolving. This was fine in a linear aspect but I wanted to find a way to show the liquid dissolving in a circular motion as if it was swirling. In this instance I applied an effect to the comp that contained the Turbulent Diffuse effect called Polar Coordinates. This way it displaced in a circle where I could alter to my desire.

Getting the prism to reveal an answer in a lifelike way was really difficult to finesse but overall, I'm really happy how it turned out.

15th May 2018

SCC Skateboard

Last month, I made the final touches to my custom skateboard. It's been at least 6 months since I first purchased the blank deck from America for a measly £30 (bargain!). From what started as a quick setup to build and go skating with, I soon became obsessed with the idea of creating a custom graphic and adding as many details as possible. I had a fascination in skateboards from the 80s that had plastic rails, tipex covered griptape, wear and tear and alot of character. For a brief month or so I got to ride my Uncles original Powell Bug board and loved the way it soaked up turns. It was a really fun board which I was keen to continue riding until he made the decision to put it up for auction. So that's why I went for this type of board. The custom stuff was just an after thought. This is certainly no show piece but a full working board that I intend to wreck.

A brief recap of my process:

  1. Sand down board ready for painting
  2. Photoshop together a few rough ideas of graphics to stencil or silkscreen
  3. Cut out graphics in paper to judge size of area to mask.
  4. Mask areas I want spray paint
  5. Spray paint both topside and the bottom of the deck
  6. Install black rails, tailtap
  7. Settle on a design to try silkscreening with
  8. Badger my good friend Josh into exposing a screen and getting a weekend sorted to try printing
  9. In the meantime, saw and glue together something to hold the board in place ready for printing
  10. Decide on silkscreen ink and colour. Order Fire Red pot ready to print with.
  11. Umm and arrr over design
  12. Buy another board and start messing with that
  13. Badger Josh one last time to settle a date
  14. Screen gets exposed with design
  15. Get to London to print.
  16. Measure, think, wait - twice. Print - once
  17. Because the board is concave, ignore traditional silkscreen printing method and apply a custom solution. I roll the screen across the board whilst Josh pulls the ink through.
  18. First try fortune! Silkscreen done
  19. Mask and spray paint logo on topside of board
  20. Measure and figure out how to grip board
  21. Design griptape on the fly using paper cutouts and playing it by eye
  22. Slice grip to size and apply to board
  23. Fix trucks to board along with wheels and bearings
  24. Take for a skate

For a first try it came out surprisingly well. I'm stoked how it came together and I've ridden it load of times now both at the skatepark and on the streets - it works well across all of it.