Guest Blog – An illustrators view


To mark the publication of Jan the Dragon my first charity book, I’ve asked Marianna Mooney, who illustrated it for me to write the blog this week.

I’m writing this to you guys on the eve of Jan’s epic release! It has been a weird week of phones breaking, replacing—the internet going faulty and finally, as the sun begins to set, I have some time to talk to you about how I prepared my illustrations for Cate’s wonderful story!

I guess I should give a little bit of insight on how/when I met Cate! I had been looking for illustration work ever since I finished college—and desperately wanted more experience, or just the chance to try illustrating a story! My boyfriend found Cate’s tweet and from there started this adventure! (I think this was back in January!) I thought Cate’s ambitions were so honourable, and just the absolute perfect way to help out. I honestly believe we are all born with gifts, and it’s up to us to use them to help each other – in whatever capacity we can. When Cate got the order, I was actually visiting Scotland. I attended a fantastic character design workshop, and was fired up to get going on our first project together! The first thing I did – was research.

sketch1sketch3In Cate’s first rough to me, she explained that Jan lived in Germany (the Lorelei). I instantly looked up German dragons, German myths, along with the atmosphere. Were there any shapes in the environment that could help me on my character design for Jan? I worked on a few until I was generally happy with his shape – and worked away on it. I wanted him to look both cool and a tiny bit cute. The character is so strong and steadfast with how he handled ending up in London! He took on life with such drive and it was inspiring to draw his adventure and live a bit vicariously through him! I looked up the places he visited, and took notes on each. Some points of the story changed as we progressed, but certain elements stayed strong in my mind as I worked on it.

I had an absolute blast doing these—I even did a recording of my working on one of my favourite pieces! I learned so much about London (and the London Dragon’s ice hockey team! I’ve always been envious of those who skate well – I tend to just fall flat without moving!)  rough3  rough1

In terms of technical – I sketched these out by hand, using a guide created with the specs Cate sent me, and on tracing paper. I used a copier and Photoshop to change Jan’s size in each scene, getting the best composition I could. I coloured these digitally through Photoshop, using custom brushes and a Wacom tablet. I over-layed textures on top of my digital painting. This made it a hybrid of a traditional and digital piece.

I hope this short blog helped to explain a bit of my process – three parts research, two parts drawing, two parts digital and ten parts excitement. I hope you love Jan as much as I do, and thank you again to Cate for choosing me to help you on this journey!

Marianna Mooney is a visual narrative illustrator, graphic designer and comicker. You can learn more about her work at


1 comment to Guest Blog – An illustrators view

  • Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always useful to read through articles from other authors and use something from other websites. |

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>