Hythe Pier Train Day

On Saturday 28th November Hythe Pier will be celebrating 100 years of its pier train. It's astounding that this little locomotive has been running that long. I've produced a cartoon for use on the day which will form part of a competition up and down the pier. If you're free, head on down and take part in the fun!

Posted in Cartoons by Simon on 23/10/2017

Interactive PDF Funding Guide

Berks & Bucks FA help football clubs obtain funding, but the funding is so diverse, and sometimes only available to small regional areas or specific projects, so working out who is eligible for what can be a tricky task to navigate through.

Ceratopia were asked to develop an interactive funding guide in the form of a PDF document that could be emailed to interested clubs and take them directly to the funds they could apply for.

The initial guide was laid out in Adobe InDesign and once the design and layout was agreed was converted into a PDF file. Then, using Adobe Acrobat Pro, interactive elements were invisibly laid on that allows for the person reading it to be guided through to relevant pages by clicking on aspects that are pertinent to them. The final page anyone using the file would arrive at is a list of available funding they can apply for, which in turn takes them directly to that source's application page, or shows them what to do next.

Although it sounds complicated, such an interactive document is simple enough to produce as long as all the data it needs to function is gathered beforehand, and as a tool for the end user it saves a lot of time and hassle, and, in this case, presents the BBFA in a positive light too.

If we can help you with a similar interactive document then do get in touch.

Character Design For AWE

We recently completed work on a character design, along with an assortment of different poses and scenarios, of this fellow for AWE, the company behind our national defence system. 

He's for internal use across the company to promote good practice. This necessitated, in the first instance, several rough designs, and then the final chosen character being drawn up in Adobe Illustrator. The benefit of creating him this way is that Illustrator is a vector-based, not pixel-based, software package, meaning that whatever's created isn't limited by the size it's initially created at. So should AWE require any of the character drawings at different sizes the artwork can be rescaled without loss of quality and remain as crisp and clean as when it was first created.

Employee Handbooks Designed For Your Business

Small and medium-sized businesses have an obligation to provide employee handbooks, policies and procedures and a whole host of forms and documentation to conform to the letter of the law. The problem is that these are an additional burden of both time and cost, so what is produced is often what a basic understanding of simple in-house software will allow. The result can often be booklets, forms and documents that are poorly laid out using low resolution imagery 'borrowed' from the internet, rendering what's produced difficult to read and understand, and thus defeating the whole object. You may well have ticked that box by creating something, but if it's not fit for purpose then you've a potentially serious problem on your hands.

We were asked to look at the employees' health and safety booklet for Chambers Waste Management PLC to create something that was easy to read and navigate through, and that had graphics and photographs that were clear, crisp, and obtained correctly. Chambers operate a business that contains many risks and potential dangers, so communicating clearly and concisely with their workforce on the company's policies and procedures on health and safety was of the upmost importance.

We created an A4 32-page document with a tabular contents list that allowed the reader to swiftly identify the section and page they needed. The finished job was supplied as a printed booklet and PDF, giving some additional flexibility to how it could be used amongst the workforce.

Do you feel that your business is using employee handbooks and similar booklets that are clear and easy to read? If not, then you're potentially putting your workforce at risk. Talk to us about how we can help you improve the readability with a bespoke design that fits your brand and communicates the information efficiently and effectively.

Walk The Planks - Pirate Cartoons

Hythe Pier held its first fun day today to help heighten awareness of the restoration work that need doing, and to raise some funds too.

As the pier is made up of planks, some bright spark named it Walk The Planks and gave the day a pirate theme. Genius. So I've spent the day drawing pirate cartoons of children and selling my books to those who came and enjoyed our important and much valued Victorian pier. It was a busy day, so fingers crossed it did some good, and that we can do it all again next year.

Posted in News by Simon on 19/08/2017

Drawing Dragons

I'm teaming up with Dr Steven Howard of the University of Wollongong in Australia again following our collaboration on Quincey Quokka's Quest. The plan is for three books based on self-regulation in a child's early years, which is the main focus of Dr Howard's field of study.

Increasingly, children’s self-regulation is being recognised as fundamental to their success in education and later life, with self-regulation relating to stopping doing something even if the child really wants to do it, or to start something even if they really don't. It's a fascinating area of study, and like with Quincey Quokka's Quest we're creating stories around beneficial activities that a child can take part in, so the books can be enjoyed as a rhyming picture book in themselves, but also have the benefit of the self-regulating activities that are tied in directly to the experiences of the character in the story. 

Dr Howard has developed the activities and suggested ways for them to be linked, so it was then my task to work out a potential narrative, construct a fun story in rhyme, and now create the illustrations. I thought it might be amusing to do something with dragons this time, so the first book of the three features Dexter who loses his shopping list while on an errand to the shops and has to recall what he needs to buy. 

Lots of work to still do, but it's interesting just how easy it is to work collaboratively with somebody on the other side of the world thanks to the 
internet. The books are due to go to print later in the year, so more on that when we have it.

Contemporary Logo Design For JW UK Ltd

JW UK Ltd are lighting specialists based in Southampton who have used their skills in as diverse and impressive places as the historic HMS Victory and Buckingham Palace. Their previous logo was doing them poor service so we were tasked with giving them a more contemporary design to help them stand out in their competitive marketplace.

Cartooning At The New Forest Arts Festival 2017

On a blazing hot Saturday just past I got to take part in the New Forest Arts Festival in Lyndhurst along with other artists, dancers and creative types. It was roasting, but protected beneath my bright yellow gazebo I knuckled down on a two metre wide New Forest themed cartoon.

While I was drawing away we had a table set up to encourage children and adults to have a stab at cartooning themselves, something that's always fun to share, especially when the results delight the person with a previously undiscovered skill.

I just about completed the cartoon before the 4pm finish, and with the heat still beating down it was the perfect excuse to seek liquid refreshment. Thanks to all those that stopped by and said hello, bought my children's books, and took part in the cartooning.

Posted in Cartoons by Simon on 20/06/2017

New Forest Arts Festival – Big Board Cartooning

A little over a week ago I was at the New Forest Arts Festival launch event at the Minstead Trust along with lots of other artists and performers. It was fascinating to see the broad scope of the festival reflected in those attending, from theatre to painting, Morris dancing to cartoons.

This year, for the New Forest Arts Festival, I'll be in Lyndhurst at the Community Centre indulging in some live cartooning on a big board. Come along and see me draw on Saturday 17th from 11am to 5pm, and there'll be an opportunity to have a go at cartooning yourselves as you watch.

The Community Centre is at the opposite end of the main car park to the New Forest Museum, so easy to find and plenty of parking, and if you have parking clock you can park for free too!

Posted in News by Simon on 12/06/2017

Greek Myth Writing Competition

Year 5 from Orchard Junior School had me in a couple of months ago as a springboard for their Greek Mythology project, where I spent a morning showing the children how to draw monsters and create new ones of their own devising. They were then tasked to write a new chapter of Homer's epic story The Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew meet the creature they've created. Having already visualised their horrific beast the idea was that it would better inform their descriptive writing and enhance their creative storytelling, and I in turn would illustrate the monster from the story that most impressed me. 

Today I got to deliver the illustration I'd done to the Year 5 winner, Ted Lawless, who wrote a fantastically captivating tale that was both witty and inventive, particularly in the respect that it was almost the only story not to feature Odysseus slaying the monster but attempting to let it live. Ted's monstrous creation wasn't a wildly fantastic beast with multiple heads and tentacles, but a half-man, half-wolf, akin to the minotaur. In fairness, some of the other children dreamed up far more elaborate and ingenious creatures, but this was a competition about putting that monster into a narrative that gripped the reader, and Ted did this best.

Posted in Schools by Simon on 12/05/2017

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