When Matilda discovers a treasure map inside an old bottle, she shows it to the Jolley-Rogers and they all set sail to find the mysterious island.
Only to end up in the belly of the dastardly Pirate Cruncher!
Can Matilda and the rest of the Jolly-Rogers rescue themselves before it is too late?
Or will they end up trapped there forever?
Expect adventure, laughs and perhaps an almighty sneeze..
I start off with a rough sketch on paper that I scan into my computer.
In Photoshop, I draw over the top of the scan on my Wacom Cintiq screen, which is a bit like a tablet but as big as a TV, and has a special pen for drawing.
I use a Photoshop brush tip that looks a lot like pencil.
Each element of the drawing is on a separate ‘layer’, so I can move things around until I’m happy with the composition.
Next, I block in some flat colour to try and get an idea of how the cover will look when it’s ‘painted’.
I keep it very rough and continue to move things around a little bit.
I tidy up the drawing and the flat colours, and start painting Matilda’s face.
Everything is still separate, like a collage, so I can keep moving different parts of the painting around.
I paint Matilda until she’s almost finished.
I take some photographs of my daughter, Daisy, holding some unrolled wallpaper, to try and get Matilda’s fingers looking right.
Next I start on Jim Lad, and the tentacle that’s gripping him.
I paint Bones, the wooden-legged dog, next.
I actually turn the image upside down on my computer screen whilst doing this bit, to make it easier to draw Bones’ face.
I also do a bit of painting on the trees and foliage on the back cover, and paint in some fluffy clouds along the horizon.
The best bit about working on the computer is that I can paint behind things, and don’t have to carefully paint around them, when I do the background.
I drag in a plant from the ‘Gigantosaurus’ cover, just to see if anyone notices.
I also use it as a guide for the colour of the trees and plants and start painting them in nice, bright greens.
I’m not happy with the shape of the tentacle holding Bones, so I change it to get a nicer curve.
I paint more leaves on the trees and try to make the big one in the middle look more three-dimensional, by adding a palm frond pointing outwards.
The designer sends me all the words, titles and graphics that will appear on the cover, and I need to make more space for the blurb on the back of the book.
So I move some of the palm fronds and delete a few.
I also drag in the red scroll that I used on the first two ‘Jolley-Rogers’ books, but add a tentacle tugging at one end.
I paint a faint pirate ship in the background, although this will be largely hidden by the flat colour on the spine.
I add lots more detail to the tentacles, working on rows of suckers, black spots and little white highlights to try and make the tentacles appear slightly wet.
The leaves in the foreground look a bit dark, so I lighten them up using Photoshop’s brightness controls.
Finally, I paint the monkey and finish Nugget and the fiddler on the back cover.
I have to make even more space on the back cover when I realise that the blurb won’t fit in!
I normally print the cover when I think it’s finished and check it very carefully to make sure the printed colours are as close as possible to those I see on screen.
When I look at the print, I often spot bits of detail I’ve missed, so I scribble notes on the print out, and keep painting until I’m sure the cover is completely finished.