My Illustrated Manifesto

My Illustrated Manifesto

Early in 2015 I was working on a personal project which was my illustrated manifesto. I’ve recently seen a couple panoramic style illustrations which I thought looked really great, really interesting, but naturally I didn’t want to copy these so I thought why not create a panoramic image of my journey. Essentially from where I started in Taipei to where I live now in Edinburgh. This is a format that I have never worked with before so I found it was challenging but fun.

Thi personal project also offered me a chance to practice working in this kind of panoramic format for a concertina book which I will be contributing towards for the Royal Botanical Gardens here in Edinburgh. However later on they decided not to use the concertina style book but it was still a fun project to do.

So I illustrated four of the major cities that I have lived in which in order are Taipei, Shanghai, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Each section (city) has a quote to go with it.

Taipei is my home town, where I am from and where I lived so I wrote “my life is a journey”. I then lived in Shanghai for about a year before I moved to the UK and I used the motto “Life Is Like Sailing in the Ocean”. Shanghai was an interesting place to live and was a real change in my life as I had to leave both friends and family behind so I tried to keep positive and have the best attitude possible. Sometimes life goes up, sometimes life goes down, but no matter your situation always try to look at the bright side of things.

Taipei is my hometown and this is where is the journey began.

Shanghai is my first stop and a city that inspired me a lot. The quote I used for this illustration is “Life is like sailing in the ocean”

I lived in Birmingham for just over 1 year and was in fact the first city I had visited in the UK. I really wasn’t that happy in Birmingham though as I really missed my family and friends and in the case of my parents this was the first time I had been a really long distance from them. It was also a real culture shock as I had gone from Eastern culture to Western culture and life was very different. So for this illustration I used a different motto “Sometimes Life Goes Down” and I drew a giant octopus eating the many boats and barges which fill Birmingham’s canal network.

Edinburgh is like a second home to me. I have lived in Edinburgh for nearly seven years and by and large really like living in Edinburgh. There will always be things I miss about Taipei but I really do like Edinburgh a lot and I have my husband and daughter here and also my new friends. I illustrated a bus going up a hill towards Edinburgh castle with the motto “Sometimes Life Goes Up”.

I designed a vintage suitcase for the book cover because the title of the book is “Journey” and it’s about my life journey. So I think a suitcase will be the best thing to sum up the essence of this book and I can put my title on those souvenir stickers as well.

The photo of my concertina book when it’s open.

Note: Please be sure to click on each illustration, especially the long panoramic images, for a larger view

The Man Who Lives in the Zoo Picture Book

The Man Who Lives in the Zoo Picture Book

At the end of 2014 I was working on a really exciting picture book project with Edinburgh Zoo. I was asked to create a picture book based on a real life character “Darren McGarry”. Darren is the head of the animals at Edinburgh Zoo and he has a very busy life amongst the animals and almost everything related to the animals at the zoo will involve him. The most amazing part of his life is he even lives in the zoo!

After a couple meetings with Darren I decided to write and illustrate a story about Darren’s daily life but with some funny twists. When I met Darren at Edinburgh Zoo he struck me as a person who really cares about and loves the animals. He is very respectful of the animals so he didn’t want to see the animals with any clothes or accessories on them and he doesn’t want to see the animals characterised either (for example he doesn’t want to see the animal talking and acting like a human. Instead, he hopes to see the animals acting normally in their normal environments).

So here is how the story goes. Darren woke up really tired and sleepy and no one knows why? He tried to find places in the zoo to have a nap but all the animals kept interrupting him. He isn’t angry or upset about this and so fulfils all the requests from the different animals and the reader will finally find out why he woke up still tired and sleepy in the morning.

It’s very tiring be a parent and sometimes even when you are so tired your child asks you for things and you still have to meet their demands. Darren made me feel like this with his animals. He loves and cares for them and needs to fulfil their needs and living in the zoo he will care for them no matter what the time or the outside conditions are. He will alway be there for the animals. Sometimes as parents we will feel a bit annoyed when we can’t just sit down quietly and have a cup of tea but no matter what we will still get up and look after our demanding child. I think this is the feeling I want to create for my story.

So below are some of the pages from my picture book. I hope you will like it.

Cute Animals Illustrations

Cute Animals Illustrations

In this post are a few animals I have illustrated for a Taiwanese Children’s interactive/activity book that I have talked about elsewhere. I photographed literally dozens of different illustrations but of the animal illustrations that I created these are some of my favourites.

According to the publisher, this book will be published and printed out in 6 months time so hopefully I will be able to see this book at some point around August.

I have illustrated a huge amount of animals in the past four months. Before this interactive/activity book I worked on a picture book project with Edinburgh Zoo. The story was about a main who lives in the zoo and is the head animal keeper which I will blog about very soon. That was a really fun and interesting project or owkr on.

I keep hearing that other illustrators usually get 6 months to 1 year to “finish” a book project and not moaning at all but this is never the case with my work. I usually get a couple months but it keeps things exciting and busy and my clients have always been really happy with my work.

So the following images are some of the animals I illustrated for a children’s interactive/activity book. Hope you will like it.


Cat, dog, poodle and sheep illustrations: 

Milk cow, bull, pig, Moorish idol fish Illustrations: 

Clown fish, Palette Surgeon fish and rabbits illustrations: 

Turtle and chameleon illustrations: 


Beautiful Birds Illustrations

Beautiful Birds Illustrations

Last November a Taiwanese publisher contacted me to see if I was interested in creating a number of illustrations for a four year old children’s activity book. So over the past five weeks I have created a total of 155 illustrations for this book and this is why I completely disappeared from the internet and my social life.

As a mother with a nearly three year old daughter who is a direct descendent of the Energiser Bunny, and with the nursery being closed for 10 days over the Christmas and New Year period, working freelance can be a little tricky. This is amplified by Chris and I not having any family who can help us out and also Chris working a lot over the festive period.

But somewhere I managed it and now I have finally completed all illustrations for the book and before the final deadline. I swear I nearly cried in front of my computer at the moment I finished the last illustration. It’s almost the same feeling as when I was in labour for four days and the midwife finally told me “you’re finally “ten fingers” open, it’s time to push!”. If you’ve had a child, you’ll hopefully be able to appreciate this.

In the past four months I have illustrated two books and love working on these books, so I’ll hopefully be able to do more of these in 2015.

Back to the book itself and specifically this section on birds, I was a little scared of drawing birds as I’ve never drawn birds before but I really like how they turned out. I even want to draw more different kinds of birds in the future for my own personal projects.

So below are four birds I illustrated for this project. Hope you like.


Northern Cardinal Illustration: 


Blue Jay Illustration: 


Rooster Illustration: 


Pigeon Illustration: 


Creepy Crawly Creatures Illustrations

Creepy Crawly Creatures Illustrations

A Taiwanese publisher has commissioned me to illustrate a new children’s interactive book for children aged 4+. These are just some illustrations from one page from the book. So this post contained some of the creepy crawly creatures illustrations I illustrated for them.

I really like this project because it’s very challenging but also a lot of fun to illustrate. I would never ever personally illustrate insects or scorpions but because of this project I have to and while I’m getting goosebumps illustrating they so far look really good. I see this forced positive energy as a good thing in helping me becoming a better illustrator and also the client so far has been really happy with what I’ve done.

The most difficult part in creating illustrations of bugs/insects is finding good reference photos, looking at them closely and drawing them. As mentioned I’ve been getting goosebumps and I’m having to transform scary looking insects into cute creatures for young children. So far I’m really happy with everything.

The other difficult part of this project is how to give the insects a 3D look. Instead of a 2D single angle the client wants all of the illustrations to havre depth so I’ve been adding lots of shadows and gradients to make things look more 3D. The other key point for illustrations for children are to try to make things look rounder, more colourful and more fun.

I’m going to illustrate lots of musical instruments for my next chapter and I really can’t wait for that. Stay tuned!


Ryan the Rhino Beetle: 

rhino the beetle illustration


Salvador the Scorpion:  

Pierre the Garden Snail: 


Vivienne the spider girl:


Andy the little ant: 


Lucas the locust: 

Illustrated Travel Guide of Taipei

Illustrated Travel Guide of Taipei

For this project I was tasked with creating an illustrated travel guide for any location that I fancied.

This was a really fun project as I could literally choose any city I’ve been to. I thought about doing an illustrated guide of Edinburgh, where I live now, but I decided to do an illustrated guide of my home city Taipei. This might seem bit of a cop out for some but there were a few reasons I wanted to illustrate Taipei. Firstly most people know nothing about Taipei/Taiwan or at least people think of “Made in Taiwan” (good old stereotypes) but what people don’t realise about Taiwan and even Taipei is that my country is quite industrial but it’s also extremely beautiful.

We have industrial parts of Taipei but if you jump on the metro or a bus and travel 20 minutes you can reach a national park or scenic area which are really beautiful. Also people often confuse Taiwan and Thailand. Ok, they might sound (barely) similar and they are within a thousand miles of each other but they are very different countries. I love Thailand btw, it’s still my favourite country that I have travelled to.

So here I am with this project. I created this short illustrated travel guide of Taipei to try to let people know “Hey, there is a country named Taiwan and Taipei is it’s capital”. All of the characters in the travel guide look very happy and enjoy their lives. The food in Taiwan is also absolutely delicious, just ask my husband and his ever growing waistline. Taiwan and Taipei are really cool places.

I would have liked to create more locations but in the time given I depicted four locations in Taipei. The first one is Maokong. Maokong is really close to my family home in Taipei and many people like to visit Maokong to enjoy a cup of tea and spend some relaxing time with friends and family. Maokong is famous for it’s tea farms and restaurants so I created a tea house scene for this location.

Maokong Taipei Illustrated Map

maokong tea garden illustration

The second scene and also my first illustration for this project was to create a “main map of Taipei” to introduce some general information about Taipei city, such as the weather, transport, language, food and celebrations, to give people reading this book a general idea about Taipei. I created the header below to originally be on it’s own but I decided to integrate it with the map and I really like the way it turned map header

taipei map information

 The second map is of the Taipei 101 tower.

The Taipei 101 tower was opened in 2004 and until 2010 was the tallest building in the world. If you’re struggling to comprehend the height of this building, google search Scottish mountains and you’ll have a general feel of the height. Every New Year (31st December, not Chinese New Year) a huge fireworks display is held on the Taipei 101 tower which is really spectacular. The Taipei 101 is located in the “Xinyi District” which is the new high end shopping area of Taipei. Apart from the shopping there are cinemas, 24 hour book stores and all kinds of fancy restaurants with delicacies from all over the world.

taipei 101 map illustration

taipei 101 fireworks illustration

The third guide depicts one of the most popular night markets in Taipei in the Shilin district.

Taiwan is really famous for it’s street food. A lot of tourists from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore travel all the way to Taiwan just to try the night market street food. Night market food is extremely diverse but it’s also really cheap. The night markets in Taiwan are extremely competitive and this brings down the cost of food but also raises the quality of food. I once told my husband we would probably need to spend a whole month to try one dish from every food stall in Shilin night market and remember there are dozens of night markets in Taipei alone.

I believe I must have put a lot of weight on while working on this project as all I could think about was how delicious the food is so I kept making that food at home and eating it.

shilin night market taipei map illustration

shilin night market taipei illustration

taipei night market food illustration

The fourth and final illustrated guide is of Yangming Mountain hot spring.

Yangmingshan (shan means mountain in Chinese) is a national park on the north side of Taipei and is a national park with a mountain that rises to 1120 metres. Yangming mountain also provides natural hot springs and a lot of hot spring restaurants and hotels also provide really delicious food made from local produce. Also Yangming mountain has a lot of Calla Lilly and for a small amount of money you can harvest a load of Calla Lillies and bring them home to decorate your home.

The last time I went back to Taipei, my parents took myself and Chris to Yangming mountain to drink tea and eat a lot of tasty food. Incidentally our table was situated right next to a big field of Calla Lilly. So Yangmingshan is a great place for tourists to visit and you will have a lot of fun there. Also as a note, Chris is really into his cars and the last time we went over Yangmingshan there must have been a Ferrari club day out as we were overtaken by about a dozen Ferraris ranging from old to new. Very nice!

yangming mountain taiwan map illustration

yangmingshan mountain hot spring illustration

So that’s it for this illustrated guide. It was great fun to work on and it brought back a lot of good memories but it also made me really homesick. It’s been well over two years since I last visited Taiwan and my father has yet to meet our daughter Amelia so depending on workloads we may try to visit later this year. Hope you like the images above.

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