Live drawing for Cartoonbase

A while ago, I was commissioned by Cartoonbase to do a live-drawing during the opening-event of the new Gyproc factory. This meant having to draw on a huge canvas of Gyproc boards, on a stage, in front of about 300 people.

Normally this would be something that would scare me instantly: drawing in front of an audience, and not being able to correct the drawing with a gum or such either. But after a meeting with the nice people at Cartoonbase, I realized it wasn’t that scary as I thought in the beginning, and I decided to just go for it. And you know what; an unexpected thing happened while I was drawing at the event: I really enjoyed it!

So it is confirmed once again: it is good to leave your comfort-zone once in a while :-)

You can see some pictures of the live-drawing below.

KeyColours award ceremony and opening Kleurboel exhibition

On 22 september was the opening of the Kleurboel exhibition, and the award ceremony of the KeyColours picturebook competition.

I took part in the KeyColours competition with my picturebook Helme’s Grote Hoofd (Helmes Giant Head), along with 422 other illustrators all over the world, who submitted their picturebook. To my big surprise, my work did not only make it to the longlist of 44 illustrators, but it also made it to the shortlist of 6! This meant that my work would be included in the Kleurboel exhibition in the Stadsmus in Hasselt, and that I was one of the six finalists that could win a cash prize and publication by Clavis Uitgeverij.

The opening of the exhibition was on 22 september in the Stadsmus museum in Hasselt (Belgium), and the award ceremony took place a couple of hours later in the offices of Clavis Uitgeverij on the beautiful Herkenrode Abbey site. It was a great day on which I met a lot of nice and interesting people, and saw a lot of great illustrations. And then it was time to get a bit nervous for the award ceremony… Of course the publisher and the alderman of culture of the city of Hasselt kept the tension until the last minute. After the winner of the award: Eva Schirdewahn from Germany was announced, they also announced that Clavis Uitgeverij will also publish the other finalists, which was the first time in the history of the KeyColours award that they decided to do that. So I am over the moon that my book will be published!

A big congrats to the winner Eva Schirdewahn with her book Fido! And of course congratulations to all of the finalists:

  • Effie Lada from Greece (A Forgotten Sunday)

  • Sara Casilda Campos from Spain (Anna, va dormir dans ton lit)

  • Maria Fernandez de Cordova Miralles from Spain ( Bob’s Journey)

  • Eva Schirdewahn from Germany (Fido)

  • Manuel Sumberac from Croatia (The Red Bird)

  • Ellen Lambrichts (me) from Belgium (Helme’s Grote Hoofd)

So keep your eyes peeled when you are in a bookstore next summer :-)

If you want to visit the Kleurboel exhibition: you can still go visit the Stadsmus in Hasselt until 4 november. Do pop in if you are in the neighbourhood!

finalist of the KeyColours competition!

I am very glad to announce that my picturebook 'Helme's Grote Hoofd' not only made the longlist of the KeyColours picturebook competion, which means my work will be included in the exhibition, but I also am one of the six finalists of this important picturebook competion!

This competition is organized by the city of Hasselt, in association with Clavis Uitgeverij. It is a pretty well-known international competition which receives a lot of entries from illustrators throughout Europe, so I am very excited being one of the final six.

My work will be exhibited in the Kleurboel- exposition in the Stadsmus in Hasselt, from 22 september to 4 november. Of course, you are all invited to go take a lookC

helme cover klein naam.jpg

artwork for the doom-metalband My Lament

A while ago, I was asked to make artwork for the new single of the belgian doom-metalband My Lament. Now, when you take a look at my illustrations, you wouldn't really think of doom metal, and neither would I, actually.

But, knowing that this band isn't really your typical doom-metalband, and that they prefer a more poetical approach for their CD-covers, I really liked the challenge and accepted.

Here you can see the finished cover. I will shed some light on how it came about below.

ML cover met tekst.jpg

When they told me the title of their new single was 'Life will be the Death of Me', several things came to my mind. One of the images I thought of, was the cover of their CD 'Broken Leaf', which consisted of a beautiful photo of a leaf skeleton in fragile hues of grey. I somehow wanted to translate this image into new artwork that conveyed the same feeling. After some silent thinking and collective brainstorming, I came up with the idea of combining the subtle lines of a leaf skeleton with the solid shape of an animal, as if it was dissolving in full motion.

A humpback whale embodied this feeling, in my opinion. Looking at pictures of these epic animals always envokes strong feelings in me: on one hand, their size and the vast expanse of ancient darkness they live in scares me, and yet, looking at these massive animals has a tragic quality too; like watching the light of a star that is already extinct. They possess just the right combination of strenght and vulnerability.

I didn't have to think long about the technique I wanted to use as a base: black ink it would be. The dark sea just screamed for black ink, dying out on wet paper. And so I started sketching.

I experimented with black and red ink to make structures and backgrounds for the humpback whale. I sketched a lot of whales, to see what movement and shape would fit the image best, and would invoke the right feeling. Shapes and movement, as well as color, all work together in invoking a certain feeling, after all. It's a bit like body language: subtle things can have a big impact.

I decided on a couple of poses, and turned those sketches into cleaner ink linework illustrations. The next step was scanning all these elements. I chose the ink backgrounds with the nicest texture to use as base color for the whales and the linework, after which I started adding shadows and highlights and pulling the different elements together.

binnenkant klein naam.jpg

While working on my initial idea of the humpback whale that was gradually dissolved into a leaf skeleton, I loved the image itself, but I felt that this was a too literal approach to the title; too much like an illustration, if you get what I mean. After discussing this with the band, we agreed to leave out the leaf skeleton and to focus on the humpback whale instead. So I continued working on this until I had two images that clicked and had just the right ratio of darkness and light. Above and below you can see the two final pieces.

coverML klein naam.jpg

card for the Boekenkaravaan to thank volunteers

A while ago, I was asked by the Boekenkaravaan to illustrate a card that was going to be sent as a thank you card to their volunteers. The Boekenkaravaan is an organisation that aims to show underpriviledged children how wonderful books and reading can be, knowing that better language skills and a broader horizon can improve those children's chances on a better future.

To reach this goal, the Boekenkaravaan works with a lot of volunteers that go read books to children, sometimes in playgrounds, but mostly at the children's own home on a regular basis, thus building a lasting relationship with those families. Often these weekly reading dates become something the children really look forward to, so it goes without say that these volunteers really do a great job and deserve a heartfelt thank you every once and a while!

kaartje vrijwilligers klein ig naam.jpg

When I was asked to make an illustration for this card, I wanted to make an illustration that would really resonate with the volunteers, and would make them feel appreciated indeed. I asked myself what their biggest motivation would be to keep giving their time and dedication to this initiative every week, and I figured that the main reason would be making those children happy, of course.
What would give them more satisfaction than looking up from the book they are reading, and seeing the happy or attentive faces of the children in front of them? So I drew just that.

I made a lot of sketches of children's faces, to make sure they looked etnically diverse without focusing on their skintone too much. When drawing children of diverse backgrounds, I feel it is important that the children can identify with the characters as individuals; I wouldn't want the characters to look as stereotypes. After I had sketched a group of characters I liked, I made some sketches to obtain a composition that worked, and started working on the final illustration with those elements.

Below you can see a little gif that shows how I built up the final illustration. As you see, I worked more or less color by color, to make sure the colors are balanced throughout the image and look harmonious.


After I finished the illustration, the Boekenkaravaan had cards printed, that were sent to their volunteers. By now the cards have surely all arrived. I heard there was enthousiastic feedback from the volunteers when they found the card in their mailboxes, which meant a lot to me. It is always great to hear that my work made someone's day just that little bit better!

The cards are being posted by the Boekenkaravaan. Photo by Eefje Raats.

The cards are being posted by the Boekenkaravaan. Photo by Eefje Raats.