Sketchbook social

Surprised bird by Lara CrowFancy bird by Lara CrowHello, what have you been up to recently? On Thursday I went to Sketchbook Social at Cafe 1001, which was part of the London Book and Screen week. It was a great night, with much listening to talented people talk about illustration plus some drinking and drawing nonsense. I especially loved watching people draw on the big screen in the room. It’s hypnotically calming!

Here are some of my scribblings from the evening. Turns out that drinking and drawing is excellent fun but not perhaps the way to produce my, er, most polished work!

Crazy cat lady by Lara CrowThis crazy cat lady was something I doodled because we were talking about stuff we struggle to draw and I have a confession to make. I like cats and I like drawing cats, but I don’t really understand how their bodies work. They must have a spine in there somewhere, but when people pick up cats they seem to just stretch like a big slinky or something! Yeah, I don’t really get it.

Hello! by Lara Crow

Oh and this guy. What the hell? He just popped up at the bottom of a more sensible drawing and made me laugh.

Many thanks to Vicky, Neil and Ken for the company and giraffe drawing lessons.


I’ve been feeling a sort of manic joy about green ever since I saw the colour collective theme last week. Leaf greeeeen. I’ve not had a chance to participate in the Twitter colour challenge yet this year, one thing or another kept getting in the way, but hell no. I wasn’t going to miss this one, the shade was too good!

So here is the slightly crazed image I came up with. Wheeee! All the green, straight into your eyeballs. I was going to choose a more soothing background colour to compliment the leaf green and then I was like, pah! Weakling. Let’s have ALL THE GREEN like a big leafy slap in the face! Because that is sometimes how I roll.

Manic green by Lara Crow


Happy new year!

Happy new year! Hope you are all having most excellent 2016s so far! I had a lovely couple of weeks off doing nothing very demanding, here is a stupid comic about it. Sadly this actually happened because mulled wine is a bad influence on me and my bro Ryan. Mum puts up with a lot of crap. Sorry Mum!

xmas larger


If you would like to hear a sample of that most excellent dance music, you can listen to it here… oh dear.

Charity auction

350-crocHey! I’m auctioning a print of my worried little astro crocodile (and a pencil sketch as an extra goodie) for Save the Children UK. Hooray!

All proceeds go to charity, so why not have a little bid? You get a fun, signed, limited edition print for your wall and dosh goes to a great cause. Win-win.

I’m doing this as part of the Twitter Colour Collective, a very talented bunch of creative types who get together on Twitter to share their work, based on a different colour each week.

Have a look at some of the lovely stuff they are auctioning too. Ooooo arty goodness.

It’s been really great seeing so many illustrators get involved. Gives me faith in people. All the warm fuzzies. Feels really good! *sniff* What? Oh nothing. Just got something in my eye…

Only 4 days left, so don’t hang about!


Beastly plates

Bear platePlates! I meant to write a little blog about them a while ago but only just got round to it. Ah plates, so much fun to draw on! It’s really satisfying starting with a shiny white circle and working into it. Also, of course each one comes out a little different.

I’ve been experimenting with different pens and different colours, but I think the stark black on the white plates look the best! The coloured pens I’ve tried just don’t have the same oomph.

The plates can be cleaned gently, but aren’t really dishwasher proof. I did try out some pens that claimed to be, but they didn’t give such good lines and when I tested them, they weren’t any more dishwasher proof! Tsk, rotten pen liars.

I take commissions for special beastie plates. Dogs looks especially rad, so email me if you’re interested!


Here’s a little chap I’ve been working on this week. Probably should have been drawing something sensible but instead drew this awkward astronaut, who is also a crocodile. He’s all uh… excuse me? Guys? I have a problem with the controls. Yeah, no opposable thumbs…

Astronaut crocodile illustration by Lara Crow

I was having a bit of an off week and this little guy really cheered me up. Thanks dude! I don’t often use a lot of orange, so this was a good push for me. It just has such a strong space flightsuit association (not least because of this for me!). I kind of want those boots… I may make a print of him sometime, or perhaps draw him some astronaut buddies.

And because I find it interesting, here’s a gif showing the initial sketch (green biro again!) and the layers that make up the final illustration. It’s pretty close to the original sketch, I usually change it quite a bit more than this. Not so many layers this time either. For once I managed to restrain myself!

Lara Crow illustration

Feeding the beast

Thought I’d write another little post with a bit more information about how I like to work. I always find it interesting reading about how other people approach their work and the thinking behind it!

Hound illustration by Lara Crow

This beast image was an editorial illustration. I often work on these and when I do, the article’s Editor will always give me some suggestions on what they had in mind and what the gist of the article is. We usually then have a brief chat about different ideas and directions. I suggest options and they let me know which one sounds best to them!

I also always ask the Editor for the tone of the piece- I’d hate to approach the subject in a cheery or jokey manner if that would seem too flippant for the article, likewise I don’t always want to draw something too serious or macabre if that wouldn’t suit the tone either. It can be a tricky balance sometimes.

With this particular article, the Editor told me that the subject we were talking about was the absolute worst. All thoughts of a funny fat beast being fed cake were quickly abandoned in favour of a more frightening, hopefully more thoughtful interpretation of the brief. I wanted to get across a primal, instinctive sort of gnawing drive. The gaping maw of a beast seemed to tie into both that hunger and also a nightmarish side that I thought would be interesting.

houndsI started out with some research, looking up photos of wolves and bears snarling and yawning. Mainly to try to get an idea of how their jaws fit together, where the teeth and gums show and where they are hidden by lips or fur.

Although I liked the bulkiness of bears, I decided wolves were closer to what I wanted- being a sharper shape and having a stronger association (at least in my mind!) with folklore and ideas of hunger and nightmares.

Then I started scribbling. Here are a few of the sketches. In good old green biro again! I was starting to stylise the hounds at this point, so there are some longer faces and exaggerated gapes.

hound-sketchObviously this is no great revelation or anything, but I find sketching things the best way to understand, just looking at something don’t seem to cut it as well for me. I think perhaps my brain does some sneaky colouring in around the edges when I’m just looking and sort of glosses over anything confusing!

I liked the sketch on the left a lot, but it didn’t seem hungry enough and looked a little too worried. More like a gasp than a gape! It seemed better for the beast to be looking up, so it was all teeth and mouth.

Using my sketch as a guide, I roughed in the dark lines in Photoshop. I often do quite restrained and smooth linework but this time I was trying to keep it all a lot looser and scruffier (turns out that’s a lot easier when you’re drawing a hairy beast!).


I played around with various backgrounds, but in the end decided keeping it quite simple and having the beast appear from the gloom suited the feel I was going for. But it still needed a little something to lift it.

The spark of light from the eye seemed to be what I was after- though I’m still not entirely sure why I decided to do it! Sometimes just playing around with stuff gives you a new idea.

scary-model Working on this beast was really satisfying and I hope to do some more soon. Who knows, maybe there’s a series or a story in there somewhere…

Luckily I have this excellent (and most terrifying) beastie to draw when I feel inspired. Here she is pulling her best Hound of the Baskervilles face.