Monday, December 24, 2012

Blue Nose Friends Sunset Snow House and end of year recap

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
So 2012 is nearly over, and it's been an interesting year to say the least.  The first half started out pretty much as normal; Working away on Blue Nose Friends illustrations and squeezing in the odd personal piece when by amazing, but very distracting, 1 year old son allowed.

Then the greetings industry started to change, some well established high street names nearly went under, and I realised that I needed a safety net.  So with the intention of building a freelance client base I spent the latter half of the year putting together a portfolio, website (stop by!), business cards and a cool little pack to send out.  Beyond freelance opportunities I also hoped to use this work to break into the videogame industry, so I headed off to the Eurogamer Expo to show my stuff.  Although I received some excellent and positive feedback from some well respected industry professionals, it also made me realise that maybe the industry I choose isn't as important as I think it is, as long I enjoy what I'm doing.

This was further confirmed after attending the live workshop in London and listening to the advice of Bobby Chiu.  Inspirational is an understatement;  After the four hour lecture I finally felt I had direction, and that direction was to do what I loved doing and do it well.

So although I had put a LOT of work into my videogames focussed portfolio, it turns out it hadn't gone unnoticed.  Soon after I was offered pretty much the best job I could possibly get within the greetings industry, a role with so much potential it's almost daunting!  So I packed up my pencils and left the home of Tatty Teddy.  For better or worse this obviously means that I will no longer be illustrating My Blue Nose Friends, therefore the above image will be the last MBNF christmas image I ever post - it was used on this years Blue Nose Friends advent calendar by the way.  It's been a good run but I'm glad to move on to something different and stretch my artistic legs a bit.

2013 is going to be a super exciting year for me and I hope to show of some of the work I've done for my new employer as soon as I can.  In the meantime I still have a few unseen pieces to keep things ticking over.

This blog will live on!

Have a great Christmas and a fulfilling new year,

All the best,


Sunday, October 07, 2012

Dust Bunny

A finished painting of this earlier sketch done for my new portfolio site over at

Fur is always fun, but challenging, to paint.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Phew...glad that's over

After a month long absence I'm finally back to get this blog back up and running.

Rather than enjoying the sun I've been frantically working on my website, portfolio and a few other promotional bits (that I'll post about on here in the coming weeks) in an attempt to break into the daunting world of freelance illustration.

So if you have a few minutes please stop by and let me know what you think...good or bad.  In time this blog will be altered to match my website and eventually they'll be integrated.

Until next time here's my newly created logo;
It represents the fact that I like to illustrate both cute and creepy subjects, and sometimes a combination of both.  It's based on the idea of the kind of creature that would hatch from this "Hybrid Egg" that I previously used as a placeholder image while the site was being built.  Pretty apt I guess!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quaint toy fireplace

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
A painting used as a decal inside "Tatty Teddy's heart shaped house", a new toy that's part of a range from Worlds Apart.

In the snap below you can see it on TV, the second time my artwork's been shown on the small screen (the first was the result of a competition I entered when I was 8 so it doesn't really count);

Check out to see the rest of the toy range.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Sketch commissions

A few recent sketch commisions.

Want one of your own?  Send me a message and I'll see what I can do.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blue Nose Friends Character designs Part 3

Images courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

Part three of the ongoing series where I post some of the Blue Nose Friends characters I have designed which made it onto store shelves in plush form.

From the top;
Float the Manatee
Ramble the Centipede
Shelter the Woodlouse
Treetops the Gorilla (actually based on an initial concept by my colleague, I illustrated the final design)
Ocean the Sea turtle
Foo the Pug

As usual, stop by or your local card retailer (in the UK) to buy them!


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Cute, creepy and everything in between...

After ten years of using free gallery sites to show my work to the world I've finally bought my own little corner of the web and am creating a dedicated portfolio site.

Turns out that things have changed quite a bit since I last dabbled with HTML back in 2000, so it's taking a bit longer than expected to get everything to a state I'm happy with.  Until the main site is ready you'll be greeted with a good old 'Under Construction' placeholder page displaying the weird thing above.

What is it?  It started out as an egg that's meant to be half nice and sweet, and half creepy and gross to show that I enjoy illustrating cute things as well as um...not so cute things.

Successful or not, it was a good oppertunity to experiment with different textures and lighting.

To see the hybrid egg in it's natural habitat head over to


Monday, July 30, 2012

Tatty Teddy and Blue Nose Friends Sky Scape

Image courtesy of Carte Blanche Greetings

An image used in a kind of trailer animation for the newly released Tatty Teddy and My Blue Nose Friends toys.

This is what I call the 'Sky Scape', an aerial kingdom found within the sky door (to be shown in a future post).

About the new toys, got to to check them out; Your small female relatives will love 'em!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Woody and Buzz watercolour

I painted this a few months ago for a very poorly little boy who loves Toy Story.  His favourite character is Woody, and his twin brother's is Buzz.  The final version included both of their names side by side on the soles of the character's touching feet.  I didn't think it was appropriate to post that version online but it does add some context to the poses if you visualise it.

As cheesy as it sounds, the original Toy Story means a lot to me.  Along with it's influence on my artistic development (which you can read about here), I used to watch it with my little brother when he was a toddler and the soundtrack as much as the visuals bring back a lot of great memories of time spent with him.  Now thirteen years later I plan on watching it all over again with my own little boy.

I can't imagine how it must feel to watch your child suffer and not be able to do anything to help, and that's what made this so heartbreaking to paint as a new parent myself.  Toy Story also has a pretty emotional soundtrack, unfortunately listening to it while trying to paint wasn't very productive - it was hard to see the details through teary eyes.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dragon VS unicorn...

Image and characters property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd a battle of cuteness.  Sorry if you thought the post title would lead to the depiction of an epic and bloody mythical fight to the death - maybe next time.  :)

This was a promotional image for My Blue Nose Friends.

Love painting swirly clouds, a habit I haven't been able to shake since playing The Curse of Monkey Island in 1998.  Only now am I realising what a huge influence Bill Tiller's art has had on my work, shame I forgot to put him on my creative influence map, oops.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Tic Toc Jungle themed door concept

Image property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

A themed door which leads to a kind of Jungle world where there's a time travelling Grandfather clock.  That particular idea probably won't make it into the final products so I thought I'd put it out there anyway.

Painting this made me realise how fun it must be to design one of those crazy environments in a theme park, so if anyone out there's developing a new attraction and needs some ideas all you have to do is ask!


Monday, July 02, 2012

Tic Toc Jungle environment concept

Image property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
A quick concept for the magical 'Jungle world' of the Blue Nose Friends.  In this post you can see the  door that leads to this land.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Magical room of magical doors

This is kind of a hub found within Tatty Teddy's wardrobe, each door, for example this farmyard door, leads to a different themed world, for example the Farmyard world.  I think you can see where I'm going with this!

Initially it was produced for a style guide to inspire new toys, but has since been used on a bunch of things including a giant display at the London Toy Fair (shown below, I did the characters too), which was nice.

More doors coming in future.


(All images property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baby Tigger Watercolour

Watercolour and coloured pencil illustration for a buddy of mine.

Part of a series with;
Baby Pooh
Baby Eeyore

To see some preliminary sketches of all three check out this previous post.

Shane S

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baby Eeyore Watercolour

Watercolour and coloured pencil illustration for a buddy of mine.  To see baby Pooh painted in this style check out this post, and here for Baby Tigger.

To see some preliminary sketches check out this post.

Shane S

Monday, June 18, 2012

Baby Pooh watercolour

Watercolour and coloured pencil illustration for a buddy of mine.  To see baby Eeyore painted in this style check out this postand here for Baby Tigger.

To see some preliminary sketches check out this post.

Shane S

Monday, June 11, 2012

Baby Pooh and friends sketches

A couple of sketches for a buddy of mine that recently became a Daddy (congrats!).  He then chose one of each character to be painted in watercolour for his Daughter's nursery wall.

The designs he chose all painted up;

Which sketches are your favourite?


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Home, blue home

Image Property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
A potential new house for the Blue Nose Friends, but what's it actually for?  You might find out in a  few years :)

Zoom-in to check out my favourite part -  the contoured roof!

Shane S

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Diamond Doggy Jubilee

Image and character property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

Jewel the corgi celebrating a four day weekend in style - enjoy yours too!

Shane S

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creative influence map

Loads more I wanted to include but decided to stick with the grid ‘rules’ on the bottom of the template instead.

I mainly included artists that have influenced my work and technique directly rather than just a bunch that I loved but didn’t consciously take anything from, hence no James Jean, Da Vinci or Watterson.

I'm always interested to find out the creative origins of artists I admire, so have been checking out a whole bunch of these things online lately.  A few highlights are those of Sam Nielson (surprising how similar my own influences are to his, unfortunately I left off Monkey Island but I haven't been able to draw clouds without including a spiral since playing MI3!), and Sebastien gallego.

Download the template file from the creator's DeviantArt page at and create your own.

Shane S

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tatty Teddy Rainbow Lake

Image and character property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
An experimental Tatty Teddy painted a few years ago.  Although the concept wasn't quite right I still like the colours so I thought I'd post it anyway.

Shane S

Monday, May 14, 2012

Blue Nose Friends springtime pond

Image and characters property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

Really enjoyed painting this illustration as it was a good chance to mess around with water effects, plus it's kind of two images in one which is never a bad thing if you enjoy a bit of variety.

Promotional image for the plush launch of these four characters.

Shane S

Monday, May 07, 2012

Elvgren digital pin-up tutorial

A brief step by step tutorial of the process I used to paint this Gil Elvgren study.

Clicky for full size...

Shane S

Monday, April 30, 2012

Elvgren digital pin-up study

Thought I'd try my hand at this Pin up thing, so here's a test I did trying to emulate the Gil Elvgren style digitally.

I focussed more on the technique than an exact likeness of Elvgren's original but I'm pretty happy with the results.

Look out for some original paintings (and a step by step of this piece) in the near future!

Shane S

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Farmyard magical door concept

Image property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

As part of the development of the new Blue Nose Friends toy range (launching in August 2012!) I was asked to develop the concept of magical doors leading to different themed worlds within.

I really enjoyed stretching my artistic legs beyond the usual character artworks that make up the majority of my day job.

This particular door leads to a farmyard area shown in this concept painting.

Plenty more of these to come...

Shane S

Monday, April 16, 2012

Farmyard environment concept

Image property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

The magical 'Farmyard world' of the Blue Nose Friends.  To see the ornate wooden door that leads to this land have a look at this post.

Quick environment paintings like this are always a pleasure to paint.

Shane S

Monday, April 09, 2012

Toots and Ivory

Image and characters property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd

Another promotional image for the competition of

Shane S

Monday, April 02, 2012

Self caricature

I thought it was about time I updated my online persona with something that at least slightly resembled me, and as I'm not quite ready to use a photo I took the opportunity to paint this,

I guess the partially glowing lightbulb represents one of those ideas that didn't get a chance to fully illuminate before it was extinguished by something new and fancy.  I'm assuming other creative minds work in a similar way.

Shane S

Monday, March 26, 2012

Britain's best friend

Images and characters property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
Some promotional images for a competition our company ran based around the theme of friendship.

Check out to see how these artworks were used.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blue Nose Friends Character Designs Part 2

Some more blue nose friends characters, all now available as plush.

From top to bottom;
Flame the Dragon, Yabber the Platypus and Nutmeg the Squirrel.

My last BNF character post got a lot of views, so if you're another blue nose friend fan stopping by then feel free to leave a comment or ask a question and I'll do my best to answer.


Shane S

(Images and characters property of Carte Blanche Greetings)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Summer fun with some blue nose friends

Characters and image property of Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd
Promotional image for the launch of these plush characters.  It was also a great chance to experiment with coloured lighting.

Shane S