Friday, 27 December 2013

The Very Clever Snail - Book Review

Wow! Read this review. So pleased - it's lovely to get some feedback on my book and so quickly too.

The Very Clever Snail Book Review

The Very Clever Snail on Amazon Kindle
The Very Clever Snail

Luni's World

Especially for dog lovers. Just published on Kindle and at 77p it's a snip!

Of course, it's a bit weird and a little dark in humour and hopefully will bring a smile to your face :)

Do you ever wonder what dogs dream of when they are running in their sleep? Based on a true story (well almost) this short comic strip is about a naughty dog who causes chaos wherever he goes. This story is about his trip to the vet and the unmentionable operation that was supposed to calm him down - but didn't.

You can buy it on Amazon HERE!

Monday, 23 December 2013

My Snail Book is Live on Amazon Kindle

Well it certainly didn't take long for my snail book to be published on Kindle and it's only £1.88. Here's a sample spread from my book and there's also a link below if you do want to buy a copy.

Page 4 of my book The Very Clever Snail
Click on this text to buy my book here
Posters can be bought at my Society6 shop

The Very Clever Snail on Amazon

Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my Family, Friends, Clients, Followers and … Everyone really.

I hope you all have a wonderful time!

All my love and best wishes.

Buy my Christmas cards here.

Publishing a Picture Book on Kindle

If you have absolutely no idea on formatting html, and want to publish your children's book this article is for you. All you need is Word for Windows or Pages for Mac! Instructions are about half way down this page.

Having read all the Kindle Publishing Guides, ordering a simple book telling me how to publish on Kindle, watching numerous YouTube videos, researching conversion software etc - I almost gave up. I would say that I am pretty IT literate (having taught IT in colleges for many years) but html is a little out of my league. Yes, I can put my website together in Dreamweaver and keep it updated but that is about it. You would think that uploading a file to Kindle for conversion would be simple … and it is, but the results are not quite what I expected.

Kindle do say that you can upload a pdf (which is great news for InDesign and Mac users like myself) but the results might not be as intended. They were right. I exported my pdf from InDesign and uploaded it to the Kindle Previewer - not a very good result. After numerous attempts at saving my file in different formats (and downloading the Kindle plugin for InDesign), I decided that InDesign was definitely not the program to do this. This is one of the resulting screenshots form exporting as a .mobi file, ready to read on Kindle. I tried exporting as e-pub also and got a similar result.

Using InDesign to export in .mobi format

A little more research and it looks like most people are using Word to publish their books. Kindle says you can use .docx and export it as Word, so I gave this a go using Pages … and it works!

A little file preparation is needed first. Images need to be 1024 x 600 pixels for a Landscape book like mine, and in RGB format. I kept my resolution at 300 as this gets converted anyway and I saved my files as .jpegs on 8 High. Book Covers need to be uploaded separately and will then form part of your book. Kindle recommends the cover to be 1563 x 2500 but I kept mine the same as the rest of my .jpegs.  Some people are suggesting you use a lower resolution which results in much smaller file sizes so that you can really drop your price, but I wanted to keep the quality. After conversion my book totalled at 1.69 mb.

Once your files are ready, open up Pages and then use the Insert Menu to put in your Images and Page breaks in the order you read the book. Even if you change the margins so that your image fills the page, I found that this doesn't seem to make any difference in the conversion process.

Simple Pages document.
Save your file as normal and then choose File, Export, Word (I also tried e-pub - it didn't work). The file is now ready for uploading to Kindle's conversion program.

Log in with your Amazon account, follow the instructions, add all your details including your Bank's IBAN and BIC codes, download the previewer and you're good to go - almost.

Amazon KDP LogIn Page
Apparently, there are some bugs in the previewer one of them being that there is a lot of white space around the image. This has certainly happened to me and I am hoping that when my book is published my images will fill the page. I will edit this blog to let you know what happens when my book appears on Amazon - which should be in around 12 hours.

My Book Page in Kindle Previewer
I really hope you find this article useful. I'm sorry that I can't tell you how to make your books look extra wonderful by zooming into parts of the pages etc but if you just want to publish yourself, and are not very good at html coding, I think this tutorial will work for you.  Best of luck in selling your children's books.

Here are some useful links that you will need:

Update: Well that was quick, my book is now on Kindle.  The white space is still there and I'm not quite happy about the hard line around my images (which is not there on the originals) but, if you double-click on the Kindle screen the image becomes full size. You do have to close the image to go to the next page though. Overall, I'm quite happy with the colour etc. Need to spend a bit more time on the cover next time, the original was for a full front and back cover.

Christmas Cards on Zazzle

I received a really lovely email from a lady who has featured one of my Christmas cards on her blog. She's also written a really lovely article on Christmas in general.  If you'd like to have a look, here's the link (mine is the snowman with the hedgehog):

No Boring White blog

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Lion's Heart & Lemongrass Gift

Amazon Kindle Gift
Such a lovely surprise to receive this gift from Jasper Smithey. My book cover looks stunning on Kindle and I can't wait to read this over the Christmas period. I'm looking forward to creating more cover illustrations for Jasper on his forthcoming books. Such a kind gesture, I'm really chuffed.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Walking on Gold

Walking on Gold by Janine Amos
Book Cover by Maria Forrester
A few weeks back I completed a lovely commission for a book cover aimed at young readers.

To read an extract from the book and for more information about Janine's work and other books, you can visit her new website The book is due to be published in Spring 2014 and sounds really exciting. I'm sure it is going to be a great success and I'm looking forward to reading the whole book.

This book cover was created using various media. Watercolour and cling film was used for the background. Rubbings of fossils, drawings of coins and grasses (and making them look like rubbings), acrylic paint, hand rendered text and even my rough seagull drawings were used to create this colourful cover. This was a commission for the full front and back cover, but also for publication on ebooks.

Some Development Images

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Website Update

Rough Design
I finally managed to update my website. There are a couple of new commissioned book covers in the Galleries section and also a page devoted solely to my "Twisted Targets". I'm working on some more targets at the moment and I'll add these also when they are finished. My printing came out well so I'm ready to 'target' companies now. Wish me well.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Twisted Targets

Twisted Targets
I'm working on a personal project at the moment, creating strange beings for archery and shooting practice. I'm really looking forward to receiving my prints and after trying them out, I will be extremely busy sending out lots of emails. Hopefully, I shall be selling these for Christmas. I've also set up a separate blog for these 'Twisted Targets' and I need to update my website. These are just great to shoot at :)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Lion's Heart & Lemongrass

Lion's Heart & Lemongrass
I've just finished a lovely book cover commission and couldn't wait to post it. Lion's Heart & Lemongrass is a dark fantasy novel written by Jasper Smithey and will be published shortly. I loved every minute of this project and can't wait to read the book. Jasper is working on 2 other titles at the moment and I've been asked to illustrate these also.

I'll post again when this is available to purchase.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Couple of Nice Commissions

Rough artwork
Felt like I haven't posted for a while, but I am major busy. I've got a couple of book cover commissions that I'm currently working on. One is almost finished and the other is just starting, plus I've got a couple of personal projects that I'm working on too - sneak preview of one of my roughs. Can't wait to start painting these up. I'm hoping to get these on sale for Christmas.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Seed and Other Fairy Tales

My Gift
My faith in humanity has been restored - a little. I received a lovely gift this morning from a gentleman that I created a book illustration for. I will definitely enjoy reading the other stories in this book and looking at all the other illustrations. The short story that I illustrated was "My All". Thank you Joseph, I hope your book is a success.

If you would like to order a copy, please click on this link:

The Seed & Other Fairy Tales by Joseph Hillenbrand

Friday, 13 September 2013

Slate Sculpture at the Lake District

Slate Sculpture, Lake District
The weather wasn't that wonderful at the Lake District, so I only managed to complete one life drawing whilst visiting a slate mine. Also visited the John Ruskin museum which was amazing and very inspirational. Some of the detail in his work is incredible, definitely worth a visit.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


I was asked if I could paint some Orc target faces for my local archery club. These will be put on dummies for next years Middle Earth show in Birmingham, but I'm sure once the kids at Hamstead Hall School get hold of them, they might have to print some more :) .

Orc Archery Target Faces

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Away for a Week and Job Interview

Just thought I'd post to let you know that I will be away for a week in the Lake District. I'm hoping to do lots more life drawing.

What a busy week I've had but the highlight has to be my interview for a Designer position with a large-scale mosaic company. I prepared pretty well with lots of research. This wasn't difficult because the company was so interesting and their designs were amazing. I also researched possible interview questions and prepared for this also using this link On the day, however my answers just disappeared when the inevitable question paper came out, but I'm hoping that I covered everything in my nervous ramblings and that my portfolio showed all my strengths. David the Design Director was really interested in art and really liked my work, he would be a great inspiration in my personal development. So fingers crossed. I hope I can enjoy my holiday without thinking about this too much.

(Gutted, didn't get the job).

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Summerhill Glen, Douglas, Isle of Man

Dolphin Rocks, Summerhill Glen.
I took some of my art materials with me whilst visiting the Isle of Man, and had the opportunity to create a couple of life drawings. I completed most of the work during my stay but added dark acrylic paint on my return. These two pieces are created using mixed media and consist of pen, graphite crayon, black watercolour pencil/paint and acrylic paint.

I really enjoyed creating these pieces and will certainly make time to do some more life drawing in September, when I visit the Lake District. This will be good experience as I haven't actually done any landscape drawing. I'm hoping to continue my exploration of mark making to create some new and interesting pieces.

Stairway, Summerhill Glen.
Prints of these images will be up for
sale shortly on my online shops.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


I've been working this week on a commission for a lady in America who wanted a creature created by mixing a sunfish and a swallow. There is a lovely story to go with this and although the artwork was meant as a surprise for her partner, she couldn't wait to show him. I decided to take some photos along the way so that she could see the process involved in making her artwork.

1. First some of my better roughs were emailed and a design selected.
2. Original Drawing scanned, printed larger and then transferred to paper using Tracedown.
3. Original markings erased so that image just shows through - enough to make an ink outline, using pen. 
4. The start of shading in the image using pen. 
5. The final artwork which is then scanned and opened in Photoshop.
6. SunSwallow selected and background deleted. I used a mask and brush tool to tidy up the edges of the image, duplicated the layer and adjusted the histogram and contrast to match the original more closely.
7. The original document was saved, flattened and then dragged to a new document with the required image size. The outside of the image was cropped and then the final image saved. The original .psd file remains intact with all its layers. 
SunSwallow by Maria Forrester

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Interview for a Dissertation

A student contacted me some time ago and asked if I would answer some questions regarding children's illustration. This post is a bit long, but I thought some other students might be interested in my responses. I hope it is helpful.

"How are compositional features of your illustrations used to create meaning?
There are so many aspects to consider when producing an illustration and it is important to produce the image for the intended target audience. 
For example:
Colour is really important to convey the emotion of a piece.  Warm, bright colours are happy, while cool blues and greys can be used to make a piece feel sad or lonely.  The right choice of colour has to be considered when creating illustrations, not just for children books, but also for the adults who are more than likely purchasing the book.   In children’s picture books, colour needs to flow from one page to the next adding to the pace of the book, or it can change quite abruptly to create a different mood or emotion, this is quite exciting.
I think it’s quite important for children to have some recognition of the characters and the size of one object to another but scale can be used to emphasize certain points or features within an illustration e.g. having extremely big ears or a large nose.  This is quite an important aspect of character design and helps to shape the personality of the character, whether it’s a person or animal.  Scale can also be used to enlarge a portion of the illustration to show more detail or to alter the composition so that it is varied throughout the book.  This helps to engage and surprise the reader.
Medium varies between one artist and another and personally I don’t think this matters in the least, what is important is that the medium is used to reach and convey the right message.  I tend to work with a mixed media style, merging Acrylic paint with Watercolour, pen and sometimes photographs.  I use Photoshop to finalise my images and bring these separate components altogether.  This works well for me at the moment, and although it is a little time consuming, it is very flexible if changes to the work have to be made.  Children’s book publishers seem to want a consistent style so that the artist style is recognisable and they know what to expect when they commission you.  
Expressions/Body language
This is usually considered at the character development stage and certainly brings the character to life.  Drawings  are created to ensure that the character can perform a variety of movements that are needed throughout the book and that facial features can show their mood.  Even slight changes help to develop a personality for the character and this forms a relationship between the character and the reader.
This is my downfall.  I tend to illustrate using one-point perspective as I think it suits the younger reader.  However, I do try to introduce some depth into my work to add interest.  I would certainly do a more complex drawing if the project required it, but I like to keep things simple.
This depends on the medium being used but certainly contrast is important as well as the detail of a piece.  Illustrations for older readers tend to require a bit more detail than those for younger readers.  It really depends on the text being illustrated and the style of the illustrator.  Contrast in the image, makes it more exciting, believable and creates a response.
Are there differences when illustrating a children’s book as opposed to any other form of illustration?
Most definitely.  Not all illustrators can illustrate children’s books.  Children’s book illustration is just one area of illustration and is approached in a different way, for example, to editorial illustration.  All illustration has a creative process but the thought processes and outcome are quite different.  It’s quite difficult to explain, but the approach is different.  In Children’s Illustration the imagination is child-like, playful and the illustrator becomes engrossed in the story, trying to capture all the important parts whilst still deciding what to leave out.  Storyboards and dummy books are created to ensure continuity, consistency and pace are correct.  In Editorial, the illustrations are more complex, the thought process is different, more adult, and the final image is a conclusion of research and sometimes, quite abstract ideas.   The time-frame is also a lot quicker in Editorial work.  
What process do you go through when creating an illustration? 
It really depends on the project, but a lot of aspects are the same.
Single Illustration Project.  Brainstorming ideas, Initial thoughts - writing and drawing everything down in a spider diagram, even if it’s stupid.  Find a link, link ideas.  Think, Think .... Research ideas - Read about subject (sometimes this comes first), Internet, books, magazines, life experience, subconscious.  Brick Wall.  Space.  More thoughts and writing.  Thumbnails.  Brick Wall.  Sleep.  Wake up, new ideas? Development of ideas - Eureka!
If you are given words to illustrate to, how does this impact upon your image? 
The words need to initiate a response.  This could be an emotion or a visual image.  There needs to be a connection with the words and the image and I try to convey this in the illustration.  Sometimes, I am too literal.
What are your understandings of the term ‘Visual Literacy’?
Understanding and analysing an image to interpret its meaning.
What do you think it means for a person to be considered as ‘Visually Literate?’
Somebody who can interpret the meaning of images.
Do you think that it is important for children to learn how to ‘read’ art?
I think children already “read” art and interpret images in a playful and inquisitive way.  I think that holding a picture book and flicking the pages to look at images is essential to their creative development and social interaction.  I hope the picture book is not replaced entirely by e-books, although I welcome the advancement of new technology.

THANK YOU for completing these interview questions!! "
© mariaforrester

Friday, 26 July 2013

Website Update

Illustration for Wolverhampton Uni
Have finally got around to updating my website with some new work and links to my online portfolios. I have dedicated a new gallery to children's educational resources and there are a few new pieces under published work. Enjoy looking around.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sneak Preview - Christmas Cards

Decorating the Tree
I've been designing some Christmas cards to target some companies and thought I would just give a sneak preview of one of them. I really like snowmen, so created a series of cards with this theme.  Acrylic paint, pen work and paper trees - all scanned in and finalised in Photoshop.

Surface Pattern

I'm exploring surface pattern at the moment and wanted to try repeat pattern. I think this came out well and hopefully I will be adding some more designs to my portfolio. I've been doing quite a bit of portfolio artwork recently and will be uploading loads of new products - eventually.

Inside Book Illustration

My All
I recently completed a commission for a short story illustration. The image was created using watercolour, graphite crayon, charcoal, pen and acrylic paint and as always finalised in Photoshop. The story had a slightly dark tone so I wanted to try and capture this feeling in the work.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Hand Rendered Type

Vintage Clothes Mag
Disco Diva's
Quote by Ocar Wilde
Camden Town
I've been exploring hand rendered type, another growing passion of mine and came up with these images.  I wanted to create a vintage feel and put to use some of my images and backgrounds. The backgrounds are from my previous post.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Soil Textures Part II

Mobile Phone
Having painted up some soil texture backgrounds I decided to turn them to better use and experimented with a few watercolour paintings and Photoshop. I have a few ideas for putting these images to use, fingers crossed again.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Soil Texture Background

Soil Texture
This work has been produced as a background for some educational resources on soil texture and has really inspired me to create some more art based on this theme. Most definitely going to get started on it now.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

I decided to put together a portfolio of illustrations that I'm currently working on for Wolverhampton University's School of Science. Eventually I will put this on my website, but for now ...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Magic Rocks Illustration

Magic Rocks Illustration
I just couldn't resist putting this one on my blog. The photos are a bit rubbish but I'm sure when the real photos are added by the School of Science it will be fine.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rock Book Illustration

River Rapids
I'm currently working on a project for children's educational resources. This project has been ongoing and hopefully is due to be published this Summer. This is one of the illustrations that I've just finished. Three more to go before the next lot :) love this project.

T-shirts at DTGprintz

Little Ergot at Etsy
My designs are being printed and sold by DTGprintz in Birmingham. They are selling on Etsy and Ebay. Fingers crossed xxxx xxxx.

Links below:

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Book Cover Commission

The Raid into Angus
Just finished a book cover commission for an American author.  Really enjoyed doing this one and working with the author to produce this piece.

The Flood Out Now on iBooks

The Flood
The Flood by George Lewkowicz is out now at only £1.99 with illustrations by me!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Portfolio Update

I just thought I would put together some of my work on an online portfolio site and get some more coverage. Everything seems to work okay, so fingers crossed.

Fame at Last :) well almost ...

Browsing on the internet and came across the latest Fresh Magazine from Wolverhampton Uni. It seems someone liked my image (Page 6) and Toni's which is on Page 7. Also found quite a good site called where you can browse lots of illustration portfolios and magazines for free + free to sign up and pretty inspiring.

Saturday, 9 February 2013


Brixton's Afloat
Attended a Flea Circus in London to celebrate the launch of George Lewkowicz's new book "The Flood". Amazing night, lots of class acts.  I've never been to a flea circus before and it was really different.  Loved it a lot.

Here's a taste of one of my illustrations for his interactive book which is going to be on sale soon.

Duke of Delhi Book Cover

The Duke of Delhi Book Cover
"Douglas, a little boy from England is evacuated to India together with his gran. There he quickly becomes part of a gang. This is no ordinary gang however, it cosists of an elephant, a street girl, two monkeys and a parrot. Join them on their unusual adventures around India, trying to reuinte their elephant friend with his family, whilst meeting tigers, rhinos and other creatures. Good friends are really all they need".

This was a project from an author who wanted a book cover using 3 illustrations which were provided. Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the beautiful Delhi artwork, but I can take credit for bringing it all together with design and additional illustration work. To create a more "Indian" feel and to combine the illustrations I used mehndi as my main inspiration.  This was created using the "frottage" method and Photoshop to finalise the design. There is quite a large bleed area on this image which was quite challenging but I think the end result worked well.

A link to the first draft chapters can be found at  The book is aimed at 5-7 year olds and I'm really looking forward to it being published so that I can see what happens next.