Swashbuckling Alien Adventurer – Han Randhawa

han_photo2 Han3Hello Folks, Lissy here. Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Mr. Han Randhawa, who is the talented artist who draws the cover art for my aunt’s books. Han is originally from England but has lived in the States for ten years.

Originally from Birmingham, Han has lived in California, Texas and now lives in Washington State where he works for a small up-and-coming company called Microsoft! Han’s main job is to oversee the creation of video games and can often be found flying back and forth to Japan. Cover art is just something he does for fun!

LP How old were you when you realized you wanted to be an artist?

HR    My earliest memory of art was at Wattville Infant school in Birmingham UK, I was probably six and I made a side view of a car out of rolls of plasticine( English Play-dough) and was fascinated by its 3d-ness and 2dness! I remember painting bright colours about the same time and I recall the summer breeze through the open windows. Then later about when I was nine my dad got me  a comic book called ‘SUPER FRIENDS’, it had superman, Batman, Aqua-man, Wonder woman and these twins who had super powers.  Read that comic book a billion times and I spent hours copying the awesome dynamic poses. I didn’t realize I wanted be an artist till much later maybe fifteen or sixteen. I didn’t know how or if it was even possible.

LP    Where did you study art?

HR:    I went to St.Philip’s Sixth Form in Birmingham to study my A Levels, but I really got going when my teacher recommended I go to Bournville College of Art and from there I went to Liverpool John Moores University to complete my BA in Graphic Design and Illustration. But I’ll tell you a secret, I learned most of what I know from drawing from that Super Friends comic book and following my face concept artists who worked on Star Wars. I used to draw all day from TV or books. I think this was the most important part of my studying. THE DOING!

LP    What is the most challenging part of drawing cover art?

HR    Probably getting the likeness of the characters. It’s such a tough thing to do. Also getting the lighting to look right.

CIA - Operation Golden Llamabook club coverCIA - Operation Tiger Paw

LP    What do you like most about designing video games at Microsoft?

HR    I get to learn a lot about how Japanese Game designers work and how other Art Directors create the game visuals. I get to work with a whole bunch of different artists, from 2d concept guys, 3d modellers, animators, graphic designers. Plus, I get to increase my art skills by applying all I’ve learned these years. The stuff I apply in video games is pretty much the same stuff I apply when making book covers, colour, composition, visual storytelling.

LP    What kind of games have you designed?

HR    Mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy. I worked on games like X-men, StarTrek, and also I’ve worked on a lot of non-movie games, I was the art director on Darksiders 1&2.

Han4

LP    What words of wisdom would you give to an up and coming artist about following their dreams?

HR    First: Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. If it’s your dream, keep on making art! I had so many people tell me I couldn’t get anywhere doing art. Somehow I carried on!

Second: Make Art! Every time you have some time spare, keep a little sketchbook and pencil. I even keep a wad of PostIts and a tiny IKEA pencil just in case I have 10 mins to spare. Draw people, draw ideas, draw anything! Paint, sculpt whatever you need to.

Third: All artists are scared of showing their work, because we are worried that people might not like our art. Remember it’s okay if people don’t like your art, ask them why? This is how we learn to make our art better. You won’t learn anything if everyone told you it was awesome all the time. Its even better if you ask other artists they may see something you missed!Hana

LP    If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

HR    Wow tough one. Traveling the Galaxy swashbuckling with aliens and adventuring across planets! Maybe make music in a band? I actually quite like being an artist, one thing I would add to that would be storytelling! I’m inspired by Sam and I want to tell stories that make you laugh, cry and jump up for joy!

https://twitter.com/hanrandhawa

http://darksidersdungeon.net/wiki/Han_Randhawa

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Christmas Traditions

Christmas 2012 2

Christmas Traditions

Hello folks. This is Lissy. We have a large extended family that get together for the holidays. We exchange gifts, but we also do so much more, things that don’t cost money and that have become yearly traditions. Take advantage of having friends or family around and, instead of sitting in front of the TV, try the following.

  1. Play games, Our family is big on games Apples to Apples, Curses and HeadBanz are just a few of the games we play on a regular basis and that are fun for both adults and children.
  2. Sing carols or better yet, go caroling.
  3. Walk or drive around the neighborhood and look at the light displays.
  4. If you are lucky to have snow – have a snowball fight, make snow angels or build a snowman.
  5. Volunteer at a shelter or charity. This will make you feel better than all the rest put together, plus it helps others and reminds us to be thankful for all we have.
  6. Roast marshmallows over an open fire, or an indoor one if it’s freezing outside.
  7. Tell funny stories of Christmas’ past.
  8. If you live in a cold climate – go ice-skating on your local frozen pond. If you live in a warm climate – go for a hike along your local Greenbelt. Helps get rid of some of those turkey calories.
  9. Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ – my dad does this every year before we head to bed on Christmas Eve and everyone gathers around the fire to listen.
  10. Take photos. Always a good time to take lots of group shots of you and your cousins, aunts and uncles which will be fun to look back on when you get older.

Operation Tiger Paw – Book Launch – November 2nd

CIA India 002 front 300dpi

Hello Folks, Lissy here.

So excited to share with you the new artwork for the second book in the Cousins In Action Series, Operation Tiger Paw, which is set in India. I just love it – especially all the cute little tiger cubs that we get to play with.

Also, please mark your calendars for Sunday, November 2nd at 4pm when we will celebrate the release at Westbank Library, 1309 Westbank Drive, Austin, TX.

Brush up on your India trivia, as quizzes will be dispensed, dessert will be served and tigers will be present.

First Stop – Peru

Llamas

Hello Blog Post Readers. This is Lissy Puddleton, finally writing about our time in Peru.

First of all, as you may remember, this was my first time out of the state, not alone the country. My cousins and I had never boarded a train, never mind a plane. It was all very exciting, albeit slightly terrifying.

To be honest, I barely knew where Peru was before Grandma whisked us off there. True, I knew it was in South America, but finding out exactly where it was (on the Pacific coast, with Ecuador and Columbia to the north, Brazil to the east and Bolivia and Chile to the south – just in case you were wondering), was something I had never given much thought to, until we were on the plane, heading south.

The first thing we found out when arriving was about the invasion of Francisco Pizarro in 1531 and the death of Athualpa, the Inca King, which led to the hiding and losing of the lost treasure of the Inca. To put this in prospective Henry VIII was on the throne of England and had just become the head of the church of England. The story of Pizarro and Athualpa was really fascinating, plus it’s really cool that treasure hunters are still looking for this treasure today, now worth an estimated eight-billion dollars.

Getting to fly across the Nazca Lines was also amazing. Even though I’m sure there must be a logical explanation on how these soil canvases were made, I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive, and does make you wonder how on earth (or not) they did it.

Of course, visiting Machu Picchu was the highlight of our trip. It’s only when you’re standing 8,000 feet above sea-level that you realize what an accomplishment the lost city is. Hiram Bingham’s re-discovery just over a hundred years ago, is also quite unbelievable. Pretty impressive, seeing he wasn’t even looking for Machu Picchu, but another lost city, Vilcabamba.

Having lived my entire life in Texas, I must admit, Peru was a bit of a shock. I never knew a place could smell different – but it did. I never thought I’d be daring enough to try new food – but I did. I also never thought I’d be trekking around the jungle with just my cousins for company – still find this one difficult to believe – but I did.

However, the best thing about Peru was something you can’t read about in books or online – it was the people. From the eccentric Lucila to the enthusiastic Senor Gustavo, I will never forget their friendliness and how welcome they made us feel. Truly, when it comes down to it, it’s the people that really make a country and bring it to life.

Happy travels, my friends.

Holidays

We’ve had lots of readers asking for more info on our family, so I decided to do a series of interviews so you can learn a little more about us.

Our family spends a lot of holidays together, so I thought I’d start by interviewing them to find out which holiday they liked best.

Aidan

L. Aidan, what’s your favorite holiday?

A. I really like Christmas, we have a big family and we all get together and play games and all our dads cook – that’s always fun to be around. Plus, your dad always sits by the fire and reads us Twas The Night Before Christmas. Course, I’m a bit too old for that now, but it’s still kind of nice.

L. I like it when he reads The Pirates Night Before Christmas.

A. Aaargh!

Olivia

L. I was a bit shocked when Olivia told me her favorite holiday, but it soon become apparent why. Olivia, what holiday do you like best?

O. Definitely Valentines.

L. Really? Can I ask why?

O. Sure, for the past three years I’ve sent Cagney prank Valentine cards. She has absolutely no idea!That’s always the best.

L. You know she’s probably going to read this, right?

O. Oh, yeah, probably best not to mention the cards then. I’ll go with fourth of July – lots of rockets.

Tess

L. Tess, do you have a favorite holiday?

T. Yes.

L. Would you like to tell us which one.

T. The ones with food.

L. Any holiday in particular?

T. (after a long pause) Easter. Grandma Callie always hides a gazillion Easter eggs in the garden and coz I’m the youngest she always lets me head into the garden a good twenty minutes before everyone else.

L. I would have laid money on you saying, Halloween.

T. (another long pause). This is not as easy as you made out, Lissy.

Cagney

L. Cagney, what’s your favorite time of the year with the family?

C. September 3rd.

L. Would you like to tell us why?

C. Coz it’s my birthday – duh! It’s the only time I don’t have to share stuff with you lot. It’s all about me, all day. What could be better?

L. Excellent. Oh and just one more thing, Olivia insists you read this blog.

C. Yeah, like that is going to happen!

L. So folks, that just leaves me. I think my favorite holiday is definitely Thanksgiving. I really like how our family cooks together and gathers around the table before eating and tells each other what we are thankful for. Cagney, of course, is normally thankful for her latest pair of shoes, but our moms and dads always come up with really great stuff they are thankful for. We also often have friends spending Thanksgiving with us and Grandma, of course, and after dinner we head to the Middle School field and play tag football. In the last couple of years we’ve played kids against adults. I won’t tell you who wins, but needless to say, we hold out hope that one day, it will be us!

Happy New Year

Hi Guys, Lissy here.
Welcome to my first blog post of 2014! Since I last wrote, both Tess and I celebrated our birthdays (which are just four days apart) and the five of us had a fun time at Christmas opening our present from Aunt Sam – CIA bracelets that she made for us! See if you can guess whose is whose?

CIA Bracelets

It’s also been a busy time for my aunt, who is now editing her next book set in India. Olivia and Tess say it’s best not to go anywhere near her when she’s working and Tess has asked several times what the word – crisis, deadline and a couple of other words that I won’t mention – mean!

It is the season of giving, and so my Aunt Sam wanted to do something nice for someone and chose a really cool charity to donate money to. The charity is called Half The Sky and I’m really glad she chose it, as it helps lots of little girls in China who have no mom or dad to look after them. Instead, Half The Sky pays for really nice ladies to look after the children and give them love.

Anyhow, I thought you’d like to know that a portion of the sales from Cousins In Action is going to a good home. Check out their website if you get a chance – it has the most adorable pictures on it.

Wishing you all a happy and adventurous 2014.
Your friend, Lissy.

The Launch of Operation Golden Llama

Hi Guys, My aunt’s book is launching this weekend, Saturday, November 23rd. There will be treasure. There will be snacks. There will be llamas! And, I have organized a quiz! Stop by if you can and feel free to wear pink – Tess would love that :O)

11:30am, Saturday November 23rd – Westbank Community Library, 1309 Westbank Drive, Austin, TX.