Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find many samples of my finished art, conceptual work, unpublished material, and other miscellaneous jobs. You can find a complete list of my published books at this link.

I currently have signed copies of THE GREAT MONTEFIACO, WHACKO THE CHOOK, THE PUMPKIN EATER FROM PONDICHERRY, and THE SHIKKER COLA COWS available for purchase. For more info, please contact me at whackothechook@internode.on.net

Monday, December 13, 2010

COWZAT! - Character Development

Some very early cow concepts for Bruce Atherton's Cowzat!
I would have found these difficult to have playing cricket, so I came up with a refined, more practical design. I began with a basic template that I used for most of the cows...

From there I set about creating unique, defining characteristics for each.
Two breeds of cows are represented here, Jerseys (which are mentioned in the text) and Friesians/Holsteins. I initially had the two teams a mix of each, but decided to use their distinct markings as team colours, which made more sense.
There's an awful lot in a name. I can come up with many ideas from a name alone, especially if those names are as inventive and fun as those in Bruce's text. Because there is little in way of character descriptions in this text, I was free to flesh out each character visually, with just the names as starting points.

There's team captain number #1, Jezzabel:
The only description of her in the text is she's got a hat. A baggy green seemed the obvious choice. I gave both team captains bells too.

Team captain number #2, Floppy May:

In my original design for Floppy, she had an abnormally large udder, twice the size it is in the finished book...

I was talked into giving her an udder reduction by my editor, a move which was supported by my wife who was also slightly troubled by it's enormity.

Next, there's Daisy Lou:

With a name like that, Cowboy boots and a straw hat seemed appropriate.

Jenny Bramble Rose:

She's a key character in the book. A messy 'bramble' of hair adorns her head.

Lady Daffodil:

This name sounds aristocratic and snobbish, so she always has her nose in the air and glowering.


My grandmother's name is Marjorie, so this is an affectionate nod to her. The hair and glasses are reminiscent of my grandma's hair and glasses in the 1960s. I guess this cow is also a tip o the hat to Gary Larson, there's something Far Side-esque about this character and her name.

Pattie Pie:

Branching away from the template with this one. You just couldn't possibly have a slim cow with this name...

Aunty Moo:

The senior citizen of the group.


With a name like Jill, this character could be anything really. So I decided to make her young and small, to contrast the very old Aunty Moo.

Twinkle Toes:

The less said about Twinkle Toes the better...

Cowzat! is out now in Australian bookstores.


  1. Hey Ben, I just love your stuff! I'm your biggest fan! I am an illustrator myself. I've got 2 of your books, who flung dung and cheecky charlie! Do you work in gouache paint?
    My first childrens book might be published this year! Keep up the good work, you inspire me!
    Ps: LOOOOve the cows!

  2. Thank you for the kind words! :-)

    I work in a range of media, but lately I've been using mostly acrylic. I do use gouache occasionally, mainly for finishing touches and fine details.

    What's your book called?