All I Want for Christmas is a New Government

From a throwaway tweet over lunch on Tuesday-

I came home and had a play in Inkscape, and here’s the result. If you want to tell Santa what you want, the design is available on a wide variety of products at Redbubble.

Fighting drought with sculpture

They look like abstract sculptures- skeletal ghosts of vases- but they’ve been carefully designed to harvest moisture from the atmosphere and can be built with locally available materials.

Called WarkaWater towers, each pillar is comprised of two sections: a semi-rigid exoskeleton built by tying stalks of juncus or bamboo together and an internal plastic mesh, reminiscent of the bags oranges come in. The nylon and polypropylene fibres act as a scaffold for condensation, and as the droplets of dew form, they follow the mesh into a basin at the base of the structure.

via Bamboo vase uses dew to fight drought (Wired UK).

Matryoshka boat

Matryoshka boat, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

I spotted this on my ride into town. It’s a rowing boat which breaks down into three pieces which will stack inside one another for better storage. I didn’t ask how much it was going for, in case I could afford it.

Thoughts of furniture have been occupying me recently. I looked at the prow section and saw a very interesting shelving unit.

Creating the cover for Sounds of Soldiers

When I first published Sounds of Soldiers, as a print on demand book available through, I created a cover for it that I just wasn’t happy with. I’m not sure why. I did do some planning, which I then went and threw away when I did the artwork. A couple of days ago I found some of the sketches I did when casting about for ideas.


Take note of the fourth image on the top row, we’ll be returning to it.

This idea appealed enough for me to get the coloured pens and do some shading.


So when I decided I was going to do a Kindle version I vowed to create a new cover for it. The image of death after a battle appealed, and knowing I couldn’t possibly do the idea justice in a drawing or painting I fell upon the idea of building a diorama to depict the scene. Initially I was thinking of the tank graveyard or post ambush sequences in the book, but the gun as a grave marker came back as an idea after a while. After a bit of Googling, but no more sketching, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. I ordered 1:6th scale action figure accessories from EBay (a quick shout out to cbtoycollectables and qqmodels, the two merchants I used), ordered a display case from Hobby’s and picked up most of the other stuff I needed from my local model shop.

The components

The wooden stake was weathered by hitting it with a hammer and then holding it over one of the rings on the cooker (it’s good to be on gas). The ground was roughed out using polystyrene packaging from the ever growing pile in the corner of the room. With stake and base glued down I set about building up the ground. The first layer was Woodland Scenics flex paste, which I painted with first their earth undercoat and then Tamiya’s diorama texture paint. Ground cover is real leaves. I spotted a load of these tiny leaves on the ground one day and just scooped them up. I don’t know what they’re from, but they work. Much careful fixing with wood glue later I had a good looking earth mound covered with autumn leaves. Further detail was added using more Woodland Scenics stuff.

Basic set up After adding flex paste A coat of Earth Undercoat With Tamiya diorama texture paint Dead leaves added

I painted some bare metal onto the gun, and weathered it, the boots and the helmet, but the photos I took of that are all quite blurry. The only one that came out is of the smashed lens I put into the lamp on the gun. I lost the lens which came with the gun, so I cut out bits of clear plastic and glued them into the lamp.

Smashed lamp

Put everything together and, after a bit more weathering, I had this-

The finished piece

After a little resizing, and with another shot of blue sky to put on the back cover, I dropped the image into the template I’d used for the original cover. I failed to do any images of the various steps I took in Photoshop, so straight to the finished cover image-

Sounds of Soldiers full wrap cover

I put more effort into the lettering than I have in the past, and I’m much happier with the result. The title and my name on the front cover have an aluminium pole texture under them courtesy of

Sounds of Soldiers will be available for the Kindle, and with its new cover from Lulu, from next week. I shall be running a competition to win the model used in the original cover artwork. Check out for details in the next few days.

My gun as grave marker idea puts me in very good company.

This is Peace and War, the omnibus collection of Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, Forever Peace and Forever Free. I haven’t read Free and Peace, but I have read War. It’s a very good book, using relativist effects as a metaphor for soldiers in a distant war become ever more alienated from the people they are supposedly fighting for.

Watch this now- The Genius of Design

The wonder of iPlayer means I can watch the best of the Beeb without needing a television. I highly recommend The Genius of Design. It’s a lightweight look at the design trends of the 20th century, highlighting certain key designs and movements, but still full of interesting new stuff for an interested non-expert such as I. The episodes that are up so far are available until 11th/12th of June, which suggests another two episodes are left in the series.

Sounds of Soldiers cover design ideas

Over Christmas I’ve been doing a final draft and layout for Sounds of Soldiers, because I’ve been faffing for too long and it needs to get published. Admittedly I’ve been using Word, which will cause proper book designers to spit, but this is entirely text so I didn’t feel the need for a DTP program. It’s looking good. 124 pages, before I start putting frontispieces etc. in.

So now it’s time to start thinking of a cover. I sat down and did a few sketches yesterday. Above is the “anti-techno-thriller” cover. As Sounds of Soldiers was written partly as a reaction against techno-thrillers- with their drooling over technology and lack of concern for casualties- this is a vision of the aftermath of battle. Imagine it redone in a painterly style and letterboxed between the title- which would be in big big letters.

I like it, but it’s not really what the story’s about. There are bits about the war, and it’s the reason the characters are in the situations they are, but it’s not the main driver. So I tried a bunch of other ideas out as thumbnails-

Sounds of Soldiers cover design thumbnails

A more minimalist cover is the way to go, I think. The windmill kept coming up as an image, because it reduces down to an icon more easily than solar thermal, composting or biodiesel do. So I’ll probably develop a few variations on that.

The book should be finished and ready for print on demand in early January if I keep up the work.

More concept sketches for the space comic

crew concept sketch

Here are a couple of ideas for crewmen of the spaceship which crash lands on Earth in my still unnamed “space comic”. The starfishy fellow strikes me as an engineer- all those hands that can work on multiple problems at once and an ability to orient itself in all manner of ways. Of course the ship would have to have bars hanging from the ceiling of the crew areas so it could get around, but that’s just what you have to do if you have one of these multi-dexterous creatures onboard. The caterpillar thingy with three arms and many eyes looks like a bit of a bruiser, possibly they’re security. That is supposed to be a gun- built for something with two opposing thumbs and two fingers- within easy reach of its left hand.

ship concept sketch 2

And this is meant to be the spaceship. It’s meant to be similar to those big container ships which cruise our oceans. There’s a pod at the front which houses the crew, controls and any special cargo (and which has a hold where our human characters will take up residence), lots of containers- each carrying something different- and big engines at the back. I’m going to use a cop-out to get around the questions of the long timescales involved in interstellar travel. There are a series of “ports” into a parallel dimension with different physical characteristics and ships simply cruise between them. If, for any reason, a ship should drop out of this dimension they’re doomed to travel in real space, potentially for millennia, at sub-light speeds to get to the nearest port. Or they can wait and hope someone will come along and build a temporary- or establish a new- port where they are.

Of course, there are territorial disputes in the High Spaces, and pirates roam them. They attack, plunder and commandeer craft and occasionally one is “sunk” back into normal space. Which is how the story begins.

Shall We Take A Trip? covered and uploading

Shall We Tak A Trip? is uploading to Lulu right now,despite a number of false starts getting a pdf together. After the contents are properly transferred it shall be time to send the covers. This is the front cover-

Shall We Take A Trip? Front Cover

It’s a variation on one of the original ideas for the cover, with just a tape instead of the other music formats. This is a tweaked photo. Probably the main problem with it is that it doesn’t give any hint of what sort of story is inside.

Shall We Take A Trip? Back Cover

This is the back cover. I’s more obvious from this what the story is about. I may yet flip the covers so this is the front.

Update I had planned to sell this book through Lulu as an A5 size publication. However, I’ve just discovered the cost for printing that size is exorbitant, so I’m going to resize everything to 6″ by 9″. So that’s another few days work. I may do another cover as well whilst I’m about it.

And it’s raining.

And my ulcer’s been playing up for the last few days.

Excuse me whilst I go away and swear a bit.

Creative Commons License
Shall We Take A Trip? by Ian Pattinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Pick the cover design for Shall We Take A Trip?

I have two designs in mind for the first issue of Shall We Take A Trip?. I’ve done some roughs and I’d like to hear what people think.

Shall We Take A Trip? cover rough 1

Version 1. As the story is partly about nostalgia and takes place on the set of a movie set in the ’90s this cover is meant to show the progress from then to now. From home made compilation tape to home made compilation cd to carrying your music around digitally. The bottom image may become a generic mp3 player.

Shall We Take A Trip? cover rough

Version 2. This is a black and white rough. The final version will be in colour. I may even do it as a photo. The elements are taken from the book’s first sex scene. In fact, I think everything’s there apart from the copulating couple. As the comic’s all about sex it’s more honest about the insides than version 1.

Fonts and type colours are open for change, obviously. The ones used are there to give an idea of text placement.

So, which one’s your favourite? Which one do you think will sell better? Any ideas for improvements/ better designs?

Where the rooms are carpetted with copper

Image from

The floor of The Standard Grill in The Standard Hotel in New York is laid with pennies. I imagine it’s a surprise to find out how the floor gets that lovely colour.

Comments on the post point out a Paul Smith boutique with walls decorated in pennies and that the Hotel Congress in Tuscon has a similar floor.

Nick Griffin is not my MEP

Nick Griffin is not my MEP, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

He isn’t. I didn’t vote for him, and I want people to know that.

Get this image on clothes and mugs at Cafe Press.

Listen to his interview on the Today programme. Not what I wanted to wake up to. But it made me angry enough to get out of bed earlier than normal.

Hang The DJ T-shirt idea

An idea that was bugging me over the weekend became a quick sketch yesterday and now I’m thinking of putting this on a T-shirt-

For the final version I think the bow tie will be red, the lining blue or purple and the jacket itself dark grey with shiny looking lapels. The trousers will probably go as well.

Anyone like the idea?

Oh so very English

Teafix is a build your own cup of tea in a china cup.

Teafix contains all the components to make one cup of tea; a teacup, saucer, doily, spoon, teabag, sugar and even transfers to allow users to mimic the opulence of a journey once enjoyed by those who travelled during the golden age of rail, and relish the relaxing solace of a Great British ‘cuppa’.


Designintro is an online gallery offering unique designs from established and emerging talent to the discerning buyer. Browse inspired works across all disciplines and enjoy the simplicity and affordability of online shopping. By buying original work from designintro you are supporting individual art and design talent.

I’ve signed up as an artist, though I’m not sure exactly what I’ll sell through them yet. Possibly prints, maybe repurposed boots.

For their sake, download

For their sake, download, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

With the news that Amy Winehouse’s father in law is urging fans to stop buying her records until she stops taking drugs, I thought I should go back to an idea I had a while ago. It’s in response to all those “Piracy funds terror/drugs” ads you see.

Record sales fund their drug habits. For their sake, download.