Toon Boom Training

Hey everyone! Exciting news…I’ve been working away on a business idea, Toon Boom Trainer and I recently launched the website.

Funnily enough, the website is called We get animators up to speed in the 2D animation software, Toon Boom Harmony. But we’re not just another online course. I’ll act as your personal tutor, with a weekly review chat, 7-day support and great source files to work from. I’ve replicated the studio mentorship environment and applied it to this course, so you’ll get the absolute best advice along the way.

Adam Oliver certified Toon Boom expertIt’s perfectly suited to those who don’t want to spend days trawling YouTube for answers, or stumble through the more complex aspects of the program using tedious PDFs. Learning new software is an amazing investment and Toon Boom Harmony is dominating the animation industry right now. If you’re an animator already, four weeks of training will allow you to apply for Harmony-specific studio positions. Right now, there’s a 50% off launch discount at Toon Boom Trainer. A bargain if I do say so myself!

The Summer School is really just to test the water and covers a lot of ground, hence the intensive term! After this though, I’ll be focusing on specifics, so there will be rigging, animation, design and workflow courses. It’s worth mentioning that all the course is ‘intensive’, you can complete it part-time. This means you can keep your bill paying job and learn something new. To allow for those areas you might want to study further, we’ve got ‘stretch tasks’ which will enhance your understanding. Our current start date is set to July 31st, but we’re flexible and may run two batches of classes due to subscription levels.

If you’re interested in Toon Boom Trainer and would like to know more or have some feedback for me, please do get in touch! Cheers, all!

Toon Boom Trainer with Adam Oliver

Take part in the worldwide Sketchcrawl

Ever took part in a Sketchcrawl? This is the original sketch meetup by Enrico Casarosa of Pixar fame. It’s like a pub crawl, but with drawing instead of beer (well, the beer is not the main focus, at least!) It’s a great way to meet fellow sketchers and see a place with fresh eyes.

There’s an event 29th July 2017, If you fancy it, here’s a link to the event page on the forum. If there’s no topic in your location, set one up! I would set up a group for Manchester myself, but I’m at a wedding! Bummer, but marriage of friends and that stuff you know. Next time, he cries!

Sketchcrawl forum link:

Added frivolities: I did my own one man band sketchcrawl (so keen, so sad) back in 2004. I was a student then and just out around my hometown, Nottingham. Here are a few pictures from the day. Was a lot of fun as a little project, and interesting for me to see how I’ve developed. The sample pages below show I was still wrestling with construction and my ‘cartoony’ tendancies! That’s what you get growing up reading The Beano 🙂 See my new sketchbook work here.

My current hometown, Manchester is a great place to draw. There’s all the industrial charm of Deansgate locks, modern developments popping up all over the city and not forgetting the easy hipster pace of Ancoats. The tram is the lazy option, as places like Cornbrook will give you amazing views of the changing skyline, like the super expansion of Salford. Then you just hop back on and off you go! Easy peasy.

I still remember the things I drew that day. A sketch is worth a BAZILLION words my friends. Happy sketching y’all!

old sketchcrawl samples
You can tell I was new to watercolours when I did these…the paper crinkled like a Floridian pensioner

Trooping the colour

It’s the Queen’s birthday today and therefore the trooping of the colour takes place down in London. As a British citizen it’s my duty to dress in ceremonial attire and gallop around the streets on horseback, tooting a trumpet.

As I don’t have a horse and it’s awfully warm outside, I sketched the TV instead. I’m not a devout fan of the Royal family (spare me, Ma’am) but I do find the idea of a Royal family in a modern world pretty fascinating.

After recent events whereby the whole country feels like it’s going down the drain, it’s welcome distraction to watch something of order and control, even if we are paying for it. Respect to Liz for the minute’s silence. Still seems to have more wits about her than our wonderful prime minister.

I did this sketch in Mischief, a nice little drawing app for Windows and Mac. It’s got a mind-boggling ‘infinite canvas’ where you can just zoom and zoom and zoom. Try it! It’s AMAZING and could mean great things to storytelling.

Trooping the colour
It was a warm one! This guy had rather rosy cheeks

Tate Britain lighting studies

I’m gradually working through my old sketchbooks, photographing a few of the pages and putting them together into some form of collection. Whilst the process goes on, I’ll post the interesting ones on the blog. Just for the CRAIC. And to show search engines I’m better than Adams Oliver syndrome (no seriously it’s a real thing, check it out).

Here are a few studies from Tate Britain down London way. I sketched them in pen and shaded a little with grey, then when I got back home I added a bit more light and dark. The main aim of these was to work on capturing light, and keep the drawings quick so I didn’t get lost in detail. I love a quick sketch, probably because if it’s rubbish I’m not too disappointed! These were all around 5 minutes each.
Tate Britain sketches

Watch me on The Gadget Show!

Well, I’m sure you’re all still reeling from the fame I have acquired after my Gadget Show appearance. Limousines, sponsorship deals and hoards of fans are all fleeting experiences that are sadly no longer part of my daily life. But if you somehow cast adrift at sea this past month, here’s where you can relive the glory days:

It’s available until 2020, so you’ve got plenty of time 🙂 Here are a few screengrabs from the segment. I’d just like to say a huge thank you to North One TV and the whole Gadget Show crew for a fun day, I really enjoyed myself. Cheers!

Gadget Show screengrabs
Frames from the TV show, testing out kit worth more than my car!

Ye Old Nelson

Manchester is one of those cities where the old battles with the new. There’s a constant feeling of nostalgia jostling against the need for modernity. A short stroll around the city might reveal a glistening development thrusting towards the clouds, right next to 150 years of forgotten history.

I like many people would love to see these older structures converted into something usable. Enriching the city whilst moving it forward. As locals lament about the town planning, you can’t help but wonder what other complications and red tape surround the seemingly obvious and more beautiful answer to the problem.

A year ago I was walking towards Manchester from Salford (it’s neighbour and just over the river Irwell) when I came upon this derelict pub, Ye Old Nelson. It had all the charm of an industrial ruin, with exposed beams jutting out the brickwork and greenery sprouting through the damaged roof. I had a bit of time so got the old sketchbook out and drew what I thought was just another dilapidated building. Then a few months later, my friend sent me a message asking if I’d drawn the Nelson, as it had just been demolished! What a shame, although it must’ve been badly damaged. But still, it’s sad to see a building with so many stories erased from the city forever.

Manchester is moving so fast, but I hope it doesn’t get too greedy and erase its soul in the process.

Ye Old Nelson pub in Salford

A day filming with The Gadget Show

Several weeks ago I went down to Birmingham to try out the brand spanking new Dell Canvas, a sort of Wacom Cintiq if you will. But it’s all smooth and shiny and brand new, so it was great fun to just play with! Here are the guys tweeting about it ahead of tomorrow’s showing:

The Gadget Show tweet
Obligatory cheesy photo

If you fancy a laugh, watch me pretend to be a presenter tomorrow (Friday 12th May) at 7pm on Channel 5. Or if you miss it and you’re a SUPER FAN, go catch up on Channel 5’s website.

For anyone who finds my little space on the web after the show, say hi via the contact page and let me know what you thought! Cheers!

Misty eyed for the Liffey

Here’s an old sketchbook entry from when I lived in Dublin. I realise I was probably at my most creative there! Drawing all the time…must be all that Guinness I put away 🙂 It was a great time though, and I do miss those funny looking buses.

Sketch of the Liffey
Sketch of the Liffey

Life drawing archive

As I’m gradually sorting through the sketchbooks and bits for the new site here, I’m discovering an interesting by product: the ups and downs of the past decade of my life drawing.

You have those days when you attend a class and you feel it’s been a good’n, but when all those classes are condensed into one digital folder of snaps, you can see the gradual improvement over time. It’s pretty motivating stuff!

So here’s a few ones I’ve found that show variations in style and direction. More to come you lucky things…

Series of life drawing from 2006

Life drawing 2013


Charity Pet Portraits

I was going through a few old sketchbooks last night and there’s some interesting stuff worth posting or revisiting. You forget how many ideas you churn out in a decade or so of doodling.

For now though, I’ll post this from 2014 when I drew pet portraits for charity. All ink and watercolour. Surprisingly how many people sent me photos saying ‘if you can draw the one where he’s happy and smiling’ when the picture was of just a dark hairy blob! It’s funny looking in on someone’s life and how they turn their pet into family member (my Mum refers to her dog as my brother sometimes…)

Charity pet pics
My mum’s fluff ball, Harry is top left. Other favourite requests include classic dog poses and activities with the owner (top right!)