Monday, 20 February 2012

Review Sites:

In case you haven't heard, there is a new review site in town called Now, I'm not one to usually care about review sites, but this is a really interesting idea that works for the consumer in a way that they can read trusted, honest and truthful reviews. Although it is still in it's early stages, I thought it was too good of an idea to not share in a blog. 

You're probably thinking that there is already loads of review sites out there on the web, so what is different about this particular one? I spoke to Iain Wood, the mastermind behind it to find out:
  1. How did the idea of come about? 
    It was a strange co-incidence really, I have been working on a lot of sites that 'vet' their reviews. It's all understandable from their point of view, but I was always a little uncomfortable with it. It gets really bad when I heard that once company I was at actually had junior members of staff registering with the review websites and posting good reviews. At that point I thought we needed some sort of way of verifying the person who put the review was reliable, Facebook accounts jumped to mind and that set me off.

  2. How does work?
    It's simple really, there is a bookmarklet - (a link in your bookmarks bar that runs the code) and a google chrome extension for chrome users. Just click on the button when you want to read reviews about the page you are on, that's it. To post a review you need to log in with an account from one of the four big social media websites (facebook, google, linkedin or twitter). This means we can track reviewers as well. The reviewer has to 'own up' as to who they are online (no more anonymous cowards).

  3. Most review sites have ratings that aren't always valid. E.g. Negative reviews left by company competitors or disgruntled customers and Positive reviews left by "paid employees" or through business paid enhanced listings offered by the review site. How is different?
    Well it's going to be tougher to fake reviews as you'll also need to fake a facebook / google / twitter profile as well, also I'm working on a trustrank system, people who post useful reviews will get rated by other users, this pushes their trustrank up and they then rank higher on the reviews. Conversely dodgy reviews are voted down - the trick is that the reviewers reviews across the board get downgraded, so it wouldn't be long before a fake account was knocked out of the system.

  4. It has been known from Marketing research that review sites influence customers shopping behaviour. With being a more truthful consumer based review site, how will it influence the customers shopping from a businesses point of view?
    I think some businesses will panic, I can think of a few off the top of my head! Hopefully it will result in the companies actually listening to the consumer rather than brushing negative reviews under the carpet. I't would be great if it built up trust with the business though as well. I know that a single negative review will not put me off something, I tend to look at the ones that score middle of the road, they tend to be from the people who have had good and bad, they you just have to weigh up your opinion of the risk.

  5. Where do you think Whoopie will go in the future?
    Well it's very early days, I want to work in some more features,such as a more generic comment feature for those who don't want to review and try to get a solid user base. I also want to add a fun element, scores and rankings, top reviewers and so on. Right now I just want people out there reviewing anything and everything. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Sandstone Brewery: Pump Clip Re-brand

You may remember my blog post on the various Sandstone Brewery Pump Clip Designs that I have created over the past couple of years involving a theme of village characters to portray their 'Ales of Character.' As part of Sandstone Brewery's commitment to continuous improvement, they made a decision that they would like me to come up with a complete re-brand and design of their pump clip's ready for 2012.

With their launch of a new winter seasonal beer, named 'Obsidian' came the new pump clip design. Moving on from the 'Ales of Character' theme,  Sandstone Brewery decided that they would like to start having their pump clips professionally printed and wanted a more modern and 'less handmade' style of pump clip design.  

So, with a far cry from the previous pump clips came the re-branded theme of 'Rock Solid Ales', providing a more sleek and minimalistic look. The idea behind my design was to attract customer's attention but at the same time not let the design overshadow the beer. Here is the result:

In case you're curious to know what kind of beer it is, the new design gives a brief description up the side of the pump clip. To go into a bit more detail, Obsidian is a 5% dark ale with hints of chocolate and raisins. Within one week of being on sale, the first batch had sold out! It proved a great success in the Royal Oak, a Wrexham town centre pub, after selling out in one day, the first beer to ever do so!

For more information on Sandstone Brewery, you can visit their website here:-

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tutorial: Valentines Card

For mine and James' 9th Valentines Day together, I decided to make a card this year (just like I did for our 1st) and he loved it. I popped to Hobby Craft for some bits and I had a vague idea of what I wanted it to look like, so it was a case of hunting around the many pretty things in there to pick out some bits. I knew I wanted to use a black and red colour scheme and Hobby Craft had some fantastic art materials. My best buy was the red mosaic sticky mirrors that I decided to use for a border. Plus I still got loads left! (I see another use for them for a crafting project in the near future). Here's what you need, along with some images to give you an idea of how to lovingly make a special Valentines card for your sweetheart:

You Will Need:
1. Black card (I picked some up, already folded with an envelope for 99p)
2. Set of Paper crafted hearts (The pack of four I got cost £2.29p)
3. Red mosaic self adhesive mirrors (I paid £1.99p and still got loads left!)

All these bits can be bought in any Hobby Craft store
The paper crafted hearts handily come with sticky tab backing
Arranging the paper crafted hearts, I stuck in place to the card.
I used the self adhesivere mosaic mirror tiles for a border
Here's the final result. A lovingly made Valentines card.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Tutorial: Sparkly Pink Glitter Frame

I'm currently working on a Fairy Portrait for a friend and decided to make a pink sparkly glitter frame for the final piece. They seem to be quite hard to come by in the shops, so that is why I decided to buy a cheap frame and some glitter and make one myself.

I thought it would be pretty easy as I already had a load of PVA Glue left over, but I soon learnt that the stuff doesn't stick the glitter properly. What you need is some strong spray glue! 
Here's a quick image tutorial (including trial and error) of how to make a pink glitter frame:

You will need:
1. A picture frame (I got a cheap silver one from Wilkinson's for a couple of quid).
2. Industrial strength spray glue (You can pick this up in Hobby Craft for about a fiver).
3. Pink Glitter (I got a bottle for a couple of quid in Dunelm Mill).
4. Hairspray (70p in Home Bargains).

How to make a Glitter Frame:

So, I'm all set. I got my PVA glue, cheap picture frame and pink glitter.
I coat the frame in PVA Glue.
After sprinkling the glitter on, I find it's not sticking properly
Ahhh! Spray Glue. Will this work for an even glittery finish?
Now, that's more like it!
I rest the frame against a couple of paint bottles to spray the sides.
I give it a quick coat of hairspray to harden the glitter.
Finally, the Glitter Frame is complete.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Sandstone Brewery Pump Clip Designs

Beer Pump Clip designs for an established Welsh Brewery:
Sandstone Brewery has helped to restore a traditional craft to the town of Wrexham. Commissioned in late 2008, the 4-barrel plant is situated in a former explosives manufacturing unit on Wrexham Industrial Estate, but so far the only explosions have been the occasional popping of a keystone.
When deciding what to call their brewery they where mindful to include their fellow ale lovers in England and Wales.  Sandstone Brewery is located only a few miles from the border of England, which made them focus on how to bridge this boundary.  Because of their geography they naturally focussed on the Holt Bridge, which spans the River Dee. With Holt Village on one side and Farndon Village on the other they noticed the abundance of weathered sandstone and hence the name was born.

Sandstone Brewery took the village theme further when deliberating the ale range. They wanted to elaborate on the characters of a village, people we all know and avoid: the dodgy doctor, always gloved-up and ready for action; the lush behind the bar ready to lend a helping hand and the postman, too busy playing Postman’s-Knock to deliver the mail.

When I was approached by  Sandstone Brewery back in May 2009 to come up with a complete redesign of their previous designers pumpclips, I was very keen to stick to their 'village characters' theme but I wanted to achieve a consistency to the look and feel of them but at the same time keep them eye catching for the drinkers at the bar. After a few experimentive pieces I came up with the following look and feel to the designs, mixing together illustrative drawings with photoshopped backgrounds:

Various Pump Clip Designs I've Produced For Sandstone Brewery

Sunday, 5 February 2012


After watching Clash of the Titans, I was suddenly overcome with the urge to draw a flying horse. Here it is:


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Illustration Order Of Colour Video Tutorial

Below you will find a couple of my past illustration's along with some You tube video's to show the progression of colour from sketch through to the final piece that I created using One True Media. In case you're not familiar with One True Media, it is basically a fun and easy to use video creation site which allows you to turn photos and video into amazing Montages to share online.

As I was working on each drawing, I took screen shots so that I could piece them all together on  One True Media as a montage to show the order and progression of colour. I hope you enjoy.

Evil Tree Spirits

Fairy Tale Castle