Category Archives: books

Stylus t. Frog and the book on the digital shelf.


So, now it’s here: Stylus t. Frog and the Weapons of Mass Construction. 100 pages of iPad artwork.

Yes, my ability to pick a succinct and snappy name still eludes me, that much is certain. But I like Stylus t. and felt he deserved equal billing. Although, again, bearing in mind he is in the title and I am a footnote also says a lot about me, psychologically, I suspect.

Anyhow, a sample can also be found at the same link above, and at £4.99 for 100 pages for the full on version  it’s…. good value? Hard to work it out. Some books are cheaper, some more expensive. Hopefully it’s a fair price. I am a struggling artist with a next generation Absenthe style addiction to uphold (hello Comixology app).

Hope you like! Let me know, if you do 🙂 There’s lot in there from art apps (Brushes, Adobe Ideas, Art Rage, Eazel, Sketchshare and more), styli (Nomad Brush, Pogo, Stylus Sock and so on) and much much more…


Previously, in Kercalblogland:

(apologies is that’s confusing. I just realised I’d buried the lead in a big way).

Oh boy this has been a bit of a journey.

In Feb Apple released a desktop app called iBooks Author. I was instantly smitten, inspired, excited and so on. Within weeks I’d produced 90% of a book on iPad art.

So far so good. The application was easy to use, had a couple of niggles but nothing show stopping, and the process flowed pretty well, often late into the night, night after night.

And then I read the T and Cs. To sell a book I needed a US tax code. That took…. a while… I needed an ISBN. That was a little easier. And it needed to clear Apple iBookstore QA. That also took a while (6 weeks in fact although, fair play to them as soon as they opened the floodgates that must have been a LOT of words they had to read from a large number of submissions).

Hundreds of screen refreshes later I was rewarded by the little green dot and was so delighted I didn’t know what to do. As it was just gone 6am (having been woken by my son getting cross with Mario Kart) I tried and failed to get another half hours sleep. Now it’s the morning of emailing, texting, tweeting and as much as I can do to get any sort of interest in the work. We’ll see how that goes…

…and a brief info burst, as I’ve been asked for one:

Who: Paul Kercal – A level graphics teacher and iPad artist. And youth worker. And occasional writer. Where? Guildford College mainly. Why? Love iPads and iPhones: the screen offers a lovely immediacy – it’s fab to be involved in friction free artworking. When? I draw on busses and trains off and on. Sometimes in cafes, occasionally in pubs. For more info contact wd ((at)) kercal ((dot)) co ((dot)) uk


Stylus t. Frog and the Weapons of Mass Construction…

Working title. I may go with ScreenPainter instead but this title always makes me smile. Stylus t. and I have shared quite a journey over the past few months.

The other thing I’m working on at the moment is a book. So, yes, another of those then. This one’s different though, in as much as it’s an art book almost solely about my travels with a variety of Apple devices: iPod touch through to iPhone 4S.

It’s a 100 pages long, contains over 150 pictures, photos and all sorts and chats over which is the best stylus, which art apps make the grade and some of the large scale art events I’ve run over the past couple of years.

Not sure how much it’ll be when it hits the iTunes store (I’m thinking around the £4.49 mark?) but hopefully it’ll be worth that at least 🙂 I’ve made it in iBooks Author and that’s been a lot of fun to work my way through with only the occasional incidence of teeth grinding frustration.

Bit of luck it’ll be released on or around March the 1st.

First talk on the book 8 accidental tour will be at the London Mac User Group this Monday.

The broken gambler and the horrible solution…

A gambler, one day, found himself in all sorts of trouble. He’d bet heavily, repeatedly, inadvisably… and he had lost everything. The loan sharks were polite and well dressed; he feared for his future. And now they had caught him

The gambler begged for mercy – it wasn’t his fault! Others had used his money  and they’d lost more than him! He had bet on things which had worked in the past, it wasn’t his fault that they had stopped paying out..! In truth he had never understood why they had paid out in the first place but a sure thing was a sure thing…

But the men who wanted their money would not be dissuaded. Pay up, they said, or we will hurt you. They smiled as they said this but they had no mercy nor care about his plight.

The gambler cried out, terrified, but then stopped and thought… And though he would not have said he was an evil man he asked a horrible question…

“How much will you give me for my kids?”

Tagged: Labour, Tory, LibDem. UKuncut. Student tax.

Backedy back

Hey guys, miss me?

I jest. Hi Mum.

What’s changed since last I was on? Hmm well, most pertinently to my calendar I’m now program manager for not one but two courses (because if you do a job well my employers believe in then throwing obstacles in your path to try and stop that from happening again) and heavily involved in a third which will come on stream in Sept 11. Also: my class sizes will double in ’11.

Hey ho. In ways I can’t complain – even the troubling students I have this year I have a like for and enjoy their company, when they’re not doing the things that may find them leave the institution they currently reside in. have had a couple of issues with anger management, drugs, drink and all that jazz but, for the most part the likeable side of the kids involved has never been blotted out by the less likeable actions they fall into. Hopefully the words passed on will make a difference, that’s the plan. Then again maybe my waffle floats away like all other sermons they’ve been subjected to. Time will tell and unlikely I’ll know the end result, just a small window of time and emotion.

Also: been doing a lot of covering classes for sick or stressed teachers.


Also also… well, loads to tell but for the moment but tired as a clam at the moment so will shut up for a while. Sylver news not really forthcoming – too tired busy and stressed to do much on that score bar pray which is awful but utterly in keeping with the gestation and release of the book. Artwork news slightly less tumbleweed like only because while on a bus I can draw happily and ignore the world I’m travelling on in a metal box at the time. Did draw this:

which somehow has ht 100,000 clicks on Twitpic. Yowsa. Whether that can be leveraged into anything I don’t know… Hmmmm again. Am aiming to send a pitch of the book this is from to a couple of publishers (it’s a children’s book, fully illustrated, very emotive). I;ve got a nice idea of how to show the pitch but hope that it leads to a face to face meet so that I can go through it outside of writing the bare bones.

Anyhow, time to clam up:

(pics taken from a series of 50 which are the backbone of my new business cards. Gotta love Moo 🙂 ) They’ll also be a part of the pitch that I send out – nearly all of my artwork – and all that I want to do on the illustrated book side – being done on the Brushes app on an iPod touch, generally on a number 34 bus).

Video file of the clam? Comin’ rightatcha:


Music by the lovely Mr Jon Black.

Night all 🙂

Dr Sylver book 3. Paul’s book no. 7. Nightmare no. 73.

Forgive the slight allusion to Larry Norman. He’s still one of the masters of storytelling and I couldn’t resist.

In two weeks time Dr Sylver 3 finds its way to shops. Which shops? Well….

It’s been a protracted, hard, tricksome and odd slog, the writing of this book. In ways it’s put me off writing for life and in others I’m more excited about this project than any I’ve worked on. I love drawing, I love writing and each has a different place in my heart. Tapestry is the best thing I’ve written, a couple of editorial issues possibly aside (thanks Nick 🙂 ) and the end is a suitable finale for Jamie’s tale.

but OH BOY, have there been problems. A rewrite to excise a character that I decided to hold into for book 4, if such a thing comes to be, an update to the end to make it a hundred pages more punchy 🙂 printer/publisher issues, file corruptions in transit, you name it this book has done it, write, right and rong.

Sorry, couldn’t resist that also.

Anyhow two weeks time, Oct 22nd, it hits the shelves, on the eve of a collaborative artwork I’ve been setting up that I’ll mention later. Let’s just say that this is a glitch of timing that seems perfectly in keeping with the project from the get go.

In other news I have almost a hundred new students and three new courses to work on. Hmmm, how to get them to buy a book each 🙂 Say there’s an extra 5% mark in it for them?

I jest and actually that points to my greatest failing – I’m rubbish at mentioning I’ve even written a book. I find it still hard to tell people I write because so many know me as a happy scribbler I feel that the likely expectation is that I’ve written carefully constructed sentences of 10 words or fewer, no more than 20 syllables on each page. Presumably all in crayon although, truth to tell, I prefer water soluble pencils, Albrecht Durer if they’re going, thank you very much.

So now I come to the same old problem – I need to sell my wares all the while preferring to be the one who chats to teens, does shrink plastic artwork with them and tries to tease out the best in them, helping them to overcome/defeat the worst. Funny old world. But this time I feel a little more imperative: this is book 7, surely something I do should gain some notice (if it’s worth it, that said).

So far the previews have been good, the reviews, well they’ve been hard to come by but work’s a doozy at the moment and my alleged four day week has yet to show any care to arrive and greet me. I HAVE clocked up a fair amount of TOIL at the mo but the likelihood of me getting any of it? Hmmm…

I shouldn’t complain and I’ll try not to over the coming weeks. I’ve been gifted a lot and to have a book published is something I’m mindfully grateful for. For the most part I wish I could help the publisher receive the reward for the faith he’s shown me, at the time a new writer with only a story to offer. Now that I’m a city eating egotist I feel he and Highland deserve to be seen as the ones who let Egozilla loose on the world 🙂 As a friend mentioned when I joked about it “I should own my inner Mr Rampaging Egotist” but I do think it’s something I should also share with others 🙂

Righto as ever – miles of paperwork to do – the nemesis of Dr Sylver but hey ho. I need to find the balancing act if I can. That starts with a second cup of coffee I think…

((The Daisy filter – named after one of my new students who’s taken to adding this effect onto pictures but does it better than I do. Still makes me smile to see students coming up with new stuff, this filter being one of my favourites after the past three weeks of taking on the new class…))

Couple of new iPod/iPad pics.

… Book news coming soon…

But today one iPod pic from last week (Popeye – inspired by the excellent work as always on Comic Twart. Doc Shaner’s image is a total JOY To behold) and one from this week (Cap ‘n’ America). Cap’s been a pickle as, for the third out of four pictures, Brushes on the iPad has glitched on me (not showing one layer when rendered) which is a bit worrisome.



I think the glitch comes when I press the home button to escape the pic while painting, I think, but regardless it does add an element of worry when using the otherwise excellent paint package. That said there’s no other way I could have drawn and painted so enjoyably from 8.12 am to 10.44 am on the bus and train from Guildford to Bristol 🙂

In other news I’m trying to get an IAMDA UK meet organised to fit in with the meet in NY. We’ll see, as ever. Something I do one day must work, surely 🙂 We’ve got an amazing plan in mind so hopefully that’ll come to fruition.

Also: son boys birthday today. Lots of Mario themed stuff including a power star cake and a lamp and lightshade that look like they’ve come straight from the Mushroom kingdom 🙂 Been a long and lovely morning…

Long story writ quick…

Ok so yesterdays post alluded to a long story (although if you were looking forward to it I dare say you’ll be left unsatisfied as it ain’t that interesting and I’m not going to tell all of it, not just yet)….

For the past year I’ve been snowballed under a stupid amount of projects – some legacy that I had to finish, others ones where the idea or concept took over my sensibilities. Sometimes I should have said no to people, more often I should have said no (or wait) to myself. Often I think I have to get a project worked into before someone else comes up with the idea, as if my ideas are that valuable or unusual, and sometimes I just want to get to the end of a story myself, having come up with the set up and being interested in where things go. That bounced back at me this morning as I noticed that one of my ideas for a Doctor Who story (which I’m assuming has overtaken the Great American Novel as what most authors would like to write?) seems to have been used in an audiobook due for release in the next few days. Very demoralising although it shouldn’t be. I remember fighting at a computer games company for a particular feature which struck me as very emotive (having an adventure game character follow your mouse movements with his head as you played a game. It struck me as something that would break the fourth wall well and lo and behold Grim Fandango did it six months later and it was hailed as revolutionary. Sigh… Sometimes I have ideas but rarely in the right place at the right time).

Because of that all ideas have suffered because instead of working on one project and following through on the stuff I’m less good at – marketing, ego driving, that sort of thing, all ideas flourish in small walled gardens at best. This year, as of now, I’m determined to do just the one thing and then if another comes up I’ll choose which to chase. Working on multiple projects, while holding down two part time jobs and the added rigours and joys that a family blesses me with, doesn’t work and the older I get (nearly forty, shudder 🙂 ) the less I’m able to juggle things that occasionally burst into fire.

So, ten ideas or so in the forefront of my mind, all shouting ‘pick me’ and jostling for position. I know which I’ll choose and, true to form with me it’s the most recent I’ve come up with in my head so maybe I’ve not entirely learnt my lesson. In all likelihood my main joy is having its hours reduced this academic year coming (their choice, not mine) so it’ll be a level of focus on specific days. I can write, I can draw but in neither case have I gone out of my way to say ‘that’s it, this is the business I’ll focus on for a set amount of time.’ Withe the country and the academic world in the doldrums it looks like I’ve got little choice. Making burgers out of roadkill or whatever the phrase is… 🙂 The current idea – that which I’m determinedly focusing on, started out as a theme in a sketchpad exchange and has since (in the week since it formed in my mind) into something a little more. This time I’m going to work out a pitch, package it nicely, and send it to the book publishers who it’s always been my dream to work with. Maybe, this time, things will work out better than anticipated.

So the past picture and this one are linked to the new thing, vaguely, soko (sort of kind of). What will come will come, it’s just time to trust in my abilities a little more than I have and hope that the hard work of the past few years now pays off at a time when I need it to a little more.

That said – I still suck at self promotion as the past months semi-disastrous Waterstone’s signing proves. I can do some things well and uber confidently: I can youth work with no problems at all and have had a wonderful week of working with a wide range of young people. Talking about my writing? I end up sounding like the shiest, quietest lemon in the bag. So we’ll see how it goes, but the next couple of terms are forcing my hand so I’ve got to learn to swim quick.

The speech bubble aims at the fact that of the 12 of us on the current sketchpad exchange I’m expecting themes like ‘happy fruit’ or ‘mecha – nuns’ or something. Mine is a little bit more specific and maybe a bit more of a hospital pass 🙂 We’ll see what people say when they get the pad in the post….

And…. Saying goodbye to the class of ’09…

Ahhhh the class of ’09. Sometimes a good year, sometimes not so much. I look back on these guys with mixed feelings but a huge amount of happiness and joy.

I’ve been thinking about ex-students and the Book Draw a lot over the past couple of weeks. I’m coming up to the final months of, possibly, the last classes at my workplace and a number of students have been asking if I’ll miss them. Spoiler warning: (I will) and who knows what will happen in the future. I do know that some of the guys and gals I have worked with this have have been entertaining an fun to be with.

Which leads me to these guys: the class of ’09 Big Book Draw version. It was a wonderful day (click on the Guildford Book Draw tab to the right for more details) but a project that often nearly broke me. For a start I had huge dreams – as with any project – and I really must learn to stop doing that. One of the dreams was to have a launch party with a difference. I made forty copies of the book (and since each copy took at least an hour to make that’s a fair chunk of time when times always a pressing). The idea was to have a night out where people who had helped on the day could be given their copy of the book at random. The next step on this project is to wrap each book in brown paper and post them to recipients and give them to those more local. It was a lovely plan. Added to that I wanted to have a storyteller there on the night to read out the story of the Dragon and his Princess and the Fish’s Library (a story I’m quite pleased with 🙂 ) and it would all be lovely.

Of course it wasn’t to be. I tried but hey ho, some dreams fly too high and the reach of my net feels very limited. But I do still intend to send the books off to people, at random, and with a bit of luck the people who receive them will photograph themselves and their book and email that back to me. Then, and only then, will I know who got what.

It’s been a funny old road but one that’s kept me amused through some dips last year. Now I’m onto the semi-sequel (Wombat and Wambot) which, again, is a youth work venture and, again, will be drawn by teenagers who I’ve yet to meet and can’t wait to do so, and hopefully I’ll look back on the project in the Summer as I wrap it up and smile as much as I do with the mini-books above. We’ll see. I’ve yet to learn to stop dreaming but, since the dreams help me with the ideas in the first place I can hardly complain when the rough goes with the smooth I suppose.

In other news the final, FINAL copy of Sylver went of to the publisher today for print and release in early May. More on that when I have the time to type but youth work calls for tonight so it’s time to plod onwards on a different path…