Dragons at Safeway!

Today something really exciting happened!  Marc McBride, the illustrator of Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest novels, visited a local shopping centre.  He spoke about what it is like to be an artist and showed us how he creates his masterpieces. 

It was really interesting to see how Marc uses contact when he is working.  He places contact on a sheet of paper where he does not want the paint to go.  He didn’t show us this step but it’s likely that he puts contact on the whole sheet, sketches the outline of the drawing and then peels off the contact inside the drawing.  In the photo below, there is a dragon in the centre and contact all around.


Contact – the secret ingredient!


Marc does a lot of his work on computers. However, today he showed us how he uses an airbrush to paint pictures. Did you know, that sometimes it takes a whole week to do one picture? 


Time to use an airbrush to bring the dragon to life.


He said that it’s impossible to make a mistake and that is why he likes painting. Some other tips Marc shared with the audience were to use opposite colours to make things stand out, start with light colours and then use darker ones and if you are using a pattern make sure it is all the same shape. 


Stencils are handy tools for artists.


Marc peeling off the contact from around the dragon.


Contact removed. Ready for a background.


Once the contact is removed it is time to work on the background. You can use stencils to help create the background and use dark colours to create shadows.  Marc did this on the dragon’s legs and joints.


The finished product.

It was a terrific opportunity to see and hear how an illustrator works.  Thank you to the local library for organising such a wonderful guest to entertain us during the school holidays.


What types of things do you like to draw?

Who is your favourite illustrator or artist?  Why?



21 thoughts on “Dragons at Safeway!

  1. Dear Miss Crowther and 5/6JC,

    The pictures look amazing! I haven’t read any Deltora Quest books but I would like to! I’m still looking for the first book ever! I love his drawings on the cover. The process is quite amazing to make such awesome creations. My favorite Illistrator is Nick Sharratt. He draws for books like the ‘Daisy series,’ my sister likes to read. I prefer the drawings. My favourite artist is Dan and Dani, from the Block 2012 and the Block All Stars. They created an Art Car in the Block All Stars (2013). It looked familiar. But all designs they thought up, when designing were to my liking. Especially the finished product.

    I want that painting so much!


    • Hi Eve,

      It certainly is an amazing process! Marc made it all look effortless. However, as you know, drawing is not a strength of mine! I think the most amazing part of the process for me was to see how contact is used. Until now, I have only ever thought of it as something to cover books. Did you know illustrators use it too? It’s also pretty wonderful how a blank piece of paper can be transformed into something terrific in less than an hour. He is one talented man.

      I have only read bits of the Deltora series. Do you remember reading Rowan of Rin a couple if years ago? It’s an Emily Rodda book and apparently the Deltora series are a little bit like it. Good luck finding the first book in the series. Perhaps you can post a book review once you have read it? At the moment I am reading an Australian Story book to see if it is suitable for us to read in Term 2 whilst we are learning about China.

      I didn’t see Dan and Dani’s art car. I’ll have to Google it and see if I can find an image.

      Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

      Miss Crowther 🙂

  2. Dear Miss Crowther and 5/6JC,
    What a very interesting process to be able to watch! A lot of the children in A Room with a View like the ‘Beast Quest’ series and would enjoy the fantastical nature of Marc’s drawings, although the Deltora Quest books are not very well known in this country. However, there are lots of books about dragons! Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series is popular with good readers at Y5/6, and of course Cressida Cowell’s ‘How to Train your Dragon’ series. I think my favourite illustrator is Axel Scheffler, who illustrates Julia Donaldson’s books. I love Lauren Child & Eric Carle, too!
    On a point of language, ‘contact’ is only a verb in the UK! It took me a while to puzzle out what it was, but I think you are referring to what we call ‘sticky back plastic’ ! Would you ever use that term?
    Hope you are enjoying your holidays!
    Your blogging friend,
    Mrs Monaghan

    • Dear Mrs Monaghan,

      It was a very interesting process to watch and showed exactly what is possible if you know what you are doing.

      I like Lauren Child’s books and illustrations too. My favourite Lauren Child book is ‘I will not ever never eat a tomato’ because I can relate to it! I’m going to Google the Beast Quest series in a minute because I haven’t heard of it.

      Yes, I think contact and sticky back plastic are the same thing. We only refer to it as contact. I haven’t heard it called sticky back plastic before! It’s always good fun comparing the words we use to describe the same item. We could write our own Australian / English dictionary!

      Hope lambing season is going well!

      Your non-artistic friend,
      Miss Crowther 🙂

    • Hi,

      Wow, how cool is that?! I wish I was there to do that. It would have been fun! I love painting, do you? The dragons are so cool and interesting.

      Hope to hear from you! Bye.

      From Tahlia

  3. Dear Miss Crowther’s class,

    We are a new group of bloggers in Mrs. Moore’s technology class. We loved the dragon paintings. You said that Marc McBride was an illustrator that you were able to see. We were able to make a connection to that. Brian Chick recently visited our school. He is the author of the book series, The Secret Zoo. Have you heard of it? Most of us have not heard of Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest. Will thinks he has. We thought the dragon looked very cool.

    Dominic likes to create paintball art. That’s when you shoot paintballs at a large canvas. Noah thinks a valuable strategy is to draw in order to let your brain think and process information.

    We like to draw just about anything. We like drawing sports, cars, and animals. We will think about our favorite artist and get back to you.

    Mrs. Moore and the 7th grade Techie Kids

    • Dear Mrs Moore & 7th Grade Techie Kids,

      Thanks for your comment on our blog. How exciting for you all to be blogging with Mrs Moore. I will be keeping a close eye on your blog to see what you all get up to!

      I hadn’t heard of Brian Chick or his Secret Zoo series of books. I’ve just Googled him and read about the books. I think they sound really interesting. I will have to see if they are in our school or local libraries.

      Paintball art sounds dangerous, but lots of fun! I hope no one stands between the paintball and the canvas! Marc said something similar to what Noah said about drawing being a good way to process information. Marc said sometimes it’s interesting just to start ‘doodling’ on a piece of paper and then see what you create, without even meaning to. He said often drawings create themselves.

      Bye for now,
      Miss Crowther 🙂

      • Dear Miss Crowther and students,

        It’s Noah here and I just wanted to say it is cool to be blogging with you. I think it is very interesting that Marc and I agree on some of the same techniques for drawing. My aunt told me this when I was younger. In the past this method has helped me to remember things.

        I play all sorts of sports and would like to know what sports the kids in your class play. That would be very cool. One last thing, tell the kids I say hi. I also would like to know what you guys like to do for fun. Some of the things we do is play basketball ,baseball, and many other things.

        Techie Kids

        • Hi Noah,

          Thank you for replying to my comment. It’s cool to be blogging with you too! 🙂

          Is your aunt an artist? Do you enjoying using art to remember things? Sometimes when I have to remember things I use a mnemonic or a rhyme. For example, when I was little I used to remember how to spell ‘because’ by using Betty Eats Cake And Uses Six Eggs. The first letter of each word spells because.

          Basketball is popular in Australia too. Baseball is not played so much here. At the moment we are heading into winter which means it is the start of the AFL season. AFL stands for Australian Football League. Perhaps you see it on your sports bulletins? Popular games at school are tiggy/chasey, football, soccer, cricket and playing on the playground equipment.

          Bye for now,
          Miss Crowther 🙂

          • Dear Miss Crowther,

            Thanks for taking time to respond back to me. No my aunt is not an artist but she draws very well. I heard you guys are heading in to winter right now. Spring just started for us.

            The MLB just started and that stands for major league baseball. My favorite team are the Detroit Tigers. Also the NHL season is almost over. That is the National Hockey League. One of my Favorite teams is the Chicago Blackhawks.

            Well that’s it for now and it was nice talking to you. Good day mate.

            Your Friend ,
            Techie Kids

      • Dear Miss Crowther,

        Thank you for the reply. When Bryan Chick came to our school it was very fun. He gave out free books if we answered any questions. He was a very cool person, very funny and nice. I had a conversation with him about the book and how wonderful it is.

        I love how you guys are in Australia. How is the weather there? Do you see a lot of kangaroos? When I get older I want to travel the world with my best friend, Amy. Australia is one of the places where we would love to go.

        I also like art. When I draw I like to copy it off book covers or posters.

        Mikayla at Techie Kids

        • Hi Mikayla,

          Thank you for replying to my comment. I like getting replies!

          I am sure Bryan Chick enjoyed talking to you and hearing that you enjoyed his books. Did you answer a question correctly and get one of his books? Marc didn’t hand out any books, just bookmarks. We didn’t have to answer questions to get one as they were given to everyone. I asked for one of each design and was surprised when the answer was yes. 🙂

          Today’s weather in Victoria was beautiful, a perfect autumn day. Light winds and 25 degrees Celsius. What is your weather like at the moment? Yes, there are kangaroos where I live and we often see them grazing in the paddock. We have to be careful when we are driving, especially at dawn and dusk because they can hop out in front of vehicles. They are not the smartest animals in the world!

          You should definitely aim to travel when you are older. It is always great seeing new places and learning new things about our world.

          Take care,
          Miss Crowther 🙂

          • Dear Miss Crowther,

            Thank you for the reply!
            I know that I had a good time talking to him but it wasn’t for long. For the questions I raised my hand but I didnt get picked so I didnt get a book. Were the bookmarks cool?

            I am happy that your weather is beautiful. We just looked up a temperature converter and found that 25 degree Celsius is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Wow! I agree that is a wonderful temperature.
            Our weather here changes a lot. Sometimes its really cold but then sometimes its really nice like 65 degrees fahreheit. A joke we have is that “if you dont like the weather in Michigan just stay a half a hour and it will change.” Haha.

            We dont have that many wild animals running around except deer and its only if your by the woods. Also what is a paddock?

            Yes I think it’s good learning new religions and languages about other people and other places. I can’t wait to go other places. I have never been outside of the U.S. Have you been out side of Australia? The only place I have been outside of Michigan is Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. I don’t get around much.

            Techie Kids

      • Dear Miss Crowther,

        Thanks for the reply. I am another one of Mrs. Moores’ Techie Kids bloggers. Since you haven’t heard of Bryan Chick or the Secret Zoo series I think it would be a great idea if we could send you a copy. I talked to Mrs. Moore and she said that it could be a possibility. My classmates will try our best to send that book to you.

        Have you ever tried hot gluing crayons on a canvas and then blowing on them with a hair dryer? At the end of the process the crayons have melted and it look so cool.

        How is it there at Australia, mate? (Do you actually say “mate” or is that just what we think in America?) I would love to visit Australia one day with my best friend, Mikayla when I get older.

        Have you ever traveled outside of Australia?

        Amy from Techie kids

        • Hi Amy…or should I say G’day mate?!

          It was lovely to read your comment, thank you!

          It would be lovely if you sent us a copy of Bryan Chick’s book. Perhaps we could send you a copy of one of Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest novels?

          I have never tried hot gluing crayons on canvas and blow drying them – I’m not much of an artist! I will ask the children next week when we are back at school if any of them have tried it. I’m guessing that you have done it? Do all the colours melt into each other?

          We do use the word mate. People use it in different ways. Some people use it if they can’t remember the person’s name!! It can be used in expressions like ‘See ya mate’ or ‘Good on you, mate’ and in lots of other situations too. But, it’s not always like the movies!

          Australia is a great place to aim to visit. It is such a big country that there is lots for people who live here to see and do too. Which part/s do you Mikayla want to visit the most? I’ve seen a bit of Australia, Asia and Europe. When I was very little my family visited some friends in Florida. I don’t know how far away from Michigan that is?

          See ya mate!
          Miss Crowther 🙂

          • Dear Miss Crowther,

            Thanks for replying, mate!

            It would be a great idea if you could send a copy of Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest novel to us. We should start a book club. Hahaha!

            Yes, I have tried melting crayons before. All the colors do melt together.

            I can’t stop saying the word mate.

            Mikayla and I would like to visit Victoria, Australia one day. I would also love to visit Sydney, Australia too. Have you ever heard of the show Dance Academy? The show takes place there in Sydney, Australia.

            Florida is about 24 hours away from Michigan. Many of us vacation there too. If you haven’t visited Michigan, it is a beautiful vacation spot as well. We have the longest freshwater coastline in the world!

            Well, G’day mate!
            Amy from Techie Kids

  4. Hello 5/6JC,

    How great did those dragons look! Maybe I need to start having a look at his books to see his illustrations!

    I’m currently in the process of writing a picture book, it’s a little bit different to dragons though, but I have lots of writing and illustrating to do!

    I hope you are all ready for the new term, I’m sure Mr J and Miss Crowther have lots of exciting things planned!

    Miss Maraschiello. 🙂

    • Hi Miss Maraschiello,

      Great to hear from you!

      Marc made drawing the dragons look so easy and effortless. However, as you probably remember, drawing is not so easy or effortless for me!! Being able to draw is a real talent.

      How is your picture storybook going? What is it about? We’d love you to read it to us when you’re finished!

      Please keep in touch.

      Miss Crowther 🙂

      • Hi Miss Crowther,

        Drawing is not easy for me either! You are right, it is definitely a talent!

        My book is coming along, I’m currently writing the story line. It is about a Barking Owl who loses his bark, so he and his friend, Possum, go looking for it. Hopefully they find it!

        I would love to come in and read it once it’s finished!

        It was lovely seeing you yesterday.
        I’ll be in touch,
        Miss Maraschiello. 🙂

  5. Hi Miss Maraschiello!

    The dragons did look amazing.

    That is so cool that you are writting and illustrationing your own book.

    The start of the term was really good and we are even having lots of fun now.

    I hope you your book gets published and that you can come and visit us again.

    See you soon
    Tanyshah 🙂

  6. Dear Miss Crowther,
    Marc McBride must be a very talented illustrator to create a beautiful dragon like that one. Our school also had an author come just a few weeks ago also. His name was Bryan Chick, author of The Secret Zoo series. He showed us how he made his creative ideas into a story. He said that the layout of the zoo in the story was made similar to the Detroit Zoo in Michigan! I found that very interesting because it was something to relate to when reading his story. Did Marc McBride talk about what he was thinking of when he was making the dragon?
    Techie Kids

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