books · Drawing

Drawing the Ginger Ninja

It is almost five years since I made my first Video on YouTube. I set up a camera on a tripod and stuck a couple of lights onto it, hoping to increase the light levels, but the lights fell off half way through, much to everyone’s amusement. It never crossed my mind to edit or reshoot!. I’ve learned a lot about lighting and white balance since then!

GingerBlockAdThe video was about how to use pencils and I showed how to draw the Ginger Ninja.It took me a year to gain 1000 views on that video. Now I sometimes do that in a day. Ginger is still the book that people remember me for best. If you have an iPad, you can get the first three books on the ibooks store and you can also get a free Ginger Ninja story if you sign up for my newsletter – add your name an email on the box on the left hand side of the page.

If you click the image below, you will be taken to the original 1999 Flash animated website – it’s still a lot of fun!

I was asked once to give a talk in assembly at a school. As an afterthought, the head mentioned that it was Maths week. I had just come across Godel’s incompleteness theory which star (putting it simply) you can’t get all the answers using one mathematical system. It made me think about the way I draw Ginger and Tiddles. They are such different characters. Ginger is simple and based on Euclidian Geometry he is all circles, ellipses and tangents and angles. His fur pattern is simple because he combs it every day! His character is nice and happy and uncomplicated too.

Tiddles, on the other hand is a wild, mixed-up bully. I draw him entirely differently. He could be created out of Chaos Theory! I also draw him a lot faster.

As with all things, there is a middle way. When Ginger and Tiddles become friends (What!? Spoiler Alert!) Tiddles calms down. He’s still drawn quickly but in a less hectic sort of way.

I think that session in the school assembly confused a lot of people! But is made me think more about Euclid and how learning geometry has changed – children don’t get to construct complex shapes because health and safety worries over the sharp point od compasses. This led be directly to making my Euclid videos and eventually the book and iPad iBook.

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Euclid, the Man who invented Geometry
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Reading and Literacy

Ipad or Android for your school?

ipadnextappThere is no contest. The ipad provides the best apps, books, (there is a kindle reader for iPad so it is a kindle too) and the best operating system by far. When I hear schools discussing the choice staffrooms, the same argument comes up, “Well, iPads are so expensive, and we can get so many more android tablets for our money.”

So you can, and with them you buy so many more headaches down the line. Android is the new Windows. A loose operating system that is changed and mucked about with at the whim of Google and the manufacturers of the hardware. One Android tablet is not like another. Each machine has it’s own quirks. They all have different capabilities and idiosyncrasies, just like windows pcs.

An ipad is an iPad is an iPad. They just work, and Apple make sure the apps that go on them work too. As with all technology, both iPad and Android tablets will have their off moments and frustrations, but you will have far fewer moments and lesser frustrations with iPad.

When it comes to illustrated children’s ebooks, iPad is the only game in town. I don’t mean singing and dancing animated app books, I mean books where the text stays still on the page waiting to be read. You can’t learn to read when the text is dancing up and down and reading itself to you – that’s entertainment.
eBooks for children with pictures in the right place, with video and interactive elements for learning are only readily available on the iPad.

If you want to get on and do stuff, get an iPad. If you want to spend your time asking for help from IT support staff, get Android. If you want to save time and money down the line and have the best apps available to you, iPad is your choice every time.

It has always amazed me that those who don’t use Apple products wonder why Apple users are so fanatical about their support for Apple products. Those who use Apple products are the kind of people who try other systems and are always amazed that anyone would want to use anything else.


Fabulous review for Euclid – ipad edition

I had a Fabulous review for euclid yesterday, from Ginny Steele, a teacher in Ontario, I just had to share it with you! You can get the ipad version here or you can get the paper book version here

Intro to geometry for primary kids

I was so impressed with the sample pages I bought this book immediately and whizzed through it. This book helps refresh those of us who did geometry a LONG time ago, and puts everything simply enough that you can use it to help your kids learn it too.

The videos are superb instruction in how to construct shapes using a pencil, compass and ruler and bisect lines and angles. All of which is coming for your child in school, so it helps if YOU know how to do it. The great thing about the videos is that your child can select the chapter relevant to their current topic of study, use the video to follow step by step, pause, play and go again as necessary.

The jokes are enjoyably cheesy, perfect for a primary school audience, the comic-book character illustrations and simple animations attractively add to the text and I enjoyed the overall look of the book, which does NOT feel at all ‘textbookish’, but instead manages to get across all the important stuff in a fun story style. At the end of each short chapter is a 3-question quiz designed to point children to the right answers, and if they get it wrong, they can keep checking till they find the right answer. It feels very low pressure and I think children will enjoy it.

Cleverly done, and thank you for creating this book, Mr Rayner.

I highly recommend this book