This week we dive into the creative process behind of The Blue Beard, a graphic novel by  Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, also known as Metaphrog!

We’re Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers and we have been working together making graphic novels under the name Metaphrog since we met back in 1994.


This short video shows part of the creative process for our recent graphic novel Bluebeard, a retelling of the classic fairy-tale.


This book, our third fairy-tale adaptation, was started in 2017 and we worked on it while moving house the following year. It was published, by NY-based Papercutz, in 2020. Bluebeard came out during the pandemic and the first lockdown here in Glasgow, in Scotland. We realised that since we couldn’t travel to meet people and go to conventions, we would have to be creative online and in different ways.


We work very closely together and read and research before John writes a script, and gradually develops a fictive world, often inspired by Sandra’s character sketches. Then Sandra draws the book out in the form of thumbnails, or page layouts, and we work again to edit and refine these. Once we’re both happy with the layout for the book, Sandra then goes to the drawing board. Some of the pencilling for Bluebeard was created by hand, but mostly this work was done on computer, as it’s so much quicker to make changes, and then the final coloured art was created digitally using layers of textures and a variety of brushes.


Artwork from the book, along with a selection of prints from The Red Shoes and Other Tales and The Little Mermaid graphic novel adaptations, original hand-painted art from our Louis series of graphic novels, as well as insights into our creative process will all be on display at The Mitchell Library, in Glasgow, from the 7th of November until the 9th of January 2023 celebrating Book Week Scotland and beyond.

Double click to enlarge the video

* Header image courtesy of Metaphrog


Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, also known as Metaphrog. The Franco-Scottish duo are winners of The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 Best Visual Artist. Their graphic novels have received international acclaim and multiple award nominations, including three for the Eisner Awards. 


If you have an illustration video that you would like to see featured here please let us know! 
Contact Illustration Features Editor Tita Berredo at


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Find her work at Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Contact her at

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