Tuesday, 18 December 2012


I know it's not an original line but it always makes me smile when I hear it,especially if its muttered by a grubby Christmas Villain.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Wakefield by John Welding

Poster Ad for the exhibition

Just got back from the printers ordering the prints for the Wednesday night ArtWalk. I will now have sleepless nights until Monday when they should be ready for collection and looking beautiful. In the meantime here is a bit of blurb to explain what's going on...
The illustrator John Welding started using the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques to make his unique diary pages in an attempt to make personal memories and record the changing environment where he lives and works. His drawings are a mix of illustration, comic strips and words and the Blue Plaques were ideal as a starting point and drawing catalyst for this new body of work. 
The pages are drawn in a comic strip or picture book style, which John is known for with his previous diary projects. Sometimes the artist features in person or sometimes as narrator in an autobiographical role, taking the viewer through his daily experiences. Sometimes there is something profound to say, more often than not it’s just an everyday observation, but then it is the everyday that link us on a personal level. 
Extremes of Hi and low tech methods go into making the pages. The research is where the story or experience is initially created using a camera and sketch book at a particular site. Back at home, layouts are created with Photoshop and a Light box. More traditionally, and for John more enjoyably, the finished pages are made drawing direct with dip pen & ink and watercolour and even a bit of collage thrown in for good measure when things go wrong. 
John Welding has exhibited with Wakefield Art Gallery and illustrated The Battle of Wakefield for Wakefield Museum. He has illustrated 35 semi-permanent Street banners in and around Agbrigg & Belle Vue. He has contributed to the national children’s comic The Phoenix and collaborates with The Faceless Company on Wakefield community projects.

Wakefield by John Welding
A series of personal illustrated dairy pages in an exhibition of enlarged prints and original artwork inspired by the vantage points of the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques

The work can be seen at the Wakefield Civic Society, Wakefield Media Centre, 19 King Street as part of the Wakefield ArtWalk held on Wednesday 28th November 2012  5-9PM.

View Larger Map

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Saturday Morning in Town

Another one of those illustrated diary pages

The sun is low this time of year, catching the tops of buildings with angled shafts of light and shade. The building where Monkey used to be is a favourite of mine, detailed with a cornucopia of columns and swirls and over the top detail. I could never afford their clothing but went in a few times, pretending to look at clothes but really looking at the brickwork, staircases and floorboards.

Across from there is another clothing shop of distinction, Frank Birds gentlemen's clothing and next to that The Black Rock pub, the ornate tiling of the Black Rock reminds me of another pub I don't go in much further down Westgate, the Elephant & Castle.

Sunlight is in full effect on the Marygate side of of the Barclays Bank building making the red brick glow in a way that only autumnal light can make red brick glow. I have arranged to meet Helen in Deli Central, we were at the gym at the new Sun Lane Leisure earlier on and now scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with a cup of black coffee beckons.

It's such a nice morning I wait outside taking photos of the water feature in the newly refurbished Bull Ring, trying to catch the play of morning light and water, unaware that Helen has arrived early, waiting inside and wondering where I am. Where I am is texting her, wondering where she's at. I lost concentration, my bad!

Bit of an update to that last post...

Detail showing the stone dragon on the Monkey building

My friend Jan had mentioned in a comment about spotting dragons on the Monkey* building. Yes I had potted one but it was a bit difficult to make out with my eyes. I did the above drawing from a close up from one of my reference photos, and even then it's got a lot of guess work in it's make up.

I like these stony gargoyle additions, who ever commissioned the building wanted to show off their wealth and standing in the community but why the fascination for decorating buildings with fantasy animals? Unless it's not  a dragon but a dog, a dog would be a bit boring, dragons on the other hand are fiery and there to protect and show power and are part of a bigger mythology. So there, I have answered my own question.

* Please excuse the term Monkey building, I did research into trying to find out the buildings name but the closest I got to was 21 Bull Ring, the internet is focused on businesses that run from there.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Line Work

Dip Pen and Ink line work

These panels are a continuation from the 29th October which can be seen here.

Light boxing...

My light box is home made. It's a piece of clear perspex screwed to a frame with a disassembled fluorescent tube desk lamp underneath, it works for me.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bishopgarth 29th October 2012

I was in a sensitive area so drew the things I knew
Using the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques as destination points for drawing has hit a bit of a snag. Bishopgarth, where the next location on my list is, contains Police HQ, Children's Day Care Nurseries and a Public School. Maybe roaming around with a camera and a note book in today's heightened fear of 'stranger danger'* is not the best of ideas. So, I drew a few things that I was familiar with. The official description of what I am doing with these pages is something like this...

Wakefield by John Welding 
A series of personal illustrated dairy pages. 
John Welding is a freelance illustrator of stories who knows Wakefield, after 13 years of treading its rain lashed streets he needed a stimulus to see the town in a different way. In September 2012 he started using the Wakefield Civic Society Blue Plaques as entry points to make his unique drawings, a mix of illustration, comic strips and words. The point being not to slavishly copy the building the plaque is attached to, but treating the Blue Plaque as a destination. To take in a 360 degree view of what is in the vicinity and to record what was happening at that particular point in time. This exhibition is proud to present selected pages from the start of the on-going project.

I cycled through the area scouting for the Blue Plaque but couldn't find it, the area is quiet and there seems to be a lot of empty grand Victorian houses, empty or up for sale. A sign of the economic times? I ended up going up a small one track road (Long Causeway) and into a park area with trees for company, to rethink my approach. I decided to be brave and retrace my route. I found a Blue Plaque, one that's not on my list 2 Bede House, so I took a photo and made a few notes, then cycled out of there as quick as I could - it's too quiet for me around here.

I make notes with dip pen and ink when I can, it slows me down and makes me think.

* Public perceived threat from child molesters, criminals and terrorists.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

St. John's Church

It's a quiet Sunday and I have made my way out of town to St. John's Square, it's not far from Wakefield Town centre and consists of a square of very nice looking houses with a small park and Church in the centre. I lock my bike to a tree and notice the empty Horse Chestnut Cases at my feet. The weather today is bright and fresh and crisp, perfect for cycling and perfect sitting on a bench, drawing type weather.

I sit close by the church building, opposite is a bench with a really nice inscription "wherever love, laughter and music abide, I am there in spirit - Sean Turner". My moment of contemplation is broken, first by the distinctive smell of marijuana and then by the increasing laughter of teenagers who I hadn't noticed sitting on the St. John's Church steps.

I make a few more notes and take a few more photographs of the surrounds for reference and then it's time to go home for the afternoon. I walk part of the way, getting on my bike at the Town Hall. From there I manage to cycle downhill, passing through green lights and over car free roundabouts at HIGH SPEED! Only pulling on the brakes and making a left turn when I reach Sainsburys on Ings Road. The exhilaration of speed and the realisation that wasn't the brightest thing to do and maybe, just maybe a tiny bit of passive smoking left me feeling breathless and genuinely feeling ALIVE.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Registry of Good Deeds

A late evening stroll into town.
I am a freelance illustrator who works from home, even if that quirky home is a coal yard on the outskirts of Wakefield it's good to get out for a wander now and then. I know where the 'Registry of Deeds' is  in Wakefield, not having a need to go there though I was not sure of the route. Taking into account that there is a lot of redevelopment going on in and around that area, it was a bit hit or miss if we were going to get to Margaret Street where the building resides. The redevelopment of that area has been on going and is  now coming together and looking great, opening up vistas and new views of the city's old buildings and making Wakefield feel a lot more cosmopolitan than it has ever felt in my 12 years here.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Black and White Line Work

Black and white line drawn freehand
Next will come the words, then after that the water colouring over the top. I used my photos for building reference, other than that it's just pen ink and paper so far. Must apologise for the poor photo quality, it's late and I'm too tired to fire up my scanner.

I did the drawing in Helen's shed away from distracting cats and internets and could hear the wind pick up a bit outside. I watched for a bit as it brought a few twigs and dead branches down to Earth. I might have to go up there tomorrow when the wind abates and trim some of the larger branches away before they come  down of their own accord.

Friday, 12 October 2012

When Time Stood Still

Westgate as seen from carter Street Car Park.

Westgate is one of the busiest streets in Wakefield, traffic entering and leaving the city centre is continuous and the various businesses of bars, banks, cafes and theaters makes sure there is plenty of foot fall along the street. Usually you are passing through from A to B, windows wound up, head phones on, metaphorical and physical blinkers to the fore. It's the same for a lot of city centers,  how often do you get to stop for five minutes and just observe in this day and age of CCTV. This is what I did, taking photos and making notes the isolating pretense that today I am up to something useful. There are quiet times, people disappear, noises stop and even the pigeons have a nice sit down.

I like this view, the opulence of 57 Westgate's roof clock in stark contrast to the backs of the street buildings, a little bit grimy and crumbling with age.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Magnificent Buildings

Wakefield, like most towns, has lots of grand buildings hidden away behind commerce frontage or intermingled with modern functional structures. Monarch House and Dr Crowther Almhouse's are two buildings opposite a huge supermarket car park entrance. Wakefield obviously needs huge supermarkets and car parking facilities but it also needs these buildings from another era to remind us that things can look different and can look grand. I spent 20 minutes under what might have been Sycamore trees making notes and sketches and taking photos, the season is changing.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Drawing Over Photographs

Where it starts, note book with page layouts.
I am doing another Wakefield diary page which involves a bit of architecture drawing on a blustery day. I tried drawing the buildings freehand but couldn't do them justice. I had taken reference photos and thought about why I was trying to reinvent the wheel image wise, I could spend the rest of the week trying to get this page right when really, all I want to do is get outside working on the next page.

I thought about printing the photo off at the size I wanted and then tracing it onto watercolour paper using a light box. This is a similar although slightly different way, upping the contrast of the photo in Photoshop and printing it out in a light blue colour. Light enough to take ink and watercolour over the top.

Low opacity photograph printed blue scale onto watercolour paper, ink applied over the top.

What I like about this approach is the way it blocks in areas, giving you a silhouette to work to for accuracy and key points but allows you to still create a fairly hand drawn image over the top. You still have to probe with your mind and eyes to find where the line goes, like drawing from life really.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Drawing on the Corner of Denby Dale & Ings Road

This was a great day to be stood outside making notes and one of the first autumnal days this year. I locked my bicycle up at the supermarket and then walked a few metres across the car park in the direction of Denby Dale road. There is a fenced off culvert there in which you can see murky water which will end not far, flowing into the River Calder further up Ings road by The Hepworth. It's very quiet pedestrian wise, a few parked cars and a people walking into town, other than that there is no reason for people to hang around. There is lots of noise though, Traffic, tractors, trains, road works, lorries, usual town centre commotion.

Late Night Grrrr

Black blob of an ink spill and its resolution into the page

Working late into the night the first two panels on the page went well. At 1am the third panel was nearly finished and I thought things were going good when I got an ink blob drop onto the page from my dip pen, that's it just below the word 'Snork'. I tried to redraw the panel a few times thinking I could 'patch' the panel  later but the results were not as good as the first attempt, I decided to go with it and wait for the ink to dry. Next morning I looked at the ink blob with fresh eyes and thought with a bit of white ink it could be incorporated into the phlegm coughing theme of the panel.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Thornes Lane Wharf or as I like to call it, 'Page Two'

Thornes Lane Wharf, background artwork
I posted the line work for this early this morning and this is now the coloured in version. I mixed opaque white calligraphy ink into the watercolour to thicken it up a bit to get the kind of sky I wanted (moody) and just kept going pretending like I knew what I was doing. The only problem is it caused the paper to wrinkle on the right hand side. The above image is scanned (in two parts and joined together in Photoshop) pretty much as is without any tweaking. If you compare it to the next image after the jump, you can see how little I am messing with the original artwork.

This is the completed page so far. I say so far because I am not happy with the 'arfside' in panel three and might apply some cross hatching over the top to hide the typography a bit. At the time, I didn't want to be too specific in the image to the logo side of things. If I had any sense I would redraw it but I want to keep some of the 'happy mistakes' in this project and I need to move on to the next site on my list, maybe some one, some where will see the humour.

Late Night, Work in Progress

Night photos of work in progress. I have been tweeting these as they are made late into the night but I think very few people are getting to see them. I find Twitter a consuming beast that if you are not there at the right moment something is announced, then it's gone. I am guilty of scrolling through the nights events to see what has happened in the last 40 minutes. Drawn 332 x 242mm direct with pen and ink using photo-reference, sketches and notes made on location.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Wakefield Diary Page in Progress

Detail from the finished page
After a lot of procrastination and thinking about it I finally get out side to start a little project that has been in the ether (the ether being 'my brain') for the last six months. The original idea was to venture out into the wonderland that is Wakefield and produce brilliant looking sketches in situ, I tried that a few times and felt totally underwhelmed by my efforts. Physically making large scale drawings in an urban environment was not something I felt comfortable with and so I went back to working in my sketchbook.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Cordwainer of Scarletwell Street (Episode 2)

Brief: The Cordwainer of Scarletwell Street (episode 2) in… The Stride of a Green Metal Man
A short story written by Justin Neal and illustrated by John Welding.

New shoes for The Green Metal Man

Ah, here we go then. There was no official brief but more of a conversation among friends that if it had to be written down would look or sound something like… ‘Produce three colour drawings, one of which is to be used as a poster image, to illustrate the text of the short story… and make it look AWESOME my good fellow!’

Blurry desk shot trying to show some of the materials used.

When I started doing these drawings for Episode 2 (Episode 1 can be seen here) I was in digital drawing and colouring mode, having last year invested in a copy of Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom Intuos 4 drawing tablet I thought it time they earned their way in my world. I was even writing and drawing notes digitally.

Character concepts for the Green Metal Man.

Justin's got a plan and a story arc and had a definitive idea of how the characters should look, so I spent some time exploring the characters especially that of the ‘Redman’ who Justin had hinted may be a recurring character in further Cordwainer stories.

Character concept for the 'Little Red Faced Man'.

A great time was had sketching away digitally, refining the Wacom pen away from its default settings to get a fluid sketchy line using the Transfer dialogue box and switching on pen pressure there in. This gives the pen a pencil/brush wash quality that is very nice for drawing. After drawing tiny sketches it was time to do the real thing and this is where I fell to pieces and found myself struggling.

Composition and Reference
What seemed easy in smaller self-contained sketches became messy and uncontrollable in larger and more detailed pieces. Working detail in to every nook and cranny of the image killed the drawing process for me. I started to use photo reference for hands and street furniture and this increased the time I was spending on the image and I hadn’t even thought about colouring them yet which is even more a time consuming chore.

Original first attempt at illustration in Photoshop.

Changing my working method I decided to use pencil with Photoshop colouring over the top which has worked for me on comic and illustrations in the past. My first attempt (below) felt very heavy. Taking into account that the printed size of these images will be a few inches on a page, adding in too much detail was just confusing. Again, I liked the original  composition and made the characters a bit more dynamic.

Pencil drawing and corrected pencil drawing using the Liquefy Filter.

Corrected my bad drawing by scanning it into Photoshop and using the Liquify Filter to correct the Redmans left leg and the leaning wall at the top of the drawing. I love the atmosphere and the texture in this image but it seemed to be destined as a one off. I couldn’t for the life of me replicate the technique in the next image and returned back to the drawing board.


Going back to my sketchbook and redrawing. Drawing in my Moleskine and this time working on the other drawings in the series at the same time, to keep continuity. I have to add that I had just been introduced to the fantastic work of Italian illustrator Sergio Toppi, by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell via a Twitter link, and was inspired by Toppi’s composition, his texturing and his ‘patterns within drawing’ approach.

Photoshop Flats

I use Flats to control areas of colour in Photoshop, they give a defining edge and clarity to a coloured drawing, especially if that drawing is going to be printed small. Flats are also a time consuming nightmare to do right. What the computer saves you with one thing; it then creates ten times that hassle with trying to do something else. If I was more professional I would have a way of doing this quickly and without angst. Most of my illustration work is different from brief to brief; last month I was using vector graphics on an eight metre diameter inflatable structure, next month I am doing personal and intimate sketches of Wakefield for an exhibition. I am usually finding out how things work as I go along and I am of an age where I don’t want to be too technically proficient, I have done that. I want to be creating drawings that have life and a little bit of art about them.

This colouring worked okay and would look fantastic as a large print, subtle pencil shading and textures aplenty but again, something did not feel right as a short story illustration…

Pencil and Inking
Looking at a 24 inch HD monitor for long periods of time was/is making my eyes go blurry and tired so I made yet another 180 degree decision to start making the illustrations again and ink and colour them, this time by hand. Something I have not done for years and felt all nostalgic about. When the artwork exists physically there is very little tinkering you can do afterwards, which for me is a good thing.

I printed off the Moleskine drawings in blue scale on card and used these as ‘pencils’ to ink and watercolour over the top of. Much quicker than all the other processes involved with computer colouring and it keeps a spontaneity to the drawing that I like. I scanned in the drawings and made a few colour tweaks with Curves and there suddenly finished, three illustrations for the story.

The Green Metal Man dressed up for a night out is my favourite and will be the poster image on the reverse of the story sheet.

Episode 1 can be seen here and here.