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.