Thursday, 15 June 2017

Zombie Prime Minister



Zombie PM Theresa May walks an apocalyptic wasteland of her own making.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Vintage Nib Test Drive



Vintage shop emporium Eyewood in Wakefield gave me a couple of boxes of vintage pen nibs that they picked up in Bruge for a few Euros, they were happy for them to go to a good home.



The Perry & Co No. 227 (EF) Nibs are brilliant dip pen nibs. Fine lines and flexible enough for broad strokes giving it a good range of ink mark making abilities.




Heintze & Blanckertz LY 6 95 nibs, these look different to most dip nibs with 3 vent holes punched along the shank and the tip is angled more for calligraphy than drawing. I thought these were just old nibs and surface corrosion was interfering with the ink flow. I persevered and struggled with them only after researching a little further, it turns out these are left handed nibs. I had a quick scribble using my left hand and they do work although it feels like patting my head and rubbing my belly with a huge serving of lack of coordination jelly.


It's very rare to get something for nothing in this world so a big thank you to Robin and Natalie at Eyewood, seriously this is a life times supply of pen nibs.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Frankenmay Process

I had this idea for a political cartoon. Theresa Maybe and her cobbled together monster of lifeless Conservative  policies. After a year spent dismantling public services she is suddenly all for the working classes in the run up to the snap general election on June 8th 2017. That was the nub of the idea. Cobbled together policies and a slogan that is so 'We're all in this together' bland and meaningless she might as well be saying 'UP YOURS'. The one thing the UK is at the moment and that is STRONG and STABLE. I live in the North of England and it is particularly GRIM, especially for anybody involved in the 'creative arts'.

I digress, back to the illustration process business in hand. Above is the blue pencil sketch which was to become the underdrawing to this piece. Using a lightpad I drew with a dip pen and ink. It is NOT TRACING but using the sketch as a layout guide. I use a dip pen because I find, it is difficult to get precise lines and creates a more spontaneous and lively looking drawing.


Saying that, I liked parts of the drawing but there was something about the monster's open mouth, a lively and spontaneous decision I decided to go with when I was drawing that now didn't feel quit right. Was the lifeless monster crying out in pain? Laughing? Listening to dance music? Focus needed to be on the creator, the real monster in the piece. Also I didn't like the lettering, it looked a bit rushed and I knew I could do better.


There were a lot of lines and time involved in that first inking attempt. I did the next  drawing with a Pilot Parallel Pen which  is a thicker mark making tool an was a little bit quicker to ink with. I loved the look of the monster  in this one, stoic in life or death, putting up with the madness of an evil social engineer. Wasn't too happy about her hand though and the face was a bit off too. In the tradition of the best editors I liked a little bit of something from each drawing, "Could you just use the best bits from both drawings and..." Gah!


Which is what I did in Photoshop. Overlaying the two inked layers and erasing the worst bits and keeping the lines I really liked. A bit like cobbling together my very own perfect monster of a drawing.


"Alive, ALIVE! The drawing is ALIVE!" That line coincidently comes from the 1931 black and white Frankenstein film, I viewed this scene on YouTube for reference and the next line is "Now I know what it feels like to BE GOD!" which is quite apt for the way the Conservative's money grabbing low wage poverty inducing polices have been sneaked into place. The money, OUR money is still there, it's just trickled up to the top. STOP IT!


I threw a back and white tint over the top just to reference the original film a bit more and it helps to push the speech bubbles forward too.

Frankenmay and Her Monster


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Book Cover Illustration
'The Knights of Shire'


The commission was specific in that it had to be an image of a tram on Chantry Bridge in Wakefield (which was a real thing in the 1950's and 60's). David (the author) sent me descriptions from the book that talked about specific things, like the ads on the side of the tram.


I started with a thumbnail sketch illustrating the authors initial brief. Then I did a tighter pencil drawing from photo reference of trams and bridges and a quick trip out with my camera (I live 10 minutes down the road from the bridge). It became obvious that the bridge is a totally different design from how I first sketched it.

My first attempt at inking was with a dip pen using a light box to ink over the pencil drawing, on a fresh sheet of heavy weight cartridge paper. The lines were too fine and a bit hesitant, making the inked drawing feel like a colouring-in book illustration.

I was much happier with the second attempt at inking using a Pilot Parallel Pen. This time I forgoed the light pad and inked over the pencil drawing instead. The texture marks are a lot bolder and say 'stone bridge' more than the dip pen’s cross hatching. The whole image feels more individual and unique to me.

I scanned and sized the black and white drawing to 300dpi at A3 in Photoshop.

Next is the tedious act of Flat Colouring the elements in Photoshop, this allows me to select areas of the illustration when I'm texturing the colours later on adding highlights, shadows and textures in Photoshop. Using light to bring interest and focus to areas of the image. Although the bridge and tram are real things the book has an otherworldly edge to it which I wanted to convey.

I sent the image over to David for approval who sent it on to his designer who did a quick cover mock-up of what the cover might look like.




The final cover looks different as the designer incorporated character and book series logo which you can see over on the Amazon website here.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Sketchbook Scenes from
'To The Stars By The Hard Ways'




So I came across this Russian film on Youtube, via a music video which recommended that I watch Ran by Future Islands next, which I did. From their I was intrigued by a thumbnail for a track called 'Like The Moon' which someone had made an unofficial video for. I liked the imagery, wasn't sure whether it was old ‘old’ or modern, filmed in the style of an old movie but liked it enough to follow the link. The film has a few titles and has had several releases over the years. I'm going with 'To The Stars By The Hard Ways (1981/2001)' and yes, it is bonkers (inflatable robots, rainwear capes as everyday clothing etc), considering Star Wars was well in the world at this point it was a throw back to the cardboard SFX ‘outer space’ films of the 70′s.

For all its low budget Sci-Fi imagery it has a serious eco warning in that all the pictures of the dying planet Dessa were filmed here, on Earth.

Per Aspera Ad Astra (1981), Richard Viktorov, with English subtitles

Friday, 28 April 2017

Drawing The 13th Doctor...



There is a new season of Doctor Who airing at the moment. Season 10 featuring the 12th incarnation of the time lord. There is speculation afoot about who will replace Peter Capaldi's interpretation of the character. I don't really know that much about the Whoniverse ( I've only been watching the programme for 40 years) but there is a call by some fans for a complete shake up of the Doctor's world. In the mini webisode Night Of The Doctor  there is a regeneration scene that suggests that the Doc can choose who he regenerates into, young or old, man or woman. I personally believe it's time for him to experience something other than being a posh, white fellow.

Colour 'Flats'
Adding texture over the 'Flats'
Above are a few intermediate colouring stages done using Photoshop. The original A4 ink drawing was scanned in Black and White at 1200dpi which meant I could resize it to A3 when I started the colouring process.

Line work drawn with a Pilot Parallel Pen 2.4mm
Line work over rough pencil under drawing











Doodle done with dip pen and ink and watercolour
Another doodle Parallel Pen and watercolour

I did a few quick doodles and obviously got into the idea of a woman Doctor Who, this is all just for fun, exorcising an idea.. The 'off the top of my head' choices for the role would be A. Sidse Babett Knudsen (Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen) B.Eva Green (Serafina Pekkala, Vanessa Ives and Miss Perigrine) and  C.Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films). A lot of people have suggested the lovely Olivia Coleman but I think one of the problems Doctor Who has as a TV series is familiarity, why not cast a complete unknown face in the role, even if it's just for a season or two?

NB. The finished drawing kinda shows 'Birgitte Nyborg' in the Eighth Doctor's Paul McGann costume. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Worst Sketchbook Ever



A quick flip through of a recent doodle book I've struggled with. The paper, although indicated as for use with ink is super absorbent and smells of wet cardboard. Certain pens worked better than others, Unipin fine liners and Pental Brush Pens for instance but the abrasive tooth of the paper soon wore away the pen tip fibres. Pilot Parallel Pens also worked okay but again, the paper literally sucked the ink out of the pen making this an expensive exercise in pen refilling. Dip pens were okay with acrylic drawing inks, anything else just bled in to the paper fibres. Because I draw so much I persevered with the sketchbook but really am looking forward to getting back to something (Seawhite) I can rely on and like using.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Film Night

Unrelated to my dancing witches, I watched the 2013 horror comedy Witching and Bitching (Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi) the other night and really, really liked it. It starts out as a 'wacky crime' caper but at the arrival of a village (Zugarramurdi) and the introduction of some great characters (among them Javier Botet, Terele P├ívez  and Carolina Bang) the movie turns up the horror/comedy. The entertaining weirdness culminates in a great 'Wicker Man' type parade, featuring 'Krampus' Devil Parade characters that are you know, popular on the Continent.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Wakefield Witches


I adapted that wakefield tree drawing I did the other day for a friends birthday card.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Trees at Thornes Park

I do the Thornes Park trim trail three times a week and this is a view from the parallel bars, looking West over to Gillsike House.

Wakefield Trees 3 WIP



Another tree quick draw work in progress. Thornes Park again looking towards Gillsike House. The trees are at their barest and will look different in a weeks time as spring rises. The maroon getting in the way is me, blowing small puddles of ink into sticks and tree branch shapes.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Wakefield Tree 2



Another tall thin drawing of a Wakefield tree. This time at Heath Common.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Great Marquess Characters



Some character designs for David Chappell’s ‘The Great Marquess’ novels.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Wakefield Tree


A long thin drawing of a tree where I go running in Wakefield (Thornes Park). Drawn on A2 heavyweight cartridge paper with a variety of brushes, pens and inks.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Thornes Tree WIP



Another quick draw. One of the trees where I go running on the trim trail at Thornes Park. Drawing bigger than usual on heavyweight A2 cartridge paper with a variety of pens, brushes and ink.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ash in Ivy



Caught my cat Ash, climbing in the ivy. It's that time of year.




Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The WolverKong


Logan for me was a much better film experience than Kong: Skull Island. Both have difficult scripts, both for very different reasons but  Logan has a secret weapon which is the three main actors, who give an extraordinary performance through out. I saw Kong a week after seeing Logan, I'm still thinking and recommending people see Logan, where as Kong is another tired blockbuster which has been seen a thousand times before. Which is okay, I went in knowing that I was going to see a movie about a giant ape, I'm just not thinking about it. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Character Design

Did this to try out Instagram's new 'swipe left' feature.
It's from something I'm working on at the moment.