Thursday, 14 November 2013

Finding my inner 'gator

I'm currently working on a series of book illustrations which show an American alligator. The project requires delivery of the cover art in a week or so and shows the gator swimming menacingly toward the protagonist. There's only a limited amount visible above water, but what happens on the cover pins down the style of the characters for the rest of the book. The remainder of the art will slide over the next four months. The problem was, I wasn't totally happy with my 'gator.
As is often the case when I'm going to depict a character or creature in a variety of situations, I need to 'know' it - to own it if you like. So, yesterday I sat and sketched to find 'my' gator so I could carry him happily through the book.
I'm more comfortable with the way he's developing facially, I can explore the anatomy later.
The important part is done.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Just before 'lights out'....

I've mentioned before about how I'll often go to shut down my studio for the night and pick up a pencil end up sketching out something that works. Same thing happened again this week. A little scribble spread like a stain across a 5" square piece of watercolour paper that just happened to be lying around.
I revisited it several times in recent days and put the finishing touches to it this afternoon.
Thought you'd like a peek.
It needs a caption though. If I think of one or someone suggests a good one, I'll add it later.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Here Be Monsters!

A while back I did a series of monster illustrations. They were to be used as promotional pieces for an advertising agency and I agreed not to show them until a reasonable time had passed.

I was given just a set of character traits and a free hand to arrive at a monster to carry them off.
Here are some of the creatures I sketched in development and had a fabulous time doing them.  In fact, some of these are too good to be languishing in a 'dormant' file.

I'll dig out the colour images as soon as I get round to it.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Just Screwing Around!

There are projects that are like walking through treacle laid down good and thick. Then there are the ones that come along like this:

Brief: "three screws, with human characteristics. Screw one is male flat head screw, who is surrounded by two female Philip head screws - the male is obviously flirting with and the girls are attracted to him and smiling and laughing.  The screws are standing on their points. The male has his arms around the females. He has a sly-lover boy grin. The girls swoon over him."

What's not to enjoy?

Pen and ink with watercolour wash.

Ride or Die

I had an interesting project during September. My client wanted a version of a scene from The Fast and the Furious 6 movie using kids on 'big wheel' trikes.
The pencil stage went smooth enough and I had a great time inking the line art. I resisted the temptation to ink every brick - something I find oddly relaxing.
I'd normally add watercolour washes to my inked art, but because neither the client or I had an immediate solution to the colour scheme of the city skyline, I decided to colour digitally keeping the colour on a separate layer to allow for adjustments
Thankfully, my initial block out was approved and the project sailed through without a hitch.
I was particularly pleased with the girl - she looks trouble, that one.

Images used courtesy of Packed House Publications

More Blue Bunnies

Those nice folks over at Align Technology, providers of the amazing Invisalign dental braces, decided there were gaps in their training plan and called on me to provide another batch of blue bunnies. I probably told you the reason the bunnies are blue is because I had to restrict my palette to match a Powerpoint presentation.
This batch went even smoother than the first time around, helped by me having already established the character.
I inked traditionally and converted the line to vectors and coloured everything in Illustrator.
The client wants the option of recolouring the entire collection, so it makes sense to keep everything as vector art.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Grab it before it goes!

Get your copy before they are all gone!

Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet [Paperback]

Now only £12.99

This book is a showcase of what was received, and in some cases lost, in the post. The entire Short & Sweet project is featured: the good, the wonderful and the downright amazing!

I've got mine!

Snaggy Tees

Packed House Publications have a clothing business, goes by the name of 'Snaggy Tees'. They recently asked me to look at creating a corporate ID for them. The brief was precise in that I needed to incorporate an anthropomorphic dog, in shades, T-shirt (bearing a specific slogan) and jeans.
As is usual with Packed House, their communication and responses to my proposals were swift and efficient and all went nice and smoothly. The final art needed to be sent as a layered Photoshop file and had to be high enough resolution to be reproduced on the website and printed large. The final file was good enough to be printed with the dog being about 4ft tall with no loss of quality. That should do it. The resulting file was a bit of a whopper, with Drop Box coming to the rescue when it came to delivery time.

I look forward to seeing the results on the website.

Image reproduced with the kind permission of Packed House Publications

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Emerald Pirate

Colour added. A fun way to spend most of a Sunday. I don't mean that wrestling an octopus is a good way to spend.. Aww, you know what I mean!

Emerald Pirate - Pen and ink with watercolour 330mm x 240mm

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Troublesome Traveller

After inking, I am enthused to get some colour into this. Here's the story so far, having laid in the overall wash and first tints, this is where I'm at. Next comes the good part when I begin adding depth, richer colour and contrast.

Plus a detail, because everybody likes to see the twiddly bits!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Falling off the edge

Often, as I'm 'searching' for a shape, a gesture or a character, I'll draw and draw and draw. Suddenly, something clicks, the gears of creativity and imagination or whatever you want to call it clunk into place. Gears mesh and I'm away, usually wondering why it takes a while for the drive to engage.
The annoying thing is, the moment things start to happen, I've already filled the sheet with rubbish that looks like the five-year-old me was temporarily in control. I've drawn myself into the corner of the sheet and there's nowhere to go. I've lost count of the times where something great happens in the corner or edge of a sheet full of rubbish. When that happens, to maintain the spirit of the original, I simply add paper, taping and butting up one sheet to another for as long as the layout needs, and continue drawing, expanding onto a patchwork of paper.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hooked in record time!

Just once in a while a project goes so smoothly, I have to ask myself ‘Why can’t they all be like that?’

I've never known a project go so easy and so fast, I have to share it with you.
This is how it went:
29 May - Having seen my work on, Packed House Publications contacted me to ask if I did work for hire.
2 June - I’m given the brief so I can give an indication of cost.
5 June - Agreements signed and 50% deposit paid
6 June - First Sketches emailed
7 June - Amended Sketch and subsequent Inked linework emailed for approval
8 June - Colour Vector art sent for approval and amended colour art sent for approval
9 June - Delivery of final vector art and final payment made.

I confess, as soon as I read the brief, I knew it was an image I'd enjoy arriving at, so I eased other work aside to accommodate it in my schedule. I was right, it was great fun.

A sweet little job made all the more enjoyable by efficient communication and professionalism of Packed House Publications.

Here’s what Packed House had to say:
"It has been a pleasure working with Peter George.  He was the ultimate professional, and not only did his illustration far exceed our expectations, but he completed the project ahead of our timeline. We look forward to working with him again."

What made this occasion more impressive was the fact that it was for a new client who was four thousand six hundred miles away with six hours time difference between us and I was on a three day camping trip in Norfolk when the initial inquiry landed - What would we do without smartphones?

Why can't they all be like that?

All images kindly reproduced courtesy of Packed House Publications.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

At least the carrots are orange!

It's always a pleasure when a client teaches me new and interesting stuff.
Invisalign, makers of dental braces needed a set of illustrations for internal training purposes.
The new stuff I learned during the execution of the project, their sequential braces are produced using Stereo Lithography, one of several processes of 3D printing that I find fascinating. Initially a 3D computer model is made of the patient's teeth and jaw and the movement of each tooth is scheduled. A sequence of moves is planned and the braces are printed by SLD. I love technology.
The seven images from me needed to fit within the corporate colour palette - hence the blue rabbit. Luckily, there was an orange available for me to use as a carrot colour.

Traditional inking, scanned and coloured in Adobe Illustrator.

Friday, 12 April 2013

A New Breed of COD

Those outrageously fit people over at NPC Performance asked me to design a logo for their high intensity workout. They call it the Challenge of the Day, which naturally provides the acronym C.O.D. and a logical fishy requirement.
The client liked my initial sketches so much that they upped their budget to have two pieces of art.
The side view is a stand alone piece for T-shirts and other branding while the colour logo will appear on marketing and promo material.
An enjoyable little project.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Completely Enthralled

Everybody loves a good story and everybody remembers a good storyteller.

This is one of those pieces that I could touch up and tweak for all time. There comes a point where I have to stand back and tell myself it's done. I confess to having struggled to bring this one in. The balance of ambient and firelight was a tricky one, and I was a bit timid in getting there, but I got there in the end and I'm pleased with the result.
So, here's Enthralled and a few close-ups (for those that like that sort of thing).

The 'enthralled' of the title.

Our very enthusiastic storyteller.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Enthralled 7 adding colour

Once my drawing was inked and because I was going to be using fairly expansive washes, I decided to stretch my paper to avoid 'cockling'. As long as the ink is dry and you're careful, the drawing is fine.
Once that was done I began laying in progressive washes of colour. Loose around the edges and tighter on the characters. The storyteller is still to get her colour, but I should be able to find time over the next few days.
The audience benefited from an extra weight outline, but the Indian ink and vintage crowquill I use behave differently on a colour washed surface, bleeding and less controllable, so I use a fine line pigment marker. They dry inert so further colour washes can be added if I need them.

Updates soon.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Enthralled 6

I found some time to ink 'Enthralled'. Bearing in mind I want much of the form definition to be enabled by the central firelight, I had to rein myself in from overworking the drawing, particularly on the side closest to the light. I could happily ink trees for hours, but in this instance, they are lesser characters, so they get minimal treatment. I've used a heavier line on what would logically be the shadow side.
This is a detail of the centre of the piece. To show the whole thing would look a bit weedy.
The next stage is to firm up on my colour decisions and rough out a digital comp before applying colour to the art. I'm still undecided on the local colour of the audience, so some experimentation is called for. I'm looking forward to involving some colour.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Little Pig and the Moon

My latest children's picture book is taking shape. Little Pig and the Moon is the simple story of a piglet who wakes in the night to see a glorious full moon and wants to reach up to touch it.
This story, like many others, has sat in rough form in my notebooks for some time.

The illustrations are simpler than I'm used to, but it's been fun working with the different anatomy to show the gesture and movements of the character.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Every once in a while, a simple doodle will blossom into something that makes me want to develop it further.

This young lady makes me ache to turn her into an oil painting. Though I love using them, I never use oils in my commercial work because of the practicalities of working with a slow drying medium, and it's a devil to scan! So, if I'm going to paint her, it would be something I'd have to slot inbetween 'proper' work. I'll add her to my pile of 'Things I want to do' and hope for the best.

I've even got a frame prepared that would work beautifully.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs

As a warm up, or even to kill time, I'll draw faces. Sometimes I'll set a challenge for myself, like portray a specific emotion or make a face based on a geometric shape. You can probably see there are a couple of triangles in the above image. Other times, I'll just play around and see what I can get away with.

The end of a day can also be 'face time'. I'll regularly begin switching off the studio lights for the night and pick up a pencil. Suddenly an hour has passed and I hadn't noticed.

Finding Miss Millerchip's face

In arriving at Miss Millerchip's features, I initially borrowed the features from photo reference, creating a kind of semi-caricature. I then in stages drew more distorted proportions to the point things got a bit too bonkers - always a fun process. I wanted a slightly androgynous look, and now, having created a sliding scale of deformity, I harvested the elements I needed to arrive at the face I was looking for. I do think Attila the Hamster is a great name.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Mail Me Art 3

So, after that nonsense with gesso, I decided to make my own envelope from my favourite Hot Press watercolour paper - 300gsm Fabriano Artistico.
Doing a piece of art for the second time instils a confidence that, if it were available in bottles, I'd happily dab some behind each ear daily.

That was yesterday. Today I made the sheet up into an envelope, took it to the post office and watched it get dropped into a sack with lots of boring mail. Fly my beauty, fly!

I was delighted to hear from Darren Di Lieto that it had arrived safely, though cheeky Darren refused to say whether it had sustained any battle scars from the postal system. I'll have to wait until I see it on the gallery wall.

For those that like such stuff, here's a detail:

Mail Me Art 2

My mermaids needed a background, so on a visit to my father-in-law's, having taken some reference with me, I sat and sketched.
Then, since the mermaids are being a little mean to the octopus, it made sense to have some of the local residents witness the scene. So, I went fishing. What usually happens in this situation is I'll draw and draw until something clicks. Somewhere in this sheet are several fishy shapes that I liked.
I had no intention of using sharks or predatory eels, but a little creative meandering is always good for the soul, right?
Having arrived at a background and occupants, I gathered the elements and set off on my adventure.
The Mail Me Art idea is that the art is made by hand on an envelope. I tried inking my drawing directly onto a manila c5 envelope, but it went fluffy and not good. I applied two coats of gesso to fix the surface and provide a white background for my colour. Gesso dried and cured for 24hrs. I traced my drawing down using graphite, then inked with my regular crowquill nibs using Winsor & Newton Indian ink. It applied a little scratchy and I expected the abrasive gesso to eat my nib, but all went well. I took away the pencil drawing from the surface with my regular Staedtler Mars plastic eraser - none better. Ink, as solid as a rock, no fade or loss. On to the next stage - adding colour washes. Because this art is scheduled to run the gauntlet of the postal system and potentially be delivered by Postie in the rain, I opted for acrylic inks. At least they'd stand a chance of surviving a downpour.
First wash, dilute turquoise, big gentle brush. In big strokes, I laid the colour on in big loose strokes. Disaster! The ink wash broke the bond between the ink and the white gesso and my drawing was breaking up and floating away on a sea of colour.
This is after the first wash. A lesson learned there I think.
More soon.

Mail Me Art

I'm honoured to have been invited to take part in the third Mail Me Art event being organised by Little Chimp Society supremo Darren Di Lieto. The idea is that selected artists and illustrators create a piece of art on the outside of a c5 envelope, then mail it, naked, exposed and unwrapped, to Darren.
The art is then shown in various locations and reproduced in a gorgeous book of art, the profits from the sale of which go to three charities.
See HERE for details.

On a whim, I thought mermaids would be nice. I don't think I ever painted a mermaid, so it'd be an adventure for me too.

First of all I needed to find my mermaid. This first one came out cute enough but a little too Chris Sanders I think.

As I drew a few more, I decided on a 'mean mermaids' angle, so I could have a little fun with it.
This felt more 'mine'.

More soon.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Enthralled 5

I want the lighting to be late evening, dusky, with enough light remaining to give some local colour and a bluish highlight to the sitters. The central light source will be the fire, but that will be quite local and should decay quickley. After collecting reference of camp fires and dusk colours, I started some quick low res colour exercises. This is a bit too lively, but it's a starting point.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Enthralled 4

Tighter drawing time!

Even though I'd figured out my monsters prior to getting to this stage, I'd decided to keep the development of the storyteller until now. This was another feisty one. She must've passed through a dozen poses, seated, leaning toward her audience, stomping, stretching, jumping. I managed to wrestle her into place eventually. I even kind of like those big hands!
Over recent days my wife and I went on a few walks to woods, country parks and a couple of abbeys, which gave me the opportunity to photograph trees and forests, fallen logs and rocky outcrops to incorporate in the drawing. I'd preferred to have a few more leaves on the trees, but hey, you can't have everything.

Next step is to rough out colours.

Enthralled 3

Find those monsters!

Using my development sketch as a guide to approximate shape, I went a-huntin' monster!
There are times when a solution seems to fall from the pencil and there are others where the right shape will put up a struggle. When the latter happens, I just draw and draw until something clicks.
That elusive little chap in the foreground went from spider/crab thing, through freakish warty worm, nasty toothy rat thing to cute horned nose spiked thing. I must've drawn as many as twenty options before arriving at something that would happily sit on that rock! Strangely, the other three were so keen to be drawn, they almost leapt onto the paper!

Next stage, drawing up proper.

Enthralled 2

With the thumbnail sketch providing a very rough layout, the next step was for me to sketch out the scene a little better. I liked the idea of the storyteller having a rocky outcrop as a backdrop where the camp fire could cast a dramatic shadow and also have the fire illuminate the faces of the monsters. At this stage I wasn't sure how many monsters to include. They all had to be different, not too scary, but clearly wild things with individual characters. I enjoy the challenge of capturing expression and gesture, so giving the audience a look of involvement and captivation was something I was really looking forward to.
I felt an arc of creatures decreasing in size would work best and four of the beasties dropped into place comfortably. The little fella in the foreground, though just a blob at this stage, was eluding me.

The next stage, however, would sort that out.

Enthralled 1

Over the next few posts I hope to provide a series of updates of a piece entitled 'Enthralled'.
The image is to show an enthusiastic young storyteller and her captivated audience of monsters.

These thumbnails are the first steps at establishing balance and composition. Once I'd chosen which I felt did the job best, the next stage is to rough out the scene.
More soon.