Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas doodle

I started this earlier today as a simple doodle and couldn't walk away until I was happy with it.
It would make a pretty creepy 2014 Christmas card, don't you agree?

Monday, 13 October 2014


I forgot to show you this. I could ink stuff like this all day, for days or weeks or even months!
I love working in traditional pen and ink.
Here's the whole thing and some details for those that like to lean in close.

Thinking in the bath

A morning sketch

Sunday, 5 October 2014

I was hunting dragons....

I had to produce a piece of art which involves a dragon. Now, I don't have a 'standard dragon' to trot out as and when the situation arises, so, rather than simply crank out a regular dragon, I wanted to arrive at one I was happy with. Before the meeting to discuss the piece, I sat and sketched on a couple of occasions to get a feel for dragons. One of the sessions wasn't going so well, and I 'accidentally' drew stuff that felt more comfortable.
They might not be particularly 'dragonny', but I think they're worth showing.
I'm including one dragon, just to prove I aimed at the target at least once.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Little Safety Net

Often, when sketching in blue pencil particularly, I'll come to an area that I expect to have to rework and fine tune - Yep, that's right, I don't get everything right first time.
When I reach that point, I'll switch to regular graphite or tape on a section of layout paper which accepts erasure more forgivingly so the area in question doesn't become ragged and tatty.
Here's an example where I was working on 'Weeeeeee!'. In this instance it allowed me to fool around with the angle of the head to achieve the desired effect.

In other areas I will apply graphite to firm up any indecision, or simply enjoy the process - like here in the detail of the 'steering mechanism'.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Pushing Faces at Bedtime

In the Eighties and Nineties before the internet became all-powerful, I used to do a fair amount of work with photographers and model agencies. One agency specialised in 'characterful' faces and individuals. Every year, the agency released a catalogue, a printed one on paper with pages you could flip through and everything. I have several of those books and to me they are a playground and schoolroom.
Faces that show the lumps and bumps, the creases and the scars inflicted by life - things of beauty.
As I've said in previous posts, often as I'm shutting down the studio for the night, I'll do some 'wind down' sketches. My model catalogues are gleeful companions for such occasions and regularly provide inspiration.
I tend not to strive for likenesses, more that I look at how a face fits together. Often a face can look too 'real' for my work, so I'll nudge it in the right direction until it feels more mine.
Here's one from last night and the young man above is from some time last week.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Eyebrow Topiary

While waiting in for a mattress to be delivered, I explored the subject of eyebrow topiary. Seriously, some people have the type of eyebrows that would lend themselves to a little decorative trimming.

Having dazzled the judges in the early heats, Aubrey had certainly upped his game for the final and romped to victory with his cockerel and cup and saucer combination.

Despite owning the best scissors money could buy, the sad fact was that Gerald simply didn't have the eyebrows to be a serious contender and could only look on bitterly at the stunning work by the finalists.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Digital Safety Net

While the majority of my work is produced using traditional processes, I often rely on digital methods to fine tune an image. Take for instance the recent cover art for The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Looking at the scanned art, I decided I'd like the rats to be more in shadow, so I used Photoshop to deepen the shadows in and around the rats and to add to the moonlit highlight. I also lengthened the sky at the top edge to better accommodate the title panel.
For anyone who likes to play 'Spot the Difference', here's the original scan and how the image sits on the cover.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Piper, mostly inked.

I spent most of yesterday inking this piece. I erased the pencil drawing this morning, having left the ink overnight to fully dry. It can be a little bit heartbreaking to run an eraser over the work too soon and discover ink that smudges.
I need to give this a good look over to make sure I'm happy with it before applying colour washes.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

She was always a musical child

Here's a hint of a project I'm working on. Anyone familiar pipers, pied or otherwise, will see what's going on.
Currently I'm inking with good old traditional pen and ink (I love this stage) prior to adding colour washes. As Captain Lawrence Oates said, "I may be some time."

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Happy Bug Band Day!

I was asked to produce a sketch for a birthday gift. Sarah will be 29 years old today, on May 29. One of those quirky date alignments we all get to experience only once.
I hope she likes her Ladybird Band.

Squiggles and Faces

I play this game with myself. Without looking, I make a squiggle shape on the paper, then try and turn it into a face. Sometimes I fail miserably, other times it works. Rather like finding shapes in clouds, I'll stare at a shape until it tells me where to add my own marks.
As an exercise, it proves that traditional proportions aren't necessarily essential for a characterful face.
Here are a few examples of befores and afters.
You should try some for yourself.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Coming up for air

In October 2013 I was contacted by a new client asking if I'd like to illustrate an American Folk Tale.
21 Illustrations to be delivered Feb 28 2014.
My schedule was accommodating enough and I'd never tackled any classic American tales, so I accepted the commission.
The contract is quite binding, but I had it adjusted so I can share some of the details and images here.
An enjoyable project that gathered momentum right up to the moment I delivered the final image a week before the deadline. The book is scheduled for release in Q3 2014. I should be able to share more info then.

I don't know if I'm just lucky, but in recent years I've been blessed with the most wonderful of clients. Polite, efficient, communicative and a joy to work with.

Here are a few of images from the project that has had my face pressed to the drawing board in recent months.

By the way - Happy New Year!