Thursday, December 22, 2016

I'm still here :)

Yes, I'm still here and still drawing....just! It's been a strange few years....

I started a new job back in June 2014, and I haven't looked back since. My previous job had become very stressful and, without fully realising it, I had become very anxious and depressed. That previous job was with a company (herein referred to as "that awful company") that had bought out the company I was working with a few years earlier - a company I had a lot of respect and admiration for....despite eventually being made redundant!! (This was circa 2003.) So going back to my old position under this "new" company, I was full of hope and naivety that things would be as they were before.

How wrong I was! Eight years later and I just wanted to quit. "That awful company" had managed to turn what was a great software product and development team (I'm a programmer, by the way) into a complete mess, causing grief, turmoil and animosity along the way. I won't go into details, but I found out first hand how a company that is "top heavy" with management just gets caught up in bureaucracy and red tape and eventually loses its best staff....and I AM including myself as one of those staff.

Rant over. I don't want to think about "that awful company" any more! But I am getting to a point. I am now with a company that knows what software development is all about. The staff are friendly, the product is brilliant (IMO) and I am in a better place (mentally) again.

And creative side is starting to reveal itself once more. I lost the will to keep drawing during my time with "that awful company", but that will is coming back. I am enjoying the creative process again! are two new pieces I created (fairly) recently. They were both done for my family; one for my parents and one for my sister.

Harlech Bear
Harry's Diet

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Coloured character designs

I have now completed the colouring for the character sketches. I have tried to maintain a traditional inked look, with a simpler colouring scheme (mostly flat colours with edge highlighting and light shadowing.

This is the first time I've done some major colouring in GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a free image editing tool that is pretty close to Photoshop. It's a great tool for what it does, and (hey!) it's free, so can't complain!

Mystery Character - design 01 Mystery Character - design 02

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A new beginning....

After a long hiatus, the drawing board once more calls. I have had a story idea roaming around my head for quite a while now, and it's time to "set it free" (fly, my pretty, fly)!!

These first few sketches are character designs for what I shall call (for now) the "mystery" character. Think of him/it as possibly a storyteller....

Mystery Character - design 01 Mystery Character - design 02

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Lion in the Cinema

One of the groups I am a member of on Flickr is called "Vixen UK", set up by a fellow artist from the days of the "Freddie and the Fairy" as part of her own freelance business. She posted up someone's poem as an idea for a picture book: "The Lion in the Cinema". Even though I haven't got the time to fully illustrate it, I did have a go at a few sketch ideas.

Click on the images to view them full size on Flickr:

  The Lion in the Cinema - pencilled - 01 The Lion in the Cinema - pencilled - 02 The Lion in the Cinema - pencilled - 03

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nan and Granddad's Seaside - finished!

Well, I've finally finished the "Nan and Granddad's Seaside" cartoon originally intended for my Mum and Dad's 70th birthday! least it's in time for Christmas!

Here's the final image:
A Pensioner's Guide

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A hair-raising project...Complete!

Well, I've managed to finish the remaining illustrations. Here are the images for the front and inside of the young woman Gift Wallet Card:

Gift Wallet Card cover (click to see full-size):
Young Woman - Pose 01

Gift Wallet Card inside flap (click to see full-size):
Young Woman - Pose 02

And here's a line-up of the finished products. I ended up printing on 150gsm Photo Card, to give the cards a more professional look and to make sure they were sturdy enough to stand up.

Cards - standing

Young Man Card - FrontYoung Man Card - InsideYoung Woman Card - FrontYoung Woman Card - Inside

Right...back to the Nan & Granddad picture... ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A hair-raising project (cont.)

The inking and colouring is finished for the "young man" illustrations. I'm still working on the young female images.

Gift Wallet Card cover (click to see full-size):
Young Man - Pose 01

Gift Wallet Card inside flap (click to see full-size):
Young Man - Pose 03

Onward ever onward....:)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A hair-raising project (cont.)

Well, I've finished the pencils sketches for the young women illustrations, and now I'm moving onto the inking, and then the colouring.

I've since found out that the money wallets are also referred to as Gift Wallet Cards (<-- click the link to see a YouTube video on how you can make your own).

The idea with the wallets aimed at young women is based more on the "before" and "after" approach...

Young Woman - Pose 01 - pencilledYoung Woman - Pose 02 - pencilled

Look to future posts on the wording and finished products!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A hair-raising project

I've now got a 3rd project under way, with the "Nan & Granddad's Seaside" cartoon temporarily on hold, along with my "Jack the Giant Killer" project (doh)!

I've been commissioned to come up with some character designs to be used on money wallets that will hold gift vouchers. The wallet (and vouchers) are to help promote custom for a hair salon. These first illustrations are specifically aimed at gift vouchers for young men...the challenge being, not only to target the person buying the gift voucher, but to also make it appealing to the person (young man) receiving the voucher!

Young Man - Pose 01 - pencilledYoung Man - Pose 02 - pencilledYoung Man - Pose 03 - pencilled

There will another set coming along soon, aimed at vouchers for young women. Future sets will also target older men, older women and possibly families.

Once the characters are fully coloured and rendered, I'll post the finished images, along with some photos of the finished money wallets.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What's been goin' on...?

It's been quiet on the art front for a while. I'm quite keen to get back to my Jack project! (If my blog was a plant, it would have shrivelled up and died by now due to lack of attention!)

Recently, my Mum and Dad celebrated their 70th birthdays, so I decided to come up with another "Nan & Granddad's Seaside" strip for them (I've done a couple over the past few years). Unfortunately, the usual work and life commitments prevented me from finishing it on time, so I'm still working on the colouring process. Doh!

Here are the pencils for the strip, plus a preview of the coloured title panel. The theme for this strip is about a "Pensioner's Guide to the Digital Age". The basic premise is that "Nan & Granddad" (based on my parents!) have been given said book by their Grandsons (based on my boys!) to help them in this digital age. Naturally, things don't quite work out quite as well as the book suggests...

Pensioners Guide - pencilled

Pensioners Guide - preview

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jack the Giant Killer - Cormoran Character Sheet - Pencils

Yet again, it's been a while since my last post. One of the reasons for this is a little side-project I started before Christmas...making a MicroModel replica of the "Rocket" as a Christmas present for my Dad. More info on this at the bottom of this post!

I've got the pencils and inks for my Cormoran character sheet finished. I'm posting the pencils now while I make a start on the colouring. This will be the same approach as the character sheet for Jack - a mix of black-and-white and coloured styles.

Cormoran - character sheet - pencilled

This was really meant to be just a character sheet, that is, something that shows the character in various poses, with ideas on attire, colouring, etc. However, I couldn't resist drawing out my vision of how Jack tricks Cormoran into falling into his man-made pit. I see this as a main, coloured illustration because it is a key plot point, where Jack bags his first Giant!

Where I end up going with that particular image in the final book is uncertain. It's just an experiment in getting the feel of how Jack betters the giant. I feel the angle is not quite right. Really, I think Jack needs to be shown at a higher angle than the giant, to enforce the idea that Jack has got the better of the lumbering beast! The way to achieve this is to draw "behind" Jack (as if you're looking over his shoulder), having Jack look down into the pit.

Small note on the castle in the background. This is actually a copy of the building that stands on St Michaels Mount today (where Cormoran supposedly lived). However, the story does specify that he lived in a cave, so I may drop the castle from the final image...or at least go with a very basic type of castle-like building. Artistic license, don't you know :)

The animals drawing is another key point from the story that shows how Cormoran is always stealing animals from the village on the mainland. The drawing attempts to show big Cormoran is compared to the cows, sheep and pigs that he steals.

Right...little bit on that MicroModel. Over a period of a couple of months (I think!) I put together a MicroModel version of the "Rocket". I have the original cards from the 1940s, but rather than using the original templates, I made photcopies onto good quality card and made the engine from that. The display case was purchased from Model Display Cases, and they kindly put my photos of the engine and display case on their Facebook page:

I've also put some photos on my Flickr page:

Rocket - 01

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jack the Giant Killer - Jack Character Sheet

I have been chipping away at bits and pieces of this project for a while, although it never feels like I've got much to show for it! I'm still working on a set of character sheets that will act as a reference to the style and colouring I will use in the book.

I am also editing the story based on pieces of updated text that my mother-in-law has very kindly helped me with. In summary, what I have done is used an old (out-of-copyright) version of the story and asked my mother-in-law to try and "modernise" the text...make it more accessible to the younger reader. She has really enjoyed doing that exercise, and now I am in the process of putting her edited paragraphs back into one whole piece. I have always had a lot of support from her with my illustrations (and aspirations!) and I am very grateful for her help. Thanks, Mum!!

Anyway, here's the completed Jack character sheet - click on the thumbnail image below if you want to see the full-size version on Flickr:

Jack - Character Sheet - final

My aim is to go for mostly black-and-white illustrations throughout...images that will flow with and complement the text. For key plot points in the story, I will create full-colour illustrations, most likely one for each giant that Jack encounters on his journey. The colouring style above is what I am aiming for, with a palette that I think will match the atmosphere of the time period. I hope it works!! You can see more of my thoughts on the above image here.

Anyway, onto the next character sheet...Cormoran!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jack the Giant Killer

So...the big project has started! There's been a big lull in between this post and the last...various happenings in the house (decorating, etc.) have kept me away from the drawing board too long!

It will be obvious from the title of this post that my aim is to illustrate the age-old story of "Jack the Giant Killer". The story of Jack the Giant Killer has been passed down through the generations. The exact origins of the story are unknown, but it is said to have existed in a chapbook as far back as 1711. The earliest surviving text, entitled "The History of Jack and the Giants", was published somewhere between 1750 and 1760.

As stated in my previous post, I am attempting to put my own illustrative spin on the tale. The story itself is not in copyright, and is based on folklore, making it difficult to find its exact origins. (It is actually said to have links with the other famous Jack..."Jack and the Beanstalk".) As such, this makes it an ideal story to illustrate without infringing any copyright!

Anyway, I've posted some initial thumbnails and a character sketch for my own visualisation of "Jack the Giant Killer". The next few months will be taken up with more character sketches, but Jack is done (well, the pencilled version anyway) and available to view:

Jack - character sheet - pencilled

The next step for the above character sheet is to show the coloured and inked versions. This will help to show the style that will be used throughout the book.

On that subject, the illustrations will consist of black and white (inked) drawings and full-page colour spreads. There will also be various small inset drawings scattered throughout, e.g. pennants, weapons, scriptures, etc. that pertain to the feel of the period.

If you click on the above image it will take you to my Flickr set of "Jack the Giant Killer" images, which also contains some other thumbnail sketches of early designs, clothing, weapons, etc. You will also find more notes with each image that explain the ideas on the setting: Anglo-Saxon England...the "Dark Ages" :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Big Project

My main passion with drawing is that I want to tell a story. You can easily lose yourself in creating just a simple scene or character design, letting your imagination run wild as you start to form ideas around the people or objects in your image. Where have they come from? What is going on in their world? That sort of thing.

However, to expand on those ideas and to form an insight into the characters' basically tell their story (or one of them)...that, to me, is the ultimate project.

So, this idea of a "big project". What's it all about?

Well, I want to approach this project as an illustrator who has obtained a commission from a publisher. They have provided you with the book and they want you to enhance that story and bring it to life.

I haven't been approached by a publisher to illustrate a story as of yet, and that will only happen if I get my portfolio out there and start fishing. So, one of the things I want this project to serve as is a demonstration of my artistic skill (subjective, I know) aswell as my storytelling abilities, such that a future publisher may be interested. Sort of like an extra "add-on" to my portfolio.

So...what to illustrate? There are so many fantastic stories out there, and it would be a thrill to pick a favourite and illustrate it...but there's the problem of copyright. I have no right to pick a book off the shelf and put my own spin on it.

But what about those stories that are now in the public domain? That have no copyright because they have been passed down the generations, their authors long since gone or anonymous? we have the beginnings of a thread of an idea. The start of something that could be really fun.

(To be continued...)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Illustrapedia Challenge for February

Well...after a long hiatus from the drawing board, I've got myself back into the saddle again.

The February challenge for Illustradedia on Flickr was "Clowns", and I thought that was a good exercise to blow the cobwebs away and get back into the creative frame of mind.

For some reason, I did not have to think much about the idea. The "scene" pretty much popped into my head, so after only doodling a couple of thumbnails, I already knew what I wanted. Strange that...sometimes you can be rattling your brain for ages for an idea...other times, it's right there at the front of your noodle!

Anyway, here's the picture (click on the image to view the bigger size on Flickr)...


My next post will be describing a new project I'm starting on...check back soon!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Illustrapedia Challenge for October (part 2)

I've managed to finish the Illustrapeda October challenge ("Halloween") with plenty of time to spare...

Harry's Horrendous Halloween Machine

The idea of the story behind the image remains the same (read my last post or click on the image above to go to Flickr page).

As far as the approach for this image, I decided to go with a more traditional inked version (with more hatching and shading than I normally do). The colours were added in Photoshop. I wanted the ink texturing to show through more, so I refrained from adding any sort of shadows or shading in Photoshop, I just added the colours and highlights. This also helped to give the image a darker look, considering it's subject matter!