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!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Illustrapedia Challenge for October

The next challenge (October) for Illustrapedia is "Halloween". I thought this might be a bit tricky, because it's one of those conventional events of the year, and all too easy to draw some conventional stuff.

So, I've tried to think of a theme (as I usually do with these challenges) that centres around a story. Nothing concrete yet, but I had this idea about a boy (who may be good or bad) who invents a machine for Halloween. As I haven't decided the boy's true intentions (good or evil), I therefore haven't decided the purpose of this machine. All I know is that it involves the real witches, ghosts and ghouls of Halloween being invited to try the machine out.

The basic thumbnails of my idea:
Halloween - thumbnail

I like drawing machinery, so this was a bit of an excuse to include some type of bizarre contraption! I still need to tweak the machine a bit. For instance, I'm not sure if the main body (box) should actually be a coffin. And I want to add some more cogs, levers, etc. The idea of a clock (coupled with the cogs) seems quite good, which shows the approach of the witching hour!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A to Z Alphabet

Well, I managed to finish my "Y" image for the A to Z Alphabet group on Flickr.

Letter Y - final

Unfortuneately, I missed the August and September deadines for the other Flickr group, Illustrapedia. However, I did a little sort of "cheat" picture and submitted it late (last night) which combined the two topics (Aliens and Musicians).

Musicians - coloured

And was coloured using an old set of Rexel Colouring (and Painting) crayons that I stil had in my cupboard. Quite weird to go back to traditional methods without the use of the good ol' "undo" feature of Photoshop!!

Anyway, I've got (hopefully) quite a nice idea for the October topic - "Halloween". Onward...

Friday, September 11, 2009

George Martin

Yesterday proved to be quite a day of elation for me. I have finally found out the name of the first artist that fanned my creative spark within and led me on my artistic venture.

All those years ago...when I was a wee lad...I was always reading comics (as most boys and girls were), but there was one artist whose work seemed to stick in my mind when I started drawing my own characters and comics.

As time went by and I grew up and followed the path into adulthood, I forgot about those comics of old. Only recently (well, a few years ago now), when my creative spark was re-ignited, I started thinking back to those great comics, and particularly those same strips that had stuck in my mind when I was a nipper..."Send For Kelly", "Greedy Pigg", "Desperate Dawg", "Young Sid, the Copper's Kid"...

My sister had found a pile of old comics last year and gave them to me ("Whizzer and Chips" and the like), and I flicked through them, happily strolling down memory lane, but also secretly hoping I'd come across one of my favourite strips and maybe get a clue as to who my #1 artist was. Although I found some of the strips listed above, none of them gave me a clue as to the artist's identity. You see, in those days of Fleetway Street comics and such, the artists were never allowed to put their name on their creations! What a shame.

So, I still had no clue how to find out more information...until yesterday. I contacted the owner of the Toonhound website and tried to describe some of the strips (probably the most famous one, I think, was "Send For Kelly", about a bumbling secret agent and his sidekick, Cedric). He pointed me in the direction of this blog ---> Peter Gray Cartoons and Comics <--- and voila...I finally found him...George Martin!!

Here are some links to some of his work, on Peter Gray's site:

Greedy Pigg
Greedy Pigg

Desperate Dawg
Desperate Dawg

Starship Lollipop
Starship Lollipop next quest in this adventure is to see if I can locate some of the newspaper strips he did. One in particular was called Bunion, and I think it used to be published in the Birmingham Mail...but I'm not sure. I remember it was a paper we had on a regular basis, but being a kid, I didn't take notice of such trivialities! I need to ask my parents if I've got my facts right!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flickr groups

I've posted a few images to the Flickr groups I joined after doing the "Freddie and the Fairy" competition back in May. As I mentioned in my July post, those groups are "Illustrapedia", "Illustration Collaboration" and the new spin-off group from the latter, called "A To Z Alphabet".

The June challenge for "Illustrapedia" was Dinosaurs and the July challenge was Witches (click on the images to see full sets on Flickr)...

My Pet Dinosaur 01 - final

Madam Wormcharm - pencilled

I'm going to be concentrating most of my effort for the next month on my "Y" image for the "A To Z Alphabet" book. Not that easy thinking of suitable "Y" words (child friendly, good use of phonics, etc.), but I've got a thumbnail sketch of possible choices:

Letter Y thumbnails - 01

I'm working on the composition of the image now. Oh...I've subsequently found out that there is no such creature as a Yardbird!! Shame. I could try drawing Eric Clapton instead!

My good wife felt that my Yak looked more like a goat. I assured her that it was only a sketch and either my good friend, Google, or one of my kids' animal encyclopedia's will be providing me with a better reference from which to draw :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Digital Life - finished #002

Well...I've finally finished the 2nd picture for "Our Digital Life". Woo-hoo! Look at my Flickr set for the current series. Also, the slideshow can be viewed on

Click on the image below to view different sizes on Flickr...

Our Digital Life - 002 - 'Vertical Take-Off'

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So...what's been happening?

Since my last post, way back in April, there have been several exciting distractions. In the April 9 edition of the Telegraph, there was an article describing a competition being held by the Telegraph and Waterstones to find an unpublished illustrator for Julia Donaldson's next book, "Freddie and the Fairy".

The competition, called "Picture This", was open to any unpublished illustrators (as far as children's books, that is) to come up with full-colour character sketches for the main characters (Freddie, the Fairy and the Fairy Queen), some animal sketches and a full-colour illustration for one of the spreads. The complete story is available online to read (click on Picture This).

The deadline was 18 May, so I dropped all (except pencils, pens and the like!) and started getting busy! I only just made it...infact, my wife and brother-in-law were kind enough to drive down to the Waterstones offices and hand-deliver my pictures, as I was too late to post them!

Anyway, here's my interpretation of Bessie-Belle:

You can see my full set of "Freddie and the Fairy" images in my Flickr Photostream or at

A group was started on Flickr as the competition came to a close and the entrants started waiting to see who had been picked for the "final 6" (I wasn't, BTW!). I added my pictures to the Flickr Picture This group, and got involved with a couple of other spin-off groups, set up by like-minded artistic individuals:
  1. Illustrapedia - a group involved in producing artwork on a monthly basis for topics chosen by the group. June's topic was "dinosaurs" can see the entries here ---> slideshow. See if you can spot mine!! This month's challenge is "witches".
  2. Illustration collaboration - a group dedicated to producing some artist-driven children's books. Currently, I am involved in contributing to an "A to Z" book...I've got the letter "Y"...hmmm...tricky.

So, somewhere between this lost, I still hope to get more "Our Digital Life" pictures finished. Hmph...wishful thinking!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Digital Life - next image (in progress)

Almost finished the coloured version (been a bit of a long gap!!) However, something has come along to divert me from this project for a while. Something which is very interesting (artwise) but must, for the time being, remain a secret!

In the meantime, here's a preview of the next 'almost' complete "Our Digital Life" image: