Towards the end of last year I landed one of my favourite jobs to date. Scott Devon approached me with a really exciting project, a short graphic novel full of mythical beasts, magic and mystery. Some comic creators are afraid to veer away from the standard pen and ink method, but Scott wanted me to go nuts and illustrate the hell out of it! Hopefully this is what he had in mind.
Ever since I was a little kid copying pictures of Judge Dredd from 2000AD comics, I’d had a dream of one day working in comics. I pretty much abandoned the idea when I left college and found all the artistic idealism had been sucked out of me. I entered the real world, got a job in a bank and proceeded to be miserable for the next few years.
I finally shook off the grey fog and dusted off my long forgotten drawing skills and painstakingly began to work.
One tiny job doing a book cover for an indie author led to another, this time a slightly bigger author. Then another and another. The ball started to roll and I got better and better. Now I’m starting to attend comic conventions and meet the makers of those same comics that I would copy while lying on the living room floor. Now when people ask me what I do, instead of muttering something about being in banking, I get to say that I’m an artist. When I say that I pretty much pinch myself and think “Holy crap! I AM an artist! How did I manage that?”
Really exciting to see the amazing reaction to my latest image in the ongoing Barmouth series. After showing the image on facebook, so far I’ve reached 10 thousand people in just a couple of days. That’s by far the best reaction I’ve had so far. The comments I’ve been receiving have been overwhelmingly positive.
“You make our town come alive with these drawings.”
“I love it.This picture not only captures the look of Barmouth, but also the character and “feel” of the place”
When I first started this series I had no idea if the local people would like my style and the fairytale look for the images so it’s really gratifying to see this reaction.
I’m not sure where to draw next, but I’ve had a few requests for the church and that means I might be able to fit in the famous (C)arousal cafe, complete with its oft stolen letter ‘C’.
In the 90s there was a pretty cool anime out there called “Guyver. Bioboosted Armor.” There were a couple of terrible live actions movies, but they never came close to nailing the awesomeness of the cartoon. I loved the design of the bio-suit and I was always doodling it while I watched the VHS tapes of the show.
When I first started getting into illustration as more than a hobby I attempted a version of the battered Guyver helmet. At the time I was pretty happy with it, but now it makes me cringe!
Last night I decided to take another crack at it, and it’s really gratifying to see I’ve made some progress over the last few years.
Next month I’ll be heading the the International Comics Expo and then to Comics Uncovered the next day. I’ve only ever been to one other Comic convention, that time a fun visit with my brother Sean to the London Film and Comic Con where we enjoyed goggling at the bizarre cosplay sights and I got to meet Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica!
This time it’s Comics Uncovered for a day of workshops, talks from comic pros and the nerve wracking portfolio reviews. I’ve decided to submit my work for reviews and I’ve got appointments booked in with DC, Titan and Markosia.
I’m pretty nervous, but I’ve been working hard and building up a number of images to show them. Time to get some business cards I think!
This one I’m particularly fond of. I’m a huge fan on Stephen King, especially the Marvel Comics versions drawn by Jae Lee. So here’s my own attempt at a Dark Tower cover. If you’ve read a single King book you’ll probably be familiar with some of the characters as the Dark Tower books seem to touch on pretty much every other King book there is. There’s connections to the Stand, the Shining, Hearts in Atlantis, Rose Madder, and IT to name just a few.
This image was completed really quickly. I already had a design for a cowboy character prepared in Zbrush from another project so I was able to breath new life into it here. This image was completed in just one day.
I was recently contacted to do a little job that turned out to be exactly the kind of work I love.
Sarah Mackie has written a great story of time travel set in an apocalyptic future full of natural disasters and personal tragedies. Weirdly it was titled “Out of time” which is the second time I’ve worked on a story with that title.
Sarah had a very specific idea of what the cover should look like and I managed to complete it in record time. I think character based images that are full of atmospheric lighting effects might be my speciality.
When it came to that nervous moment where I have to show the client the first draft Sarah came back right away with the words “WOW! Nailed it!”
I love to draw lighting. Maybe I should do an illustration of Thor! Or even Tesla!
I thought I’d do a little recap of how things have been going since I left the world of banking and started on my journey to become a professional artist.
Since taking the leap into full time illustration I’ve taken some pretty big strides with my work. I’ve shifted from being solely a photoshop artist to primarily using Zbrush 3D as my main piece of software. Zbrush gives a totally different effect from most other workflows out there, and by using it I can achieve incredible textures and detail including everything from atmospheric lighting to animal fur and chainmail.
Since going full time I’ve had a lot of great projects to work on including a children’s horror series published by Wayland, a number of fantasy covers, comics, children’s books and even a couple of projects from Hollywood writers and producers. Not a bad start. I’m finding that my best work is usually based around animals and I seem to be attracting a lot of authors who write about adventurous beasties such as this cover for Gila Basalo’s “Bugsintown”.
Aside from continuing to work on children’s titles, my other target is to work on comics. I’ve put together some pretty decent mock covers that I hope will cause a stir at conventions and land me some work.
To this end I’ve been lucky enough to find support and encouragement from one of the big names of the comic world, Charlie Adlard. Charlie is the current artist on the incredibly popular Walking Dead series, and he’s been kind enough to help promote, guide and nudge me in the right artistic direction.
It’s been a great year so far and I can’t wait to see what the next big project might be.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a post so it’s time to get back to it.
This month has been all about landscapes since I’ve been commissioned to do a series of fine art images to hang on the walls of a local gallery. It’s been a really good exercise for me as I’ve picked up a few new tricks. I’m a sucker for a good rainy day so I wanted to get this across in a couple of the images.
The reaction to the images in the gallery has been really amazing. They seem to be the front runner for the gallery best seller this year. This image seemed to be missing something until I added the bobble hat to the fisherman!
I think each image has been slightly better than the last as I’ve learned new things and refined the technique.
This was probably my favourite….
But then I did this one and it’s now my new fave! I’ve got a great fondness for Barmouth harbour and especially Isis Restaurant where I used to work as their pizza guy. Hands down my favourite place for a spicy pizza.
I’ve really enjoyed doing these and may do a few more depending on the demand in the gallery.
In a few days I’ll be attending a prestigious event. My nephew Rafferty is turning 4 years old. I’ve been indoctrinating him over the last year or two and he’s now thoroughly into superheroes. A while back his Mum asked me (with a raised eyebrow) who this “Bruce Wayne” person was that Rafferty kept talking about. I knew then that my work was done. He was hooked.
So the theme of Raffy’s party could only be one thing. Everyone is coming as Superheroes and Supervillains. I asked Raffy what he thought I should be, and he said with no doubt that I should come as the Joker. Being a huge nerdy I wanted to go as something a bit more obscure, but Raffy’s wish was my command. So I sent off for the facepaint and a prison inmate uniform. The uniform was rather bright and clean, but a muddy puddle soon took care of that. Now it’s sufficiently grubby and gross. I also stencilled in the word “Gotham” above the preprinted letters “City Jail” to give it that nice extra detail.
Now for the face. Using the cheapest nastiest facepaint I could find I thought I’d have a test run before the party. I got a bit freaked out as I worked, as I started to look a wee bit creepy. I shaded in the natural lines in my face so that when I grinned the shadows fell in the right places. White highlights really worked to make certain areas pop out and seemed to actually lengthen my nose somehow. The wonders of makeup. And this was the final result.
Not too shabby. But I may have gone too far. The 4 year olds are going to CRY!
But it was interesting to see how my illustration skills transferred onto facepainting. Using the simple set of paints I was partially able to mimic the lighting effects that I use in Zbrush all the time.
The ‘Out of Time’ enhanced graphic novel is picking up steam and more people are joining the team. We’ve now got Brian Philips on board as our Unity developer, so he’s the guy who’s going to be adding the cool special effects to the comic panels. I’m a huge Bladerunner fan, so pretty much every scene in Out of Time is drenched with Bladerunner-esqe rain that Brain will be creating with the Unity engine.
We’ve also got Jessica Haeckell working on marketing and web design, but even more interestingly she’s also going to be the real life basis for one of our characters. Jess is a musician, artist, costume designer and all around creator. So when Don suggested she literally step into the comic, she jumped at it.
I now have the daunting task of capturing her likeness and putting her into the comic. Jess is excited to make a real life representation of Millenia’s suit, so she can cosplay as the character during the first issue launch at the Phoenix Arizon Comic Con.
The art seems to be improving with each panel and everyone seems to be really excited about the project. Add to all this the relentless plotting and scheming of Don Christoff, and his determination to use every marketing trick in the book, and I’m sure we’re going to have a successful outcome.
Don just dropped a bomb on me and announced that he’s landed us the rights to use a Hawkwind song on the soundtrack. It took a while as the band were on tour in Europe and had to give permission, but now they’ve given the project the thumbs up!
I’m very impressed with how Don seems totally fearless when it comes to self promotion. I’ve always been caught in that trap of having some talent, but being rather shy and humble about it! Not a great trait in a professional artist. So working with Don has been a real masterclass in beating my own drum. If I don’t do it, who will?
Author Rob Peecher recently got in touch with me regarding the artwork for his Civil War series.
The story revolves around self professed coward, Jackson Speed as he lies, cheats and bed hops his way through the American Civil War. I’m a sucker for a roguish character, so when Rob asked me to help him rework the covers on his series I quickly agreed.
As usual I worked hard to create interesting lighting and shadows (that’s kind of my thing) and i think it worked out pretty well. I had great fun designing all the details for both Union and Confederate uniforms (there’s a hint of what happens in the story!) and Rob was really helpful with providing me with lots of historically accurate reference materials.
Rob was delighted with the final result and the book should be available on amazon soon.