I’ve been very busy moving house, going into a new studio and generally turning my life upside down, but I’ve managed to keep up to date with my biggest project to date. It’s amazing being able to work in a studio with other artists rather than going stir crazy in my little flat all the time!
Dangerous Children is an absolute joy to work on. When I first took on the job I was worried that I’d get bored of working on just one big project all the time, but the wide variety of characters and environments is really keeping me on my toes. I recently hit page 83 of 150 so I’ve made a pretty big dent in it. My favourite things to work on so far have been the cover and the robotic circus. When I first created this Vuldorian Leviathan carcass it was only the size of a building and I thought I’d nailed it, but Mark the author said “No no no… I mean it’s BIG!” so we scaled it up to this colossal size! Way better! The decaying robo-circus has possibly been my favourite scene, and the rusting ringmaster is such fun to draw. I’m so grateful I’ve got the chance to keep working on this project and can’t wait to hold the finish product in my hands.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on my entry for the Posterspy competition to design an alternative poster for AMC’s hit show “Preacher”. There’s some really good entries by some incredible artists so we’ll see what happens.
This was done using a blend of techniques from both the 3D and 2D world. My intention was to have the realism and and vivid lighting and shadows that come with 3D design, while also paying homage to the show’s comic book origins with some traditional inking and crosshatching.
It’s my first attempt at a film poster so I’m pretty happy with the results.
In other news, on Friday night Claire and I attended James Newton Howard’s first ever live tour performance at the Royal Albert Hall. It was my first time visiting the hall and it was incredible to say the least. We heard many of his classic scores including music from The Dark Knight, The Village, The Hunger Games and many more. Howard himself seemed an incredibly likeable and humble man who gave a lot of credit to the people he’s worked with, and he even let slip that his colleague and friend Hans Zimmer was somewhere in the audience. That sent an excited murmur through the crowd to know we were sharing the space with two musical legends!
It’s been a hard few weeks and I’ve been very quiet as I gradually ease back into work.
Losing Dad was a massive blow and we’re still all trying to deal with it and get used to him being gone. I’ve had some amazing support from the rest of the family as well as some very understanding clients who totally understood why my output suddenly ground to a halt. One new client who I’ve never even met who has been through the same situation recently even offered advice and support which I had no reason to expect from him. So I’m massively grateful to everyone for being so amazing.
One of the things I used to do with Dad was call him up to tell him about my work, complain about the occasional awkward client, and discuss future plans. So it’s a hard thing to get used to.
I’m back at work now and getting back into my old routine. I’m still thoroughly enjoying working on the Dangerous Children graphic novel and one of the good things about it is the massive variety of designs it calls for.
An upcoming scene involves a dramatic chase scene with some futuristic/retro motorcycles. Hard surface modelling is always a bit of a challenge so it was really great to work on a few futuristic cycles. I’ve never ridden a bike in my life but creating these has kind of made me want to join a biker gang.
My last post told you about my little cat guardian Josh. For a few months he was a regular visitor and would chase off any other kitty who dared to cross the threshold. But he started to act a little strangely recently. He started to run from me and I wondered what I could have done to upset him. Then I encountered my neighbour who was trying to coax Josh out from under a parked car. Poor Josh was trembling and ran away.
She explained that the poor guy recently got beaten up by another larger cat and ever since he’s been a nervous wreck and running from everyone. I found him yesterday under my car hiding from the rain, so I went to say hello. He wouldn’t come to me, so I slid a saucer of milk and a piece of chicken under there. He wouldn’t touch it while I was there, but I found the empty saucer later. So hopefully he’ll learn to trust people again.
In the spirit of cat guardians, here’s another kind of Kitty. Hopefully she’ll watch out for Josh while leaping across the rooftops.
Having a great year so far on the illustration front. I’ve been working on an amazing project with author Mark Morrow. Mark is putting together an amazing graphic novel adaptation of his novel “Dangerous Children”, a tale of interdimensional travel, cyborg teenagers, robotic rhinos, and wall climbing jet cycles. So plenty of scope for an illustrator like me! It’s a really collaborative experience as I’ve been working with Dennis Fallon and his team of story board artists, and Shari Wickstrom who provided concept art. My job is to provide the final artwork for the whole novel.
The project also has some ties with LucasFilm and Star Wars veteran Gary Rydstrom who’s been offering guidance and feedback on the project. It’s all going really well so far!
I’m coming to the the end of my comic project and it’s been a huge learning experience. I’ve picked up a ton of new tricks and my workflow is a lot smoother.
The author seems pretty pleased with the results and is now in the middle of a rewrite to make sure the art and text blend together seamlessly.
I’m hoping to get more work in book covers after this, but also have plenty of comic work coming in too. Can’t wait to get to the end of this one and see the finished project. Just two more pages to go!
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?”
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’ve always planned on creating a graphic novel of my own but never felt quite ready until now. I was recently approached by Don Christoff to help him bring his ‘Xtempore’ story to life. I’ve read a lot of scripts over the years, and the thing that usually first jumps out is the thought “Well I wouldn’t have said it like that”. But in this case that didn’t happen. Don’s script, particularly his dialogue was tight and snappy and the subject matter was right up my street.
Xtempore is a cat and mouse tale of time travellers, artificial intelligence and knife wielding lunatics, all set in post-pandemic dystopian world. It makes for a rich world for me to illustrate and it’s a hell of a lot of work. Most comics are created by a team featuring a penciller, an inker, a colourist and a letterer. But in this case it all falls to me.
Working in Zbrush means that the early stages of a project like this are quite slow as I build all the required models. But once I have them I can manipulate them repeatedly and move the characters into the correct positions for each frame, making the work go faster and faster. This means I don’t have the problem of always being careful to make the characters look the same in every panel, as it literally is the same model. I create the base of the image in Zbrush, then add inking layers in Photoshop, andassemble all the panels in Manga Studio.
It’s all coming together nicely and both Don and I are really excited about the project. Coincidentally my brother got me a ticket to Comic-Con in London next month. So I’ll be able to meet a few other comic creators and show them what I’m producing.