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?”
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 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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago the “Fatman on Batman” Kev Smith inspired me to try my hand at a Batman illustration and I came up with my Batcave seen below. Mr Smith apparently saw my tweet about him and was kind enough to hit me back. In his last podcast he was chatting about Twitter and said he “hit back an artist the other day.” No idea if that was me, but I choose to believe it was! Thanks Fatman! Gave me buzz!
I thought I’d follow it up with a Superman image, this time focussing on the environment instead of the character. It’s kind of inspired by Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman. It didn’t turn out exactly how I planned, but it’s still not a bad effort. I like to think it looks like a piece of concept art for the movie that never was.
What should I do next? Maybe Billy Batson arriving at the Rock of Eternity for the first time before he becomes Captain Marvel! Shazam!
For the last few months I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and stumbled across a great one by movie director Kevin Smith. “The Fatman on Batman” is a brilliant listen for people who take their comicbooks seriously and Mr Smith has been able to attract some amazing people who have had a hand in bringing Batman’s world to life. Guest have included everyone from Adam West to Mark Hamill. A lot of people don’t realise that Luke Skywalker’s longest running role has actually been as the Joker in the Batman animated series and the Arkham games. Who knew that the Jedi Master could get so evil?
The show inspired me to turn my illustration skills to depicting the Dark Knight himself. I wanted to show a side of the invincible Batman that we don’t often see. Hurt, battered and patching himself up. The image was made up mostly in Zbrush with compositing and final touches done in Photoshop. Who shall I do next? Spiderman maybe? Superman in the Fortress of Solitude would be challenging. I reckon I could make some pretty great crystal effects with a bit of work.
Watch this space to see what I come up with.