Monday, 20 October 2014

New Portfolio Work

I've decided my portfolio needs some updating and more specific direction. One of the areas I really want to explore is RPG illustration, card games and similar outlets. So, here's the beginning. Like most of my stuff, this is ink on board, and I've already started the digital colour version.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Empire Jack

I've just started a four page story for a steampunk anthology due to be published sometime this Fall. You can see more of what's being planned at The main character of this story is a sort of British Empire super hero called Empire Jack. The script is good fun pulp stuff, and this is going to keep me busy for the next little while. Here are some early character design ideas for Jack. The author, Alistair Robb, and I discussed doing the story in sepia tone, but the publisher wants full colour, so you might not see this look again. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Supernatural Heroine

I've been considering a character for some time who would fit into a supernatural/horror kind of theme, and after a fair bit of messing about, I think I have the look I want. This is the complete sequence of pencils, inks and digital colour. Now, I just have to write the story...

Monday, 30 December 2013

Oops! No, wait, it's all good...

I've been busy with a comics style illustration project for the last little while, and today I sent off the files for final approval. Sounds like we're good to go, finally. But there were some problems during production.

Part way through, I decided I'd made a bit of a blunder, and had to make a substantial revision to one of the illustrations. Between the thumbnails/roughs stage and the final pencils I changed my mind about how to portray two characters. Compare the images below:

 I had decided to put the vampire character's face in deep shadow, to add more drama and mystery, or so I thought. But when I looked at the final inks, I was not happy. This is, frankly, crap - heavy-handed and poorly executed.

 Now, a brief aside. My typical approach to this kind of work has been to do all my pencils and inks traditionally on drawing Bristol, and colouring and lettering digitally. But I have been interested in doing more digital drawing and inking. I recently got a new computer and upgraded my graphics tablet from an old Bamboo to an Intuos Pro. I decided to attempt a digital revision using Manga Studio 5.

First, on a new layer on top of a scan of the inked artwork, I whited out the offending heads and re-drew them in layout blue, with the positions and angles more in keeping with the original rough. Already the layout is more dramatic, there is more tension. And the drawing is much better...

 Then, using MS5's incredible inking tools I inked the heads on a new layer. The new Intuos made all the difference in achieving the kind of finished line I have been looking for in a digital program.

 I finished the illustration with a simulation of grey washes in MS5, converted the file to a hi-rez jpeg and sent it off.

When I get the okay, I'll post copies of all the illustrations for this project. Now, to produce something from start to finish in Manga Studio that I will feel is of a professional level. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Drawing the Undead!

I recently was contracted to illustrate a story for a British horror magazine. The style is referred to as "picto-fiction;" a full page illustration has blocks of text arranged on it. It's sort of a stepping stone between comics and illustrated magazine fiction. William Gaines of EC Comics fame is generally credited with the inception of the form in the Fifties, as a way to show that comics could be literature. Will Eisner took the concept further in his "Contract With God" and other graphic novels. "Graphic novel" was Eisner's term to try to elevate comics out of the perceived realm of children's entertainment into a more mature form of illustrated reading. The term has since been co-opted by most comics publishers to now include reprints of longer story arcs from their regular monthly publications instead of stand-alone projects.

But I digress! The point of this post was to share some designs for the Undead. I get to draw zombies!

When the pages are done I'll post some of them, but not likely before the magazine is out. Sorry, I don't have a date for that.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Creepy Hallowe'en Tidings

As promised, another Hallowe'en themed illustration.

This is disappointing, the colour washed out considerably when I uploaded it here; have to figure that one out...

Monday, 28 October 2013

Trick or Treat

It's that time of year again - creepies and crawlies and things that go bump! in the night. Thought I'd have a little fun with a Hallowe'en "good girl" style of pin-up, so I started doodling in my sketchbook the other night, while waiting for friends at a pub. I was looking for cute, and seductive, and a little spooky - this was the result.

Next day I redrew the concept on 9" x 12" plate Bristol, roughing out with a Col-Erase Light Blue pencil #20068.  It's not the one they call non-repro; I find this one nicer to draw with, and any leftovers after inking don't seem to scan. I tidied up the drawing with a B pencil and got to inking. (Sorry, no scan of the final pencil)

I love using a brush to ink. I've tried to use markers like some of the well known comics guys do, but I can't get the liquid line look I like. So the inking is mostly witha #2 sable watercolour brush, Hunt #108 dip pen, the really flexible one, and the occasional bit of fine marker to touch up. And yes, some white-out here and there to clean up a couple of poor decisions.

I scanned the final black and white artwork and opened it in Manga Studio5. This is superb software for any kind of comics or illustration work, and I love the feel of the natural media brushes. I've tried Photoshop and Corel Painter, and I'm much happier with MS. This was coloured on several different layers, seperating the background, skin, hair, clothes and jack-o'-lantern as individual elements, with the black and white line work on top. The glow from Jack was added on another layer on top of the line work. I also changed the canvas size eventually, to allow for the lettering, which was done in CorelDraw.

I have a couple of other Hallowe'en-themed pieces on the go, so keep an eye out - they will be along soon!