Sunday, 25 July 2010

WWE cover. Evolution of a cover.

Another Evolution of a cover post. This features my alternate cover for Titan Books WWE series. The original brief was for Big Show to be surrounded and attacked from gun-wielding, black-clad bad guys. A familiar Frazetta Conan image was used as the initial inspiration and a pyramidal design was chosen with our lead wrestler atop. The sketch below was the first draft.

Editorial approval decided on a different viewpoint (action seen from above) and an old Michael Golden Micronauts cover proved inspiring (a second Wolverine issue was also shown) Big Show was still to be surrounded by many more bad guys all with the same intent. Below is the next sketch design.

After further approval, we moved on to inking (and the addition of more bad guys was suggested) This was kinda easy as we just Photoshop'd and flipped some of the foreground figures at the top of the page (to be hidden by the WWE logo anyways!) This helped make for a pretty intense and crowded action-packed cover! As before (with the Elephantmen cover) most of the elements were on seperate files to allow for re-compositing and positioning. This was especially welcome because of the initial change of viewpoint and the number of figures to be included.

You may notice in the inked version below that the guns were also changed from MP25s to a rail gun devices.

Next up, colour. I submitted a rough colour sketch with a primary downlight source from above. This key light helped focus (and highlight) the figure of Big Show and allowed for a darker surround of figures (merging into the inky blackness)

The final colours were put down and a 'grease' layer was applied to give a dirty feel to the environment (an sewer or old warehouse?) I kinda liked that Matrix green look of the overall piece. The key light also helped pick out Big Show a treat!

Unfortunately the colour was not approved (too dark and gritty) and Jamie Grant was brought in to rework the cover. I was delighted with the end result. The characters pop more.

Transmetropolitan - Beja Festival, Portugal.

This week's post is actually a painting by another artist.

Mhairi and I were invited to the Beja Festival event last year and had an amazing time. I got to meet some brilliant and talented artists and writers from Europe including the amazing Mattotti. There was a gallery for each of us. My own gallery featured Lords of Misrule artwork, Hypersonic pages and my Transmetropolitan spread for I Hate It Here. It was the main element of this piece that was beautifully re-created as the introduction to the collection.

This gorgeous image was hand-painted by a friend of the event organiser. We were genuinely stunned and impressed with the detail. Lovely work. All the invited guests had illustrations provided by local artists. Unfortunately I forgot the name of the woman responsible (much to my shame) but I did provide her lovely daughter with a lovely Hello Kitty.

It was this community spirit to help the event that really impressed me. A complete love of the comics medium and a willingness to be part of the whole exhibition. More photos are on my Facebook page here.

Thanks to everyone who made Mhairi and myself feel very much at home at our first European event.


This week I have included an image I did for the first Hellblazer Special. Stuart Moore commissioned me to add a piece to the gallery along with several other artists. Very pleased with this. The actual church is in Derby and was the inspiration for the scene in the Lords of Misrule graphic novel.

Production artwork.

Occasionally I get asked to work up some production artwork for games or movies. This is usually done on a fast turnaround and the results can be both pleasing and frustrating (depending on client) I have included some images for this post from projects I worked on last year. Fairly happy with the final work done. Would probably work better as a graphic novel?

Sometimes I paint digitally but for speed I usually find photo referenced comped images are the best approach (for an hourly deadline and fast schedule!) or resort to some costume work at home with props and other sundries.

Green Arrow. Sketch. London MCM.

The Green Arrow. A sketch from last weekend's London MCM. First time I have drawn the character. This particular sketch was done for Graeme Beadle of The Grinning Demon comic shop in Maidstone. He was kind enough to send me a copy of the pin-up to me as I forgot to bring my own camera. Follow his own blog here.

Penguin. Sketch.

Penguin sketch this week. Yak Yak.

Always an interesting character to draw. Lots of lovely little details and shapes to get lost in. Sometimes more fun to draw than the Joker.

Doctor Doom. Sketch.

Another sketch found on my camera SD card from the recent Paris Manga trip. This one was for Francesco and he was suitably delighted. Would again like to work this up into a cover or pin-up of sorts. Moody lighting and all that nonsense. Stay tuned!

Elephantmen - Evolution of a page.

This week we have another Evolution of a Cover piece. Actually more of a page but...

Richard Starkings of Elephantmen fame and founder of Comicraft approached me (pop-up chat on Facebook) last month and asked me if I would like to provide a page for issue 25 of Elephantmen. As a former Marvel UK artist I couldn't refuse and Elephantmen is one of the few books I read and love (mainly for the genre) What an opportunity!

The story for this particular issue was all flashbacks to key moments in the Elephantmen timeline. My page focused on Hip and Sahara's near capture by UN troops in his restoration tank of the recovery bay. An exciting stand-off image was called for.

I decided to draw each element seperately to allow for Richard to do some editorial tweaking on figure sizes and proportions and general composition. Hip was obviously in the background with Sahara middle gorund and the guns (of the UN soldiers) immediate foreground. A fairly familiar scene, I'm sure. Was fortunate enough to have Dougie Braithwaite provide the reverse POV of the UN soldiers on the previous page (introducing their guns especially well) and that allowed me to crop tight on the barrels for my piece and still be able to tell the story. Might seem a little odd out of context but works well enough in the actual issue. There was some photo reference used on Sahara to get the 16mm lens effect I wanted (not quite fish-eye lens but still rather forced view) Delighted with the final pose..

The final angled skew on the overall image was to inject a little more of a dynamic quality to a rather static scene (hinting at the characters unbalance) Kind of Dutch (Deutsch) angle effect. The wonderful colours were added by Gregory Wright who worked up some magic on this page.

With a movie deal already in discussion, we hope to see more of Elephantmen in the future and I would certainly love to do more on the series. Really helps promote the cyberpunk hardware approach to my art. Pick up a copy if you haven't already experienced the series. You won't be disappointed!

Wonder Woman. Sketch.

A Wonder Woman sketch this week. Always loved the character. Need to work up a full figure action shot some time.

Wonder Woman. Sketch.

A Wonder Woman sketch this week. Always loved the character. Need to work up a full figure action shot some time.


My page for the Com-X book '45' written by Andi Ewington. Thanks to Andi for the photography and for making this piece stand out from the normal mock-up magazine covers usually seen. Delighted with this.

For more details check out the link below.

Miscellaneous future-war chick.

Miscellaneous future-war chick. Needs a little more work and TLC. Just playin' around with some props. There's a Mad Max thing going on with the older pistols and probably worth a re-visit soon.

Silencers. Miscellaneous sketch.

A sketch for a miscellaneous Silencers character. Was trying out some colouring techniques for the costume. A reasonable success.

Neneh Cherry. Sketch. 1988.

This sketch was done in 1988 when I was first starting out and building a small portfolio (while still working in Forbidden Planet Glasgow) Using a brush for th elineart and zipatone (old Letraset) for the texture. Kinda old school manga approach, all done by hand. None of your digital nonsense here. Quite pleased with the end result and occasionally enjoy using the brush now and then (mainly for the keylines)

Captain America. Paris Manga. 2010.

This week I have included a Captain America sketch from the Paris Manga event last February. Always a popular character. The recent Italian trip proved how well loved Captain America is all over Europe. The enthusiasm continued last week in Inverness at the Hi-Ex weekend.

Sometimes I put the shield in for completeness but this still works well. At least I remembered the wings on his head this time! Drew the whole of America the Beautiful without them a couple of years ago. Doh! Thankfully the art department put them in before printing.

Hawkgirl. Paris Manga. 2010

Another sketch from the Paris Manga event. Hawkgirl was a surprising favourite among the fans. I must have drawn about five or six of her. At least two versions were side on portraits but this proved to be the best angle.

Thanks to Cyrille for the scan.

Catwoman. Terni, Italy. 2010.

Another convention sketch. This time from the Fumetterni event in Terni, Italy. Had a wonderful time there sketching mainly Captain America, Judge Dredd and Hal Jordan (the original Green Lantern) but occasionally there were some feminine distractions. Wonder Woman is a popular request but this Catwoman was my favourite from the whole weekend.

Stacy - UKCAC sketch. 1989.

First convention sketch for UKCAK, London 1989.

The Human Torch. Paris Manga 2010

This week's sketch is The Human Torch drawn for a fan (Alexis) at Paris Manga in February.

Kinda tried to channel an Alex Ross painterly quality with this one. Started with a rough outline of where Johnny Storm would be standing and began using a large wedge marker for most of the figure-work and fire. Went in afterwards with a thinner pigment liner (about 0.7mm) for the more delicate detailing. This would work well with colour but for the purposes of a convention sketch still turned out quite well. Maybe about ten minutes in all.

Thanks to Guillaume for the scan.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Tempest wins an IPPY award.

Congratulations to the Classical Comics team for another award to add to their collection. The Tempest won another Bronze at the IPPY awards this year. Last year's Macbeth success is mirrored again. We all worked very hard on this book so it's nice to get recognition for all our efforts. Well done to Jon Haward for his wonderful pencils, John Macdonald for adaptation of Shakespeare's original work, Nigel Dobbyn for his magical colour and Clive Bryant for keeping the book focused and on schedule.

Graphic Novel/Drawn Book – Drama/Documentary
Gold (tie): Hatter M: Mad With Wonder, by Frank Beddor (Automatic Pictures) and Ars Memoria: The Art of Memory, by Menton J. Matthews III (Prudentius Publishing)
Silver: The Vampire Conspiracy, by Marc Morgenstern and Adam Gorham (Five Strangers Press)
Bronze: The Tempest, by William Shakespeare (Classical Comics Ltd.)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Macbeth wins an IPPY award.

Classical Comics graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth picked up a gong at the Independent Publisher’s Book Awards, tying with Michael Pearl’s Good and Evil for the Bronze award in the Graphic Novel/Drawn Book – Drama/Documentary category. Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier took the Silver for Hatter M, while the Gold spot went to The Red Star: Sword of Lies by Christian Gossett.

Congratulations to Jon Haward on a sterling pencilling job on the book. It was a great opportunity to work with him inking his pages. Further recognition to John Macdonald, Nigel Dobbyn for his wonderful colouring and Clive for his stewardship on the series.