Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Monday, 13 October 2014

First Post in Two Years

Blogspot still exists? I...remember...it's all coming back...

It's been two years since I blogged on any work, and in truth, that's because my blog-worthy output has diminished as I've pursued more private projects. Nonetheless, since I'm feeling nostalgic I've decided to whack something up. Given there are unlikely to be any readers left, this post is purely for my own selfish enjoyment.

Earlier in the summer I began playing around with a bunch of characters I devised as a school kid; 'Biggins and Company'. The three characters in question constitute my standard benchmark; whenever I think I've crossed a particular threshold of competence I reinvent them as a vehicle to employ my latest findings and assess the results. The envelope I've attempted to push this time relates to how characters appear from angles other than the classic three (a technique used by many artists including Axel Schaefer (the Gruffalo) whereby the design of a character limits the artist to drawing it from 1) face on, 2) in profile, or 3) an angle exactly 45 degrees between the two).

For years I've been stuck with knowing only how to draw from those three angles, and felt the time was right for a pathfinder project. To carry this out, I simply had to work on one character at a time, and experiment with drawing from several angles over and over again until I frothed at the mouth and/or bled from the eyes. I then loaded the results into Flash and created an animation of the character rotating. From this I could observe any vulnerabilities inaccuracies in the design and correct live on screen...there were hundreds! Here are a couple of examples from early on - the impurities are self-evident:

The whole process was surprisingly lengthy, but I've finally ended up with three characters that can be faithfully rendered from any angle and without breaking the illusion of physical presence/life. Here is an example of them being utilized in a single image:

In the following image I've used the above pose and compared it to previous attempts of the same characters from across the years to see if what I've learned has advanced my general competence. I think I can say I've improved.

In tandem with this I decided to try my hand at 3D software rendering in order to create the characters' space vessel 'Starhog'. For this IO used a piece of open source software caled Blender. While I'm far from being a pro, I had huge fun learning how the software worked and was able to create the following pieces:

So that's it. A completely selfish blog about something nobody but myself will have any interest in or ever read.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Untitled Badger Picture

Hey folks. I thought I'd take a moment to share my most recent drawing (well, I drew it about a month ago but it's still my most recent).

As you can see, its a picture of a somewhat urbane badger gentleman reclining in his abode (a habitat that any badger lover would know is called a 'sett'). Mixing the pencil drawing with photographic material was a bit of a gamble but I think I just about managed to make something acceptable.

To be fair I was coming to the end of my last creative cycle when I created this so it's not my greatest work due to being low on 'art juice'. Not to worry though, back to Illustration Friday soon.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Illustration Friday: Space

Space - the final frontier..or should that be 'Space - the final straw'?

This week's Illustration Friday word was 'space', and as somebody who spent most of his teen years drawing endless comics about various superheroes and their countless exploits in outer space I figured this week would be a doddle. Not so.

Having decided early on to come up with something that broached the topic of space on a number of levels (i.e.; not just a literal interpretation) I promptly recalled that as a young lad of maybe 8 or 9 years, I would regularly retreat to the family garden in the evening to sit on the swing and contemplate the stars. Looking back I now cherish those memories - by taking the time to meditate my fertile young mind upon such grandiose concepts and then, in turn, taking a positive delight in asking myself big questions about the universe I suspect (or indeed like to think) that I gave myself space to develop into a more considerate human being. The image I came up is based on this somewhat faded auto-biographical notion.

The drawing itself took several nights to complete and comprises of four separate fully-distinct pieces. To my horror, tonight I found it nearly impossible to arrange the pictures in the composition I had originally planned - it just didn't work. It took me hours of experiment to get something that worked, and that's what I've submitted.

I hope you approve.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Illustration Friday: Secret


This week Illustration Friday's word was 'Secret'. I had to think about this one long and hard. As always I came up with a bunch of possible themes, but in the end decided to opt for the image that would involve the least amount of work. My twist on the word...well, did you ever have a secret crush on somebody when you were a kid at school? I did, and at the time it was the biggest secret I'd ever known. With that idea in mind it seemed like a perfect candidate for this week's topic. I hope you like it.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Scrub My Car

Hello! I'd like to post another retrospective blog entry if I may, in relation to another one of my commissions from last year:

Scrub My Car Character Brand Mascot

Last year I was approached by my friend Samuel Smith - he was in the process of establishing his own business specialising in ultra-professional car valeting services and as he was in the process of building his website he wondered if I could provide him with a mascot character to front his website and help establish his brand. I was eager to help and agreed without the need for much consideration.

Samuel had conducted some very thorough research into what other companies out there are doing in terms of character branding and consequently he had evolved some very specific ideas about what he wanted. To an extent that removed much of the burden from me because the responsibility for providing ground-up ideas was not mine - all I needed to do was sketch out the initial character ideas and then walk through the process of evolution and refinement with Samuel, taking note of his thoughts as the character came alive.

We knew pretty early on what kind of attributes the character would have (including a passing resemblance to Samuel himself) so I set about the task of taking the initial concept design and in turn I provided Samuel with options at each stage and proceeded only when a consensus had been achieved.

Finally the finished design was complete and I began the undertaking of drawing it on my computer - the final image needed to crisp and vector-based for easy integration into his flash-based website. It was during this stage that the final product took shape.

The finished article can be found on the homepage of his website - you can find it by clicking here. Incidentally I have absolutely no reservations about recommending Scrub My Car - they provide a thoroughly A1 service and new customers receive a whopping 50% concession! I'll be taking advatage of that myself.

Finally, for my own enjoyment, when the project was complete I played with this character further and experimented with embellishing the shade and tone to bring some depth to it. While it was a step beyond what Samuel needed or wanted, it has made me wonder whether 100% vector images are viable for some of my mainstream work. I've always shied away from producing wholly-artificial art as I've always feared it does not communicate the natural appeal of my hand-drawn work. However, with some shade applied this image looks deliciously playful and may be suitable for use in future childrens book projects. What's your verdict?

Matt & Kev - Commercial Catering Services Stationary

Greetings readers. I'd like to do a retrospective post about one of my commissions last year:

Brief 1 - Caricatures for a Company website 
My cousin Matt is the managing director of an emerging company specialising in the field of commercial catering services and last summer he approached me because he was building his company website and wanted an eye-catching caricature of him and his colleague Kev to include on the home page. He had recently seen one of my earlier images of two characters that I did while at university and he liked what he saw and thus desired that I should emulate the set-up (you can click here to see the original post). Happy to assist, I duly characterised him and his Kev as can be seen above and he was happy with the result - the image is now proudly displayed on his website, which can be found by clicking this link.

Brief 2 - The company's Caricature-based Christmas card

A while later he asked if I could produce a bespoke image for his company's 2011 Christmas card, requesting that the scene be 'fun' and set near/around a chip shop for relevance (for this is the type of business they work with). The card was to be sent to a host of contacts listed in the thousands volume-wise, so I was again delighted to help. It was a difficult image to do and required many hours of working out, but the process was enjoyable - I rarely get the opportunity to create images like this now (using precise pen techniques as opposed to my current method of colourising pencil). On the whole I think the image turned out well and Matt seems to have liked it which is what mattered. Perhaps if he wants another card this year I could develop the theme or introduce a more natural pencil-based composition - only another 6 months to Christmas to find out!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Illustration Friday: Shiny

Greetings readers. I once again participated in Illustration Friday this week. The word provided was 'shiny'. While I ultimately conceived of about 15 possible ideas that met this criteria in some fashion, I was surprisingly inspired by none of them. So, as is often the case in our profession, I simply had to work and graft it out - it certainly didn't draw itself like my image last week.

So, yeah...I can't triumphantly beat my drums of satisfaction this week but on the whole, it's not a terrible image: it has a little charm of it's own I suppose so maybe one day I'll revisit the image and sort out some of it's downfalls (such as the ship's sails being way too bright and the narrative text being just plain 'clunky').

I hope the rest of you faired better with your entries this week, and I shall have myself a leisurely peruse in just a moment.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Illustration Friday: Hurry!

Greeting my illustrator comrades. Those of you participating in Illustration Friday this week will already know that the word we have been challenged with is "Hurry!" I hope my offering meets with your approval;

As with my entry last week, I have again decided to use the opportunity to delve further into the unique world of childrens book illustration. Despite dedicating a mere two nights to the process of coming up with the idea, planning it and then drawing the ruddy thing, I think I've done okay.

The subject matter is as simple as can be: I have drawn a sort of caricature of myself rushing to enter Illustration Friday (accompanied by two characters I came up with for last week's submission - anyone recognise Fred the Cat?). More often than not I wait until the last possible moment in the week to create my IF picture and almost always have to hurry to make sure I can submit it in time. Not this week - it's only Tuesday! High five...

Good luck to the rest of you - and...don't leave it too late or this might be you!


Friday, 1 June 2012

Illustration Friday: Faded

This week's word on www.illustrationfriday.com was "Faded" and feeling rather adventurous, I figured I'd give it a bash.

Regardless of what subject matter I was bound to land upon, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something in the style of an authentic children's book (I've been toying with this notion for a few years now, so decided to seize upon this opportunity to achieve it).

So what did I draw? As you can see it appears to be a cat, although I will grant you that in the first picture it looks more like a Koala bear with horns. The concept? Well, the back-story I envisioned was that this would be the page from a book where the story is about a cat whose owner (the "Old Lady") has mysteriously disappeared (the subtext being that she has died) and the narrative would unfold through the eyes of the friendly-but-naive cat protagonist named Fred. At the end of the story he could've ended up moving to another home, maybe somebody else within the family, etc, but details are not particularly vital where unwritten stories are concerned so at this point I leave the story's resolution to the exclusive discretion to your imagination.

The image...well I've played with it for a few hours now, and I've finally decided to cut it loose. It's no masterpiece, but I'm content to let it out into the world as one of my experimental pieces. In it, we see Fred seeking out some photographs on the wall of his house because he misses the Old Lady and wants to see her. The discerning adult will hopefully detect that he's looking at a picture of himself on the Old Lady's lap, completely unaware that around him is a veritable photographic journey old the Old Lady's entire life (sitting on a wall in a school uniform, with her husband when they were young, holidays abroad, first baby pics, middle age, etc and all positioned around a masterly clock to denote the passage of great lengths of time). The sorrowful core of this is that Fred has no way of understanding what he's looking at, no way of knowing that he seemingly came into the Old Lady's life at the end as a humble comfort to a lonely widow, and he himself in turn has now been left behind.

Style-wise, I've already determined that I shall attempt a similar approach with next week's word, and I already eagerly await it's release with great anticipation.

So how are you?


Friday, 30 March 2012

Illustration Friday: Swamp

Well well well, hasn't it been a long time since I drew something... prompted by my friend Kris-Tea's return to the Illustration forum this week, I decided I couldn't let her have all the fun.

This week the word provided by IF was 'Swamp'. When I first saw it I knew immediately that with it being a none-abstract noun the majority of entries would be of the literal variety, so I had a quick think (a very quick think) about what spin I could apply, and realised that the word swamp is used quite frequently as a description of an individual/department's workload. At the place I work during the day my colleagues and I are often swamped by the workload so this in itself provided all the inspiration I needed.

Because I haven't drawn for a while I decided I would bypass the usual planning stage and simply draw the first image that came to mind, so I sat at my drawing desk (for the first time this year) and just kinda doodled. As the doodle progressed I started to fine-tune and amend it, and boy did I punish that piece of paper with a myriad of additions and removals! There's so much used rubber scattered over my desk it looks like it's been snowing!

Anyway, I only began this image yesterday after I got home from my day job so it's kind of a rushed affair and isn't likely to win the Turner prize, but I believe it to be of sufficient merit to enter.

Next week Kris-Tea...the battle continues...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Budleigh Photograph Expedition

In late June 2011 I embarked on a mini break to Devon. I stayed in a delightful village named Budleigh Salterton, and when I went down I took an assortment of stationary with me in case I felt compelled to be creative. I also took my camera in case I felt like taking some snaps. In the end I opted for the latter.

On several occasions I went for a long sojourn along the estuary path that leads to Otterton and took many photographs in course. I have no grandios illusions about being a professional photographer, and the vast majority of my pictures were meagre 'happy snaps' However, I figured I'd post a few random pics just to show some signs of creative life. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Attack From Above 2009/2011

Those of you who frequent my blog on anything like a regular basis may find the above image somewhat familiar. The reason for this is that it's an image I completely re-draw every couple of years. I first drew it in 1998, then again in 1999, 2000, 2004 and the above image was drawn in 2009. However, the latest version was never quite 'perfect' because at the time I drew it I was begining to slow down creatively. Consequently; I ended up drawing the image okay enough, yet never produced the rest of it to any degree of satisfaction. Following this image, I didn't draw again for approximately 10 months.

I've gone through the creative cycle a few times since, and now that I'm entering into a new one, I figured I'd give this the once over. While the whole image has now been subject to subtle tweaking and fine-tuning, the central character of Biggins was completely re-scanned and re-coloured. I've also softened and darkened the whole image to make it more visually appealing.

Now - time to begin preparing for this week's Illustration Friday entry...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Illustration Friday: Stir

This week the word on Illustration Friday's website was "Stir". I was initially in two minds about whether to sit at my drawing desk tonight as the word didn't provide me with any immediate inspiration. However, in the end I quantified the definitions of the word and devised a basic scene where somebody is simply stirring something - very straight-forward, eh. The result is naturally the picture you see above.

I know - it's not going to win any awards, but considering it was conjoured up entirely in the space of a few hours, it's not half bad. I hope you like it anyway and I have to admit - in the end I had a lot of fun doing this one.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Illustration Friday: Warning

Hello folks. Man, it's been ages since I entered Illustration Friday! To tell the truth I've not been drawing much lately but I'm determined to begin a new creative phase.

For IF this week we were given the word "Warning". I actually managed to scrape a few half-decent ideas together for this, but all were too ambitious - you know what it's like when you've not drawn for a while; you get rusty - lazy!

Well, in the end I plumped for the above idea. It's a fairly weak concept - the idea being that the gate has a "Beware the Dog" warning sign, and yet ironically, one can see the dog and there really is nothing to be warey of. That said, it's not bad for a couple hours work, and I am pretty rusty. Maybe next week I'll be forthcoming with something more deserving of merit.

So how are you?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

My First Colourisation Tests

Hey all. Has it really been over half a year since I blogged my guts out? Guess I've been having another "fallow period", but I'll be participating in Illustration Friday this week so keep your eyes peeled.

Until then, I'm afraid I don't have any new artistic creations to share, but I have recently been expanding my Photoshop knowledge: in particular with regards to colourising black & white photographs.

Last month my grandfather died and while this has naturally been a sad occasion for my family, for a number of us it has created a renewed interest in the old family photographs. During the last few weeks a small number of photographs have surfaced that I've never had the privalidge of seeing and while it has confirmed my fear that there aren't a great many photos of my grandfather in existance it did make me eager to try out a "colourisation" process that I've recently been reading up on.

The photograph below was taken in about 1957, and features my grandfather, my mother (on the left) and my aunty (on the right). The picture quality was fairly clear and so it was an ideal candidate for my first colourisation attempt.

Having completed the above test, I continued to "tweak" until I had a more vibrant spectrum.

Having completed this first example and being somewhat happy with the results, I decided to take a picture of my father taken in about 1968, and not only colour it but restore the damage to the hard copy.

This was how the original was scanned in. It was done at a rather low resolution and it was immediatly apparent that this would place some limitations on how clear I could get it to look. In the end I repaired most of the damage, but owing to the contrast level of the hard copy, I found it a lot more challenging to colourise. My father's the one on the right incidentally.

Having completed these two tests, I shall soon embark on restoring the oldest and most fragile family photo album. Who knows, I might even take a few colour photographs and desaturate them - sometimes black & white really does do more poetic justice to a photograph than "florid" colour.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Character Design for Local Take-away

I've created the above image this week as a response to a possible brief; A local take-away restaurant near to me currently has a menu featuring a cartoon chef on the front cover. However, the image currently used is, shall we say, somewhat lacklustre. I have therefore taken it upon myself to create something based on their existing image, but have made something (I think) more refined and thought-out. I shall broach them with it this week and see what happens!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Illustration Friday: Linked

Right, Illustration Friday, Linked, right...
Having had a month's sabbatical from drawing, when I eventually set upon the task of tailoring a new image for Illustration Friday this week I had intended that I should keep my labors to a minimum. I amassed a bunch of serious contending ideas, but in the end I decided I would do something subtle... and as you can see I decided to illustrate "Linking" by depicting a simple scene in which two people are linked via their hands. It may not be the most original idea but I had desire to push forward my understanding of cartooned-anotomy as well as basic composition. As a result, my machinations of creating a simple product ended up being quite an intense but thoroughly enjoyable learning curve. In any case, I'm in the market for opinions, so feel free to offer them. The more constructive and/or critical the better.
It's good to be back.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

My New Online Portfolio

Hey everybody,

I am now the proud owner of an online portfolio. It can be found at:


I'm presently gearing up for some new illustrations - my month off has been surprisingly fruitful - so I hope to be rejoining the great creative collective very very soon.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Illustration Friday: Propagate

I didn't much time to enter IF this week, so tonight's effort is only equal to half an hour's work.
It's possible I may not be entering IF next week due to work commitments, but I hope to be back soon with a more praise-worthy offering.

Have a good week all!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Illustration Friday: Adrift (My 100th Post)

Greetings fellow illustrators. This week's "IF" word is Adrift, and having originally planned to do a boring rowboat scene, my idea progressed to the above image - in ancient times when some people (but not many aparently) believed the world was flat...what did they think would happen if they sailed off the edge? Being as such beliefs probably existed centuries before Newton discovered the laws of gravity I doubt they'd have realised that by sailing off the edge of the world they would've been weightless and adrift in the zero gravity of space...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Valentine's Card 2010

Happy Valentine's Day everybody.

To commemorate it this year, I have created this bespoke valentine's card (featuring my girlfriend Sophie and I) which she received last night. I think she liked it...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Illustration Friday: Muddy

Here were are at the end of our "Muddy" week and I've only just completed my entry for Illustration Friday due to technical problems with my computer.
I've noticed a few illustrators have drawn pigs in mud for this topic, which is only natural. However, my excuse is that the pig in this picture is Charlie; one of my oldest and best character creations - and he was due for a new outing!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Illustration Friday: Focused

Okay - time for a weird one. This week the word Penelope shot at us was "Focused". Ironically this week I haven't been feeling particularly focused... so decided I wouldn't spend too much time pulling my hair out over what idea to do and just get something down on paper quickly and efficiently. The result is the above (somewhat weird) image.
It shouldn't be to hard to determine the link between focus and hypnotism, but I would forgive anyone for wondering why the hypnotist looks like a demonic cross between Super Mario and Saddam Hussein. All I can say is I've drawn this image tonight while drinking gin and Mickey Finn, so my faculties may be compromised.
Anyway, the pencil work seems quite natural and it was a pleasure to draw so hopefully that will translate across to you.
Now to check out what everyone else has done this week....

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Illustration Friday: Clumsy

Here's my entry for this week's Illustration Friday. The word we've been thrown is "Clumsy" and I wanted my image this week to be a quick one-night effort. The above took a couple of hours with no preparation before drawing commenced. Until I finished it just now, I had no idea how it would turn out.

The main character is Georgie, who I introduced last year and who has never been far from my mind. His canine companion has now been given the designation of Bruno, and this clumsy scene depicts my young lad dropping his ice-cream onto his pup's head.

All comments are welcome!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Illustration Friday: Wilderness

Hi all and here is my entry for Illustration Friday this week; the week the word was Wilderness.
It was touch and go whether I would find time to enter this week but low and behold I managed to scrape a few hours together and was able to produce this.
Given that I've created this over several sporadic bursts, I've not really had the opportunity to stand back and examine it properly to assess it's impact(s), but my initial opinion is that it's an acceptable punt. In any case, I have at least illustrated the correct word this week, and I believe I've captured a sufficiently wild atmosphere to warrant an entry.
The image has a slightly sinister effect; due in part to the fact it's all HB pencil, which I dare say you will agree often lends a dark quality if used in mass quantity like this.
Anyway, I've had my rattle now, solet me know what you think of this; I would class this as my first picture deserving of feedback in 2010, so let me know if it's stupendous, stupid, or just somewhere in between.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Illustration Friday: Contained

Greetings all, and to all a good day! This is my first original Illustration Friday entry since last April, and goodness it feels good to join you all once again. What I have I missed? Whats the gos?
I'm joking of course, I'm a man and I don't do gossip.
Okay, now I will stress that since I've been out of the loop as it were, I've not practised my art very much, and as such I am apocoliptically rusty! I would therefore ask that viewers of this piece be somewhat forgiving - I can do better!
"How does this represent CONTAINED"? I hear you yell in my left ear with disgust! Well...take notice young urchin; for the image is actually rather simple. The main character (albiet drawn badly) is smoking.... and the words...well there's roughly 600 of them and they are the ingredients that 1 cigarette contains! Gosh!
Anyway, no way will this be Illustration Friday's pick of the week this week because Brianna's got more taste than that, but let me know what you think of it as an idea.
Next week I will be back and a little bit better. Lock up your daughters, etc etc.

15/01/10 (13:56) Note:
It has only just occured to me that the word on I.F. this week is Confined and I have illustrated Contained. I've never done that before and must admit to being a supreme plonker. Oh well!

Cat Doodle

Hello everybody. It's been a while since I added anything on here because I haven't been drawing much recently, but I'm now back on the horse with the above image.
It doesn't really have a title because it's essentially a doodle that's been tarted up in Photoshop.
I drew it tonight and coloured it in. In total, the whole image took about 3 hours to create and I'm actually quite pleased with the result. The two cats are based on my own; Harry and Hendrix (who at this moment are a few feet away fighting over the litter tray).
Anyway, let me know what you think as a little bit of constructive feedback wouldn't be a bad thing at the moment and would certainly inspire me to continue picking up a pen.
In any case, I promise not to leave it so long before adding a new image next time.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Illustration Friday: Strong

Rumours of my demise we're greatly exaggerated! After a summer hiatus I'm back with a new entry for Illustration Friday, the topic being "Strong". I've been out of the illustration racket for a few months now, so this entry was always going to be a foot in the door first, and a credible illustration second. The picture itself doesn't require much explaining; I think most of you possess enough imagination to inbue the strength in it. With the next topic I hope to hit the ground running and be hot on it's tail from the get-go, so I hope to catch up with you all very soon!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Silbadors Revisited

Right! I've had a few months off drawing to concentrate on a few other projects I've had up and running, but my drawing desk is once again calling my to pick up a pencil. Historically I've always had fallow periods in the few months before the summer equinox, and have always found my pace again just as the nights start to get darker.

Anyway, to keep my blog ticking over until I have a brand new piece, I've decided to post something from my archives. This image depicts a 'fake' band I was in with my colleague Raoul McGurk back in 2007. The band was a cross between the Gorillaz and cheesy Spanish ballads, and the ten songs we recorded were intentionally daft and frivolous. The members of the band were The Donkey (Raoul), Lawrence Scorpion (me) and a third member called Chob (the bald one) who was a silent partner played by nobody. There's a Silbadors's myspace page which gets about 1 play a fortnight. Had we not been more concerned with our proper band (Karousel) I may have gone so far as to produce an animation of the characters.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Illustration Friday: Theater

I couldn't really think of any ideas for this week's Illustration Friday topic - at least none that inspired me to pick up a pencil. So, this week I've polished an old turd (so's to speak) and used one of my older stock images involving a movie theater. It's from the epic Biggins versus Burrow 13 comic. I'll be back on the illustration scene properly next week and will present something more deserving of feedback.