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 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?