Wednesday 27 January 2016

BBC: Eastenders, GET "ART" (of my pub).

I will do a bigger post about this at some point because it's been a huge deal for me.

Towards the end of last year, I took over the reins as the guy who draws SoapFactory: the online "create your own Eastenders stories." As someone who grew up with Eastenders, and old enough to remember it starting back in 1985, this has been an absolute privilage to work on.

The guy I took over from, I should point out, set the style and came up with the poses which are terrific. My job was to continue where he left off with characters such as Tamwar Masood, Nancy Carter, Whitney Dean and the infamous return of Kathy Beale! ...DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DA DA DA DA.

Some of my heads and their scenery chewing expressions.

Monday 4 January 2016

Star Wars: For The Love Of The Force

December 5th, was the day I was born back in 1977, a few months after a little known movie called Star Wars happened.

Fast forward to Dec 5th 2015 and I attended the Manchester Star Wars convention "For The Love of the Force" as an artist. This all happened at the 11th hour, very last minute and of course I jumped at the chance to attend. I was asked, along with several other artists to create a drawing on an 8 ft tall board live, during the opening hours of the three day event. Each artist was given a particular character and I got Luke Skywalker.

Luke, taking shape. Notice the small pen 
drawing stuck on the board.

I was inspired by the early Star Wars posters and the Marvel comics as drawn by Howard Chaykin. I wanted something of that look, wherby Luke didn't necessarily look like Mark Hamill, but more generic and dynamic. Luke as a character, playfully done rather than as portrayed by an actor.

Luke "He-Man" Skywalker, as I live
and breathe... as finished as it's gonna get.

I have rarely, if ever drawn something on such a large scale and to be honest I wish I'd done it differently. The lines I feel should have been thicker and scaled up; despite the board being so tall, I stuck with my brush pen and it doesn't seen to carry enough weight on a large scale. That said, it was okay and I was still hugely proud to have it standing along side truly brilliant artwork...

Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Han and Chewbacca... Wrreew!

Han Solo was drawn by Manchester artist Richard Shields and created entirely out of X's and O's which represent X-Wings and TIE Fighters. A meticulous process which saw him working one night until 3.00am. I owe Richard a huge debt of thanks for getting me into the convention, purchasing a Han Solo print (he has print copies for sale of a previous version) was the least I could do... also a bloody great souvenir of an incredible weekend. 

Unfortunately I didn't meet David Prowse, however I did briefly chat to Garrick Hagon, who played Biggs Darklighter and John Simpkin, who not only played several Stormtroopers in Return of the Jedi but also Klaatu (one of Jabba the Hutt's henchmen). The latter was was very appreciative of my work and knew where I was coming from with it.

The other artists, not in order are Clyve Bonelle, Gemma Parker, Joy Gilleard, Kim Thompson, Ronnie Crowther, Tasha Wittle and Zeyd Ayoob. The guy who painted Vader is missing from that list, will get back to you on that one...a fantastic job whoever you are!

Loving the Jawa. The final group shot.

This is me (on the left) locked in a light saber 
duel with buddy Peter Adams.

My gorgeous and pregnant girlfriend Rachel Hooper. 

I did it, honest.

"Luke, use the force and run, 
run to Dagobah, run to Dagobah..."

Christmas Commissions Part 2: Anthony and Hector

There's a house just down the road from us which goes Christmas nuts every year. From mid-November it's like Blackpool Illuminations in miniature; a bright, garish, animated, tacky, vomit-inducing contrast to the predictable lack of snow (this year, the heavens didn't get the memo again, unless rain is the new snow and we're just not with it). Bless 'em, I hope they never change.

By contrast I am usually Mr. Humbug incarnate until sometime mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve. This year however, I was dragged kicking and screaming into at least thinking about Christmas early by a client wanting a bespoke Christmas card.

I enjoyed this thoroughly; a nice, simple interpretation of his own idea. Wonderful! Get your orders in early, because this was a very enjoyable mini-project.

By the way, Anthony is a professional music composer which 
should explain the joke, and Hector is the dog.

Christmas Commissions Part 1: Attack of the Golf Zombies

Unless your name is Elf, you probably want to put Christmas behind you now. However, for me this is the perfect chance to tell you about a couple of items I carried out just before the festive season... for that very reason.

"Bubbub and His Babe."

This was for a client who wanted some sort of comic book image for his brother-in-law. The guy in question is into comics, specifically Captain America whilst both himself and his girlfriend have in the past dressed up as Capt and The Silk Spectre (from Alan Moore's "Watchmen").

Take into account that the gift reciever is also something of a golfer AND gets the playful monicker "Bubba" thrown at him whilst his girlfriend gets the slightly less imaginative "Babe." It didn't take me too long to imagine a comic cover set on a golf course, featuring zombies as the stock villains. ...I took a slight leap of faith with the zombie theme and checked with the client first using this sketch (whilst pointing out that the zombies will be added later):

If I can offer a bit of advice for illustrators; it's that no amount of information, both written and visual (such as photos) from clients is too much... if you can push them into doing a sketch, do it! Get as much as you can before you begin and make notes, unless you have it in email form already. The pink hat as worn in a photo sent to me for example, is something that the client suggested would be a nice touch and I agree. ...Plus it links the title colour to the image a bit.

 This is the final image.

I used this commission as an excuse to get hold of more Pentel Colour Brush Pens. They are great and unlike say felt tips, the ink doesn't bleed when dry so you can lay down the black first and THEN colour over the top.

Zooooooming in.

I blended a couple of inks in an egg cup to get the skin colour, which doesn't show up very well on this scan. The other thing about inks of course is that unlike felt tips, a brush creates some texture but doesn't scrub the paper horribly. And there we have it, an A3 sized original.