this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Prints – coming soon.

Test prints.

Checking prints.

In the next week or two I’ll have prints of my work available to buy online. The plan is to have perhaps a dozen illustrations available at a couple of different sizes, shipping worldwide. My good friend Jon Elliman is in charge of printing and despatching – and this week I’ve been checking the first batch of test prints and they look awesome.

As soon as the shop is online I’ll post the link on the blog.

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Hillside Cityscape

I’ve done three or four of these illustrations now, each one a little different. Part rundown NYC, part Gotham. Drawn with Copic Multiliners and Rotring Tikky pens on Daler Rowney Cartridge paper.

Hillside Cityscape I

Hillside Cityscape I

Pencilling…

Pencilling…

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Finished pencils.

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Adding ink.

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Finished.

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Hillside Cityscape II.

 

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Inspiration Tuesday

Well, blogging every Monday didn’t last long. Anyway, here’s a Tuesday dose of inspiration.

The Thing

The Thing film poster by Studio Ronin

The art of Christopher Shy and Studio Ronin.
I’m completely new to the work of Shy and Ronin, and I can’t believe it’s escaped me for so long. I must have seen some of their film posters at some point (and I would definitely have loved them), but apart from that I’m completely ignorant.

From the website of Studio Ronin

CARVE YOUR OWN PATH
Created in 1994, Studio Ronin produced its own unique blend of design and concepts. Under the direction of Christopher Shy, Studio Ronin created its own
in-house effects studio, and began working in film building miniatures, producing concept art as well as costume design, and visual design. In 2000 Studio Ronin
began its most ambitious project of producing its own intellectual properties, starting with Silent Leaves.
Publishing only graphic novels, Christopher Shy soon set a certain tone to the work. “No single issues, only complete books, we do them our way, and we run it
like a book company.” Silent Leaves became Studio Ronin’s first book, followed by Man To Leaves, and with Michael Easton, the acclaimed Soul Stealer trilogy.
Other books include Pathfinder, which was made into a film; Ascend with Keith Arem; Good Apoll:; I am Burning Star IV for Coheed and Cambria, (Studio Ronin
completed stage design for the band that following year); Silent Leaves Exceptions To Life; Dead Speed; and City On The Edge of Sleep. In 2010, Christopher Shy
and Studio Ronin completed Deadspace: Salvage.
In 2004 Studio Ronin gave its first large scale gallery exhibition of Christopher Shy’s tempera originals, some over 8 feet tall. The paintings were shown in Chicago
at Echo Gallery, and the exhibition was held over for one year. Christopher Shy’s work is now on permanant display in Chicago at Gallery Provacateur.
In 2006 Studio Ronin began working in advertising. Clients include Nike, Harley, Mitsubishi and others. Its imagery was “fresh, dark, and daring.” Film posters
followed, as well as print ads – all taken in a different approach while continuing to write, create, and publish its own brand of IP. In 2008, Studio Ronin licensing
was born, and Christopher Shy’s images were reproduced under his careful direction on skateboards, snowboards, t-shirts, and jackets. Christopher Shy accepted
an award in Italy for Artistic Excellence in 2010. In 2011, Soul Stealer was named book of the year.
Studio Ronin has carved its own path – creating an image of what an independent art studio can be, and redefined the doors that should be open for the small,
masterless studio. A unique vision to the work of both the entertainment world, and fine art.

Carving your own path should really be the goal of any artist or illustrator, but it’s easy to lose sight of that. Studio Ronin and Christopher Shy are a beacon in that regard. Have a look at their output, then go carve your own path.

Most mainstream film posters follow a very defined route, photo montages of the big stars, not doing anything different out of fear of not getting the marketing ‘right’. Studio Ronin take a completely different route creating beautifully painterly images that evoke the essence of the film. Beautiful work.

 

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Inspiration Monday

I’m going to start blogging every Monday about what inspires me as an illustrator. It could be about other artists, science, a book I’ve read. Whatever it is that makes me want to pick up a pencil and draw.

Recent book haul

I’m starting today with a very bookish blog post, featuring some titles I’ve got over the last month or so. In no particular order –

One. Lead Poisoning – The Pencil Art of Geof Darrow
Geof Darrow is a comic artist from the US, best known for his work on Hard Boiled and Shaolin Cowboy (see Two). Darrow’s work is incredibly richly detailed, it’s actually hard to describe just how much work he puts in to each image. He’s also an incredible draftsman, with a real knowledge of how things look – whether that’s people, zombies, machinery, creatures, or architecture – Geof’s drawings are always believable – no matter how unbelievable the subject. Lead Poisoning is a fantastic insight in to the world of Geof Darrow, just prepare to be astounded.

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Two. The Shaolin Cowboy: Shemp Buffet – by Geof Darrow.
The Shaolin Cowboy is a character created by Geof Darrow in 2005. The title character is an unnamed former Shaolin monk on the road with a bounty on his head. This book is almost without any words at all, and instead it’s pretty much one extended fight scene between the – dual chainsaw wielding – Shaolin Cowboy and a horde of zombies. When I say it’s an extended fight scene, I really mean that. There’s a 99 page section of monk vs zombie, with only a single word uttered. It is audacious and unrelenting and it only works because Darrow’s art is so spectacularly detailed and inventive. I’m not sure any other comic artist could have pulled it off. Colour on this book is by the supremely talented Dave Stewart – most famous for his work on Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, and lettering is by Peter Doherty – who I’m sure would admit didn’t have the trickiest job on this particular book.

Three. The Collector by Sergio Toppi.
I’m pretty new to Sergio Toppi, not really looking at any of his work until I was already in my forties. I would have loved his books as a teenager, but there’s no way I would have appreciated his art to the same degree. Sergio Toppi was a Milanese artist born in 1932, he began his career as an editorial and advertising illustrator, but really made his name as a comic artist beginning in the mid 60s.
The Collector is series of tales about a mysterious collector of artefacts from around the world. Set against the backdrop of 19th Century colonialism, the book’s locations include the American West, East Africa, Romania, New Zealand… Toppi creates every place and character with a masterly array of linework, textures, and patterns. His style is almost dizzying, a kind of controlled chaos – all structured with fantastic fundamental drawing skills. The thing about Toppi that continually blows me away though is his composition. He creates images from images. Negative space giving his illustrations light and freedom, which compliments his intricate pen work perfectly. Like Mike Mignola, Sergio Toppi is a master at using dark and light, super high contrast making his images even more dynamic. I don’t think he has an equal when it comes to composing or framing an image. The Collector is entirely illustrated in black and white, and it looks magnificent.

Four. Sharaz-De, Tales from the Arabian Nights – by Sergio Toppi.
Sergio Toppi’s take on the Arabian Nights. Whereas The Collector is entirely black and white, Sharaz-De is punctuated by beautiful colour sections. Toppi’s colours add another mysterious, magical layer to his linework with a palette of blues and greens or pinks and oranges. No where does the colour subsume the ink though. Toppi’s drawings still sing out from every page, his composition and inventive panelling brilliantly evident.

Five. I Wonder What I’m Thinking About – by Moose Allain.
Moose Allain is a twitter phenomenon. He’s also an incredibly prolific artist, cartoonist, writer, poet, and all around charming human. With a background in architecture Moose now creates wonderful worlds of cartoon figures and beasts, buildings and cities, all wrapped up in a sense of playfulness and wonder. His book – I Wonder What I’m Thinking About is a gorgeously produced (via Unbound) collection of his writing and art. The content varies from cartoons to watercolours, from poems to prose, from wordplay to jokes. It’s really quite a hard book to describe, so I just suggest you check out Moose on Twitter and then pick yourself up a copy.
Of all the books featured in this blog post, it’s Moose’s that most makes me want to pick up a pen or pencil and create something. There’s a love of life and a joy that shines through all of Moose’s work, and it’s infectious.

See you next Monday with another post of artistic inspiration.

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I drawed a dinosaur

I don’t often draw creatures. In fact I very rarely draw anything organic at all. Sometimes though, when I start scribbling it becomes a creature, or a person, or in this case – a dinosaur. I’m pretty sure it’s a dinosaur rather than a dragon, but don’t quote me on that.

Drawn with a Palomino Blackwing 602 and a Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black 6B.

Dinosaur

Dinosaur sketch

FAQs

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I get quite a lot of comments on my posts on social media, and often people are asking me the same questions, so I thought I may as well answer a few of them here.

“Where can I find more of your work?”

I post regularly on social media, so find more of my illustrations –
Instagram
Facebook
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Twitter

“What pen do you use?”

This is the question I get asked more than any other, and I know other illustrators get it a lot too. The first thing to say is – it isn’t about the pen. Yes you might get a bit of a difference in quality of line from pen to pen, obviously a brush pen gets you a different look to a pigment liner, but the pen doesn’t make you any better at drawing. The only way to get better at drawing – is to draw.

However, if you’re interested in the geekery of pens:

Copic Multiliner – 0.03 to 0.7 nibs
Rotring Tikky – 0.3 to 0.7 nibs
Pentel Pocket Brush
Kuretake No8 Brush Pen
Stabilo Point 88

Blackwing 602 pencil
Tombow Mono100 pencil
Steadtler Tradition HB pencil
Rotring Tikky mechanical pencil
Lamy Scribble mechanical pencil

Platinum Carbon fountain pen
Kuretake Zig Manga dip pen

Uni Posca White pen
Sharpies

Other kit…
Minisun A4 Lightbox

Sumi Ink 60
Winsor & Newton Masking Fluid
Daler Rowney A4 Cartridge paper
Moleskine A5 Sketchbook

“Where did you learn to draw?”

I was always the kid that drew, from as far back as I remember I was always drawing. When I was a little kid I used to sit in an armchair at home with a bit of wood across the arms, like a desk. I’d sit there and draw spaceships and monsters and dinosaurs and dragons for hours. Throughout all my school years, despite studying art, I don’t really recall being taught anything at all. Even at college (studying for a graphic design degree) I don’t think I got much in the way of tutoring. After college I barely drew at all for twenty years, since then all my progress has been through practice, and being inspired by all the great artists doing great work out there.

“Where do you get your ideas?”

Where aren’t there ideas? If you read books or comics, if you watch TV or film, if you look out of your window at home or school or work – there are ideas everywhere. You just have to look and let everything soak in. I get inspired by all kinds of things – looking at industrial buildings from the window of my train commute, the weird old oak trees in the park near my house. Films and books are a big influence – I’ve always been a sci-fi nerd so in my work you can see bits of Ralph McQuarrie, Jim Burns, Carlos Ezquerra, Jean Giraud and Enki Bilal.

“Why don’t you do a book?”

I’m working on a book. Slowly. It’ll be written and illustrated by me. Currently it’s about 75% written, but I’ve barely started thinking about the illustrations yet. So, nothing will be out for a while. There will definitely be a book at some point. And it will be about trolls. Currently the only book I have worked on as an illustrator, is Build! A Knight’s Castle. It was lots of fun to illustrate, and I’d love to do more.

You can also find my work in Sketching From The Imagination: Sci-Fi, and Issue 2 of the brilliant Graphite Magazine.

“Where can I buy your work?”

At the moment only original work is available to buy, so drop me a message on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and let me know what you are interested in. There’s a little more information here.
I will have an online shop selling prints up and running soon.

Recent Commissions

 

I’m now happily accepting a new round of illustration commissions. If you’ve ever wanted to own some original art – and like my work – now’s your chance.

Commissions

If you would like to buy an original drawing, email me at rob [at] thisnorthernboy [dot] co [dot] uk , and you can request one of the following:

An isometric building
A robot
An Astronaut
A Spaceship
An imagined place
Something else entirely

What you’ll receive will be a black and white pen drawing, on an A4 or A5 sheet of good quality, 220gsm cartridge paper. If you would prefer a colour illustration – let me know and we can have a chat.

You can also request for the illustration to be landscape or portrait in orientation.

Any other requests – type of landscape, style of robot etc. can be made, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to take this into account. I know this sounds a little strict, but I only want to accept commissions that I’ll enjoy drawing right now, and in return you get a lovely surprise when you open your finished illustration.

What will this cost?

For an A5 (148 x 210mm) commission I charge £50 + post & packaging.
For an A4 (210 x 297mm) commission I charge £80 + post & packaging.

When you email me to request a commission, if you can include the address you’d like it shipped to, I’ll work out the cost of postage and let you know. If you’re happy with the overall cost I can accept payment by PayPal.

When will you get your drawing?

I’ll aim to complete and post all illustrations within three weeks of receiving payment.

Fancy some original art?

Egyptian

I’m now happily accepting a new round of illustration commissions. If you’ve ever wanted to own some original art – and like my work – now’s your chance.

Commissions

If you would like to buy an original drawing, email me at rob [at] thisnorthernboy [dot] co [dot] uk , and you can request one of the following:

An isometric building
A robot
An Astronaut
A Spaceship
An imagined place
Something else entirely

What you’ll receive will be a black and white pen drawing, on an A4 or A5 sheet of good quality, 220gsm cartridge paper. If you would prefer a colour illustration – let me know and we can have a chat.

You can also request for the illustration to be landscape or portrait in orientation.

Any other requests – type of landscape, style of robot etc. can be made, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to take this into account. I know this sounds a little strict, but I only want to accept commissions that I’ll enjoy drawing right now, and in return you get a lovely surprise when you open your finished illustration.

What will this cost?

For an A5 (148 x 210mm) commission I charge £50 + post & packaging.
For an A4 (210 x 297mm) commission I charge £80 + post & packaging.

When you email me to request a commission, if you can include the address you’d like it shipped to, I’ll work out the cost of postage and let you know. If you’re happy with the overall cost I can accept payment by PayPal.

When will you get your drawing?

I’ll aim to complete and post all illustrations within three weeks of receiving payment.

 

Updates…

It’s been a while since I blogged – work and holidays have both combined to keep me from doing so.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on getting some artwork ready to sell online as prints – should be ready to go in April – which is very exciting. I’ll be launching with five or six different illustrations, most of which will be available to buy at a couple of different sizes. When everything is confirmed I’ll post here about it.

I’ve also completed a couple of commissions and worked on some concept art for a couple of clients – I can’t share any of that just yet though.

For now, here are some of the sketches I’ve done over the past couple of months.

 

Tentacles Redux

Recently I’ve been working on a new version of my illustration The Island. I want to offer this as a print, but the original was drawn pretty small in a Moleskine sketchbook so not really good enough quality.

The new version is drawn on good quality smooth cartridge paper. I’ve kept the drawing very close to the original, just tweaking a few things here and there. I’m really pleased with the end result and I think it’ll look great as a print.

I should have prints available, in a selection of sizes, from mid March. I’ll post more information soon.

the-island-redux