this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Category: art

Spaceship Drawing Time-lapse

I’m planning to do a lot more process videos this year. I’ll have to get a proper rig set up above my desk, rather than just using a GorillaPod.

 

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Commissions for 2019

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I’m now happily accepting a new round of illustration commissions for 2019. 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 let me know what kind of thing you are looking for. While you can ask me to draw absolutely anything, it’s probably best to stick to subjects and themes that you’ve seen me produce already. I’m not saying I’d never draw a portrait of your cats, for instance, but it’s unlikely. Some subjects I love to draw are:

Isometric buildings
Robots
Astronauts
Spaceships
Imaginary places

What you’ll receive will be a black and white pen drawing, on 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 £75 + post & packaging.
For an A4 (210 x 297mm) commission I charge £120 + post & packaging.
For an A3 (297 x 420mm) commission I charge £210 + post & packaging.
For an A2 (420 x 594mm) commission I charge £400 + 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 accept payment by PayPal.

When will you get your drawing?

I aim to complete and post all illustrations within one month of receiving payment.

 

PLEASE NOTE: This post is regarding private, personal commissions. If you want to discuss a commercial proposition – illustrations for a book, game, or anything else that you would be selling, then please get in touch directly.

 

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‘Weird-Field’ Spaceships

‘Weird-Field’ Spaceships. That’s what I’m calling them. I’ve been toying with the idea of drawing some spaceships for a while that don’t use standard means of propulsion, or even non-standard. I wanted to draw a spaceship that looked weird, as if the means of its technology were slightly other-worldly. I came up with an idea of a set of machinery that manipulates some exotic fields in dimensions we don’t understand, to create drive. Maybe these were alien ships, maybe just something human, but far future. It was lots of fun trying to figure out some narrative to all this as was sketching. Eventually, after a bunch of doodles, I worked up a few of the ships in to a more finished form.

Weird-Field Spaceships – a brief history (part 1)

The first set of instructions was received in May of 2089. After a period of disbelief, skepticism and blame, it was the scientists who finally knuckled down to decipher the message. Written in a slightly abstracted form of Base-7, this didn’t take too long and the content of the message became clear.

Earth had picked up a broadcast for a set of instructions on how to build a spaceship. By the time the UN, various organisations, and the couple of dozen governments capable of building the ship had finally decided on a course of action to build it, South Africa had already done so.

The first completed ship, christened the Mandela, was a bizarre conglomeration of pipes, cells, and pods, surrounding a crew capsule built for seven. There was zero space for any cargo bar moderate supplies for the crew.

After extensive ground tests, which revealed almost nothing about the ship, the Mandela took off for the first time in early 2090. A shakedown flight proved the ship to be an intuitive and capable flyer, after which the initial mission was launched.

During this time various governments and agencies attempted to build another ship from the same instructions. All failed. Design and manufacture were checked and rechecked, scientists from the successful Mandela construction were brought in to no avail. The ships simply sat there, inert. All attempts to coax them in to life failed. The South African team began construction of a second ship from the same instructions, to be called Biko, but after several months found the same problem as all the other teams. The Biko simply sat in its construction bay, refusing to do anything at all.

Earth now had one functioning spaceship that was able to journey to Saturn in a single flight. The data it brought back was invaluable in research terms, but from a practical point of view – apart from some minor advances in material sciences – the alien instructions had brought little to the people of Earth.

Eighteen months after the failed attempt to build the Biko, another message was received. This time there wasn’t just one set of instructions, but three. The three spaceships were all totally different from each other, and from the Mandela. The only similarity was in the style and construction of the weird pods, capsules, modules, and nacelles. One of the ships was huge, measuring over 120m from tip to tip, yet only had room for a crew of one. The next was a similar size to the Mandela, but room for a crew of four and a large storage area that seemed to be made for cargo. The third ship was smaller than all the others, had two identical crew compartments, each with seating for one, and had a very small cargo compartment.

If there was method or design to the types of ship instructions being beamed to earth, nobody had manage to figure it out yet.

The three ships were to be built, instructed by the UN, by China, the US, and the EU. No other agencies, corporations or governments were permitted to attempt to build ships. This obviously didn’t stop rogue building projects starting up. Some were discovered and shut down, some were only rumoured, and some weren’t discovered until it was too late.

Of the three official ship-building projects, two were successful. The EU, and China both managed to produce working ships, almost identical in operation to the Mandela, but with slightly different performance figures. The US attempt to build a ship failed. Nothing seemed amiss during construction, but once completed the ship simply sat inert in its berth. Scientists from South Africa who had successfully built the Mandela, and failed with the Biko consulted with the US, but nothing was found that could explain the dead ship. Until a few weeks later when a new ship, launching out of Russia, was observed. It was identical in design to the ship the US was had built – but it was obviously successful. Once the diplomatic incident had died down the scientific consensus seemed to be that there was something inherently unique about the way the ships manipulated Space/Time, and that meant only one of each specific ship could be built. The way each ship interacted with whatever weird dimensions, forces and fields provided propulsion, seemed to prevent that exact configuration being used elsewhere. There was much discussion about whether or not this effect was proximity based. Would the Biko work if the Mandela was far enough away? The answer to that, after extensive tests, was no. After sending the Mandela out past the orbit of Neptune, testing of the Biko commenced – and it still just sat there like an expensive rock.

Over the next eighty years, at intervals which were as random as could possibly be established, the instructions for another 317 spaceships were received on Earth. Sometimes the messages included instructions for up to a dozen ships, sometimes the instructions were for a single ship. Eight sets of instructions were received in 2099 for what were obviously interplanetary communications relays. Looking like small ships these provided a massive boost to the speed and bandwidth available for human communications between the planets.

More to come.

Drawn, as usual, on A4 Daler Rowney Smooth – Heavyweight cartridge paper, using Copic SP Multiliners and a Rotring Tikky.

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Mortal Engines

I was asked earlier this year to work on some illustrations for The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines. The book is a visual guide of the world of Traction Cities, created by the author Philip Reeve, and written by Philip and Jeremy Levett. If you don’t know about Traction Cities, you should definitely check out Philip’s books. They’re a fantastic mix of science fiction, fantasy and steampunk.

The Illustrated World has work from seven different artists (including me, which I have to keep pinching myself to believe), and has been beautifully put together by Jamie Gregory over at Scholastic UK. The book, underneath its dust cover, is a beautiful, vibrant orange, embossed with a lovely motif of gears and cogs.

Philip and Jeremy have written a great A-Z of the book, which gives you a very good idea of the content.

The other artists in the book are: Aedel Fakhrie, Ian McQue, Maxime Plasse, Philip Varbanov, David Wyatt, and Amir Zand. I’ve been a massive fan of Ian and Amir’s work for bloody ages, and the other artists work a revelation! To be in the same book as them all is a huge honour.

You can buy the book here.

 

All my illustrations are drawn with Copic SP Multiliners, Rotring Tikky, and Kuretake No.8 Brush Pen. Initial sketches are done with Palomino Blackwings and a Pentel Graphgear Mechanical Pencil.

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Inktober 2018

It’s that time of year again where illustrators, artists, and other pen-and-ink wielding entities take part in Jake Parker‘s Inktober initiative.

Last year I only got as far as day eight. A combination of work, and my Inktober drawings being just too detailed and time-consuming meant that I couldn’t complete the project. I will come back to last year’s at some point though. I think Asteroid Belt Blues deserves an ending.

This year I’ve chosen British Folklore as my theme, and each day I’m drawing a creature or a character from some of the wonderfully weird tales we have on the British Isles. Many of the tales I’m drawing I’ve sourced from a couple of great books by Katherine Briggs – British Folk Tales and Legends, and The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. I started with the Lambton Worm, and today (day 18) I drew a Witch-Hare!

Below are all 16 illustrations from the first 17 days. Obviously doing a folklore theme there was no way I was doing anything on the 13th! Each illustration is drawn on A6 (105x148mm) cartridge paper, using Copic SP Multiliners and a Kuretake No.8 Brush Pen. Initial sketches are done with Palomino Blackwings and a Pentel Graphgear Mechanical Pencil.

 

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If I had a hammer…

I do love a good bit or Norse Mythology. Thor and Odin, Asgard and Midgard, Huginn and Muninn… So when Gareth asked me to illustrate Yggdrasil, the World Tree that connects the nine realms, I jumped at the chance.

I was really pleased how this turned out.

Yggdrasil

Drawn, as usual, on A4 Daler Rowney Smooth – Heavyweight cartridge paper, using Copic SP Multiliners and a Rotring Tikky.

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Sketchbook Spaceships

If you’ve been following my blog for a while (or following me elsewhere on social media), you’ll know I love to draw spaceships. I always have enjoyed drawing everything to do with space, ever since I was a little kid, but in the last couple of years I’ve begun to build a little fleet of ships to inhabit my Asteroid Belt Blues universe.

I’ve managed to fill a few sketchbook pages with ships in the last few days, and I dare say there will be a lot more to come in the next days, weeks, and months.

Pretty much all of them are drawn with Copic Sp Multiliners in a Moleskine sketchbook. Colour, as always, is added with Copic Ciao Markers.

If you like them you can buy them as postcards or posters over at my store.

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The All Father

Odin-final-inks

I was recently asked to draw Odin, the Norse god, for a commission. After a few tweets back and forth, between myself and the buyer, it was decided that a head shot of Odin, featuring his raven familiars – Huginn and Muninn – would work best.

I decided I’d try and make this illustration a little more graphic in composition, so right from the beginning I wanted to try and incorporate some Norse carving.

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I’m really pleased with how the final illustration came out. I think the details, shadows and textures work really well. Tim, the chap who commissioned the illustration, was pretty pleased too – which is great, and always a relief.

Drawn, as usual, on A5 Daler Rowney Smooth – Heavyweight cartridge paper, using Copic SP Multiliners and a Rotring Tikky.

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An Ent of Fangorn Forest

Ent-Final

I’ve just started re-reading Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings again – partly just because it’s brilliant and I always enjoy it, but also because myself and Jon Elliman are making a feature of it on our weekly (mostly) podcast – North v South.

The moment I started thinking about reading the book again, I had the urge to start drawing some of the creatures from it. I started with one of my favourite Tolkien creations – an Ent.

Described in the books as…

A large Man-like, almost Troll-like, figure, at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower part of the long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating.

They are lots of fun to draw. Trying to convey all that texture and age is a really nice challenge.

 

 

Which Tolkien creature should I draw next?

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Available for Commissions

Instagram-Commission-Poster

I’m currently available for commissions, so if you’ve always wanted some original art now’s a great time to get in touch. Commissions start at £60 + postage, and I ship world wide. Whether you want a robot, a spaceship, a creature, an isometric building, a floating island, or something completely different, I’d love to work with you on a commission.

You can leave a comment here on my blog, or drop me an email – rob [at] thisnorthernboy [dot] co [dot] uk

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