this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Category: blogging

August blogfest – day 26

“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth, things of that sort, our personal memories, that make the private tapestry of our lives.” Alexander McCall Smith.

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Mapping an imaginary place.

I drew this map for the episode artwork of the North v South podcast I make with Jon Elliman. Every week we have a topic, last night’s recording featured us discussing maps. We love a map. Doesn’t everyone?

August blogfest – day 25

Playlist: Summer in the city – The Lovin’ Spoonful, 99.9 Fahrenheit Degrees – Suzanne Vega, In the heat of the night – Ray Charles, Summertime – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

It’s been hot today. Almost too hot to draw. My arm pretty much sticking to my desk, risking smudging ink or pencil or paint. Nice.

With the help of a wide open window in my office, and a fan on full blast, I did manage to get some work done though. Making progress on the illustration for Graphite magazine. I’m really happy with the way the picture’s coming along, it’s strange though – as I’m producing this for an article about my process – how cataloguing each stage of the project makes me think about doing things differently. My workflow is almost entirely analog, so it always seems a bit cumbersome and convoluted, I can’t help feeling there are lots of improvements to be made. Step one might be getting hold of a light box.

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A mess of cables

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Pencils

August blogfest – day 24

Well, I almost forgot today, so this will be brief…

I’m working on an article for a new illustration magazine called Graphite at the moment. It’ll be a process type thing, showing how I work through a brief from initial thoughts and sketches to final, inked artwork. Today I finished the drawing stage so tomorrow it’ll be on to the inks.

Graphite magazine is published by the talented people at 3DTotal, and the first issue is out any day now.

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Scribbles on the brief

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Initial thumbnails

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Getting there with composition

August blogfest – day 23

Books and pens

Books and pens

I’ve become a bit of a pen nerd recently. Well, I say recently, over the last couple of years. Tiger Pens, Cult Pens, and Amazon have been seeing way too much business from me. But, pens are the way I make my living, so it’s only fair that I indulge myself a little right?

My latest purchase – a recommendation I saw on Twitter from Will Freeborn, Ian McQue and Mack Chater – is a Carbon Platinum fountain pen. It’s nothing fancy, just a lightweight, standard fountain pen. The nib is great for sketching though, not too flexible, and the Platinum ink is a proper black. As Mack mentioned on Twitter, it does make a lovely noise on paper. That noise, that feel of a pen nib on the texture of paper is probably the reason I’ve got nowhere with digital art – it just doesn’t sound or feel the same.

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Carbon Platinum fountain pen

I’ve only used the Carbon Platinum fleetingly so far, but it does seem very good indeed. A pen I use all the time, and have done for a couple of years is the Copic Multiliner SP. I’ve got a whole range of nib thicknesses from 0.03mm to 0.7mm. It’s that range of line weights that allows me to add depth to my, otherwise very flat, illustrations.

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Line weights of Copic Multiliners

More pens tomorrow. As I said, I’m a bit of a pen nerd.

August blogfest – day 22

Today I’ve been working on some sketches for an article I’m writing about my methods/process for a new illustration magazine called Graphite. It’s a really nice little sci-fi brief, and having to write about how I approach it has meant I’m probably thinking about the way I’m working more closely. One of the elements of the illustration I’ve been thinking about in particular today is the composition, scribbling down little thumbnails, trying to work out an interesting layout. If I think about composition, I generally think about two artists  – Sergio Toppi and Mike Mignola. I’m going to come back to Mike in a later blog post, so here’s a little sample of some of Sergio Toppi’s amazing work.

Toppi’s composition is always striking, using dramatic contrasts of black and white, finding balance in seemingly impossible asymmetric layouts. I’m not sure there’s ever been a more masterful exponent of the art of composition and blimey, he could certainly draw.

August blogfest – day 20

Tired.

Caffeine induced insomnia kept me awake until gone 3am last night, so today has been a bit of a blur. I don’t drink caffeine, but every now and again, if I need a bit of a kick when I’m busy, I’ll have a proper coffee. I always regret it later when I’m wide awake in those quiet, small hours of the night.

I did manage to draw a nice little robot today though.

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Little orange robot

Drawn in a Field Notes Brand notebook, with Copic Multiliner, Copic Ciao Marker, Kuretake No8 brush pen and a white Posca marker.

August blogfest – day 18

In, and out of, my comfort zone.

I’m really still pretty new to illustration, I’ve been trying to make a living at it for just over a year, and been drawing seriously again for about three. There are lots of things I can’t draw – at least, there are lots of difficult things I avoid drawing. Like helicopters, or armoured Humvees. Today I’ve had to draw both of those, which was pretty challenging. I also had to draw some mountains, lots of mountains. Still quite challenging, but much more enjoyable.

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Armoured Humvee.

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Mountain range.

August blogfest – day 17

A busy one.

I’m still working on sketches and final inked illustrations for the client in California, feedback has meant a few changes – and the addition of helicopters! Not something I’m used to drawing, Google coming in very handy.

I’m also working on the branding project, again feedback has come in so I have a few amends to make before I get stage two over to the client.

Good to be busy though.

As I haven’t had time to write a more interesting blogpost today, I’ll just leave you with my favourite painting, if you’re ever in London drop in to the National Gallery and stand in front of it for a few minutes. It’s a treat for the eyeballs.

 

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Whistlejacket, painted in 1762, by George Stubbs.

August blogfest – day 16

Virgil Finlay

Virgil Finlay was an American illustrator, specialising in super detailed pen-and-ink drawings with astonishing stippling and cross-hatching.

In his 35 year career Finlay created more than two and a half thousand illustrations, mainly for pulp science fiction, fantasy and horror magazines.

Have a look at some of his work… I think it’s absolutely incredible.

August blogfest – day 15

Halfway, almost. Blogging every day is actually tougher than I thought. Thinking up a new subject to blog about every day, tricky.

Today there’s a look at three quick little illustrations I’ve done in one of the lovely orange Field Notes notebooks I received recently. I rarely draw on coloured paper, so it’s a nice change, and also it’s cool to use a similar coloured marker to add a bit of subtle shading. A white Posca marker is great to add a few highlights or stars.

Is there anything you’d like me to blog about? Something about my work, processes, inspiration? Let me know in the comments. And thanks for sticking with me, 16 days to go.

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One-man flyer

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Little droid

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Orange freighter

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Field Notes special edition notebook