this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Category: drawings

Inktober 2016

Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month – Jake Parker.

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The village and associated sketches and thumbnails on my desk.

Inktober is a drawing challenge created by the illustrator Jake Parker, and this will be the third year I’ve taken part. In 2014 I just drew anything throughout the month with no real plan. Last year I drew anything in terms of subject, but I limited myself to using just one pen – a Pentel Pocket Brush. This year I’m doing something different again.

31³. 31 Days. 31 Drawings. £31 each.

Each day of October I’m going to draw one isometric building on A5, heavyweight, cartridge paper. The buildings will all be different, all drawn in ink, and will be black and white, and they’ll all be for sale – for just £31 each (including UK postage).

Some of the drawings will be simple medieval cottages, some may be churches or castles, watchtowers or turrets – I really don’t know yet and I’ll just draw whatever type of building I fancy that day.

 The illustrations will be available as soon as they are posted on Instagram, so if you think you might be interested in buying one you’ll have to be following me there. Any unsold illustrations will go up on the blog as an end of Inktober sale.

I’ll be drawing each building on Daler Rowney cartridge paper, using Rotring Tikky and Copic Multiliner pens.

I can’t wait to get started.

The Village

I’ve started a little side project, something to work on here and there between commissions, commercial work, and freelancing as a designer. It’s nice to have something on the go that I can draw with zero time pressure, or worrying about whether or not the client is going to like it.

So I’ve started an isometric drawing of a fantasy / medieval village. I haven’t really done any isometric stuff since I was at school, but it’s something I’ve always enjoyed seeing in other artists work. At college I discovered the work of Takenobu Igarashi, and not long afterwards I first saw the work of eBoy, entirely different artists but both working in that geometric, axonometric, 3D space. I’ve been a fan ever since.

The village is currently one sheet of A2 cartridge paper that I’m filling with little fantasy buildings, all aligned on a 30º plane. I’m going to fill the whole sheet and then after that, I might do some standalone illustrations.

It’s lots of fun so far, but I’d forgotten how complicated it can get drawing in an isometric view.

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The village and associated sketches and thumbnails on my desk.

The Inspirational Art of Jared Muralt

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A growing Muralt collection.

Jared is primarily self-taught, and he developed his precision and skill through the careful study of books as diverse as those pertaining to anatomy, art history and comics. Muralt is co-founder of BlackYard studio, a Swiss illustration and graphic design studio.

That’s the simple text about the artist Jared Muralt that is printed on the belly bands of his two new sketchbooks, it barely tells you a thing about how astonishingly good an illustrator Jared is.

I first saw his work on Instagram, beautifully drawn images of angler fish, assortments of characters in period costume, floating ocean liners, and squadrons of WWII bombers. That precision, mentioned in the text above, really is one of Jared’s traits, but it comes with huge amounts of charm, and character, and interest. There’s nothing cold about the precise way he draws at all.

It would be easy, as an aspiring illustrator, to be daunted when you see the work of someone as accomplished as Jared, and to simply say – “I’ll never be as good as that”and throw your pencils away, but Jared’s sketchbooks, and his Instagram feed, really are testament to the value of practice. He draws a lot. He draws from life, out in the countryside sketching the mountains and meadows of Switzerland, he draws character studies fastidiously, practising the details from every angle. Rather than be daunted and overwhelmed, you should be inspired and enriched by his work. Stimulated to grab a sketchbook and draw.

If you draw or illustrate for a living, or just as a hobby, you really should buy one of Jared’s books. The sketchbooks are amazing, and Hellship is a wonderful graphic novel. The End of Bon Voyage is for me the real star, a magical, poignant, wordless story with the most beautiful drawings you can imagine.

In Jared’s new sketchbooks there’s one image in particular that grabbed me, this drawing of a man, curiously and noirishly lit. He looks like one of the characters from Fritz Lang’s ‘M’. Fantastically unsettling.

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Jared can be found on Instagram and on Twitter, and if you’d like to buy (you’d be mad not to) one of his books the BlackYard shop is here.

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Cloudtop

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High up in the clouds, buoyed by anti-grav generators, floats the shanty town of Cloudtop. Scratching a living from processing rare elements from the atmosphere, or providing weather data, a community of brave souls lives at 55,000ft. Engineered through black market gene therapies to be able to survive in the super thin atmosphere of the stratosphere.

Drawn with a Carbon Platinum fountain pen, and Copic Ciao Markers, in a Moleskine sketchbook.

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August blogfest – day 30

I’ve just finished an illustration for an article for Graphite magazine, it’s for an article on my process. Less a ‘how to’ more of a ‘how I do it’ kind of thing. Having to document my methods really makes me think about how I work, and if I can improve things.

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Use photoshop to tweak, adjust and mock up layouts from my own sketches. Sometimes I can spend a day making minor adjustments to layouts, sizes of elements etc, using photoshop to adjust my notebook sketches and create rough mock ups of the illustration could save me time.
  2. Get a lightbox. With a mock up of the illustration printed out, I could use a lightbox to take this straight to a final drawing stage. Usually I sketch, scan, print out, trace, transfer… Using a lightbox could really save me time.
  3. Get the drawing right. It’s much easier to ink if you’re drawing is correct, and very difficult to cope with or correct if it’s not.
  4. Tangents. Tangents – where two or more lines, corners, or elements intersect or touch in a way that distracts or confuse – really need to be avoided. Even though I know this rule I often find it hard to avoid. Or maybe I’m just being lazy with the drawing. I should take more time to make sure I get rid of these by redrawing or adjusting the layout.
  5. Life drawing. I really need to take a life drawing course, there’s simply no way of avoiding the fact that I’m terrible at drawing people – and it’s just down to lack of practice.
  6. Continue to develop a visual style and language. Most of my illustrations are recognisably mine, people can tell a spaceship I’ve drawn from one drawn by someone else pretty easily. It’s no good just standing still with a style though, I need to continue to push myself to develop.
  7. Build a visual dictionary. I need to build up a bank of knowledge about stuff that crops up in my illustrations. Pinterest is a great help for this but I tend to be a little lazy with it. I should create a few boards on subjects such as aeronautical engineering, space machinery, submersibles, robotics… The more stuff I have in that visual dictionary the better.

 

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 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 13

“Drawing is taking a line for a walk”, Paul Klee.

 

August blogfest – day 11

I’ve just decided that my stack of identically black, and identically plain Moleskines needed a little organising. Only a little. I wrote vague contents description on the covers and spines, so that’ll help a bit when I’m trying to remember where I drew something.

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Vaguely organised Moleskines.

I also made a little video of a leaf through one of those Moleskines…

The music is Drawn to the Blood, by Sufjan Stevens.