this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

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NEW PRINT AVAILABLE

Deep Space Fleet II

I have a new print available over at Ellipress. It’s a follow up to my Deep Space Fleet work of last year. Deep Space Fleet II features fifty brand new spaceships, in (for me) a surprising variety of colours! Printed on 308gsm 100% cotton artist’s paper, using archival inks the new poster can be bought in A4, A3, and A2 sizes.

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. It might be my favourite print yet.

Head over to here if you’d like to purchase one.

 

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Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Quiet, but not idle.

Well, I’ve been a bit quiet lately, sorry. I haven’t been idle though, I’ve been busy working on a couple of illustration projects.

I’ve just completed a tutorial for 3DTotal publishing. They have a new book coming out – Beginner’s Guide to Sketching: Robots, Vehicles & Sci-fi Concepts, and I was delighted to be asked to contribute a walk through of how I’d illustrate a sci-fi habitat in my isometric style. The book isn’t out until February next year, but you can pre-order it here.

The project that’s kept me very busy for the last couple of months has been a real thrill. Jamie Gregory, head of design at Scholastic UK, asked me if I’d be happy to do some illustrations for a new visual guide to the world of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines books. The book is to be an encyclopaedia of all the incredible things to be found in Philip’s books – the first of which is being turned in to a film by Peter Jackson. Other artists working on the book include Ian McQue and Amir Zand – both artists whose work I absolutely adore.

If you haven’t read any of Philip’s books – you really should have a look.
The description for Mortal Engines –

In a dangerous future, huge motorized cities hunt, attack and fight each other for survival. As London pursues a small town, young apprentice Tom is flung out into the wastelands, where a terrifying cyborg begins to hunt him down. MORTAL ENGINES launched Philip Reeve’s brilliantly-imagined creation, the world of the Traction Era, where mobile cities fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic future.

You can buy Mortal Engines here.

You can pre-order the Illustrated World of Mortal Engines here.

IWOME

The trailer for the film looks pretty bloody brilliant too.

 

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Island Life

I’ve recently got back from a holiday in the Maldives with my wife. It was predictably (it’s my sixth visit) beautiful and relaxing. Now I’m back at my desk and about to start working on commissions. Until I have some more illustration work to show you I’ll post a few snaps from my trip.

 

As ever you can also find prints of my work here

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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

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.

Isometricness III

It’s been a couple of weeks since the end of Inktober and, despite my computer’s hard drive failing, I’ve finally got all the images scanned and cleaned up.

The month was rewarding for me in terms of my drawing, I definitely think I improved from week to week. It was also great in terms of marketing me as an illustrator. Over the course of the month my Instagram followers increased from a little under ten thousand, to over twenty thousand – I haven’t been able to work out quite how that happened. Every one of the isometric drawings sold, and I got another 15 illustration commissions on the back of that.

My next blog post will be about social media, so I’ll discuss a little more then about Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Here are all 31 of my isometric Inktober drawings. Do you have a favourite?

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Day 1.

 

 

31

Day 31. All done.

Thanks very much to everyone who liked, commented, shared and retweeted my posts throughout October – and a special thanks everybody that bought one of my inktober illustrations.

August blogfest – day 29

Busy today, lots of inking, paint-splattering, scanning, photoshopping. No time to put together a blog post of any note.

I’ll just leave a picture by one of my favourite artists here…

Hellboy_Penanggal

Hellboy, Mike Mignola.