this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Tag: drawing

Spaceships for Sale

 

UPDATE: SOLD – thanks Padi.

My A4 illustration – A Gigantic Fleet of Tint Orange Spaceships – is now for sale.

It’s drawn in pen on good quality, heavyweight, cartridge paper, and coloured with Copic Ciao Marker. There are 150 tiny spaceships – and it seemed to take forever to fill the page.

The price is £100 including UK postage (worldwide will be extra). Payment by PayPal. Email, Tweet, or message me here on the blog or on Instagram.

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The finished fleet. 150 strong.

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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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 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.

Line weight

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.