this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Tag: landscape

The Tower

An illustration based on the Guinigi Tower in Lucca, Italy.

Drawn with a 0.03 Copic Multiliner and a 0.3 Staedtler Pigment Liner in an A5 Moleskine sketchbook.

The Tower

The Tower



The Stones…

Inspired by Linda Thompson‘s song “Nine Stone Rig”…

I’ve been drawing standing stones. Part neolithic, part Lord of the Rings.

Drawing of standing stones

Nine Stone Rig

Drawing of a rock formation

The Stones

The Lighthouse in the Sky…

Finally finished and coloured an illustration that I started a few weeks ago. Vaguely inspired by the work of John Evelyn, Conrado Almada and Hayao Miyazaki, it’s one of those illustrations, that as I draw, takes on a little life of its own. I can’t help but wonder who lives there, what the lighthouse is for, what kind of ships need warning of rocks in the sky…?

I think there’s definitely a story to be told here. By somebody.


The Lighthouse in the Sky

The Lighthouse in the Sky


Inspired by the lighthouse, I thought I’d add some more…

Village in the Clouds

Village in the Clouds

Mountains, moors and make-believe

There is something magical about creating a place or a world that previously only existed inside your own head. It’s impossible to draw (at least it is for me) an imaginary landscape without wondering about the people who inhabit it, or the history of it, or the flora and fauna that fill it.

Some of my landscapes are very much rooted in the real world, the lake district is never far from the tip of my pen, while some have only the loosest foundations here on earth.

Only one of my landscapes exists as is, Slater’s Bridge in Little Langdale in the Lake District. I really must get back there with a sketchbook. It’s an amazingly beautiful place.

Slater's Bridge

Slater’s Bridge

People are very rare in my drawings, partly because I’m pretty terrible at drawing them, but partly because I want to be the person in the picture. I don’t want to share these places with anyone else. Extreme escapism for me would be stepping into one of my illustrations and exploring what’s beyond the edge of the page.

Not a happy place to live…

Sometimes, not very often, a doodle becomes something surprising and cool. I started sketching the other day, with no particular aim in mind, and quickly roughed out the shape of a skull. A few minutes later, again with very little thought, a city began to grow…

I’m really pleased with what this little doodle became…

Skull City

Skull City

Walking City

There’ll be a longer update (or updates) from me later this week, but for now here’s the latest illustration I’m working on.

It was inspired by thoughts of all the incredible buildings and settings in the Lord of the Rings, and also memories of reading Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast trilogy a few years ago. I love the messy, organic way that old medieval towns grow, so adding that to a stone mountain that walks didn’t seem like a big jump.

Pen illustration image

Walking City

A lot of people have said it reminds them of work by Hayao Miyazaki and the output of Studio Ghibli, the amazing Japanese animation studio. Oddly, although I know of Myazaki and Ghibli, I’ve only ever seen about five minutes of any of the films. I really should make an effort to see more.

UPDATE: Thursday 5th December.

I think I’m just about done colouring. I’ll step away for now and see how it looks in a few days.

Final (probably) coloured version of Walking City.

Final (probably) coloured version of Walking City.

Imaginary idyll

I’ve taken to carrying a sketchbook with me over the last few months, particularly if I’ve been working at a client’s office. It’s nice to get out on a lunchtime and doodle while I have a bite to eat.

This landscape is the product of a few lunchtimes in a pub by the Thames. It began as nothing but a doodle of a rock…

Beginnings of a sketch

First doodlings

It took a couple of days, but only an hour or so of actual drawing, for it to progress into a landscape…

Sketch book drawing

Work in progress

The final drawing. Could be the lake district, or possibly somewhere east of the Shire in Middle Earth.

Finished drawing of a landscape

The final sketch


I’ve realised that this drawing reminds me of the drawings of the British walking book author Alfred Wainwright. His Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells are full of beautiful renderings of the Lake District.

Building a city…

A few days ago I was idly doodling, probably while I was supposed to be doing something else, and I ended up with the beginnings of a medieval town. I worked on it for a couple more hours, and was pretty pleased. It’s wonky as hell, but it’s interesting I think.

A sketch of a city and castle

A very wonky doodle

So I liked this, but it really was a bit slap-dash. So I decided to have another go at it, taking a bit more care and time. Over the next few days the drawing progressed…

I think it manages to keep the same feel as the first sketch, but it’s better balanced and more considered. I think maybe an extra layer of buildings could have worked, maybe next time.

The last thing I did was to have a go at colouring it. I’ve never used photoshop to colour one of my sketches before, so this was a bit hit and miss. I’m sure I went about it in an entirely inefficient way, but the result was OK. I like the colour palette, I’d like to get more texture into the next one though.

A coloured illustration of a city and castle

The final (for now) coloured illustration

So that’s The City & The Castle complete.