this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Tag: pigment liner

A lone spaceship…

It’s been a while since I drew a spaceship, so it was fun to create this little one-man flyer. I think it’ll get some colour in the next few days – probably orange.

One-man flyer.

One-man flyer.

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

Tentacles

One of the recurring themes of my droids has to be tentacles. I don’t know why but I do love drawing a nice set of tentacles (no sniggering at the back). I quite like drawing octopus and squid too, so it’s not just droids.

There’s definitely a weird hybrid of jellyfish and octopus going on in most of these, with hints of The Matrix and The Empire Strikes Back.

 

The Mechs of Mars

Sometimes, when I post my droid pictures on my Tumblr blog, I write a little accompanying text. Sometimes this is just a quick one line description of the droid, or how I’ve drawn it, but sometimes I write a description that hints at a future history of these droids.

Air Defence Drone

Air Defence Drone

Air Defence Drone.
Designed and built in ‘74 by Kinetic Energy Systems Inc., the A.D.D. first saw use in the defence of the Olbers way station on Ceres. Shipping with both an Atlas-class Railgun and a Sigma-rated Plasma Cannon, the A.D.D. is a very capable weapon. With an onboard A.I. of .08 Human Analog, the drones can be deployed and then forgotten on the battlefield as they calculate the best way to achieve their orders. Currently the onboard A.I.s have recorded only one psychotic failure [see History of Belt-Mars Conflict: Vol VI: Ch 8.1 Brodsky].

Or…

Heavy Compliance Unit.
Built by Hurricane Industries for Law Enforcement, Riot Control, Crowd Suppression and Compliance. Strong and agile, with a high category A.I., the H.C.U. is equipped with both lethal and non-lethal tactical weapons, including: Low Velocity Kinetics, Tasers, Sonic Cannon, Microwave Lasers and standard MKIV mobile Rail Gun.

And…

Martian Eddie.
Eddie was built as a general purpose droid in late ‘78 and was shipped to Mars that same year to work for the Terraforming Committee. After 8 years of hard work, Eddie was sold to the owner of an algae farm in the new northern ocean. The algae farmer didn’t see robot rights as important and didn’t treat Eddie with much care or attention. In early ‘90 tax officials visiting the farm found no trace of its original owner, discovering Eddie in charge of operations. The ensuing legal case saw Eddie evicted and from that point on his antipathy to human kind was fixed. During the next decade Eddie could be found at most of the major flare-ups between humans and robots. The last anyone saw of Eddie was during the Tharsis Rebellion of ‘08 where he was seen at the heart of the robot offensive, brandishing his favoured plasma cannon as the Phobos Space Elevator came crashing down.
Rumours of Eddie’s survival have persisted, even though it’s now nearly 30 years seen he was seen. These rumours have been strenuously denied by the Human government of Mars.

I love the vague, hinted at history of far future conflicts hinted at in these descriptions. I don’t think I’ll ever write all the connecting information, better to allow people to fill in the gaps themselves. I do have a rough framework of a timeline in my head, although I’m scared to write it down in case it ties me down to a particular set of events.

I like to draw the droid, and then just see what suggests itself. That way I can be surprised too.

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.

Of Steel and Bone…

One of the many responses I had to my blog post A Crisis of Confidence was a very thoughtful one from Daniel Benneworth-Gray. One of Daniel’s many insightful points was that one way of getting over my frustration would be to invite people to tweet a micro-story for me to illustrate.

Obviously, the first person I asked was Daniel, and he didn’t disappoint…

Daniel's micro-story.

Daniel’s micro-story.

Working to someone else’s idea was liberating, and challenging. Luckily for me Mr Benneworth-Gray’s words are always damn fine and well considered, which made my job of illustrating so much easier.

As soon as I read the tweet I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do. I had the idea of a normal family staring up at a huge giant robot, that was, in turn, staring right back at them. There was a definite ‘The Iron Man’ thing going on here (the book, not the film or the superhero).

The result of Daniel's micro-story

The result of Daniel’s micro-story

The point Daniel made, about the fact that I hadn’t been illustrating – just drawing, was right. Interpreting somebody else’s words and ideas is a completely different challenge to just opening a sketchbook and making something up. It’s easier in some ways, and much harder in others. It is very worthwhile, and even if I don’t take this approach with all my future robots (110 to go), I’ll definitely give it a go from time to time, especially if I’m in a rut.

Huge thanks to Daniel for the idea, advice and encouragement. If you aren’t already following him on Twitter, or Instagram, I suggest you rectify that immediately. His blog is always a joy to read too.

The Tin Woodman…

Or the Tin Man according to the film. In the books, the Tin Woodman was originally a human called Nick Chopper. He was turned to tin by the Wicked Witch of the East to stop him from marrying his true love.

This is my take on the character from the 1939 film, I wanted to keep the face the same as Jack Haley’s, but give the rest a bit of a twist.

The Tin Woodman

The Tin Woodman

Size Matters

Bigger is better. Or so they say. Particularly in Texas I believe.

When it comes to my work, I’ve never been into ‘big’. My work tends to be small, tightly controlled, detailed – rather than expressive and sprawling. I’ve recently begun working much smaller though, as way of getting more ideas down on paper – rather than worrying too much about the finished product. Some of these little doodles will stay just that, but a few of them may become something else at a later date. Redrawn at a larger scale, details added, lines refined – all the while trying to keep the essence of what it was I liked about the doodle in the first place.

All the following drawings were done in pen, so no pencil or rubbing out, and were begun with almost no thought in mind as to what the aim was. In terms of scale, the largest of these little doodles is about 25mm high.

Mechs, probes, flyers…

Mechs, probes, flyers…

Flyers, skiffs, speeders…

Flyers, skiffs, speeders…

Low altitude flyers

Low altitude flyers

Multi-legged mechs

Multi-legged mechs

Some kind of hovering probe

Some kind of hovering probe

Three-legged mech and pilot

Three-legged mech and pilot

Heavy transport flyer

Heavy transport flyer

Stubby little speeder

Stubby little speeder

One-man flyer

One-man flyer

These were all drawn using a 0.1 or 0.2 Staedtler Pigment Liner, on bristol board.

It’s good fun drawing at this scale. There’s no room for obsessing over details, you just have to get in there and create some forms and hint at structure. They have bags of character at this scale too – the challenge will be to capture that if I work these up into full-scale illustrations.

Ghost in the Shell

The title of this post will mean next to nothing for almost everyone, unless you happen to be a fan of Japanese Manga/Anime.

As part of my Droid a Day project I’ve asked people to suggest a droid or robot from film or TV, my latest illustration – number 201 – is one of those.

This is Tachikoma…

Tachikoma - Ghost in the Shell

Tachikoma – Ghost in the Shell

He is a character from the Japanese series Ghost in the Shell, and was suggested by Michelle Aguilar – she’s quite a fan apparently.

He was fun, but hard work, to draw, and now I feel I need to watch some of the show.

If you have a droid you’d like to see me draw, feel free to comment.

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