this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Tag: sketchbook

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.

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.

Black stripes

I don’t know why, but these big, black stripes have found their way into my work recently…

Fly Fishing…

I’ve found myself doodling fishy things again. This time, it’s not just fish illustrations, but flying fishing boats too. Definitely inspired by the work of Ian McQue, I’m utterly obsessed by the thought of these floating ships – where do they live, who skippers them, what do they catch…?

There will definitely be more to come.

I had to include the latest fish illustration here too, one of my favourites so far.

These are a few of my favourite things (robots)…

I’m now 145 days into my project to draw one robot every day for a year. It’s much more of a commitment than I ever anticipated. I’m pretty happy, generally, with my progress. Still a little inconsistent as I mentioned in my last blog post, but there’s definitely some improvement.

Here are some of my favourites so far…

 

Thanks for looking and for all the support here, on Instagram, Facebook and on Tumblr.

Only one game in town…

Well, it’s still droids. Working in London is leaving me with precious little time to draw, and as I committed to drawing a droid every day for a year – that’s the one thing I will squeeze in.

I’ve been asking on twitter and Instagram for suggestions for film, TV or book droids or robots to draw.

Here are three of my favourites so far…

Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet

Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet

R2-D2, surely everyone's favourite

R2-D2, surely everyone’s favourite

K-9, Doctor Who's faithful companion

K-9, Doctor Who’s faithful companion

40 days of droids…

Day 40 of my droid a day project. Here’s a selection of my progress so far, along with some of today’s sketches.

Just over half of the droids so far…

Just over half of the droids so far…

Some of today's sketches - hands and feet.

Some of today’s sketches – hands and feet.