Thursday, 9 February 2017

Thought bubble- Gilbert's Universe

My trip to the Leeds comic book convention had been very positive and has now led to some real work. I was first considered for some comic book work but for whatever reason it never came to fruition. Never the less I'd been offered the chance to produce a children's book instead.

The book is called (for now) Gilbert's Universe and is written by Andy Briggs. This will be aimed at 3 to 6 year olds. There's been a few delays sorting out the contracts which was annoying as I started the work before Christmas and produced most of the initial concept drawings.

Concept drawings
Initially I try not to be too controlled with concept work. After gathering some reference material I work quickly and loosely while trying to get an idea of the look and the colours.

Next I start to refine a little.
For characters I tried different proportions but decided on the more cartoony ones with the bigger heads. From this I tried to rough out the expressions of the characters that can be found through the story. 
For the creature I draw out the animal that the author had based it on just so I get an idea of the creatures structure. In this case it's a lizard. It might not end up looking like a real lizard but I have to be comfortable and familiar with the creature I draw. Something else that helps is to make a maquette (model) so I can look at it from different angles.
Developing the space ship was a little tricky. The author had wanted it to be based on a small car and built out of junk with a washing machine in the back some where.
In the initial stages I felt the vehicle was too recognisable as a car. To get round this I started using the back of the car as the front. This way elements of a car is still clearly recognisable, also the kids flying the ship should be more visible.
I started the thumbnails after the concept work and I spend quite a bit of time on this, constantly drawing over and over it before finally going over each one in pen to pick out the details. In fact I spent more time on this than the above concept work. For me it's really important to layout the book before finalising the page.  Also I never feel comfortable drawing a page from scratch I continually revise and amend the layout. There will be some in the thumbnails that I'm not entirely happy with, but having something down allows me to look it over and keep thinking about it before I start the finished roughs.
 Concepts and thumbnails were sent to the publisher after the contract was finalized and I've since  been  given the green light to carry on.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Time twisters

Back in November, After finding out that I came second in the Thought bubble competition with Monkfish , I thought I'll  try and not waste the opportunity while down there and enter another competition that goes on at the event. This is the 2000 AD competition.

As I hadn't planned to go to Thought Bubble I rushed to get the sample ready.

 Unfortunately  when I got there I missed the entry for the competiton. The good thing was that the feed back was positive with some areas of improvement needed (some of the figures are looking a bit rubbery) and consideration to the flow and rhythm of the panelling. One thing I needed to consider more is how the emphasis on the characters switch through the story. As one of the main characters is killed off midway through the story I didn't make enough emphasis on the remaining character.

Time permitting I would really like to revisit this sample as I can clearly see where the changes I would make are.

Thursday, 10 November 2016


It's been a while since my last post, I've been very busy with various work.

 I recently entered my work, Monkfish, at  Thought bubble , the Leeds comic book festival and, unexpectedly, I came second. I wasn't planning to go but they informed me that I could have a weekend pass and there were prizes :)

Due to it being an unexpected trip I rushed to get a sample ready for another competition but alas missed the entry time for that one. It was a good experience though and I met a few people and, fingers cross, some work will come from it.

Regardless of that I got some good feedback regarding my portfolio. There's still things to improve on but I'm definitely headed in the right direction.

 Monkfish is watercolour over ink and my portfolio consisted of this, The frog who lost her hop and Innocence abroad  and a black and white piece I'll put up next time.  The watercolour pieces were very well received and all comments were positive.... so fingers cross. I think I'm definitely sticking with water colouring as opposed to digital colouring.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Elizabeth part 2


 Following on from the previous post this is the finished portrait.

I didn't want to spend too long on this painting so kept the composition very simple.

Without having to consider other elements such as limbs, torso, background, foreground, what she's doing and so on, really frees up getting stuck into the process of painting.  To the point it felt like a leisurely painting exercise.

In the end it took about 5 short sessions, spread over two weeks, to finish. This way I could fit it in between doing other things.

Friday, 1 July 2016


"Uncle Norman...?"

"... Yes, Elizabeth?"

"Could you paint a picture of me... for my birthday...?"

"...uh  yeah, sure  :)"

Not quite finished yet, but... hopefully over the weekend.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Cycle of Violence Submission part 2

This is the final inked artwork for cycle of violence with a very few tweaks here and there from the original pencils. Most notably I added a ceiling and sky lights in page 2 panel 2 to give the impression that the character is inside an indoor training complex and also widened that panel for dialogue. Also, on the last panel of the last page I trimmed the image so it doesn't bleed off the page

Looking back at it now after a couple of weeks away from it, I can take some pros and cons regarding the work.
 I'm happy with the layouts of the images and the flow of the sequences... maybe could do with more over head shots such as page 5 panel 1. 
I felt I really got into the story, but in doing so I didn't keep strictly to the descriptions for the script ( I don't know if that's a good thing or bad. I think I'll put up the pages with the text on my next entry. That'll give me another point of view regarding the strength of this piece).
I think my pencils from before could probably be a bit cleaner and defined and like wise my inks as shown above are a bit on the rough side, more solid blacks should be used and cleaner lines in certain areas.
Looking at the work on screen and shrunken down, the cleanness and contrast of page 4, panel 3 and possibly page2, panel 1 stick out to me as a positive, the other panels look very cluttered and less defined, a bit overworked by lines.   
Anyway I'll have to wait for the feed back. The samples have been sent.... so fingers crossed. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Cycle of violence submission part 1.

This is the pencils for my next 2000AD submission, based on their sample script "Cycle of Violence"

The work was done in my spare time, spread over about 3 weeks since I got back from Thought Bubble.
 With this sample I took some liberties with this script and didn't follow the descriptions too strictly but the original narrative should still fit with what I've done. 

I had previously roughed out the pages following the descriptions and panels closely but felt the images were disjointed and didn't really connect from one panel to another which is something Tom Foster said about my competition entry at Thought bubble. Whereas in thought bubble it was my own choice of images, this time I felt it might be the descriptions of the images.

So with that in mind my approach was to first, break this story down and for me it fell into 3 parts.
Chapter 1 starts in the middle of a crime and finishes with the main character( the boy) surviving the event.
Chapter 2, the boy enrols, graduates and establishes himself as a Judge.
Chapter 3, he encounters the crime that breaks him and ultimately leads to his death at the hands of his former saviour.

Second I read through each chapter and tried my best to edit the written descriptive sequence to fit what I thought would make a better visual sequence.

Notable changes is that I fit the whole of chapter one into the first page and condensed the first 3 and a half panels into the starting image (below), allowing for dialogue and title.

In chapter 2, first page (below left), panel 2, I wanted show what was in the narrative that the boy physically excels though he's a loner.  Panel 4, he's not contemplating his revenge in bed but straight after getting his head flushed in the loo in panel 3.  Panel 5, instead of already having laid out one of the bullies I thought his approaching them would contrast nicely with panel 6. Second page (below right), panel 1 he's walking away from a disciplinary with a sneer and the beaten bullies can be seen in the background.

Chapter 3 I did a lot of changes here. The written descriptive goes as follows: 1.found dead body, 2.mug shot, 3. interrogation (though the narrative is about the suspect going free), 4.the young Judge isn't happy, 5. suspect is followed, 6. picture of the city looking vast.
My visual sequence(above) is 1, found dead body.  2. young Judge arrests suspect. 3. suspect goes free and young Judge looks on not happy.  4. he follows suspect.  5. young Judge's attention is diverted to another victim of crime and can only watch the suspect walk away.
And on the middle panels of the last page he turns away and sees his reflection. I couldn't figure how to do that with one panel so split that into 2.
The original script can be down loaded from the 2000AD site.
Since finishing this entry I've now finished the inks and that will be part 2 of this when I get the time to blog it.