Saturday, 8 December 2012

It's competition time!

So, just entered my first illustration competition! Very very nervous to be having my work judged by professionals (or anyone) but fingers crossed, we all have to start somewhere right?

I am very proud of this picture as I pretty much poured my heart and soul into it. This is a continuation of my exploration into charcoal and I think it may be a media that I will use indefinitely now. It just provides so much tonal quality and atmosphere which I adore and lends the image so much soul. But I'm beginning to sound ridiculous now so lets just say that I was very happy with the results.

The image itself is a recreation of the moment that Paris of Troy seduces Helen of Sparta and ignites the Trojan war. I wanted the image to appear as if we were looking into the scene as someone intruding and are glimpsing the passionate moment of first embrace. I wanted there to be lots of atmosphere and foreboding, as we the audience know all too well the result of this embrace...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Finishing line in sight!

It's almost Christmas, which means I'm beginning to draw an end on my first modules of year two. In retrospect, there are plenty of things that I would have done differently. Time management is still my arch nemesis and will continue to be for some time. But, as I sit here at 05:36 in the morning, a glass of wine beside me, I take some solace in the fact that despite my inability to handle my time accordingly (and at the expense of my health) I look over my produced work and feel a great deal of pride. For some time I refused to take praise from myself or others, and it is something that any creative professional has to overcome. But ultimately, if you cannot take joy in the work you create then it really isn't worth doing at all. My latest final piece which will be scanned in today is something which I feel reflects me and my work more than anything that has come before this.

But for now, I will have to bore you with my life drawing!

If I haven't said it before ill say it again here. Life drawing this year has been the best so far. Now that we are able to dictate our own media choice, I've felt that I've learned more than I did previously because I can use the techniques and theories that they are teaching and actually apply it to the way I draw. Out of the pictures above, I felt that the second image was my strongest. I was particularly pleased with how I'd managed to replicate the delicate the pose. It's often the most subtle of gestures that make or break a picture and I felt this one turned out great, especially how all of these were just 20 minitee exercises.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A notable absence

Now I feel like I'm treating this blog like an abused housewife. Almost a month without a post. Eeeek, its amazing how quickly university can take over your life.

Well, actually its not just university. I've been struggling with some health problems lately which took an awful amount of time to diagnose and treat. But I'm happy to report that I'm now doing well, have a prescription in place and am feeling better for it. All that's left to do is sort out my sleeping pattern. I won't go into the boring details but its enough to say that I'm not getting my 7 hours a day. This has led to me actually do more work because I'm awake longer, but I know its not something that should be encouraged.

Anyway, enough about my personal life, scouting back over my last few posts, I last left off with me in the middle of an editorial project, the results of which can be seen below:

Considering my misgivings about this project, I was actually very proud of the final image I produced. I had been toying a lot with charcoal in my life drawing sessions and had wanted to try and apply this to my professional work. So, after a few hours of trial and error (don't lean on the picture without fixing the charcoal first...) I completed the image. Without meaning to blow on my own horn, I felt that the media suited my style perfectly and raised my standard of work considerably.

The application of the image to the set template however was frustrating. In all truth, I didn't really tailor the image to the brief, and ended up with something that I wanted in my portfolio than I did in an editorial brief.

But all in all I was extremely pleased with what was a difficult project. But I feel like I've turned a corner stone in terms of finding my 'style'. I've already begun my next charcoal piece, and I've had great feedback so far.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A little bit of life drawing

Anyone who can successfully juggle all the modules at the same time on my course can beat superman in a fist fight hands down. For instance today I produced my tight pencil rough for illus210 ready to be signed off and taken to a final piece, researched my chosen area of illustration and contacted several practitioners in readiness for my essay question and chosen a subject for my new drawing out project and prepped my sketchbook. And i'm not even finished for the day!

By the time I finish the course I should be a master of time management, that is assuming I haven't collapsed before then. But, I should;t be complaining, few people get the chance to do what they love day in and day out.

Oh, but I digress. I have also just completed my first life drawing session for this year and I was particularly pleased with the results.

The focus of the session was on 'weight' and trying to show weight and the occupation of space through our images. It was a welcome return to charcoal for me, and after these exercises I have attempted to use charcoal for my editorial brief, the results of which are shortly to follow.
Time ranges here was 40 minutes for the first image, 20 minutes for the second and 5 minutes for the third. I like the timed challenges as you are forced to define the most important aspects of your model and get only the necessary information that you need. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Artistic reference

It's kind of ironic how much work I'm getting done at uni, but how little of it actually ends up on here. I'm still very much in the mindset of not wanting to put my work online for fear of ridicule. It's silly, and I need to just be brave and get my work out there as this is the most likely place that people will find my stuff. A simple analogy could be a parent dropping their child off at the first day of school: they want to hold on, cherish them and protect them from all the dangers there are out there, but they know deep down the only way their child will grow and develop is for them to interact with the world around them, and the people that inhabit it.

So! Hence forth, I shall stop hoarding my artwork and just put any old crap up here! ...well, not crap exactly. My meticulous nature doesn't allow me to ever draw something that isn't in some way half finished, but I know I need to stop being so selective.

With this in mind....I have nothing to show.

No joke I don't actually have anything scanned in but i'm going to do a large haul over the next couple of days and really bring this bog back up to date.

On a side note, and in reference to this posts' title, I wanted to just express my love and admiration for the work of Yuko Shimizu. I only stumbled across her work the other day by recommendation of my tutor. I was told my style was some what reminiscent of hers and upon viewing her work, I'm very flattered to be even remotely similar to her.


She has a wonderful ability to combine cultural aesthetics and has a brilliant grasp of how to use the frame. My own editorial brief has subsequently taken direct influence from her and I just wanted to pay my respects here. You should definitely check out her work, you'd be hard pressed not to find her images as they appear all over the place. On a personal note, I do feel a very strong affinity for her as she took drastic changes in her life to achieve what she has. Having a mid life crisis at 22 may seem like the end of the world, but its nice to know that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. There are truly wonderful people to admire and aspire to.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Thumbnails at 2:33am

The title leaves little to the imagination! I'm up at nearly three in the morning, trying to scan in some cover ideas for tomorrow's (or should I say today's?) deadline. This is a short editorial brief, only 4 weeks in total, to go through an entire project from initial ideas to final artwork. Included here are my ideas for the brief, I would go into detail about the content but i'm so bloody tired! I'll give a more thorough explanation once one has been chosen so I can finalise my design.


I hope they choose the first design as that is my personal favourite, if not, then design three would be a close second. But, sod's law says they'll pick number two so we'll wait and see. Thumbnails were completed with pencil, fine liner and watercolour, for speed more than anything.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Back from the river styx

Well, it has been a little while since I put anything up here (again!) I do have a legitimate reason however, i've been very ill. Now by i'll I don't mean a tickling cough, but a several day assault of all my sinuses and digestive regions. I won't go into the gory details but for a time there I really did feel on death's door. But i'm back on form again now, just, and despite my illness work has continued. I'll endeavour to get it up on here pronto.

At the moment i'm currently working on an editorial brief for a lawyer's magazine. I'm pretty sure i've mentioned my inability to do editorial brief's but so far my ideas have been strange and varied. I'm actually having a little fun with it, which is the only way to tackle something you do ideally want to do. I've got images of lawyers playing 'operation', paper planes escaping aircraft carriers and all sorts. Should present me with some interesting feedback if nothing else....

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Getting Organised

Well, returning to university presents old problems and new. Luckily, old problems are slowly being rectified while new problems are being addressed. After spending a hefty sum, I have now established a reasonable studio at home to work from complete with workspace, materials, scanner etc and now can comfortably work from university and home. Which is good as I now more than ever I need to be able to work, almost 24/7 in order to keep up with the workload.

That workload at the moment consists of a couple of things that I'm quite excited about. Chief among these is doing a poster design for the 1990 film 'Total Recall' by Paul Verhoeven. Being an avid film fan, I jumped at the chance to do some designs. Ultimately I want to get into film and TV design, namely costume and storyboarding, but posters sat just as well for me too! I've included my initial thumbnail below, and once approved will get that painted up to standard. I've also included a little painting I did when I was in Exeter. This a return to pencil illustration again and I'm really pleased with the results I've been having.

The other project is a new editorial piece. Now, editorial work is fantastic when it is done well. An editorial image can have multiple levels that can give powerful insight and deliver a simple or complicated message. However, let's just say i'm as adapt at editorial illustration as a hippo is elegant and graceful when entering water. Still, I'm trying to see it as a challenge and a chance to explore a style that I don't usually approach with a barge pole.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Just because I found it

Another image I've managed to recover from my rather badly organised computer files, a digital painting done from my original horse painting. Hope you like!

While in France

So, i'm starting back at university tomorrow (huzzar!) which is great because i've been desperate to get back into a working environment, and have a studio to exploit. It does have the unfortunate side of effect of being set even more work, on top of all the others projects I have on the go at the moment! So I warn you now, I expect my upcoming posts will be work that was completed some while ago, and all new work won't be seen until I get to uploading them online here. For example, the costume and character designs below I did whilst away on holiday (3 weeks ago...) have only now been shown daylight, while the gouache painting i've had laying around for yonks and have only now found the digital file.


The reason I put these particular ones up at the moment was due to me making some form of professional decision. This last year I was determined to experiment as much as possible, and while that did open my eyes to other mediums I had not even considered it also meant that my finished product was not always up to the highest levels that I knew I was capable of. These images were a return to media I knew I excelled at. Therefore I have decided the following:

To return to finished artwork completed with gouache + watercolour
Taking my pencil and pen based work back to the forefront

and regrettably

Factoring in more digital artwork into my portfolio

Well, there is my intended action plan for this forthcoming academic year. Lets see how well it holds up!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Another week, another country

Well, the title says it all really! Been away in France this week and needless to say it was gorgeous. Was tucked away in rural France and I can honest say it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. This does have the awful side effect that I now have a million new ideas in my head and visual inspiration bursting out of the seams!

I did manage to do some drawings while I was away which I will be adding here shortly, but the whole visit has inspired me to do an entire french inspired collection so watch this space!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A little Celtic flavour

So, with my project centred on the Mabinogion I've had to do some research on the era that it was written in to get an idea of the times. There are no exact dates for when it was actually written but the work it is based on (The White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book Hergest) were all penned between 1300-1400AD. With this in mind i've been looking at the Celtic society in the 5th Century. I was surprised at the range of fashion that was around at the time, and it's meant i've had quite a lot of creative freedom with the designs. I've also drawn inspiration from the film 'Tristan & Isolde' which is also set in the same era.

Here are my initial sketches; they are of no particular character or from any story, I just wanted to get a feel for the designs. These will be followed up with some colour work, i'm planning to do a mixture of pencil, watercolour and digital and see what medium is best suited.



The only sketch which has some narrative is the old man surrounded by dancers. This image was just a blast to illustrate! 

Everyone's allowed to be vain once!

Well, this is going to be a tad self indulgent but sometimes you just have to embezzle! For my blog I previously had some rather unflattering pictures of myself to be used as my profile picture which were, frankly, embarrassing. However, in an attempt to appear slightly more professional I decided to get some quality photo's for the webpage.


Firstly, I want to thank Nicci Mills for taking some absolutely wonderful pictures, which make me look far more handsome than I could possibly be in real life. If anyone is interested in seeing more of her work then please get in contact.

Back to business though.

I have successfully moved house all in one piece and have now dived head first back into my work. I will be putting up my latest sketchbook drawings on here ASAP.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A change of Location

Just to keep anyone even the slightest bit interested, I am currently moving house so there is a slight delay on content that I will be posting for a couple of days. Non-stop as always for me!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

One week in Hampshire

Well, i've been having some well deserved time off. After completing my illus130 project, I've been giving myself some tlc. So, that means i'm going to be a little sporadic with my posts this week, as i'm in Southampton celebrating my rather lovely girlfriends birthday. However! It's also meant that, because i'm not doing any official work (nor do I have any immediate deadlines!) i've actually been able to do some pleasure drawing. It's been a while since i've drawn for my own pleasure, and its actually a very warm feeling to return to.

The media is simple fine liner with a dash of watercolour. This was actually my predominant style before starting university, and due to this I tried to expand the mediums that I used and not be too reliant on any particular media. However, coming back to it, I must admit I wonder why I never considered using this as my trademark style to begin with. So, with this is mind I am going to slowly start intergrating what i've learnt this year and apply it to this.

This, on reflection, was exactly the purpose of this first year of university. To try the entire range, break comfort zones and expose myself to everything available, and then take a step back and build the picture with all the different aspects you have tried and learnt from. I can't stress enough the learning curve here, and would encourage anyone struggling to find their style to take this exact approach.

Phew! Feel awfully wise (must be the beard i'm growing) but overall a good week so far. Hopefully aim to get something else up from my sketchbook on the weekend.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The actual finish line!

Ok, so I know I said that Illus 130 was finished...but it is now. Definitely. Slight complication of me forgetting to do something meant that I spent last night making up for the lost pages, but we are now in the clear. It was all OK though, all it meant was doing a page on Yoshitaka Amano, one of my favourite artists so I had no complaints looking through his fantastic portfolio of work.


So here is me replicating his picture (taking from one of his numerous Vampire Hunter D illustrations) and relocating it to the bowling alley. I think I might have embezzled it a little bit to the point that it is no longer clear that it is in fact a bowling alley, but it was fun none the less and a welcome return to pencil based work.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tony Scott

Utterly shocked at the news that Tony Scott has committed suicide. There are no words that I could say that could possibly pay enough homage to the man. Obviously, my immediate thoughts go to his family, and to his brother Ridley. It is a terrible tragedy for anyone to lose a father or a brother.

I am, and always will be a great admirer and can only pay tribute by re-watching such timeless films as Crimson Tide, True Romance and of course, Top Gun. May he take ever lasting comfort that he will always be remembered through the great work he achieved and that he leaves us all with a legacy that will live forever.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Illus 130 - Observational Drawing final piece

So, here is the result of all those long days spent drawing bowling balls and gambling machines and pool tables and the miserable people that frequent the bowling alley....wait, for the past month that was me!

Took roughly two days on/off to complete, using water colour and gouache, and then refined on photoshop. Overall I was pleased with the outcome. I really wanted to convey the 'jungle' feel of the bowling alley, and the utter claustrophobia of being in there so long. It also charts the journey of someone through the entire building, giving it a self contained narrative.

Striking out at the Bowling Alley

Only the you understand....

Thank God! It's over! That was a gruelling project, and through streams of blood, sweat and tears, it comes to an end and the result is a relatively pleasing outcome.

I said from the start that my biggest regret with this project was choosing a location out of convenience and not out of creative interest. It's a simple lesson, one which I should have known better. Choose something you are actually interested in!

So, for the moment I will be taking a creative leave from observational drawing (of course that will be forced out of retirement once university starts again in september) and instead will be concentrating whole heatedly on my summer project. I have plenty of ideas in the works and can't wait to make them come to fruition. 

In retrospect, the project has had its uses, and come next term I think i'll be in a better position to approach the next one. It sure as hell won't be anything to do with bowling!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A stressful week

Well, it's been non stop for me this week. As it stands I have a deadline for thursday for my observational drawing project. I've been illustrating my work place, but instead of drawing work...i've been at work. Everyone has bills to pay and its taking its toll on me this week. Thats not to say i've not been working, its just a long way off what i'd hoped to have achieved over these last few days.

I'll be finishing the final piece for that project tonight so will have that up here tomorrow for your judgement, as well as uploading the last of that sketchbook too. Once all that is out of the way, I can resume my focus back on my summer project. I have about 5 images ready, waiting to be painted. But alas my greatest downfall as an illustrator (my irritatingly slow process) is once again meaning I have an ever increasingly 'to-do' list. No rest for the wicked eh.

Well, in the meantime here is some sketchbook work from my summer project:

These were my mock ups using the circular symbol, and then combining it with welsh mythic heroes and legends. Included here are 'Twrch Trwyth - Protector of the ever-living ones', 'Blodeuwedd - the maiden of flowers', 'Cwn Annwn - The wild hunt of Arawn' and 'The road to Annwyn - the welsh otherworld'

With these sketches I was most happy with the development of the text. At first, the writing was just ineligible and just distracted attention away from the image. The latter pictures I felt integrated the two elements far more effectively.

As for these two, they were drawn immediately after reading some of the welsh fairy tales. I suppose they are the most traditional drawings i've done recently, and were very quickly coloured with watercolours. They are some of the very first pictures I did on this project, and to stop and actually reflect on where i've progressed to now still bemuses me. The wheels of creativity never stop!