"Enthusiastic" Illustrator

This is from months ago. The guy on the right is from sketching ideas for our exhibition poster. I wanted something funny and crazy showing our enthusiasm in a tongue in cheek manner. I didn't use it in the end, there were already other posters made so I didn't bother. The dude on the left is a random idea, playing with face proportions which I often like to do, usually as a sort of warm up before starting on something.

update & exhibition photos

Right, back to blogging. As you can see I've updated the design, with inspiration coming from Mcbess' large and stylish tumblr design. I've also created my first website. How exciting. I like how I've made the blog look as if it's part of the same website, whereas it's really just the same blogspot account but with some clever css and html editing and dns url redirecting thingymagiggery.

In other news, our end of year exhibition at uni was a great success. Unfortunately I didn't take many photos, and those I did were with my phone.

ILLUS 220 Finals: The Empress meets the Spirits

This is another of my final pieces for my uni module in which I created illustrations for the book The Description Of The New World Called The Blazing World.
     In this scene the Empress of the Blazing World meets the spirits which inhabit it. They're described as formless entities floating in the air. I thought it would be appropriate to use the palette knives again to paint the spirits while carefully rendering the empress with brushes.
     With no context I wouldn't expect anyone to understand what the hell is going on here, but seen with the text I think it's OK.

ILLUS 220 Finals: the Bear-men walking across the ice towards her

Many of my classmates have said this was their favourite final piece I did for this module. Ironically, it was the simplest and quickest to finish.
     I painted it in acrylics just with shades of grey using only palette knives, on a sheet of hardboard. I finished the piece in a single sitting ~ 2 hours although I could have done it a lot quicker (it was the first time I'd used palette knives). The background was done by scraping back the grey off of the board to show the white gesso primer underneath. The textures are from roughly laying down the paint and continually spraying with water and letting the water droplets create little dots and letting it drip down in places.
     I then took a quick photo and edited it to change some of the values and add colour. I think I may have also overlayed a posterise effect on it or something to enhance the textures in the paint.

I really like this final. I like the rough edgy textures the palette knives afforded me, and the bear-mens' deadpan/confused/gawping expression. It taught me that an illustration doesn't need to be precisely detailed with every aspect of the painting rigidly thought out, as long as it works within the aesthetic of the style of the piece you're going for it doesn't really matter. It can look better to create a mere impression of detail.

sketchbook page commenting on photoshop thumbnail sketches
This was the final rough
of sorts done in Photoshop.
 After doing this rough I decided to change the scene from when they're carrying the girl back with them to when they're walking towards her. It looked to me that the girl was ruining the awesome atmosphere created by the bears, she was hogging too much attention away from the rest of the picture. She didn't seem to be fitting in and I found it too difficult to draw her in the same stylised way I drew the bears.

ILLUS 220 Finals: The Bird-men explaining to the Empress the nature of the Heavens

This is another of my finals for the book The Description Of The New World Called The Blazing World for my uni project.

In this scene the Bird-men, who have been tasked by the Empress as her astronomers, are tasked with explaining to her their reckoning as to the nature of the Sun, Moon and stars.

An earlier version without acrylic textures added and some contrast fixes

I wanted them to look like quirky old professors, trying to sound authoritative, when really most of their knowledge is composed of short sighted observations and daft conclusions. 
     I kept a restricted colour palette as in the past I've often used too many colours in one painting. Looking back at it now though I think I could have improved the painting by differentiating the characters more with colour.

some bits from my sketchbook:

ILLUS 220 Finals: 'The Fish-men were to carry the Fire-stones in cases of Diamonds...'

The first of four illustrations I submitted for my year 2 2nd term main module for my illustration degree.
     Since my last WIP post of this I tightened up the image further and added my own scanned-in acrylic textures over the fire-stone to give it a little extra something.
     My tutor's reaction to this final was he felt the image was rather "generic". I guess I agree with him; the idea for the illustration isn't massively clever, and it looks plasticy and over saturated, as most digital paintings do. If it was meant as a concept artwork it might be good; as a book illustration, it's generic.

It's been a dream of mine to get a job as a concept artist in a computer game design company for the last few years now, but maybe I should be experimenting with other more interesting styles for my illustration uni projects and just do concept art portfolio stuff in my own time. God I wish I could go back to first year without paying more fees.

Here are some bits from my sketchbook:

The Look

a sketch in pen which I've quickly edited in Picasa
For ILLUS 241 (a module at university) I'm sketching people out in Plymouth then caricaturing and redesigning the sketches into interesting artwork, with a painting or something as a final. More updates soon to follow.


Brain Phlegm

I've just finished a major module at uni. I think it's time I got back to regular updates. Here's a recent doodle.

another Bigmouth work-in-progress (WIP)

This is a WIP for one of the six illustrations for my uni project on the story 'The Blazing World' written by Margaret Cavendish in 1666.

From page 41:
"The Fish-men were to carry the Fire-stones in cases of Diamonds (for the Diamonds in the Blazing World are in splendor so far beyond the Diamonds of this World, as Peble-stones are to the best of this Worlds Diamonds) and to uncase or uncover those Fire-stones no sooner but when they were just under the Enemies Ships, or close at their sides, and then to wet them, and set their Ships on fire..."

Bigmouth Strikes Again

I decided to just go ahead and make something different to the I last one I showed, rather than finish that one and start on the next illustration.

I copied some of the symbols on his body straight from the book I got from the library "The Decorative Arts of Africa". Their Adinkira symbols and this is what they mean (going down the arm then lastly the belly):
> Dwanimen  The ram's horns, a symbol of strength
> I made up this one
> Msusyidie  A symbol of sanctity and good fortune
> I made up this one
> Sepow A knife used in executions to prevent a curse on the king


For my main uni project this term, I am to create 6 illustrations including a cover for the book 'The Description Of The New World Called The Blazing World' by Margaret Cavendish in 1666. It's a story about a young lady who miraculously discovers herself on another world which is inhabited by animal-men including bear-men, fox-men, fish-men etc. whom make her their Empress and worship her. 

I knew I needed to make a final piece this weekend - we've about 5 or 6 weeks to finish our current main project. So far I've just been researching, sketching and thumbnailing.



I started painting - I can't be over fussing about the composition for too long.

 I got frustrated with the oils paints. I don't really know how to paint traditionally and I've never finished an oil painting. I decided I should go home and paint what I saw in my head in Photoshop that night then come back the next day and then I'd have a painting I could copy from which might make things easier.

 I decided to change the position of the body, although I still think the fish-men in the thumbnails have a more interesting look to them, something monster-ish. I also cropped further into the picture because I thought it looked better.

 Then I messed around with colours using an overlay layer, and tightened things up with a normal layer above that. It still needs more touching up obviously but it looks kind of nice. The over exposed highlight on the bottom corner of the face reminds me of underwater photography. If I take this to a finished state I may end up using this as a final. Now I think about it, it may be better for me to just do all my finals in Photoshop, then see if I've time to mess around with acrylics and oils without any pressure since I can use Photoshop paintings as back up.

It just looks like a fish with arms stuck on the sides at the moment. Am I worrying too much? The fish-men are from another world (in the book) so I want them to have a strangeness to them, something otherworldly and ethereal.

Enough for now.


I made this on a whim as a title image for this blog a few nights ago. It doesn't fit with the style I've made for here so I won't use it.

iPads in the life drawing studio (2nd Feb)

Youtube video of me painting this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33zM8SyfM1E&list=PL0DD223F04100DAC4

For our life drawing module this term we've been taking it in turns to draw using iPads provided for us by the Uni, using an app called Brushes.
Besides drawing and painting, the app automatically makes a video from your drawing as you work. Here's a link to our life drawing sessions which have been posted on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/uoptel/videos?view=pl

Colour with Oil Pastels

I forgot I'd done this.
This shows to me why I should stop using boring grey charcoal in life drawing classes.