Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Feeling Festive

So, it's the silly season again... can't believe this year has gone so quickly.

For those of you who've missed my previous super-hero themed seasonal e-cards, here they are:

2011 Spidey's miscommunication

2010 Superman's snowman

2009 Batman's little friend

Anyone who hasn't received an e-card from me this year and normally does, or if you would like to receive one next year, please let me know!

Monday, 12 November 2012

The First Banned Cover Shoot

Last week, the cover for 'Banned Across The Universe' was leaked on facebook!

So, for those that missed it there, here it is, sans logos and stuff for now!

I did a couple of roughs, based on two well known images (the other needs to remain secret for now, in case we use it at a later date). This one though, I think, wears it's inspiration very obviously...

...for those that spotted straight off that this was a blatant compositional swipe (from the Star Wars poster below), take ten house points!

This has to be my favourite Episode IV poster, the original UK one sheet, with the other, 'opening crawl' style logo.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

More Machine Than Man

I mentioned that I have had a touch of RSI in my thumb in my previous post.

I was away for a week in sunny north Norfolk last week. I had hoped that the problem would clear up with the rest. Nope!

Now, I've been prescribed some special gel to rub into my thumb and I've been given this splint to wear.

I feel decidedly Darth Vader-ish or Luke Skywalker-y! I've been told it should sort itself out in a couple of weeks. Interestingly, the most effective thing has been alternating the hand between bowls of warm and cold water. A minute in each and swap five or seven times, starting and finishing on warm!

The tendon in the thumb is inflamed and any strain will exacerbate the problem...

...I can type and drive a mouse, but pen-work has been nigh-on impossible. It's a worry, but hopefully, it should clear up in time for me to start the next episode of Banned Across the Universe!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bowl Me Over

Just finished the inks for the first episode of Banned Across the Universe.

Some of these inks may be a little scrappy, but I've had a touch of RSI in my thumb over the last couple of weeks and that considered, I'm not that unhappy with the finished art.

This page, and I don't think it gives too much away, shows the main characters, in situ at the Hollywood Bowl. Now, really, to the unbiased eye, was this worth the effort involved?

The Bowl does appear another couple of times to similar effect in the strip, but still, I don't think you'd know what I went through!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Final Frontier

I painted this over the weekend. Yup, paint, real life, real world, good old acrylic paint.

A much needed rest from the computer it was too!
Not exactly relaxation from the recent workload as I do need some space backgrounds for Banned Across the Universe (the strip I'm doing with John Freeman). Which, if you missed the official announcement, is being released as part of ROK comics expanded audio comics range.

No toothbrush, no photoshop (other than scanning and levels), all hand-painted. Actual dimensions 650mm x 500mm.

It didn't need to be in colour, as the strip itself will be coloured by my old pal Matt Soffe. BUT, as with most everything else to do with Banned Across the Universe, I got carried away, as will be seen in the coming months!

Finally, I'm also delighted that another old pal of mine, Jim Campbell will be rounding out the team on lettering duties!

Did I mention that I am excited about this project?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Hollywood Bowl in Sketchup

For reasons I'd rather not dwell on right now, I needed to build a sketchup replica of the Hollywood Bowl this week... well, almost a replica - this was to be a future version...

In order to replicate some photographs, I needed to be fairly accurate. So first I did a search for the overall dimensions, which are, according to the article I found, 60' x 130' for the largest truss.

During the search, luckily I found this satellite view of the Hollywood Bowl, courtesy of the USGS (United States Geological Survey).

I imported the satellite image into sketchup, and from the very blurry image made some guesses as to the sizes of things, based mainly on that one dimension I had, and some other images from wikipedia to get a sense of the proportion of things.

Once I'd laid out the rough geometry of it, I was clear to start building the main elements. Initially I tried a couple of inner 'fin' versions but none were quite right.
Even though I was working at full size, I couldn't fit enough of them in, so my Hollywood Bowl (one of the future by the way!) has fewer fins than the real one.

For me, one of the most useful tools in sketchup for creating interesting and difficult shapes is the "follow me" tool. Define a flat shape, create a path and drag the flat shape along it to create your complex 3D object.

The seating in the amphitheatre would be impossible to create simply in sketchup without the "follow me" tool.

I added some simple 'tower' elements I'd already designed quickly. These were never intended to be particularly inventive or stylish, they were simply supposed to vary the look a little from the current Hollywood Bowl. Finally, I added the screens and some rough blocks to represent the surrounding buildings.

...only, I'd forgotten the darn lighting rig! Again, "follow me" was my friend in creating this element too.
Hooray! I have my own 3D posable Hollywood Bowl - I'll probably never need it again and in my opinion, you'd never know the trouble I went to from the artwork I've produced...

...having said that, the power of a having 3D environments that I can move, alter aspects of and change camera angles within makes my life a lot easier if I'm using something for multiple panels in a strip.
I think that I probably spend a little too much time in sketchup, creating objects and environments, but I'm never sorry when I can drop a complex object into my page layout and know I've got all the perspective correct... well, until I spoil it all by drawing the figures all wrong.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Itching to Tell

For the last couple of weeks or so, I've been hard at work designing all manner of characters and vehicles for a strip I'm doing for ROK comics with John Freeman.

It's probably not quite possible for me to express how excited I am about this project within the confines of a blog posting. It's also not really possible for me to go into too much detail about it just yet either.

I will however post more about it just as soon as I can!

In the meantime, here is a sneaky, sneaky, leaky, peeky at one of the ships I've designed.

This ship is called "The Flea" and will be a regular hang out of the characters in the strip. I've spent a bit of time in sketchup working on this for the basis of the repeated scenery/background I'll need for a lot of the panels.

This is a work in progress cross-section of the Flea and although it's looking quite spacious here, one of the characters is pretty large and I expect things to be extremely cramped in there... especially when there is cargo in the way too!

The tone and content of the strip is a lot of fun to be working on and I'm delighted to have been asked to develop this strip with John!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Dredd without Dredd

Go now and buy Zarjaz #15!

I have a strip in there written by Lee Robson. It's a great little old-school Dredd strip, peppered with just the right amount of humour in my opinion.

Here's a teaser panel from it I trailed on twitter and facebook a while ago, when the Dredd 3D trailer hit.

Here is a sneak peak at ALL of my pages (just the pencils and inks though) - but with one key element removed, yes, I've blanked out Dredd, so you'll need to go buy the issue if you want to see how they turned out rendered up and with the all important lawman in them.

Hopefully they don't give too much away already...

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Inked Hulk

Something screwy is going on with my blog feeding to twitter... and so this is more of a test post than usual and one I might pull again in a couple of days.

This is an inked version of something I sketched at CamCon, and it fits with today's experiences.
'Technology' really is enough to to make me go all "Hulk Smash!" when things stop working.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Long Arm of The Law

I did this a while ago, as a cover pitch, I haven't heard back on it (unsurpisingly) so, I thought, probably safe to share.

This colour version, has a revised arm, the problem was spotted by the eagle editorial eyes of Bolt-01.

I fixed it in photoshop, after I'd had one of those disasterous "flatten and save" incidents in (bloody) photoshop - so it's a little more detectable than it would normally be.
Really, adobe, how difficult would it have been to save the sanity of millions of application users and build in a simple back-up... anyone who mentions dropbox, timemachines or any other second party fail-safe back-ups will be ignored - I FECKIN' KNOW, it's my own stupid fault!

See, it's there in the inks, Dredd has a disturbing case of "the long arm of the law"!

but weirdly, it's not so noticeable in the roughs, well, to my eyes at least.

Inks are for sale, and they come with a nice A3 print of the (revised) colour version all for the bargain price of £95 inc. P&P (to any UK address).

Thursday, 24 May 2012

CamCon Interview

I was interviewed at CamCon... mainly, I think, because Leigh was AWOL at the time.

It's definitely a bit weird seeing myself like this, and I now recall my mind going blank under fire, but it was very nice to be asked things about what I do all the same.

There is a quick pan across some art I have no other record of for the eagle eyed!

Thanks to Nick Starwind and his cameraman and again, all the organisers and those that attended CamCon... I'm hoping there is another one next year!

Monday, 14 May 2012

At a Junction

Saturday was CamCon. It was a brilliant day, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first event "behind a table", assuming that's not a euphemism. I sketched more than I thought I would and was pleasantly surprised by the sale of some of my pre-drawn examples. I was also suprised that someone did indeed pop up and exclaim "Dogtaroo!" at me (see last post).

Thanks go to Ziggy Newman and Ian Rudd who were organising the event. If there is another one next year, I would definitely be interested in attending.

I owe a massive thanks to Leigh Gallagher for letting me sit near him, for not minding the car-boot sale of books I also had stashed away for sale and also for feeding me chewits!

It was good to see the always cheerful and chatty Terry and Liz Martin who were sat behind us, giving Murky depths and Dead Girls the hard sell!

Opposite our Table were the lovely Luba and Hong who were selling beautiful Kimonos at what I thought were incredibly low prices.

It was great to catch up with Sean Phillips and Emma Vieceli. I also bumped into El Chivo who showed me the gob-smacking amount of worked he'd got through for Davey Candlish's Jikan Chronicles.

Finally thanks to all those who stopped, chatted or bought graphic novels or sketches from me!

I did have a number of sketches I did speculatively, and here are two examples of the sorts of things I was drawing. The Batman above is looking for a home and I'd happily part with him for £7.50 inc. P&P (UK).

Hulk here already has a new home to go to, and I also have another Iron-Man to do too!

Friday, 11 May 2012


As previously mentioned, tomorrow, I'll be at The CamCon.

First person to drop by and say "DOGTAROO!" to me will earn themselves this picture of the current Doctor Who for free.

Admittedly, it's not the best portrait of him, and the anatomy is a little off in the arms, but it was one of those 15 minute sketch things with limited reference, so I'm not too unhappy with it.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cam Com Con

This coming weekend, Saturday 12th May to be specific. I'll be sketching at the inaugural Cam Con. Cambridge's first anime, comics and gaming convention. It's being held at the popular Cambridge venue, The Junction 2 on Clifton Way.

I'll be sharing a table with the lovely Leigh Gallagher... and these here pictures are a taster for the kind of things I'll be drawing...

... I see that these here Avengers types are quite popular at the moment, and that movie is playing just across the way from the Junction at the local Cineworld Cinema. You call it shameless shirt-tail riding, I call it entrepreneurial...

...not in the same league as Tony Stark I grant you, but nevertheless I'll be drawing for me supper and hoping to take a few commissions too.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Psychic Sidekick

I've recently done this sketch of Judge Anderson...

I was asked to do a companion piece for this Dredd sketch that I was selling (now gone obviously).

If anyone wants something similar, A3 in pencil, I'm doing them at the moment for £25 inc. P&P. I'll be ending that offer from 30th April onwards as Royal Mail is putting up the postage costs... so that's a tight window for anyone wanting something.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sale update

A few pieces have gone. So here is an updated for sale "gallery" with the last of the pieces I'd earmarked for selling added in.

Act quickly and take advantage of the cheaper postage costs before Royal Mail hike the prices at the end of the month!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Also for sale.

Another Dredd A3 pencils. Can you afford to take him on?

She's a fox. A4 ink and magic marker, make me an offer...

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Inks Sale

I'm selling some original inks...

If you're interested, please click the image above for prices and what's on offer... I can provide higher res images also. To contact me via e-mail please use this address:

All prices inc. P&P. Art will be sent out first class in a board backed envelope.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Happy Birthday Sidrah

Here's a commission I recently completed. The brief was simple, a 21st Birthday; Sidrah (the birthday girl) hugging Sulley.

Interestingly (or not) in my old life as a toy designer, I drew Sulley from Monsters Inc. a hell of a lot - I even sculpted him to be made into a pen. So I was very familiar with the character already.

Here's my sculpt, for that pen. This is one of a small number of casts that I still own out of numerous characters I sculpted during my 12 odd years.

Again, interestingly, or not, as the case may be, sculpting the character to look right with all that fur and so that it would come out of an injection mold tool was, in places, a bit tricky...

Here's the pen, as was available with Smarties as I recall.

As was often the case, the sculpting I had done, for some reason got over worked in the production piece, leaving the finished article looking less like the character than the sculpt that I had struggled to get approved by Disney/Pixar's licensing department.

Looking back at this, I'm surprised by how naff it really is. That was the nature of the beast though, cheap give-aways, by their very definition are a bit naff.

Let's not delve too deeply into my murky past as a toy designer now though. Let us instead focus on, as has becoming increasingly the case with my posts, the process stuff (for this commission).

The sketch work, which I will admit got jiggered about with in photoshop once I scanned it. In fact I totally reworked the likeness. Also adding a sketch-up model of a suitable door that I bunged together very quickly... I still like the flexibility that a sketch-up model gives, should I need to reposition the camera for a different view, I don't have to work out the perspective again... some might think it overkill or even cheating, but, I'll never have to draw a door again and worry that the perspective is wrong.

As an aside, I find that when I do build the environment (such as it is in this case) I'm far more confident when it comes time to putting the characters 'in situ' because I can move things around. If it doesn't look right, I can just move the camera angle or pan or whatever in sketch-up and export the image again.

On this commission, the trickiest part was Sidrah's likeness. So I wanted to ink it first to check that everyone was happy. I wouldn't usually do it in this way, but inking the tough bit first meant that I wasn't risking so much if I got it wrong... I was fairly confident that the Sulley would look good because I've drawn him so much before. All the same, I'm pretty pleased with my inking on this piece as it happens...

...and here are the final inks as they looked when scanned and then with all the blue-line removed ready for colouring. Sometimes I think that the blue pencils add a bit of depth to the inks and when I take that away the inks just look too clean to me until I get some colour and texture worked into the image.

Overall, I think it's a pretty successful piece. Having spent time on modelling the door, ultimately I was unsure how I felt about it - compositionally I thought it complicated things, but I liked the implied narrative... I ended up with a number of alternate versions, my favourite (in the end, despite the sketch-up time) was without the door. The green door was Sidrah's preferred option though and was the one I printed and sent out with the inks and sketch work.

All that remains is to say happy birthday to Sidrah for today and thank her big sister Sadiah for a fun commission.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

In The Beginning

The Themed Art Blog are having a Harry Potter week. I'd been needing something to get me loosened up and relaxed. So here, are Hagrid and Harry, from the beginning of The Philosopher's Stone.

I didn't refer to the book, but I know Hagrid delivers Harry to the Dursley's house on his motorbike, and I've a sneaky suspicion that Harry is in a basket or something...

...but I've been (unsurprisingly) paternal recently, and couldn't help going all whimsical with a caring cradling pose.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sneaky Peek

A bit slow on the up-take news-wise, but it looks like a cracking little Dredd strip I finally finished late last year will be out over the summer in Zarjaz issue 15.

Judge Dredd, The Taking of Mopad 456 by Lee Robson and myself.

Some stages for this teaser panel:

part of the bonkers amount of work I did in google sketch-up... in my opinion you can't really tell how much I did used models, for good or bad!

sketched over to add good old Joe Dredd in there. He's celebrating 35 years in comics this week! 2000ad was 35 last week...

here's the inks, see, most of that modelling was a waste of time, or certainly seems to fade into the background.

finally, the toned version ready to have some textures added.