Saturday, 19 December 2015

First publicity image for 'The Shadow Glass'.

Well, a long long time here without an update. But finally I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on The Shadow Glass, which explains my long absence from this blog.

So I can post the first bit of 'pre-publicity' for the six part series. It débuts in the first quarter of next year, 2016. Also a brief synopsis of the premise as there's no official blurb yet.



"It is the late 16th century - Rosalind, a ‘tom-boyish’ Elizabethan girl sets out to discover the truth about her identity when her father reveals to her a life changing secret. As ward to Dr John Dee she witnesses Angelic and Demonic rituals that lead to an encounter with a figure from the past and the reality about herself and her own destiny. A destiny seemingly tied into a mysterious Aztec mirror made of black obsidian glass..."


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Black Widow

This is an image of Black Widow I did back in 2010. I felt was less successful than Ms Marvel and Emma Frost that I posted back in the blog. Still she's here... I kept tweaking her face...




Friday, 25 July 2014

Heavy Metal 271

Way back in the early eighties I discovered Heavy Metal Magazine. I still have many of them piled up on a shelf in my attic studio. I fell in love with all those European artists HM reprinted in English. Specifically Moebius who's Airtight Garage has stuck with me my whole life. Well, with the grace of Mr Frank Forte from Asylum Press I have a cover for Heavy Metal. An old image of mine I tweaked a bit, but one of Frank's favourites, and I am extremely honoured to get this! Thank you Frank! Thank you Heavy Metal!

Still just a 'Previews' scan, but it's mentioned twice and gets a Staff Pick!




Friday, 18 July 2014

Morgiana

Another one from the distant past. An uncompleted or rather 'work in progress' of Morgiana from 'The 1001 Nights', the story of Ali Baba. Digital drawing in Photoshop. I loosely based this on a composition from an old copy of The Arabian Nights I have, but it went off in a different direction.


Floating Islands

And another oldie. Think I might dig out a few more and post them over the next few days... This was an environment idea. Before Avatar I must add, more inspired by Laputa and Rupert the Bear. (Edit: just saw I'd posted this further down in the blog. Oh well, here it is again then!)

Drawn and coloured in Photoshop. Not referenced other than for a pagoda.

The Clockwork Heart

I was looking through a bunch of old sketches tonight, and found this one. Thought I'd post it as I quite like it. It was originally for a character of the week called The Clockwork Heart.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Rosalind as Ganymede

A sketch of Ganymede (Rosalind) from 'As You Like It'. I decided to tidy up the lines a bit.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

'Sparrow Hill Road' cover process

As I'm currently working on the next Seanan McGuire novel I thought a quick breakdown of my working process for 'Sparrow Hill Road' might be of interest...

First stage, roughs. Quick 10 minute sketches of composition ideas. I wanted her looking to the left as this is considered looking into the 'past', and as a ghost I thought it appropriate.

After discussion, Seanan selected the top right, which was my favourite as well. So I tidied it up a bit:

I wasn't sure about the face or hair, but added a bit of quick tone:

Decided to work up the face some more and tighten up the car. Lots of ref as the model had to be specific, and working out of a flat in Manchester I'm restricted in access to 1952 Ford Crestline Sunliners (although I can get ref for a 1983 Ford Granada estate quite easily!) 

A bit of tone to work out lighting:

And then colour. Unusually for me I painted over the tone here in parts.

And the final! Thank you for looking!



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Shadow Glass


Well... I've been a bit quiet here... for good reason.

I'm just back from Chicago and C2E2! A wonderful few days that have left me tired but happy. It was also the chance for me to finally say that I am working as a self-creator on a 6 part comic-book for the superb Dark Horse Comics: ‘The Shadow Glass’. I hinted at the project further down in the blog, but it's grown a lot more since then. This explains why I’ve been so quiet with work, as essentially this has been gestating for over 18 months. It’s the story of a search for identity during the reign of Elizabeth 1st, that is set very much in a real historical world but with fantastical and horror elements, however more details later.

Dark Horse gave me the opportunity to produce a C2E2 convention-special cover for the continuing comic book version of ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’. The cover features Xander and Buffy but the reverse has a teaser for the ‘The Shadow Glass’. It will still be a while before the first issued will be available, but as I was in Chicago we decided to combine the two for this rather special one-off! Then all of a sudden I find myself sitting at a table next to Nicholas Brendon from Buffy signing copies of the comic! How did that happen!??

Anyway, this is the teaser and the cover together. Now that it’s all official I’ll probably start posting more updates as it develops. I am incredibly grateful to Dark Horse for this opportunity, for taking a leap of faith with me, and for being all round great people!



Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Half Off Ragnarok

The third of my covers for Seanan Mcguire: 'Half Off Ragnarok'. One of the 'Incriptid' series.



Friday, 29 November 2013

Sparrow Hill Road

I've been very quiet here as I've been concentrating on my long term personal project, but in-between I've been privileged to continue my working relationship with the lovely Seanan McGuire. This is my forth cover for her and DAW books, 'Sparrow Hill Road'. I'll post the third 'Half-Off Ragnarok' in the next couple of days..

Thank you for continuing to stop by here, despite my tardiness!



Friday, 13 September 2013

Judges

After watching the recent  'Dredd' film, which was excellent I was reminded of these... Many years ago I was asked to do the instruction sheets for Halcyon's Judge Dredd kits. Well, some of them, alongside the excellent Andy Roper who got me the gig in the first place. This was before Photoshop and was put together by producing master drawings that were then photocopied and pasted into a sequential instruction sheet. All drawn with pencil and black felt tip! Here's Judge Death.

I also did Judge Anderson, the Stallone Judge Dredd and Mean Machine. I shall seek those out and post them too!




Edit: Found Anderson and a pic of Dredd. The Anderson is a very close copy of the sculpt.










Friday, 30 August 2013

Alphonse Mucha


This is the text of a brief piece I wrote for Imagine FX on Alphonse Mucha. Mucha was and is one of my art heroes, and hopefully through my bad grammar this is apparent. In the article they asked me to include some of my own images inspired by Mucha. I've not posted those here, as it's more appropriate to give a couple of examples of his work.


Alphonse Mucha

In 2000 I visited Prague, and one of the things I wanted to do whilst in the city was visit Vyšehrad cemetery. A little morbid perhaps, but the final resting place of Alphonse Mucha felt like more of a pilgrimage than something more prurient. Mucha died and was buried here in 1939 from contracting pneumonia after his arrest and interrogation by the Gestapo, he was a man much remembered for his contribution to poster art, and like the Pre-Raphaelites before him, for painting ethereal romanticised girls and women, (often well known actors such as Sarah Bernhadt, or Maude Adams), in environments recalling idealised nature or fantasy. But like the Pre-Raphaelites, there was much more to him than the popular perception. The Nazis despised him as he championed his Czech culture and Slavic heritage, and for much of his later life he created the stunning and enormous ‘Slav Epic’, which resulted in 20 paintings, the smallest being over 4 metres wide, and the largest, twice that.

When people think of Art Nouveau (the phrase meaning ‘New Art’ first used as the name of a shop in 1895 Paris), almost synonymous with that expression, is Mucha, who’s swirling organic shapes and forms seem to almost define the term and the ‘movement’ that has a genealogy traced back to William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelite friend, artist and textile designer. Yet, Mucha ultimately attempted to distance himself from Art Nouveau, and the aesthetic movement, as for any artist, definition can limit and constrain; a constraint that it is clear Mucha found increasingly frustrating. He believed art operated on a more spiritual and personal level, and Art Nouveau never really moved beyond the appreciation of form over content. However within the nascent advertising and illustration world that was evolving at the end of the nineteenth century, Mucha found a perfect place as the superb draughtsman and designer he was. Much in demand for posters, illustration, fashion design, murals he could have worked indefinitely within that world, yet as someone who felt art should have deeper metaphor and allegory, he eventually turned his back on it, concentrating on his personal projects, amongst which the previously mentioned ‘Slav Epic’ dominated from 1910 to 1928. But he was part of the ‘spirit of the age’, and the Fin de Siècle, and probably knew that to some extent, and that knowledge led him to write in 1900: “I swore a solemn promise that the remainder of my life would be filled exclusively with work for the (Czech) nation.” 

It is ironic then, that 72 years after his death, Mucha is now best remembered as the superb poster artist he was. Ironic, but not surprising. In all ‘Art’, ‘accessibility’ is often what provides longevity. Aesthetic is universal, whereas ‘message’ is not. Ask many people if they have heard of The Slav Epic and you will probably come up blank, but point to an example of Mucha’s ‘Seasons’, and you will probably be luckier. As a student, next to my Siouxsie poster, I had a print of Mucha’s ‘Moet and Chandon, Crement’ advert on my wall; beautifully decorative, it was a ‘pretty girl’ in pastels and flowing cloth, incorporating some elements in the design that almost predate Art Deco. But there is little depth to it as an image other than the purely aesthetic; the decorative. It was an advert! Need it achieve more? Probably not, but the universality of using a ‘pretty girl’ to sell a drink is still with us today, Mucha just got in at the beginning, and ‘realised’ it better. However, it is also clear that Mucha rooted many of his female characters in-line with his heritage. Unlike Gustav Klimt, with whom Mucha is often compared, Mucha on the whole did not paint ‘High Society’. His women are girls of the field, artisans or ‘the girl next door’. When not painting actors like Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha drew inspiration from everyday folk to act as a vehicle for his imagination, and maybe that is a key to their appeal. They aren’t the rich and famous, but show a much more accessible social and indeed socialist ideology behind the patterns and pastels.

It is said though that every artist has his time. Mucha’s came and went, but now it is arguable he is better known that he was in his lifetime. Considered decadent and bourgeois at the end of the forties by the changing Czech government, his Slav Epic was mothballed as it had been prior to the Nazis invasion to avoid destruction, and didn’t see the light till 1963. But Governments change and art remains. The Slav Epic stands on permanent display in the Czech Republic. And there’s the thing… Mucha’s posters and advertising work, although they fell out of fashion before and after his death, were an example of an aesthetic that couldn’t be suppressed. The very nature of advertising and promotional art is that it disseminates and becomes part of the melting pot of culture. Nowadays the style he became associated with, Art Nouveau, is just part of a great resource of ‘Art’ that advertising and image making use to integrate with a need or agenda, and you will see Mucha and Art Nouveau constantly used in popular culture. When that need arises, reference will ultimately be made to those proponents of a style who ‘did it best’, and Mucha certainly did it best!

On a personal level and aesthetically, Mucha has influenced a number of my pieces; ‘Medusa’, probably being the most obvious. An image I completed for an online character design challenge. And ‘The Absinthe Fairy’, that although recalls Mucha less so, is designed to feel like an old Art Nouveau poster. He inspired me in ‘Sunrise’ as well, probably the most risqué image I’ve ever done. His ability to incorporate superb design and composition, his use of embellishment and organic forms is enormously influential, and he was a superb designer alongside his technical skills as an artist. Although the personal images I mention are little more than pastiches, the mere process of looking at Mucha and how he works adds to our understanding, and the next stage is to move beyond that and use his inspiration to inform our own journey as artists.

When Mucha died in 1939, a public gathering to mark the event was banned by the Nazis. It is a testament to Mucha’s influence on his home country that 100,000 people ignored this to attend his funeral in Vyšehrad.