Monday, 28 December 2009


Not just new years resolutions, but getting to grips with working at 600dpi in MangoStudio.
I like the feel of the pens, which give the big bold strokes a bit of life... though on small lines it's pretty tricky to gues what they'll actually render, so the marker seems best there..
However getting used to the other stuff is tricky. and colouring seems to be an insurmountable hurdle.
I'm going to invest some "lounging around on holiday" time to getting a better grip on this..
but for now, I can sketch like a demon in the Mangostudio, but have to colour in the Photosop.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Owl Stretching time

My dear old Friend John Owen at Appuldurcombe House on the Isle of Wight ( dropped me a line asking for a couple of sketches to be used around his falconry centre to update a design I'd forgotten I'd done years ago.

I thought his would be a good opportunity for Dom to make a start with setting up the basics of a freelance illustration business. I'm doing the pencils, and Dom will do the inking up.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Giant Killer Robots

Dom has been doing some drawing, and Nagging Adam to write some story, this devolved into the usual arguments about ... well almost anything.
Adam seems to have spent a little time writing a bit of the story involving evil nazi scientists, and Mad Jack Fuller's tomb in Brightlingsea...
I myself have forgotten all about story, and have been drawing giant killer robots.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Different strokes from incontinent pens

I've been playing with a variety of inks and pens.
My old trusty Rotring isograph 0.5mm gives good service, though like a small child it needs it's bottom wiped a fair bit, and causes a huge amount of mess in the process... I also have to cheat to get a variety of line weight when using it.
The same is true of the pigment fibre tips pens.. I have tried to get Pigma pens in the UK but no luck, the best I've found are PILOTs, the Edding ones are nice but run out too quickly ... they are also both complete buggers if I try to put a wash over the top, as they bleed.
My mixture of Manga inks seem to provide a solution, but are a bit gluey to put in the Rotring so I have to use a dip pen... The pic here is done with a DELTER SAJi nib, which doesn't quite give enough flex...and unfortunately seems to have a leaky bladder, causing ink blobs... sigh.
My old set of Waverley nibs (some inherited from the Victorian era and really quite ancient), give a good flex, but are hard to wield round the page.
So the experimentation continues, I've done 10 pages of the comic for the UK webcomix thing, and they'll all get tweaked through photoshop or mango studio...

Monday, 2 November 2009

part two

Muddy, muddy, muddy

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Joy of Comicpress

Squarespace looks lovely, like a thing knitted by Steve Jobs when whilst recovering from being poorly. It has lots of little widgetty things that slip and slide with attractive animation, and is as easy as pie to make look gorgeous, like a plate of polished rubies.... BUT, I can't get it to do what ComicPress does.
Comic Press is a theme for Wordpress, and makes managing a webcomic even easier than pie... but sadly it is as tricky as an oiled fox to get it to look right.
This is because of CSS, which snuck into the world while I wasn't looking years ago, and which I have obviously failed to grasp.
(except in a cheaty copying other peoples sorta way).
However because of the management stuff Comicpress will be the CMS for Strange Biros comic, and from the reviews I've seen, Laughing Squid will be the Host.
So sometime soon I'll stump up for the hosting.. I was going to run all the old 1991 Strange Biros comics on the site as a run up to the web comix thing, but looking at them now, I'm not sure the writing holds up... still better to have something than nothing.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Hosting hoo haa

At the minute is routed to the blog, which is fine, but once I have enough content stacked up for the story we are preparing for the Uk WebComix Thing 2010 then I'll switch the blog back to a blogger link, and the URL to the comic.
But where should i host it? I've experimented with wordpress on a uk host, using the comic press theme, but I'm not convinced. I like the look of the slick smooth and funky square space, which seems to be plugged like crazy at the minute.
Perhaps I'll run a trial squarespace site to test out their templates.
Anyroad, the

Friday, 23 October 2009

Spend spend spend

Strangely in a time when the good ole postie isn't delivering letters to General public, my recent impulse purchases all turned up at once, making Alison suspicious at my spending...
Manga Studio, and set of inks from Dinkybox... oh and when I was up in London the other day judging an art competition CASS art was having a half price sale, so I bought a bag full of paper, and pigment pens.
Using Manga studio is like learning to drive a special japanese clown car, everything goes great and then suddenly you accidentally step on the brake, and gravy squirts you in the eye.
I have no idea where half the things I need are cunningly hidden, like the capacity to crop an image... I guess I'm dealing with pages rather than images. On the positive side it has some lovely pen nibs that squish and flex and make swooping curves.
I have continued my strict discipline of trying to draw some girls every day, and whilst a lot look like hogarthian gin fiends, with wonky eyes, I feel I am getting there slowly, and gradually gaining confidence, that I can bloomin' well draw anything I choose too. Todays effort done in manga studio is based on the devilishly masterful works of Mr Allison of the Scary go round, and lately the Bad machinery.. he is without peer in the sphere of drawing girls with slinky hip jeans and tattoos. (top pic photoshop, bottom pic mango sususudio)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

New fangled technology

I spend my work day looking deep deep into the vile heaving black heart of technology, teasing it, twisting it to my pedagogic whim.
So when it comes to doing a drawing, it's all to obvious and easy to harness the same familiars, and invoke the adobe demons.
But, I'm not sure that I actually like drawing on the dinky little wacom, maybe I thought.. maybe I should buy a bigger one, or a cintiq... maybe I should buy a copy of Mango studio, maybe I should upgrade photofop... maybe I should just pour all my cash straight down the paypal tube.
Instead I've bought a new nib pen, and a selection of "Deleter" Manga inks.
I'm going all traditional. We'll see how long it lasts.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Honk honk

Dom has Autumnwatch on the TV. I misheard them talking about barnacle geese, and thought they said Bionicle geese.

Friday, 16 October 2009

old hat

I am being reasonably good, and carrying out my pact to try and draw some girls every day, and have attempted to replicate the stylings of Mr Reddick, who seems to ooze skill and talent from every pore. My efforts however seem to remind me of the pepperami monster, or Lesley Ash, one time screen siren, after her ill advised lip inflation episode.
Most of my other attempts have ended up looking like slightly roman versions of Scully, out of the X files, which is a good thing I think, though some of my attempts have drawn audible laughs of contempt from my dear wife, who doesn't know how delicate my artist's soul is.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

I cannot draw Gurls for toffee

Robots, YES, Vicious squid creatures, WHY SURELY, Aliens with funny heads in jars, and a squillion legs, OF CORSE MI DERE FELLOW, WHAT COLOUR?
But Gurls? I cannot draw for toffee. So everyday for a month I will make myself draw a gurl, till I am the master.
On the other topic of our exciting family webcomic adventure, we have a start, we have a set of characters, and heaven only knows we have a lot of dissent in the camp.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Wych Wolf

So with the target date set, Dom, Adam and I have started fitting all the disparate ideas together to form the spine of the story. We put up a dirty great bit of lining paper the length of the front room and started adding ideas, and plot points. So far so good, though there have been a couple of "artistic differences" already.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

iPhone SDK

I downloaded the Stanford Uni iPhone developer course a while back, and this evening had a gentle listen. I tried the first exercise, but Xcode kept crashing... because I hadn't upgraded to Snow Leopold version... a 2.5 Download for the new SDK.. I did such a doubletake.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

And again, this time with feeling

I often tell my kids that the world was black and white till around 1984... which is a lie, it was sepia.

IWB again

Working on some more resources to show the capability of the Interactive Whiteboard Common File Format.
This one is a 12 bar blues tutorial, using the drag and drop features of the IWB to move tab notation, and Chords. The Object is hosted by "Honkin' Weasel Johnson", though he looks a little to young and funky at the minute.
The resource will go up on the iwbcff project site on sourceforge when it's done under a creative commons licence.

Comic Thing 2010

Have signed up for a table at Comic Thing 2010,
The idea being that if we have a real point in space and time that we have to get something finished for, it is much more likely to happen. Dom (my younger son, aged 13) is going to help work on the Project.
Adam (my older, feckless teen 16), has offered to write a script for Dom to draw... so it's going to be a family affair.
When we launched "Strange Biros" at the UKCAC 1991, we took along a wad of comics, and sold a few, had a great time talking to other creators... all that and the guys I went with were dressed as characters, Paul as Judge Death, and Adrian, as someone purple...I seem to remember we drove up in Adrian's Classic Ginormous white Merc.
I'm not sure I can rekindled that level of oddness, but it should be a good day out.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Whiteboard Chess

Finally finished coding the IWB common file format file... tricky thing is there are no tools available to write IWB yet, so it's a case of hand coding.. which should be very simple, as the code is basic svg with a couple of other elements chucked in. However the viewer app is a bit picky, and kept refusing the file... in the end I realised I'd got an underscore in a file name instead of a hyphen.
It was a strange feeling finally getting the file to work, and reminded me of the joy of proper coding, where you sit there pulling at your hair, and finally get that great sense of satisfaction when the code works.
I'll post the code up on the sourceforge site, so when we release the viewer there's another sample file to go with the rest.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Harder than it looks

Blinkin' flip.. it's been a while since I've done any coding, and even simple image positioning and referencing is making my brain hurt.
I coloured up the chessmen, and started putting them into the file, but realised I need to make them a little more uniform in size... and smaller if they are going to fit into the 800x600 viewbox area.. bum...
Another late night ahead...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Content is King

I'm working on the Becta Interactive Whiteboard common file format
at the minute, the standard is set, and we have a viewer application and some sample files underway... unfortunately the samples don't look exciting, so I thought I'd try and run off a few files... which is harder than it sounds... hand coding xml is something I haven't done in a number of years.
So I thought I'd start simple and make a chess set and board.
I sort of copied the Lewis Chessmen, but I think they have a Kate Beaton feel to them ( I'll colour them tomorrow and split them into individual pieces.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Rob from covered mailed me today to say he wasn't going to use the submission, (can't say I blame him), so I can post it here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Felt guilty at not drawing anything, and inspired by BoingBoing Bearsharktopus:

thought I'd add the feared swine to the mix

more old Guff

I was looking for a mag motor or something to add a little pep to a bicycle, and found Suren who used to run the robot Supernova was selling his old Lynch motor.. put a bid on for it, but next time I looked i was gone.. shame... didn't get a chance to draw anything today, so puled this badge out of the files.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More pie

I coloured the 2000AD cover and submitted it to Covered, so won't post here until I see whether they want to use it.. I'd guess not, as I said i think it would be amusing to do one of the 2000AD covers in a steampunk style, as it was last century..
Got home late tonight so dug something out of the archive to post here:

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Covered again

Another attempt at a cover remix, I thought I'd like to do some sort of 2000AD cover as that was my childhood staple.. but thought I might be able to do it in a steampunk style, as 2000AD is no longer the future. (I can remember when 2000AD was 24 years in the future)
I found a copy of the issue thirteen cover, and to be honest it's a real bodge up, and looks like a bunch of clip art hastily put together... and the text... " From out of my alien head I Tharg bring you the future!"
anyway, I've inked up a page, and it reminds me of Munchkin artwork...scanned it in trying some different setting, to see if I can avoid the antialias trapping problems by working at a higher resolution (600dpi).
Should have it coloured by tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Crawley Library Tim Quinn talk

Took Dom and Adam to Crawley Library for a morning cartoon workshop, and a talk in the afternoon on comics by Tim Quinn...
an interesting talk.
Tim talked about the history of Comics, his life working in comics, for DC Thompson and Marvell amongst others, lots of laughs, lots of things for further research.. particularly Varney the Vampire, the demon detective and Spring heeled Jack (though Adam tells me the last has been in a Phillip Pullman book)


Boing Boing had a link to Covered
It inspired me to have a go at doing a Hellboy cover, not interesting enough to post to the guys at Covered, but I'll find something else to do for them.

Monday, 14 September 2009

These aren't the droids you are looking for

I went to the musty old basement which has been taken over as a Warhammer den by Dom, to look for some old guitar music and found some sketches I did for Mentorn years ago... design sketches for Robotwars, for a series called Mechanoids, and for another series called Rescue Robots...

Friday, 4 September 2009


My favourite Hellboy story isn't actually my favourite Hellboy artwork.
The 2 pager, Pam cakes where Hellboy wants to eat spicy noodles for breakfast, but is forced to eat pam cakes, causing all of Hell to wail, has so much crammed into such a short space.
I'm not actually very fond of the pics of young Hellboy, except for the one where he's sitting waiting with his fork in hand.
It shows his youth without being too twee, and becoming too cartoony, which is something tricky in a comic.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Have an idea for a Hellboy monsters style story on the train...

Monday, 31 August 2009

Holiday over

August is nearly over, and whilst I really had planned to do a sketch a day throughout the holiday, in the end I did nout.
Try again for the new academic year.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The trouble with photoshop

Anti-aliasing... draw a line with a brush tool, a nice black 9 point line, maybe a bit of variaion due to the pressure sensitivity on the tablet. To fill the area select bucket tool, apply and you get a fill with a white line between the line and the fill.
Double clicking the fill makes things a bit better... but to get rid of the white line, I have to go round the shape again.
There must be an easier way.
Anyway, it's this that's bugging me, and making me stop work on the pages...
I've spent days searching for a solution, with no luck, but a few seconds search on Webcomics weekly site and RESULT... Thankyou Brad Guigar.
Now I know the problem is called trapping, and the process to sort it out is called colour flatting. I now need to see if the plugin works on Photoshop Elements 4.0 on the mac....

Thursday, 2 July 2009

New project

I saw a post on Lifehacker (I think) about a Zombie Short film project which looks like a cracking Summer Project to do with Dom, If I help him work on some characters and write a script, we can get it animated easily by October. In the mean time I have been sketching stuff that's to hand.. I thought I'd try going through the Hellboy story "The Corpse", which was the very first Hellboy story I ever read. I can remember being hooked by the dark almost woodcut feel to the images.
Anyway, It's 26 pages long, so should fill out those long Summer Evenings.