Saturday, 27 December 2014

New Pirates

Working on the ninja dinosaurs vs pirate robots iBook. Sketched another pirate robot ...

Anchor-Jaw Jones

In Design CC 2014

My target for the holiday period is to finish at least one of the children's books I have in development hell.
The biggest issue was that iBooks author is a bit rubbish for creating static layout books, and when it does work it insists on using templates with tables of contents, and chapters... great for academic works, not so good for picture books.

Luckily Adobe In Design has an export to a static layout epub3 format, which will work nicely on an iPad, and I'm hoping will upload into the iBooks store with ease (just as soon as it's back from it's holidays)

So I did a quick trial adding pictures to pages, and exporting and iBooks on my mac opened it just fine.
I stuck the ePub in Dropbox and opened it on my iPad, and again it worked just fine.

So now I need to examine which images are ok, and which need updating... Which turns out to be a fair bit if I'm critical... If I'm a little more relaxed I reckon there's about 5 pages of proper work, then lots of tweaking.

Procreate app

My Twitter stream has been full of procreate hoopla the last few days so I thought is have a bash at using it.

It's ok, the colour fill takes a bit ofbgetting used to and the edge detection is a bit random, but compared to the tools I remember trying in the early days of iOS it's not bad at all. 
Will it be useful in creating finished artwork? 
Will it be useful for quick sketches...?
The biggest issues are still down to the problems inherent in finger painting, bold strokes are fine, but precision is tricky.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Following the Apocalypse

My dear comrade David Kernohan who writes the excellent Followers of the Apocalypse blog asked if I'd like to do a cover for a book he's aiming to release around the OpenEd14 event 
I was chuffed to be given the opportunity... and then put off actually doing it, again and again and again.
I knuckled down to it eventually in a fit of structured procrastination, and am actually quite happy with the result.

Sunday, 5 October 2014



I did it, which is a surprise to me.
The story is virtually non existent, and I've bent it out of shape to allow me to lever a bunch of pop references in, but, but, there are 24 pages, thought up, pencilled, inked, photographed, and posted to the internet in under 24 hours.
I ftp'ed the pdf at 10 to 10... cowboy time :)
The pdf is 20Mb, as the sips image processing script seemed to only run on half of the images? whatever, the stuff is up, in time.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

#24HCD 2014 hour 7

Fatigue set in around hour 5, when I was lagging behind, and felt the "quit" rising in my mind.
I pushed through however and I'm now at hour 7, and I'm 8 pages in.
The pages are becoming lighter in detail and in tone, simply to cut down on time spent filling inked areas, and topping up pens.
The story has changed a bit, and I've got to try and pull it back on track.

#24HCD 2014 Hour 4 goes down

Stop for lunch, which is left over curry :)
I've got 4 pages done, and I'm 4 hours in... I'm always amazed that the time just vaporises. As always I'm working out how I'm going to get 24 pages done when I'm averaging a page an hour, AND I need to have at least 6 hours kip in there somewhere...

#24HCD 2014 3 hrs in 3 pages down

Much to my surprise I've managed to cobble together enough of a story to thread through 24 pages...
I've blasted on and have three pages inked up, unfortunately as the drawings are sketched the gaps in the plot appear and pages get dropped to try and get things to make some sort of sense...
So according to the overview I'm a couple of pages short..
Looks like I'll be turning a couple of pages into Double Page Spreads!
I'm working on A3 pages, which means I can use the fast flowing Copic pens, the downside is I'm burning through ink, and have covered my hands with spilt ink already. It's a messy business.

#24HCD first post

#24HCD 2014 first post.

The 24Hr Comic Day challenge is to devise, pencil, ink and upload (publish) a 24 page comic in 24 hours.
I've attempted this 4 times, and succeeded twice, and not quite made it twice.
Whilst this sounds simple it really is a bit of a race, and the fiddling about, erasing pencil marks, tidying inks up, adding speech bubbles, scanning the work and collating it in a comic like form take precious minutes, and indeed hours.

So this year to speed things up I'm planning to work on a large scale with free flowing COPIC CHIAO markers that I previously used in live graphic facilitiation sessions... FAST inking.

I was going to make some stick on speech bubbles like Alex Fitch prepared for our cut and stick comic session at the IS staff conference, but didn't get round to it... I'm not sure if it'll be quicker to add speech bubbles as I go or add them at the end. The latter gives me more time to refine the actual words... and the story.

I'm going to photograph the resulting pages with my iPhone which automatically adds the images to iCloud, and thus also iPhoto which I can use to create a "photo Book" - by selecting the range of images then File>new Book ... then File> Print>PDF>save as PDF.
The only downside is the pdf is a bit big... 200Mb big, when the actual photos are probably only 1Mb each.

It may be I can just use that to get something online, and then go through and slim it down later.
This approach should save an hour of fiddling around, and thus allow me an extra hour of sleep... OR an extra hour of drawing.

Anyway, I'm 45 mins in, I've nearly done the splash page, which is a cracking way to blast through a page... lots of black ink, and hopefully the setup for the "story".

Sunday, 28 September 2014

#24HCD what has gone before

Dom uses the squarespace 6 site of our squarespace subscription for his filming and illustration portfolio...
He's at Farnham studying film production and has started to use the blog part of it again.

Whilst I was looking at that I thought I'd have a quick look at the squarespace 5 site- and I re-read my 24HCD effort from 2012, and whilst the artwork is a bit hinky, the story is really not that bad, especially for a 24 hour comic blast... I wonder if I'll be able to come up with a sound story for this year?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

#24HCD 2014 preparations

I was at out University of Brighton Grand Parade Campus today for a team meeting, and took the opportunity to nip into the Union shop.
Grand Parade has an arts focus, so the Union shop stocks artists supplies, including stacks of paper. I bought a dozen sheets of A2 Layout paper which looked the most promising "anti-bleed" paper if used with COPIC markers.
A quick test during our afternoon discussions proved that the super cheap 6p a sheet paper is up to the job, and I'll be using it for next weekend's #24HCD.

So the plan is to draw big, and fast on A2 in plain Black and White, photographing the results rather than scanning. I think if I'm brave enough I may ink direct, rather than laying out in pencil first too... I guess it depends on how complex the pics turn out to be.

More as it happens....

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

#24HCD2014 signed up

I've just realised the annual challenge that is 24Hr Comic Day is fast approaching.

This year the challenge will take place on Saturday 4th October, and I'll be making the attempt to devise, pencil, ink and upload a 24 page comic in 24 hours.
There are plenty of places running the event this year, but I prefer some home comforts, and will be working in my cellar... or my allotment shed if the weather is good.
Sign up for online participation like I'm doing is through the webform here

Last year I failed, and only managed to ink up 8 pages of a "Hellboy" short...
This year... who knows.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

really really old

I had a rummage in the basement and found a couple of pictures from my first proper year as a freelance illustrator, 1989. Amongst the advertising drafts for for Estate Agents', and a more ethical poster for a workers collective "the Tree of Life", I found some more Dragons.
If I remember rightly this was a story about a dragon adopted by chickens...
I don't think I ever managed to sell it, but It was instrumental in landing me Deema's Dragon job through my agent Eva Morris, who's office in Covent Garden was just a stone's throw from the Jisc offices.
I think perhaps all this nostalgia is being driven by Dom's imminent relocation to Farnham to study Film Production, and the realisation that things will be suddenly different here.

I was obviously better with the watercolour in those days... nice clouds...

Dragon inked up

I was going to the allotment to do a bit of tidying up, but it poured down, so I'm stuck inside watching mythbusters and inking up "d is for dragon... quite fond of his gold"

If the rain continues I'll be colouring it too.

Paper is Fine Grain 200gsm stuff inks are Copic Ciao and Micron pigment markers.

d is for dragon

of course it is...

I've been drawing dragons forever... in fact one of the fist things I did for proper cash money was a book called Deema's Dragon for Collins. I worked on it before my younger son Dom was born... Dom is now 18 and heading off to Uni.

this latest "d is for dragon"looks a fair bit like another one I did for Collins...

...and I guess the recent ninja dinosaurs and Godzilla have merely been dragons in another form.
I think I may have some REALLY early dragon sketches from waaaay back in the eighties in the basement. If I find them I'll post them.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Coloured in b or u

Back from holiday, where I'd planned to do at least a drawing a day, but in fact I did nothing whilst away.
I've started on the 'c' is for castle, but am more interested in the 'd' is for dragon, so much so that it could end up as an a-d book.
Anyway here's the coloured in 'b' ( or 'u' for unicorn... Or 'n' for not very good, try again )

that said I actually DO like the orc on the right...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

B is for banner- inked up

I sketched up a couple of 'b is for battles' but they were all a bit too fiddly. I thought I'd go with what I had and ink up the banner pic. I'll add some colour tomorrow, and try and make the orcish chain mail look less like tie dye tee shirts.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

b is for banner - flown high from a horse

Originally I was going to have 'b is for battle, quite bloody of course'.
For some mad reason I thought b is for banner might be better... which it's not, and it involves drawing horses, which is rubbish... and is actually a unicorn anyway.

So for a limited time only, 'b is for banner - flown high from a horse'

Monday, 28 July 2014

Colour test

There's a bit of ink bleed from the black , but not too bad. I reckon if I let it 'cure' a little before colouring I should be ok.
I'll probably go through and ink everything, scan it, then colour, so if it goes horribly wrong I can do some colouring in Photoshop.

More axes

Day off today for Adam's graduation so I'm milling around the house at a bit of a loose end as we've got to nip down to brighton shortly. Anyway I pencilled and inked up a dwarf and axe for 'a' is for axe. I'll see how the paper takes watercolour inks, and how fast the Coptic ciao markers are.
I'm guessing they'll bleed as soon as I go near them with ink. That said I accidentally spilt some of the black ink on my hands and it's stained them pretty well.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

'a' is for axe

I've been at my Mum's for the weekend which has given me a chance to peruse my niece's extensive book collection. I have decided it is time to restart my illustration career. My first effort will be a book called 'a' is for axe.

I'm seeing dwarves, dragons and wizards... and if Anya's books are anyone to go by - princesses.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Open Badges - Bug Spotter

Over in the day job I'm working on Open Badges, a Mozilla thing, used to accredit informal learning and general usefulness.
The Open Badges use the metadata held in a .PNG to assert a credential, which is verified by the issuer (I think)
As a test I'm creating a set of badges for folk who submit bugs to me for our systems.
I'm probably going to have 3 levels of award, bug spotter, bug squasher and super spotter on something... Assuming I can get the Vagrant VM to start...

Inked (micron pigment pen on copier paper)

Coloured in Photoshop using web hues

...and stuck in a badge... not a very nice badge...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Help me Dr Zaius - Ten Ton Sketch Challenge - Planet of the apes

Because I'm lazy ... and know my limitations I thought it would much easier to draw the Simpsons "Planet of the apes " musical version of PotA for this weeks ten ton sketch challenge.
However it's not quite as simple as it appears. In fact a bit of a struggle to try and get the look right, and the inks flat enough. I emerge from this exercise with a renewed appreciation of the Simpsons animation team.
To recap the Ten ton rules mean NO DIGITAL manipulation.

So sketched with 0.5mm pentel P205 2B retractable pencil on A4 Deleter comic book paper (which is rubbish at holding watercolour ink)

Inked with 0.3mm and 0.5mm Micron pigment markers and COPIC CIAO brush tip pens...

Coloured with Dr Martens watercolour inks, highlights and lowlights with TRIA pantone markers and PITT pastel white pencil ...

and the real thing:

Monday, 16 June 2014

Ton Ton Sketch Challenge QuickSilver

This week the sketch challenge is QuickSilver
I wanted to get the effect of almost an Art Deco Train poster, but never mind.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Ten Ton Saga Scanned

Scanning still seems to beat photos for most drawn stuff.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Ten Ton Saga

Ten Ton Sketch Challenge this week is Saga. I think I've read one saga comic, and it seemed a little confusing- Lots of people with televisions for heads and rams horns.
One little fellow is quite appealing though: "Ghüs"  and his Walrus…

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Ten Ton revisited

I've not done any sketching for ages, and thought it would be useful to start entering the Ten Ton Forum Sketch Challenge again.
So ready for Tuesday, here's a quick "RoadWarrior"

Sunday, 25 May 2014


I've been planning my next game for iOS, and because I'm very lazy I thought I'd write a very similar game to NDvsPR...
I've seen a really good tutorial on using Spine to build characters, and need a bunch of body parts to stick together, so here we go... Godzilla

Monday, 5 May 2014


I've been scribbling in the Crossword book