Sunday 21 December 2008

Miroish planes

I really wanted to finish off the whole doodle plane 'quick' project before the silly season hit. New year, new projects and I've some ideas I cannot wait to push about the sketch book in spare moments between mince pies. Miro is still in my head and the planes ended up a little ways from where I was originally intending...not in a bad way though. I had a lot of fun and it gave me a chance to loosen up with pattern a colour.

Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope the break brings you whatever you want from it. See you in 2009!

Sunday 14 December 2008

30 weird tall robins

A blog is for life not just for xmas! I've let things slide but to make amends here's an xmas card for everyone who has been nice enough to stop by. Season's Greetings to you all (now there's an inoffensive religion non specific sentiment for everyone :)!!!

I've been hand drawing and colouring my cards this year! Well it saves on printer ink, spray mount and card... and I actually found the production line process quite relaxing after a while. So to paraphrase the song... "on the 30th day of christmas (OK I realise that's January 6th...anyhow) Matt sent sent out to his friends, 30 weird tall robins..." In keeping with my creative leanings of late there is more than a little of Miro's graphic style in these little fellas. Just for fun I wanted to see what an animation of all 30 would look like. I was hoping for a kind of Rhubarb and Custard wobbly line effect (for any non Brits, Rhubarb & Custard, along with the smoother action of Henry's Cat, were felt tip pen drawn children's TV animation by the great Bob Godfrey back in the early 80's). I quite like the end jumpy result...although if I went to the trouble again the bird would have to do something! There was also something strangely satisfying about the inky (Miro starish) snow flakes (watered down blue ink drawn onto heavy textured watercolour paper with the blunt end of a kebab skewer) and I felt the need to fill up my practice paper with them. The whole project ended up with a playschool / kindergarden thing going on (perhaps I should give it to my mum to put up on the fridge...!). It was a nice change to get stuck in with real materials. I think I'll hand draw again next year (sorry hallmark, no cash from Matt). Ho Ho Ho to all!

Sunday 23 November 2008

inuit dancing bear

I have been very fortunate to have received a gift of a beautiful Inuit dancing bear serpentine stone sculpture and I've been itching to work on my interpretation of the subject. I had a crack at a dancing polar bear (a traditional Inuit theme) in my story Pisugtook (previously on this blog/on my website). I just love Inuit sculpture and graphic artwork. It is not only a movement (if that is even the right term) based on a very well observed and stylised interpretation of people and animals. One of the biggest draws for me is the great humour and playfulness that skilled Inuit artists inject into their work. I heartily recommend that you google the sculptor of my little bear, a remarkably talented guy called Markoosie Papigatok. I'm really delighted to have a piece of his work to look at every day. If you want to be inspired (and have a laugh, page 111, never fails to raise a smile :) you should pick up a copy of "Inuit Art: An Introduction" by Ingo Hessel and Dieter Hessel.

Enough for now, TTFN

I was a plane child...

Here is an early sketch version of where I'm headed with this plane thing of mine. Those who knew me as a nipper might see the resemblance, if only because I was forever on my knees on the floor drawing.

I'm off for a week now...

TTFN to anyone hereabouts :)

Saturday 22 November 2008

M.R.I - Magnus Readily Ingests

The illustrator in me, rather than the patient, wanted another crack at the scan. Last night's post being a rush job 'digital diary' sketch so to speak. I've decided the scanner is called Magnus and he's always hungry... although he only eats metal (paperclips and divers watches are his favourites). I think there's a story for me in that!

I'm a little disappointed this morning to wake up without super powers...! I thought at the very least I'd be able to command metal objects and summon them to me (or my knee) with a wave of a hand (or bend of the leg). Nothing ???! Not even loose change sticking to me. At least my ipod won't start playing songs backwards when I put it in my jeans pocket!

Friday 21 November 2008

MRI scan

I just had an MRI scan on my knee this evening. A fairly out of the ordinary situation to find oneself in. Ay least they let me keep my jeans on (flappy open backed gowns don't do anything for me). Now why do product designers colour weird looking bit's of medical kit a 'soothing' pastel hue? Do they think a large crashing and clanking tube which has half swallowed you up is going to be any the less intimidating because it's coloured a delicate apricot...? I would have preferred it if they had decorated the machine fascia with a freaky far out yawning face ala Beatles Yellow Submarine. Besides any soothing effect this pastel apricot might have provided was cancelled out be the only thing I could read properly from my angle, a little slot labelled "laser", right above my groin. I kept having visions of Goldfinger..."no Mr Bond I expect you to die!" There was also a similarly well intentioned soothing tropical mural painted on the wall which I wouldn't of minded looking at, if only to stave of the 20 odd minutes of boredom. The only problem was I was too concerned about keeping still to have moved my head to have a look. Funny isn't it how it's so much harder to remain still when someone tells you to...? I'm talking to you spasming left knee!

Thursday 20 November 2008

The monocular brothers & their party piece...

Don't ask me where they came from. Just a visual that popped into my head and onto a piece of paper this lunchtime.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

difficult to creep up on this one...

This plane, amoeba type thing had plenty of repeating elements to get stuck into. The original aircraft it's based on (a P38 Lightning if you are at all interested) has lots of little panels in it's cockpit canopy. A great opportunity to throw on a few more eyes!

Tuesday 18 November 2008

here comes another one..!

I'm sure I'm boring people by now, but this is fun and I cannot stop doodling them! I think about 20 of the little blighters should give me the elements I need, then the blog can go back to being (by and large) a plane free zone.

Saturday 15 November 2008

channelling Miro

I think what I need to do is ramp up the quirky quotient that bit more so everything is slightly less aeronautical and slightly more fun. It's loosening me up if nothing else.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Miro Starfighter!

The title to this post sounds like the hero of a cheap Spanish sci-fi film...! Possibly one of the coolest names for a plane, the Lockheed Starfighter was described as a "missile with a man in it". Says it all I think. Looking at these past few designs I think the colour needs turning up a notch, and this 'Buck Rogers' rocketship seemed like an appropriate time to do it. I want a Miro like feel to the illustration, hence the asterix stars. I think you can overdose on Miro's primary colours and repetitive symbols if you aren't careful, but in small doses I love his graphic qualities... and he helped me get my A-level art so I have a soft spot for him.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Harrier & simplified Concorde graphics

Maybe it's just not leaving well enough alone but I think Concorde is such an icon that it can take reducing to the bare minimum. When I think of Concorde (aside from colour of course... there weren't too many yellow or blue ones like these...) it's the triangular delta wing and the pointy ends that register. Not to forget the bent schnoz. Isn't it ironic that one of the, arguably, most beautiful pieces of design ever couldn't function properly without a honking great hook nose...??! (interesting fact number 1: the pilots couldn't see the runway on landing with the nose up and beautifully pointy). I don't even think you really need to see the tail fin (that's just the bit where you paint the flag!). The other illustration might be familiar...a Harrier, aka 'jump jet' (I hate that phrase... sorry the pane geek raising his ugly head, hope I'm not boring you all...?). I'm trying to think of these designs as much as 'aeroplane microbes' under the microscope. Think amoeba with wings :) Normal, non aeroplane, blog service will be resumed soon.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Concorde & Spitfire graphic elements

Here's two easy ones to start with. Even the most ardent planeophobe should hopefully recognise these two. I've also attached the colour palette that I've been experimenting with. Without meaning to it has a bit of a Paul Klee 'swatches watercolour' feel which I quite like in of itself. Concorde might well end up in weird colours in the final pic, but for now it has to be white doesn't it...!

Thursday 6 November 2008

playing with planes...

As I've mentioned before in this blog, when I was a kid I was a real aeroplane geek. Every now and again old obsessions pop to the surface and assert themselves. To that end I've been having a play around working on an illustration of me as a nipper, trusty Crayola crayons strewn across the floor, drawing planes. I don't quite have it working out as I want yet, but I'll get there. For now here are some experiments with stylisation, colour and layout. I'm really enjoying the 1950's vibe. Perhaps the cover of a quirky 50's airline...? Hope they hit the spot. I'm aiming to appeal to aeroplane and non aeroplane fans alike.

Friday 31 October 2008

Pumpkin peel

Before the witching hour is upon us and Halloween is over I had to get this idea out 'on paper'. It was my lunchtime satsuma that set me thinking. I don't know that it reads particularly clearly but I thought it worth a shot. By the by, does anyone else feel compelled to get the peel off in one piece, preferably in an S spiral...? :)

THANK YOU Illustration Friday!

Thank you so much to Penelope Dullaghan and Brianna Privett over at Illustration Friday for making my ravens and pumpkins their pick of the week for this weeks IF topic "repair". The standard of work is so high each week on IF that to be picked out is very humbling and a big boost to my confidence. My sincere thanks also go to everyone who commented, congratulated or just popped by the blog. I really appreciate every comment. Illustration Friday is such a marvellous illustration institution and the IF community is jammed packed to the gills with talented, friendly and supportive people. Everyone turn to the illustrator next to them and give them a hug :)

Thursday 30 October 2008

Revised Ravens

Looking at the Halloween piece again I had to tweak things to make for a more balanced composition. I've also put some quick digital colour on a pencil study that I did in order to get in a 'raveny' frame of mind.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

IF - "repair" & A Happy Halloween to all!

With Halloween so close I couldn't resist combining this weeks Illustration Friday with an All Hallows Eve greeting. I was also inspired by a fascinating account I found of how an individual raven called Grip became the inspiration for both Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" AND a character (appropriately a Raven...) in Dicken's "Barnaby Rudge". So here's an illustration of a couple of cheeky ravens showing just how smart they are by putting all the pieces back in the jackolanterns.

Monday 27 October 2008

Confederacy of Dunces - Ignatius meets Dorian Greene

This is my second attempt at Ignatius (previously on mattdawson blog...) as I really wanted to have a go at showing him in his Paradise Vendors role. I'm pretty happy with Ignatius but I think Dorian would require a little work to refine things. At present I'm still somewhat in 'gameshow host' territory. I've taken some small liberties with the staging of the characters, deviating slightly from the book's account. I also tweeked costumes slightly for clarity. The railings and flagstones are based on photo reference of the actual location described in the book (Pirate Alley in New Orleans)... thank you google images. I had fun with it all, though I think I went too far by adding the wristwatch at such a small scale... just couldn't resist.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

IF - the "late" dodo

Alice arrived just in time to see it take a gold watch from it's waistcoat pocket and exclaim, "Oh dear, oh dear! Oh my beak and feathers, how late I'm getting!" Alice wasn't sure of the correct etiquette when addressing an extinct bird and after thinking back to her lessons she decided upon, "Good Morning Mr. Dodo, and how do you do?" The dodo gave a quick jump and dropped it's umbrella. "It's not polite to startle people like that you know," it said, wagging a feather and frowning at Alice. "And heavens, you've made me drop my best umbrella. How wet I would be getting if it was raining. Alice looked up into the blue, cloudless sky but decided not to remark on this. "And while you are about it," said the Dodo, "how do you do is most certainly not how you should greet a Dodo in polite society. You must say how do you do DO if you don't want to cause confusion." "I'm sorry," said Alice, who was beginning to think the bird to be a little fussy and more than a little stupid. She secretly thought to herself, if all the dodos were like this one I'm not surprised that they are all extinct. She decided to try and change the subject. "Aren't I suppose to meet you for a Caucus-race in chapter 3 of the book...? And I could have sworn that last time I read this story there was a white rabbit hereabouts." "Curiouser and curiouser," remarked the Dodo.

Once again it's been too long by far between IF posts and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to reference two of my favourite illustrators (John Tenniel and Mary Blair) and one of my favourite reads! Tenniel illustrated the original Alice books with those amazing line drawings that managed to be both accurate and controlled and at the same time expressive and full of humour. If I had his draftsmanship I'd be a happy man! Mary Blair was the polar opposite. She was responsible for concept designs for Disneys 1951 animated feature of Alice in Wonderland, and much of the final look of that film is down to her remarkable use of colour and composition. Although the screenplay adaptation of Lewis Carroll's perfect book left a lot to be desired the film did the seemingly impossible and succeeded (in my humble opinion) in working with the 'source material' of Tenniel's illustrations rather than totally obliterating what went before. If I had Mary's instinct for colour I'd be a happy man twice over!

Monday 20 October 2008

Stephen Fry is taller than that...

You look at things after a nights sleep and what do you find but a 'stumpy Stephen Fry'. While I was putting him on the rack I thought I'd take my good friend Phil's recommendation and put a bit of colour in his face. I'm enjoying the stylised white face & pink nose look from my Bleriot illustrations but I cannot deny that this pic benefits from the warmer flesh tones. Soupy twist m'colleagues as Stephen might say.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Stephen Fry

I'm in no way likening the lovely, fluffy Stephen Fry to Ignatius. Both are widely read but there the similarities end! Now I don't consider myself to be a caricaturist. Normally the likeness eludes me but I've been seeing Stephen F all over the pace this weekend, what with watching 'a bit of' Fry and Laurie on DVD, a Q.I repeat on T.V, reading his column in the Guardian, visiting his excellent upgraded website and going to watch his engrossing American series on TV tonight... I thought I'd have a go at immortalising our national treasure.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Ignatius J. Reilly

Here's my take on Ignatius J. Reilly, the main protagonist of "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. If you've read it.... well then you know... if you haven't, by crikey hurry up and do so as soon as possible!!! There is no way to adequately sum up this truly wonderful book, and don't just go off the publishers blurb on the back either. All I will say is J K T created a unique living, breathing, opinion spouting, plastic cutlass wielding, belching (thanks to his wayward 'valve') character in Ignatius. It's an hilarious piece of perfectly crafted writing (Toole received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction posthumously for it) and I urge you to read it at once, if not before.

Thanks to Phil for reading it first.
Here you are Kev, thanks for holding off on posting your Ignatius till I pulled my finger out... cannot wait to see it!

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Bleriot French crowd

Finally I've finished off the Bleriot French crowd scene. It may not look like many people but I think this is the most characters I've ever drawn in a single illustration before now (unless you count repeating circles for the heads of a crowd in a circus!). For the eagle eyed Bleriot has developed slightly from the other two illustrations. I couldn't resist adding the wayward fringe of hair you see on some of the period photos of him before his flight. I've also warmed up the colour on his flying helmet to give his costume a bit more variety. If anyone wonders about the two thin gentlemen with W & O on their chests I figured (although not strictly accurate to the historical record) that the Wright bros. would of wished Louis a bon voyage had they been there. I'm pleased with the worried cyclist and his red moustache. As to why he looks so peturbed, has he noticed that Bleriot's plane bears more than a passing resemblance to his shoddy old bike? Incidently I didn't give in to the stereotype and have my cyclist with a stripy top, red neckerchief and string of onions, although it crossed my mind for a second. A fact for those who are interested... the Wright bros. built bicycles before they set their sights a little higher... see you learn something new every day. Something I learnt while researching the Bleriot channel flight that I haven't been able to corroborate from other sources was that on as Bleriot started his engine a local dog became over excited by the events unfolding and sadly got chopped up by the prop! That poodle needs to watch out!

Friday 10 October 2008

the high street piggy bank and the wolf at the door

Which of the piggy banks will be the next to fall to the big, bad credit crunch wolf...? I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking credit crunch sound like a breakfast cereal...?! Just a quick idea sketched out direct on the computer. Rather than a tightly designed character I decided to opt for a loose and more moody wolf to try and capture something of the intimidation/villainousness of the big, bad wolf... but I'm most happy with my little piggy bank. What will happen to all our savings and pension pots...?

Wednesday 8 October 2008

phone doodle

I was kept on hold by the bank this morning...At least I got a sketch out of it, but it took playing a CD pronto to get the awful hold musak out of my brain! Why do they have such appalling tunes...?! Why not play news radio then at least you might learn something and keep up with current affairs while you wait...! Rant over. person at a time...

What with one thing and another the blog has taken a back seat for a few days and I'm sorry about that. Hard to believe but I am working on things, here's the Bleriot in progress. What with all the crowd it is taking far too long...(I need to speed up with my process, and to that end I've ditched scanned in pencils in favour of drawing direct with the wacom to mimic loose pencils) I really must finish it over the weekend so I can move things along with Bleriot and then on to the next project (there are plenty on the list!).

Saturday 27 September 2008

"...this sucker could go down."

Thanks for the inspiration George! Reading about the US economic crisis in today's paper Bush's clunky grasp on things, "If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down" painted the right picture for once.

Friday 26 September 2008

Scientists 'plug up' the 'black hole maker'...

I hear that scientists at CERN have had some problems with the LHC and won't be trying to bang protons together till early next year. I know the whole black hole drama has been overplayed in the press but I couldn't resist the image of plugging the hole till spring. This illustration and the other sketch ideas are by way of me continuing to practice more editorial work. I'm aiming to try and respond to news stories and treat them as if they were commissioned briefs. I'll try and post regularly with finished pieces, or at least sketches and get into a routine. That's the plan.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Elephant Hawk Moth

Been away for a great weekend with friends, talking of moths and fossilized aardvarks and visiting haunted mansions. P & T...Till yours makes an appearance here's a placeholder.