Friday, March 28, 2008


Yup, Hero-Z is all done and dusted. And, pending word from the editor, I think it came together pretty good in the end. So, y'know, ignore any previous whining.
The pic here is a self-portait that showcases my difficulty at likenesses, even my own:)
Scarily, the hunched over a bit of paper on the floor? That's pretty accurate. Even when I had a drawing board I'd end up working on the floor. I'm sure I'll grow out of it when I'm crippled with back pain.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hero-Z, one last time. For now.

Here's pages seven and eleven from Hero-Z. Call me crazy, but I'm guessing the publishers would rather I didn't show the entire strip before the book comes out, so I'll not post anymore for now.
The sound effects on page seven should be a good indication of how far my tongue is in my cheek with this strip. After my initial idea grew a little larger (I originally saw this as about 4 pages, it's ended up as 13) my approach to the artwork had to change, the conceit I came up with was to attempt to draw something fairly retro looking, I looked at mainly 60s/70s manga and a few other things. I got a bit nervous about whether this was working part way through, and looking at it I can see it's not what I originally saw in my head, but I think it works anyway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hero-Z again

Here's the 2nd Hero-Z page, with more 'influences' possibly becoming apparent.
As Peter asked, here's how I did it.
1. Drawn on paper the old fashioned way, then scanned.
2. Turned the linework into a 'channel' by copying it into channels, then loading the selection onto a blank page in layer. I'll post some links at the bottom with more detail about stuff like this.
3. Opening a new layer underneath the 'lines' I filled the page a mid-grey then went over it with a dark grey for shadows and a lighter grey for highlights. This meant I could see the whole page finished without having to worry about the colours just yet.
4. Selecting the areas I was interested in (let's say all of Z's forearms, bottom legs, belt and chest) I went into 'image', selected 'adjustments' 'photofilter' and turned the grey into a navy-ish blue. Then I repeated this for all the various elements in all their various colours.
This step was not as straightforward as it sounds, I hadn't tried this technique before and realised I shouldn't have been so arbitrary about my choice of grey shades, also selecting the correct colours in photofilter wasn't always giving me the exact colours I was after so I tried to correct them adjusting the brightness/hue/etc in the 'image/adjustment' selection. This was closer but not quite, so decided to select my colours from the swatches and filled them in with the paintbucket. Starting with grey then adjusting to colour is helpful, but I clearly need practice, after a few tries at it I decided go straight from selecting areas to filling the greys with colours selected from the swatches.
5. With all the colouring done (using a limited palette I trial and errored as I went along (I knew it's be blue and purple with the odd chunk of red and yellow, but I still had to get the right shades) on the characters I copied various elements into new layers and laid a filter (usually motion or gausian blur) over them. I did these in separate layers because I want different parts filter differently - for example, on page 1 I knew I wanted a bad guy robot head in the foreground but I drew it after I'd done most of the colouring, I scanned it in separately, put it on a different layer, coloured it, copied the colour into another layer, blurred it, then blurred, more subtly, the original layer of line and colour art and merged them together to get the effect I had in my head. The other aspect I did separately was backgrounds, 'painting them in photoshop and then blurring to get the right look. I was a bit worried about this aspect, my backgrounds can either be a bit weak or betray their reference too much, for the look appropriate to this story both would be a problem, in the end I'm pretty happy with the way that worked out, you'll have to wait to the end to decide if they're appropriate though.
7. One final layer for the sound FX, again drawn on paper, scanned and then filled in yellow, selected, contract selection then fill the smaller area red.
6. That's it. Normally I like to add some interesting effects, half tones can give an nice graphic look, but there's a good reason I couldn't do that here, I'm just not going to tell you what it was.
Looking over what I've written I realise how laborious this sounds, that's partly because of the trial and error aspect, and partly my nerves making me probably go into more layers than necessary. But it didn't really take as long as all this blather might make it seem, and messing around is part of the fun for me. I'm not really much of a colourist, but I think I've found the real trick, it's not layers, it's not effects, it's not even shading, it's about picking a palette, a fairly limited one works best, and sticking to it.
There's quite a few tutorials floating around by far better folk then me, here's some I've found helpful - D'Israeli(go to the 'education' bit), INJ, Mike Laughead, Dean Trippe and Mike Maihack. There's been a few other places I found stuff, but these are the ones that have been most helpful in a 'hands on' way, the others have just given me other ways to think about how to draw/colour. Hope you find this, and more likely, them, helpful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Here's the finished first page of the strip I'm working on at the moment. It's been tough, but hopefully it'll be worth it. I've still not finished the full story, but plan to have it all done by the weekend, there's only one page to do from scratch, so it should be okay.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sneaking in a bit of reading

For the first time in a really long time I'm having to travel to work (and re-appreciating who lovely it is to normal have a 10 minute walk to work), which is a drag as it's really eating into my drawing and being with my family time. Luckily it's only for a few more weeks.
One good thing is time on the train is good reading time (when it's not napping and drooling on my shoulder time that is)
I finally got round to reading a book I bought five years ago, I knew I'd like it, so it's was just a matter of time. Turned out I was right, 'The Deadly Percheron' by John Frankin Bardin is an excellent 'lost classic', the plot should be surreal, but it unfolds with a nightmarish logic. Best description I can give it is 'psychiatric noir', I reckon John Frankenheimer should have directed an adaptation of it round about 'Manchurian Candidate'/'Seconds' time, it would've been a perfect thematic fit. The edition I got is already out of print, but I believe a new edition recently came out. Bardin wrote several other books, I have a copy of 'Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly' whic is supposed to be his best, and I've jumped it close to the top of my reading pile. You can read more about Franklin at wiki or at this fan site.
Another book that had waited for me to dig it off the shelf was Kim Newman's (I used to get on the same bus as him back when I lived in London y'know, he really does look like a dandy Lemmy - that's a good thing BTW) 'The Quorum', which turned out to be a lot of fun, appealing to my need for pop culture and nostalgia. It wasn't particular scary, but it was fairly disturbing in places. Didn't knock 'Orgy of the Blood Parasites' (written as Jack Yeovil) off it's high spot, but good enough to bide Newman time until I finally decide to read his Anno Dracula stuff.
At the moment I've just started 'Bust', a Hard Case Crime book by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, a couple of writers who've earned respect from some authors I rate, so I've got high hopes for it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hello everybody

Hello to anyone coming here from Neil Vokes link on Jinxworld, hope you like what you see. To save you wading through my waffle you can just click here for all my artwork posts, or go here to see my comicspace gallery.
Here's a work in progress, it's going to be in colour, but I'm nicking Ian Culbard's (sorry INJ, hope you don't mind!) technique of toning first, then adding colour after. It's a bit light on backgrounds, but I h
ope to add some in the colour version before the deadline runs out. The character designs probably should be explained a little..... it's a little tongue in cheek:)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Farmer John

It was my wife's birthday today and I think it was one of those days you know you'll look back upon fondly over the years. We went to Old Holly Farm designed with kids in mind. Olivia petted baby goats, saw a Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig, lots of calves and hens and some ponies. Then she went into the 'Play Barn', which was a thoughtfully designed fun house, but without Pat Sharpe. She absolutely loved it, particular the big bumpy slid which cracked her up, particular when her mam and dad slid down it. I got a little choked up at how much Olivia enjoyed her day out, it was the best present Rebecca got.
One of my favourite comic creators, Lewis Trondheim, is interviewed here. If any one person will get me to learn French it'll be Trondheim, until them I'll just have to put up with the slow drip feed of translations.
Mark Millar (no link, I don't want to contribute in even the smallest way to helping sell his comics) seems to have a new comic out, and honestly, I had absolutely no idea it existed. I found a preview of is online and didn't like it in the slightest - apart from the art. What I particularly disliked was Millar's insistence that he was creating something of utter genius and originality. The biggest Millar fan is not as big a fan of Millar than Millar himself. I'm very proud not to have heard about the comic until reasonable late, I'm a bit upset that I heard about it at all, and I'm not even going to mention the name of, if you haven't seen it, I don't want to be responsible for bringing it to your attention. I'm not writing this just to be negative, I just never realised I was so out the loop.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Shut that door

This article about the dangers of holding on to too many options was linked by artist PJ Holden, I found it scarily familiar and interesting enough to want to preserve it for my own posterity.
On a minor level I do this with reading. Even though my reading time over the last six months has reduced dramatically (hence no reviews for a while, even when I am reading I struggle to find the time to blog about it) I still manage to waste time mulling over to buy a couple of new books as well as going through my bookshelves piling up a stack of 'possible reads' which all then lay unread as I struggle with which actually gets read first, if at all.
One nice thing was the point made about marriage which perfectly sums up why I decided to marry despite my not being particularly religious.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Coupla links

Read these in my googlereader thingy and thought I'd share-
I agree with everything about this review of Swamp Thing, I'd probably go further with my praise.
Yes, there's a lot that could be parodied, yes it started a great big ball of pretension rolling down a long steep hill. But it was brilliant, consistent high level of old fashion craft, clever, entertaining and experimental.
Jeff Smith's been inviting folk to talk about the self publishing movement on his blog, there's been some good articles, but I particularly liked this one because it's got artwork by Craig Thompson, and it features his interpretations of some of my favourite comics.
In slightly less positive news, I found out that Miles Hunt wrote the theme tune to 'Underground Ernie', not only is the tune rubbish, but it's one of my least favourite thinks on Cbeebies. I'm sure a lot of sincere people worked hard on it, and I appreciate it's for kids, but honestly, it's dire. What are you playing at Miles?

Read comics, read (sort of) my comics

For all you comic reading folk out there, AccentUK's upcoming anthology 'ROBOTS' is listed in the latest 'Previews', as well as a resolicitation 'ZOMBIES'. I drew 'Zombie of the Great Unwashed' for one and wrote and drew 'MY robot!' for the other - guess which story appeared in which book:)
Down the tubes gives both books a plug, and John Freeman has converted 'MY robot!' for mobile phone content. It's developing a life of it's own that strip, it'll be featured in another book later this year along with some extra stuff, I'm really pleased it's struck a chord.