Tuesday, 10 May 2016

...'Moot Point'...

...'Do you want it Friday or do you want it good?'...

When John Jaworski left me a telephone message offering me a commission and apologised for calling me out of the blue as it were - I called him back accepting the commission, little realising that it would soon be I apologising to him for taking so long to get it done. 

Before I got started, I needed to get plenty of reference photos, which is normal practice, even if I'm working on site from life to some extent. On this occasion there was another proviso. To achieve the point of view that would best present the multiple rooves of Moot Point, would I take a photo from a raised perspective?

i.e. - 'Bring your own ladder'. So I did.

'Moot Point' pencil composition and 1st stage detail.

'Moot Point' Pencil stage.

OK, I'm not the fastest artist in town, but in consideration of other commitments, I would expect to allocate a period of three to four weeks to complete an A3 pen & ink and watercolour commission.

Owing to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to apply myself to the commission as often as I would like to have. John and Frances were both absolutely fine with this, and allowed me as much time as was needed. To quote John as he relayed it to me - 

'Do you want it Friday, or do you want it good??' 

'Good please'.

My winter work table, given that the heater is glowing...

'Moot Point' Pen & Ink stage.

I found although I had plenty of reference photos, there were occasionally some details that were unclear from those pictures, and rather than - dare I say - 'guess' I would drive out to Moot Point to take additional photos or to count the roof tiles...

'Moot Point' 2nd stage colours.

...or check the colour of the downpipe of the adjoining building to the left, or to clarify whether the window and door frames were in fact black, brown or really dark navy blue...

'Moot Point' finished artwork - 'Just what I had in mind, the trick is getting it on paper...'

Destination achieved - the long and winding road to 'Moot Point'.

Many thanks to John and Frances, both for the commission in the first place and their hospitality and patience during it's execution and completion. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

...Sketching Superstars at Tindalls Art Supplies Store, Ely...

Good old Iron Man from the 1960s...

Returning to Tindalls after lunch, I sketched a few Marvel characters. 

It's great fun, I don't really have a clue what I'm going to draw - just think of  a character and go for it. I give myself five minutes or so from blank page to finished article. 

Even if it's a little bit off, I feel the vitality of the drawing makes up for it. 
Well, that's my excuse...


I started with the foreground hand and claws and worked my way back from there...

Leader of the Inhumans - BLACK BOLT!

The enigmatic leader of the Inhumans is all about silence - 
until he speaks - and then it's all sonic chaos!

See Fantastic Four Volume 1 #59 for the catastrophic effects in graphic detail...

My table - soon to be covered with superhero sketches...alongside cat cards and calendars.

The 'masked' version of Doctor Strange...

A quick sketch of the one and only 'masked' Dr Strange by Doc Team Supreme - Gene Colan and Tom Palmer with that great exaggerated cloak and collar!

Spidey - doing what a spider can...

OK - this was actually my first sketch - you can see it's a bit wobbly, but you get the general idea. Gotta confront that blank sheet of paper with brave enthusiasm and go for it! Start somewhere...

...Nuff said!

Friday, 6 May 2016

...Superheroes over Ely...TINDALLS TITANS...

Driving into Ely this sunlit Saturday morning to take part in TINDALLS Three Artists' Workshop weekend, I knew it was going to be a good day. I'm not sure when I realised this, probably not when I was stuck behind a 'Sitra' 40 mph tanker for 20 minutes, more than likely it was when Emily and Emily came into Tindalls and told me how they wanted to design their superhero from - well, the boots up. 

A- shaped boots with a deep tread, cow dot trousers, utility belt for mobile, ipod and...well...superhero stuff. Screwdriver? A - shape gloves, more cow dots for top, capital 'U' chest emblem - of course. Angular eye mask. 

'Anything else? Sorry - what did you say? Unicorn horn? - Coming up.'

'What's your character's name going to be?


'Brilliant - of course it is. And what are your names?'

'Emily'  'Emily' 

...and so a new superstar is born...

'UNICOW' by Emily and Emily.

And this was pretty much how the day went. 

James came by next with his family and volunteered to create the JAGUAR replete with corinthian Magneto helmet, Wolverine claws and spiked boots!

'JAGUAR' by James.

I think it was James' sister Kate that asked me to draw WONDER WOMAN, 
I wasn't quite sure what her costume looked like, but with a little help from Kate's mum we got there in the end.

(Created by William Moulton Marston - a long time ago).

A heroic thank you to James' dad who when asked to take a picture of me in action at the easel, took plenty of great photos. Cheers!

Here's one of them...

Prompted by James - I create... the 'JAGUAR'!

Just when I think it's all quiet on the western front - in walk Josh and Jenson - all ready to conjure up their inimitable superhero. Plenty of magnets, stripes, metallic boots, shiny knee and elbow pads and an inverted double magnet chest emblem. Watch out McDonald's -

Here comes MAGNET MAN!

'MAGNET MAN' by Josh and Jenson.

I take a short break for lunch and return in time to meet Daniel. I go off template and modify the characters left hand and foot - and with Deadpool's eyes, Iron Man's repulsor rays and the Flash's trademark lightning bolts we give birth to none other than ...



Normally I work from my design template - more speed and less fear. It's  a good thing I drew a handful of freehand superhero sketches before I went to lunch and got my confidence up. 'Cause that's just what Josh wanted me to do - draw a freehand Hulk picture. 

OK - with a pencil I quickly scribbled in a few layout lines starting with the outstretched fists, growing back to his shoulders, barrel chest and then a crouching knees out position. Straight back in with a Winsor & Newton chisel tipped Promarker and before you know it I'm spelling out 'GRRAAAR!' by JOSH in the background, logo style!

THE INCREDIBLE - and quite angry - HULK!

The 'HULK' by Josh -
(after Stan Lee & Jack Kirby of course).

Joe's seen what I'm up to and asks me to draw a picture of SHIELD boss NICK FURY! Being a little bit older than Joe - and a comic collector from the 60s - I have to ask Joe if he means the original Sgt Nick Fury from the 1960s or does he mean Avengers Assemble's Mr Samuel L Jackson? 

And yes he does indeed mean - Mr Samuel L Jackson. 

...and laser pistol in hand, here he is - the Director of SHIELD - NICK FURY!

'NICK FURY' by Joe - (more Lee & Kirby).

It's been pretty much heroes all the way today, but here comes Christopher to change all that. He only wants me to draw one of Spider- Man's baddest bad guys from the late 80s. Almost the very opposite of Spidey himself - the unforgettable VENOM!

Originally a new costume Spidey found on Battleworld back in the original seventies Secret Wars, the costume turned out to have an evil will of it's own, and finding a host of it's own has given Spider-Man a run for his money ever since.

Same as before - a lot of frantic scribbling starting with the claw like hands, down the arms to the chest and then the angular legs and clawed feet.

The demonic (one-eyed...oops?!) VENOM!

'VENOM' by Christopher -
(by Marvel again - not quite sure who...).

I was right it was not only a good day, but a great day!

Thanks a lot to all the kids (and superhero fans), that took part and helped me create an unbeatable team of TINDALLS TITANS to rival the Avengers.

Many thanks also to Matt and Mark for inviting me along to take part, and to all the Tindalls Ely staff for their hospitality throughout the day. 


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

...Heroes on Parade...

...Heroes and Villains...(Logo and Cover Studies)...

So you've got your hero and you've got your villain. Like any good recipe, you have put your ingredients together - time for a cover!

BLIND NINJA and LORD of LIGHTNING duke it out!

Using a couple of the characters we created over the first two sessions I sketch up a classic Carmine Infantino style cover layout - one character coming in from the left and the other from the right! As we progress through the cover drawing  I notice I'm getting less comments and interaction from the guys. I turn to see them all head down working on their drawings. My work here is done...

Cover layout 1 - after Carmine Infantino.  
Cover layout 2 - after Gil Kane.

Using a couple of cover layouts the students either used their existing characters to feature on the cover, or created new characters altogether - why not if you've got a spare five minutes!

Cole decided to create a new character - 'Virus!'

Jack's high contrast silhouette - is he hero or villain?!!

The DARK SHADOW squares off against his opponent!

Cole and Fin carrying out Logo Studies...

James - creating...

James presenting Bloodstar and Swordsman!!

James's manga style characters fight it out - and logos too!


...and two weeks worth of 'Bite-Size History of Comics!...



That's all folks - See you in Module 2!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

...Bring on the Bad Guys...

They say that you can measure the appeal and success of a superhero by the quality of his or her super-villains. You only have one hero in the strip but you need a veritable rogues gallery of bad guys to keep things interesting each month. After a brief discussion regarding super villains, we quickly got into designing arch villains for the two superheroes we created last week. 

We created LORD OF LIGHTNING to be the arch nemesis of BLIND NINJA, and 
the bane of SPIKED AVENGER'S heroic life would be BLOOD SAMURAI!!

The images of the two new villains must remain TOP SECRET for the present- or until I can get a new SD card reader for my camera. PICTURES TO FOLLOW!

...and here they are - bring on the bad guys...

Having designed a couple of villainous characters ourselves on the easel, the class got down to possibly their favourite assignment - 'Design a Super Villain! And who better to overlook and provide inspiration for such an endeavour than the blood-curdling Prince of Darkness himself - DRACULA!

Here are two new characters from Zac and Finn. The creations of Toby, Cole, K.C., Jack and James on their way... (SD card reader again).

Zac's multi-coloured villain.

Finn's 'Mystery Man'

Toby's 'Captain Nuclear!'

Finn again - 'Lightning Guy'

...begin again...

Apologies to K.C., Cole, Jack and James - unable to recover photos of your characters - will add to blog after 1st session Module 2.

Along with the Shadow and Zorro,  Dracula was inspirational
in the creation of teenager Bob Kane's Batman! 


...and last but not least...

The second installment of the 'Bite-Size History of Comics!' 

The first appearances of Superman in 1938 - and Batman in 1939 - heralds the birth of the Golden Age of Comics! From then on a veritable deluge of colourful costumed characters poured onto the newsstands as publisher after publisher jumped onto the lucrative comic book bandwagon. Not the least of which being Martin Goodman's Atlas Comics' with their Human Torch and Captain America. Atlas comics would go through a series of successes, crises and calamities before it would publish comics decades later under the name Marvel Comics! 

I listened to one student recount the origin of the Silver Surfer - being that the world-devouring GALACTUS had consumed and destroyed the planet Zenn-La, but chose Norrin Radd - the only survivor - to become his planet seeking herald. I had to interrupt, and explained that the Silver Surfer origin I read in 1968 showed a heroic Norrin Radd on a decadent land-locked planet, sacrifice himself to serve GALACTUS in order to save Zenn-La. Norrin Radd volunteered to scour the universe searching for alternative planets to assuage the hunger of the planet eater.

I rather liked the 'survivor' origin myself. Comic book continuity is pretty confusing at the best of times - we agreed that the continuity had clearly been rewritten...

Next week - The man whose lies almost 
destroyed the  comic book industry!

A big thank you to Simon and Becka at Downham first and foremost 
art shop - Framin' Art - for all their help and support!