Freyja

Freyja character design. This one was difficult, but is perhaps my favourite of the bunch so far. I seem to rarely draw women, so I often find myself having to relearn how to every time I make an attempt. In most forms of art it is well documented that you should “stick to what you know”, though somehow this advice is disregarded when it comes to character design, though I suppose this is because who wants to hire an artist who can only draw feet, even if said feet are really, really sexy (bad example, there’s all kinds of perverts out there. Yes, I’m looking at you).

Freyja (not ‘Freya’, as is the modern spelling) is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen and possesses a cloak of falcon feathers.

The challenge here was making the character fit the description above and also fit the aesthetic of the previous two characters, Odin and Thor. I chose to focus on beauty, war, and gold, while incorporating the necklace and cloak of falcon feathers. It felt too easy to draw the cloak with the hood down, which is how I had approached my initial sketches, and I wanted the character to stand apart from the other two who both have capes, so she had to be hooded. I used a lot reference of Viking shieldmaidens from Pinterest for the look of the leather armour and also got some prompts for the colour scheme from old traditionally painted versions of the character. I like the fantasy aspect of the cloak, but generally with these medieval type characters I like have one foot reality and so try to weave in how someone of that era would actually dress; tunic, tabard, sword belt, leather armour, all layered appropriately. There’s not a lot more to say on this one except that it was fun.

Cheers

Matt

Hammer Time

Thor character design. I had to play around with this one for a while because the proportions seemed out of sync and the colours were difficult to get right. It was also a challenge to stay away from the Marvel aesthetic of the character though I think there’ll always some similarities as there have been so many iterations in the comics over the years.

Cheers

Matt

The All-Father

Odin character design. I don’t know why but I’ve been avoiding doing any real character design for a while now. Since we’re going to be in lockdown for the foreseeable future I’m going to perhaps try and do week long character design and visual development projects. An example may be illustrating Norse Gods, like I plan to do this week, then shifting to an ancient Rome theme, and then on to woodland creatures etc, etc… so we’ll see how it goes!

This is my take on Odin and his two ravens Huginn and Muninn. Not sure why I chose to kick things off with this guy, but I suppose I’ve always had a slight fascination with Norse mythology and Norway in general, so I was bound to attempt their Viking gods at some point.

Cheers

Matt

As You Were

Noel Gallagher commission. This one, like the Hamilton piece, was for the client’s grandson, and again the brief was very open ended. I felt inclined to go for Gallagher in his prime with the iconic Union Jack guitar, track suit, and of course the “V for victory” gesture. The composition was tricky here as I went back and forth on whether to keep things tight and close-up or whether to go for a full body shot, but ultimately the fully body just didn’t fit well on the page. The guitar was a bastard to get right as well!

Cheers

Matt

You’ll Be Back!

Commissioned Hamilton piece. The client wanted this one for her grandson who is big into theatre. I tried not to be too literal and draw an actual theatre (or some such scene) and instead opted for something a little more nuanced. I’d been told the client’s grandson liked Hamilton and so I went and gave it a watch since I’d just bought Disney+. I don’t know much about theatre, but that which I have seen has really been a mixed bag – though I must say I love The History Boys – however, after watching Hamilton I was blown away. What an amazing show! If you’ve seen the production then the character above should be immediately recognisable, and while only appearing briefly, it’s fair to say he stole the show. For those of you not in the know the above illustration is of King George III who is played by Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Frozen) who sings the iconic “You’ll Be Back” with spit flying to boot. Anyway it felt appropriate that I pay homage to this guy and this was the most apt way I could imagine; as the King of Hamilton.

Cheers

Matt

What up Holmes?

Took some doing this one! I played around with how I would apply the colour for ages and ultimately settled on a screen-print style that I’ve mentioned previously, only upped the level with which I executed the aesthetic.

I really like the bookcase and with the head of Arthur Conan Doyle resting on top. To be honest I like how I’ve drawn everything except Holmes himself – he looks a little stiff – so this is something I’ll work on going forward.

Cheers

Matt

Last One… Honest

Last cycling piece for a while. I think this might be my favourite out of all these pieces. The composition works really well and the colour application has a screen-print aesthetic that I think compliments the piece. I was in two minds whether to fully render Mont Saint-Michel, but after a couple of tests I decided it was wiser to just stick to the line work and use the cloud as a way of giving the architecture some form. Its my hope that your eye is drawn to the white areas, specifically the cyclist first because of the small amount of black and white that comprise the character. This is because your eye is naturally drawn to negative space, sometimes known as the 80/20 rule. If you imagine a sheet of white paper with about 20 percent of the page covered by black, you will find your eye seeking out all the black areas. The same principle is being applied here with the black and white on yellow.

Cheers

Matt

Ha’Way the Lads

Another fun commission here! I’ve been very lucky recently in that most of the commissions I have taken on have had very open ended briefs, meaning I’m pretty free to do whatever I want with few limitations. The client wanted this one for their old piano teacher who is also a Sunderland AFC fan. I was originally inclined to do something similar to the Leeds Utd poster I illustrated a while back, which was very footballer heavy. Somehow that didn’t seem appropriate for this one, as the client wanted a fusion of piano and football. I went back and forth having a football scene float up out of the piano like music, but it felt a bit obvious. I did a bit more research in to the clubs musical history and found that the players walked out to “Dance of the Knights” by Sergei Prokofiev (if you’ve seen The Apprentice, with Alan Sugar, you’ll recognise the music as the intro that). After that I just sourced the sheet music and Bob’s your uncle. I particularly like the textures I’ve thrown in.

Cheers

Matt