I have a penchant for drawing knights and warriors. The reason for this isn’t because I enjoy seeing blood or that I’m a perverted and sadistic individual (what you do in your own time is your business, no judgement), but rather it’s what I was brought up on.
One of the first films I remember watching as a kid was Disney’s Robin Hood, and this was quickly followed up by The Sword in the Stone. The animation in these films, for their time at least. was top tier. I can’t count the number of viewings I must have given them. It wasn’t just the animation that fascinated me though, it was also the time period and the stories. The timeless battle between good and evil (spoilers: good always won), knights, maidens, wizards, dragons, anthropomorphic Lions playing morally bereft kings, the list goes on. Indeed the list of films goes on too, from Peter Pan (1953) right up to Treasure Planet (2002) I was gripped. Disney dominated my formative years, and so many of those films were inspired by folklore that just so happened to include knights, soldiers, and a whole litany of swashbuckling characters.
I was also encouraged to read. And I love reading. Often I had no other choice, because social media hadn’t been invented yet to ruin my life and I wasn’t that into sports. I was introduced to books like The Hobbit, Magician, and The Discworld series, all of which were filled with the same types of characters as the Disney films, albeit more mature versions. On top of that I devoured all the Asterix books which were filled with fights between the invading Romans and magically enhanced Gaulish warriors (I heavily suspect the magic potion brewed by the druid Getafix in these book was in fact the first written documentation of the use of steroid doping in ancient warfare – it’s even in his name; Get-a-fix).
So, given all this literature and film exposure is it any wonder I draw the things I do? The above piece got me thinking about the ‘whys’ of my interest in this genre and it was nice thinking about what helped mould me. Anyway, sorry there’s so much blood!
The weather has turned in the UK so I figured a character in the cold was warranted. This guy and his sheep/ram buddy were fun to design and took probably about four hours to illustrate altogether. I took a lot of inspiration from Siberian, Mongolian, and Icelandic cultures, but isn’t specifically any of them, instead he’s more of a fantasy mash-up, like the characters you get in Joe Abercrombie novels (read his First Law trilogy, you won’t regret it!).
The first image is a very rudimentary snap-shot of how I design characters. In reality I’ll spend quite a bit of time looking for a bunch of images that fit the aesthetic I want and make some quick exploratory sketches. I’ll then put together a very loose look for the character – usually a front-on view – and then move on to a more dynamic pose. The pose I choose is determined by what I think is happening to the character at the time. I think I may have mentioned my general rules for character design in a previous post, but it’s worth mentioning again, and those are:
The World – where is the character?
Interaction – how would the character dress, live, look, etc… in their world?
Reaction – how is the character reacting to what is happening in their world?
In the case with the characters above we have two very different reactions to the tracks of a predator in the snow. The man is stoic, almost unemotional, because this is a common occurrence. The ram however is alarmed and has physically put the man between itself and the tracks.
Colour is also very important too. I generally try to use a very narrow colour range, as too many colours can make things seem a bit muddled, but I also make sure that I’m using colours that are appropriate to the overall character design aesthetic and world.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve gone on for too long. Hope you like the piece!
These are two pieces are commissions I recently completed. The top one of Grasmere was a bastard to make because of the sheer number of trees. A truly horrendous experience, but I didn’t make it easy for myself to be honest. I didn’t want the image to just be a mass trees the same colour, as I feel like that’s a bit of a cop-out. The style is somewhat Disney-esq inspired, and not a million miles away from the aesthetic Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde (aka iraville) uses in her work – check her out here – http://www.iraville.de/blog/
The second piece, Joe Coffee, was a more true to life representation. I wanted to go heavier with the line work which is a style I’m leaning more heavily into because I feel it suits my type of art, plus it’s very much en vogue at the moment.
I don’t know what it is about seagulls that makes them so fun to draw. They’re essentially pigeons of the coast but on steroids. In fact, when you think about it they’re a pain in the arse whenever you go to the seaside – squawking, shitting, stealing your chips, assaulting people – well maybe not the last one, but not far off!
Any way, this is another seagull illustration. The character design here isn’t a million miles away from the Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo, but that’s probably because those designs weren’t far from Aardman Animations designs of Feathers McGraw, and I love them both.
This was super fun to work on. @schoolofgames on instagram host a character design/mood board competition every year and I decided to try my luck this year! The brief was fairly simple; draw a Magic Apprentice. The hosts provide a mood board with a few images (cauldrons, broomsticks, books) and words to take inspiration from e.g. clumsy, shy, nervous, worried. The hardest part is finding a pose and expression that work together in capturing the essence of the character – everything after that is just set dressing.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a landscape, so here’s one. This might be the most time consuming one to date as well. Over 130 layers and an awful lot of hours. Still, I’m happy with how vivid it looks and I especially like the trees. Pretty sure drawing trees is good for the soul.
This was made to kill two birds with one stone. Firstly it was made in response to a design challenge on instagram by artist Pernille Orum, who is a form disney character designer and is now a freelance illustrator. Secondly I made a jazz poster a while ago and wanted to make another. ‘Nuff said.
This piece was originally made in response to a character design competition, but I found out about it too late in the day and only managed to produce a quick rough sketch. It got forgotten until I found the sketch a few days ago and thought it had potential, though granted it was little more than a stick figure walking over a sand dune (see below).
I did a little more work on the character and had a play around with the background, trying sand dunes of varying shapes and sizes. Nothing seemed to look right. At some point I must’ve had the brain-wave that she needed to be walking through something a little more interesting than just sand, so I threw in some ruined pillars and everything snowballed from there! Anyway, hope you like it.
This feels like the first true bit of children’s book illustration I’ve done for ages! The inspiration for this one came from watching “Gone Fishing: with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse”. If you’ve not watched it then do! It’s a really relaxing and funny show, and was not at all a program I thought I would enjoy. It is literally just Bob and Paul going to various locations around the UK to fish. Paul is a journeyman fisher and Bob is somewhat of a amateur/halfwit. Seriously, go watch it.