Redo

After finishing the spread yesterday (bottom picture) and looking at it again this morning I couldn’t help but notice a few things that needed changing, so I’ve faffed about all day redoing the piece (top picture). Here’s what was wrong;

Firstly, Freyja’s right arm is massive! Look at the size of that monster! So I rescaled it so she would look more human.

Second, another Freyja issue was her features. The eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth just seemed a bit odd and not quite in perspective, so again I corrected this and added white to the eyes.

Third was the trees. They seemed to lack any real texture and seemed a tad desaturated, so I found some old ink markings I made a while ago and applied those to combat the issue.

Fourth. Character shadows and highlights. I was going to avoid adding either of these but thought I’d add some bounce light from the snow and a bit of ambient occlusion. The problem is it looks a bit airbrushed now, so I might have to make another tweak.

Fifth. The writing was huge! I get that it’s a kids book so the text is meant to be big, but Christ! Resized it. Looks better.

I also changed the colour of the birds. This wasn’t really a problem, I just wanted to see what they’d look like white, and they certainly blend less with Thor. Added some icicles as well just for good measure.

If I’m honest I’m not over the moon with this spread. I think the main issue is that I find square compositions tricky to illustrate. I’ve noticed that many illustrators, when working with square compositions, either break the page up into two or three separate illustrations or they make the main focal point dead centre, so this is something I will bear in mind going forward.

Cheers

Matt

Tracks!

Single page spread. Even though this is only a single page spread it took significantly longer to complete, mainly because it’s a little more refined than the previous spread and I also flip flopped on the design somewhat. I really like the environment in this one and I do rather enjoy illustrating trees, I think it must be good for your mental health or something. Again the text isn’t particularly well thought out, as it is merely saying what you can already see, but without the rest of the story it seems pointless adding exposition.

Cheers

Matt

Kids Book Spread Concept

Double page spread for a possible kids book about the Norse god Freyja taming the boar Hildisvini. This is only a rough spread, but I do like how it’s looking. I tried to stay away from adding cast shadows and strong light because I think the colours work quite well and Freyja and the boar pop really well against the background. In case you’re wondering, the boar is meant to be the size of a horse because in the mythology Freyja rides him.

The text is just something I thought up super quickly and is by no means how it would read in the finished piece, it’s just to give publishers/agents an idea of where the text for the spread would sit.

I’ll keep rolling with this project until I’ve finished a couple more pages, so hopefully that won’t take more than half a week.

Cheers

Matt

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

Late Night Deli

Just a quick study today. This one, unlike so many others, didn’t cause me any stress. I kept things super simple and didn’t go too crazy with the detailing. I found with this piece that I was initially drawing everything too precisely, so I had to go back and “correct” the shapes and proportions so they were wrong, which sounds weird to say, but it adds to the style. This is another place in NYC. I’ll probably get off the New York hype train at some point, but I just love the buildings! Enjoy!

In Case You Hadn’t Noticed…

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been sticking to a certain style recently. I’ve found that in the past the work that I post on social media and on here is “all over the shop”, for lack of a better term. If you came to my website I think you would be hard pressed to say what my area of expertise is… maybe expertise is the wrong word, perhaps “aesthetic” is better? These last few posts have been an attempt at creating a unified and recognisable brand for my online presence. Not all of my work will include the Handyman that’s been making an appearance so far, but I will at least attempt to keep the style the same. I think with all my previous work I’ve been experimenting and testing what works and what doesn’t – some are hits and some are misses, that’s just how it’s been. I think I’m finally working towards something now that is uniquely mine, and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how refined the work is. I don’t doubt that you’ve seen very similar work elsewhere – Ty Carter, Szymon Biernacki, Scott Wills, and Brian Edward Miller are all hugely influential, and I feel like I borrow little bits from all of them. I’m committed to staying on course for the time being, building up a body of work, and seeing how far I can push these pieces. Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great day, and thanks for reading!

Cheers

Matt

Little Merchant – study

Quick character study here. I’m playing around with line-work a little more than I usually would as a way to test things out, and it means I don’t have to be so careful with edge control for colour. I quite like this for what it is; a simple character scene. Not everything has to be ridiculously time consuming and intricate. Is there a story here? Always, but whether it’ll get expanded upon or redesigned is another question. I’m going to try and pump out some more of these character scenes just so I have plenty of fodder for publishers and agents. Enjoy!

Booking heaven!

This was going to be a quick piece – a bit of drawing from life, but then I got carried away. As with every illustration I do, I get to a certain point (usually when all the flat colours are applied) and I think “I hate this stupid picture and myself! Why do I even do this?! Aggggghhh!” Then I unfold myself from my desk, stretch, and contemplate jumping out of a window. Luckily I’m not a complete moron, so I just go for a walk instead. This one took a long time. Not because the lighting is complex, but because there are so many bloody books that had to be individually detailed – which is my own fault, so maybe I am a moron. My computer is old and slow as well, so I had a couple of instances where Photoshop refused do anything, then promptly died, losing me about an hours worth of work, which is not at all causing me to lose hair. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this as much as it was inconvenient to draw. Cheers.