Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Above are the results of my likeness practising, some more successful than others. Also trying different styles and tools a bit...some pencil and colour pencils pieces next I think, if I can select any decent refs. Fancy a Samuel L Jackson but my refs are too small to get a decent likeness from.

Anyway, above are Lex Luthor...the left one is inked with a Pitt marker and I don't really have a steady enough hand to pull off smooth lines. This is also a problem when inking the thicker hairlines in some of the other pieces.

I won't name the faces in the next pieces as I hope they're strong enough to be able to tell who they are (mostly) but the bottom ones are dismal attempts at Barbarella and Erica Durance, who I just can't seem to get the hang of, dammit. I blame poor ref for the Barbarella and me for the Erica, new attempts to follow.

Rounding out the page, that quickly tweaked Elastigirl...shifted her right arm and dropped in a new face (actually from another drawing!) and voila, I can stand to look at this now. Quick n easy save via Photoshop!

Monday, 27 August 2012

After that last megapost, something a bit lighter: settling back into more of a normal routine at work, I've been able to ink up to two pages of my "face book" over my lunch break (post to follow when I've completed the other sketches later this week) but it has also restored some interest in drawing again, after falling into a bit of a stupor lately.

Picking up a pad not touched for almost exactly five months, I've been working on some heroines again. When sorting out my past art coincided with dabbling with a cleaner art style, I decided to draw a roster of characters I'd drawn previously but was unhappy with. I held on to a few drawings that still work but have maybe 20 more characters to draw, mostly DC followed by marvel with two more obscure ones.

Anyway, the results of this weekend's work is above. Not too taken with the obscure Miss Masque but do like the belt logo I gave her (took me a while to streamline an M into a belt design but think this works well), Dagger is a last minute rework of a Clea that I hated (I realised the upper torso was all wrong so just wiped the whole thing out) and I'm not sure about Elastigirl...think it needs a new face.

I'm fairly happy with the Spiderwoman (though getting the wings to match was impossible as I'd drawn the arms in different positions)((I was also keeping David Finch and Frank Cho's version in mind as those seem the best versions to me)) and Marvel Girl, which I'm very happy with...always liked that outfit and finally think I've done a decent depiction (though I did do an acceptable Jaime Hernandez-style version)

The poses get a bit samey after a while but I do have a reason: these are meant to be generic shots of the character, as if they were going into Marvel Universe, ie as clear as you can get to an "on model" look. Some of the art in the recent DC and Marvel encyclopedias sacrifices decent looks at character design for dynamic design and sometimes it makes for too busy pages...

Cheers, Woody: Bank Holiday Roundup

Whilst drawing this weekend (post to follow), I've had the TV on in the background as ever and stumbled across a Woody Allen season. I've only ever seen Sleeper (which I liked) and parts of What's Up, Tiger Lily? (or Pussycat?) and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex but can't really remember them. I'd always stayed away from Allen's later "mature" milieu so this was a chance to catch up.

Hmmm. Broadway Danny Rose was tedious and while Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters were good...I had issues with them. Beautifully acted, they struck me as US counterparts to Mike Leigh films (which I HATE) and seemed to focus on character over plot. I resisted the phrase character study as the characters aren't really looked at and fleshed out, both movies seeming like photos, snapshots of the characters rather than giving a fuller sense of their lives.

With no real plot or comments to make (though recurring themes of dating too young women and not helping who you fall in love with foreshadow the most infamous of Allen's future relationships), the movies rely on the characters to sell the films but the sketches are too light to draw any substance on. While your average late Review viewer may regard these as more natural and true to life as things trundle along as in life rather than following a tightly constructive narrative, I found them both watchable..but insubstantial, lacking in emotion and uninvolving.

Counter that with the Sunday morning Cheers marathons. I have great fondness for Cheers, watching it each Friday night on that new Channel Four thing. I liked it then but can see more of the nuances now. As well as having some of the best one liners and general writing in sitcom history, Cheers invests all of its characters with heart and soul, extracting genuine lines while also daring to pause for more serious moments. The audience cheering as Sam regains his mojo and slides a drink around the bar illustrates how invested we are.

Looping from the first series to Sam's cliff hanger plane ride to stop Diane marrying Frasier, Cheers is a genuine soothing panacea, a pleasant and warm time hanging out where everybody knows your name. I wish more shows were able to tap into that balance of humour and depth. It also strikes me how smooth and quiet it seems to some of today's sitcoms: crap like How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls are grating beyond belief and constantly seem hyper accelerated, becoming tiring to watch very quickly.

Anyway, here are some few quick art pieces: the colour Flash is another "save" (I substituted a new colour background until I do a whole new Flash piece), the Flash ensemble was done as a request (the Flash figure originally bearing somebody's likeness but I superimposed a Sam Jones head over the original...this was done while having my boiler fitted so I'm not best happy with it as I wasn't really at ease while drawing) and the last is a detail from another request, I edited out the other half as I thought the likeness was terrible but am fairly happy with this one...figure's body could be proportioned better but it was a caricature anyway...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Face Book

On my recent birthday sojourn up to London, rather than finding any gems in FP or Gosh (only picking up the two latest Largo Winch albums, and later Jummy Corrigan from Foyle's...great graphics---Tom Paulin's as big a twat as ever---but the story isn't particularly involving so far), I really enjoyed visiting a branch of Cassart, a chain of art shops. The one I visited was near Gosh and was a treasure trove, finally turning up the ellipses I've been after for ages as well as loads of pens and pads.

I picked up a small A5ish pad to experiment with using the pens but have now called this my Facebook. I've been drawing a few faces lately and want to brush up on my likenesses (still can't get a decent Erica Durance). I've sketched a few faces in this book, not particularly subjects I would choose but because they are handy in my reference files or magazine stack.

I pencilled intending to ink but soon found I was stuck in which way to go...I tried a Jessica Alba in my current clean line manner but shaded a bit while judging the features and quite like the results. I'm not sure whether to stay clean line, pencil shade some features or leave the sketch as is, uninked.

I always wanted to do a decent Michael Rosenbaum Lex Luthor but felt the first clean line sketch in this book didn't really look like him so began noodling...think this will involve lots of hatching so took another pass at a clean line approach, which is more ready to ink using the Faber Castell brush-style pens I obtained, not exactly brush pens but similar. I quite like them and look forward to doing a full illo with them.

I also looked back at my recent Kristen Bell and thought something was just wrong about the gob...checking the original reference again, she was actually smiling with her lips apart and I'd either missed that detail or not inked the line. I was happy with it otherwise so fixed it today, results above...

Hopefully, my Facebook could become a nice little pocket book...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Key Notes

So it's seemed like an absolute age but Volume 5 of Locke & Key finally arrived and I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd evangelise about it a little. I know it's well respected but this deserves to have a far higher profile as it is without doubt one of the strongest comics you'll ever read.

I first picked up the first hardcover (and these hardcovers are beautiful items in and of themselves) when searching for something new and decent to read after becoming disillusioned with mainstream US comics (read: Marvel and DC and their over-corporatisation). I remember dithering for a while as I wasn't sure I could take to the slightly cartoony art: I need to be able to enjoy the art to really enjoy a comic but I finally caved and took a chance.

I started reading the collection and found I couldn't put it down. Joe Hill's writing is well structured, full of great characterisation and is utterly absorbing, drawing you in to discover the compelling mysteries within. Initially dubious about Gabriel Rodriguez' art, I'm now a huge fan. His crisp, precise lines and beautiful sense of design make the book both a joy to look at and totally convincing and easy to follow. There are no shortcuts or easy ways out, the art never fails to clearly and fully deliver the needs of the story.

So, the story: when Rendell Locke is killed, his widow and three children (teenagers Tyler and Kinsey and young Bode) return to his ancestral home of Keyhouse. There, the children start to learn of numerous keys hidden throughout the house, each with a unique property: various attributes being able to switch genders, become a ghost and to literally pluck out memories and emotions.

Things are never simple though as a mysterious supernatural presence lies in the grounds of Keyhouse, waiting to complete a long-delayed plan of destruction.

A (sadly) finite (but therefore complete) tightly plotted tale with consistent art that suffers from no fill ins, Locke & Key stands as a truly great tale of dark fantasy and a striking example of what dedicated and uninterrupted work from creators can result in.

Eisner-nominated and nearly adapted into a live action series (the pilot has been widely praised but the network felt it didn't sit well with the rest of their upcoming schedule), the final volume is set to start serialisation later this year, ending the story we unortunately never got to see on TV. Don't dodge the bullet and do yourself a real favour: pick up Locke & Key, you won't be disappointed...

Nuffink In Particular

Just a quick art save (new face and slight chin adjustment) of an element done for a quick King Kong illo a while back. Still not one of my better efforts but I can at least look at it again now..

Monday, 13 August 2012

Gastro Productitus

Well, new boiler was fitted this morning and all the above were during that period: Flesh Garden and Superduperman were drawn separately at A5, the three sports people was a commission, as is the Flash Gordon work in progress...I had to give up as my electricity was cut off during the fitting and I only had a DVD cover to work from. Thought this could potentially work out OK so I drew a new Flash head to superimpose over the final piece, which will no doubt appear here soon (but not in a flash!)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Adjust A Minute

As well as some of the tweaks featured on the previous few posts, here are a couple of others I feel I've saved. Got another one to do (just needs a new face to save the pic). Photoshop is a wonder for these tweaks that are probably not noticeable to others but correct things enough for me to be able to look at the pic...

The face below was intended to be Erica Durance but for some reason, the eyes just didn't work. I've redrawn, repositioned and edited them more times than I can count and it still didn't work. Today I had the flash of insight to just flip the right eye (as we look at it) and insert it over the left and voila! Save! Something so minor can throw a hole image off and while nowhere near a decent likeness, I think it now holds up as an OK drawing...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Gordon's Alive!

I'm excited that just as I fancied doing another Flash Gordon pic, I have a request for somebody to draw their partner as Flash Gordon but have another commision piece to do first...

Back home now so here's a few quick things done today...think I've finally got an OK Kristen Bell, Kang vs Sheldon is pretty poor but I quite like the Batgirl...originally done twelve years ago, for some reason I made no attempt whatsoever at a likeness of actress Yvonne Craig. I was mostly happy with the drawing but the face was weirdly pouty and the top of the head mishaped. A quick tweak saw a new face and the top of the head corrected and voila, another saved piece that now looks pretty sharp...

Friday, 10 August 2012

Been a gas

Just waiting for the gas engineer so have quickly scanned a few things done whilst housesitting this week...the quest continues for acceptable Kristen Bell and Erica Durance likenesses, think these will be fine once coloured...

Also, perhaps the most bonkers Spidey final panel ever...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Storm In A Teacup

Will be heading away to housesit for a week in the morning so won't have any net access except for at's a few parting shorts done this morning while waiting for the gas engineer to arrive (fun news: my boiler was condemned within seconds!), a Human Torch done for TAB (here with a tweaked backdrop) and a coloured Cyclops, a detail from an Art Adams-drawn recreation of the cover to X-Men 175 that I found online...