Larklight Rising

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Due no doubt to Mr Reeve’s literary success and the recent interest in his excellent Mortal Engines books, Larklight has been reissued with yet another cover. Here is a recap of what can be expected within its Victorian-suffused pages…

Marvel as the full force of the law is brought down upon alien miscreants…

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Ponder the intricacies of gravity-independent architecture…

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Meet interesting characters from the farthest reaches of the Empire…

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Experience travel in exotic locations…

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Expand your knowledge of the universe beyond…

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Be exposed to comment in a medical institution…

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Circumnavigate Jupiter in style…

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Sail into spider-infested asteroid fields with space-pirates…

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Sadly, the new edition has dispensed with the adverts that appeared at the beginning of the previous editions, which is a shame as they set the tone of the book quite nicely. But here they are now…

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Back in (tr)Action (cities)

Congratulations to me for the most convoluted Blog title I’ve managed so far.

But it is appropriate as this is all about the new Illustrated World of Mortal Engines book.

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I first sketched Philip’s monstrous London back in 2006 when we were working on Larklight. Shortly after, I designed an ambitious cut-through cover for the 2008 re-issue (which booksellers hated as the paperback versions tended to get damaged easily).

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As well as applying this treatment (inspired, I suspect, by my love of early 1970’s prog-rock album covers) to the original Quartet, there was a lovely, chunky hardback for Fever Crumb, the first of the prequels (2009).

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At the time there was much excitement as Peter Jackson had acquired the rights to film the book and was already tinkering away in New Zealand on digital traction cities. As is often the case with films, the project went into limbo for a good while, but is now completed and due out this Christmas.

For the Illustrated World of Mortal Engines, Philip has worked with Jeremy to flesh out the history of the Traction Era; the book is jam-packed with paintings and diagrams and character sketches by a number of artists. Here a few of my contributions…

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Airhaven

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The 13th Floor Elevator (featuring Thaddeus Valentine)

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The Amazone

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The Cloutie Tree from Fever Crumb

I was round at the Reeve’s the other day signing 300 bookplates for a special edition. I’m not sure how you can get hold of one of these at the moment, but keep an eye on Philip’s website as I imagine more details will be forthcoming…

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Death, The Undiscovered Study

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Here’s another terminally frustrating puzzle from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Emporium. Despite being an entity most people would choose to avoid, Death remains a very popular character and so I was commissioned to bring Him to life in jigsaw form.

Rather like the previous Library puzzle, Death’s home exists in a place where time and space are a bit… bendy. This entails all sorts of perspective-based challenges for the unsuspecting illustrator. Here are some of the stages, from initial concept to workings-out and then a GIF to show how the painting was constructed.d1

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I hope that GIF works – I made it late on Sunday assisted by a nice bottle of Malbec so if it displays on your chosen digital content provider, I will be a surprised yet happy bunny.  I’m aiming to show that the picture was built in layers so I could move things around if needed (it was needed) ensuring that every piece of the jigsaw had something of interest whilst making a satisfying picture. It’s a tonal (greyscale) study that I would later paint over in digital colour once everything was deemed tickety-boo.

Here’s the box cover – after all that eye boggling warped perspective it was good to indulge in some flamboyant Art Nouveau-flavoured morbidness.

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Death’s Study is available from the Discworld Emporium.

Talking of Pratchett-based endeavours, Neil Gaiman was recently in the UK overseeing the production of the Good Omens TV series. Here he is at the launch of my recent book with Janina Ramirez, Riddle of the Runes.

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As this post is all about Death, it occurred to me that if I got run over by a tractor or squished by a falling tree (both eminently likely occurences) this photo would be apt as Neil was the first writer I illustrated professionally and (should an unfortunate event befall in the next few weeks) Janina would be the last…

Podkin Part Three

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September sees the release of the latest instalment of Podkin’s adventures. Here are a few of the illustrations…

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I have some posh new pencils to help me do the drawings…

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They are called Blackwing and only come in three grades. In fact, they are so posh, they arrive unsharpened, as if the mere act of putting a point on them would render them common. They make me feel like an illustrative version of Nigel Tufnel.

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Here’s the wraparound cover for the U.S. hardback edition, minus all the titles and text and everything…

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The Beasts of Grimheart by Kieran Larwood is released on the 6th September in the UK.

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A Crone for Christmas

Or, if you like, an Old Seer for the New Year.

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This Yuletide I was mostly drawing Vikings for Janina Ramirez, who has written her first children’s book. You can find out what Janina normally gets up to here.

The deadline was particularly aggressive, so I took the chance to experiment with what I like to call my ‘rough’ style, which is supposed to be speedier than usual. The idea is to do quick, minimal line drawings and let the diluted indian ink do most of the work. Sometimes this worked out; for example the smokey atmosphere around the Crone was done in one watery daub, and likewise below, the crashing waves. Unfortunately I had to spend a lot of time fixing things in Photoshop when I’d drawn a nose in the wrong place or the tone had bled into places it shouldn’t and various other speed-related horrors.

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Anyway, they’re all finished now – these are just a few of the thirty or so illustrations from Riddle of the Runes (out in May!).

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Mythic Guernsey

About a year ago I started a project for Guernsey Museums. If you’ve not seen any of the finished pieces, go here, here and here as humanly possible.

The Post Office borrowed several paintings and turned them into stamps:

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And next, some photographs of the exhibition itself. I’m told it will be around for ten or twelve years, so do pop in if you are visiting the Channel Islands and tell me how it looks in real life.

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Quiet, please.

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This is a view of the Unseen University Library, which the puzzle-minded of you might enjoy assembling in the form of a jigsaw.

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As you can imagine, there was a monumental amount of work involved in creating the image and packaging, but luckily Ian at the Discworld Emporium has done an in-depth blog post so I don’t have to re-live the horror of it all (I’m fibbing, it was good fun – I’ve done another one since and am currently working on jigsaw no.3 but I’m not allowed to talk about that yet).

Have a read here.

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The photographs of the box are from an early prototype and I’ve yet to see the finished version, but you can get a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into if you check out the Discworld Emporium shop.

Return of the Rabbit

Next month sees the release of Podkin part two, The Gift of Dark Hollow. Here are some of the interior pictures (pencil with some Photoshop improvements). This time I had some help with drawing the main character (who proved a little tricky last time on account of his bandaged-up head) courtesy of Virginia Lee.

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Ghostly Goings-on in Guernsey

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As part of the Guernsey Museum Folklore project I produced a dozen or so pencil drawings. Many feature specific places on the island and the legends that have become attached to them; here are some of the more phantasmic ones…

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That last chap is actually a werewolf, not a ghost. Here’s a spectral goat to make up for it.

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And I did a painting of the same pesky apparition menacing some innocent kelp farmers:

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Pictures for Geoffrey

Geoffrey Bayldon 1924 – 2017

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Along with The Clangers, The television program that captured my young imagination the most was Catweazle (played by Geoffrey Bayldon). Only two series were made, but it was regularly repeated throughout the seventies so it seemed to be on all the time – very handy in those pre-video recorder days.

In 2003 I did some Catweazle drawings for a charity that Geoffrey was involved in (details of which as lost in the mists of time) and I was fortunate to have several long chats with the man himself. I wish I had a record of them as he was charming and full of stories from his long career as an actor.

Still, modern electrickery means Geoffrey lives on – both series are available on DVD

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