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.

pbp

1

4

3

7

Advertisements

Ghostly Goings-on in Guernsey

17

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…

13

12911

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

18b

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

spectralgoat

Pictures for Geoffrey

Geoffrey Bayldon 1924 – 2017

cat2

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

cat.

 

Fight(s)!

battle1We’re back in the world of Guernsey folklore for this post, featuring epic supernatural battles from medieval times.

Big battle scenes are always complicated – getting a balance between a pleasing, readable image and the chaos of violence requires a fair bit of planning. To add to the difficulty there were loads of historically accurate details to include, such as armour, coats of arms, etc.

The legend tells of a plucky enclave of English islanders who were attacked by elves and thoroughly trounced. It turned out that their attackers were actually French, but the defeated soldiers told everyone they had supernatural powers in an attempt to appear less feeble.

Here’s how the painting developed…

battleroughs

…from the first scribbled layout, to a tonal rough (which was found to be useless as I did the flags black by mistake – they were supposed to be yellow) to a more finished pencil drawing. Later I had to add a bit more action to the bottom of the picture as it was deficient in the height department.

Once the painting was finished (pen and ink and watercolour), there was a request to alter the French/Elves’ hair to brown. Terrified of making a mess on the actual painting, I did that digitally, as it had a knock-on effect to rest of the image. The tonal balance was thrown out of kilter so I had to darken and lighten other parts to make it work better.

battle2

Next up, a valiant monk sees off a pesky devil…

hoofprint

On the coast lies a large granite boulder named La Pied au Boef. It has a hoof-shaped hole in it, said to be the last mark left by the devil as he legged it having been giving a severe ticking-off, Christian-style. This was one of the easier pictures in the series to do; the only time I got into difficulty was with the colour. It’s a little hard to see from this jpeg, but the painting is particularly speckly as I used my trusted technique of splattering watercolour using a toothbrush to adjust large parts of the image. I could then lift paint off with a cotton bud to get more contrast in.

Not much in the way of development for this one – I went straight from this first rough to penciling directly onto the board, aided by a handy bit of posing from Jason of England as the devil and me in a bath robe as the monk.

srough

To finish things off, slightly off-topic, here’s a demonic hound – one of the fifteen pencil drawings I made for the project.

17

 

Le P’tit Colin and Le Grand Colin do Mischief

cart

Back to Guernsey and a few illustrations of some crafty customers known locally as Le Petit Colin and Le Grand Colin; supernatural creatures that enjoy meddling in the domestic affairs of their human neighbours, much like a Hobgoblin or Boggart.

Here’s the very first thumbnail I did for the above painting, scribbled between the paragraphs of the brief. Unusually, it’s quite close to the final in terms of its basic layout. I wanted to paint the spectral horses look like they were made of the same stuff as the moon, but for some reason I couldn’t make it work so I had to settle for a subtler approach.  Often, what’s in my head (and looks marvellous in there) refuses to plop out onto the paper. This is a very annoying thing to have to put with.

img041

Next up, an unfortunate householder rescues someone from a storm, only to find it’s a pesky Colin. Once invited in, Le Colin is a tricky guest to extricate…s428kitchen

Next, a rough for the incident at La Longue Roque, a megalithic standing stone that can still be found on the island. Naturally, its particular placement is down to a quarrel between the Colins.

longrocklongrockfin

Lastly, the Colins like nothing better to creep in and steal bread from your furze oven. A furze (or gorse) oven is a small cubby hole in the fireplace, common on the Channel Islands and also here in Devon. They are stuffed full of furze that is sealed in and burnt until the oven is red hot, whereupon the bread (or cake or joint of meat) is slow cooked within. In the following image, Le P’tit Colin has trouble hanging onto the scalding loaf with his thieving hands.15

Disabled Rabbit Storms Book Awards

Thought I’d go for a tabloid-style heading for maximum impact, if you don’t mind.

8

Yes, Podkin One-Ear has won the 2017 Blue Peter Book Award. This Thursday, author Kieran Larwood will be on the programme to talk about his creation – you won’t be seeing me accompanying him as I’ve been on telly before and it’s a frightful experience that I’m not after repeating. In my absence, they were quite keen on some kind of representation of me, so I went round to Todd and Carol’s for an impromptu photoshoot – I imagine the results will scare the nippers, so our efforts will probably have been in vain. UK viewers can catch the programme on the BBC iPlayer.

p1280674

Besides, I’ve been too busy reading Podkin Book 2 to be galavanting on the media circuit; making lots of (in retrospect) completely unintelligible scribbles that I assume will have some relevance at some point…

img037

The triumphant book is out in paperback very soon here, or, one would hope, your local high street bookshop.

Suicidal Faerie Squad

faeries2

Since December I’ve been working on a pile of illustrations based on the folklore of Guernsey. Here’s a cheery little tale called Lé Gibet des Faies.

All the paintings are in the style of my Mythic Village pictures – pen and ink and watercolour (with assistance from Prismacolor pencils when things get out of control).

Unusually, I didn’t make a colour rough before commencing any of the pictures, just the usual tonal pencil/Photoshop preparations.df

That’s not to say I didn’t think very hard about the colours I wanted to use – so much so I had quite a strong mental polaroid* of what I was aiming for before I started flinging paint about. Several of the other pictures involve various nocturnal shenanigans so it was important they didn’t look too similar colour-wise.

Along with eight paintings, I’ve made thirteen pencil drawings. I had already conceived the central characters to this tale (there’s a little bit of a homage to Susanna Clarke in the depiction of the ‘Gentleman’ with his thistledown hair). The client wasn’t happy with the original elaborate hairstyle of his companion, but it wasn’t too difficult to re-style her. I love working in pencil – it really is the least stressful of mediums (assuming your eraser hasn’t been eaten by a dog).

faeries

Here’s the altered version:

faeries2-16-42-55

Currently I have two more paintings to do, plus a little bit of last-minute fiddling on the ones that are supposedly finished. I hope to show a few more of them in the near future; meanwhile, here are some of the paintings from a distance…

g

*Mental Polaroid – good name for a band?

Discworld Emporium

 

What a dog’s dinner of a post. Still, got there in the end…

EDIT- I’ve taken away some of the first images at the request of the Discworld Emporium – check back in a week or so when they will be reinstated and this post will make sense!

YET ANOTHER EDIT – the pictures have now been restored – apologies for the horrendous deviation in normal practice.

h2This is the artwork (it’s made of real paint!) for the new Hogswatch stamps about to be released by the Discworld Emporium.

It’s three scenes in one – here’s the original rough to show how the individual stamps will be perforated. It was a tricky task to wrestle all the elements into place – I haven’t seen the completed item yet so I hope the print finishing was accurate otherwise the whole thing will be a dog’s dinner (hog’s dinner).

h1

 

Here’s a photograph of the work in progress to prove it really exists and no pixels were used in its construction. This is the first time in over fifteen years that I’ve done a industry commissioned illustration non-digitally so I’m all cock-of-the-walk about it.

h

 

I also did a less Christmassy version for the all new and improved Discworld Emporium website. It’s drawn as four separate elements (foreground, middle distance, slightly further away in the distance and sky) then subtly animated to give a feeling of depth. If you go to the page and scroll down you’ll see what I’m on about… it’ll save me trying to explain. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do today.

townscapemaster.jpg

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT THERE COULDN’T BE ANY MORE ANNOYING EDITS – the stamps are now out. Go here to see how things turned out…

 

Thought Fox and Willow

tfw

This looks okay-ish from a distance and in the dark, but generally it’s a bit of a disaster. I’m not entirely sure how to fix it, so the plan is to put it to one side and hope the future provides a solution.

It got off to a good start and I was pleased with the first rough (that should have been a clue to my impending doom); I also had a very strong idea of the colours to be employed.

tfpencilruff.jpg

The setting is a tumbling stream on the edge of the moor, hidden away in a steep-sided, gorse-guarded valley. Home to a community of young and ancient willow trees, the inaccessibility has preserved its untamed, other-worldly quality. Ted Hughes wrote a poem called Thought Fox and this environment struck me as being sympathetic to the ideas about creativity described therein.

Spurred on by an uncharacteristic confidence, I decided to alter my normal procedure of drawing the image in pen and ink first by making a tighter pencil drawing which I then painted over. This was about half the size of the original rough. The idea was to build up a purply-grey background that the orange would then shine out of like a guiding beacon. On no account was I going to use any green whatsoever.

s335-copy

Things started to go downhill after that. I got into a muddy muddle with the purples, and had to rescue everything with copious amounts of coloured pencil. Finally, I admitted defeat and lobbed in some green. This just about saved it from tottering into the abyss (or the wood-burner) but something’s still not right…

And now for something a little brighter.

upthemay

This is entitled Up the May! and is a celebration of our community’s little Beltane festival.

As a side effect to this picture I designed a Pop Vinyl Green Man, although he ended up looking more like an owl on the t-shirt.

s343.jpg

Here’s a photo to give a flavour of the festivities – after this, things just got weird.

mayday

Photo courtesy of Terri Windling

 

I Am Not a Serial Killer

ian

Four whole years ago, friend and neighbour Billy O’Brien asked me to do some concept sketches for the film he was working on, I Am Not a Serial Killer, based on the YA book by Dan Wells. At the time it was thought John Hurt was going to be in it, but the role ended up going to Christopher Lloyd – equally legendary in terms of sci-fi film credentials.

ian1

After overcoming a frustrating obstacle course of delays (not uncommon in the film industry) the film was finally shot in Minnesota last year, with the special effects shots completed in Billy’s garage a stone’s throw from where I’m typing this. Toby Froud (stripey pyjama wearing baby from Labyrinth) flew back home to help – he grew up here on Dartmoor but now lives in the States where he works for animation film company Laika.

The film was finally released a couple of weeks ago (although it’ll be a couple more months before you can see it in the UK); the official poster isn’t bad, but Billy was keen to get some different looks out there to reflect the quirky nature of the film. Unfortunately, marketing is often taken out of the director’s hands, and Billy is particularly unhappy with the image used to sell the film on iTunes and Amazon USA, which makes the film look like a cheap slasher flick (it isn’t).

Here’s the official poster for the USA release with the first variant designed by Midnight Marauder.

ian2

Billy was after a “Bande Dessinée, Tin Tin meets Rear Window” feel, and provided me with the sketch on the far left. It turned out to be quite a task settling all the elements into place, but having the perspective lines emanating from the Christopher Lloyd character helped anchor things.

ian3

Once that was sorted, I drew the design out in pen…

ian4

…then dropped some tone onto it via Photoshop (this is the tone layer without the lines).

ian5

There followed a lot of experimenting with colour palettes, strength of line, typeface, etc. until the final poster was settled on.

ian6

You can see what Billy gets up to via his Tumblr and see his short film The Tale of the Rat that Wrote here.