Monday 27 September 2010



Yeah, you heard me. This was one of those moments where I should listen to my own advice and know that YOU ARE NEVER AS GOOD AS WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE!!! Read on....

Ok, this is the cover process for this weeks issue of 2000AD. I wanted to depict a scene with Defoe fighting his now zombified ex comrade, The Spiriter, and especially show how the zombies are flying in this episode.

Here's my initial idea that I put down, but didn't submit to Tharg as I wasn't happy with the composition yet, but I was happy with the idea....
After a few obscene photos (that you will not see) I settled on this rough, that was approved by the boss....
Now, I decided early on that I wanted to do this as a digital painting, similar to that of the Defoe 1666 book collection cover found here. So with that in mind, I only pencilled this image, and darkened it up in Photoshop to paint over later....
And here, is what I thought was the finished cover painting that I was initially quite proud of. That, my friends, was the horrible trap I fell in to...

Much like a 10 year old boy running up to his parents to show off a crappy crayon picture of an anatomically incorrect donkey, I emailed this painting to Tharg shouting "Look at me! Look at how clever I am!" have him (quite rightly) REJECT IT!

"But...but...but...", I whined to my girlfriend, "He's NEVER turned down ANY of my work before!" (wipes nose on sleeve)

He was completely right of course. As he explained, he thought the image didn't look defined enough, looked a bit blobby, and that he generally preferred my line work. Looking at it now, I can see a DOZEN more problems with it, but it's strange how at the time, you're completely oblivious to them....
So the problem I had was how to add line work to a painting, which is harder than you'd think. Here's the ink line layer that I added in Photoshop, but realized quite early that we'd have to compromise and have it "half and half" and hope that the boss still went for it.
Here's the finished image! It took a while to clean it up around the line work, and as you can see I also recoloured various things that I realized were glaringly naff, including making Defoe's eyes a lot more defined. Thankfully this extra work paid off, and the boss approved it....
Being the impatient type, I did this quick cover mock up, using an older issue's text...
But of course by now, 2000AD have a lovely new redesign, and thanks to designer Simon Parr, here's the final cover that you can find in stores NOW!!! And that is a clever tagline...
And there ends my tale. The moral? DON'T BE A COCKY SOD!



Hey guys,

Just a quick one to pimp the latest issue of the newly Hugo Award winning StarShipSofa Stories (volume 2). Quite a while back Dee Cunniffe got in touch to see if I'd like to do an illustration to go with one of the many prose pieces, of which I picked a story called "Bitterseed" written by Ted Kosmatka.

They have an impressive line up of talent of this book--Neil Gaiman for one--but what's also cool is this nifty trailer which you can find on Youtube here!

Check it out and bye for now.

Thursday 23 September 2010


I REALLY shouldn't be on here. I'm currently rushing to get the final episode of Defoe: A Murder of Angels finished in record time, but y'know what? I just love you all too damn much, it hurts, so here I am with another post.

This is the creation of a page from Episode 3, from script to printed page. First up, here's Pat Mill's script. Thankfully his scripts are never overly detailed and straight to the point, so they're a pleasure to read, especially when I'm on a tight deadline.
Here's my RIDICULOUSLY rough layout. Unlike working for the big American companies, we 2000AD droids don't need to have our layouts looked over by the editor, so they only need to make sense to myself luckily.
Here's my pencils. As I ink myself, I generally don't bother pencilling any background detail like bricks etc.... I'll spare you the sight of my reference photos this time, in the name of public decency....
Here's my inks. As you can see, there's a lot that's been added in the backgrounds. once again, I probably overdid it with the crosshatching, but I'm very pleased with how that second panel turned out. My god, I frikkin' LOVE drawing crocodiles, or alligators (whatever the hell it is)!
Finally, here's the published page, wonderfully lettered by Ellie De Ville (cool name!). As you'll notice, the dialogue's changed a bit, as generally Pat likes to do some rewrites once he's seen my final art.
That's it for now! Be sure to pick up this week's 2000AD prog 1703 with Episode 4 of Defoe, where one of the Brethren DIES!
And check back here next week where I'll do the making of my next cover!


Sunday 5 September 2010


Aaarrgh....having one of those days where nothing I draw is working and I'm rubbing holes in my art boards.

So, here I am, with a handy distraction: The making of this coming Wenesday's cover to 2000AD prog 1701! For those who picked up this week's prog 1700, you'll know that there's a scene in Defoe featuring a crocodile eating zombies in The Tower of London moat, and so here's the rough cover idea that was approved by Tharg with a pun-tastic tag line that I half-joked should be used on the final cover....
A quick manly reference photo that I loosely based it on...
My SECOND crack at the pencils....
Here's the inks. Knowing that I'd be colouring it, I thought ahead and decided not to ink in the area around the gun flash as I wanted to be able to select those lines cleanly when I played with it later in Photoshop. Likewise, I knew ahead I'd be "airbrushing" the black clothing of Defoe into the green of the water, so didn't bother with any background crosshatching.
Final colours. Pretty happy with it, especially with the light coming through the water. Though looking at it months later, I'm not too impressed with the drawing of the zombie in the croc's mouth. Considering how bloody many I've had to draw over the years, I should have done a better job of the fella. No Jaffa Cakes for me tonight....
Now THIS made my freakin' day! On the last page of prog 1700 I was stunned to see this full page advert featuring the new cover with my "DEFOE GETS SNAPPY" tag line! Do you get it?! "SNAPPY" because there's a CROCODILE and Defoe's a grumpy bastard....ahhh forget it ........."SNAPPY"!!!
(And a big thanks to editorial droid Matt Smith and designer bot Simon Parr!)
And here's a scan of the final cover out this Wednesday, with a far more sensible tag line (not as good as mine though *grumble grumble*).
That's your lot for now. Should have quite a few "making of" features coming up now that Defoe's back, so catch you ladies soon!