“Little did I realize that what began in the alleys and backways of this quiet town would end in the Badlands of Montana.”
An illustration for the film Badlands, which I did to experiment with some new photoshop brushes and have a bit of fun.
I saw Badlands for the first time as a teenager and it blew my mind. It’s a beautifully shot movie with Malick famously filming scenes in the “magic hour” between the sun setting and rising. It also has a gorgeous score that went on to be used in Tony Scott’s True Romance and countless whimsical adverts for internet dating sites. But what really struck me was how poetic and lyrical the film was. It never attempted to tell you how you should feel or pass judgement on the characters. Instead it built a dreamy, mythic tale of America as the two leads (future President Jed Bartlett and Carrie) went about a bloody killing spree. I’d never seen anything like it.
The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society is a fantastic night of experimental comedy organised by John Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck. It has a variety of acts doing 10-15 minutes of new, generally untested material that wouldn’t usually find a place in a standard comedy club. It’s found a home at the Soho Theatre but they also do several nights in Edinburgh and every time I’ve been it’s been a hell of a lot of fun. It’s one of my favourite nights of comedy to go to and if you ever get a chance to go – you should.
Luckily, they were looking to update their website with some new artwork and I volunteered to design a banner and logo. We ended up using the “Fresh Sisyphean Comedy” tagline as a cue to create the following. Here’s the final banner:
The image itself was made a bit bigger – here’s the full thing:
This is a square version for use on the Soho Theatre website and in Fringe brochures:
And this was a quick mock-up of the logo being used on photos:
I haven’t been able to throw much up on the blog lately that isn’t In The Frame. That’s largely due to spending most of my time (when I’m not working on the comic) drawing concept art/sketches for various exciting things that require an NDA – so I can’t share it here (for now).
But here’s something I’ve been working on now and again at the end of the day when I’m winding down, or using as something to kick off the day if I need a warm-up. It’s not quite a sketch but not really a finished illustration. A doodle I made up as I went along. I tried experimenting with the linework, adding washes, and played around with different ways of scanning and colouring it. Doubtful that any of that comes across but suffice it to say it was useful to try a different workflow process. I think I mainly figured out what I don’t want to do in the future… Having said that, I’m happy with the final image and it was very relaxing to work on in-between everything else!
Here’s another wind-down sketch that I’ve been colouring in the late afternoons when my main work is finished for the day. It’s nice to do something for myself and to test out new colouring techniques like this. I’m enjoying doing more with the sans ligne style colouring of my linework lately so may keep coming back to that.
Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror kicked off its second season last week with Be Right Back. If you’re in the UK, you can catch it here. I thought it was a fantastic piece of TV. A creepy, thoughtful, touching ghost story for the 21st Century with stylistic and thematic nods towards Never Let Me Go and Frankenstein.
It really feels like Brooker is really at home with the idea-driven Twilight Zone short story format. His writing was beautifully economical, with an off-camera death explained with a shot of flashing police car lights and a moving montage of grief quickly setting up the conceit of the story without coming across as glib or manipulative. He seems like a much more confident writer than before. Had there not been a few telltale lines in there, I’d have had difficulty even knowing it was Brooker who wrote the episode.
So I liked it. The next day, I drew this for my afternoon-wind-down drawing that I sometimes like to do. I had all these disposable brush pens lying around that were waiting to be thrown away so I picked a couple up and dipped them in ink and just used them like normal brushes. It was actually a lot of fun and the results were fairly successful I think so I might do more of this.
Aliens was on the TV the other day and, despite having seen it only a few weeks ago as part of a cultural education for a friend who hadn’t seen it before, I couldn’t stop myself from watching it again.
I think I saw it for the first time when I was about 9 or 10 and re-watched the tape more times than I care to admit. Enough to be able to recite the script verbatim. And yet I never get bored of watching it, nor can I tear myself away if I ever catch it on TV. It has a flawless screenplay and remains a wonderful sequel that manages to stay respectful to the original while adding something new. While it’s ostensibly an action film in space, I could probably write a few thousand words about why it is one of the most significant and important films of its era.
But I won’t. Instead, I drew this illustration of Ellen Ripley – one of my favourite cinematic heroes of all time.
I used a brush and indian ink on this rather than the usual brush pen I like to use. I thought it might encourage me to be a bit less precious with the linework and I found I really enjoyed it. Much more than I have done with brush and ink before in fact. I think all the practise I’ve had with brush pens has helped me to relax with an actual brush. Will try to use it more I think.
This sketch was entirely constructed by dividing my page into diagonal lines and playing around with an image I had in my head that could fit the grid. I spent a good long time colouring this and was pleased with how it came out:
I’m starting to successfully loosen up my drawing a little these days and I’m now trying to prioritise shapes and composition over everything else. Drawing in my sketchbook every day really is helping me relax and experiment with new drawing styles. I’m even starting to colour some of these sketches in and turn them into something more substantial.
I thought I’d share some of these experiments on the blog so to start off, here’s someone running. A brief sketch focusing on movement that I wanted to colour up:
I forgot to talk about this at the time but some months back the Ministry of Stories were putting together a lovely map of Hoxton featuring the hidden underworld of monsters. All the monsters and stories in the map were created by children who attend the MoS storytelling workshops.
The team wanted me to illustrate some icons based on the stories that could populate the map (now on sale in the Hoxton Street Monster Supply Store for £2 I think). Here’s are a couple of photos of the finished map and the icons I created…