Thursday 18 December 2014

Olympic Park Winter

Here's my latest illustration for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to promote their Winter campaign.  Working with Premm Design again we went with a darker background and vibrant colour scheme to emphasise the Christmas element and warmth of the indoor activities. Along with the illustration I also created an animated version for moving billboard ads. You can see all previous work for QEOP on my site here.
That's me done for the year. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you on the other side.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Double Visions

Catch-up time! Here are a couple of recent illustrations for my regular BBC Focus sci-fi commission for Stephen Baxter's Into The Future column. There's a look at some Einsteinian teleportation theories and a vision of Helium 3 mining in Jupiter's atmosphere. See the collected Into The Future work on the site here.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Undocumented Children

Here's a recent editorial illustration for Texas' San Antonio Magazine on the plight and provision of undocumented children crossing at the US/Mexican border. You can see previous work for San Antonio Magazine on the site here.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Faster Than Light

Soon after completing the recent 2054 themed BBC Focus cover and feature illustrations I was chuffed to do it all over again for the following issue. This time the theme was How To Travel Faster Than Light so I worked up a cover featuring a wormhole-traversing pilot and a second outside view of the spacecraft zipping through the light tunnel. Great fun to illustrate and animate for the iPad edition. See further detail on the site here and other work for BBC Focus here.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

The Life Of Maria Callas

I'm back in the blog-seat after spending the last couple of weeks zipping around Scandinavia. Will post some pics here soon but have been peppering Instagram with shots en route. So this week I'm playing catch up and have a whole bunch o' posts to work through.

First up is a long-delayed animation I finished roughly a year ago to create a condensed life story for the legendary diva Maria Callas. It was commissioned to coincide with the launch of an album collection of remastered arias called Pure for Warner Classics, the release of which was pushed back until recently, and having sat on it for a while I'm very happy to see it out in the Youtube world.

The process proved to be similar to that of the Claude Debussy animation. I was tasked with researching Maria's life to create a succinct narrative that touched on all the career highlights and provided an arc for her dramatic personal story. After some invaluable help from the classical experts at Warner I had a script and began crafting the style boards based on the striking packaging image of Callas that would form the centrepiece of the animation. A rough animatic was created from archive photographs to approve content and timing with the chosen aria O mio babbino caro. My brushpen then went into overdrive creating portraits to be collaged into scenes created in Photoshop before animating these 2d elements in the 3d space of After Effects. The colour scheme was reduced to a minimal red-tinted monochrome, also based on the album cover, to keep a consistent tone and atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed making the animation and hope you enjoy also, you can see more on the main site here.

Friday 3 October 2014

Blog Tour

I was recently asked to hitch my digital wagon to the Blog Tour, a growing trail of creatives set loose on four career illuminating questions before inviting others to join the convoy. An old BA Hons buddy from Portsmouth Uni nominated me, Caroline Pedlernow a super-talented artist based in Cornwall, along with Tom Hubmann. Previous to Caroline were John Kilburn and Amber Hsu amongst others. Anyway, here goes...

What are you working on right now?
I've had a really busy period over the last three months working on an eclectic mix of different projects involving both illustration and animation. I'll run through a few recent jobs that represent an average cross-section of a working week as the stuff that I'm actually working on right now I can't post yet.

I'm currently creating an animated iPad version of my second cover illustration for BBC Focus Magazine, for which I've created a lot of science/tech editorial work recently. I also have a monthly column, called Into the Future, that I illustrate for the magazine where I get to play out a lot of my childhood sc-fi obsessions. Here's a recent example about deep space communications...
I'm usually juggling 2 or 3 different editorial commissions a week, some with 24 hour turnarounds such as this recent illustration for Wall Street Journal on the Ebola virus.
I've had ongoing rebrand work for the last few years illustrating book covers for the UK's largest music examining body, ABRSM. Here's a recent cover for the Guitar Scales & Arpeggios.
Earlier in the Summer I worked on my second brand illustration to promote Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park around London which included animation work for moving billboards. It's certainly a massive buzz seeing the work on a massive Ok...
I like to have personal work on the go alongside the commercial as often as possible. A recent project, Post-Invasion Cards, involved transforming found vintage postcards into UFO crash-site scenes. I've since turned them back into postcards to be made available as a pack of four soon...
How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to straddle lots of different genres and styles while keeping a recognisable quality to the work that is identifiably mine. This can be my unapologetic use of vivid, and probably ridiculous, colour or my approach to photo collage or drawing style. I like to be versatile for the personal creative freedom it offers and the obvious commercial reasons of being able to tackle varied work. I've developed a brush pen drawing style over the last few years that is quite different to the Photoshop orientated work I create. I really love working with both of these digital and analogue methods and I'm constantly trying to bring the two together in more harmonious ways. More successful examples of this marriage of styles can be seen in my Claude Debussy: Life In Miniature animation...

...or a series of portraits for a book of rock and roll poetry A Circus Mind such as this Ken Kesey illustration.
Ultimately I like to be as stylistically simple (usually drawn) or hyper-detailed (Photoshop) as I feel the work requires, be it personal or commercial.

How does my illustration process work?

For commissioned work I'll read the brief or article before doing a little internet picture research around the subject for added, and often unexpected, inspiration. Some clients provide specific imagery to work around which can be really useful, in terms of clarity of brief, but can be creatively limiting. Either way, hopefully I'll have a good mental image of how the illustration should look and run with it. I often doodle a crude layout then build up an illustration-in-progress in Photoshop before sending a semi-developed image over to the client that's closer to a final rather than a bunch of sketches. It saves everybody time if it's green-lit as it's practically there. I'll happily return to the drawing board though if the client needs more ideas, every job finds it's own way. Below is an example of a smooth running job for ASAE in the States from client sketch, to approved semi-developed rough to fully detailed final.
For personal work the process is more organic than the commercial route and ideas can sit evolving in my brain for some time until I feel the need to get around to them. When I do, however, I approach them with a similar urgency and need to exorcise them quickly. Strike while the pen/mouse is hot as nobody says.

Why do I illustrate what I illustrate?

I'm driven by the joy I get from image-making mostly and exploring the varied ways I can communicate visual ideas. I feel fortunate that I can make a living doing something I've always loved to do so I'm going to keep doing it as long as I'm allowed, damn it! My personal work explores themes I'm interested in, obviously, but I don't feel there's overriding subject matter I need to explore obsessively besides the process itself. My childhood imagination was heavily influenced by imagery from films, art and books and the desire to translate the results to paper somehow and that's never really changed I'm glad to say.
That's me done for. Over to the fantastic drawer/painter Kenn Goodall and the wonderful world of Wellington Drawe!

Friday 19 September 2014

Your Life In 2054

Here's a hefty commission for BBC Focus magazine's current issue on what the future holds for us in the year 2054. I had to create a cover and three feature illustrations for technology-centric stories based in the home, leisure pursuits and the work environment. The cover was the big one requiring me to exhaust all my Photoshop tricks to create a detailed futuristic London(ish) cityscape with towering number structures. I then had to animate a looping scene and create some audio for the iPad edition which was great fun to do. You can also see the work and full magazine spreads on the site here.

Friday 5 September 2014

Bokhari Illustration Remix

The guys at Bokhari Records are celebrating their 10th release and have asked some of their previous record sleeve artists to remix each others imagery. I've chosen to remix Radio Design's splendid 3D cover by stripping back all the abstract majesty and turning it into a daft lil' eye-headed hand creature. All the remixed artworks are available as posters at the Bokhari site. You can my previous sleeve art for Bokhari on my site here.

Friday 22 August 2014

James Dean

Advanced Photoshop magazine recently asked me to devise a portrait tutorial for them of a legendary vintage Hollywood figure. James Dean seemed to fit the bill nicely and came with the added bonus of working with 50's Americana road-themed imagery which is always enjoyable. The tutorial can be found in this month's issue and the illustration also features on the cover. See it larger on the site here.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Space Balloon

The sci-fi themed illustrations continue apace for BBC Focus' Into The Future column. This one looks at the deployment of hi-tech balloons to chart the terrain of celestial bodies such as Saturn's moon Titan.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

QEOP Summer

Hot on the heels of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park launch artwork comes the Summer campaign. Working with Premm Design again we developed the original style and composition further and introduced a warmer yellow/orange to the brand palette. The brief was to emphasise the family fun appeal and to entice the general public to visit the great new space that it has become. Once again the illustration had to work across multiple print formats and moving billboards, for which I also created the animation, and will be popping up all over London town anytime now. You can see all the QEOP work so far on the site here.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

ABRSM Medley

Here's a little catch-up on recent illustrations for the ABSRM music exam book cover series. A new Piano Exam Pieces illustration was commissioned for the 2015 & 2016 Syllabus along with a single cover for the Guitar, Harp, Harpsichord, Organ & Percussion. The Clarinet gets two covers for Sight Reading and Scales & Arpeggios. Great art direction as usual by Kate Benjamin. See further work for ABRSM on the site here.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Tyranny On Mars

It's time for the latest shot of sci-fi speculation for BBC Focus' Into The Future column. This month's article looked at the idea of extraterrestrial liberty and freedom beyond the Earth. Explored scenarios included human rights issues on Martian colonies and the possibility of Total Recall-esque tyrannical uprisings.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

3 x 3 Show Success

Very pleased to see that a couple of my entries in this year's 3 x 3 illustration shows were successful. Claude Debussy's Life In Miniature animation picked up a Merit in the Professional Show and my cover illustration for Sophia Mcdougall's Mars Evacuees received an Honorable Mention in the Picture Book Show.

Thursday 3 July 2014

School Of Giving

I'm back at the blogface after a bit of a busy period with a recent editorial illo for Cincinnati Magazine. It's for an article called School Of Giving about charitable deeds and schemes set up by various schools across the state. I enjoyed using a simpler style with a limited palette for this one. You can see it with similar work on the site here.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Robot Rights

This month's illustration for BBC Focus Magazine's Into The Future column looks at the possibility of a world where servile robots are self-aware enough to stand up for their own rights. As the writer Stephen Baxter suggests 'if you're smart enough to ask for freedom, you're smart enough to deserve it.' Asimov-tastic! See further Into The Future sci-fi illustrations on the site here.

Primavera Sound

At the end of May we took a fourth annual trip running to Barcelona for the Primavera Sound festival held at the large Parc Del Forum along the coast. It was a biggie this year with highlights including QOTSA, NIN, Pixies, Arcade Fire, Factory Floor, Andy Stott and Kronos Quartet. Great fun was had at the festy as always with an extra day of recovery in the beautiful city consuming plates of padron peppers.

Friday 13 June 2014

Tears In Rain

Here's a little personal piece to wrap up the week. It's a simple, stylised take on Rutger Hauer's final scene as the dying replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner, one of my all time faves. See some more Film Heads on my site here.

Friday 6 June 2014

London's Greatest Buildings

I was recently asked by RIBA to adapt my London skyline illustration to promote an upcoming event called London's Greatest Buildings on 24th June, part of the London Architecture Festival. I was very happy to do so, always a pleasure working on architectural imagery.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

AOI Awards Shortlist 2014

Very pleased to say that my animation Claude Debussy's Life In Miniature has been shortlisted for this year's AOI Illustration Awards in the Design category. The Awards show will be held at Somerset House, London later in the year.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Transatlantic Train

Here's my latest illustration for Focus Magazine's Into The Future column. This month Stephen Baxter looks at the prospect of future trains travelling across the Atlantic in a super-speed magnetic vacuum tube. Presumably leaf-free to avoid delays. See more sci-fi work for Focus here.