Friday, 28 December 2018

Album cover project 2018

I was fortunate to be asked to produce some album artwork earlier this year; it's always interesting going back into doing illustration briefs after periods of game development, which by it's nature is a collaborative and iterative endeavour and super different.

turned out to be an eye opener, to how 'what I do' works vs what 'I think I do' and was a fantastic reminder that you are only good at the stuff that you both do regularly and or understand the process of. Also *full disclosure* this project was for a friend, and unlike other professional commissions there wasn't quite the typical understanding of the client wanting the artist's existing style, it was more of 'Hey, you're an artist, wanna do my record?' vibe, so in the end I had to do a few stylistic back-flips to find the right solutions'

Final album image (without text)

We got to an image in the end that the client was happy with but it took a fair while longer that I'd expected, since this is a blog instead of a tweet or update I thought I'd go over some of this process...Working outside of my core hours, there was a fairly lengthy development period of a few months for a pretty simple image, trying out a fair few versions on the way. Some things definitely worked, others not so much...


Unlike concept development or character design, you're rendering a real person in their preferred likeness, so naturally you've got to be sensitive and on brand with that. Some reference, and some preferred art styles had been provided, with clear instructions as to which to use as influences - so forgoing the usual thumbnail stage I'd jumped straight into study style paintings. 

Early dev
Perhaps I'd been a tad literal in my interpretations, but my first feedback, could be summarised by, 'yeah you followed my instructions, but can I not look like a total psycho?' it's only belatedly THEN I actually went to the thumbnail stage. 

Thumbnail sketches
This then provided the approved composition, which was going against the brief, and even involved just pasting some of the photo reference into the sketch - so really was an essential reminder of trusting the process of roughing out without rendering.

Jumped into a few rendering style from here, (I was feeling pretty happy with these at this stage)

Still rough, but I was enjoying how this one was working out, now this was actually pretty far off the mark for the client though, (so perhaps another important lesson of not getting too carried away) I'd kinda been hoping to get something signed off and then get finished up and rendered at this stage, but I was directed to another artist's work which was waaaaay more analogue and mixed media based, so involved a bit of reboot.

Some liquid water colour images for digital incorporation.

Again, the nice thing about the mixed media approach is that you can clone and overlay more sections of traditional media in a flexible manner. Also you can definitely go back over cruddy drawings and anatomy bits. 

Anyhow, a wee bit more detail than usual on this post, but when reviewing some of this years projects, I was struck by how much work was underneath the surface on this one. 


I've spent the last few days of the year going over the projects for 2018 while reflecting a bit on things. It's fair to say it's been a pretty varied year in terms of output, which has been great fun but a little confusing in terms of personal development. Looking toward 2019 I'm hoping to focus a little more, but that's probably a whole different kind of post.

One of the things I've been super keen to more of is character design here's a wee bit of work as I've been looking at the Schoolism Character design course with Stephen Silver, I'm just getting started but it's nice to have a quick bit of design to post up!

Nursery Mural

Did a few Dinos for a nursery mural project, a bit of a combination of prints, and some stickers that could be combined with some paint to make up the mural.

Unfortunately wasn't able to get the complete thing, but it was a fun wee process!

Inktober 2018

Inktober has been becoming a more regular thing for me these past few years, and this year was a touch different for me in that I set myself a few more restrictions than usual, which resulted in some more consistent results and meant I was able to compile them a lot more concisely than in the past. Additionally I had signed up for the Dundee Zine Fest which leant a definite deadline for completing and compiling my drawings together in a booklet format.

Hot on the heels of returning from THU in Malta, I came back feeling enthused, and just a tad daunted at just how much I needed to improve my work and practices -this year my goal was to use copic markers, and restricted to the back of drinks coaster. These were much smaller than the previous years (A3) and so much quicker to schedule into each day. Quite quickly the notion of having them as sequential panels came about, kinda random, but good fun!

Had a cool wee booklet I could take to the Zine event too :)

Riso Zines!

Unfortunately not able to get this one completed in good time for Dundee zine fest, but I did undertake a riso zine printing course which was fantastic fun. Its like print making meets photocopying, its super easy and the machinery looks well fun!

Ended up doing a wee comic about a Spaceman going nuts on mars, it was experimental in the sense that it came with 3d glasses, which meant their pages read slightly differently depending on what lens you looked through. It's super fun splitting the images into their colour passes, I'd love to try some more experimentation with more collage style overlays and more involved prints as opposed to comic panels. So much fun how low tech it all is though!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Mural Project!

This year I've been fortunate enough to get involved with Open Close Dundee's Stobswell Street art trail. I was really looking forward to contributing to this project having gone on the tour for the earlier tour around the city centre of Dundee, as well, I quite like the place, and it's not hard to see how it really does brighten up and improve the place.

Roughs for Doorway design
It was enormous fun, but it's fair to say was fairly challenging working at such an increased scale at an outdoor mural site. I've been very used used to working, at a desk or computer so being confronted with a massive 7 foot door was a little intimidating when I rocked up about to get painting.

The more typical scale I tend to paint in...

After a slightly nervy and anxious day one, (I hate the wind) I was able to get a little more into things on day two, partly because things were a little further along but also because of the huge amount of people that came to say hello and were hugely supportive!

 End of day 2 (and a bit)

While the complete thing perhaps wasn't as accomplished as I'd perhaps originally hoped for, I was blown away with peoples reaction to it, with the whole piece being a tribute to some of the Dundonian peculiarities that are a real part of the town's character.

 I guess it also helps that I wasn't being too subtle...

As a nice follow up from this project, I created a few postcards and badges to sell as part of the art tour's launch few pics:

Monday, 5 March 2018


Trying to post up more regular (if random) bits and pieces this year. A quick wee thing from last month for a leaving do.