Saturday 26 June 2010

Pen & Brush

So, what about pen and brush? The problem is as much about where to start.

What is relevant? I suppose the best way is to 'show' examples of different work, in different mediums, and on occasion, different genres. Certainly different Fantasy RPG genres.

This post will appear in 'parts' as I find time to show work examples over the coming days.

Over the years I have used a variety of media in  both black & white and colour, but the mediums I intend to discuss are mostly to do with print reproduction. In days of yore, pre-computer generated art the most common tools for B/W artwork was traditional dip pens, brushes, pen and brush combined or technical pens and occasionally felt pens. The artwork was generally done at 1 and a 1/2 times reproduction size [though their were exceptions] and on good quality Bristol board of various types. In some ways it was the board used that could make the difference to the quality of the image and it was something everybody strived to find. Today, a lot of those boards, and the companies that produced them [certainly in the UK] appear to have 'gone', mores the pity.

Of course the paper chosen for the books also has a huge 'effect' on the quality of reproduction. No matter how 'good' your work, if it's printed on upgraded toilet paper ...
OK. Let's look at a few pieces - it is not necessarily what I'd qualify as 'good' work but it does 'show' examples of different types of B/W work. Here we have traditional 'dip' pen and ink.

This particular illustration was produced for a 'different' game book by Puffin back in 1987. There were two books produced in the series Robin of Sherwood and each book tied in with the television series. The most amusing thing I can remember from this particular job was Puffin wanted any character that appeared in the Television series to be drawn as accuratly as was possible in the illustrations, but at the same time, also made me sign a contract with a disclaimer that basically stated I was not allowed to show an accurate likeness as I could be sued and in the wording of the contract Puffin denied all responsibilty. Simply put - match any TV actors likeness [if they appeared in any illustration] but not so anyone would say, 'that's so and so!'  Luckily, they hardly featured in the pictures I had to draw.

As an aside - note [if you're not already aware] the choice of scene to be illustrated is very rarely the choice of the illustrator.

A couple of examples of technical pen now. Over the years I've used a variety of makes, and pen sizes, My favourite pen [sadly long gone] had a nib that was so 'worn', it had a bevelled point, which made using it a pleasure.

In the following, each of these examples show a slightly different approach to the use of pen though some would say, 'in your dreams'.
This first was done for a short story in a Fantasy anthology. The next for one of the FF fiction titles I worked on.

The next for one of the later FF game books.

 Next another game book.
 And the last [for present] two showing different 'styles' from The Fabled Lands series.

Lastly, a quick mention about Citadel Miniatures, which had a nice little mention, or at least a 'dwarf' figure did, in Daddy Grognard's excellant blog. The mention of the figures reminded me that some of the earliest figures are actually based on my some of my drawings. They kindly sent me a sample at the time and somewhere in my 'attic' there they still sit.

Next post will contain some old pieces .... and other stuff.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Worlds 2

It had been my intent, in this post, to show examples of different types of pen and brush work, but I came across some more visuals that I did as background to the world of The Shadow King and thought it sensible to post these first.
My task, outlined by Dave Morris, was from his original scenario, to [roughly] visualise images to represent London at the turn of the 19th Century, not of our timeline, but one where the world had been changed by a series of events resulting in a city not as written about by such as Dickens, or Verne, or seen by that master of line Dore but a darker world one where our legends and myths have some credence. This ultra-Gothic world, as envisaged by Dave, is a place of death and dread, its background one where a vampire blight had hit the world with it's 'centre' in London - this was to be the world of the Shadow King.
Most of my visuals are fairly crude, drawn in felt pen with added wash, my intent was to give atmosphere as much as 'show' different aspects of the place. 

But as I became immersed in the idea of this London, I began to imagine the world beyond, what methods of transport, by rail; by river; by sea; and by air would apply - what differences would have come about, especially as a result of vampire domination?

Where possible, it was my intent to rationalise this world, and to make links through scientific and engineering progress that had their historically similar antecedents mirrored in our world. But here, in this timeline, where the date is roughly 1896, things had, in some areas, progressed faster and in a grander scale. I suppose it's really a variation on steam-punk, thus we 'see' the development of airships, which stuttered to a halt in our own world. It's hard to read [sorry] but the airship docked in the picture below is named the 'Santos Dumont' an early enthusiast of airships.

Of course their had to be costumes: next - a couple of example 'pages'.
 Those of you who love gaming might wonder why you've never seen this game, especially as it was conceived nearly twenty years ago [how time flies], though I've seen similar ideas since. Dave Morris, is the man to ask, and if I've got anything wrong Dave, such as when we worked on this, I apologise.

Sunday 6 June 2010


Worlds. One of the interesting aspects of drawing is to attempt, when possible [as some illustrative tasks demand otherwise], to 'flesh out' the subject of the picture to show something of the 'world beyond'. I'm not professing to be good at it, but it's something I like to do.

After the Fabled Lands series was cancelled by Macmillan [Pan Books] after only six titles, instead of the planned twelve, Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson decided to look for other directions. Dave has since gone on to, among other things, work, with Leo Hartis,  on his graphic novel Mirabilis - Years of Wonder, and his Fabled Lands  blog site.

One of the earliest creations that Dave and I worked on as a possible game scenario was The Shadow King, and I was given the task of roughing out [and they are rough, lol] a few scenes to show the world of the Shadow King, which was to be set at the turn of the 20th Century in an alternate London.

The other world scenario was that of Abraxes, the Fabled Land. Abraxes was, as you'll see from the map that I drew from Dave's rough, a large island where different peoples lived. The key cities of each race had its antecedent's in races that once inhabit our own world. Thus there are hints of Egyptian, Assyrian, Toltec peoples, among others.

Here is the map of Abraxas - The Fabled Land, and a few of the sketches I created to try to visualise the land of Abraxas.

I also had to come up with the creatures [from Dave's written descriptions], and create my own costume designs, and so on, that would inhabit this world.

Before finishing, a special mention for Andy, who has gone to all the trouble of identifying the published source of the illustrations I have posted on line to date.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Flaming June.....

Flaming June; it's raining outside so that sounds about right. Nobody has taken me up on my offer of showing 'other' work, such as non Fantasy [I don't have much ready to post anyway] so let's see what's still in my art file at present. From Fabled Lands a couple I missed out.

From the Fighting Fantasy series.

Update: thanks to Andrew [see his post] he's been able to identify where the following three illustrations came from. Much appreciated! All I can add is, well, one was from the FF series.

The Dragon of course comes from 'Warlock'. I liked him, still do but of course his wings. Just a wee bit short, or small, really. But here's the real lowdown. You heard it here first. He comes out of his cave, he pumps his wings full of blood, and a dash of magic, and they swell and spread, like a butterfly. After all, it would be really dangerous to have fully developed wings in a cave. Don't believe me? Check out Renaissance paintings, they knew.