Saturday, 24 June 2017

Desert lemons and a little red dot.

Hi Hi,

I don't know about you, but I think it's round about time I showed you some new work. Sound good? Let's get started!

My new work for today is a recent piece done once again for the lovely people at Happy. My subject this time around was Long Island band The Lemon Twigs. Once again, the scope being a landscape illustration to accompany a interview. These guys are full-on retro (both through music and style), so it was quite a unique one to work on.

Like with previous works, I'd never heard of the group, so like with the last two illustrations I've done, I gathered up their Youtube clips and left them on repeat, particularly while researching and sketching. I find listening to songs many times allows you to notice things that might not be picked up the first time through as well as discovering what really stands out in the imagery, (visually from the music videos and described in the lyrics). These make it onto a list (I like making lists) of things that I decide must be worked into the image. Then it's a matter of taking the elements and arranging them in a strong composition. It's a rather methodical way to work and probably the reason why I really struggle with whimsy and spontaneity when I'm working in my sketchbook. In short, I overthink things sometimes. Here's the image!

It's a little bit predictable to feature both lemons and a twiggy tree, but I just couldn't help it. My heaviest inspiration comes from the clip 'As long as we're together' I felt it really captured the glammy retro feel better than their other clips, which was exactly what I was going for. The colour scheme was perfect too. Soft pastel colours give that 'old school,' (do people still say that?) feel.

My first sketch just had both brothers standing next to each other, but I found despite the greater difficulty, I really wanted to draw Michael in a more animated pose. He's always jumping all over the place in the videos and it also makes for a more interesting composition.

Costume-wise I was originally going to go with something really full on, but decided on shirts. As always, I wanted to engage my penchant for pattern design and I thought it might be overkill to have costumes and detailed patterns in the one image.Even having complex 70's drop-repeat patterns on both their shirts made the eyes jump all over the picture, so I simplified Michael's patterning to just spots. It keep focus on Brian's shirt and leads into the rest of the image.

For the background, being a quick turn-around I needed something quick and easy, but also something I could practice painting with. I'm still relatively new to background painting, so it's one of my major goals this year to really get a handle on it. It'll really open up many more possibilities for things I want to create in the future. Desert was great for this: It's relatively flat and uncomplicated, but still has lots of hue and texture changes. The tree was also quite fun to do. I was going to paint it from scratch, but since I wanted it to stand out a little more I kept outlining in there.

Screen-caps from Happy's website where the article was featured when it was published in April. It was even featured on the homepage for about a week, which is pretty awesome.

Read the full article here.

Thanks to Happy and Tom Cameron for the opportunity.

In other news, I've made a sale! Down goes the auction hammer, BANG "SOLD!" - Though it wasn't an actual auction of my work, who can't help but imagine such a scene?

Back in May I had a piece of my work featured in a group exhibition held by Illustrators Australia, (or IA for short) in Collingwood Gallery, here in Victoria on a lovely Autumn day.  It ran from May 5th to May 30th and was called 'paper to pixel.' It was certainly a good turnout of illustration talent; 68 amazing pieces of art were on display, each one more different than the last. Check out photos from the opening night of the event on IA's facebook page here. The exhibition was even featured in the weather segment on channel 10 (a major television network here in Australia). It felt pretty cool to have my artwork featured on TV, even though it's not like it was dominant in any way.

Many artworks had already been sold by the end of opening night, which was great. Little telltale red spots stuck next to the works indicated a sale. Unfortunately, my work was not among them.

That was until early June when I received a congratulatory email from IA saying that my print had been sold! I was super ecstatic. I was having lunch in the meal room at my day job casually checking my emails when I saw it. I did a little dance in my seat and probably looked really weird to all my colleagues surrounding me. The money didn't feel that important, it was the recognition that did it for me. Imagining that someone looked at my artwork among all others in that gallery and said "I want to buy this" and spent their money on it. Thank you, whoever you are! Something that I created from nothing was worth something to another. It. Was. Fantastic.

The work itself was going to be a new piece I was working on specifically for the exhibition, but I challenged myself a little too much, given the limited time I have in my life for illustration. It's based on a project for a client that fell through, for which I'd already done some designs and sketches for. I really don't like discarding things I've put time into, so it was a perfect candidate for the exhibition.Time however, did not allow it's completion, so instead I had to quickly chose one of my recent works.

Remember this one? See the full blog entry about it here.

I'm a proud member of IA, see my portfolio page here.

Well that's it for another blog entry, I've been doing some sketching lately which I should be uploading at some point in the not-too-distant future, stay tuned for that. I'm not sure if I'll make a new blog entry, but it will definitely get a mention on social media. I'll also upload it into my sketchbook section on here.

Other plans for the future are a couple of designs I thought would make some great t-shirt. So I've thinking of vectoring them up and submitting to Threadless. I've got some other stuff to finish first however, so not sure when I'll get to that.

Thanks for feasting your eyes.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Bartering sheep

Hi there, you might hardly believe it, but I've just completed a new post for you mere weeks after the last. I have not one, but two new pieces to show. Shocked? I'm trying really hard to push myself to spend more time on this thing I love called illustration. "But what does this mean for me?" I hear you ask. Well to answer your question, I hope it means updates more often and more work to share. Now let's get into it.

First up, I've got an illustration I completed of local Melbourne musician Ali Barter. This was originally going to be for a client, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, it was never published. I left it alone for several weeks and then one day decided it was a waste of my time and effort not to finish something I'd already spent a considerable amount of time on. So here it is!

Colourful, no? I'd never heard of Ali before, so like I mentioned in my previous post, research was key. I found myself particularly drawn to the bright colours and style found in her clip of the song Hypercolour, so I that was my main inspiration. Just the term made me imagine super-bright and high impact colour schemes. The flowers were inspired by the same clip, though in this instance they're magically growing from the guitar itself. I think it strengthens the sense of 'hypercolour:' Almost sickly bright flowers.

In terms of background, the clip for one of her newest songs, Girlie bits features synchronised swimming, so I thought, how about a pool without water as a setting? I had a tight deadline originally with this work, so I had to keep things fairly uncomplicated. The tiles I think make a for simple but very catching design. I've always loved drawing environments where nature has taken over, so expect to see more of those as my background painting skills improve. I discovered working on this, that though guitars seem like a relatively easy thing to draw, they can take some time to get right. I'm still not 100% on spot with line drawing using my tablet, so it took a few attempts to get the strings where I wanted them. I'm particularly happy with the way the eyes came out.

Up next is a personal work I've been working on bit by bit over the last couple of years. As you can probably imagine, producing a work over such an extended amount of time often leads to many changes. The lengthy production period mainly stemmed from my desire to try my hand at painting the background. If you look through most of my work, it's either got no background at all or a very simple drawn one if any. I was very apprehensive to start it once I got up to that point. Which I know is kinda silly given that in Photoshop, everything can be undone.

I'm not entirely sure what I was going for with this image...I'm guessing sheep were likely the starting point. I think I was watching The Musketeers at the time and really loved their... shoulder capes? Which lead on to considering a striking heraldry logo: I started out in graphic design, so I always like to find ways to combine it with my illustrations. All this doesn't really fit with a simple sheep farmer, so let's just say that in this world sheep farming is considered a noble profession. The idea behind the glowing gem in the crook is that it in some way hypnotises the sheep to follow her. The design of her hair eludes me and is lost to time.

Working on a piece across such a long period of time was a great way to sense my progression as an artist, there are some things here that are quite different to how I do them now. Though I did try my best to change little to keep it in line with the original. The major thing I tweaked were the colours, mainly to harmonise them with the recent idea I had for the background. I was originally going to use a textured brush, but decided against it: I'd read from a few artists that it's best to start with the basic flat default brush until you get a feel for painting.

Considering it's one of my first attempts to paint digitally, I'm quite happy with how it all turned out. I think the sense of distance is captured quite well, particularly with the foreground grass. I'm always amazed with how plain background can be to still have a good feel of the environment. The stone sign, (in an unknown language so you know it's not Earth) shows the distance to the next city. Perhaps our sheep herder is taking her flock to trade? As a bonus to the detail shots I quickly drew up a completed graphic of the heraldry shield. Sometimes these things look better flat.

I'm currently trying out a 'sketch a day' exercise to speed up my drawing skills, So I'll probably make a new section or possibly add to my sketchbook section.

Well that's it for this time I'm hoping to have something done from a galaxy far away. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Whitney by the lake

Hi there blog watchers! You can blame the Where's Wally animated series and it's over-the-top narrator for me always opening posts like this.

Today I'm sharing my newest piece of work, done for the lovely people at Happy, a Sydney-based online music and culture magazine. You may remember them from my illustration of the band Cull, which I did for them way back in April 2014. They were extremely happy (pun intended) with the outcome and frankly so was I! This time I was asked to draw Chicago based indie-rock band Whitney. This time I'd like to share my whole creative process for this work.

This brief had the same requirements as last time, a landscape piece featuring the band that was otherwise completely open to interpretation. I was asked to include only Max and Julian in my illustration, as they are the official members of the group. Like last time it was to accompany an interview with the band and also be featured on the main page of their website.

As a first step with any work I undertake, the first step was research. I immersed myself in all things Whitney: I watched video clips, read reviews and of course an image search of the subjects themselves. As per usual, it's the visuals that often influence me the most, so their music-videos is where most of my inspiration for the composition came from.

Throughout my research I jot down a quick list of imagery and ideas I might like to include in the work, this helps keep my idea simple and focused, which was especially important given the short amount of time I had available for production. The notes for this work include:
  • Wilderness
  • Pastel colours
  • Desaturated colours
  • Roses
  • Autumn
  • Shoes and rolled up pants
 The next step is to start sketching! Although I mainly complete my work digitally these days, I still find pencil to paper my preferred method for getting my concept down. These thumbnails are usually pretty small, (about 10cm max) so they are usually very rough and basic. I'm concerned more about the composition than accuracy at this point. This is quite evident when you look at the final artwork below.

I decided I really wanted to include their feet in the image, as I found their boots with rolled-up jeans look quite interesting and unique. Given the limited size and orientation it was impossible to draw their full bodies, so I instead opted for a reflection in water. This allowed me to have a tightly cropped image, showing both feet and faces, as well as a great idea for the setting: Many images and particularly the video-clip of No woman feature an Autumn wilderness that really suited my idea, not to mention a great tie-in to their album title 'Light upon the lake'

When I'm happy with the rough I move onto Photoshop.

 I'm currently using Photoshop CS6, one of the last retail versions available before Adobe changed over to subscription-based Creative Cloud. Tablet-wise I'm using a Wacom Intuos 3 - Medium size. It's an older model, before the 16:9 Wide-screen aspect-ratio became standard, so it's active area (4:3) is slightly reduced to conform to my modern display. At times I do consider it might be worth upgrading to one of the newer Intuos Pro models.

Technical stuff aside, once in PS I draw up my thumbnail to a significantly more accurate sketch using a basic brush tool set to a lower opacity. It's quite messy, but you get the idea.

The rest is a fairly simple process, which I'll cover more in-depth for my next post.
  • I turn the opacity super low and draw up my final line-work.
  • I create a fills layer below and drop in flat colours, this can sometimes take time for me to get right.
  • I add a shades layer, using a fairly desaturated blue/purple set to multiply as this takes into account the base colours underneath.
  • The rest of the steps can very depending on the work, but this is when I usually add highlights and other textual effects. 
That's pretty much it for the process. Below you'll see the final artwork along with a couple of close-ups of Max and Julian's faces. You'll notice I flipped the faces from the original sketch. When I'd finished the final line work I noticed I forgot to take into account the mirror reflection in the water.

My original idea was to paint the background leaves rather than doing my usual cell-shading look, but unfortunately I didn't come up with anything I was too pleased with. I really need to work on painting, as cell-shading does have it's limitations for background work. It was a shame, but I'm still real pleased with the outcome.

Read Happy Mag's interview here.

Thanks for reading. I'll hopefully have some more work for you all soon.

Monday, 13 June 2016

3 designs entered the arena, only one emerged victorious

That's right, I'm here today to announce the winner of my 'Choose the project' competition!

This was first foray into creating a survey and overall I'm rather happy with how everything turned out. I think next time I really need to look at other ways of getting it in front of more eyes, because there really was not a lot of participation going on. This was despite the lure of winning a free print.

However enough about my musings, you're here for the winner aren't you? It sure was a close one and it seemed like the Procession was the design to take the laurels of victory, as for most of the time the survey was open it was in the lead by several votes. In the end though a couple of extra votes towards Pirates in the last day or so saw it take the lead and claim the prize.

Here's a visual representation (a fancy way of saying i made a column graph) of how it all turned out.

As you can see, Pirates only won by a single vote! Party had a lot less love as it only got 3 votes.

I'd like to take a moment to give a big thank you to everyone who took a few minutes out of their busy lives to enter the competition. Thank you for your support and interest in my work. Also I hope I didn't annoy people too much with my continued Facebook posts about voting. I hope you enjoyed being part of the creative process.

Now it's time to start developing the design as chosen by you, the people. I'm really looking forward to developing Pirates to it's full potential and will endeavour to keep you well informed of it's progress. Once the final artwork is all finished and done, I'll announce the winner of the free print. Good luck to all!

Here's another look at the rough that gets to go all the way to the top:

I'm going to try and make sure I post plenty of in-progress images for this work, particularly since I've already shown you what the rough looks like.

Watch this space!

^_^ Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The 3 P's - Procession, Pirates or Party?

Hey there blog watchers, I haven't seen you since January, (totally my fault). It's been some time, so I thought I'd do something exciting for my new post. Details below.

While I was designing my Chinese new year illustration for 2016, I came up with 3 distinctly different ideas. Usually this is a normal part of the design process: To pick one to finish and discard the rest. Then I thought, why not involve others in the process? I want YOU to decide which rough I should bring to finished artwork. I'm going to dub this idea "Choose the project," catchy title yeah?

Of course you should be possibly rewarded for your hard work, so 1 (one) lucky person shall receive a FREE A4 fine-art print of the finished illustration. I'll be choosing an entrant at random. If you would like to enter, please make sure you fill in question 2 so I can get into contact with you to send you your new art.

You can find the link to the survey below. It's only 2 questions and some contact info, so it shouldn't take very long at all...Unless you're the kind of person to agonise over which one to choose, in which case your guess would be as good as mine. Please make sure you do the actual survey, if not you're entry won't count and the hard work will be for naught.
See the worlds of possibilities below. Remember, only YOU can decide the path I shall take. Will it be Pirates, Procession or Party? Happy voting and good luck for the draw (if you choose to enter). Just also keep in mind that being rough as these are, changes are likely to occur, (that's the nature of the creative process), though mostly this will be detailing, the basic design and structure will remain.

I'll be posting again in a few weeks to confirm the winning rough that I'll be taking through to finished art, so look forward to that.

Thanks for reading, be back real soon.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


Hi there blog watchers! Happy 2016!

It's been far too long, so I think it's about time I showed you a new piece of work. We'll blame work for that as it does really impact on the amount of time I have to do things I love doing. Still, I manage somehow and will hopefully continue to do so. But enough about that, you're here for art aren't you?

This new one is entitled 'transitions'. It's about change, specifically the changes we make in our lives that forever impact us. Often it's a choice and since we don't have the ability to see the future, it's a blind one; We don't know what will be on the other side of that 'portal' we choose to step through. In some cases there might not even be a way to retrace our steps and go back to how things were before, which can make that 'choice' all the more daunting, however it's also what keeps life interesting.

Things have changed oh so much in my life these past couple of years and I hope they will continue to do so. Most of these changes have been positive and have in most cases exceeded the possibilities of how I thought they would turn out. I hope that 2016 will be just as bright and bring with it even greater possibilities.

I'm quite proud of this piece. It was a good chance to really experiment with a strong sense of lighting, which I don't normally do. It was something of a challenge with how to actually do the shading and I wasted time with layers I probably didn't need to use.

One thing I struggled with, was whether or not to put in a deeper background. In the end I decided against it, because no matter what I tried I just couldn't get it to look right. Background is still something I struggle with and it will certainly be a thing I'll try to focus on overcoming this year. I've been sitting a on fantastic idea for an exhibition, but to really make it work I need to be much more competent with backgrounds, so I really can't wait to get there and start on that work specifically.

I was originally not going to put in a pattern on her top, but in the end I just couldn't resist. I love patterns and fabrics and if I didn't love fantasy and science-fiction so much, I'd probably be a textile designer. In illustration however, I can be both at the same time! I find that even the simplest pattern, (like the one above) can really bring some extra life to an image.

If you have any questions about this work or would like to obtain a print, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Until next time...

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Supergraph 2015

Hi there, hard to believe I haven't posted on my blog in almost a year (pretty close)! Things have really been quite hectic, particularly of late when I started a new full time job (unfortunately not illustration) in January, which leaves me very little time to do the things I love most.

Still, things are progressing well for me regardless. The first work I have to share with you today is a piece of work I recently did for IA's (Illustrators Australia, of which I am a proud member) booth at Supergraph 2015. Supergraph is an annual event for all things Illustration held right here in fabulous Melbourne.

I had 3 copies of my artwork available for purchase at the booth during that weekend, alongside many of the other great illustrators in IA. A big thank you to the anonymous person who purchased one of my prints, I do hope you treasure it!

If your mental arithmetic skills aren't half bad, you've probably realised that this means I have 2 prints left. They're still up for grabs, so if you're interested, please get into contact with me (since I don't as yet have shop functionality, plans are in motion though) if you're interested in obtaining it/them. Details of the prints follows:

Size: A4 - 210 X 297mm, with a 10mm border for mounting
Paper: 300gsm cotton rag paper
Protection: Cello wrapped and padded envelop
Price: Prints are available for $35 AUD each (Shipping included)
Availability: There are only 2!
Now that I've given you the sales pitch, it's time to see the work itself.

The title is urban evolution, which is essentially the concept as well. Many birds adapt to living in the teeming cities around the world. I decided to take the idea somewhat further, trying to imagine what it would be like for a bird to evolve in a urban setting. Then I started to consider the lack of trees which would make nest materials somewhat scarce. So, what if the mother bird could actually fly around with her babies inside pouches until they grow enough to fly themselves? (rhetorical by the way). I was inspired by Australia's many marsupials, which carry their young in this way.

Design wise, the bird takes many cues from birds common throughout Victoria, particularly ones which live in Melbourne's CBD. Colour wise, I considered the overall colours of a city. Bluish greys with bright orange yellows (lights). The pattern itself was inspired by sky scraper windows.

Background wise I wanted to have something that was truly iconic of Melbourne. How could one not think of trams? (once again, rhetorical). I didn't want to draw any particular model of tram however, so various parts of the design takes bits and pieces of various tram models Melbourne has had over the last 100 years. For the route number I chose the 86, as it's probably the tram I've used the most and is probably one of the more well known routes. There's even a cafe called the 86, which the tram goes past.

Oh, you may have noticed things look a little different (no, really) when you perused this post? Graphic design for me is a continually evolving skill, just like illustration. For some time I was unhappy with my current logo and really desired a change. I'm really happy with how my new brand identity came out. Evokes all the things I want it to, which was a great challenge by the way. Still not 100% sure of the colours yet though, so don't get too attached, as they may change in the near future.

Still got some big plans for this blog and hopefully a future website too. I'm a bit rusty on HTML and CSS coding but I'm sure it will all come flooding back to me when I start looking into it.

I've now also got my own Facebook page dedicated to my illustration work as opposed to posting on my personal profile you'll now find it there instead. Check it out here

Well that's all now, see you next time.