I was asked by my agent in 2013 to do some speculative example storyboards to explore a possible new area of work. It’s a lot of fun working on something that doesn’t need to follow through to final art but remains lively and sketchy. There is also the element of film making and storytelling which I feel very comfortable with, probably from watching far too many adverts over the years. The arrows all designate camera pans and zooms. No work came from it, though that could be that it wasn’t put in front of enough prospective clients, however I’m looking forward to building on and promoting this new service.
As I remember it this took about a day. More to follow.
Captain Bilgebelly’s Space Pirate Ship
Another example from the children’s book I worked on during Brighton Polytechnic Illustration BA course back in the day. This was supposed to be the end paper design. The idea for a cut away went back to my love for cut aways in various Thunderbird albums I remember as a child. In fact as an 8 year old, or 10, I drew a huge submarine that had mechanical grabs, many floors of living accommodation and even a cinema. I dimly remember that it made it into an exhibition at a gallery near my school and I was photographed next to it for the local paper. If I come across the photo I’ll add it to the post!
The interesting thing about this drawing is that it was the start of the bane of my life as an illustrator. You see, you get paid the same however much or little detail you put into a commission. The problem is that the more detail you include the longer it takes to draw and the further south your earnings go. People love that I add a lot of detail, and I love detail too. As I draw I see more and more that I can add to the illustration, and at the back of my mind I guess I feel I am giving more value to the viewer. A quick sketch feels like I’m selling them short. I have tried many times to simplify my work, but to no avail. Below are a few enlarged details so you can see how crazy I am!
Two maps from the Fighting Fantasy series of game books that I painted in 1989 and 1991 that I found recently in a long forgotten folder. The series was started by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone and went on to become a cult success before computer games took the attention of adolescent boys. In many of the books a colour map was printed on the inside cover which became a regular job for me before I even started art school. These two maps were late on int he series when I was becoming more sophisticated with framing and decorative ideas. I was usually only ever given a very rough map scrawled by the author on the back of an envelope and virtually no other information about the story let alone a chance to read the script. From my point of view, pure heaven! I was left to my own devices, and it shows. The lower map was painted in my usual way with watercolour, but the top map, the one carved on a floating rock was my first attempt at painting with acrylics mixed with a glossy medium. You cannot see it in the scan, but the original has a lovely depth and richness.
Wonderful fun doing a detailed pencil drawing of a classic Dungeons & Dragons type scene. It was done on cheap cartridge paper with HB and 4B, (the only ones I could find had leads that kept breaking) I did some finishing in Photoshop mainly because it’s difficult to get dark enough with pencil alone. I’m wondering if I should tackle some actual Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, but I fear my visualisation of stories is so distorted now by the films that it would be difficult to come up with anything original.
Any way, a critique of my own work. It could be a lot better. The biggest problem is in the basic composition and the position of the big arch, I’m not sure it works properly for two reasons. The first is that I have cut off this side of the arch which leaves it hanging in space and the other end lands just behind the dragons tail, not really leaving enough believable space for him. I don’t like his head which is too bent over like a horse. This fault goes right back to the model I’d designed in paper, which was the starting point for the idea in first place. There are many other disappointments, such as the poor drawing in the warrior riding or subduing the dragon, or the too small scale of the adventurer emerging from the tunnel, or the pointless door on the ground level.. I could go on and on.
Instead I’ll say what I like and think is working. The stonework. It’s far from perfect but I love the detail and texture and the arches disappearing into the dark roof. The treasure looks good too, really seems to be glowing. I like too that I just enjoyed doing it, for it’s own sake, for sitting listening to audio books and calming my jangling nerves.
I want to do another one now!
Christmas Dragon – Leo Hartas
I’ve just put my Christmas Dragon up on Etsy with a new stand.
It’s a download printable which means that you can download the file, print it out and build it! You can also send it as an unusual Christmas card kit for your recipient to make. Great if you’re running really late with Christmas cards! The best thing is that you will have something fun to do during those long drawn out periods on Christmas day between opening presents and eating.
Searan Tower Print
I’ve been updating my Etsy shop to make this drawing available to buy as a digital download to print and frame. Imagine having this fabulous detailed drawing ornamenting what would otherwise be a dull featureless wall in your house to intrigue and delight you and your guests.
Even if you don’t want to buy it please like and share it 🙂
Visit my Etsy Shop
Here are a few pages from a book I wrote and illustrated a few years ago for Walker. It’s a small, cheap puzzle book, but one of my favourites because it’s silly and combined a simple story with puzzles. I don’t do puzzles myself, Sudoku just irritates me, but for some reason I love making them.
Right Royal Brat Super Puzzles
Just returned from a wonderful weekend visiting the Quai Des Bulles comics festival in St. Malo, the amazing pirate town on the northern Brittany coast. I went with Jo and Freya and returned with our bags full of comic albums and our heads full of inspiration. I am always amazed by the huge variety and quality of the French comics scene where every subject is aired, from epic fantasy and sci-fi to kitchen sink drama, and even eye-popping bedtime stories. So unlike American superheros that seem to dominate the UK to exclusion of almost everything else. I am also struck by the wide variety of readers who include the whole family from children up to grandparents. Apparently a half of all books sold in France are graphic novels. My only problem is that I can’t read French so have to make do with the drawings alone which is no bad thing. Viva la bande dessinée! Doddle above from my sketchbook while in St. Malo.
I’ve been freelance for all my working life and struggled with organising my time. I have a feeling that most people in regular work think the self employed barely do any work between watching day time TV, and meeting other freelancers in trendy coffee shops. I can’t remember when I last did either of those! My biggest problem is organising the mass of stuff I have to do as I have no boss to tell me, no assistants or diary keepers. I can’t help thinking that others do all this effortlessly. How do you manage it all, or is it more like constant crisis management like me? Over time I’ve developed list keeping on paper or computer and it kind of works ok, but I’ve just stumbled upon something that I thought would make it fun too and appeal to my game loving side too. It’s open source so it’s free and it’s called HabitRPG, and it’s on PC and Android. I don’t know how it’ll pan out, but I can’t wait to don my armour, grab my battle-axe and start slaying my evil foes such as the sinister necromancer, Tax Return, the suppurating life draining armies of DIY Job, and the vile pus-leaking slime monster, Regular Exercise. Let the battle commence!
Apparently you can play with others, I’m not sure how it works but if anyone out there wants to join me on the quest let me know!
I was clearing out some junk today and came across this. How the mind of an adolescent boy works!