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.
From the book, Dragon Quest.
From my sketchbook.
The pug was sad. All day he had sat on his little velvet covered stool at the queen’s behest, never once averting his eyes from hers. How that little dog love his mistress, how little he knew the power he wielded in the royal court. “Well, pug”, cooed the queen, “should this man loose his head?”. Her gaze turned to the accused, “If pug nods his head,” she informed him, “you loose yours”. With that she produced a small delicacy from her purse, and moved it up and down before the pug who dutifully nodded his head. The man was dragged away to his fate, and queen rewarded the dog with the morsel and, until the next time, the little pug was happy.