Happy New Year! It was a busy time in the run up to Christmas, and i had these five pieces to get done over the holidays. The project involves 25 participating universities, each represented by a poster, which contains 20 puzzles. The puzzles correlate with an online list of clues related to the university and the surrounding city, which students need to solve to win a prize (there may not be a prize, but with christmas over and done with, hell, let’s have some prizes!).
All in all, it was a fun brief, quite intense with over 100 illustrations to do in two weeks, but well worth not celebrating christmas for (wait…what?!). Anyway, i’m off to celebrate now instead!
if you’d like to know what the clues are, enroll to one of these universities!
and you deserve a prize if you read all of that!
The trouble i find with looking back over old work is that occasionally i like to rework things a little! the difficulty is finding the balance between tweaking a few things and making it completely different. I guess the sensible thing to do, is to just accept the successes and failures of the past, and go on to create something entirely new.
…anyway, sometimes, i simply can’t help myself! I’ve been bothered by the lack of ‘POP’ on my older images, so i’ve dropped in a few shadows and simplified some of the details to refresh this old favorite!
OK, OK…so, something i get asked a whole heap is,
“Hey, Mike…Why the Heck do you only draw folk with their eyes closed?!”
Well, the answer is this. When i started creating this style i wanted to see if i could keep things simple, but still achieve a reasonable likeness to the subject. And with that in mind, if i kept the most expressive feature as basic as possible, and tried to get the character into other areas of the face. It’s been quite a robust style so far and i think it’s done it’s job, but now i guess it’s OK to test the look with some open peepers! To make an accurate comparison, I’ve reworked an existing portrait of Bill Murray.
Anyway i hope it’s not blown the simplicity of this style and that you like it! Feel free to let me know, and if you don’t like them, don’t worry, you can always close your eyes too!!
Hey folks, for the last two weeks or so, I’ve been lucky enough to have raised a baby sparrow, called Joffrey, who had fallen three stories into my back garden (or ‘nature’s buffet table’ as my cat would say). Anyway, in that short time, i trained him to feed from my hand, play cards and pose for portraits like this one!
i actually released him about a week ago, and that evening, he flew back and stayed in the house for another week, but now, after a few adjustments to his sleeping and dining habits, he has been released once again. I’ve spotted him twice whilst in the garden, and i like to think he’s keeping an eye on me and telling his mates how cheap his rent was at this HUGE bird box that has a 50 inch cinema.
anyway, i miss him a lot, and worry about him, but I’m pleased he’s flying around in the local flock! if you’d like to see photos of this little guy, please feel free to check him out on INSTAGRAM. my username is THUNDERscrawl
p.s. he’s actually a girl, so i made his background pink!
Is it a bird?… Is it a plane?…NO! … it’s only flippin’ Superman!
This is the Henry Cavill version for the new Man of Steel movie coming out next month. I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t looking forward to seeing it, so let’s hope the next few weeks go by faster than a speeding bullet!!
Enjoy the movie, folks!
it always feels like summer is nearly here when The Apprentice starts again! i enjoyed doing this little portrait of Lord Sugar although it ended up being quite a bit different to how I’d originally imagined it. i initially wanted some kind of Amstrad graphics in the background. Perhaps of the Gherkin building. then i decided on a revolver on the left side, shooting out a flag with the word BANG! replaced by P45 (for those of you who live outside of the UK, it is the income tax form you are issued when your employment is terminated). it was a bit too fussy and cramped, so I’m satisfied with the end result, and that’s that!
hey, maybe someone might see this stuff one day and say, ‘YOU’RE HIRED!’
This was an enjoyable project for me. i had lots of things in mind for the background; Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man, Slimer, Gozer, Ectoplasm etc, but in the end i settled for the simplicity of the Library scene. i actually had a few floating books in the background, but they drew the attention away from the characters, so they didn’t make it!
This was the first time i’ve really had a crack at a character with darker skin, as i’d not had the opportunity to create a successful palette. The challenge came from getting a warmth to the skin, whilst keeping the saturation low enough to fit with the rest of the image. Actually my biggest challenge with Winston was to change him every time he started looking too like Eddie Murphy!
All in all, a great project for a great movie!
I’ve had this image running around in my head for a year or so now, but with the #IronMan3 release date looming, what better time to chase it out! some nice new challenges with this piece, not least coming up with a comfortable solution to changing the aspect ratio from movie wide-screen to square; what would be visible to Tony Stark in the top half of his helmet?! but the whole thing worked out pretty well, and i like the juxtaposition of Stark-tech with retro Atari! surely every geek’s dream marriage! anyway, i hope you like it…if so please drop me a like on the THUNDERscrawl Facebook page
…and not just because you reek of onions!
For this piece, I tried to incorporate a greater level of interest in the some of the areas I’m often guilty of overlooking…namely background art and pattern work! i suppose if I’m honest, I’m not quite hitting my stylistic vision for THUNDERscrawl. it’s kind of there, but I’ve always imagined highly expressive characters immersed in a deeply layered, and heavily shadowed composition, that gives a pleasing pop-up book aesthetic. So far it’s all been a bit flat and sleepy!
i think with respect to the characters, some of the energy has been lost in translation from my sketchbook to final artwork; perhaps due to how the digital line art is created. also I’ve been restricting myself (expression-wise) with the mid-century style, crescent moon eyes…so I’ve broken a rule by giving the dog open eyes, which naturally breathed life into the piece.
also, the desaturated palette and low contrast hasn’t really been a boon for accentuating a 3D feel. so over the next few illustrations, I’ll be subtly addressing these things and hopefully cranking up the standard of art on my site. onwards and upwards, as they say!
…now go and brush your teeth!
After a nightmare four and a half months of having no access to my computer, I’ve finally got things set up and ready to squeeze out some artwork! I’ve got a long list of things that i need to get done, but it’d be rude not to start off with a couple of portraits for me ol’ pal, Ros. Here’s the first, he’s partial to the odd salmon, likes being sick in shoes, and the ladies love him, it’s Tiger Lynch!
This is one of 12 (so far) Streetfighter II characters i’m doing for a series run, but i thought it best to do them every now and again, rather than in one fat block of dragon-punching goodness! …you never know, Tekken players might think THUNDERscrawl is a streetfighter fan-site and log off!
”I’d Buy THAT For A Dollar!”
Sorry it’s been a while since i posted anything, i’ve had a nightmare with my broadband service (…basically, i’ve had none), but things are finally sorted. i’m pretty interested in the reboot of this film (more so than Total Recall if i’m honest), and hope it lives up to it’s predecessor. i watched it on DVD recently and it’s still a beast of a movie (although i rather missed ITV’s language censorship from back in the 90’s… ”FREAK ME! FREAK ME!”)
…still no sign of that Wolverine!
Holy Wet Pants, Batman! Here’s my Dark Knight, just in time for the movie release! i was planning to release some more characters from Gotham that linked up (like my Avengers series, but i figured it might be better to wait for a few months after the movie, otherwise i might upset the super-fans for including characters not in this movie! Probably bang-out a Wolverine in the next few weeks so that’s something to look forward to (for me at least!). Enjoy the film, everyone!
UPDATE: Just booked my premier seats at the IMAX #Can’tBlinkin’Wait!
i’m looking forward to the new movie coming out on tuesday, but, if i’m being honest, i’ve not been blown-away by the trailer! the general look of the film seems a bit dark and ugly (a bit like how i remember Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever!). Anyway, i’m sure it will be fine, and either way, it really shouldn’t be bothering someone who’s just turned 34!? anyway, i hope you forgive the addition of my crescent moon eyes, feel free to let me know!
…i’ve got to go and see if mum’s got my new Spiderman duvet cover
UPDATE: having now seen the movie, i take back what i said about it looking dark, ugly and anything remotely like Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever! i really enjoyed it and it’s by far the best spiderman movie i’ve seen!
Sorry about the silent treatment, folks! It’s been a nightmare week or so (thank you, The Bank), and also i’ve been pushing the limits of my Luddite-Brain + Sausage-Finger Combo, to tinker away on a new home for THUNDERscrawl! Anyway i’m not quite there yet, but there’s some semblance of a website up and running!
i need to add a lot of artwork before the site is ‘READY’, so will be uploading it over the next few weeks. Also getting the site to behave with the iPhone has been a TOTAL bitch, so apologies if it only looks right on your desktop machine! i recommend, viewing in portrait position on the iPhone (and manually moving the animated slider on the home page with your finger!). For the iPad, rotating into landscape view to look at the site works best.
Anyway, enough of all that, here’s a quick portrait of my chunky, 23 lb pud, Fuji! He’s just sprinted out of the studio after the largest blowfly you’ve ever seen…mmm crunchy!! Anyway, Mr Fuji, thanks for keeping me company and giving me good advice about which biscuit to eat next!
if you or anyone you know might like a pet portrait like this, get in touch on my contact page and we’ll sort something out!
…although not without a load of hassle! bah! (i won’t go into why this has been a kick in the stones). Anyway, apologies in advance for the next few test-posts which won’t really be about anything!
Hey folks, whilst I’ve been tinkering away on the new THUNDERscrawl website, the THUNDERscrawl blog is readying itself to take to the skies in search of a more opulent roost. I’m attempting to amalgamate the blog into the website, so If all goes well, I’ll see you there when it lands in it’s new home…
Happy Birthday, Annabelle Duncan…here’s your portrait!
if you’d like a portrait like this, you can buy one, win one, or even earn one (simply by getting 20 of your mates to LIKE the THUNDERscrawl Facebook page!)
take a look, and don’t forget to punch LIKE when you’re there! http://www.facebook.com/
Apparently 25% of road traffic in Cambridge is made up of cyclists. i hit a bit of a road block on this one, as it’s not really the most exciting of subjects. i toyed with travelling down a more conceptual route, and focusing on the ecological aspect of the brief, using arrows and colour…but ultimately, it really wasn’t much fun to look at! so i ended up taking the scenic, literal path, by concentrating on the ratio of cyclists to drivers and a few things that spring to mind when i think of Cambridge. there’s only a suggestion of my original ideas of using red to denote STOP!, burning fuel and frustration, and green (now just on the penny farthing saddle) for GO! and the whole, eco-friendly thang. anyway, all in all, it was quite a journey! I’m working on a private commission next (which i can’t post until later in the month) so will be back here with some different work in a few days!
sorry if it’s a bit quiet on here at the moment, folks! i’ve been busy getting rubber stamps made and some art ready for the new THUNDERscrawl website, and also writing and illustrating a picture book, so will resume normal activity here in the next few days!
CONGRATULATIONS, Eloise Davidson, you are THUNDERscrawl’s 100th chum!…here’s your portrait! Don’t dispair, other chums, every now and again i will pick one of you at random and scrawl you too! alternatively, if you’d like a portrait like this NOW, you can buy one, win one, or even earn one (simply by getting 20 of your mates to LIKE the THUNDERscrawl page!). just follow the link, and by God, make sure you hit the like button too! http://www.facebook.com/THUNDERscrawl
Congratulations again for winning, Alex Shipley…here’s your portrait!
if you’d like a portrait like this, you can buy one, win one, or even earn one (simply by getting 20 of your mates to LIKE the THUNDERscrawl page!)
take a look, and don’t forget to punch LIKE when you’re there! http://www.facebook.com/
Apparently the antioxidant Catechin (which is found in green tea), stops an enzyme in the Olympic drug tests from detecting testosterone. (Congratulations to Alex Shipley for guessing correctly, a caricature is on it’s way to you!) This illustration was actually a bit of a grind! As much as i like having the various nationalities, I’m not sure if i could have accomplished the same idea without breaking away from my usual square-framed, canvas. i find this one a little bit out of proportion too; the girls seem a bit squashed, and the signs a bit lost! …Then again, maybe I’m worrying about nothing!? I’ll probably feel totally different about it in the morning, and think i like the direction in the piece, and that there’s contrast between the cluttered, bottom-half and the spacious top-half. i might say i like that the Olympic colours echo through the outfits too…hey…I’m actually starting to like this!! well done, me!
can you guess what it is before i post the finished piece? the correct (or closest) answer will get a free caricature that you can use for your Facebook or Twitter profile picture (like mine in the sidebar on the right!). Post here or on the THUNDERscrawl Facebook page by following the link on the right! GOOD LUCK!
This illustration was related to the recent story about a teenager who sold his kidney for some Apple products. i have to admit, i class my iPhone and iPad as vital organs and sold a testicle to purchase them (although, i can honestly say i’m living a totally normal life with the remaining two). This time, i wanted to retain the flat colour vibe, but give it more OOMPH! so i added depth and interest with a little dry-brush work, and i’m rather pleased with the result.
Congratulations again for winning, Jee Wan Tsang …here’s your portrait!
if you’d like a portrait like this, you can buy one, win one, or even earn one (simply by getting 20 of your mates to LIKE the THUNDERscrawl facebook page!)
take a look, and don’t forget to punch LIKE yourself, fool! http://www.facebook.com/
…David Cameron and Nick Clegg promise to tackle dementia by boosting funds, making UK a world leader in the field. Thanks for giving your guesses on here and Facebook, i might go back and illustrate some of those suggestions, as they were a lot more entertaining than this subject! I’ll post the winner of the mini-competition on Facebook!
every now and again, i like to use a silhouette of my work to see how well-balanced the image is. it’s not always necessary, but in this case it was, and I’m pretty pleased with the results! can you guess what it is before i post the finished piece? the correct or closest answer will get a free caricature that you can use for your Facebook or Twitter profile picture (like mine on the right there!)
i hope you’re all successful in fooling people today (unless you’re my partner!). once I’ve cooked up a few tricks to dish-out to my girlfriend, I’ll be finishing up a new illustration for a science/technology magazine, so come back and see the update later on!
in the mean time, why not check out my Facebook and Twitter pages by following the links on the right, as the next 50 people who follow/like on both will get something special*
*this statement may or may not be completely false, and deemed as nothing more than an immature April Fool’s joke
Sorry for duplicating the post, I’ve been having MORE issues, but this time with displaying art on my favourite app Flipboard! apparently the images need to be larger than 120×100 and that one side can’t be more than twice as long as the other! SO i hope by sticking them together, this will fix the issue! …night!
This illustration was a pretty useful for me. i have a background that focused on character over narrative, so i thoroughly enjoyed putting this together and crafting the story. i was going for something reminiscent of an old children’s book-vibe, with that kind of organised cluttered feel that looks effortless, but in fact isn’t! I particularly like the passage of time in this piece, my girlfriend said it made her feel romantic, and my good friend, Martin said he could hear an old sea shanty, so that must be good…right?!
SO…it’s been a while since i posted anything, and there’s not enough space on the web for my excuses, but this marks the start of some new work and a new focus! Anyway, where better to start than with a brand-spanking, new logo (to go with all those other new things!) for those of you who fear change, it’s the same theme, but a little more considered, particularly with the pencil/bolt. I’ve got a bit of a thing for mid-century, cartoon art, Americana, and taxidermy at the moment, so you’ll no doubt see their influence pop-up now and again!
…oh, and apologies if the blog looks a bit mental at the moment, I’m sure it will settle down!
I spent a lot of the day tweaking my brush set and studying, but finally got a chance to test them this evening. i took inspiration from an image in the handy-sized, PORTRAITS book (by Steve McCurry) and banged out a 20 minute speed painting. ideally, i wish I’d had time to repeat this image once or twice to see how the work flow kicked in (as i wasted a lot of time choosing brushes!!). ah well, I’m sure it will come naturally with a bit more practice!
Right, so here’s my attempt at a timed, speed-painting challenge! i won’t try and hide the fact that I’m not really an environment artist (or a particularly quick one either!), so you’d might wonder why I’d start with a 20 minute, American landscape? well, this IS a place of experimentation, and I’ve never been a proud man…especially after this!
Anyway, i figured I’d see what i could do in a twenty minute window, assess after, what i needed to make me work faster, and repeat the exercise. GOD this first one was shocking! any measured approach to this was replaced with sheer panic, and i wasted valuable time worrying that i wasn’t going to get it finished!
this time i changed the aspect ratio of the image to give a more panoramic feel. it was a step in the right direction, but around 15 minutes into this one, i already knew I’d spent far too long struggling to get that speed-painted look! this lead me to believe that my tool-set was incorrect, and I’d have to create some brushes that would do some of the work for me.
i felt that by the third one, the improvement was significant enough to stop, and write a list of things that would have saved me even more time. i enjoyed this process; it’s made me think about what tricks and techniques i can use to squeeze the most out of every last second and it’s bolstered my confidence enough to pursue it again tomorrow! I’ll be mixing it up with some 45 minute and 90 minute paintings in the following posts, but i guess I’ll always start with at least one or two 20 minute pieces just to get warmed up!
…OK so not strictly a sketch, but this is an attempt at stepping away from some of the problems i mentioned in the previous Old Work…New Lessonspost. i AM trying to loosen up the application of mark-making, so it’s, not-strictly-a-sketch-but-definitely-walking-in-the-direction-of-Sketchville! i have some speed-painting and life drawing scheduled into my timetable for the next few months, so TRUST me, there will be a lot of VERY loose work going on show here (I’m starting to panic already!!)
anyway, this was a good opportunity to practice painting without first, generating line art (as i did in
the Sorry, No Trainers – Value Pass post). also, it was a fun colour and lighting study, so with that in mind, it qualifies as blog-worthy! i like the idea that this cat lacked the opposable thumbs to handle a fishing rod, but managed to rig a human nervous system with two arcade sticks!
it needs a clean-up and i have a fish bone-mountain silhouette to add in the background, so I’ll post that again
this is a quick sketch in one of those diaries, but i stopped as I’d killed the possibilities with some shocking anatomy! anyway, i wouldn’t say it was a great improvement, but i spent a few minutes correcting things in Photoshop and it sits a little more comfortably now (you’re probably thinking, ‘CHRIST! it must have been REALLY bad before, then!’)
This was my first stab at a ‘proper’ painting! it’s of a robber baron/nightclub owner called Gileese and his two doormen Jachin and Boaz. i think the wide-angle, forced perspective and underwater lighting were a bit too ambitious for my abilities, but i was pretty chuffed with it at the time!!
this was the second (and one of my favorite in the series), of the blind shaman Borlese and his army of Gelada baboons. i tried to focus on the balance of composition in this one, and tried to improve my understanding of how cloth hangs and folds (what a shame i didn’t try to improve my understanding of simple rim-lighting!?). i think this was an easier painting for me as it’s pretty monochrome. But what it lacks in colour, it makes up for in fist-pumping monkey!! …”AWOOOGA!!!”
Baroness Kruesmark and her loyal soldiers, atop a decommissioned train in London’s underground system. here i was trying to handle different textures, like bitumen on the train carriage and the leather of her catsuit. i liked the curve of the dogs’ shadows on the subway tunnel ceiling (but it was a total cop-out, as i’m not a natural at environments!)
here is the story’s anti-hero Joseph Hellenbach and the red kite that serves as his visual aide and companion. i wanted this painting to be much lighter than that of the barons, and felt it was a good opportunity to have a crack at painting some rocks and a sky scape! i look back at these paintings and really notice things like how dead and flat the skin tones are; things like the ear have no light shining through them with a nice orange glow! (or sub-surface scattering for the texture artists out there!)
Baron Palencarr. i really enjoyed painting this, but again feel like the absence of finishing touches like bear drool and shiny gums give the painting a stale and lifeless quality. it’s only looking back at these after several years that i realise how such simple things can really bring an image to life! maybe I’ll revisit these with a quick pass on each to add some much needed atmosphere!
this is where things started to get surreal! the conjoined barons Burnett, at their sacrificial alter…it was little more than an interesting anatomy study (although i shudder more at the obvious mistakes than the subject matter!)
this was the big daddy Lu Yueh, whose webbed fingers suggest the start of a transformation into the demon in the background. great fun to paint, but very much lacking in life and atmosphere! i really needed to study lighting (and still do now!!). if anything, posting these images was a nice trip down memory lane, and highlights the areas i need to push to bring more energy to my artwork.
This is a quick painting i did to try and loosen up my style (with some chunkier blocks of colour) and to compile a small colour palette (as I’ve never really given a lot of attention to this area!) i used some dirty big palette brushes that i created in photoshop and really enjoyed the process! I’ll post some earlier paintings that i created for a story Martin and i worked on about 10 years ago. They were my first digital paintings (but to be more accurate, they were my first paintings of any description, as the medium has always terrified me!), but I’ve always looked back at them and think that they say a lot about my way of working (and possibly, thinking!) as they’re so tight and stuffy! the dream would be to throw down a few blocks of colour and simply suggest what’s in mind, but I’m a looooooooooong way off being that courageous!! Anyway when you see them, you’ll realise why i feel the need to loosen up my style!…
I had an idea that I’d create a load of wild west superheroes with a steam punk vibe (particularly Superman in a giant leather duster, and Thor covered in makeshift armour ripped from a train engine), but due to other deadlines, I’ve kind of dropped the ball on this challenge! anyway, maybe this is something to revisit somewhere down the road with some other iconic characters (possibly as a super villain theme). Anyway, i tried to go about this as if i were trying to make Spidey look more bug-like. in fact, i based his silhouette on a big-eyed jumping spider, with eight eyes Incorporated into the steam punk goggles, and added some spider leg seams in his cow-hide poncho. and i quite like the detail in his suit looking more shabby, like cobwebs, and there’s a nod to his original eye mask shape with the leather visor.
Any HERO character but as the title suggests new emblems, new colours, new tights! Just a whole lotta NEW, but signature pose or some recognizable characteristics are recommended.
I’m going to try and keep this one loose and not get too caught up in detail (i said “TRY”!). lots of speed paints and quick concepts is the plan.
(similarly super-villained theme to come!)
Here’s the painted update. The lighting is all over the place, but “IN THE NAME OF ART” i broke a few rules and focused more on the overall spirit of the piece! My girlfriend wanted to know what the little Trojan looked like, and that got me thinking…maybe HE’S a little cyclops…and then what about the birds? Maybe they should have one eye too? …Maybe I’ll start again!
Some quick concepts playing around with the effect that environment may have on the look of the cyclops. I too was traumatised by the blinded cyclops in Jason and the Argonauts, and wished there were some way to avoid such shit luck! I like the idea that a few possible sub-species of cyclops evolved beyond the obvious design flaw and developed some kind of curled horn or tusk (not unlike the narwhal’s freaky tooth?!)to shield it’s vision. If I get time, I’ll bang out some loose sketches of a marine or feathered cyclops too
…same way Hulk’s pants magically stretch, i guess! This sketch was supposed to look like the Green Goblin’s reflection in a skyscraper window, with MJ on one side, and Spidey on the other. I like the expression on his face, but should have twisted his back further to the side. Would have been nice from a higher camera angle looking down at the street below, but it was late, and i hate drawing cars (even tiny ones!), so give me a break!
when it comes to four-armed characters, I prefer it where the additional limbs are sat behind, as opposed to just growing out of the ribs underneath, with absolutely no supporting anatomy, like Goro! (sorry Mortal Kombat fans!). It’s a tough one (rather like where to add wings on a non-flying mammal, or trying to draw the perfect werewolf!) but maybe I’ll try to produce a comfortable solution in the next week or so
here’s a collection of pencil sketches, drawn on various bits of note paper. there’s some shocking anatomy on there, but some of it works too! when i learn anatomy, firstly I tend to focus purely on the muscle arrangement (like an ecorché study). When i get that nailed, i go back and work out how fat changes the definition and shading (often completely hiding those muscles i spent so long learning where to put!)