I produced some additional illustrations for BBC Bitesize so that they could create an extended version of the Mary Queen of Scots motion comic that was originally published as a single feature. The new artwork stills I drew provided enough material for the BBC to produce four 5 minute episodes focusing on the key stages in the monarch's life from her birth to her (spoiler alert!) eventual death by execution. Here are the links to each episode and my illustrations below:
The Apollo 11 Moon Landing is part of a series of 5 fully illustrated books, each one focusing on a crucial day in history. The book is written by Nel Yomtov and I supply the illustrations which cover the journey of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin in undertaking NASA's mission to land on the moon. The book is drawn in a graphic novel format and published in hardback by Heinemann Library, an imprint of US education publisher Capstone.
I was originally given the choice between illustrating 'The Attack on Pearl Harbour' and this book, but given my lack of interest in drawing anything to do with warfare (I'm a pacifist after all!), the Apollo 11 story felt much more appealing to me. I also thought I could get it illustrated quite quickly given the deadline, as the lunar landscape and 'black with stars' backdrop seemed much simpler to deal with than warships and fighter planes. The finished artwork was completed using Microsoft Surface Pro and Manga Studio 5, with a bit of Adobe Photoshop CC thrown in.
Here is a video clip of the published book, and below that are some of the illustrated pages from it in pre-production format.
Benchmark Education are an American independent education publishers specialising in literacy resources. I was fortunate to meet them at the London Book Fair last year, at which point I had already been working on this commission for them through my agent.
I produced a series of comic strips published in their Prime Science books covering subjects relating to rock formation, lithosphere, earthquakes, erosion, and so forth. I created three characters that were used for the strips to provide a consistent relationship between learning and the audience. Here are some of the pages I illustrated:
Seeing Red is the second book in the Football Factor children's book series written by Alan Durant and published by Wayland Books that I've illustrated. It was published towards the end of last year and is finding its way into schools and public library catalogues where they seem to be getting loaned out quite regularly.
For the series, I completed 6 book covers and 156 pages of interior artwork. It provided a welcome opportunity to work on a longer term project over a period of 8 months. As a freelancer, lengthy commissions provide a bit of financial security and allow you to focus on creating characters that you can spend a lot more time messing around with.
Below are a few of the pre-published spreads from some of the favourite pages I drew.
Occasionally, I'm asked by publishers to produce samples for a prospective title so they can decide which illustrator to go with to produce the cover or interior artwork. Some of the ones that got away after this process include bestselling teen horror author Darren Shan's Zom-B series which deservedly went to Warren Pleece, my stablemate at Advocate Art. Another time, I was commissioned to produce a contemporary book cover treatment for Mattel's American Girl franchise which unfortunately wasn't a total success - trying to shoehorn my illustration style into a Deep South historical context probably stretched things. Nevertheless, being pushed into different media and styles is part and parcel of trying to be flexible to accommodate the client's wishes and to win that all important commission.
To carry on this theme, I have experimented from time to time with a Manga style when asked to by publishers, and although I didn't win the commissions, I'm still pleased with the results so have decided to post them here and to add them to my portfolio section. Below are character sheets and sample comic pages for licensed characters Ben 10 and Redakai. Produced mainly using a Pentel brushpen, with colouring done in photoshop.
First Match is the first title in the six book 'Football Factor' series of children's books published by Wayland Books, an imprint of Hachette UK, and is aimed at reluctant readers. Each story follows the ups and downs of a member of Sheldon Rovers football team as they aim for cup glory.
The first tale concentrates on Danny Zico, a seventeen year old defender making his debut for the first team. Let's hope he doesn't mess it up!
The series is written by Alan Durant, with myself providing the cover illustrations and 26 pages of interior art to accompany each story. I enjoyed the creative process of trying to come up with different ways of depicting the football action in a dynamic way to maintain the readers interest and to add to Alan's words.
Posted below are some of the interior pages in an earlier pre-edit version, since I don't want to have to slice open my published copies in order to scan the printed pages in!
[Text copyright Alan Durant, Illustrations copyright of Wayland Books]
Wolfhold, a children's book I illustrated earlier this year has recently been published by Franklin Watts, an imprint of Hachette UK who publish the likes of Neil Gaimen, J. K. Rowling and Donna Tartt, oh, and Alex Ferguson. The book is written by Steve Barlow & Steve Skidmore, both former teachers, who have authored some 150 books together for most of the major children's book publishers in the UK.
The book is about Tom who wakes up in a strange village with no memory of why he is there. It's a really clever short story aimed at reluctant readers, so it's important the artwork helps to engage children and young people. I had the assistance of Jack Davies whose layouts made it across into a significant number of the final pages. He has a great eye for dynamic angles and perspectives in his compositions. Cheers Jack!
The book also sees a transition in my work from inking on paper to using Manga Studio 5. Check out some of the page illustrations below and work out which were inked traditionally and which were inked digitally!
Here is the second motion comic published by BBC Bitesize that I worked on earlier this year. Details of previous motion comics I've drawn for the BBC can be found in my last blog.
Below are some of the storyboard stills I illustrated that were converted into the final motion comic. Again the script was written by Ferg Handley, with comic artists John McCrea project managing the illustration work and Keith Burns providing the colouring. The process of assembling various illustration elements onto different layers for each storyboard is more time consuming than producing a traditional illustration but the results were worth the effort!
I'm currently working on a new set of illustrations for BBC Bitesize that will be converted into motion comics and should be published online next year (I hope!). Last year, the BBC converted my first set of illustrations successfully into a motion comic about the Suffragettes.
A further two motion comics I produced the illustrations for were released over the summer through the BBC Bitesize Clips website, again these have been written by Ferg Handley, with comic artists John McCrea project managing the illustration work and Keith Burns providing the colouring. The first one tells the history of Mary Queen of Scots. Below are some of the storyboard illustrations I produced for this project. I'll post some illustrations for the second motion comic I worked on next week.
Here's a quick run down of the publication dates for the children's books I've drawn which will be published over the next few months. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they turn out in print!
Football Factor Series (Wayland Books):
Paperback - Publication Date June 2014
Hardback - Publication Date June 2014