Wednesday 29 September 2010

No go for Defoe on 1704!

Poor Leigh Gallagher felt the wrath of the Mighty Tharg when coming up with this beautifully designed Defoe cover for Prog 1704. Over at his fantastic blog he tells a sorry tale of pride and rejection. After coming up with some great ideas (shown below) he decided to replicate the painted style of his beautiful cover for the TPB of Defoe 1666.

So, Leigh kept his pencils fairly rough as he was going to paint over 'em anyway...
Which he did, to produce this awesome digital painting...
However, Tharg the Grumpy decided he wanted to see more line work, giving poor Leigh the choice of either inking his already painted image or face a session with Mek Quake. Modest and professional to a fault, Leigh agreed with the bad tempered Betelgeuisian and added some outlines to turn out yet another amazing cover...
Please read Leigh's hilarious version of events over at his brilliant blog. Oh, and I'm sure the ladies would pay handsomely to see the photo refs he did for this cover!

Monday 20 September 2010

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

Yet another stunning cover by Jon Davis-Hunt, it's absolutely outstanding! This is for the superb story Age of the Wolf written by Alec Worley with beautiful art by Jon. The cover depicts Rowan, our plucky heroine, pursued through an eternally moonlit, snow-filled London by a pack of rabid werewolves and their as yet, unnamed leader.

Below are Jon's inks. Jon is a big fan of Katsuhiro Otomo's work, the artist responsible for Akira, so I'm sure he must have been thrilled at the prospect of drawing some bike chases of his own...
Next flat colour is added and a box to denote the 2000AD logo...
Rowen is shaded, bringing out essential detail such as the highlights in her hair, the shape of her nose and those all important cute freckles!
Crikey! The git big wolf is inked into the background!!!
And again, flat colour is added...
The wolf is staggeringly brought to life with the use of highlights and shading, a bit of saliva and some fantastic fur. The dark skies set the picture off...
Finally the finishing touches are added to bring the whole image to life - a whirling snowstorm, that cool headlight and a motion blur that brilliantly suggests a roar! Truly a classic cover!
Here's how it looks on the news stands...
Thanks yet again to Jon for being so kinds as to send the images. Remember to visit his site at here where you will find all kinds of goodies! Examples include the beautiful teaser for 'Age of the Wolf...'
This stunning page from a 'Tales of the Black Museum' story called Purgation (by Arthur Wyatt) sees a perp falling through Dredd's chilling alternative reality...
Finally this amazing spread from Tempest - brilliant!

Thursday 16 September 2010

Ding dong! Dredd calling!

Wow! The amazing Mark Harrison, Rebellion's head of concept, is back with an explosive Dredd cover to accompany the current 'Skinning Room' tale. The cover is packed with movement and intelligent little nods to some of Mark's favourite movies. Fans of Mark's work know that he loves to 'audition' Hollywood actors in his art and add cinematic 'Easter Eggs' to enhance the experience for the reader. This cover is no different so, over to Mark...

"Here's the Dredd cover story: I took a couple ideas of Dredd to Tharg as possible covers; The first was Dredd referencing a "Dirty Harry: Magnum Force" poser with the Statue of Justice in the background..."
Mark's Idea (above) and the very cool Magnum Force poster below...
Mark's second cover idea was also based on a couple of no-nonsense American Cops, John Wayne's James Brannigan from the 1975 action flick Brannigan (see the trailer here) and Sylvester Stallone's controversial portrayal of Megacity-One's finest. "My other idea was Dredd kicking in a door blasting; partly inspired by the John Wayne film "Brannigan" where he kicks down doors with a "Knock knock!" and the moment we first see Dredd in action in the film Judge Dredd as he "pacifies" Block war rooms. In fact the latter choice would define Dredd for me as I struggled to put my take on the look of Dredd..."

Above, Mark's sketch for the cover.

As we all know, Mark was a pioneer of digital art and it's use is still an integral part of his craft. He continues "The sketch approved, I quickly knocked up a Poser figure in a Bryce corridor (both 3-D apps I use occasionally) , a very basic texture overlaid onto the background (same one I've been using for years on Durham Red) to give perspective and some dynamic lighting to give me a foundation point. I had something clearly in mind; as in the movie, Dredd has blasted open the door and eased into the room into a half crouch as he rapid fires in an arc, taking out all the perps. A lot of repositioning; balancing the silhouette of the figure in the doorway. Not too low as to be lost, but not so high as to be a giant. Also space for the dynamics to work, the guns spinning out of flailing hands. A good chunk of time finessing this spacial relationship, where 3-D really helps (although i fudge it in the end!)"

"I'd had a chequered past illustrating Dredd in the past, first trying to realistically portray him then following the art styles of others. I decided I wanted to do "my version" for a change, a hybrid of the comic and the movie. Whatever you might think of the movie "Judge Dredd," there are some good design choices there. I liked the chunky, blocky look of the design throughout. My favourite comic version of Dredd is the very first Ezquerra/McMahon "Motorcycle Helmet" Dredd. The scaling of the uniform is at it's most practical and Dredd looks like a young, lean, pouting and arrogant Clint Eastwood from the Dollars movies."

Mark continues "The movie had a great helmet look. One thing I liked was how it squared off the "Death mask/skull" red flashing on the helmet. Rounded I think it looks weak and the movie one front on it looks quite devilish, so I incorporated that look into the helmet. I also preferred the turned up collar. It feels more military, stiff, tight and formal and more in keeping with the discipline of a Judge."
Above - The Block War scene that was obviously an inspiration and the 'devilish' movie helmet.

"The helmet alone accounted for 30% of the time spent on this image, refining it and getting it right. Even now I'm looking at the eyes thinking should I have dropped the angle a millimetre or so."
"In the sketch I originally had Dredd bursting in, respirator down, having Stumm gassed the place, gasses swirling dynamically, but thought it would be better to see his face. The chunky angular respirator, eagle and shoulder pads also fell into that blocky, utilitarian look. I should have carried to look through to the badge and belt buckle but I had been generously given a Termight Replica badge by Wakefield Carter and I thought it would be a shame not to use it!"

WARNING! The next part may be controversial!!! "Elbow and Knee pads were a pain. I confess I don't like them- the green just doesn't work. (Sorry Carlos!) So I darkened them down to muddy green and had the scene lit by green muzzle flashes. Why green? That's a nod to the Sandman's gun in the film "Logan's Run". (In the book the Sandmen were judge, jury and executioner and their guns fired 6 types of round including heat seeker. I "challenged" Mr. Wagner that "Logan's Run" was an influence on Judge Dredd and he growled that he "read a lot of books"....)"

Mark lets us in on some of the in-jokes in the text on the piece and manages to squeeze in another film reference! "A key ingredient in any Dredd story is a dark humour, so I have a sort of scrolling LED display above the door saying "YOU HAVE A VISITOR" that you can imagine being cheerfully announced moments before Dredd bursts in and guns down the occupants!
The "Smart door" also carries a bit of text (and some in-jokes) on it; an overlay that suggests that Judges in a crackdown situation can render all doors unlocked. I always liked it when the world of Dredd whilst exciting and heroic also carried this underlying feeling of oppression and the denial of human liberties. Dredd is not a nice guy. He's just better than the alternative!"

As for the door text, the "1187 Hunter Gratzner" was deliberate; I changed it from Blade Runner's "1187 Hunterwasser- I loved those model maker guys!) "K.Howell" is a friend of mine who *HATES* Judge Dredd. Dredd isn't too fond of him, either!"

"Finally, some gun smoke and debris and motion blur to suggest kinetic movement in the scene. Again, another balancing act of too much vs too little.

Some background detailing from the inside of a helicopter for the corridor (probably not necessary, my biggest weakness, knowing when to stop) I wanted it to look like the bowels of a ship or cargo containers. Not nice living quarters.

Some colour passes and tweaking, bring out the red of the helmet and bringing up the values on the eagle pad and face to centre the readers eye (and hopefully lessen the naturally lighter lit corridor behind.) Some specular light from the gun flash right on the bridge of the nose. Okay, we lost some red but the high point centres the eye. Check back with the sketch to see if can restore some of the energy lost in the process. Add a bit more "whoosh" and "zap" brush marks... done! (Entirely painted in PhotoShop CS2)"
"Efforts prove a hit with Tharg who likes the movement in the scene."

And dammit, so do I. A fine cover that is superbly cinematic, taking the best elements of the flawed old Dredd movie and creating a masterpiece. Ironically, Mark tells me that "A few days after submitting the work it was announced a new Judge Dredd film was being made!"

So here's hoping the new movie has half the passion and intelligence that Mr Harrison puts into his work! Thanks to Mark for the fascinating info, especially as he wasn't at his best when he sent it. True services to thrill power!

Sunday 5 September 2010

Leigh Gallagher (Crocodile) Rocks!

Hey you stinking Reeks! Shuffle over to Leigh Gallagher's wonderful blog to see how he put this weeks' superb cover together. There you will see his rough proposal for Tharg (complete with cheesy tag line,) hilarious (but ever-so-sexy) reference photo, pencils, fantastic inks (shown below) and the final, zarjaz image!

Naturally, Leigh explains the processes involved at each stage in his humourous style. One of the things that made me chuckle is that he was very pleased with the way the light shone through the water; however, both the preview image at the back of prog 1700 and the actual cover has this obscured by lettering! It's Karl Richardson's Big Ben all over again!
So, head off immediately to Leigh's Blog to get all the info. Also, be sure to check out his hilarious interview with Everything Comes Back to 2000AD's Richard McAuliffe's over at Geek Syndicate.

You can see the rest of Leigh's amazing 2000AD covers here too.