Sunday 29 May 2011

"Aaaaar(my of) Shipmates!"

Is that the worst pun I've ever written? If so, or even if not, I apologise profusely! Moving on, the able crew of Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague bring us a dynamic cover that Ray Harryhausen (or if I was being cheeky, Michael Flatley) would be proud of!

The cover depicts (the aptly named, if again, I was being cheeky) Jack Dancer leading an army of invincible Greek warriors against the legions of Hell, in Ian Edgington and Steve Yeowell's swashbuckling epic, Red Seas. Not bad timing in the week that Pirates of the Caribbean 4 opened at the box office, he's knows what he's doing, does Tharg!

So, let's raise the anchor and set off! Below is Cliff's rough sketch. Though quite the traditionalist in some approaches to his work, Cliff isn't afraid to use Photoshop to facilitate his work flow. I think it's safe to assume that all of the warriors on this sketch are one and the same...

With the composition sorted, Cliff begins to ink. Like many artists, he prints an A3 blue line image (you can see traces of blue if you zoom in on the image below) and inks by hand on top of that. However, again it appears that the soldier was inked separately then digitally added and cloned...

And there's the finished inks, ready to be sent off to the wonderful Mr Teague to be coloured...
And here are those colours. As ever, Dylan has done an excellent job, fabulously bringing the image to life without sacrificing any of Cliff's intricate linework. The dynamic duo strike again!

Thanks yet again to both Cliff and Dylan for sending the various images, two more sturdier shipmates you could never wish to have! Arrrrrr!

Thursday 26 May 2011

Gibson Quarter - Wasted Talent!

There are many, many talented 2000AD boarders who's work I'm gagging to see in the prog, and Gibson Quarter is certainly one of the picks of the crop! Though he is yet to appear in Tharg's mighty organ, his fantastic work can currently be seen with a whole host of 2000AD droids' work in Wasted magazine, edited by the legendary Alan Grant.

I was delighted when Gibson contacted me to ask if I wanted show his cover process for Wasted Issue 8 and naturally jumped at the chance!

Over to GQ!

"The gang at Wasted central headquarters asked me to draw up the cover for issue 8. The neat bonus of this assignment was that Frank Quitely was working as the cover editor for me on this one. "My instructions for this cover were "a Johnny K. holding badge out close so its surface is clearly readable, larger than the one on the red WOD Tee-shirts. He's holding his gun in the other hand. Give him the usual jock lantern jawed shit eatin' grin!”

"So, that said, I threw these 4 roughs (Very rough!) images back to see what they’d prefer. Part of my master plan here in drawing these so loosely, was to Get Quitely to draw some roughs back at me that actually looked like real drawings, but alas he didn’t bite. Sigh…next time. ;-)"

"The result was that everyone picked pose #3 as the preferred one. I kinda liked pose #1 the best, but I was out voted. Frank’s specific feedback was “I like 3 the best, but I think it would be improved by having him face us, so I took the head off 4 and dropped it on top of 3, and flipped it. Well, I moved the rear hand with the gun a tiny bit and cropped it so he seemed more balanced, and then voila! Maybe it could be still further improved by tilting the head back a bit so he's looking down his nose at us a little - but it's a trickier angle.”

With that he send back my crappy drawing tweaked in photoshop ( NO Frank! You were supposed to redraw it a bit, its part of my master plan!) His tweaked version looked like this:

"After that I worked on it a bit and sent the pencils rough for approval...:"

"Then tighter pencils before inks:"

"I printed it out in Blueline and inked it like so..." (How frikking cool is that!?! - Pete)

"Then the magic REALLY happened…Jamie Grant went in there an coloured it up to this:"

"All in all I was really happy with how it turned out. I think it’s a good iconic Johnny K ‘War on Drugs’ cover. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’ve gotta go and create another master plan for how to get a Johnny K drawing out of Frank Quitely!"

A brilliant article from Gibson Quarter there, here's how the finished article looked...

Aw maaan, can you imagine GQ's take on Dredd? Well, imagine no more, here are a few of his cracking entries from previous 2000AD compos:

Great stuff, Thanks to Gibson Quarter for sending the images, they're really cool! Check out more of his work on his blog here. Aaaaagh come on Tharg, get this fella in me prog!

Friday 20 May 2011

Simon Fraser - Tearing up the rule book!

It looks like Si Fraser has been spending a little too much time with his own creation and his risk-taking, leave it to chance philosophy is starting to rub off on the premier artist! Simon said "This was a tricky cover because I kind of ended up throwing out the rulebook and then winging it. The difference was that I did a greytone version with markers on top of the linework then worked into that with colours in Photoshop..."

The sketch

The greytone version...

Si continues "That preserves some textural information which adds a bit of tooth to the drawing (pun intended!) There was no separate line-layer, so it ended up a bit more 'painterly' than my usual. I've been doing a lot of experiments on the DrawBridge Blog recently ( and as a result I felt more comfortable trying something a bit different."

Of the finished cover, Simon remarked "It's another Dante grinning with his arms folded cover, like the Army of Thieves & Whores cover I did last year. This might be turning into a theme..." Or maybe the character is getting some of his creators traits too - a confidence that can only come from someone at the very top of their game.

Thanks as ever to Simon, it's a beautifully designed cover with a brave style that really works. 'Spectacular' some would say...

Monday 16 May 2011

Steve Cook - Photo finish!

2000AD has a long and proud tradition of photo covers, many of them being the work of 2000AD Design Droid & artist Steve Cook. As well as ace designer (he designed the current 2000AD logo) Steve is a photographic artist of some repute with his long running Alternity project (fusing old and new photography) and an extensive portfolio that includes major and minor stars such as Freddie Mercury, William Orbit, Sophie Aldred, Robert Crumb, Stephen King and Adam West!

I contacted Steve to see if he had any covers to send for the blog and he was kind enough to send these great images of the cover of Prog 1615 featuring Jenna Makarov, or rather model Valeria Dragova.

Steve says "I took a fair few photos of Valeria Dragova, but strangely it was one of my lighting test out-takes of her that seemed to be the best image to start with. Having seen the script and knowing the outline of the story, this particular image had the essence of what I was looking for. I then built it up digitally, layer upon layer after first sending a rough design to get the go-ahead from the editor."

Below is the rough...

And the lighting test shot...

Steve continues "Rather than attempting to source a Russian costume to shoot, it was actually quicker to create her tunic in Adobe Illustrator and then manipulate it in Photoshop based upon John Burns’ original design."

Being a thickie, I asked Steve to tell me more about the hat and crest. He said "The hat was added from another shot and the crest then added to that, with a bit of fake shadow detail. I have a pretty extensive archive of negatives to sample bits from."

"I made sure I left plenty of space around her to give the designer enough room for the logo, cover lines, barcode and other elements and I think he did an excellent design job on the finished cover design..."

Finally a word from Steve about the lovely model, he says "Beware googling Valeria, her pics can be somewhat – racy!!! : )" Naturally, I've followed his advice so don't know what he could possibly mean!

HUGE thanks to Mr Cook for taking time out to send the images - it's brilliant to see a different kind of cover coming together.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Garry Brown - "This is Anderson's Boomstick!"

Yet ANOTHER cover D├ębutante this week! Garry Brown is an insanely talented Scottish artist with an outstanding sense of design. A recently graduating from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Garry has been making a big splash producing stunning covers for Boom! Studios Incorruptible series as well as working for a host of other comic publishers.

Not one to be left out, the Mighty Tharg has commissioned Garry to produce some 2000AD covers. The first is this brilliant Cadet Anderson one, for which Garry posted a breakdown of the cover process on his Deviantart site.

I've chopped the image up so we can fully appreciate each step. Over to Garry "1 - One of 3 layouts I emailed to the editor. The cover was to involve PSI Judge Anderson in her rookie days. I actually did all 3 layouts in my moleskin sketchbook at ECCC this year. Anyway, this is the one the editor chose to go with."

He continues "2 - Normally my process would be to print that out full size then put tracing paper on top of it and work out the anatomy/details. BUT, i recently got a cintiq 21ux (Lucky git! -Pete), so i get to do it all digitally now so I simply took it into PS and added a layout above then draw out the anatomy."

"3 - Next layer above to make sure i have everything i need details wise (except the hand for some reason.)"

The image is looking stunning right now, which leads us onto a little Garry rant! "4 - I wanted to show this because I have been accused in the past and present of being a 'when in doubt black it out' guy. Not the case. I draw everything out and then used to add another tracing paper layer above it and roughly ink out the shadows. As stated above, I do this digitally now."

"5 - I then blueline print it out on comic board and ink it traditionally. I don't think I'll ever ink digitally, I like the randomness of natural inks." I can certainly see Garry's point here. While I love a nice clean digitally created image there's something raw and exciting about good, old fashioned ink!

"6 - THIS IS NOT THE FINAL COVER. I did this by accident. It's pretty much the trapping layer moved above the lineart layer. I thought it looked cool so I sent it off to the editor as I continued to colour the cover in a more traditional style. It took about 3 minutes to do this red version, sent it off to a buddy for his take on it, then he said, 'kind of looks like a Dave Johnson cover for 100 Bullets.' Turns out it IS the same style of colouring for issue 78 of 100 Bullets. So that was that. Wasn't going to use it. Still worth showing I think. It was after all part of the process and I almost finished colouring a cover in 3 minutes, nice!"
That 100 Bullets cover for ya...

However, the final art has the magnificent blue/purple colour scheme shown below.

Garry says "I had already sent the red version to the editor but I didn't like it. I went ahead and coloured the second version. I always had a strong blue and white colour scheme in mind for it so it all went relatively quickly."

Once again, the design team at 2000AD have done a great job with the image, with Pye Parr versatile logo design rocking the blue and white dynamic of the original image. Brilliant!

Thanks to Garry for his wonderful input (look out for a cooool future Dredd cover from him on his Deviantart site!) You can find his website here where I urge you to look lovingly at his Incorruptible covers and his Batman cover.

I look forward to seeing lots more from this superb artist!

Saturday 7 May 2011

Liam Sharp - Mutie Hell!

Well, would you look at that? An absolutely brilliant cover from Liam Sharp showing our favourite law man surrounded by some very scary looking muties in the heat of the Cursed Earth. It's a brilliant cover and for once, we're going to start at the end product as there seems to have been a few decisions made after the cover was completed.

Over to Liam for the full story, "This is the cover unadorned. I wanted to keep it really simple and clean, and to hark back a bit to my old Dredd work, and the Bolland Dredds I grew up with."

However, once completed, the mighty one had other ideas about it, Liam continues "Tharg wanted to see if it worked better in close up..."

"...but I had been very careful with the design, working it up with the logo very much in mind. Ultimately he agreed with me and we settled on this version..." I was recently lucky enough to meet Mr Sharp at the Kapow con and let me tell you, he's a big fella and not one to be argued with. Even if you're the mighty Tharg!

"...but not before we tried one more with a couple more muties roughly sketched in in the background." Check out those bad boys below:

And so, that final cover again and the last words from Liam "What I'm really pleased with, though, is the colour. I've been working with hotter palettes than I usually go for recently and it's been really interesting seeing the results." Regular readers of the blog will remember Liam showed hotter and cooler versions of his brilliant wraparound Flesh cover.

Speaking of Liam's use of cooler colours, I thought I could use that as an excuse to show this amazing Rancor Hunters painting he did for the Star Wars: Visions art book, I adore this picture!

Once again, a HUGE thank you to Liam for taking the time to send the art and the quotes, it's very much appreciated by me and everyone who reads the blog! Liam's next cover features the mighty Tharg, so after going toe to toe with the mighty one on this cover, look out for the addition of a wart on the end of his nose or some comedy glasses!

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Tiernen Travallion - Absal-outely Class!

So, here's another cover debut, the second in a month! This time it's by the brilliant Tiernen Trevallion who's work has been a revellation since appearing in a 'Tales from the Black Museum' strip in Megazine 289.

The cover is for new series Absalom, written by fan favourite Gordon Rennie with sumptuous art by Trevallion. The story is described as "a pseudo-spin-off from Rennie’s popular but unfinished Caballistics series for 2000 AD about a freelance team of demon hunters caught up in an ancient game of good versus evil.

An old-school London copper, Absalom has been on the force for 40 years. He’s also head of a special squad that enforces The Accord, a diplomatic treaty made in the 15th Century between the throne of England and the powers of Hell, keeping tabs on the demons who walk amongst us."

Below we can see Tiernen's pencils showing Absalom's mob, I can't wait to meet these! It's also a rare glimpse into the template used for 2000AD coversn note the choice of positioning for the bar codes and the guidelines for artists written in blue...

Tiernen inks the squad to make them look truly menacing...Aaaand finally, the deceptively simple colours are added, fantastic!

Behold Tiernen's excellent website here: There's some beautiful, truly stunning artwork on it which really reminds me of industry giants such as Mignola, Kev Walker, O'Neill, McMahon and Jock. Just check out that Dredd below, I hope he gets a proper Dredd story soon...

Thanks to Tiernen for sending the bloody lovely images, I can't wait to see more of his work.