Friday, 21 August 2015

...Framin' Art 2014 - 'Here there be Heroes'...

In conjunction with the 2014 Open Studios taking place at Framin' Art, participating artists were invited to take a workshop during the course of the exhibition. Although a good deal of my work was of an illustrative nature, naturally I chose to do a workshop on Superheroes!

So there I was - Dracula behind me, Spider-Man and Iron Man to my right. 
Running down the middle of the room, on a central arrangement of tables was a respectable selection of Comic book collections, graphic novels and 'How-to-draw Comics' books, alongside template pages of blank superhero silhouettes, pencils, Staedler plastic rubbers, and a couple of glass jars of coloured pencils. 

We had the technology, we had the reference material - we just need the imagination!

And right on time - enter Lauren and Sam.

Lauren arrived first with her parents and we proceeded to draw Norfolk's first farming superhero - none other than - 'Super-Wellington!'

After the appearance of Super Wellington, Lauren and her mum both had a go at designing new characters using the template sheets provided. 

And hot on the heels of 'Super Wellington' Sam arrived just in time to create the one and only unstoppable - cosmic powered 'Fellow Hunter!'

The good news is that beginning this November 2015 we'll be running a couple of four week modules on Thursdays called 'How to Draw Superheroes (& Comics)!

So if you like superheroes (and villains), and get a kick out of telling a story in pictures either call me 01366 381087 or send me an email - - to take part!  

Look forward to seeing you comic fans. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

...KABLAM!! - Superhero Sketches...


While carrying out my demo day I was asked by a member of staff to draw a couple of sketches for her son. I asked who his favourite heroes were and said I would be happy to draw a couple for him.

Hmm, I wasn't too keen on my first sketch so I thought I'd have another go...

That's more like it.

Oh yeah, Spider-Man was one of those favourites...

...and so was the New Iron Man - had to get some reference for this one. 

I know the 60s and 70s Iron Man, but this 21st century guy...

There you go.

Well, I couldn't send just two...

...DEMO DAY - Warm Up Sketches...

Upwell School Demo Day 1 - in the beginning...

Here at the easel, during the childrens morning registration, while I would be working on layout paper over my pre-drawn character designs, I thought why not do some freehand sketches just to get the ball rolling?

Why not? Because they're warm up for a reason. 

Having drawn the first sketch I thought uh-oh - I'm in trouble. 

Can't get off the ground...

The second sketch - like starting a car - but not quite starting...bit of power there...

Stop/Go - not sure which - power on either way...

Wow! Full throttle - I'm off..

Here I come...

And feeling confident.

Morning registration.

The easel awaits...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015 you see it, now you don't...

As it happens, I had a similar request hot on the heels of the previous commission, to include an alternative narrowboat in place of the 'Vermuyden' which appears at centre stage in the 'Ely Marina' illustration in this year's Ely & Downham Market Calendar.

The 'Vermuyden' at rest on the marina.

Again I was a little slow on the uptake. For the Eel sculpture drawing I had only to reprint the original pen & ink artwork onto watercolour and draw in the background. On this occassion I erased the 'Vermuyden' in photoshop and drew in it's place 'Gerbera' - as luck would have it as well as being moored close by they were also similar dimensions.

'Ely Marina' minus the 'Vermuyden' - thanks to the magic of photoshop.

After a day's work or so - although not all in one day - it was the 'Gerbera' now moored beside the single weeping willow on Ely marina, flanked by Ely Cathedral in the distance and the family of ducks on the river...

'Gerbera' as in a mirror - now moored on the opposite side of the marina.

Many thanks to this client for a not so unusual request. I'd like to think if you need your narrowboat drawn and/or painted - I'm at the drawing board dip pen and waterproof ink at the ready.

...DEMO DAY 3 - in a classroom far far away......


...well, not so far away - Welney actually - the William Marshall Primary School.

Setting up the afternoon before, I was met with a question and answer session on superheroes, cartoons, movies and the occasional comic. 

And yes - I'm sure the pupils matched me question for question and answer for answer. From Ant-Man to Guardians of the Galaxy ('...can I draw Rocket Raccoon?'), from The Avengers ('Tony is my favourite superhero') to the X-Men ('Did you know Wolverine had bones for claws before metal?').

I returned the next morning ready to roll.

And so did they!

We hit the drawing board running, the class was composed of a variety of ages which lent itself to a well ordered and pretty much relentless stream of super ideas and suggestions.  I'd shown the class examples of characters I'd designed with another school and enquired as to whether they thought we could do as well today or even better. 

That's when a steady salvo of ideas and suggestions began... 


Cowled and diamond cloaked, vinyl white booted and gloved, the BLONDE DIAMOND, hip whip and dagger at hand - is ready to dish out fanged peroxide justice to all evil-doers - BEWARE!

LASER SPIKE - LORD OF FLAME - a bizarre amalgam of rogue robotics, 
sharp science and agriculture, skulls and beaks! Whenever he appears 
- a flaming pumpkin heralds his arrival...

HAMMERSCALE - Jellyfish face and vertigo eye. Power ring and knuckle duster. Op-art zebra skin and tail, body scales and strap-on jet boots. HAMMERSCALE - he's got Thor's hammer so he's worthy to dispense truth, justice and the Norfolk way.

Hammerscale and Laser Spike join the pantheon of Marvel's mightiest. And Batman...


An avalanche of curly frizzy hair and snakes, mesh body suit, slashed hem shift, black PVC knee-high plus platform boots, eyes only head mesh, mega cannons, talons and giant spider host! To know her is to fear her...


Part 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea', part 'The Man with Two Brains' without the second brain and no skull, part cosmic Infinity Gauntlets without the Infinity Stones, a little bit of Roman Gladiator and a splash of FM Radio but all lightning bolts of unadulterated badness - the Villains Villain - drum roll...



A wall full of fabulous superheroes and villains - and there's more...

Each morning and afternoon easel session was followed by tremendous 
creating, drawing and colouring as character after character appeared on multiple template design sheets. Cyber-Flame, Kristoff, Blue King, 
Red Queen, Super Ladybird, Batty and Kittey, Strong and Rose 
standing tall beside Superman, Spider-Man and Wolverine 
- whoever those guys are.

The advent of Serocto and Blonde Diamond...

Candidates for the new Avengers...?

A superhero size thank you to Head James McBurney, 
school secretary Julia and class teacher Lynn for all their 
help and support in organising a great day.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

...DEMO DAY 2 -Year 5 Comic Strip - Ethiopias v Vampress Fab!...


The brief for after morning break and the afternoon were quite different 
from the communal creation of good and bad superstars. 

Now that we've got these characters - what are we gonna do with them??

Stage one - characters and plot.

No worries - Year 5's finest were on the case and knew exactly what to do. They'd chosen a hero - chosen a villain - prepared a plot synopsis. 


Taking their synopsis I sketched out a simple visual narrative using long shots to set the scene, medium shots and close ups to create drama to tell their story. They could then take these visual prompts and discuss and create their own sequence of images accordingly.

Stage two - pencil layout, drawing inking/felt pen and display lettering!

As it happened, they agreed with my general layout and forged full steam ahead into the task at hand. Each chose a page to illustrate and of course every comic or book needs an exciting cover to grab the readers attention and buy it! The exploding fist leaves no doubt that this comic is without a doubt  unmissable!

Stage three - inking, lettering and colouring. 

I've got to take my hat/mask off to Year 5 in executing from scratch a four page comic strip from concept to completion in essentially three few hours. 

A great job very well done - and very well managed! 


Stage four - presentation!

Ethiopias v Vampress Fab - page 3 and cover...

Ethiopias v Vampress Fab pages 1 and 2.

Colour rendition of the hero in question - Ethiopias!


One more time - from pupils to artist - we all had a great day - many 
thanks again to school Head James Mc Burney and Year 6 Teacher David White for 
organising the day and help and support. 

Heroes All!

Monday, 6 July 2015

...DEMO DAY 2 - Noble and Majestic creatures...


Demo day 2 duties were shared in the early morning between Classes Noble and Majestic. Each class would have, say forty-five minutes to create a couple of super-powerful beings - possessed of unusual, unearthly and extraordinary abilities. Beings capable of astonishing feats of strength and fortitude - beings in short - beyond the frailties and human limitations of mankind! 

Yep. Forty-five minutes should be enough!

The common themes of spikes, sharp claws/talons, mohawks, cannons/bazookas, shiny metal, crop tops (or belly tops as they call), and wings continue into this round of comic creativity!

The first Noble character to materialize amidst the hubbub of unrestrained ideas and creativity was the 'The Undefeatable Lizard' also known as BOBZILLA!

Cyclopean eye sitting beneath a mohawk like an awful exclamation point! Roman leather studded skirt above psychedelic leggings and sparkling metal boots! Huge cannon barrels on his shoulders, talons protruding from his knuckles  superior six-pack - this can only be BOBZILLA - THE UNDEFEATABLE LIZARD!

Oh yeah, I forgot - spiky tail with spiked barb on the end...

ROBOT ANGEL - half chromium plated cyborg/half furry booted 
black bikini-clad winged angel  - ROBOT ANGEL! 

...and just in case any ne'er do well villain wants to encroach on Noble's intellectual property - that there is the copyright symbol...


He's not a teenager, not a ninja, but might be a mutant and is an anti-hero 
in a half shell! He has a shark's tooth smile/frown, sparkling spike boots, pineapple spike elbow and knee pads, a slung sword at his side, telescopic 
wrist blades and maybe baby laser eyes - no mohawk! 


Shark-fin shoulders and flaming aura, scaly one-piece with devil tail attached, fishnet tights and knee high patent-leather cuban-style buccaneer boots. 
She wears long blonde hair, a snakecoiled around her waistband, 
Robin's eye mask and two tongues cos' one isn't enough.

Majestic class tell me she is SKALEEN - DEFENDER OF REPTILES!!

Five minutes left to go - the pen is about to give up the ghost 
- here comes BRICKFIST!!

And here comes morning break -
come back next blog for Year 5's comic book confrontation