Saturday, December 07, 2013

Recent works

Time flies, didn't realise how long it was since I last posted! Here are some of the jobs I've done recently:

This is the latest cover for The Week, of David Cameron off schmoozing a (really fun to do) Chinese dragon. Below is the previous cover I did, which was all about the dark side of the internet. A bit rushed and not that great really! Still, always learning:)

Below are three more pieces for the Wall Street Journal. They tend to push me more towards portrait than caricature, which I'm happy about as I'm wanting to go that way myself I think. In order they are Camile Paglia, Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia and Darrell Issa (a US politian).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Two current magazine covers

Here are a couple of new covers, one for The Week and the other for The Skeptic magazine:

This is Karl Marx, to illustrate the story about Ed Milliband and The Daily Mail scrapping about what they printed about Ed's dad. The headline is "Can a Marxist be a patriot?"

This is an illustration of Prof. Elizabeth Loftus who is world renowned for her work on memory. The idea I came up with is for her photo to be part of a police suspect list. Not sure how well that actually comes across, I made the other photos some of the characters from The Usual Suspects just as a bit of humour. Fun to do but perhaps not all that successful!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Howard Gordon for the WSJ

Something a little different once again for the Wall Street Journal - this is Howard Gordon, producer of TV shows '24' and 'Homeland' amongst others. I was asked to do a background echoing a promo photo for Homeland that had a character with a pinboard full of paperwork. Also it's a portrait really, not a caricature as I normally do. Quite a challenge to get it all put together in the time, but lots of fun. It went down really well at the WSJ too, which is great.

Click here to go to the WSJ article online.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A few Wall Street Journal jobs

Here are a few pieces I did recently for The Wall Street Journal:

Top to bottom they are Klauss Heymann, Lady Pamela Hicks and Patricia Racette. I love these jobs for the WSJ as they do let me experiment a bit with things :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria cover illustration for The Week

I'm really pleased with this not because it's that great an illustration, but because it was my idea (unlike my earlier covers for The Week which were the editor's). This was decided Monday lunchtime and a lot has happened since then, so I'm glad they went with my idea rather than another less important story. I'm doubly pleased because it was a real joint effort to get it to the final stage.

After pitching my idea, this is the rough sketch I sent for approval:

This was the image I had in my head - a pair of UN inspectors almost silhouetted against a ruined Syrian street, with a UN white 4x4 in the middle ground. I got the go ahead and worked on it a bit more. The UN guys were way too dumpy and badly proportioned so I adjusted them as well as putting more detail into the scene:

At this point the editor wasn't sure they UN guys were really connected to the rest of the picture and he wanted it to feel like you were looking over their shoulder at the devastation beyond, to increase the impact. So he suggested pulling them back much closer to the viewer. I really didn't want to do that as I was attached to my two-man silhouette, but I agreed to give it a try. I knew that I couldn't fit two guys that close without losing half the scene so I just pulled one back and put the other in the middle ground with the car. Of course the final image looks SO much better, the editor was 100% spot on and now I'm really happy we got a decent image that does the story at least some justice.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cover for The Skeptical Inquirer! But not...

I was lucky enough to be asked to do a cover illustration for The Skeptical Inquirer, which is the official journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry over in the USA. Fantastic! They wanted a caricature of the "psychic" (or twisted, lying fraud as I like to say) Sylvia Browne. This person really is a piece of work (get a copy of the mag and read the article if you can, it's unbelievable). She's recently been in the news for telling a mother, on TV, that her kidnapped daughter was dead, when in fact she was alive and being held prisoner. The mother died without knowing this. A truly horrid story, but just one of many for Sylvia.

I was excited to do the illustration but I didn't want to do a funny caricature, or anything that made light of this person - I really wanted to illustrate her as creepy and evil, but not in a way that would be too jokey. What immediately came to mind was a painting my friend and fellow illustrator Jason Seiler had done for The Weekly Standard (scroll down his blog page to find it). It was a straight portrait done in a very loose painterly style that had such a great feel. Now Jason is leagues ahead of me as an artist and so I thought I may have been taking a bit of a risk to try and do something similar, but I could see in my head what I wanted and so I suggested the idea to the SI art director. He liked it so I went ahead. Here's the illustration:

As well as making her look as creepy as I could, she's well known for her long red talon-like fingernails, so I switched them to black, just to suggest her digging her claws into the poor grieving family... etc, etc you get the idea.

I'm pretty happy with how it looks, like I said I'm no Jason Seiler so the quality of the painting is not what I'd want it to be. But it does what I wanted it to.

Unfortunately, even though they liked the illustration, the editors of SI thought that being on the cover of the magazine has an honorific status to it and so didn't want to put her there so prominently. Which I totally understand and agree with. But it is a real shame, as the illustration does loses all its impact on the cover as small as it is:

So it's a little bit disappointing it didn't quite work out how I would have liked it to, but I'm still really glad to have been asked to do something for SI, hopefully it won't be the last thing!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paul Moyse - Heads and Shoulders Kickstarter project

My friend and fellow caricature artist Paul Moyse is working on a new book of caricature work, all original drawings and paintings. I've already got Paul's first book and also an original drawing hanging right in front of my computer, so I'm really hoping his Kickstarter project is a huge success for him!

Check out this video where Paul talks about the project:

If you're a fan of caricature (and if you're reading this you probably are) please consider backing Paul's book project, the rewards on the Kickstarter page are awesome. There are already some sneak peeks at a couple of new pieces, and you could even buy the original drawings and paintings if a book just isn't enough for you!

Here's the link: Heads and Shoulders - A Caricature Book

He's even managed to get Derren Brown involved, both to help promote the book and be a caricature subject in this awesome painting:

Can't wait to see who else is going in the book!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A few gift caricature jobs

Here are a few recent jobs, plus a card I got in the post today to say thank you (for the caricature of the triathlon runner below) - how sweet is that?

Monday, July 08, 2013

A special birthday caricature

I've been doing covers for The Skeptic Magazine for quite a while now, so it was a real pleasure to be asked to do this mock cover and caricature of the current editor Deborah Hyde for her birthday. Deb is an expert in the supernatural, witches, werewolves and just about everything else in that area - she has a blog and website under the name Jourdemayne (a famous witch!). Go check them out, there is some really cool stuff there :)

I got to use my love of pin-up art as inspiration to do this, you won't be surprised to know that the work of Gil Elvgren was very much in my mind, also the amazing artist Serge Birault does this type of work far better than I ever could, so it was fun to try and achieve something roughly similar. Because it was a mock cover, I had to come up with some blurb as fake stories - apologies for the weak puns (and as it was done a few months ago the badly out of date references!).

Also my friend and fellow skeptic Will Watling produced a superb 3D lenticular print of the image - this animated gif shows roughly how it looked:

Will is doing some cool work in 3D photography, check out his website Illuminesence 3D Photography.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sir Patrick Stewart

Had to do a painting of Sir Patrick to go with Sir Ian :)

This was the first sketch:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sir Ian McKellen

Always wanted to do a caricature of this absolute legend, pleased with how it turned out. Although the expression is a bit neutral maybe. Technically I'm happy though I think :)

Here's an earlier stage of the painting:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Prof.Francesca Stavrakopoulou for The Skeptic Magazine

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible & Ancient Religion at Exeter University and when I was asked to do a caricature of her for this cover I knew she'd done a TV series for the BBC about the bible, but I must admit I hadn't seen it. So I watched the series (3 programmes) and thought they were all excellent - really interesting and entertaining as well as informative. The first is on iPlayer here and I think they are all on YouTube if you can't view iPlayer. Watch them! The illustration was fun to do, we wanted to suggest the bible text coming to life in some way, in the end I went with probably the simplest and most obvious way of doing that but I think it really works. The text is all Hebrew from the bible, but I have no clue what it says! Plus it's great to have another woman on the cover.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths

Everyone has done a caricature of Christopher Walken - except me, until now! Seven Psychopaths is a great film, very funny. It's by the same writer/director of In Bruges which is one of my all time favourites. This is not quite that good, but has an amazing cast including Walken of course. Had to do a pic of him after watching it:

Here are a couple of actual size details:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Terence Blanchard for The Wall Street Journal

Really pleased with the look I got with this one as I played about with the layers in Photoshop, painting on different layers and changing the layer settings to see what different effects I could get. This is the trumpeter Terence Blanchard who is doing an opera about boxer Emile Griffith (not familiar with either of them at all until now). I did the rough sketch on Saturday and sent it off to the WSJ, then basically I spent all of Sunday painting it up (rough sketch below):

I put a bright orange background colour under the sketch, and basically played about with putting layers below and above the sketch, with various settings (multiply, soft light, overlay etc) to build up the right values and help me find the look I was after. Fun!

Here is the article the illustration was done for :)

Friday, June 07, 2013

New cover for The Week UK

This was a tricky one as there's no real caricature in this at all and as I don't really have my own 'style' of illustrating people yet (unlike someone like Howard McWilliam who has been doing covers for The Week for years, and who I have to publicly thank for recommending me to them!).

The idea from the editorial team was a line of London taxis for hire outside the Palace of Westminster, all driven by Lords in their ermine robes (all to do with the current lobbying scandal of course). I knew it was going to be hard to get the perspective of both elements (line of cabs, background building) to look right together, obviously this isn't a naturalistic illustration so it didn't have to be accurate but they couldn't look totally unrelated or the whole thing would look awkward.

I also consciously tried to make this as colourful as I could as I tend to be a bit weak on colour (working on it!) and I think colour wise this looks ok. The good news is I'm going to be doing the cover for the first The Week of each month, so I'm really excited to have the chance to improve my work for them and get better as an illustrator :)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Playing about with bright colours - Derren Brown digital painting

This was fun, just started out as an idea for a caricature of a very contrast-y photo but without using black. I thought using a really bright purple as the darkest colour in a picture might be something cool to try. This is the result, I like it!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Hayley Williams from Paramore

This was fun as I'm constantly listening to this band right now, they are awesome and Hayley is insanely talented. Their new album is a cracker.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Miliband and Cameron for The Week

This cover has just hit the shelves, here are a few pics of the process. First off, I get the call with the idea for the picture, which is to have Ed Miliband and David Cameron as sad clowns (a reference to what the Tories mainly have been saying about UKIP). Sounded right up my street so I quickly drew up a rough sketch. They hadn't specified a particular background, so I was thinking I'd probably do a circus curtain and have the two figures in spotlight, so I could have a nice circular shape behind them which would make a nice composition:

I also added a banner floating to the floor behind them with a reference to the local government elections which was the core of the story. That all went down well, so I carried on with a colour rough:

I tried a few colour ideas, none of which a liked much, then I hit on the idea of using purple (UKIP's colour) as the main background. I blocked it in very roughly (there's no suggestion of the circus curtain which would have gone in). That didn't go down well! They didn't like the purple at all, and now wanted a circus ring background instead. Which I was excited to do, but I still wanted to keep the spotlight idea in it, so I did that - but the circle composition got lost pretty much. Still, the final illustration looks OK I think:

You'll notice that Cameron's mouth and chin have changed a lot - I used a reference photo that had him literally frowning, but that hurt the likeness as he has a distinctive chin shape and wide cheeks. I was asked to make him more 'Cameron like', so I adjusted the lower face and toned down the make up just to be safe. I think I really need to spend a bit longer getting the caricatures themselves much stronger at the sketch stage as I think both could be a lot better. That's the pressure though, as you really want to get a sketch back to the magazine team fast so you can get the A-OK to carry on. It's a learning experience for me that's for sure, and I'm loving it :)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A few recent gift jobs - spot the celebs..!

Here are a few more recent gift jobs - a couple of which had a famous person squeezed into the background :)