Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Soldiers and Camouflage

So my grandma had this really old cookbook about Chinese food, which had these unbelievalby good drawings of Chinese peasants from the early part of the 20th century in it.  Really amazing stuff--ended up "borrowing" it for months to improve my chinese cookery. The end result is of course that I still don't know how to do egg-fried rice, but I did come up with this dude here. Who is for sale...

Had quite a lot of fun coming up with his camo armour. It is actually quite difficult to create camo that looks like camo, especially when one tries to replicate the more modern pixellated uniforms that the US army uses, like below. Suppose I should do a tutorial on camo sometime...

This last dude is for a job i just finished for the MTN Sciencentre... updates soon!

Baba Yaga

So anyways, this is Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga is basically a Russian witch who possesses teeth of brass, and  a mortar and pestle which she uses to ride through the sky. She lives in a house that walks around on chicken feet, and her garden fence is made out of human bones, proving that Russia has the most kick-ass witches. Ever.

So this started out as as a pencil sketch in the corner of my notebook, when I was much much younger. I scanned it in, then dropped in various layers of dirt and played with the colour saturation and  balances to get it to its current state. The blood stains are the result of basically scanning a page in at high contrast, and then using the magic wand set to high sensitivity to crop patches out.

For sale! Giclee prints on, you guessed it, Hahnemuller paper.

Crow Food

Initially this started out as a black and white sketch of some crows in Adobe Illustrator. Opened it up on Corel months later and decided to add some colours and gradients, which really made things pop. I also added the column on the right, which was a useful way of turning an oddly-formatted illustration into something approaching the more common book-format.
I made this more as a test of Corel capabilities, but I guess this is for sale, as is nearly everything else on this site, so give me a shout if you are interested, I can organise some archival prints.

Not my Grandad


Not my Grandad!
 Available as a Giclee print on Hahnemuller paper, framed or unframed. for inquiries.

Golden Dragon

The Golden Dragon... 
available as a Giclee print on Hahnemuller paper, framed or unframed.
Without the advert, of course. for inquiries.


Charon...ferrying the dead across the River Styx.
Also an early attempt in Corel... need to rework this one of these days...


One of my first efforts at using CorelDraw--aged a pen and ink cartoon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jock of the Bushveld

So a short while ago I was approached by a children's book publisher to submit concept illustrations for a new series of Jock of the Bushveld books. Being strapped for time, and more than a little bored with the standard fare of children's book illustration, I knocked out a few images I thought might possibly fly with the publishers if they were feeling like pushing the boundaries. Didn't really work out, but I liked them! Here is the DPS:

The Wealthy Tribe Cover

Stardate 7-6-2010
It's been a while since my last post, mostly since I've been travelling in Turkey, baby!
Anyway, I want to put up some work that I did a few weeks ago for Readhill/Mousehand independent publishers. This was for a short run of a book called "The Wealthy Tribe", by  Malcolm Coombs. The book is basically a parable in which some friends stumble across an ancient book which describes how this tribe used a series of principles to create wealth for themselves. The friends apply these principles to their own lives, and prosper.
 Anyway, it went through quite a process, and here are the initial three covers I submitted:

The initial brief was pretty flexible, but kind of revolved around having an hourglass with sand transforming into coins inside. So I went ahead and created a 3d-looking version  in Coreldraw. All the elements in the images below are vectors, which was a serious mission and no mistake! After the creation of the elements in Draw, I dragged them into CorelPHOTO PAINT for final compositing. Photopaint is very much similar to photoshop, but has the advantage of being much cheaper! 
Anyway, photo-editors allow one a much greater deal of control over different filters I have found. So in the vectors went, and i added some grain to make the sand look more sandy.
The different versions are below:

The defining principle of the book was "time is money". But put that into a search engine and the first 15 000 images you get are all hourglasses with sand turning into coins inside. In my anal-retentive perfectionistic way, I really wasn't happy with the hourglass cliche' as a cover image, so i provided 2 alternate versions of what I thought would work better.

My first idea was to take the idea of the story and illustrate it in a very direct fashion, with tribespeople carrying golden objects. I kept the drawings very plain and geometric to try and convey a sense of an African tribe.

The second idea was to create a very bold cover based on a vector illustration of a tribal mask. In Coreldraw it was simple enough to reproduce a series of different versions of the cover in different cover schemes. Since the mask image was so striking, I wanted to limit the colours drastically and provide maximum impact to the linework. My favourite is the gold on black cover--I felt this conveyed the idea of wealth and mystery the best--a golden mask looming out of the night. I also opted for a more traditional-looking font, to give it more of a hand-crafted/old-school look.

As it turned out, the author decided he'd rather stick with the hourglass... The final cover is below:

Basiccally it's the same hourglass, with a whole lot of layers. I've added some serious grain to the trickle of coins, sandwiching about 4 different coin layers between "dirt" and photo-filter layers to give the idea of depth. Individual highlights and flashes were also added to give the idea of the coins being very shiny, and also add a sense of movement. There are basically a lot of other layers there on "subtract" and "overlay" mode to give the image more glow and depth. 31 layers in total, without the lettering!