Saturday, 27 February 2010

Jinyoung Shin

Amazing work from Jinyoung Shin. Website here but it seems to be undergoing some changes.

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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Title sequence from The Tripods

I have been re-watching the 80s BBC series The Tripods and enjoying it a great deal. I am going to blog about it properly soon, but I leave you with the amazing title sequence in all its early-CGI awesomeness.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

My head is about to explode

I am searching for medieval Persian illustrations to reference in a drawing I am doing. However, I just keep stumbling across awesome stuff. There's a wonderful new Weird War II computer game, a blog on vintage fashion, a mind-bendingly good portfolio, some great game-art character studies, a fascinating blog, some wonderful (but not quite NSFW) photos and a shed-load of interesting links.

I also found this, which is bonkers.

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Saturday, 20 February 2010


I am not really into fairy art, but I saw these prints hanging on a friend's wall and rather liked them. I have no idea who the artist is.

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Friday, 19 February 2010

James Jean

Quite simply one of the best illustrators alive today. Check out his website here.

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

New work - Ancient Greek tent reconstructions

I bought a tent a couple of years ago when I was going to a festival. I was enamored by the idea of a "pop-up" tent on the grounds that it being self-erecting was the camping equivalent of sliced bread. The shop assistant warned me off them though, citing the fact that they are not very durable. So I took my non-pop-up tent back to my office and roped in a couple of colleagues to test-drive it in our staff rest area. It took three of us half an hour to put it up. It turns out I didn't read the instructions properly. It's a good thing I don't work with buildings for the NHS or anything. Oh, wait a minute...

We don't know an awful lot about what tents looked like in ancient Greece. They are referred to in texts but there are no surviving illustrations or paintings of them. My group of Greek reenactors therefore do a "best guess" reconstructions using traditional canvas and poles (no pop-up tents here either). For better or worse, the ancient Greeks were very into bright colours (look at the polychrome reconstructions to know what I mean about "worse" - they are a shock when one is used to seeing Greek sculptures in restrained tones of grey marble). We paint our tents accordingly and it really helps to make our camp stand out at reenactors' fairs. I took it upon myself to do some illustrations of the sorts of designs that may have appeared on the more opulent generals' tents in the 5th century BC.

I have been looking at a lot of Michæl Paukner's work recently, so you can see his influence in my effort.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Old work - Luftwaffe Munny

Like all children I had my own set of particular obsessions. Pyromania was a less healthy one, but dinosaurs were at the more acceptable end. I had a large collection of plastic dinosaurs, some of which I liked more than others. Commonly those that were less favored had poorer sculpting and rotten paint jobs. I think these defects prompted me to feed them to their more beautiful cousins. On this basis I should probably never be put in charge of any group of people (or dinosaurs) in a survival situation.

Anyway, the point is that as a child being able to distinguish poor paint schemes or sculpting in toys. I often look at toys in shops today to see what the graphic design and packaging trends are, and I sometimes decry these same failings. It seems I am not alone in this and the result is a burgeoning culture of adult modellers who modify toys to improve them or create entirely new figures. The resulting conversions are known as "customs". There are even companies who produce intentionally unfinished toys for folk to paint themselves.

A popular blank custom is Munny by Kidrobot. I bought this little fellow for use in a very strange photoshoot wherein he appeared in his unpainted white state. I deliberated for a long time about what colours I should colour him and eventually settled on this scheme. I like the way the pattern has a cultural resonance, rather than just being a nice paint job.

I used an airbrush with acrylics for the all the paintwork and I am pleased with the way the subtle orange shading worked on the yellow arms. This was achieved by spraying the orange hue from underneath once the yellow basecoat had been applied. I took the decals from an old model kit. Once they had been applied I sprayed him entirely in Testors Dullcote. This is the most awesome matte varnish ever. It does an excellent job of unifying the slight variations in glossiness between different colours of paint and makes the decals less glossy. I shot him with my trusty old Nikon D100 using my lovely Bowens lights. I enjoyed dressing the little set used in the black-and-white photo.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

New work - Wake Up! logo

I've managed to carve out a successful little design niche for myself over the past four or five years. I have chosen the projects that I work on quite carefully. As someone whose income is not primarily derived from my freelance I have the luxury of being able to choose to turn work down if it does not fit with "what I do". Now I have carved my niche folk come to me because of "what I do" and it's unusual for me to be offered anything radically different.

The piece below is therefore a rare example of something which does not easily fit in my current portfolio. It's a logo for my friend Nicky's production company. I chose to do it because I really enjoy working with Nicky and her brief was intriguing. She often works with with performers from London's burlesque scene but it rapidly became apparent to me in the early design stages that the kind of Victorian circus look I initially went for was not what she wanted. Thus we moved to this more contemporary comic-book aesthetic.

The technical process itself was interesting. The megaphone was actually built as a 3D model in Cinema4D and rendered in this cell-shaded style. I then used Illustrator's wonderful Live Trace function to turn the bitmap into a vector (I found that I could export it direct from C4D into a vector, but some of the lines lost their hand-drawn properties). I am very pleased with the text, which utilised Illustrator's awesome 3D Extrude & Bevel tool.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Oops - you have not learned a single thing.

Ah, dystopias! THX 1138 presented us with an unrelenting, white future, 1984 with the regulation of information and Brazil with the humorous side of bureaucracy. The directors of London's Natural History Museum have obviously not seen these movies. If they had, the irony of the giant comedy egg they have just built would not be as lost on them.

After last Friday's V&A debacle we decided to trek back to South Kensington to look at the Renaissance galleries again. We followed this up with a visit to the new Darwin wing at the neighboring NHM. Which is, basically, nature presented by Jonathan Ive in a big concrete egg-thing. We queued to get a (free) ticket, were issued cards with bar codes, queued again to get into a lift, walked down a series of ramps featuring lot of digital "exhibits" and queued again to get into another lift to leave. Admittedly my chum and I were probably not in the best mood for such things as we had spent the previous hour decrying the lack of traditional exhibits and specimens in museums. However, being patronized by a UI in the first room did not do the museum any favors.

Design wise, the place is a competent example of post-iMac cleanliness replete with restrained sans-serif signage and subtle blue floor-lights. We were impressed with the scale of the egg structure which contains the new galleries, but the sense that the thing's shape simply wastes space and that procedures are overly-bureaucratic did not escape us. Having learned very little we headed back to the old Waterhouse galleries to admire the whimsical sculptures in his "cathedral to nature".

An electron scanning microscope portrait of some wee beastie. Apparently they make white cocoons to capture, restrain and infuriate prey. Oh, wait a minute...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Incursion unboxing photos

We have a man at work called "Paul the Post". He has an encyclopedic knowledge of where every single employee in an office of 300 staff sits. You only need to tell him once where someone's desk is and he will reliably bring all post that is urgent or packages to that spot.
"Are you expecting a package?" he asked yesterday.
"Yes" I replied, knowing a new hard disk was on its way. "That's..." I paused as I saw the West Wind logo on the box. "...not it, but I'll take it anyway."

Thus my copy of Incursion arrived. I was the lead graphic designer on the project and it's been an amazing journey. At first I was tempted to think that the outer shipping box contained two copies as it weighed so much. That night I discovered the truth - a single copy of the game is a monster filled with great quantities of high-quality cardstock. Even the decks of cards are solid and have a wonderful finish. Jim at Grindhouse Games has done a fantastic job in managing the printing (and, indeed, the whole project), David Ansloos' layouts and board artwork are stunning and Keith Lowe's illustrations are beautiful. With regard to the boxed release, they are the most visible folk, but with them is a whole raft of talented artists, sculptors and rules-smiths who have labored over this game and the line of miniatures.

It's one heck of a package of "Good ol' Detroit engineering" so grab yourself a copy now.