Dec 4, 2010

Card art

I'm hoping to do at least one illustration for a new card game by these guys in the UK. I haven't got much of a brief to go on at this stage, but I've done a few sketches to get me going anywho.

I've always wanted to draw for fantasy-based card games like Magic: The Gathering, so this is sure to be fun! I'll keep you posted with works in progress as I move along.

Here's a few more thumbnails for possibly the same character, or maybe a different, but similar, one.

And one of them a little more refined-

And now pretty much done -

Unless the client requires any changes on it...

Nope, that one was approved. So it's on to the next one, whose character is similar enough to the previous one to warrant a pinch of re-hashing of already done roughs, plus some new ones.

We'll see where it goes from here.

And here's a few sketches for different cards-

Nov 26, 2010


I'm going to try another ImagineFX challenge. This time the challenge is to draw an underwater carnivorous plant that has glowing flowers to entice victims into its poisonous tendrils.

So here's my first Work in Progress, just a quick sketch to get the feel of it and the layouts.

I've started this challenge a bit late, but it looks to be a pretty straight forward piece, so a few hours here and there should see me through it quickly enough. I'm going to try and add some elements that are new to me, and maybe a few effects to try and stretch myself.
More WIP's to follow in the next few days.

Or sooner than that -

Sigh... I woke up this morning and didn't like what I'd done with the piece at all. So I've decided to go back and try it again, in a completely different direction that is pretty clearly formed in my mind. So here are the roughs for it-

It isn't too different from the original rough, but it has a few added elements to really push the illustration feel I want to project on it. I'm going to use very muted tones this time, and give it a bit of an Arthur Rackham feel to both the linework and colouring. Should be fun to do.

Further along now, inked the top section and added some colour in the style that the whole piece will more than likely be done in.

All the inks have been applied now-

Just need to add the colours, and this puppy is done!

And here it is-

The colouring took a little bit longer than I thought it would, but I'm happy with how it turned out.

Nov 13, 2010

Monster Blood Tattoo

Wow, it's been a while, my apologies! I've been as busy as a very busy bumble-bee over the last few months, with barely a second to do any drawing of my own.
But I have been thinking a lot about drawing, and this here blog in particular. I've been reading a bit lately, some good books, some disappointing ones, but I had an idea that I think is pretty cool. What if I were to illustrate a scene or character from the books that I'm reading? Yep, that IS a cool idea!

So I'm re-reading one of my favourite books at the moment, the series is called 'Monster Blood Tattoo,' written by fellow Australian, D. M. Cornish. The first book in the series is called 'Foundling,' and it is just a beautiful book in soooo many ways.
Anywho, here is one of the critters from the book, who is only in it for a handful of pages, but he is visually interesting and wholly worthy of a rendition, I think. Here he is-

I'll be reading more of this series over the next couple of weeks (the third book just came out last month), and I'm sure to draw from the book for more illustrations along the way.

For those interested, D. M. Cornish's blog is linked to under the 'Sites I like' list to the right. Check it out, he has a really quirky approach to writing and illustration.

Aug 27, 2010

ImagineFX Weekly Challenge #191

This weeks's challenge is to do an orthographic 3-view design of Magnus, Dragon Slayer. Just up my alley, especially now that I have an awesome Wacom Bamboo tablet thanks to my old pal, Gordon Mackay!

So here's my first work in progress, with just the front and back views so far, and not much in the way of final details. I've been concentrating on getting my own style of anatomy across, and the tiny head is another of my own stylistic points.

Aug 17, 2010


My buddy Gordon and I are in the process of designing a console fantasy RPG , somewhat for the fun of it, but possibly to take it a step further, if all goes well. I'll not go into any details of it just yet, but we think we're on a winner!
So we're still at the very early stages at the moment, still fleshing out the story and tentatively designing the major characters for the game, and this is the first one I've finished-

His name is Doomsayer and he's a bad guy, but that's all I'll say about him. I'm going to do a few more different poses for him from different angles, to better put across his appearance than can be seen in just this image. But I'm pretty happy with him at this stage, I must say. And, obviously, his name and likeness are now copyright and all that; so don't go stealing him, you hear!?!?

Aug 10, 2010

ImagineFX Weekly Challenge #188

Well, after last weeks challenge and my rather disasterous voting tally, I thought I might have another go at it.
This weeks challenge is to design a character, namely a Kreen Gladiator, a species that is kinda like a reptilian/roman/futuristic.

So here's the pencils for it-

And here it is with some colour-

And a little more-

And finally, here it is complete-

Aug 2, 2010

ImagineFX Weekly Challenge #187

Hey folks, long time no write-y. I have been busy with a couple of projects over the last little while, and things are going well. One thing I have been trying to do is get back into some Photoshop painting, which I never really gave a proper go at.

There's a really cool magazine called ImagineFX that I've been reading on and off for a few years now, and their website has some great forums and really intersting contests.

So this is my first go at one of the challenges, this one in particular has the description of 'The final night of the round table. I'll be adding a few progress images, but here are the pencils for it for now.

And here is the piece a little further along...

And further-

And here it is finished...ish.

Jun 26, 2010

The gift of giving

My wife and I have just returned from a lovely 3 week holiday in Australia, visiting family and friends alike. We got to go to all of our old favourite haunts, went to some parties, football, and ate way too much food.

We also got to see the newest addition to the Penn family, my youngest brother's baby daughter Isabella, who is just gorgeous.
The day that my brother Daniel told me that he and his fiance Adela where expecting, I started planning things to do for the baby. I originally intended to do a little book for the baby, then contemplated making a cot mobile, but in the end, I went for a painting, mostly so that it could be kept with her as she grows older and wouldn't get too damaged along the way.

So here it is, my picture for baby Isabella!

One of my oldest friends also recently had a baby. I first met Rob Nicholls (Bob to me) when we were the tender age of 6. We've been friends ever since and it was with great delight that I heard that he and his awesome wife Sarah were going to be parents. And naturally, I drew them a picture too, though very different than the previous one. So here is the picture I did for Bob, Sarah and their beautiful daughter Ellie!

May 19, 2010

The Labyrinth

Well, as I've mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I have been trying to get together a few proper finished illustrations for the old portfolio. I'm happy to reveal the above piece, finished a matter of about an hour ago after some pretty intensive hours over the past week.

As a back-story, my friend Gord Mackay and I have been setting each other little art challenges for the last couple of years. In the past, we've normally set tasks that are either comics or fantasy related in some way, but we've both sort of been heading in our own directions artistically of late, me with the faerie art, Gord with character design and concept art. But instead of giving up the art challenges, we decided to set each other individual tasks catered to what we are now most interested in.

So Gord's challenge for me was to depict something from Jim Henson's movie, 'The Labyrinth.' I initially tried out doing a straight scene from the movie, but that didn't go so well, then I opted for a shot of the four main characters, with various poses made up by myself. That didn't work out either, so I finally went for this piece, which is essentially just a big mashing of various Goblin-esque creatures, and the Goblin King in his Barn Owl form.
I went this way mostly because I feel it is important to develop my own style and not try and draw like Brian Froud, who is the main concept designer on the film, and an old favourite artist of mine. So I sort of just drew Goblins how I imagine them, which isn't very limited at all, as I see them as a massively varied race of Faeries, with some of them even capable of shapechanging.

So anyway, I'm pretty happy with the result. I can quite easily say it is the best thing I've ever done and it was really enjoyable to do. It is practically entirely produced with watercolour, which by the end of the piece I feel I was only just starting to get the hang of.
I'm going to have a few days break from drawing after that monster, but I don't think I'll be able to stay away too long, as I can't wait to see what I can come up with next!

Until then...

May 10, 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

For those of you that haven't heard, the fantasy master Frank Frazetta passed away this morning after suffering a stroke after coming home from a Mother's Day celebration.

He will be missed by many.

I first discovered Mr. Frazetta's work when I was in my mid-teens when a family friend handed me a copy of The Fantastic art of Frank Frazetta 1. I was instantly hooked and still find his work incredible in it's beauty, savagery and downright awesomeness.

Frank Frazetta has been ill for a long time now, decades really, and today is a day I knew simply had to come soon, though I expected it a lot sooner. It is hard to put into words what he meant to me and no doubt many others like me. I grew up with his work and he definitely shaped not only how I draw (to some extent), but also how I look at the world. He is a part of me. It sounds mushy and perhaps a little bit over the top, but it's true. There was a time when I thought him a god. I snatched up everything I could find that he'd done, from novel covers, art books (including the Alexander exhibition book that is one of my most cherished treasures), to calendars and DVD's and everything between.

You will be missed, sir, but I thank you for all that you have given us. Below is my personal favourite...

Rest In Peace.

May 6, 2010

Warm-up #1

I'm trying to get into the habit of doing a warm-up piece at the beginning of a drawing day to try and get the old fingers working. A lot of artists seem to do this exercise, so what's good for the goose...
So here's my first attempt at the exercise. It took about half an hour, which is probably a bit too long for a warm-up, but I'm happy enough with the little guy, and I can certainly see the benefit of the exercise.

May 5, 2010

Just a quick little guy

It would appear I do have some art for you all today! I just knocked out this little fellow, who I've lovingly called Pim, in the last hour or so. He sort of just formed on the page really, I had no real intent with him, except only to play around with angles looking at a figure, as I feel I tend to go for a few basic perspectives, which I'm kinda bored with doing, so I wanted to mix it up a little.

Anyway, hope you like him.

A book review

No art to show today unfortunately, but I thought I might do a little review of a book I got in the mail on Tuesday, 4th of May.

The book in question is this-

The author is one Jean-Baptiste Monge, born and raised in France, now living in Montreal. Not surprisingly, the book is in French, but with images like this...
...I wouldn't care what language it's in!
Jean-Baptiste seems to have grown up with many of the same artistic influences as I did, namely Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, Alan Lee and Rien Poortvliet, who I consider to be the glorious quadrumvirate of faerie art.
Anyway, the book is a 104 page masterpiece of Faerie Art, full of everything from simple sketches all the way up to fully painted pieces like the one above. JB is one of those few artists that can make even a simple sketch look incredible, and his paintings are simply spectacular.
His books are rather difficult to come by, even on eBay! I picked up Celtic Faeries on Amazon UK and I have another of his books on the way from the same place, but those two books were the last copies Amazon had of those particular titles. But Amazon France is probably worth a look. If you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website at, I highly recommend you do!

Apr 30, 2010

Gnomes, Gnomes & more Gnomes

Hello again all (all 3 of you that actually read this, that is!).
Below is a bit of work produced just last night. On first glimpse, it could appear that all of these Gnome fellows are members of one family, but no, it is, in fact, the same character drawn over and over again, in an attempt to try and get the facial features to how I envision him.
The character's name is Willow the Scribe Gnome, and is the lead character in the book I have been writing for much too long now. He's sort of not your typical Gnome (nature guardians mostly), wherein he is rather grumpy, shuns company and likes books (sounds familiar).

Anyway, this is only the first attempt at capturing his likeness. None of these versions are quite right in my mind, but I'll keep plugging at it until I nail it!

Apr 24, 2010

Sketchbook work

I've been drawing quite a lot lately, and I have a few more refined pieces still in the works, but I thought I should post a few sketchbook odds & ends just to keep the blog ticking over. So here's a few things completed in the last few days.

This one took all of 45 minutes to from start to finish. It is really only another one of my seemingly endless experiments, this time to see how a glossy thin paper would take watercolour. The answer... not well! I was just slapping paint on by the end of it, just to see how it moved on the paper, as can be seen by the figure's hands. The figure itself is just something I drew on spec, with no thought beforehand at all.

This was originally just a pencil piece, which I wasn't really happy with, so I decided to slap on a bit of watercolour.

As long as I've been a fan of Faerie art, I've noticed that a lot of artists do images somewhat like this. It is a sort of mashing together of faces to create something more aesthetically pleasing. This is my first attempt at replicating that design. It is a fun thing to do, but I think my version suffers from a few things- the scale of the heads is too varied, it isn't dark enough and some of the heads are bad. But it is just a first attempt, so hopefully I'll address those issues next time.

This one is hot off the presses. I can feel myself getting more confident as I draw more and more. I do try and curb it where necessary, because there have been some pretty messy consequences to a few instances of getting out of control.

More to follow soon.

Apr 16, 2010

Stone Study

I have a lot of planned paintings in the works at the moment, but I am trying to push up my watercolouring skills as much as possible before I start on any of these pieces. I've never really had any formal training with watercolours, so I'm sort of stumbling upon techniques as I go along. The reason I haven't just jumped into these pieces is because several of them are what I consider portfolio-worthy pieces, and I would rather produce them to a quality that I am happy with rather than do the work, produce the scene, use up that particular inspiration and not be happy with the result. The way I look at these particular scenes in my head is somewhat different to how I look at other work. For instance, with a story, you can write it, re-write, edit, patch up and generally polish it up to a point you are happy with. With my view on art and watercolours specifically, this same approach is not always possible, or desirable in this case. I do not want to have to re-paint an entire scene, because the original spark for it will have been used up on the first attempt.

Am I making sense? To simplify the whole thing I guess I would say that I am not technically proficient enough to produce a watercolour piece to the standard I would be happy with yet, and do not want to waste a scene I consider worthwhile of waiting on by painting it prematurely.

Saying that though, apart from the watercolour technical work I have been practising, I am still working on other projects with other media. I have a few ink-line pieces in the offing and still hop out into the field to play around with other styles and techiques. For instance-
I drew this particular item yesterday, with a Nut Brown ink used as both a wash and line. The line detail was drawn on with a quill pen as an attempt to move on from the unvaried line of a techical pen that I am more accustomed to using. I think it is a step forward...

Apr 11, 2010

Stretching the limits

Here are a few new experimental pieces I produced today.The first is a piece created with the idea of testing the limits of what a 0.05 pen can do. I wanted to get an idea if producing a scene with solely the finest pen I own would be successful or not. I think it is pretty clear that line width variation adds depth and focal points, things I believe this drawing does not have. But still, that is what experimentation is for and the lesson has definitely been learned. Oh, and I popped a little faerie in there just for good measure.

This next piece is another experiment to see if I'm capable of producing a good landscape with just a single colour, in this case burnt sienna in ink form. This is by no means a finished piece, more a rough study than anything else. I used a variety of painting implements on this, including various brushes, a toothbrush, moss, a flower and a sponge, just to mix up the foliage more than anything else. I also added a bit of highlighting with my new white ink pen, just to create a bit of contrast and layering. Again, not a very successful piece, I feel. The single colour idea is probably achievable, but I'd rather play around with colour and light with a full pallette. Still, another lesson learned.

Apr 9, 2010

Don't you just hate bad drawing days?

I went off to a place called Coole Park today, it is about 30km south of Galway in Ireland, and is pretty much just a massive forest that was once owned by Lady Gregory- writer in her own right and close friend of W. B. Yeats, who visited Coole often.

I had intended to draw and paint loads today, and I certainly did that, but unfortunately today was just one of those days when nothing was going right or looking good. The only thing that looked half decent was this little drawing below, which is of an old gate pillar that has got to be, at the very least, 100 years old. It is drawn entirely with a 0.05 pen.

As for other work, I have a pretty detailed pen & ink piece in the works, as well as a watercolour scene and hopefully both will be done in the coming week.

Mar 31, 2010

More sketchbook work

Here are the results from this afternoons sketchbook work. Included are our dog (top right), an Elf Guard, a couple of giants, some painting ideas, and ogre and a Dwome. What the heck is a Dwome? Well, it's another of my creations. A Dwome is half Dwarf, half Gnome. I have numerous other mixed race faeries, including Dwolls (Dwarf-Troll), Gnolls (Gnome-Troll) and even a nasty Triant (Troll-Giant).
I'm hoping to get a proper painting going in the next few days, just waiting for a couple of hours of nice weather to do some painting 'in the field.' I have a spot picked out for the Rock Tinkerer piece that is thumbnailed above, with the little goblin-like guy in greater detail below it.
I'm very much looking forward to having a go at a watercolour piece with natural scenery involved, though the prospect of drawing it is pretty daunting.

Mar 29, 2010

Doodles and Tests

Here's another page from the sketchbook. The fellow on the left with the long ears is a creation of mine, he's sort of like a guardian faerie for all of the Hares all of the world. He cares for them and protects them where he can. I have envisioned several of these sorts of beings for various animals, including the European Badger, Fox, Red Squirrel, etc. They somewhat resemble the animals they protect, and share some of their traits. For instance, the Hare Guardian is very timid and fleet of foot, the Badger Guardian loves digging holes and honey.
There are also some of my usual sketchy characters- gentlemen with robust beards, unusual noses, prominent brows... the little green guy is a goblin-like character. Just doodles mostly, but some are the beginnings of ideas for proper paintings.

I went walking yesterday, armed with a sketchbook I bought several years ago made of 100% Recycled Paper, by Daler-Rowney. I've never really tried it out until yesterday, and I'm pretty happy with the results. The paper, despite it's appearance, is very smooth and lends itself, due to it's colour, to a few ideas I have knocking around, more of which will be revealed at a later stage. I also got the chance to try out my new toy, a ballpoint pen with permanent white ink in it! It is called the Uni-ball Signio, is cheap, and awesome! It allows you to create simple highlighting incredibly easily and I'm sure I'll be using it lots in the future, so much so that I'm going to stock up on it this week.
Anyway, as I was walking along, I saw this tree on the edge of a stonewall, backing on to a nice little wood. The tree itself looks to be on it's last legs. There are buds growing on the tips of the branches, but it seriously looks as though one strong gust of wind would knock the whole tree down. But it is an interesting little tree, with ivy at it's base and moss growing on the trunk, with some great twists and turns along the trunk. I couldn't help but draw it.

Mar 26, 2010

New beginnings...

Any of you who may have come across my Blog in the past, will note, perhaps with alarm, that all of my past posts are gone.
That is because I have turned a corner in my artistic endeavours. You see, for many, many years, I have jumped from one artistic genre to the next, normally comics, fantasy and illustration in an ever-circling ride. But I have decided to go with my first great love- illustration, and in particular, faerie illustration. I have had a keen interest in Faerie lore since a very young age, probably about 4-5. Most of the books I own are Faerie related, I have my own Faerie novel in the works, and if I just let my pencil do what it wants on a page, a Faerie will invariably appear.
So I have waved goodbye to the world of comics, and to fantasy to a certain extent, and plan to concentrate on traditional book illustration, with a slant toward Faerie.

I hope you will join me on this new endeavour, and to give you an idea of what I'm getting at, below is a page from my sketchbook created this very day!