Characters and gestures

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with IT exams in my other life recently, but eager to get back on the graphic novel-case. I’ve been reading Scott McCloud’s excellent book Making Comics, and as a really, really green comics reader I need some steerage at this point.

I’ve realised my figure drawing is very ropey after many years not doing it! Inspired by Scott talking about comics artists working in silhouette for full figures, I’ve been playing in Photoshop trying to capture gestures and character in some background scenes. I’ve been using pencils and graphic pens for years on this story, so a fresh approach being less precious has been a bit of a relief!  They are very much of one perspective but I don’t mind that at this stage – I’m seeing it as more of an exercise.

I enjoyed putting some background in to see how effective the characters could be in context.  As I was working I found my brain filling in the three-dimensional figure, a bit like the way I find producing drawings on black paper in reverse to be.

I also love silhouettes and they are an 18thC speciality so it will be interesting to see what ideas come of this!

Laundry women
Two men arguing

Character sketches

I’ve been working on more detailed character studies for my graphic novel, in between refining the narrative and the storyboards. I feel like it is increasingly taking shape, but simultaneously have had the realisation that there is more work to do now as my ambition grows for it; I want the people and the world around them to feel believable.

Nothing like a challenge eh?!

After Gillray, 1789

Faber-Castell pens

Can’t take credit for the lovely colour palette.  Whilst the original caricature is all about making fun of the French, this is not a political comment as a) I was interested in the costume, b) I like them a lot and c) I’m testing out these new bad boys!

Mmmmm pens – super Christmas present

Family portrait

The reason I’ve been a little quiet of late online, amongst other things, is that I’ve been working on a lovely new commission.

I was asked to produce a family portrait for a ‘landmark birthday’ (hey, it’s not my place to divulge!) and as the conversation continued, we discussed their love of Laos textiles, a recent discovery for the family on their travels.

After some research the geometric design of many textile examples lent itself to the framing and linking of little portraits, showing the other family members.  Working through the roughs you can see it took me a few iterations to fix on the simplest idea, of one larger overall frame for the main portrait:

40th birthday - roughs01

40th birthday - roughs02


Working from family photos, I started with the portraits in brown coloured pencil:

Progress before colour
Prior to applying colour
Rough colour overlay on final drawing
Digital colour













After some tests I abandoned my original intention of using inked patterns – in a different piece it would have been great, but the way things had transpired I felt it would overwhelm the delicate pencil portraits. I reckon I made the right choice. See what you think!

Family portrait - coloured pencil
Family portrait – coloured pencil