Thursday, 17 May 2018

Rus Viking & Medieval Characters

The Varangian Baddies

The daughter of the hero of the story, both of whom live out in the wilds of russia as Trappers
A sword prop for another character Im developing for the Viking world

The villain of the Serf medieval world, the main noble

Head merchant, the world is essentially the merchants vs the nobles, the merchants working to undermine the nobles power, with espionage

The hero of the medieval world, the serf

One of the beggars helping the merchants

Sword prop for one of the medieval characters Im working on

Some of the characters I have been developing for the Viking & Medieval worlds

Monday, 14 May 2018

Rus Viking Streets

Here is a more developed image from the town in the Rus Viking world Im playing around creating. 

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Coast Study

Having alot of fun doing these sort of quick daily paint studies, great way of sharpening your painting skills

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Serf- more medieval sketches

Some more sketches of the medieval world Im making for fun, they just show some possible location ideas to develop further. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Just another study

One of the studies I have been doing recently, keeping them between 30- 50 mins

Sunday, 25 March 2018

From 2D to 3D

Just to give a behind the scenes of my process, one thing that often isnt mentioned by illustrators is perspective, while its not as snazzy as other parts of the process, it creates a strong foundation for everything to be built apon and unified with. Its also one of those processes which takes years and years to master, and seems to be something you can never know enough about. 

Accurate map of Khufus pyramid redrawn and tilted for use as reference
 I spent years doing all my perspective by hand, first traditionally and then digitally by hand, I used to use alot of the old school techniques for calculating aspects in space, so for instance every space was calculated by breaking it down to squares and multiplying those squares in space. This could be very complicated like the tower house or just more about accurate spacing like the Pyramid.

In the pyramid I took the accurate map of Khufus pyramid in Ghiza and broke it down to squares, I think each square represented a 100m or breakdown of this, ie like half a square is 50m (its been a while since I did this so cant remember 100%) and then multiplied that back in space. It wasnt 100% accurate but it was in the ball park.

Bases of mastabas and accurate drawing of pyramids in perspective

Final drawing
Final painting

Doing it by hand was long, tedious and prone to human error. In reconstruction work you need to be as accurate as you can be, as there is alot of guesswork after a certain point, so this way of working has its limits, unless you wanted to do the much longer accurate architectural solutions but in commission work one has to bear in mind the budget and time restraints, no one wants an accurate architectural drawing as your final output.

Some of the interior perspective calculations of the interior, floor space widths and lengths were based on accurate maps of floors in Kilcrea castle. You can also see the figures from ground floor to upper floors accurate to each other and even the nightmare of a spiral staircase drawn by hand.

Final interior painting

But there is another way of working, and thats 3D. This is much more accurate, and its also faster, so saves time for both me and the client. What I do use an accurate map of the town like in Clonmel, as a base and then build my model on top. One of the criticisms of reconstruction illustration is its lack of accuracy but with 3D the layout is exact as one can be in layout and stays within budget and time limits.

Goubets 1690 map was used as a base as my clients believed this was the most accurate early street map and would have been more or less the same in the Cromwell siege 50 years earlier, except the addition of ravelins (the external V shaped things in front of the walls & gates)

Down survey map, we used this as the main source for the walls and gates besides what is extent at the site now
3D model of Clonmel over the map, you can see the shape of the plots and the streets are made in 3D and are based on Goubets map, the types of housing and buildings was decided after reading other historical sources.

Then I use this model as a base to paint over. Here is final painting of Clonmel
Plus, perhaps the most important part of it is that 3D allows one to spend your creative energy and time on the other aspects of an image, like the actual painting, the fun art part of a reconstruction. But drawing perspective by hand is an extremely important skill, one often neglected by younger artists these days, who jump straight to 3D or just a program to do their perspective.

Understanding perspective in an indepth way allows you to warp and change your perspective according to your narrative or expressive needs, and also is faster when doing quick sketches in both traditional and digital drawing/painting. 3D may be more accurate but its also takes longer to produce, which is fine for longer images and reconstruction paintings but a real weakness when you need to bang out a sketch in 5 mins or even 45 mins to an hour, as precious time is waisted in 3D. Both have their place of course and neither should be neglected in modern illustration in my opinion.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Photoshop sketches

Been playing with painting in Photoshop over the last while, great brushes out there to play with, here are some quick sketches that I did

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Clonmel Town- During the Cromwellian Siege

Clonmel town

A few months back I was hired by Tipperary county Council and Tipperary County museum to do an illustration of Clonmel at the time of the Cromwellian attack. The final image above shows what the town looked like just before Cromwells cannon open fire on the walls. As you can see it still had its medieval character, this was true of towns all over the British Isles. In England and Ireland at the time of Cromwell they still hadn't found the need to update the walls to bastion walls common on the European mainland. This is the advantage Cromwell brought to bear in his sieges here and there, he used modern cannon tactics against medieval walls. In the middle ages the higher the wall, the better, this was to stop siege towers, ladders etc from getting over. But in the coming of the canon the opposite was true, taller meant a larger target to hit and also thinner, so less likely to survive a barrage of cannon for long. Bastion walls were instead lower and with extremely thick earthern ramparts to take some of the shock of a canon ball hitting the stone facing.

Clonmel shown here has still got most of its medieval aspects intact, we did quite a bit of research into the town, surviving maps as well as what is extent to construct the town. The Down survey map of 1657 was the basis for the walls and even the drawbridge shown between the bridge and the town walls, this was aided by sections of the town wall which survive and excavations in areas which they don't. While the street and plot layout were based on the more accurate 1690 map of Clonmel by J. Goubet.  I actually underlayed the latter map combined with a more accurate map of the walls as a base to get the exact proportions of the town and its walls at the start of the illustration. What was inbetween these features was based on research of what was probably there in the town, including stone buildings and tower houses near the various gates. The market cross is where you can see the gathering of the people in the centre, this along with the abbey, and the church off in the distance at top still survive in Clonmel town, albeit with modifications or in the case of the market cross, off the road now.

The Siege of Clonmel took place April 1650. Clonmel is actually one of  battles which Cromwell lost most  of his troops in a single day in Ireland. Cromwell came to Clonmel looking to rush the siege with an assault, as he had trouble at home he needed to get back to. He battered at the walls for a few days and forced a breach. But little did he know, that the town was defended by a group of hardened northerners, lead by  Hugh Dubh ("Black Hugh") O'Neill , who had spent the last decade or so fighting in the confederate wars in Ireland and before that, many were veterans of many campaigns in mainland Europe in Spains armies.

They had prepared a trap for the English troops, as the English reached the breach they faced no opposition. They came in confidently in a large group, but soon became bottled in between makeshift channeling fortifications, one on each side of them. As the first troops came to the end they were met with a large barricade.  The first shouted "halt", the people in the back believing that the halt was meant for the defenders running away, pushed on to get in on the action. This created a huge press of men, the defenders picked this moment and opened fire from their fortifications, from the windows around and even had some cannon hidden in the houses surrounding it. It was a slaughter, men pressing in while others desperately tried to get out the firing, eventually the infantry retreated in disarray. At this Cromwell sent his best, his cavalry, veterans of many battles in Britain, they dismounted and moved towards the breach, again full of confidence. They too found themselves traped and sitting ducks and after heavy casualties were forced to retreat. In total it was something in the region of 2,500 English died that day.

That night the northerners with their ammunition nearly spent, knew it was to time to join the rest of the Confederate army in Waterford. O'Neill told the mayor of the town to entreat with Cromwell but not to tell him they had gone. The northerners withdrew that night and the day after the Mayor went to surrender the town in terms. These terms were that the town would not be pillaged or the townsfolk punished. Cromwell not willing to lose more of his troops and needing more than ever to return home, agreed to the terms. Once they were signed he was told that O'Neill had retreated the night before, which of course threw Cromwell into a rage but to his credit, after he calmed down, he honored the agreement he had signed.

O'Neill was to live another day and fight on the Confederate wars, while Cromwell left the remaining war in the hands of his son in a law,Henry Ireton and returned to England. Clonmel was one of his bitterest victories but the war was drawing to a close as the Royalists started to capitulate and the Irish catholics were left on their own to fight the remainder of the war. More about the siege and Clonmel in general can be found at the Tipperary county museum, here on facebook at Tipperarycountymuseum

But also here:

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Serf- a medieval world

I have also been building a medieval world while working on the Viking one, this time based in the later middle ages and around serfdom. The above show a selection of some of the quick B&W sketches I do to explore some of the locations and their spaces before I decide on what to bring forward

Sunday, 11 February 2018

More Rus Viking Exploration Sketches

Overview sketches of the Viking market and its central slave block
Exploring rhythms and spaces of the market
Playing with options for the Shipyard
Exploring the various rhythms and spaces of the streets of the town

The jetty part of the town explorations
Some options for the design of the main fortress within the town

A selection of some explorative B&W sketches of the Rus Viking world Im developing.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Rus Character Thumbnails

The main character options. I picked the name Odin, for the obvious pagan association and also as it means Fury 

The Wife of the main character. They are both people who live in the frozen wild of Russia

The Rus have recently converted to Christinity, Eastern Christianity, this shows the possibilities for the priest who feels out of sorts in his new environment

Some options for the Varangians or Eastern Vikings you could face

Some options for the Sami allies of the Rus

Some of the many little quick thumbnail sketches I have done so far, in the Eastern Viking world Im creating.

So far the story is  a fairly straight forward revenge story. Where the main characters wife was stolen by slavers and he then goes into the lions lair to rescue her. Its also a story of the old versus the new, the new industrious adaptable Vikings vs the ancient pagan Vikings

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Colour explorations

Some really early colour sketches I did at the beginning for the Rus Viking thing Im making, trying to figure out how it may look or feel before I started it properly

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Another Quickie Warmup

Just another quick warmup to start the day that didnt turn out too badly

Friday, 5 January 2018

Rus Viking Exploration Sketches 2

Exploring possibilities for the newly built Byzantine Eastern Church  in the town

The Walls of the town, Postern and Main gates, since the town is a slave trading centre, Im playing giving the design a prison feel

The eastern trade route was built on slave trading, that is what the Vikings supplied which Arab markets needed. So the background to the town is that its a slave trading centre and from this, I have been playing with the idea that its a large prison of sorts, to keep the slaves from escaping as well as acting as a hub for trading.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Rus Viking town exploration sketches

Deserted Suburbs

Streets in the Rus Viking town

Town on a jetty. I read that some Viking towns had part of the settlement built on the river itself

Docks, 3 different docks for the town, one for fishing ships, another merchant vessels and then another for military vessels
Sketch exploring wondering around the Rus town environment for that game Im playing around designing a world for