Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Style Tests

This week I'm taking a break from my day job at Defiant Development to blitz my comic in an effort to get ahead on it. It's been a productive few days and is going to be capped by my attendance at ZICS (Zines & Indie Comic Symposium) this weekend. I'll have a table there selling my wares, and will be doing a talk abut my motivation and process I use in my Hilt at 2pm on Sunday.

In the meantime, I thought I might show a couple of style tests. I've always been keen on the heavy black look, bold shadows and harsh lighting, as well as the screentone techniques used in manga. I was looking for a good ratio of striking style to effort put in. The top image used the screen tone masked off to add tones and gradients. The middle version is pure black and white, but has a degree of shading that I've added using a custom brush. In the bottom one I've added colour with a few simple gradients. Click on the images for higher resolution.

In the end I went for the screentone version, the reason being that I can get a lot of mood and lighting effects using it. It would also allow me to do the backgrounds in a lot more simple but effective way than with pure black and white or colour, using fogging and some custom brushes for leaves, trees etc. I think I've made the right choice.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sample Page

The creation of Hilt continues apace. Having settled on a style, I thought it high time that I let you all have a sneak peak as to what the final product is going to look like. As you can see, I've gone for striking black'n'white. This has a couple of advantages for me. I've always been a great fan of monochromatic art, as it allows the form and composition to shine, without the distraction of colour. Additionally, it means, in theory, a reduction in production times, as well as a reduction in costs when it comes time to print.

As a big fan of Akira, I've always loved the way simple gradients of screentone can add depth. As some of you may have seen on my personal blog, I've been playing around with the technique for a while now. In some panels I've gone a step further, using the screentone texture to shade in more detail. As always, it's a balancing act to get the greatest amount of effect while not losing too much time.

Since starting this comic I've become aware of the fantastic work of Sean G Murphy and his fabulously illustrated comic Punk Rock Jesus. Sean shows how well the screentone technique can be used to enrich black'n'white artwork and is one of the finest examples of it's application outside of Manga.

I'll be posting more artwork and panels as the project nears completion, including some rough layout pages, so stay tuned, and thanks for looking. Click on the image for higher resolution.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Chabal is the villain of HILT. A hard and loyal lieutenant of his master, he values the rule of the King over all else. I redesigned a couple of areas of the armour to that seen in the previous post. His face also has a different feel. While doing the layouts for the comic I came across this heavy eye browed look which gives him a certain level of intensity and sternness.

Knights Sketches

When it came to designing the knights, I already had a good idea for how I wanted the villains of the piece to look, particularly the skull motif on the front. I wanted the overall aesthetic of the characters to have rough, wrought look, a hard cold feel to contrast with the more earthy, curvy feel of the clansmen and women.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Here is the final design for the lead character of Hilt. I've given her the name Fiona, a name of Irish origin which mens fair, white and beautiful.

She has remained fairly faithful to the original design that can be see a few posts ago, the only changes being those that cleaned up her design, such as removing the straps that zig-zagged across her, as well as removing a layer from her upper body.

The main change is that of her head and face. I never really clicked with the old face, and resolved to overhaul her to give her more intensity. With her close cropped hair, a theme in this comic by the looks of things, and more angular face I think I have achieved this.

Stay tuned for further updates, including that of the villains of the piece. Head over to to see more of my work.

Horse Concepts

It's been a while since I posted anything, having been working full time. I have started doing the final artwork for the panels, and I'm really excited to see it come together. Still a long way to go, but I intend to post some samples soon.

In the meantime, here are some development sketches for the lead character and her horse. I was keen to get quite a fluid look into the horses hair and looked to the work of the french artist Claire Wendling for inspiration.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Female Warrior Development Drawings

It's been a while since my last update to this blog, but work continues apace on the comic itself. I am about 3/4 the way through the first pass of layouts. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or at least the first tunnel, I'm finding I'm giving each page less consideration as I just want to get to the end. As such, I've resolved to tackle a couple of pages as a time, which is helping me to focus. As it stands the comic is going to be closer to forty pages as opposed to the intended 22-25 length. I expect to trim it down during editing after I have the first pass complete.

Onto the drawings features on this page, then. Having decided on the sort of look I was after I did a whole bunch of thumbnail sketches in which I played around with different costume elements, clothing and equipment. This sketching process helped me get to know the character a bit better, but I was still unsure and not totally pleased with her. I resolved to get inspiration from one of my favourite illustrators, namely Adam Hughes. I used one of his poses as a base for the top image and this allowed me to concern myself less with getting the anatomy right and focus on the costume. It was upon finishing this pic that I really got attached to the character and sold myself on her aesthetic.

At a later stage I did the page of poses as I was closer to drawing the comic itself. With these images I am again playing around with subtleties in her costume, her cloak in particular. Initially I was going to have her remove it mid-chase and use it as a defensive weapon, but I have decided that it really helps create a sense of motion as well as making her silhouette distinct to that of the knights.