Sign Up for Tooniversity

If you live in the Northland area of New Zealand why not come to one of my 1/2 day summer holiday workshops. I kicked off this week at Mahurangi College as part of year ten’s activity week and will be doing more at the Quarry arts centre in Whangarei beginning the week of 21/1/13 if you’re interested in signing up please do so asap as places tend to go quickly.

The workshops are suitable for anyone age nine or over and will cover such topics as anatomy, perspective, inventing your own characters and creating dynamic poses.

Character Concept Sketches for an Alien Bar

The title speaks for itself really. Here are some recent concept sketches that I did in Sketchbook Pro for Space Trash. This panel that required a bunch of different alien type characters in a bar. I suppose you could call it my story’s, Star Wars “Cantina Bar” moment that happens in when the two main characters enter a bar for a meeting with their client. The planet they are on is a tough mining colony and this scene takes place in a rough bar near a spaceport where there would be a lot of off-worlders and shady characters of all kinds mingling together, for fun, relaxation and often more nefarious activities.alien-bar-concept-sketches

Caricature Sketch of the day: Martin Freeman as The Hobbit

I’m looking forward to the forthcoming Peter Jackson movie of The Hobbit, it’ll be interesting to see how they managed to make three movies out of it though I seem to recall that it wasn’t a very long book. Oh well, in anticipation of the event here’s a caricature sketch of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Caricature Sketch of the Day: Matt Smith-Doctor Who

Doctor_Who-Matt_Smith_caricatureI’ve been a fan of Doctor Who for a looooong time.  I can still vividly remember Jon Pertwee, and I may have even wept a little when he was killed by those giant rubber spiders (O.K. I admit it , I bawled) which kind of gives away my age doesn’t it?  If you have no idea what I’m talking about take a look at this link. I can’t think of any other TV program that I used to watch as a seven year old that I still watch just as avidly. I really like Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor. In fact since the series has been revived each doctor has been better than the last. So here’s my tribute to Matt with my latest caricature of the day.



Caricature sketch of the day: Keith Richards

keith-richards006I’m really enjoying doing these quick character sketches/caricatures as a way of warming up and giving the cartooning muscles a workout. Todays sketch is of a youthful and significantly less gnarly, though not exactly fresh faced Keith Richards circa 1974.

3D product designs for contact lens case manufacturer

Optipak produce a range of novelty contact lens cases in the shape of cartoon characters. They required two sets of drawings from which they could manufacture a couple of new products

I roughed out some ideas in pencil and paper but in order to aid visualisation, I created some rough 3D models of the characters and used these as a guide on which to base the characters.

Rough Designs :
Some of the development sketches and 3D models.

Tommy Lee Jones Sketch

Tommy-Lee-Jones-001I have tended to avoid calling myself a caricaturist or to offer this as a service in the past. But I’ve come to the conclusion that a character designer who is any good should really be able to produce a half decent caricature. so with this in mind I’ve been working on a caricature a day as a warm up exercise, from time to time I’ll post the ones I like up here. The previous one I posted was Lemmy and here’s one I did today, Tommy Lee Jones.

Lemmy from Motorhead in Sketchbook Pro 6

Sketchbook Pro 6 is out and I love it! It has a new set of cutomiseable paint brushes. This new functionality makes Sketchbook Pro start to look like a real alternative to Painter It’s a low priced application but it’s drawing tools look and feel very natural to work with. The innovative and minimalist interface allows for maximum drawing area and it doesn’t suffer from the lag that other bloated applications seem to have. Anyway thats enough gushing praise, here’s a sketch of Lemmy from Motorhead done in Sketchbook Pro 6.


Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 8

Final coloured version. A bit more tweaking in Illustrator in Photoshop and I’m finally happy with this piece. I’m particularly happy with the colour contrast between the red hair of the “Glamazon” and the blue monochrome of the background.


Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 7

In this version I’ve taken the previous greyscale flats and tweaked it in Photoshop adding some shading with the airbrush tool and pushing the hue of he whole image to a monochromatic blue, apart of course, from the red eyes of the pursuing creatures.

Sword wielding and monsters

Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 6

Flats done in Greyscale in Adobe Illustrator. A “Flat” is simply a broad area of colour or tone that has no shading or textural detail added to it. Why Greyscale? At this stage it’s important to establish that the tones have enough contrast to create a clear division between the subject  and the foreground and the background

Sword wielding girl and monsters

Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 5

Digitally “Inking” the outlines in Adobe Illustrator. This process requires the creation of some custom brushes in Adobe Illustrator. A process which I discuss in some detail in this video The custom brushes that I made give nice thick and thin lines like an actual ink brush. The great thing about illustrator’s digital “Ink” is that it can be tweaked and smoothed until it’s exactly right. No whiteout, and no spilled ink on the carpet!

Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 2

I’m starting to nail it down a bit more now. With a bit more drawing in Sketchbook Pro. my Glamazon girl is going to be facing some kind of demonic creature and I’ve decided to use the creature as a framing device to make her the central focus of the image.

Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 2

Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 1

Thought I’d post an experiment with a new digital painting workflow I’m trying out with Sketchbook Pro, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The idea being to create a piece of work that has a painted look by sketching an idea in Sketchbook Pro then creating a flat tonal greyscale image in Adobe Illustratorand then adding colour and airbrush effects in Photoshop at the end stage. By working this way in a tightly controlled logical sequence of steps I hope to avoid some of the pitfalls involved with a looser digital painting such as getting the colour balance wrong and also losing the feel of the initial sketch with too much overpainting.

Here’s the first stage. A very rough concept sketch done in Sketchbook Pro.

Sword Girl & monsters from sketch to final pt 1

New character concept development

Here’s a couple of pics showing the development of a character from my personal comic project. He’s a crusty old miner who our heroes encounter in a bar setting the stage for the main action. Although the story is set in space, it has a lot parallels with a traditional western, so I”ve decded to go with that theme and imagined him as an old prospector type tough and wiry.




Rise of the Mirrorbots

Sketchbook Pro has a great function which allows you to split the drawing area vertically or horizontally and mirror on one side what is drawn on the other. Generally speaking it’s considered to be a bad thing in comics and animation to create poses which are symmetrical but for character creation this mirror tool really helps me to break out of the box.

I needed a robot character for the webcomic that I’ve been working on and using the mirror tool helped me come up with some surprisingly Japanese looking designs, well it surprised me anyway.

Here are some of the results of this experiment. I really liked the guy on the top right so I took him and developed him some more and he’s made it into the webcomic which I hope to start posting on a regular basis on this site later this year.

Gun-Toting Space Lizard – New comic strip character

I never seem to have enough time to develop my personal projects, but I’ve been working on a comic strip for a while now and things are finally starting to come together with the script and characters. Here is a design for one of the main characters in the strip, though I haven’t completely decided what his name is yet. Lets just call him “gun-toting space lizard” for now. He’s basically a good guy although somewhat mercenary in outlook.

Wild Willy Character Design

Initial rough design concept with explanatory annotations

Client Brief:Come up with a fun cartoon character that kids could relate to for a family fun center. Arcade bumper boats mini golf etc. Name of the park is Wild Willy’s.
Character should be a clumsy adventure character who always finds himself in difficult situations and by luck is able to get out of trouble. Fun version of Indiana Jones.Would like to roll this into t shirt concepts etc.

Clients Comments: “Hi Andy. Looks great!!! Can you also do a version with dirty blonde hair?”

Audrey, the face that launched a 1000 designs…well at least 3 anyway

Back in 1994 , when I was working as an assistant animator at Amblimation studios in London. I noticed that some of the animators had pics of Audrey Hepburn pinned up alongside the usual approved model sheets and reference photos. this struck me as odd because we were working on Balto, a movie primarily about sled dogs in Alaska.

It turned out that the female lead, a Siberian husky called Jenna, was based at least in part on Audrey Hepburn. As strange as this may seem. Amongst the animation community, Audrey Hepburn is widely considered to have had THE most perfectly proportioned female face, a face that  I suspect has been used many times over the years as a model for animated heroines and yes, even animated animals.

It has been documented that Audrey was the original inspiration for Tom Oreb’s princess Aurora character design from Disney’s 1959 movie, Sleeping Beauty and again 32 years later with Mark Henn and James Baxter’s Belle from Beauty & The Beast. Therefore it does seem that there is some truth to the notion that was held by the ancient Greeks that true beauty always conforms to certain timeless proportions and as such is not subject to the vagaries of fashion.

Above: From woof to waif Jenna – Audrey comparison

Now, I don’t normally do caricatures, or portraits of  famous people, but I thought that it would be highly remiss for someone like myself  who calls himself a character designer, not to at least attempt to get on the Audrey Hepburn bandwagon so here’s my take on the gorgeous Audrey below.


The SKAnimals Comic strips

Question: What do a lizard, a mouse a stork, a bear and a fox have to do with the world’s largest radio telescope?

Answer: The animals are a group of characters that I was asked asked to create in order to explain the workings of the S.K.A ( That’s the Square kilometre array) to children in the 9 – 14 age bracket. They live in a desert but the country couldn’t be too specific as that hasn’t been decided. So no monkeys or kangaroos in the group, although South Africa and Australia have been shortlisted as potential locations.

Here is an excerpt from the first comic together and some rough scribbles that were part of the layout process


To download the first 2 comics and visit the SKA Telescope website please go here.

Cheesy Characters

This is something new for me but I’ve been asked to design a mural for our local cheese shop. The original inspiration was a birthday card which features mice looking longingly into the window of a cheese shop which you can see below. I wanted to do something similar while avoiding a complete rip off of the original, so I came up with the idea of a gang of “jewel thief” mice a la Mission Impossible except the jewels would be rounds of cheese rather than diamond necklaces.

So I came up with this initial rough sketch.

Keith , the owner of the cheeseshop liked the concept but thought the mice were a bit sinister looking  so I redesigned the mice and made them cuter and more generic.

Here’s the final sketch and mock up, made in Illustrator and Photoshop

So now we just need to get on and do the hard bit, actually painting  the mural, so I’ll keep you posted about that.

The Jungle Girl again

Jungle Girl

I recently posted the above finished Jungle Girl Pin Up image on my Deviant Art page, where you can also buy it as a print. Here’s the final You Tube video in this series showing me colouring her up in Adobe illustrator. Hi Res files for this image are also available for download from the Zengrenade Shop

Free video clip: Inking and colouring a superhero character in Adobe illustrator

How to ink and colour in Adobe Illustrator video

After many requests, I finally got around to producing a video that shows in detail my method of inking and colouring using Adobe Illustrator. The video is one hour long and shows how I create the various different custom brushes I use in my artwork, how to create dynamic  colour and shade using gradients and many other tips and tricks that I use to speed up my workflow.

I’ve uploaded a free preview clip here

And the full video is available to download now from the Zen grenade shop for a mere $7.99

New 3 part video – Jungle Girl Pin Up

I posted a new 3 part video on my YouTube channel this week of me drawing a Jungle Girl Pin up. Instead of the usual time lapse videos that I’ve done before , these are in real time and I talk a bit about the process as I do it.

Here’s part one

To see parts one and  two and to subscribe to my YouTube channel please go here


Stuff I drew this week 4: Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy fired up my youthful imagination in all sorts of ways, so as it’s Carrie’s birthday this week, what a perfect excuse to draw a Princess Leia cartoon.




..and here’s the video of me drawing her.


Surf’s Up

I’ve been a keen surfer for over 15 years now. Unfortunately I’m still not all that great at it. Anyway, as a personal project, I thought it would be fun to do a series of cartoon character designs based on based on surfers and the various personality archetypes associated with surfing. Here’s the first one, Gaston the arrogant macho surfer dude arrogantly charging down the line and god help anyone who drops in on him.

Golden Girl



Apropos of nothing, here’s a colour sketch that I did of a cute redheaded girl. Not based on anyone in particular, but on reflection she does remind me a bit of the Kiwi singer Kirsten Morell formerly lead singer in Goldenhorse.  I actually met her once and she was incredibly sweet and down to earth.

Stuff I drew this week videos 1 2 & 3

blessed-col-03-fltWelcome to my new blog. I decided to discontinue my blogger posts and start up a blog that’s properly integrated into my own website. For anyone interested in looking at the old Blog you can find it here.

Here are some recent videos taken from my You Tube channel

The videos show me at my desk drawing away. Each one is speeded up a lot but shows my drawing process. All my characters start out as pencil drawings. The final coloured versions are scanned and coloured in Adobe Illustrator. The whole process can take between 4 to 10 hours or a lot longer if a client requires a lot of revisions.

The equipment I’m using is a perspex disc for resting on (This is a relic of my animation days rather than a necessary piece of kit). Blue and red Col Erase Pencils and a 3B Faber Castell graphite pencil. My process involves starting with light red rough drawings, firming up the line with a dark blue and then solidifying the character with a black pencil line.

I sharpen my pencils a lot, so I use a Dahle Automatic 00220 electric pencil sharpener, another relic from my animation days (I’ve had it since 1995 and it’s still sharpens just as well). It’s definitely a necessary piece of kit though, as I don’t want to have to stop every 5 minutes and spend 2 minutes sharpening my pencils, that adds up to 24 minutes over the course of a 2 hour drawing sesh and sometimes I’ll spend 8 hours straight drawing. Anyway as the Americans say,  “You can do the math”.