Wild West Slush Puppy Mural Illustration for a Netherlands Theme Park

Client: Slagharen Vakantiepark via TheIllustratorsAgency.com

slush-puppy-western-5 I enjoyed working on this mural design project. it’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to work on some licensed properties. It was refreshing not to have to come up with a completely original character for once. Although working on licensed characters has it’s own set of challenges of course, not least of which is keeping the characters on-model.

Sometimes it helps to draw the character and go away and do something else for a few hours . When you come back to it you see it with fresh eyes and any errors suddenly stand out with startling clarity.

Here are some of the rough drafts I went through trying to get Slush Puppy right. Roughs were done in Manga Studio 5 and final design was completed in Adobe Illustrator.



I’m Lovin’ It – Characters in McDonalds

Fast food restaurants and shopping malls are great places to spot real life characters. Here are some people sketches from the McDonalds which is about 20 minutes drive from my house. My cholesterol level is going through the roof and I’m getting fitted for a pacemaker next week but what can I say. Terrible diet equals great sketching opportunities!collage0019

Ralph Fiennes Caricature

I was vaguely aware of Ralph Fiennes role as Voldemort , but it’s only when I really studied his face that I realised how seriously malevolent the guy can look, even without the make up (Even more so maybe). I suppose that’s why he gets cast as the villain as often as he gets the heroic roles.

This caricature was done for the Caricaturama Showdown 3000 Facebook Group. Don’t forget to visit and like my Facebook page.


A Cartoon Character Goldmine on my Doorstep

In an effort to get away from the computer and my desk and out of the house occasionally, I’ve been getting myself in to the habit of taking my sketchbook with me everywhere I go and I’ve discovered a goldmine of local characters in the process.

sketches003So far the best places I’ve discovered, are the car park of my local convenience store, motels and shopping mall food courts. I’ve really been having a blast, going out in the morning doing maybe 40 minutes of sketches, bringing them home and cleaning them up a little bit in Sketchbook Pro before posting them on Facebook for some instant feedback.

It’s been so much fun that I’m going to make this a regular thing from now on. These are the sketches from my most popular Facebook posts of last month. To get more posts like these in your Facebook or Twitter feed, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.


Meet the Vampires

A vampire family, welcomes you in to their lovely abode

Do come in. We’re so pleased to eat…er…meet you

My attempts to turn this rough sketch of a vampire family into a finished piece have so far been frustrating and disappointing. I just seem to keep losing the energy that I like about this rough piece. Which is always the thing you have to struggle with of course. Oh well, maybe one day I’ll nail it.

Animated Characters for an Ipad Game App

Below is the finished splash page for the Ipad game app Jungle Jim.

The client also needed two animated characters for this game, a Jungle Jim and a Jungle Jane.

To create the animated characters, I had to draw them in a vine-swinging pose and then separate each part out on to it’s own layer, so that the animator could do his bit and move each part, as necessary, to create the swinging motion.

The final image is my rough design for the Jungle Jim character, as he would appear on the splash page for the app. The logo wasn’t used by the client, in the end, although he liked it. He’d already chosen a font that he liked and preferred to stick with it throughout for consistency.

The Jungle Jim game is available to download for free from itunes app store.

jungle-Jim-cartoon-characteanimated-jungle-characters junglejim-rough016

Autodesk Sketchbook Ink Review

sbi-logoI’m not a big fan of using the IPad as a drawing tool. It’s the Styluses (Stylii?) that are the problem. I just want a drawing implement with a sharp point (Not a fat cigar-like thing). Despite this, I’m really enjoying using Autodesk Sketchbook Ink. It’s a really simple app, just seven ink brushes and two erasing brushes. It has the ability to create multiple layers. Brush customisability though, is limited to a size slider. Not a problem for me, as the two tapered brushes have exactly the line quality that I favour. It is potentially a major drawback for the user who likes to use a wide variety of brush shapes.

I’ve found myself using SBI primarily as a portable sketching tool recently and although I really only have use for the two tapered brushes, I love the line quality and the fact that there is a kind of simulated pressure sensitivity when using a basic stylus in that drawing the lines faster results in a thinner line. Something about that and the smoothness of the line just suits my drawing style. Sketchbook Ink also has the capability to export png files at a huge 101.5mp.

I don’t love everything about the App however. I like to be able to quickly clear my screen if a drawing isn’t working out. So I would like to see the “erase all” function, which is currently located in the layers submenu, instantly accessible as a top level menu item. I have to tap to open the menu, tap again on the erase button and then tap again in order to close the menu and continue drawing. Having to do that every time really interrupts my workflow, as I tend to clear my screen a lot. I’d also like to be able to increase the size of the brushes much more. A minor gripe, it took me a while to realise that the crosshairs that appear when touching the screen for while are a colour sampler tool it was nice to discover it but I didn’t find any mention of it in the user guide.

Overall I give this App 7 out of 10 for it’s simplicity and quality of line.https://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/sketchbook-ink/id526422908?mt=8

Creating a cartoon dog character in Sketchbook Pro and Adobe Illustrator

This video illustrates the 3 stages that I go through when creating a finished cartoon character design in this case a friendly dog character based on my client’s black and white Border Collie. The 3 stages are loose sketch in Sketchbook Pro, tight sketch using construction and colouring in Adobe Illustrator.

Drawing a Pterodactyl cartoon character in Sketchbook Pro x 8 speed

This video shows me in the process of creating a colour comp of a Pterodactyl character for a client, false starts and all. The video is speeded up for clarity and you also get to see the final coloured version at the end.

Space Trash: Deathtrip005


Here it is Deathtrip part five. Could it be that Jorz and Krell’s money worries are over? Well, maybe but their real troubles are only just about to begin.

There’s a lot of decision making that goes into producing a comic, character design, writing, panel layout, composition colour palette, or whether to even use colour at all. Initially the whole thing was going to be in black and white.



12 panel grid allows for flexibility of formatting

I liked the stark simplicity of it but then soon realised that adding a few grey tones gave me some more design options and finally I gave in and decided to go with colour which provide even more design options but requires a lot more decision making of course.

I’ve used a flexible 12 panel grid layout which may never use all 12 panels at once but allows me to format the comic in different ways. i.e. I could divide up the comic into 4 separate newspaper format strips or as 2 half-page strips which seems to work well for the webcomics format and should I ever print it like a traditional comic book. I can stack the strips as a standard sized comic page as above.




Putting the comic in this flexible format creates other issues with regard to the writing and pacing of the story. If it’s going to work there has to be some kind of cliffhanger or gag at least every half page and where possible on every quarter page. Phew, like I said there’s a lot of stuff to think about.

Finally, here are some of the rough thumbnails I produced for this particular page. I’m currently using Sketchbook Pro with a Wacom Cintiq for the roughs and Adobe Illustrator for the final pages.


More Space Trash strips and posts

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.

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.

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 http://youtu.be/W8KJ2Fw6lss 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

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?”

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 http://www.myspace.com/kirstenmorrell 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.  http://zengrenade.blogspot.com

Here are some recent videos taken from my You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/lockianhound

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”.