Friday, 5 November 2010
Another digital painting based on the somewhat speculative (but nonetheless fascinating) writing of Professor Mike Baillie (you can find one of my earlier attempts to visualise his theories here.)
In his book Exodus to Arthur, Baillie suggests that much of the imagery in the Biblical Book of Exodus may be the attempts of the ancient scribes to record a close encounter with a comet or swarm of comets. When the Bible describes how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm" Baillie sees it as evidence of the Hebrews following a fiery comet trail across the skies of the ancient Middle East. Not sure I buy this particular idea really, but I thought it would make an interesting image for the fifth of November.
Friday, 29 October 2010
Something a bit spooky looking for the Halloween weekend. I wanted to try something along the lines of George A. Wotherspoon's optical illusion illustration - Gossip: And Satan Came Also (below).
This had been on my mind ever since the 1999 release of Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace. I'd decided that such a B-movie title deserved a B movie poster to go with it and I was just the person to design it.
I had an idea for it which involved the film's Sith Lord bad guys. I'd have the little seen puppet master Darth Sidious hooded and dominating the frame but with his face obscured by shadow. The features would be provided or at least suggested by a minature figure of his apprentice, Darth Maul, who is being conjured into existence out of smoke by his evil master. He'd be brandishing his double ended lightsabre which would provide the fiery eyes, whilst the nose, mouth and eyebrows could be formed out of Maul's body and robes. I thought this would be a nice way to illustrate the idea that Maul was the 'public face' of a more shadowy evil.
Of course none of this came to pass, due to laziness on my part or just life getting in the way. At some point earlier this year however I found myself with a spare few minutes to doodle in Photoshop and obviously must have had the Gossip/Phantom idea still floating around my subconscious as I started playing around with the idea again.
This time it was a more generic grim reaper figure holding a masked, gun-toting super heroine type in his hand. Not sure where that came from. The lady certainly seems to owe something to Dave Gibbons' costume design for the original Silk Spectre and maybe even Marvel's Silver Fox character.
The 'face' reminds me of something too, maybe an amalgam of the face in the magic mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the face of the devil from the Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia. Both Disney horrors strangely.
Below are my original Photoshop doodles. Hope you don't meet this couple on Sunday.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
My previous post reminded me about these elephant character concepts I'd sketched out sometime ago. Obviously I spent a considerable amount of time researching the species in order to reflect their physiology and habits before working on the character. I don't recall those we met in Zambia guzzling tea and wearing life jackets though. Maybe that's what the Indian variety get up to?
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
One of the reasons for my recent absence from this blog was a trip to Zambia. Whilst there we came across these big fellas who'd just strolled in from neighbouring Zimbabwe. One of them took an interest in us and to our surprise decided to wander over and take a closer look.
We also came across this thirsty specimen below, busy drinking up most of the Zambezi.
He also seemed to be interested in us...
And was happy to demonstrate his strength for the camera by attempting to pull down the nearest tree using its creepers...!
Unfortunately this was not entirely succesful, and after a number of failed attempts the big lad was forced to call it a day and wandered off in a bit of a huff having been bested by a plant.
Posted by Leighton Johns at 10:48 am
Monday, 13 September 2010
Monday, 6 September 2010
Around this time last year I entered my Jake Fast pulp cover into the Association of Illustrators Images 34 competition.
'Images' is the UK's leading jury-selected illustration annual and touring exhibition and I was lucky enough to get a place in both. Tomorrow I'm off to the private view at London College of Communication, where the exhibition kicks off. The exhibition runs at LCC from 8th to 14th September before moving on to other sites around the UK. Take a look at the AOI website where you can find out more about the exhibition and its opening times as well ordering a copy of the annual.
Posted by Leighton Johns at 7:35 am
Friday, 13 August 2010
A final bit of sketchwork unearthed from my Skulduggery Pleasant project. This was a design for the cave dwelling dog monster. My idea was to try and combine the dogthing from John Carpenters excellent 'The Thing' (1982) with Paris Hilton. Terrifying!
Thursday, 5 August 2010
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Whilst cleaning out my files recently I came across these sketches. They were ideas for the vampire characters featured on my Skulduggery Pleasant tribute poster. Vampires today seem a generally good looking, sexy bunch (Twilight, True Blood etc.) so it was nice to try and visualise Derek Landy's more revoltingly visaged version of the undead. The two designs at the top in particular were inspired by the look of actual vampire bats (Desmodus Rotundus), creatures who unfortunately are neither sexy or good looking.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
I was asked to do a caricature of a friend for her recent Hen party. The theme of the party was Alice in Wonderland and the bride to be was given the role of the Queen of Hearts. Above is my digitally painted version.
My line art here expertly coloured by Carrie Edwards and placed in appropriate playing card frame.
The Sarah playing card on display at the Hen party.
The bride to be was also given a Sami Teasdale designed Hen party costume and the jacket incorporated an iron on transfer of my illustration. Checkout Sami's blog for full details of the amazing finished costume along with all other accessories created for the Hen and army of Henettes.
(All photography courtesy of Sami Teasdale)
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Above is my final version of the Isis and Osiris piece for the IFX cover competition, and below is how I arrived at it.
As mentioned in the previous post I didn't want to attempt a realistic histroically accurate rendering of the characters (after all they were mythological not historical). They did have to reflect their Egyptian background however so in terms of costume I was looking more at our modern theatrical interpretation of 'Egyptian' style. My Isis then is a sort of composite of many interpretations of the female Egyptian figure, from classical paintings, opera, film, and comics.
Isis Inspiration: Clockwise from top left, detail from Cleopatra before Caesar by Jean Leone Gerome, (1866) ; 1920s Egyptian ballet costume; Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra (1934); Abadazad cover, Mike Ploog (2006); Promethea cover, Alex Ross (1999).
In original Egyptian paintings Osiris as lord of death and resurrection is almost always portrayed with green skin, which helped suggest a supernatural aspect to his person in the illustration. Isis' divinity in Egyptian art isn't always so obvious. She looks like a normal woman, though sometimes she is given wings. I thought the wings would give me some trouble in terms of the composition so I swapped this supernatural attribute with one from another Egyptian goddess. Nut, goddess of the sky was often appropriately shown with blue skin so I decided to give Isis this colouring. Hopefully the blue skin says she's not just any old Egyptian lady enjoying a spot of necromancy - she knows exactly what she's up to. Over the centuries many Eyptian gods and goddesses merged or took on the attributes of others so I didn't think it would be too bad to add a little Nut-blue to the Queen of Egypt here.
As this was going to be a cover design I tried to work within the confines of the publication's cover template (supplied by IFX). I started off with a line drawing that I added a tonal layer to, then I played with different colour washes over this to see how they worked with the cover typography.
I went on to paint over the line drawing and tonal layers in monochrome. I then built up the colour using transparent soft light layers in photoshop. Finally some alterations were made in another colour paint layer in Painter. For instance Isis' face and make-up details were changed slightly (see below).
So that's it, but we can still look forward to seeing who actually won the competition when their entry appears on the cover... sometime soon hopefully.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Sometime late last year Imagine FX magazine ran a competition to design one of their covers. I had some time on my hands at Christmas so I thought why not? I've got no idea what happened to that competition (don't seem to have heard any mention of the winners yet) but above are three rough colour compositions I did to get started.
My idea was based on the Egyptian myth of the resurrection of Osiris by Isis. The main reason for this was that IFX covers tend to feature a beautiful and exotic (often scantily clad) female in a mythological or science fiction/ fanatasy setting. The mythological figure of Isis seemed to fit the bill, and as far as I'm aware hasn't appeared on the cover before.
Isis is the archetypal great woman behind a great man. When Osiris is killed and dismembered at the hands of the evil god Seth, Isis sets out in search of his body. After a long quest and with the help of several other gods, Isis eventually located all the pieces, then reassembled the body, and using her healing and magical powers restored Osiris to life.
The legend gives you some great classic visual cues. The finale is both a pieta and a resurrection scene, whilst the binding together of Osiris' body and the resurrection by magical means bring to mind elements of classic Universal horror ('The Mummy', 'Frankenstein'), and the Egyptian setting allows for Cecil B. Demille style spectacular costumes. So this is what I decided to focus on.
La Pieta (1499) by Michelangelo
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Compositional sketches and final artwork for my 'Newborn' submission from last year. I think the composition might have been stolen from a Hallmark Christmas card I remember from childhood. The foreground Holy family have been replaced by the Buck Rogers type with his lovely Droid wife and wailing biomechanoid sprog. Background-wise the little town of Bethlehem has morphed into a more opulent Alex Raymond style city whilst a Flash Gordon rocket streaks across the sky instead of the traditional star.