Archives for posts with tag: illustration

You might have seen the #MeetTheArtist hashtag circulating on Twitter recently. There’s some lovely stuff out there by the talented artists of the Twitter-sphere. They all follow the same general format, with a central self portrait and lists of likes and dislikes on either side, plus the odd cheeky comment. Well worth having a look here.

Anyway, here’s my effort. Pleased to meet you! (Click the image to enlarge.)


Behind the Book : Keith Robinson Discovers Modern Magic

June 17, 2015 9:54 am

This is a transcript of a blog interview by my lovely agents at The Bright Group. Special thanks to K.M Sharp for the word-smithery.


Keith Robinson‘s diverse & distinguishable Bright portfolio has been a fiction favourite amongst clients for the past 3 years. His strong style and considered line work gained him the opportunity to work with up-and-coming Irish author Nigel Quinlan on his debut novel, The Maloney’s Magical Weatherbox (Orion).

STORY OVERVIEW: Neil and Liz Maloney’s dad is a Weatherman – but not the normal kind. He’s the person who makes sure the seasons change every year. This year, though, the Autumn hasn’t arrived and the weather is spiraling out of control. Witchcraft is at work, but can Neil and Liz stop the chaos before it’s literally the end of the world? 

 Here’s what Keith had to say about the intriguing project – 
Nigel’s vivid characters and fantastic situations, infused with Celtic magic, were wonderful to draw.
The illustrations were commissioned by editor Amber Caraveo at Orion Children’s Books. The brief was for 4 full-page illustrations for the start of each section of the book. The story is told in alternating chapters by the main protagonists, Neil and Liz. So for each part of the book I also drew a chapter heading vignette for Neil and one for Liz (eight in total), featuring a key moment in that section of the story.
I was sent the manuscript, which I read while on holiday last year and really fell in love with the characters and the strange world of the Weathermen, so when I came to start drawing I already had a very clear image in my mind.
This is absolutely my favourite kind of subject: ancient magic colliding with the everyday modern world. The illustrations were mainly drawn using a brush and ink, with dip pen and fine-liners for detail. I wanted to create strong contrasts of black and white with dynamic compositions to convey the drama and magic of the story. I also drew a lot of character sketches to get in touch with the strong personalities of Neil and Liz.
Neil and Liz are very modern kids but the book is in the classic tradition of children’s fantasy, bringing to mind Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Neil Gaiman. So I wanted the illustrations to be contemporary but to also feel like part of the tradition of children’s fantasy book illustration, drawing on the influences of some of my own illustration heroes such as  Arthur Rackham, Paulline Baynes and Charles Vess.

Seems like a good excuse for some pictures of knights and dragons. Not that I ever need an excuse for pictures of knights and dragons…

Click on the image to see more from my illustration portfolio.

scroll comp 560

Here’s an interesting project from Autodesk Research: ‘Draco’ is ‘a prototype sketch-based interface from that allows artists and casual users alike to add a rich set of animation effects to their drawings, seemingly bringing illustrations to life.’

I love the idea of a sketch based interface, whereby you can control motion paths and other properties by drawing directly into the work area. This feels very intuitive, especially if you’re using a tablet or an interactive pen display such as a Wacom Cintiq. I’d like to see a hybrid interface for something like After Effects, where sketch based controls can be fine tuned with more traditional methods like keyframes and the graph editor.

I worry about all this though. I worry about the idea of bringing illustrations to life. Why would you do that? Is the predominance of screen-based media making us all so distracted that we can’t sit and look at a static image anymore? And in any case, part of an illustrator’s mastery is creating life and movement through draughtsmanship.


One of my favourite illustrators is Ernest Shepard. This lovely picture of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet tells you everything you need to know about a windy day. It certainly wouldn’t be improved by a bunch of animating leaves whirling around. Quite the opposite in fact.

I also worry about animation being automated and controlled by algorithms. It’s great that you can make things bounce and ease and wobble at the click of a button. There are some great tools around for this, like the brilliantly named Ease and Wizz for After Effects. But it does feel like animation – and motion graphics in particular – is becoming rather homogeneous. You see the same kind of movement everywhere and design often seems driven by whichever plug-in effect happens to be in fashion.

Animation is about feeling. You can really see this in a traditional animator’s pencil tests. (This is Shere Khan from The Jungle Book, animated by the great Milt Kahl.) Pencil tests have such a lovely quality. They’re so direct – from brain to hand to page. And created with nothing more than acute observation, great draughtsmanship and a pencil.  The feeling of an animation comes from the personality of the animator. You can’t automate that.

%d bloggers like this: