Wednesday, 22 August 2012

50 Greatest Action Stars!

So another full page illustration for Nuts magazine, this one particularly being a job right up my street... well certainly thematically anyway!

I'd been talking to the AD of the mag only the previous week, about should an occasion arise i'd love to take a stab at drawing a big portrait of Chuck Norris; I thought this may be something that'd crop up with the release of Expendables 2, also i'm a big movie, and 80's geek as everyone knows... I think a lot of movie stuff has been going to other illustrators at the mag, while i've looked on with a bit of envy, and of course a fair bit of admiration too for some of the images created.

Anyway only a week later, and this job came up for 50 Greatest Action Heroes, needless to say I almost bit their hand off for this one.

I was asked if I had any ideas for what we could do for this illo, and I suggested a crowd scene very much like the movie poster from the 80's, or even a VHS box cover for that matter, the one I sent over as reference was the poster for the movie 'Warriors'... to my surprise they went for it!

I started this the next morning which was a Saturday, but came up against a bit of a roadblock almost immediately, I thought the best way to get that 80's feel over was not to actually colour it my usual way, but to go for a more painted look.

Now back in the day I was one of the earliest digital painters this side of the Atlantic, however i'd traded in that look down to two main reasons; There wasn't enough work around for that kind of illustration style at the time, and secondly I went back to my roots stylistically with drawing, which is basically what i've been working in for the past 5 years or so, and has obviously proven popular.

I suppose what I did with the above job is come up with an amalgamation of both styles, so there's very much line work on display, but the colouring is less basic and far more modeled.... I did this not necessarily consulting with the AD, so I could have fell flat on my face, in fact for a long time this image was looking pretty ropey, but by the time i'd sent the rough i'd got it looking pretty sharp... luckily Simon the Art Director is open to new stuff, and loved the style for this.

There's not the full 50 on the images above, but somewhere around the 25 mark, once the artwork was done I was asked if I could make the text more cohesive with the artwork, which I did by a bit of light digital painting.. Si had already provided the text with flames.. Ha, although I was worried there when I heard the dreaded words "can you handle the text as well"

I saw the artwork in print yesterday (bottom pic) and while there's things i'd maybe have improved with a bit more time (some of the crowd centrally at the back) I think it came out very well indeed to say that I have painted in this way for a very long time, in fact I wouldn't rule out a change in how I do certain if not all illustrations in the future, i'm not saying they'll all be like this, but I certainly think I may colour my illustrations with a bit more variation, and of course every now and then do a full-blown digital painting with no linework at all should a job arise.

I'm hoping to do something again very soon in this style, most probably for Nuts as I know they were very happy with the appearance of this... who know's maybe a full page portrait of Chuck Norris!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Women's Health Illos!

Here's some new illos that hit the newsstands  a little while ago for Women's Health UK. This rather cool job came courtesy of the acting AD of the mag Will Fox, who was on caretaker duties for the title.

Having received a copy of Kaleidoscope through the post, he took a shine to my Kama Sutra illos and thought that something along those lines would be suitable for a sex feature they had in the mag, concept was a great one, can you draw these six celebrities; Russell Brand, Rob Pattison, Frankie Cocozza, Alex Reid, Ashton Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg as dolls in packaging.

I was supplied with a list of quotes and headlines to fit on the boxes, the second set of illos would show the dolls looking like they've with shall we say.

Absolutely brilliant idea for a set of images, and I was on familiar ground with the half-naked celebs, to top it off Will was a real pleasure to work with.

I should point out not all was plain sailing though, I soon realized I was going to have to put my design hat on, and work out how each box was going to represent the character of the celeb, to say nothing of all that dreaded typography... which always gives me a headache.

The pluses on this was a long deadline, and a superb AD nudging me along in the right direction, also finally got to do more work for a women's title, something i've been lacking these past few years, I suppose my work has had a tendency to be very masculine of recent times, so always nice to do something different, and for such a great mag too.

Above is the artwork in context, I think they looked really all big on the page, it was a really great job to be onboard for, and i'd love a relationship with the title to match the one i've had with it's big brother Men's Health, who I must have done over 50 drawings for over the years.

The bottom pic is of yours truly for the contributors section of the title, I was honored to be asked.. it's something i've done this a few times before for titles like Men's Health & Mojo, i'd like to think that sales may have gone up with the introduction of my illos... this will no doubt be counterbalanced by the fall in sales after people have seen my mug in the magazine.. these things balance themselves out.

If you can't be bother to click the pic above to see what it says, here you go: 'Portraying celebrities in compromising positions is a bit of a speciality for Bill', well ain't that the truth.. it goes on "Drawing Frankie Cocozza with bum-flashing action was a dream job!", well ain't that.. hang on what?! I can't remember saying that... i've been misquoted there surely?!

If you haven't picked up the magazine yet, all i'm saying is this; it's got Mollie from girlband The Saturday's on the front, which seems enough reason to me for anyone to buy the title.

Friday, 3 August 2012

EMPIRE- Ten years in the making!

Okay so even the most casual of readers of this blog have probably got that i'm a massive film fan, this may even be an understatement, a 'movie geek' may be better description.

Next January will mark a decade for me making pictures, for about the same time i've been doing this illustration malarkey, the one magazine i've read month in and month out is British film bible EMPIRE... it just simply is my favourite title to read, like I say i'm a movie geek.

Over the past 10 years i've often tried and failed to get my stuff in to the magazine, I should also point out that almost one by one i've ticked off every other magazine and publisher not only on my 'wish list' but on any British illustrator's 'wish list'... the one always to elude me was my favourite EMPIRE.. that is until now!

I think anyone can see that myself and EMPIRE are a good match, both in terms of my style and love for the subject matter, under the stewardship of the previous Art Director, who there's no doubt did an amazing job over a such long period, particularly with various redesigns, but it would also be fair to say that illustration was not on his radar, for such a big magazine, that is ripe for illustration, it's barely had any over the past 5 years if not longer, not since it was using the great Mick Brownfield, and even then the mag was using just the one drawing.

Anyway a new Art Director came on board recently, a Mr Chris Lupton, who along with some overhauling and classy redesigning seems far more open to the use of illustration in the title, i'll be honest with you, even though i'm biased, the reality is I don't think you can be classed as a great magazine, or certainly a well designed and art directed one unless you are using illustration throughout the title; the past few years the best designed titles in my opinion in this country have been; Wired, Esquire, GQ, Men's Health, all have at their best moments been littered with great art. Fact.

Okay enough ranting and back to the EMPIRE commission, so I got an email from Elliot Webb the Art Editor at the mag, to see whether I'd be interested in drawing 25 Matthew McConaughey illos, for a tongue in cheek feature about how much time he spends topless on film, as you can imagine I almost bit  his hand off for the gig.

It was a job that plays to my strengths: figure work, likeness driven, and humorous.

The above drawings I think I did over the space of a weekend pretty much, there was a lot of research to do on his outfits and haircuts in various films, and apart from some of his more obscures movies proving tricky to get the right reference for ( Big thanks to Elliot with help on those) this was a very smooth job.

I've just completed a second job for the magazine, which was a far more trickier affair, but the offshoot from this is Chris the AD at the mag has opened my eyes to new exciting opportunities for the use of my work, I can't go into too much detail here, but over the next twelve months I think i'll be retooling some of the stuff I do for different markets, also hopefully i'll get to work with EMPIRE on even more exciting jobs in future issues.

I'm not sure this is going ahead, but the magazine were talking about doing a one off poster of the McConaughey illustrations as a giveaway on the title's podcast, which if it does happens will probably be signed by yours truly, so if you're a fan of the mag, a fan of my work, or a fan of Matthew McConaughey without a shirt then check out their website for further details.

Next up: A lovely job for Women's Health; which also shows celebrities in various states of undress.. fast becoming my speciality this!