Merry Christmas!

A little something I painted to celebrate the fact that it’s cold, wet and people keep playing sodding Christmas music everywhere.

If you want to help a bunch of struggling unloved student illustrators you can buy a Christmas card or two featuring this image over on deviantART

Tales from the wasteland – The Airship Docks

Today I’m uploading another brief walk-through of how I approached one of the images I produced for Smokey Bastard.

This time it’s an image of a steampunk airship dock, port of origin for the crew of the “Widow Garret” which you can see docked in the bottom left of the images.

The brief was very clear as to what the band wanted, I had to show them as they are inthe cover image painting, stood on front of their airship with the bustling industrial docks behind them. Initially I didn’t know how to approach such a complex image so to get the image under way I started with a rough pencil sketch on paper to try and get the image worked out in my head (the sketch below is actually the 3rd I think). At that stage I still wasn’t ready to approach the final image so I made a very rough google sketchup model to give me a solid understanding of all the perspective involved. I then exported the model  into photoshop and painted over it until I had the beginnings of my final image.The next stage was simply adding more detail to the already blocked out image You can see I messed about with the colour scheme a bit. It was looking a bit too serene in the second image.The final stages of an image are often the most enjoyable, and by the time I was up to the images below I had the fun job of simply adding little details and correcting small problems. The sky colour got changed once again to look more oppressive and industrial, and a handful of airships got added to the sky. along with the crowds below.The finished image:You can buy the album here, which you should because it looks lovely and you can get a limited edition poster that I also did for the band (as well as a poster of the image above)
… Also, the music is very good.

Listen to some of the Tracks
Buy the album

Tales From The Wasteland cover art

It’s not often the ideal job appears, but I can honestly say that there’s very little else I’d rather do than be paid to make steampunk themed illustrations. This was one of those jobs.

With the recent release of Smokey Bastard’s new album; Tales from the Wasteland, I’ve been given permission to post the the artwork I made for it back in April. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to post a little bit of a step by step image showing how I did it. (Click the image to enlarge it)

This artwork forms the front cover of the album, however the entire album is illustrated so when you open it out you get a panorama of a wasteland with an airship flying into the distance. There’s also a double sided poster showing an airship dock and a cutaway plan of the airship. Basically- it’s awesome. Even if I do say so myself.

The first image in the sequence was actually drawn by Chris from the band so sadly I can take no credit for the idea nor the composition. The second sketch was my rough re-drawing of the original image in pencil.

The first monochrome image was roughly blocked out with the brush tool in Photoshop over the top of the scanned-in line art, then refined further to reach the third image.

Once I was happy with the tones and the forms I overlaid a layer of flat colour on overlay and started to paint the colours over the top of the tones. Admittedly this took me some time and didn’t look brilliant at the time, since I was new to the technique. I’ve got it nailed now though! The final image shows the completed artwork with a few colour edits and refinements.

Observe the final cover artwork above! I’m afraid I can’t lay claim to the lovely Victorian text, that was the work of Stuart Smith.  Copyright for the above image belongs to Smokey Bastard.

You can buy the album here, which you should because it looks lovely and you can get a limited edition poster that I also did for the band
… Also, the music is very good.

In a few day’s I’ll post how I made another one of the images for the album.
Listen to some of the Tracks
Buy the album

Yet more concept art

Here for your perusal is yet more exciting horror themed concept-art. For the most part I’m not too pleased with it. I can do better, but I don’t have the luxury of time. I have a uni crit session in 5 hours and I expect I’m going to get toasted. I deserve to. I ought to concentrate better in… oh look at that pretty cloud! Although I am pleased with how the nun turned out.

The McGrath Manifesto 22/09/2011

I’ve just finished writing the most interesting thing I’ve written for a long time; my swanky new manifesto. In uni on Wednesday we were given the enjoyable task of each writing our own personal manifestos in the spirit of recent popular art movements. In theory I dislike any kind of dogmatic rules or assertions that can so easily be bent out of context or broken under the weight of previously unconsidered facts, however I really enjoyed writing these as I’m quite opinionated, even if I later find myself to have been a narrow minded fool (which is OK insofar as I consider it progress). I was considering starting a one man art movement and calling it “Tomism” but I decided that was gratuitously inane. It is of course all opinion, so if you deign to read it please take it with a pinch of salt. That said, if you disagree with it you can sod off.

The McGrath Manifesto 22/09/2011

Being an opinionated list of idealised principles a true artist should aspire to maintain.

Art should be:

1         Sincere and unpretentious.

Art should never be made purely for the purposes of making one appear “avant-garde”, devoid of any depth, meaning or skill. A blank canvas or a lump of formless concrete does not constitute valid art and should not be elevated to an unwarranted status under the pretension that the philistine general public simply “does not get it”. Such “art” can only be described as posturing, uniting an elitist few in contempt for the majority. This posturing serves only to undermine hard working and genuinely creative individuals.

2         As original as humanly possible

Great art cannot be mass produced, nor should it be. So long as humanity possesses its capacity for original thinking humanity ought to think in an original manner. It is all too easy to replicate a tried and tested formula, to resort to clichés or to mimic earlier successes but to do so is to stall your development as an artist, by its very definition creativity demands originality.

3         Recognised as a skill like any other

To create great art requires great skill. Like any other discipline the artist must hone their skill though hard work, determination and ceaseless practice. While innate talent may account for some small measure of success, no artist ever achieved their potential without dedication and hard work. This truth is of particular importance no matter what stage an artist is at in their personal development. There will always be people better than you; the trick is to shorten that list.

4         Inspirational

A true work of art demands a reaction from its audience, anything less than this is purely decoration, incidental, on par with hotel wallpaper, pavement slabs, novelty toilet paper and every other mundane aspect of life we walk over, walk past or wipe up with. True art demands a reaction, good or bad, engages on an emotional level and does not require an explanation. An artist should not fear be a bad reaction to their work, but no reaction at all.

5         Not purely sensationalism

Since time immemorial schoolboys have been decorating their books, furniture and peers with explicit language, pictures of genitalia, bodily substances and opinionated messages about other people’s immediate relatives. Either it is time that this unappreciated art form is recognised and praised for the value it brings to our lives or we have to consider it is of possibly no value whatsoever. Sensationalism is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

6         In whatever form enables the artist to most closely realise their vision

Art can take a multitude of forms and appeal to a multitude of senses. Therefore an artist should feel no need to limit themself to one specific medium or sense. Any media that is capable of conveying the artist’s vision is valid, and that medium which conveys that vision most closely is also the most valid.

7         Able to impress a child

Children have the sublime gift to say exactly what they think when they want to and no one will ever expect any better of them. Children are unfettered by the obligation to pretend they like things; they assess things at face value on an emotional basis and have an appreciation for simple beauty. Consequently they are in a perfect position to assess the worth of a piece of art.

8         An improvement on the artist’s last piece

An artist must never accept that they cannot do better. To stand still is to stagnate. Every piece must differ and improve from the last. Take the thing you hate most about your last work and ensure it never happens again, this is the road to enlightenment.

9         Difficult

Making art is an uphill battle to some worthwhile goal, where you can stand atop the mountain of your achievement and admire the view. Challenge is the gatekeeper to success, without challenge to overcome there can be no victory and no distinction between mediocrity and greatness.

10     The artist’s greatest contribution to the world

If an artist truly loves what they do and seeks to master their field then it can only follow that the artist devotes as much of their time and love to their art as they possibly can. A great artist is remembered through their work. Make your work the most precious contribution of your finite existence, it will live much longer than you will.