Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Spineless Comic


Spineless cover by Jess Bradley

A belated post on a project I worked on last year - a 4 page comic for the Newcastle Science Comic.
My pages formed a chapter within a selection of comics by different artists illustrating fun and interesting facts about invertebrate creatures. The final comic was available for visitors of the Great North Museum: Hancock to pick up for free during the 'Spineless' exhibition. 

The chapter I was given was Seashore: Lobsters and Mussels. I had to specifically design my comic around lobster tagging/tracking and mussel byssus, and also had to collaborate with a scientist and curator of the exhibition to ensure all facts and figures were accurate.





Planning and Roughs:

My initial roughs always start out a bit crazy as
I work out the script and layouts for each page.



Refining each page layout before final inking

Ink outlines for the first page.


Final Pages:




I scanned in the inked pages and added the
colours, textures and fonts on Photoshop




The Exhibition:





The exhibition was put together really well, with lots of areas for children to play, interact and learn fun facts.
There were even some live exhibits of beetles, spiders and other creepy crawlies which I thought was a really cool addition. 


The finished comics ready for takin' !


Spineless workshops at the Great North Museum: Hancock:

During the half term holidays I was invited to assist as a guest artist in some workshops themed on the Spineless comic and exhibition.
There were some great comic and drawing activities that children (and parents!) could take part in, and they were really popular events.
I walked round helping children with their ideas and drawing and getting them started on a giant comic on the wall (which unsurprisingly was very popular with the little ones!)
I really enjoyed the experience and would love to help out at more workshops in the future.
It made me realise how much I've missed working with children since being a Nursery Assistant at University!

Loved seeing my comic as bunting!




Images from: http://newcastlesciencecomic.blogspot.co.uk

The comic got a review on the Forbidden Planet blog too which was awesome: 






Friday, 20 May 2016

The Graphic Canon

I'm a bit behind on posting some of the work I've been doing (pre house move), but my latest comic project is now complete!

I was delighted to be invited to submit a comic for The Graphic Canon- a series of anthologies, in which artists adapt classic works of literature into comics, illustrations and narrative art. I'd seen the books in shops and on Amazon, but never imagined I might be one of the contributing artists. 

Image from: http://www.russkick.com/graphic-canon/#top
For the project I was provided a list of novels to choose from and chose Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to make into a six page comic. Having a choice on what novel was really great, as it allowed me to look through and choose which story might suit my style and way of working better than others. 
Rebecca had some interesting character dynamics and imagery that I knew I could interpret without being too out of my comfort zone, although it involved drawing a lot of humans! Which I always feel I'm not amazing at (even though I'm doing it a lot nowadays!) But I made sure I focussed on drawing hands, feet and expressions to the best of my ability to make the characters more believable (and hopefully not too cute, as is my usual style!)

I was really worried I wouldn't get it finished in time for the deadline, as we moved house right in the middle of the time frame I had to finish it in! But I thankfully ended up getting it done with a couple of weeks to spare which took the pressure off a few busy weekends sorting out the house.

Roughing out the layout of each page

I always take the longest time planning out the comic, as this is something I struggle to decide on and is probably the weakest element of my comic work at the moment. I'm hoping in future projects to play with layout more, as I find it's always too tempting to confine everything to boxes and not be overly inventive with layout. For this comic I tried to vary closely packed panelled pages with larger, sparser spaces so it didn't look too busy which I think worked well.

Starting to create the final artwork.
I used Faber- Castell artist pens and soft pencils for shading.

I found with Rebecca that it's very dialogue heavy and this was also something I struggled to fit into the layouts. For some reason I really hate speech bubbles! And was originally going to make the comic wordless. However, some of the crucial scenes are very dialogue heavy, and as a lot involved conversations between characters, I felt like I couldn't avoid adding in speech bubbles, but made sure three of the pages only have a few lines of text, one being totally wordless just to allow some breathing space. I also made the speech bubbles themselves a bit subtler in pencil so they wouldn't draw the eye away from the images where there is a lot more text.

Spreads laid out on the screen ready to send to the client.
I added extra shading and the red elements in Photoshop to create a bit more depth to my
original pen and pencil drawings.

My idea to have the comic totally black and white changed mid way when I thought it might add a bit of interest to include hints of red throughout. The red in the comic forms a bit of a narrative itself and signifies when Rebecca (who although dead, is in a way the main character of the novel) is present in some form - whether through conversation, to the dress that she wore, to the fire in the house in the final scene that is almost her revenge from the grave*... 
*I recommend reading the book, it's pretty good, and if you prefer films, Hitchcock did a famous film adaptation of it too :)

Here is a montage of some panels from the finished pages:

As always I can see areas for improvement but am happy with the end result, and am pleased I stuck with traditional media for it, as I don't think the comic adaptation of the novel would have suited looking more digitally created.

If all goes well, this should appear in the next Graphic Canon book. This will be the first time my work will be published internationally which is amazing, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print if it gets through the editing process and makes it into the selection - fingers crossed!



Updates!

Yet again I have not been updating my blog for ages! So here's a long overdue post...

From Spring time last year (when we started the search) to February this year, my partner and I have been in the process of buying our first home together. And it's been a l-o-n-g and stressful process, with lots of things seeming to go wrong, falling through and just not happening along the way! I'm pleased to say we are now settled into our first house, now nearly fully furnished and decorated, but still with a lot of sorting and organising to do!


Unfortunately getting all the house stuff sorted and the general stress and worry of the move put a bit of a block on my creative flow, although I managed to complete a comic commission a few weeks ago (more to come on that soon) which was a nice project to ease back into comics after a long break!

This blog used to be a more frequent outlet for updates on my projects, self-criticism/analysis of my work and sometimes mini-reviews of comic events I've been to. But recently I realised that I'd pretty much dropped off the social media universe, and both my blog, twitter and website are starting to gather a few cobwebs!  So in the next few months I'm hoping to update stuff and re-vamp a few things - including my almost empty Easy and Big Cartel stores, so keep an eye out for new things appearing... eventually!

So, some comic updates!


BROKEN FRONTIER

At the beginning of this year I got a lovely surprise email from Andy Oliver (www.brokenfrontier.com) saying that he'd included me as one of 'six small press creators to watch in 2016' on Broken Frontier. This will probably include some interviews / features later this year with what I've been up to small press-wise, so I'm really keen to start some new work (if only so I have something to talk about in any interviews!) and it's given me a well needed boost in confidence over my work.
I am already a fan of the other people on the list and was really surprised that I was among them, having only self published 2 of my own comics, but I'm really excited to be on the site as 'one to watch' and get my work out there a bit more - especially as I've been quite quiet on the social media front recently!




Six Small Press Creators to Watch in 2016


My section on the post!


BIG BROWN EYES


Myself and my sisters have started planning for our next collaborative Big Brown Eyes zine.
Our last zine 'Beginnings' ended up being more of a mini anthology of comics than the illustrative zine we planned initially, but we were pleased with the outcome and the positive reception it got.

For our next zine we definitely want to combine comics with illustrative spreads to appeal to people who might prefer looking at pretty pictures as well as comics :) 
Our working title for it is Myths and Monsters, so it's themed on all things monstrous and beastly which is a theme that we hope should suit all our styles, as we all share an interest in that sort of thing. I'd like to try a coloured comic for this zine, perhaps in my digital style, as my one for Beginnings was in black and white ink. 

We are excited to announce that we have a table at the Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival in November and this is where we will be releasing our new zine and some new individual comics too. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Tumblr for sneak peeks at what we're creating between now and then! 

A preview of what is going to be featured in our next zine, by Karis


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Big Cartel Shop!

I am pleased to announce that my Big Cartel shop (which has been dormant in maintenance mode for about 3 years) is finally now live!

There are more products to appear soon, but so far you can get your hands on a copy of my Dreamscape comic and my Four Days in Budapest travel zine HERE



Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Maker

This 3 page comic was my contribution for Beginnings- a book of 5 short comics that my sisters and I put together for our debut as a new collective at BCZF and Shake Bristol.
Read a review of it HERE

I somehow managed to finish this comic in-between making 2 of my own individual books (Dreamscape and Four Days in Budapest) for the same deadline, all within the same manic couple of months.

As well as being a generally slow, meticulous worker, having a full time creative job also slows the process of my personal projects down A LOT, as I come home so creatively drained sometimes!
I love my job, but it's often hard to keep up the motivation to draw and do more illustration for myself when I've been doing it all day already and just want to come home and relax (that's when weaving, needle felting and TV box sets come into my life!)
I'm so happy I managed to finish the comics I aimed to complete before BCZF as well as contributing to our collective book. Kudos to Karis and Freya who managed 2 comics each!


I'm still not sure about this comic. I based the god-like character on a strange costume I saw in Budapest at the Ethnographic Museum. It looked kind of monstery yet anthropomorphic which I liked, and I decided to adapt the costume as a character for this comic, but I'm not sure if it's appearance really suits this story. At the same time, I didn't want the 'god' to design it's creations in it's own image.

This comic unintentionally became slightly surreal and cosmic like Dreamscape (with similar star signs floating round everywhere), but I experimented with dry brushing ink over my drawing for the first time for this one. I later used this technique to add a bit of depth to the front cover of Dreamscape, so it makes the two comics feed into and mirror each other in a way.
Although I like the overall look and tone of this story, it is quite tightly packed, and with perhaps 1 more page I could have paced it a bit more evenly and made the ending a little less abrupt.

I'm still very much in the early stages of developing my narrative style and finding the best techniques and mediums to work with for my comics. This ink style is very different to how I'd design something in my digital-collage textured style, but it's more time efficient and adds more depth and movement to things which has encouraged me to keep developing this technique for future work.


Broken Frontier Review

Following from our Broken Frontier preview on the lead up to BCZF, Andy Oliver also kindly reviewed our first Big Brown Eyes Collective anthology Beginnings.

The review of our collective anthology, concluding that we are 'definitely a trio to watch'!
Andy's comments picked up on several things that we'll definitely be taking on board for our next collaborative publication. 
I'm really pleased with the positive comments on my sister's work, especially Freya's in particular, as although she's been developing a manga-style comic for several years, this was her first published venture into narrative illustration. Both her comics were created in-between exams and studying for year 4 of her veterinary course at uni which is also an achievement in itself!

Read our full review HERE


The preview of our anthology and individual debut works can be read HERE



Some peeks at our book!


Buy yourself a copy HERE !

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

BCZF and Shake

At the weekend we had a Big Brown Eyes Collective table at the Bristol Comic and Zine Fair and the SHAKE zine fair! It was a great weekend, we met some lovely folk and some of our work is now out there in the world, including our debut collaborative anthology Beginnings.


BCZF was so busy! It was held at The Station like last year.
There were a few quieter moments but a constant stream of people throughout the day.


The SHAKE zine fair on Saturday was a in a much smaller venue at Start the Bus.
We were a bit squished together behind our table, but thankfully it was just Freya and I that day (we were 1 sister down!) so we weren't too over-cramped, and the smaller table actually made our stuff look a bit more enticing being packed closer together. My fave part of the day was finding a chocolate bar each on our table when we got there to set up, nice touch!

Freya setting up our table at SHAKE

We definitely learned a few things for future fairs, but I think we went well-prepared considering it was our first try at something like this (even if we did cart along too much stock!)
 I really wish I'd had more time to look round and chat to more stall-holders too, as I only managed a quick dash round and brief hello to a few people I recognized. If we do anything similar in the future, we'll try to alternate who watches the stall more efficiently so we can all have a turn to look round and be a bit more sociable!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and to the organizers of both events who made them so awesome! A big thank you to our Kickstarter backers too, who helped get us to this stage and help get our collective book into production!


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Dreamscape

My Dreamscape comic has just come back from the printers!
This is an extended 12 page comic of my 2 page story, originally published in the Dirty Rotten Comics #4 anthology.




I kept to ink and graphite for the comic, but added some ink dry brushing to the cover to make it bolder and look a little different to the inside (but hopefully not too different to the comic's style to make opening it a disappointment!) 


REVIEWS:

Since appearing in DRC, my Dreamscape comic has had a few reviews/mentions online.
This is pretty exciting for me, as despite having some artist features in the past, these are the first reviews of an individual piece of my work. 

Originally my idea was to create a set of separate DS comics to follow on from my original, as more of a dream diary series. After the positive feedback it received, I decided to extend the story into a single comic instead. I may create future 'issues' of Dreamscape, but for now I like how it looks as an individual comic. 



Broken Frontier

A little mention of my comic (and a snippet of the artwork) was featured on Broken Frontier in a review of Dirty Rotten Comics #4



It has also had another mention this week on Broken Frontier, in our Big Brown Eyes Collective preview in the run up to BCZF. On this post you can see a reveal of the book covers and previews of the inner pages of our individual comics that will also be on sale.

All being well, there will hopefully be a review of our collective book Beginnings on the site soon too!


SEE OUR PREVIEW HERE


Marfed blog


Jason kindly asked if he could feature Dreamscape on his blog but I was unprepared as to how lovely and detailed the review of it would actually be!



READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

Bleeding Cool:

By chance I spotted a re-tweet of this Bleeding Cool review of Dirty Rotten Comics #4 on Twitter and noticed a little condensed review Jason had written of my Dreamscape comic in there too.




Although only a 12 page book, DS was a long time in the making and is my first proper self published comic, alongside my Budapest zine. So it's kinda my baby :p 
Here's hoping it receives some positive feedback like it's mini predecessor!


Friday, 18 September 2015

Four Days in Budapest

I started this book way back in March/April during a holiday to Budapest with my sisters, and I'm pleased to say it's now complete, printed and ready to debut at BCZF!
 Hot off the press!

I compiled illustrations and sketchbook doodles from my trip into the book, along with some coloured re-workings of comics I roughed out in the many cafes we visited there.

I decided to limit myself to just 2 colours throughout which I haven't really tried before and was a bit wary of, but I think it makes everything tie in with each other nicely.


The comics hopefully break up the illustrations a bit. Although I've bought some travel zines in the past that are purely made up of single illustrations (and love them), I personally prefer a bit more to read and a bit more of a story to things, so I tried to incorporate this into my own book. I also wanted the book to be a record of my personal experience in Budapest, not just what we saw visually so tried to get the best of both in there!

 I love any sort of folk art and it was absolutely everywhere on pretty much everything in Budapest so I was in my element! Even cheap, touristy souvenirs were all hand decorated with beautiful designs, so obviously folk art patterns feature quite heavily in my book. The cover design was based on an embroidered doily I brought back.