Murderous Abbie


Murderous Abbie


I’ve had a bad cold and I’ve been in the doldrums, thinking a lot about what I am doing. I have been working on some of my character portraits. I wanted to spend the week finishing and refining some ongoing projects (they must be deemed finished at some point and the deadline for that book is approaching!)  I think that is the hardest part – knowing when to stop – I heard someone once say – stop when it cannot be made any more beautiful – but what if it isn’t beautiful? What if all I see are the flaws? The things that frustrate the hell out of me?  The things I want to do better? I think stopping when things are barely adequate is crazy but you can take the thing too far and destroy all your hard work, too. I think I did that when I first decided I needed to draw a face. I remember being really happy with  a lot of my early attempts and so I didn’t push myself enough perhaps – and then when I realised that the drawings could be a great deal better  I often found I kept pushing it until it looked overworked and seriously lacking in spontaneity. I think there is a vile fine line between the path of inadequacy and that of the destroyer!

I hope the things that I am making now are heading in that direction.  We never stop learning so it would be insanity to stop and say that will do, but I guess equally important – we mustn’t give up when we realise we could be more.

I’m going back to bed.

Oh, wait. I guess I should explain about Abbie. She’s a new character I am illustrating. She is a slightly murderous, post-apocalyptic badass, and scarred. Inside and out.  I hope she stays for a while as I really enjoyed drawing her – from her wild hair to her scarred, pretty face.

These images show the stages of my drawing – I will probably try to remember to keep a record like this in the future. I can then look back and find exactly where it all went wrong!



Bibliography and Inspiration

Turbo Kid – Directed by Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell – 2015

– because it’s a post-apocalyptic masterpiece!

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing

Faigin, G., The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1992

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015


Music I listened to

Chronicles of the Wasteland/ Turbo Kid Original Motion Picture Soundtrack  –  Le Matos, 2015

Because it’s a post-apocalyptic/80’s/synthwave masterpiece!

Portrait in charcoal

This is a recent portrait I made in charcoal. He is a new character in the book I am working on and I spent a huge amount of time practising this guy as I didn’t have any useful reference photos, or a model for that matter, and I didn’t want it to end up being a caricature just because I was trying to do it from my imagination.


Different races have key characteristics which an artist can refer to but that shouldn’t be an excuse to over exaggerate features just to make your point.  Gary Faigin (from Craftsy) briefly covers the differences in skulls and explained that Caucasian skulls in profile are flatter, African are sloping outwards (with the jaw sitting further out in relation to the forehead) and Asian skulls fall somewhere between the two.  I did a little more rooting around on this subject and there are even more skull types to learn about. I actually ended up drawing upon a variety of sources to make this drawing, including google for information and images about the skull, Faigin, graphic novels and I used an image of Christie from Alien Resurrection for his expression and age.

I stayed with charcoal for this drawing to be consistent with the rest of the portraits I have been doing but mostly because I am really enjoying learning to use this messy, unpredictable medium! I love blending with different brushes and I am discovering that depending on the coarseness of the bristle you can manipulate the charcoal in different ways. A small, flat, soft synthetic brush can push the charcoal in different directions, a finer brush loosely used in a circular motion can help blend small areas. Courser bristles can push the charcoal into the paper to help lay down a darker tone, and when finding the initial shapes this can be pretty useful in preventing greasy finger marks on the paper.

Bibliography and Inspiration

Faigin, G., The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1992

Skulls and Race in google images

Alien: Resurrection, Directed by  Jean-Pierre Jeunet and written by Joss Whedon, 1997

Music I listened to

Faith and the Muse

Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord – The Devil Wears Prada

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

The Big Stink – The men who will not be blamed for nothing

I love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness

Creeps of London Underground

I have been drawing zombies and zombie portraits for a book a friend of mine is writing – he is self-publishing and when he asked if I would help I was really excited as I am big a fan of the old zombie!

He had a deadline and so my earlier drawings needed to be kept simple – I didn’t have that much time to explore some of the ideas I had so I saw book 1 as a chance to develop characters.  Now I am on book 2 I am continuing working on the characters but I am also taking my ideas a little further and exploring action, gesture and composition.

Blood Chin Zombie

This is one of my newer zombie portraits – a recently infected wreck of a man who just scored a meal. Compared to my previous portraits I have focused more on detail, rather than mood, as I have started to think about the decomposition of muscle and flesh. It’s no way near that point yet – but I can see my exploration of anatomy is going to be useful for this project and that’s the next step for me – I will be working from the inside out.

Like my other attempts, I used charcoal and a variety of old watercolour brushes for blending.  I spent some time looking at zombie art and graphic novels, and I bought “Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies” so I could take some lessons – my page “Zombie Book” includes some of the little projects I did and I think they were really useful and most importantly, lots of fun. I’m also using “Anatomy for Fantasy Artists” which has been very useful for gesture, anatomy and reference photos.

Tunnel zombies

This is a scene I am working on (I think it’s almost finished) showing zombies creeping towards a fleshy meal in the dark tunnels of the London Underground. I used vanishing point to work out the perspective and I tried to make sure all the heads of the upright zombies in the mid ground and background were at the same level which helps keep the perspective consistent. I began by lightly working out the larger shapes and then focusing on the gesture, capturing the smaller details as I went along. I used graphite and a lot of swearing.


Bibliography and Inspiration

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist , Clayton. M, and Philo, R, Royal Collection Publications, 2014

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Anatomy for Fantasy Artists – An essential guide to creating action figures and fantastical forms, Fabry, G., and Cormack, B., David and Charles Publishers, 2006.

The Walking Dead Vol. 1, Kirkman, R. and Moore, T. Image Comics, 2006.

The Walking Dead Vol 2 -17, Kirkman, R., et al, Image Comics.

Revival, Seeley, T. and Norton, M., Image Comics,

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, Austen, J. and Grahame-Smityh, S., Titan Books, 2009.

Music I listened to

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

The Powerless Rise – As I Lay Dying

An Ocean Between Us – As I lay Dying

JuJu – Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Creep  – Radiohead