It’s the 3rd time I’ve taken part in Twitters illustration collective – Animal Alphabets.  It’s been a great way to practice, try new things and see all the amazing work produced by other creatives. The Monster Movie/Book Characters round has been suitably gloomy as I love dark art – it’s also been really hard as I have a picture book to finish! I’ve made some rather mediocre monsters at times – some that are definitely on my redraw list when I have the time. Here are my favourites so far. The rest can be seen with all the other entries here.


I’ve been thinking a lot about how I work. I used all kinds of references for these creatures  – my tablet is full of photos, I follow many awesome artists and my book shelf  is full of books.  I think my Spectrum collection and my Japanese Comickers  are probably the most inspiring set of books I own but then the postman brings me an Imagine FX once a month and it’s so full of awesome digital work I suddenly remember why I bought that graphics tablet. The tablet is barely used – I really will learn how at some point but I love working traditionally so much, maybe it was a massive waste. I really hope not but I think it was, deep down.

I need music when I work – I go through dreadful phases of being hooked on the same thing and then suddenly it’s all over and a new fad starts. Right now it’s anything Tokyo Ghoul – that season 1 opening theme!  I just finished the anime (season 1 and 2) and I’m heartbroken. Not sure if it’s because it’s over for now or if the story was just so sad.  I have started purchasing the Manga.

Bibliography and Inspiration

Spectrum Fantastic Arts

Imagine FX

Japanese Comickers

@AnimalAlphabets (Twitter)

Music I listened to

Probably a lot of metalcore and goth – as is my way.

Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 – full song Unravel by TK

Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 Actual Intro with characters/art


Funeral Pyrate and the Animaloonies

I have joined in with another drawing collective on Twitter. It seemed the perfect opportunity to get Funeral Pyrate out of the house. Each month a different animal is chosen to be inflated like a balloon. Its pure silliness and a lot of fun!
I am grouping all of my balloons together. Each month I will add the new balloon.

Eventually Funeral Pyrate will fly!

Animaloon gopher

Funral Pyrate and his balloons


So far we have done a cat, a dog, a sloth and a gopher. I will re work this design at some point and make it with watercolour, for fun/practice. I have to say it though, my heart has been stolen by the Polychromos pencils. Perhaps the two can be a team!


Bibliography and inspiration

Sci-Fi Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

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

Animaloon Collective – @animaloonies

Music I listened to

Logan Soundtrack

Warm Bodies soundtrack

Interpol – The Undoing, Always Malaise, etc


Mermaid Protector

Protector ~ she protects the dugongs and manatees; only feeding on seagrass and the souls of those who harm the seagrass meadows.

She is based on my recent drawings of dugongs for Animal Alphabets (Twitter).

Inspired by a fun mermaid challenge during  May on social media this month, because its May. And why not? The challenge is to make a mermaid piece every day and hashtag it ‘#mermay’  so you can share it with the  world (on Instagram and Twitter). I have failed miserably since I have only managed one so far but I got to practice my watercolour painting  and that’s pretty important. I might do another, who knows. The “problem” is I have got a lot of work on right now – my own project – Funeral Pyrate, and two book commissions (yay!) which I am pretty excited about!   I feel incredibly busy right now and my blog is suffering as usual, but my watercolour practice is not – I have found some brushes that suit me and I’m slowly investing in some good paint (Windsor and Newton Professional/Artist quality) both of  which has made a massive difference to my results and enjoyment. It turns out cheaper paint is actually quite hard to manipulate compared to the better quality stuff. I still have a lot to learn but my confidence is slowly building with this gorgeous, unpredictable medium and I will continue to use it every day to make sure I improve.

Bibliography and Inspiration

The Art of Loish, A Look Behind the Scenes, Lois Van Baarle , 3DPublishing, 2016






Music I listened to

Turbo Kid Soundtrack (I am obsessed)

The Birthday Massacre (still obsessed)

Miss May I – Monument





26 Fairytales later

It is a proud moment when you complete a drawing challenge! This has been a lot of fun and I think I have learned a lot from it – not only in creating characters and settings but also in meeting a weekly deadline on top of all the other projects I am working on.

26 weeks later – the next round will be about endangered animals. Challenge accepted! I will continue to collect them on my page dedicated to creatures.

Bibliography and Inspiration

This was over a long period so it covers a lot of reading and research – I usually use at least 2 or 3 of my books for reference and inspiration for each drawing. So. Pretty much all of this.

Music I listened to.

I always listen to music when I draw. Again, this was over a long period and I have probably forgotten a lot of it but I can safely say it was:

Mozart – Requiem

The Birthday Massacre – especially Superstition

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Westworld Soundtrack

Echo and the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain

The Devil Wears Prada – Space EP


Turbo Kid Soundtrack



Vasilisa the Fair

This illustration pretty much demanded some kind of paint – I tried in vain to make a night time scene with coloured pencil. What a stupid idea, that was! It just ended up looking so dull and messy – I think its possibly problem with the polychromos as they are not very blendable but I’m not really sure that if I owned a coveted tin of prismacolour I could have achieved the shiny brightness I had in mind –perhaps on a large scale that’s a big ask for a coloured pencil. But since I don’t have those pencils to test that theory I was forced to turn to the watercolours.

I am glad I did because even though lots of the expected watercolour problems did occur (e.g mud and cauliflowers blooms) I seem to have learned to either welcome them or fix them. Patience is the most important thing but knowing a little about how watercolour behaves on the paper is also very useful. I think what annoys me those most is the tests I make before I commit often looks better than the piece. And I always use the same paper for the test – always! Vasilisa the no fair!

I guess small tests don’t always help predict the larger outcome but one positive is that my tests used to look pretty bad and now most often they look pretty good. It’s perhaps these little things that show progress with watercolours will be made. Even if it is slow. Which is sort of my fault as I should spend more time on it than I do; watercolour paper is expensive!

Bibliography and Inspiration

Dreamscapes Fantasy World, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Impact Books, Cincinnati,Ohio, 2014.

500 Manga Villains and Heroes, Yishan Studio, 2010

Music I listened to

The Raveonettes – Pretty in Black

The Birthday Massacre

Engella ~ On gesture, Chinese lanterns and swirling cloaks.

I have been practicing gesture. It’s something I really wanted to focus on for some of the illustrations I made for the sci fi story, Engella, by Paul Ian Cross.

I began by seeking out reference material.  I examined how clothing swings when you suddenly turn, and what it does when you walk and are caught in the breeze on a balmy beach.  (Since I didn’t have a balmy beach nearby some of this took place in my head and in my living room).  I made about a million colour studies with pastels to find the right mood for the final painting and then I moved on to making watercolour sketches to decide how to make the watercolour work for what I had in mind.

Part of the story takes place in the future so for inspiration and the pure joy of it all I researched cyber punk and Chinese lanterns, and dark alleyways. I made a cyberpunk mood board on pinterest.   This is something I like to do! A lot. I have collected a huge amount of reference material and inspiration there for other projects and for safe keeping.


Engella  (graphite)

I sketched out lots of ideas to find Engella and this is who emerged. I love adding energy and movement to my drawing – its so rewarding making the subject come alive and tell a story!

Kindle cover

The book cover (watercolour and watercolour pencil)


Bibliography and Inspiration

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Music I listened to

All about Eve

Cocteau Twins

I love you but Ive chosen darkness



Kindle cover

A preview for the new book cover I painted! I was invited to collaborate on this e-book recently by the super author/scientist, Paul Ian Cross, and I’ve had so much fun with this project! It’s about a girl called Engella and is set across multiple universes – not only did I work on the book cover but also on some illustrations for the story itself. It’s been such a pleasure – and totally appeals to my Sci Fi geek.  The book is due to launch on Sunday 31st July and it’s free!

Bibliography and Inspiration

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Sketching from the Imagination – An insight into creative drawing, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Sketching from the Imagination: Sci Fi, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Sci-Fi Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.


 Music I listened to

The Devil Wears Prada – Space E.P

Mozart – Requiem

Switchblade Symphony

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

My Dead Hand

This is the first instalment of my art journal. One of the things I always find daunting is drawing realistic hands and I want to address that because it is one of the main reasons I am nervous about drawing actual people. I decided I needed to learn about anatomy so that my attempts do not look so wooden and they look believable.  Besides, to draw a good zombie one must be aware of its innards!

This is My Dead Hand – it’s actually my hand and I have zombified it. I used watercolour for the background and watercolour pencil for the hand itself.



These hand sketches are the result of gesture exercises from a class I bought on Craftsy – a very useful online resource which provides tuition videos and feedback on many creative endeavours. I have also been looking at Da Vinci’s “Anatomist” and some of the Fantasy Underground books for some clues and inspiration.


I have been practicing drawing hands with graphite on rough paper, as you go through a lot just finding the movement and shape to begin with, and it seemed less wasteful than using up a good sketchbook.  I get a little precious over nice paper so this approach helped me loosen up and throw caution to the wind! My aim is to show the gesture and energy in the hand and I think these sketches are good examples of the stages and the progress I have made so far. The more polished piece (dare I say finished?) is for a zombie story a friend of mine is self-publishing. He asked me to do some illustrations for his book – a task which has been hard work but motivating, and one that has helped me to focus on some of the goals that are important to me; improving my knowledge on anatomy, and developing my skills using gesture. I am now working on the second volume and this drawing is one I hope to include.

The zombie hands were rendered using watercolour for the background and watercolour pencils for the hands. I have always wanted to make a decent water colour piece but I have had very little success. I don’t think I have the patience. Water soluble pencils are great because you can make the drawing and then use water to make it look more painterly. They appeal to me as I am more of a drawer than a painter. I have realised through trial and error to move the water away from the light area to the dark – otherwise flat or even muddy nightmares result.  I’ve included some of my favourite sketches here and the rest of them are on my sketchbook page – a sort of gallery of efforts  and progress.

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

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


Music I listened to:

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

The Powerless Rise – As I Lay Dying

Requiem – Mozart

Ocean Rain – Echo and the Bunnymen