Showing posts with label science fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science fiction. Show all posts

Book illustration - Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings

Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings

Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings Strange and Possibly True Australian Stories Written by Stella Tarakson illustrated by Richard Morden Penguin Random House Australia

In store November 2016!!

A year ago I was approached to illustrate Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings a book examining the most bizarre stories from Australia’s culture and history. It is a joyride of Australian gothic weirdness written for 10 to 15 year olds, however I enjoyed reading it and I’m quite a bit older than that.

Did a UFO drag a family’s car off the road in the middle of the outback? How did rocks rain from the sky in WA? And what became of the prime minister who went into the surf and was never seen again?

Explore the strangest tales, most incredible encounters and creepiest urban legends in Australia’s history. Read about the investigations and weigh up the facts – do you believe the official explanations for these weird and wonderful events?

Here's a few examples of the strange tales it examines...

Hawkesbury River Monster
Mythical creatures! This particular beastie is the Hawkesbury River monster, illustrated with the appearance of a plesiosaur. Next time you’re dabbling your toes in a river look carefully to be sure there is not one of these lurking in the deep. Chomp chomp!

Ghost hunting with an EMF detector
Haunted places! Some ghost hunters believe haunting spirits can be located with an electromagnetic field detector. Well I'm not so sure about that, but you can decide for yourself.

The falling rocks of Manyup
Mysterious locations! Have you heard of the falling stones of Mayanup, Western Australia? This is Audrey of Mayanup in the 1950s, around whom things would move strangely and rocks would appear, slowly falling to the ground. I'm not sure if she could actually levitate, but it felt appropriately telekinetic and spooky, so thats how I illustrated her. 

Westall UFO sighting
UFO Sightings! In 1966 in the Melbourne suburb of Westall more than 200 students and teachers from two schools saw a mysterious object land in a nearby grassy field. I was delighted when I learned I was to be illustrating a scene form the Westal UFO sighting. I had heard some of the witnesses speak at a convention and personally asked them to describe what they remember seeing and feeling when they approached the object. Best illustration reference ever.

Conspiracy theories behind behind the disappearance of Harold Holt
Bizarre disappearances! What was behind the disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt? The conspiracy theories speak of a shark attack, CIA intervention, eloping with a love interest, UFO abduction, and even a Chinese submarine waiting to take him away! 
This was the first illustration completed for Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings, setting the style for the rest of the images. The plan was to create dark, mysterious illustrations with simple line work and lots of texture. I was also keen not to patronise the teenage readers with twee illustrations, instead aiming high and assuming an audience of sophistication.

The Gosford Glyphs
Strange happenings! Does the existence of the Gosford Glyphs prove ancient Egyptians travelled to Australia, or are the markings simply a prank by some cheeky school children? Hmmm, what would be more likely... let me think. Ancient Egyptians, obviously!

So many wonderfully strange tales. A book I thoroughly enjoyed illustrating. 
Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings is available in stores and on-line November 2016.

Roller Skating Robot Santa Christmas card

Roller Skating Robot Santa Stencil art
Roller Skating Robot Santa.
Scanned stencil art.

There is no reason for Robot Santa to be on skates. No underlying metaphor, or commentary on the Christmas season. It's just how he rolls.

Visit Pixbyrichard on Redbubble to shop for
Roller Skating Robot Santa as Christmas cards,
t-shirts. mugs, tote bags and other decorated gift items

aardvarks and flying saucers

illustration of aardvark and UFOs

We have here yet another cover illustration for Ethel the Aardvark

Forward Aardvarkia is loosely based on an example of British wartime propaganda, but features a mysterious, suit wearing aardvark and a fleet of flying saucers.

It looks like an acrylic painting but is actually rendered with the mixer brush tool in Photoshop.
Just in case you are interested, this is the rough sketch. I scanned it and 'painted' over the top.

I like the juicy brush stroke detail the mixer brush tool can make, however it is not as intuitive or as fun as using a real paintbrush

Christmas aardvark

Christmas Aardvark
Cover art for another Ethel zine. This one features an aardvark in a Santa hat, packing a box of books.

Ethel the Aardvark is the bi monthly fan-zine which goes out to members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. I am one of the two editors.

It is by far the nerdiest publication I have ever had anything to do with, which I have to say is something I enjoy.

fan-zine artwork

science fiction cover illustrationscience fiction cover illustration

Well that's the fanzine for my sci-fi club sorted for a couple of months.
Phew! *wipes sweat from brow*

This issue featured many wonderful contributions of images and articles by talented Melbourne Science Fiction Club members. Good content certainly makes for a good zine. Alas the contributors' artworks are not mine to show you here, however I can show you the few pieces I did for the issue - the cover illustration and a couple of author portraits.

As the current graphic editor/designer of Ethel the Aardvark, the bi monthly fan-zine of the MSFC, I regularly need to quickly create visual content to accompany articles. So I have been using the zine as a bit of an experimental playground to tinker with illustration styles and techniques.

The cover for this issue has a faux aged paper texture with corner creases incorporated into the artwork. The aged texture is a scan of an old book's plain back cover and the illustrated elements are derived from old artworks of mine. The theme of this issue was Space Opera. I wanted the cover illustration to evoke the look of a well used, dog-eared novel of space faring sci-fi drama.

The portraits are of two well revered science fiction authors who recently passed away, Jack Vance and Iain M Banks, both of whom are the subject of tribute articles in this issue.

illustrated portrait of Jack Vanceillustrated portrait of Iain M Banks

Space Neuron

Probably should be pronounced as
Spaaaaaaaace Neurrrrrrron
with an echoing dramatic kind of voice

It has been far too long since I've posted here. So here's a quick artwork to get back into the swing of things.

Space Neuron was intended as a quick editorial illustration to accompany an article written in memory of a sci-fi fan. I wanted it to have a bit of an enigmatic spacey vibe. Note the gratuitous lens flare - so cheesy, but I couldn't help it.

space neuron

Christmas cover collage

collage - Robot space santa battles the time bombs of destiny
Ethel the aardvark, the MSFC bimonthly fanzine, is now off to be printed.

For graphic content old images were collected based on the themes Christmas, time, and space... and koalas. These and all the scissors and glue I could get my hands on, were shared with a bunch of fellow sf fans. We spent the evening constructing collages.

Theirs were done with honest scissors and glue, mine were done digitally. 
Here is the zine cover art featuring a robotic father Christmas.

Cthulhu menaces the planet Earth

Cthulhu menaced the Earth

This photograph was taken to go into the October/November Edition of Ethel the Aardvark, the Melbourne Science Fiction Club's bimonthly fanzine, for which I am currently the layout guy (so I get to decide on what artwork goes in - oh the power!) It was intended to go into the zine as a random art image with vague Halloween overtones. You will be happy to know I put the photo on page 13.

All taken in-camera, except for the grungy texture which I found on the underside of a baking tray.

I bought the pink Cthulhu plush toy off KRin Pender-Gun of Pink K Designs at a club mini-convention a couple of years ago. The globe is actually a pencil sharpener, the stars were cut out of aluminium foil and the background is a velvet garment.

Here's the concept sketch

Cthulhu menaced the Earth concept sketch

book cover illustration for The Artemis Effect

A little while ago I was asked if I was interested in designing a cover for an ebook.

The book is The Artemis Effect by author Kasia James. It is a character driven story set in the near future, and follows the adventures of three people in different countries who must survive a world-wide collapse of communications, technology and society.

How could I say no?

cover art for an ebook The Artemis Effect by Kasia Kames

We all know a cover isn't just a pretty picture with some text - it is one of a book's most important promotional assets. So I read the book, then the author and I had a number of discussions. Based on these discussions I presented a selection of rough concept drafts before we settled on one, which was then worked into final art.

Our priorities were to
  • indicate something of the story's content, style and genre
  • create a design which communicates to the right audience
  • for the title and author's name to be very clear, even when previewed at tiny sizes

I could go on about all the careful cover design choices made, but actually I don't want people to see a bunch of design decisions, I simply want people to think "Yeah, characters I can identify with dealing with an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario... this book is for me!"

Do you think we succeeded?

You can buy The Artemis Effect here (Kindle edition)

You can find Kasia James' blog here

science fiction homages and aardvarks

illustration of Herbert George Wells and his Martian walking machines

triffid illustrationscience fiction iconography with aardvarks

mad max aardvark illustrationaardvark darthvader

As a member of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club I get to use their magnificent library, listen to author talks, and meet other like minded nerdy sci fi types. In return I like to occasionally contribute art for the club magazine.

Here is a collection the cover art I have contributed.

As the club magazine is called Ethel the Aardvark you will note a recurring theme of aardvarks. I don't know why they named the magazine after a Monty Python sketch (Ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying), but I suppose it's as good a name as any other and it gives me the opportunity to create absurd science fiction homages with aardvarks.