Sunday, 28 September 2014

Nick Percival - Styx and Bones!

Prog 1901 sees the welcome return of (deep breath) The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead left in his Wake.) Having discovered that the one good thing in his murderous life was a lie, the undead gunslinger has sworn bloody vengeance on, well, pretty much everyone!

One Last Bullet, the third and final book of the series, sees Azrael cross Purgatory and the River Styx itself, on one last mission, a mission to kill God. Let's hope he gives him one from me for ever allowing Kerry Katona to live.

The brilliant, brilliant Nick Percival has provided the first glorious cover for the book. Over to Nick to tell us more "I have to give Tharg full credit for the design on this one. His description:  “I was thinking of a movie poster style shot of him standing on the shoreline of the river Styx, his back to us, guns out, mist swirling around him, perhaps forming a vague skull shape.” is pretty much what the final piece ended up being."

Modest as ever! The mood, tone and, no pun intended, execution of the piece is just perfect. 2014 has been a fantastic year for Nick Percival covers. 

Nick continues, "I actually painted this half traditionally with acrylics and finished it off digitally, so it’s a bit of a mash up as far as art techniques go. The aim was also to give it a bit of an ’old school’ type feel in terms of colours, tone and style."

"Reap the whirlwind Azrael! Reap it!"

And here's how the cover looks on the Thrill Merchant's shelf...

Trigger warning: "Alright Dave? Watch out for that cowboy."

The series has had some beautifully designed covers during it's run, the first being this cracker by Ben Willsher...

Ben Willsher, he's quick on the draw 

Followed by this cover of biblical proportions by Siku...

"Fire! No! Wait! I meant behind y-"  

A typically creepy cover from Mr Simon Davis...

 Stiff and Stetson 

And an all action, digital masterpiece from from Clint Langley.

That's plane crazy!

A huge passel o thanks to Nick for sending the image and inside info, we owe him a shot of Redeye at the next con!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Greg Staples - Greghead!

Wow... just wow! I think the cover of jump on Prog 1900 might just be my new favourite Dredd image. This is simply amazing, I think I've shown it to just about everyone I know! I fell in love with this cover as soon as I saw it and couldn't WAIT for master painter Greg Staples to send the files.

However, I knew that this was a fully painted piece and worried that there might not much in the way of sketches or WIP images left to show, thankfully Greg didn't let us down!

Over to the man himself to tell us more...

"You’re right, I didn’t really have any sketches for this piece but there is an interesting story about it! It started as a proposed print idea for 2000AD that never came off. I did the grey piece as an idea for signed limited edition prints that 2000AD could release through the store, they liked the idea but it just never seemed to happen..."

Here's that grey piece, heck I woulda bought it!

A grey day for Old Stony Face...

Greg continues "I always liked the composition but felt the drawing could be improved and put to better use so I did the rain composition and felt it had found its place, painted it as a detailed grey painting then rendered it with the colours."

"Drokkin' Weather Control is busted again..."

"This wasn’t a digital painting, it was painted entirely on art board by hand, digital would have been a lot easier but I felt it needed the edgy human touch. It was quite a complex piece to paint by hand, and one I wouldn’t have been able to do a few years ago, but I think Dark Justice has let me hone my skills. Getting the rain just right was tricky but it was one of those pieces that came together easy because of the planning. Only took two years since inception!"

Two years damn well spent in my opinion! It's stunning! The skin tones, the stubble, the lighting effects and the rain look real. It's glorious!

Dredd even showers with the helmet on...
Thankfully Tharg has released some limited prints (subscribers only I'm afraid) and though they don't include the cover of Prog 1900, they do have this beauty below which is similarly gorgeous! Find out more here.

You'll be blown away by this print - ha!

Here's how the cover looks on your Thrillshelf, complete with new logo! Hmmm, I feel an email to Pye coming on...

Despite the pissing rain, Dredd managed to balance the new logo on his bonce...

Huge thanks to Greg for being a gentleman as always and sending those amazing images and fascinating insight. Here's looking forward to his work on Dark Justice, I've heard it's absolutely incredible!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Paul Marshall - Heads, you lose!


Joe Dredd against an entire ship full of heavily armed, psychotic, genetically enhanced hard cases... They don't stand a chance!

Cascade, by the brilliant team of Paul Marshall and Mike Carroll comes to its clever conclusion in Prog 1899 as Dredd battles to singlehandedly save his city from the fearsome Lawlords (which, I've LITERALLY just clicked is a play on 'Warlords' - maaaan, I'm stupid.)

Below we see Paul's design ideas and I gotta tell you, I'd have been happy with any of those!

The Lawlords were always photobombing Dredd's snaps

Next the pencils, just check out the dazzling craftsmanship! There's a LOT of work gone into those...

"No, honestly, this gun's really loud, listen!"

And finally Paul's trademark razor-sharp inks, absolutely lovely!

Luckily, the Lawlords went to the Stormtrooper School of Target Practice

With the inks done, it was off to colour whizz Chris Blythe to add his magic - Hopefully I'll show you that soon...

HUUUUGE thanks to Paul for sending the images, I really do hope we see him back on Dredd soon, he truly is one of the best...

UPDATE: Now with added Chris Blythe colours - Zarjaz!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Dave Kendall - Crusty Babies!

Well, this has got to be the creepiest cover of the year, if not the decade! Master painter Dave Kendall brings us this horrifying digital painting of Mater Clementia, the vestal virgin 'who bore a host of children in secret, drowning each of them at birth in the Tiber.' Stroppy cow.

Dave is the absolute master of horror so was the perfect choice to bring this horrid hag to life. Check out his terrifying paintings at his Rusybaby Studios studios for more, but please, don't have nightmares!

Over to Dave to tell us how this cursed painting dragged itself onto the cover of Prog 1898:

"This was heading into perfect horror territory for me. Not only was it spooky kids and their decayed Mummy, but it was designed by Leigh Gallagher so It was going to be fun!" 

"Tharg asked me to base the pose a little on this panel. I was given a little more reference than this.:) "

"That woman has just shit a dog!"

"It was a case then of sketching out an idea which would reflect this image. I came up with this image here. A strong central dynamic figure and a nice smattering of nasty winged cherubs. Tharg was happy with this so off I went..."

This cover is no laughing mater...

"The next stage was a properly drafted pencils."

She's no mater mine

"Which I then digitally coloured to add lighting."

"Hands up if you're a murdering shit!"

"If you get to this stage much of the work is done. From this I worked up a colour scheme." 

Mater Clementia
Grattan Catalogue's Celebrity Mother of the Year 33AD

"This is where a bad workman not only blames his tools but blames the weather too. It was a very hot week the time I decided to paint this. It was going to be a traditional painting, in fact there is a traditional painting. Here it is. The heat and subsequent fan in my studio made painting this in acrylic almost impossible. The paint dried so quickly and I felt like I was painting with crumbling chalk. I abandoned it. I just was not feeling it. So as the deadline was approaching and I wanted to present an image closer to my minds eye I decided to return to digital."

 As you can see, Mater is wearing the latest Versace ragged bedsheet with matching bloody veil, slimy tiara and dead baby accessories. Very a la mode this season...

"Here is the first image I presented to Tharg. It went like a dream and I was so much happier with how it looked. When I work digitally it's exactly the same process as painting traditionally. The careful build up and modelling of colours until it's finished..."

"Right everybody! Say 'Cheeese!' "

"Tharg was very happy with this but asked if I could pop the image more so it stood out a little better. I tweaked the background and contrast and generally improved the overall silhouette of the various elements and presented what was the final approved image."

 Mater demonstrates her demon overarm pitch to the little league devils

Amazing stuff! Here's how the prog looks on the shelf...

Wow, we are so lucky to have artist of this calibre working for 2000AD. I know Dave has a couple of other covers up his sleeve which I'm sure we'll get the scoop on! Thank you so, so much to Dave, a brilliant cover with a fantastic commentary. Remember to visit his site for more grisly goings on! 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Alex Ronald - Lawd of the Rants!

Digital maestro Alex Ronald absolutely knocks it out of the park again with this brilliant, brilliant cover for Prog 1897. Of course, the image shows the nasty bastard Lawlords who have finally made their move on Mega-City One, nob heads.
This cover is SO good that Clint Langley got in touch to say "I would like to say a piece regarding Alex Ronald's cover which I think is incredible! I would be privileged to praise this incredible work. I was blown away by this cover, it is an amazing work which should be shown a lot of respect as it is quite brilliant!" Preaching to the coverted there Clint, but it's great to see an artist praising another artists work!
Over to Alex to tell us more...
"Here was the brief from Tharg: "The return of the Lawlords - alien villains Dredd encountered in the story 'Lawcon' years ago. They appear on a big screen in MC-1 so I was thinking of a big shot of the screen showing the Lawlord's face, with some cityscape elements around it?"

"Tharg supplied lots of reference from the original story LawCon plus Paul Marshall's reveal shot from Cascade. I'd missed LawCon at it's original release (2002?) so tracked down the Meg issues and read it over to get a handle on who these villains were."
Looks like someone didn't listen...
Yuck! That Law Lord has a very heavy cold. Someone pass him a tissue...

"THIS is how I eat an apple!"

"Initially I was struggling with how to make this look dramatic. I was dealing with an image on a flat screen and I was worried that the whole image was in danger of looking a bit 'flat' "
"My first B/W rough used a large flat screen and right enough I just wasn't buying it. I looked to Blade Runner for some ideas but although the huge building screen has some nice perspective on it, it's not the focal point of the image."
 "I'm Tits McGee!"

Speed cameras of the future. 
"The penny dropped when I was looking through some images of neon signs and saw Piccadilly Circus. That was it. Stick the screen on a curved building with a low angle looking up. Nothing's flat lots of perspective , job done :)"
 Brit-Cit circa 1998

Ooooh, those curved screens make you pile the pounds on... 

"I approached this cover as two separate paintings, the TV screen image and the city environment.
First of all I composed the city scene in 3D using customised pieces and pre existing blocks.
The screen was just a large curved polygon with a UV map so that any image applied to it would appear on the video as a display."

Bah, the telly's on the blink again.

"The Lawlords were sculpted in Z Brush based on Paul Marshall and Richard Elson's art. The helmet crease lines (which feature in the art) were exaggerated slightly so that it would catch the light more.
I saw these bullet shaped helmets as highly polished, almost chrome like and tried to convey that as best as possible. I kept thinking that these aliens looked very like the super hero Action Man figure from the 70's..."

Brrr, I bet it's freezing when he goes for a slash. 

Rusty Bullet Man

"The TV image was painted up and then I applied some pre-existing overlays, complete with scan lines and interference bands which hopefully give the whole thing a video display look."

"The video display was then applied to the large screen in the city set. The last part of the 3D process was to export the foreground, middle and background elements as flats into Photoshop. After a few hours of painting texture, shadow and applying lots of lighting overlays the image is pretty much there..."


 Anne Robinson has really let herself go.

"Hope you like it :)"

We absolutely LOVE it Alex, universal praise from everyone who's seen it!

If you like Alex's work, then please rush out and buy this month's Heavy Metal Magazine (issue 270) as it features Alex's brilliant graphic novel 'Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht.' If you haven't already read it, I can promise it's one of the best comics you could ever read!

Don't mess with Smurfette

Below we can see the printed version of the cover which features a dramatic Speech Bubble, extra points to Tharg!
Those poor cits pay their TRI-D licence for that!?!
Massive thanks to Alex for sending the images and fascinating blurb. Here's hoping we get another visual treat from him soon!