Thursday 9 July 2015

...KABLAM!! - Superhero Sketches...


While carrying out my demo day I was asked by a member of staff to draw a couple of sketches for her son. I asked who his favourite heroes were and said I would be happy to draw a couple for him.

Hmm, I wasn't too keen on my first sketch so I thought I'd have another go...

That's more like it.

Oh yeah, Spider-Man was one of those favourites...

...and so was the New Iron Man - had to get some reference for this one. 

I know the 60s and 70s Iron Man, but this 21st century guy...

There you go.

Well, I couldn't send just two...

...DEMO DAY - Warm Up Sketches...

Upwell School Demo Day 1 - in the beginning...

Here at the easel, during the childrens morning registration, while I would be working on layout paper over my pre-drawn character designs, I thought why not do some freehand sketches just to get the ball rolling?

Why not? Because they're warm up for a reason. 

Having drawn the first sketch I thought uh-oh - I'm in trouble. 

Can't get off the ground...

The second sketch - like starting a car - but not quite starting...bit of power there...

Stop/Go - not sure which - power on either way...

Wow! Full throttle - I'm off..

Here I come...

And feeling confident.

Morning registration.

The easel awaits...

Wednesday 8 July 2015 you see it, now you don't...

As it happens, I had a similar request hot on the heels of the previous commission, to include an alternative narrowboat in place of the 'Vermuyden' which appears at centre stage in the 'Ely Marina' illustration in this year's Ely & Downham Market Calendar.

The 'Vermuyden' at rest on the marina.

Again I was a little slow on the uptake. For the Eel sculpture drawing I had only to reprint the original pen & ink artwork onto watercolour and draw in the background. On this occassion I erased the 'Vermuyden' in photoshop and drew in it's place 'Gerbera' - as luck would have it as well as being moored close by they were also similar dimensions.

'Ely Marina' minus the 'Vermuyden' - thanks to the magic of photoshop.

After a day's work or so - although not all in one day - it was the 'Gerbera' now moored beside the single weeping willow on Ely marina, flanked by Ely Cathedral in the distance and the family of ducks on the river...

'Gerbera' as in a mirror - now moored on the opposite side of the marina.

Many thanks to this client for a not so unusual request. I'd like to think if you need your narrowboat drawn and/or painted - I'm at the drawing board dip pen and waterproof ink at the ready.

...DEMO DAY 3 - in a classroom far far away......


...well, not so far away - Welney actually - the William Marshall Primary School.

Setting up the afternoon before, I was met with a question and answer session on superheroes, cartoons, movies and the occasional comic. 

And yes - I'm sure the pupils matched me question for question and answer for answer. From Ant-Man to Guardians of the Galaxy ('...can I draw Rocket Raccoon?'), from The Avengers ('Tony is my favourite superhero') to the X-Men ('Did you know Wolverine had bones for claws before metal?').

I returned the next morning ready to roll.

And so did they!

We hit the drawing board running, the class was composed of a variety of ages which lent itself to a well ordered and pretty much relentless stream of super ideas and suggestions.  I'd shown the class examples of characters I'd designed with another school and enquired as to whether they thought we could do as well today or even better. 

That's when a steady salvo of ideas and suggestions began... 


Cowled and diamond cloaked, vinyl white booted and gloved, the BLONDE DIAMOND, hip whip and dagger at hand - is ready to dish out fanged peroxide justice to all evil-doers - BEWARE!

LASER SPIKE - LORD OF FLAME - a bizarre amalgam of rogue robotics, 
sharp science and agriculture, skulls and beaks! Whenever he appears 
- a flaming pumpkin heralds his arrival...

HAMMERSCALE - Jellyfish face and vertigo eye. Power ring and knuckle duster. Op-art zebra skin and tail, body scales and strap-on jet boots. HAMMERSCALE - he's got Thor's hammer so he's worthy to dispense truth, justice and the Norfolk way.

Hammerscale and Laser Spike join the pantheon of Marvel's mightiest. And Batman...


An avalanche of curly frizzy hair and snakes, mesh body suit, slashed hem shift, black PVC knee-high plus platform boots, eyes only head mesh, mega cannons, talons and giant spider host! To know her is to fear her...


Part 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea', part 'The Man with Two Brains' without the second brain and no skull, part cosmic Infinity Gauntlets without the Infinity Stones, a little bit of Roman Gladiator and a splash of FM Radio but all lightning bolts of unadulterated badness - the Villains Villain - drum roll...



A wall full of fabulous superheroes and villains - and there's more...

Each morning and afternoon easel session was followed by tremendous 
creating, drawing and colouring as character after character appeared on multiple template design sheets. Cyber-Flame, Kristoff, Blue King, 
Red Queen, Super Ladybird, Batty and Kittey, Strong and Rose 
standing tall beside Superman, Spider-Man and Wolverine 
- whoever those guys are.

The advent of Serocto and Blonde Diamond...

Candidates for the new Avengers...?

A superhero size thank you to Head James McBurney, 
school secretary Julia and class teacher Lynn for all their 
help and support in organising a great day.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

...DEMO DAY 2 -Year 5 Comic Strip - Ethiopias v Vampress Fab!...


The brief for after morning break and the afternoon were quite different 
from the communal creation of good and bad superstars. 

Now that we've got these characters - what are we gonna do with them??

Stage one - characters and plot.

No worries - Year 5's finest were on the case and knew exactly what to do. They'd chosen a hero - chosen a villain - prepared a plot synopsis. 


Taking their synopsis I sketched out a simple visual narrative using long shots to set the scene, medium shots and close ups to create drama to tell their story. They could then take these visual prompts and discuss and create their own sequence of images accordingly.

Stage two - pencil layout, drawing inking/felt pen and display lettering!

As it happened, they agreed with my general layout and forged full steam ahead into the task at hand. Each chose a page to illustrate and of course every comic or book needs an exciting cover to grab the readers attention and buy it! The exploding fist leaves no doubt that this comic is without a doubt  unmissable!

Stage three - inking, lettering and colouring. 

I've got to take my hat/mask off to Year 5 in executing from scratch a four page comic strip from concept to completion in essentially three few hours. 

A great job very well done - and very well managed! 


Stage four - presentation!

Ethiopias v Vampress Fab - page 3 and cover...

Ethiopias v Vampress Fab pages 1 and 2.

Colour rendition of the hero in question - Ethiopias!


One more time - from pupils to artist - we all had a great day - many 
thanks again to school Head James Mc Burney and Year 6 Teacher David White for 
organising the day and help and support. 

Heroes All!

Monday 6 July 2015

...DEMO DAY 2 - Noble and Majestic creatures...


Demo day 2 duties were shared in the early morning between Classes Noble and Majestic. Each class would have, say forty-five minutes to create a couple of super-powerful beings - possessed of unusual, unearthly and extraordinary abilities. Beings capable of astonishing feats of strength and fortitude - beings in short - beyond the frailties and human limitations of mankind! 

Yep. Forty-five minutes should be enough!

The common themes of spikes, sharp claws/talons, mohawks, cannons/bazookas, shiny metal, crop tops (or belly tops as they call), and wings continue into this round of comic creativity!

The first Noble character to materialize amidst the hubbub of unrestrained ideas and creativity was the 'The Undefeatable Lizard' also known as BOBZILLA!

Cyclopean eye sitting beneath a mohawk like an awful exclamation point! Roman leather studded skirt above psychedelic leggings and sparkling metal boots! Huge cannon barrels on his shoulders, talons protruding from his knuckles  superior six-pack - this can only be BOBZILLA - THE UNDEFEATABLE LIZARD!

Oh yeah, I forgot - spiky tail with spiked barb on the end...

ROBOT ANGEL - half chromium plated cyborg/half furry booted 
black bikini-clad winged angel  - ROBOT ANGEL! 

...and just in case any ne'er do well villain wants to encroach on Noble's intellectual property - that there is the copyright symbol...


He's not a teenager, not a ninja, but might be a mutant and is an anti-hero 
in a half shell! He has a shark's tooth smile/frown, sparkling spike boots, pineapple spike elbow and knee pads, a slung sword at his side, telescopic 
wrist blades and maybe baby laser eyes - no mohawk! 


Shark-fin shoulders and flaming aura, scaly one-piece with devil tail attached, fishnet tights and knee high patent-leather cuban-style buccaneer boots. 
She wears long blonde hair, a snakecoiled around her waistband, 
Robin's eye mask and two tongues cos' one isn't enough.

Majestic class tell me she is SKALEEN - DEFENDER OF REPTILES!!

Five minutes left to go - the pen is about to give up the ghost 
- here comes BRICKFIST!!

And here comes morning break -
come back next blog for Year 5's comic book confrontation 

...Year 1 - EAGLEWING MAN AND LIGHTNING GIRL!...'nuff said.


Here at Upwell Primary School, concluding my first Demo day - 
I spent an exciting final hour with Year 1 creating a couple of heroic 
characters to rival Vampress Fab and Ethiopias created earlier that day. 

I set up my easel at the front of the class and the pupils sat on the carpet, leaving me about three to four feet clearance. The easel and it's blank silhouette loomed above the children who rose to the challenge of creating a superhero with style, imagination and enthusiasm - and often swapped places on the carpet along the way.

EAGLEWING MAN aka SPIKE - amid many raised hands and voices - appeared first on the easel, replete with spiked boots and spiked 'Wolverine' style gloves, weather-beaten metal leg armour, utility belt with (with screwdriver), holstered weaponry and chest strap over chest armour. He wore  a spiked hair-do with bubble helmet and holes to match. Of course, Eagle Wing Man would not be complete without his full-blown eagle wings!

LIGHTNING GIRL followed, hot on the spiked heels of EagleWing Man, sporting chrome arm and leg armour and glistening boots to match  - I was asked 'could she have pig feet' - this seemed to be ok with the rest of the class so I drew in pig's trotters (chrome of course) - long blonde hair - 'can she have flowers in her hair?' - with daisies, flowing white cape, the ongoing theme of spikes appeared in the form of a spiky one-piece. 'Could I draw flowers around her arms?' was unanimously agreed so in came poison ivy.

Her face had yet to be drawn in, one suggestion that came out was... 'Could she have a donkey's head?'... now this might sound kinda strange, but in a recent Fantastic Four story there was indeed a pretty cool character in the inter-dimensional Light Brigade with a horses head!* so not so weird after all.

However the class found this a suggestion too far and opted for a human face with light-ray eyes. A glowing diamond held the cape in place below her neck and after much deliberation - LIGHTNING GIRL was born!    

While Year 1 were still brimming with ideas and suggestions, I was 
running out of ink and we were both out of time. And by this time the 
pupils had shuffled closer so that I had very little space to move.

A great day was had by all, and the multi-coloured world of 
superheroes and villains never be the same again!!

*Centre is the horse headed 'KAL' of the Fantastic Four's Light Brigade!


Be here NEXT BLOG for the comic and cosmic creations of 
classes Noble and Majestic - and Year 5's comic debut 

Thursday 2 July 2015

...all heroes no villains...YES VILLAINS!...Demo Day 1...


What a pleasant surprise to be invited along to Upwell Primary School to present - in conjunction with the school's transition year curriculum 'Heroes and Villains' - a couple of Superhero Demonstration/Workshop days! 

I like to create a good deal of interest for the demo/workshop and find it great practice to set up the afternoon before. This entails blu-tak ing superhero sketches to wall, setting up my easel and arranging a display of graphic novels, comic book collections and variety of 'how to draw comics' and historical books on my favourite subject - comics and superheroes!

As it turns out, and after only a few excited conversations - my favourite
subject is also very popular with the students at Upwell Primary School.

Nowadays you don't have to read comics to like and keep up with the exploits of your favourite Superheroes (and Villains). Thanks to Hollywood a large proportion of the population know almost as much about their favourite superheroes and villains as - dare I say it - I do!?

A big thanks to the Lynn News for taking this photo and covering superheroes at Upwell School.

With registration over, we went straight into designing the first superhero 
of the morning. Among other attributes, and based entirely on the students suggestions, this first character along with his furry boots and knee pads wore science fiction style metal gauntlets with laser lenses on the back of each hand! 

He had a half human half cyborg face with an elegant moustache on the human side (of course). Someone yelled out from somewhere in the classroom that for good measure he should wear a pineapple hat! Yes - a pineapple hat  which - it was suggested and unanimously agreed - would shoot out watermelons!!

Surely a such a dynamic and unusual superhero as this could democratically - and we took a vote on it - could only be called 'FRUIT NINJA'!! 

Hot on the furry heels of the Fruit Ninja - and with an equal volley of enthusiastic ideas came the unicorn-headed, steel-booted, jet-pack wearing 'EMOJICORN' - cannon-barrel toting, mohawk wearing, bare chested refugee from an army surplus sore - 'ETHIOPIAS' - and duck-handed (I think), bat-visor, scuba-outfitted flipper flapping deep sea diving 'phew!' - DAIZIUS! 


After morning break - the first colourful blast of superhero character 
creations begin to appear on the blank templates and drawn pages - I provide suggestions and guidance where needed - but it looks like they're doing absolutely fine without me!

The easel awaits...

OK, we've had lunch, run around the playground a few times and just maybe drilled for diamonds on that alien planet - now it's back to business...

Dim the lights, sound the alarums and tilt the camera! Step out of the shadows and walk onto the stage sinister! Where would our heroes be without their counterparts, their opposite number - in short - why we go back each month for our favourite comic books - THE VILLAIN!


Now this first bad guy is coming right at you, fist clenched ready for action. Sporting headgear resembling the mask of Darth Vader, multiple glowing power rings Infinity Gem style, strap-on leather boots, striped trunks and 'DEVIL' tattooed on his fist. After much debate and discussion 
he is none other than that man of mystery and menace - 'V'!

Without a doubt lunch agrees with Years 5 and 6 - they're thinking on all cylinders as the next three villains appear to march almost full-blown from their collective minds - 'VAMPRESS FAB!' bat-caped, icicle-booted, skull-emblazoned wide-collar one piece,  and - oh yeah - hair growing into snakes - irresistible with Ray Bans and fang combination! 

'DARK ONE' aka 'Mr Scales' - hangman-hooded, crab-clawed villain in a crab shell, iron spike tread boots and cloak. Oops - Did I forget the cosmic energy glove (with power regulator)?

'JOKESS' is nothing to laugh about. A punk mohawk atop a rush of hip length curly hair, black leather fur topped boots and gloves, someone says zebra stripes - someone says leopard spots. I'm drawing spots! Not sure what those contraptions are on the back of her clawed gloves but with big eyes and a stretched clown's smile - best to keep away from her! 

Since the impetus of the demo day is not on drawing ability, but rather ideas and the creation of heroic and villainous characters, the design template allows kids who feel they can't draw as well as they like to yet, to focus on their ideas and concentrate on giving their ideas free reign. this template has been customised to fit their environment and ask that perennial question -


Since the christening of 'FRUIT NINJA' (and every other character) was immediately followed by an almost unanimous Upwell class chorus of "Don't forget the 'COPYRIGHT'!" and in recognition of Year 5 and 6's knowledge of the need to protect their intellectual property - all the character designs herein are needless to say copyright and trademark Upwell's Years 5 and 6. 

So say 'V' and the 'DARK ONE'!

Be here NEXT BLOG for Year 1 Heroes and Villains, 
the unstoppable comic creations of classes Noble 
and Majestic, and Year 5's comic strip debut as
your local supermarket!!

Just in case it wasn't clear, from pupils to artist - we all had a great day - many 
thanks to school Head James Mc Burney and Year 6 Teacher David White for 
organising the day and help and support. 
Heroes All!