Friday, February 27, 2015

I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LUCK, or, THE MAKING OF 'BARBARIAN', THE DARKNESS' NEW MUSIC VIDEO


Hey you - do you remember me?

As is often the way, you can be beavering away on a job in utter secret for so long that it feels weird and a little bit rude when details of it gush all over the place so fervently. That's how it felt this week when The Darkness unveiled their new album campaign only for their record cover to be painted by me and their lead-off single to consist entirely of animated examples of my artwork. I was as surprised as you are.

To go into my love of The Darkness - the whys and hows, of what they represent to me, of the face-aching giddy enjoyment their pop-infused hard rock has given me over the last twelve years - is a blog for another time. (Basically it boils down to their knowing absence of self-consciousness; their rejection of shame and their insistence on being what people don't think they want.) But cut it any way, this job meant a lot. As in, 'Alexander Wept' - A Lot.

What started as me lucking into being their album cover artist when it looked like they had run out of options (last-minute changes in direction had left them in a spin - I made it all a-okay), I happened to contact them and offer my services. The artwork - a rare foray into full colour for me - is seen below, and was the product of very strict guidelines and directions from the band themselves and their carer, an old dear called Phillis.

The Darkness: Last Of Our Kind. Artwork by Nick Roche

As the band (MY band; THE Darkness) were chuffed with the result and happy with the turnaround, Phillis asked me to provide the artwork for the video for the pre-album single release, 'BARBARIAN'. It was initially going to be a plain lyric video, but the band's management saw an opportunity to come up with something a bit more eye-catching and clickable. (Nearly 100.000 views in under five days on Youtube!) So, with, like, not much time at all (The fastest and hardest I've worked in many awhile, all while trying to meet day-job deadlines) and resources to match, I set about putting together the artwork that would then be animated by Phillis, who is weirdly adept at After Effects for a septuagenarian.

They needed an image to show the record company first. So, the best bit of the job happened early; getting sent a copy of a new Darkness song ahead of anyone else but the and and their management. I loved it instantly, in a way that I don't always on hearing a new track from them. Basically, it just had a confidence and swagger that they hadn't tapped into for a while. They weren't second-guessing themselves by trying to write what the record-buying public might be looking for. They punched out a riff-heavy gallumpher of a track with obnoxious-levels of histrionics, TWO monologues...and all about the Viking invasion...of East Anglia.

The image I cooked up was this one, of a stylised longboat. Haven't drawn one since primary school history class. It's just as much fun now than it ever was.

                                     

Then, it came time to storyboard it. The content was a relatively even mix of stuff generated by the band's camp, and ideas I had for visual gags and beats. The Sons of Ragnar - 'real' characters from the Norse Sagas were imagined in various different ways. They went from being babies, then to being inverted dark doppelgangers of the band themselves, to being stylised Fantasy creatures; Ivar the Boneless became a sluggy, Jabba-like warrior; Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye became a reptilian warlord; Bjorn Ironside was decked out in iron, with metal plates attached to his head, and Hvitserk became a billowy white shirt-wearing Byronic assassin.

Yeah, I thought a lot about this.

First Pass at Storyboards; Sons of Ragnar are babies here.



Some panels were unused and replaced with more striking ones to compliment the song.
Once most of the boards were agreed upon, we went into production on the finished art. I drew it all at a high resolution - 600dpi - in Manga Studio, with touch-ups in Photoshop. The sharper the image, the better it looks in HD. Or on t-shirts. Or posters.

So, below are some isolated examples of panels from the video. Compare and contrast with these originals versus the wondrous animated counterparts hewn from raw data by Phillis.

Opening panorama. First name you see in the video is mine. Looks wrong. Feels right.

Sketch for 'Shirtless In The Rain' lyric...

...And finished image. All characters and their limbs are drawn separately for later manipulation and animation.
First shot of the Sons of Ragnar.

Sigurd looking super-comic book-y. 
A closer look at The Sons, with better details of their different characteristics.

One of many stupid gags that have gotten little lives of their own in the last week.

I just like this scene featuring a slab of foreground gore.

Everyone's favourite panel...after the 'Shirtless' one. 

Unused panel originally intended for 'Our Legend May Grow'. I like the old ladies.
I want this to be Google's number one result for 'Man Carrying Horse' image searches in 2015.
That sketch of the boat came in handy.
Maybe the most labour-intensive but fun scene to draw. There are dozens of layers of individual Vikings drawn here.

I got to draw the flipping Darkness. Again, all limbs and facial expressions are separate to help Phillis out. Check out the totally-unnecessary animation on Justin's solo in the video. Phwooarrr.





And then I got to kill them. I made sure I got paid first.
Once all these images were fed to Phillis,  I sacked off to get back to work on my day job (MONSTER MOTORS: THE CURSE OF MINIVAN HELSING #1 by Brian Lynch and I is out NEXT WEDNESDAY March 4th! Try the first MONSTER MOTORS here! ) and let her watch a colour wheel go round and round on a screen while the project rendered. 

Then cut to last Monday. Billboard. Rolling Stone. The Quietus. Stereogum. All filled with news about the new Darkness song. All heralding the new Album, 'Last Of Our Kind', out on June 1st. All featuring my artwork from the cover. All with an embedded link to the finished video: BARBARIAN


And then the merchandise started to appear. Barbarian T-shirts! Barbarian posters! (and yes, I get a cut, so y'know, clothe yourself. Cover up that patch of dry rot on the wall.) Head to their online store and sort yourselves out.



As with all these things, it's another 'Win' ticked off. There's plenty of chat about me working with them some more, but if this is all we manage together, it's enough for me. They're playing (a sold out) gig in Whelans here in Dublin over a week, so it'll be cool high-five them, and be in the same room as Justin's moustache. It won't be cool when I wig out, fangirl all over them and try and put Justin's moustache in my mouth, but that's how all good relationships come to an end.

Thanks for reading along with this screed. And thanks again to Phillis, who Obi-Wanned me through the whole process. (By that, I mean lied to me to achieve her nefarious end.) She does a great job of looking after the guys and keeping http://thedarkness.co.uk/ ticking over. 

I'm delighted they're back. I'm delighted they sound this good. And I'm delighted to be part of it.

I'm just off to try and get that video up to 100.000 views...


Monday, February 23, 2015

Black and White art from MARVEL's Revolutionary War: DEATH'S HEAD

A rare treat; seven pages of inked line-art by myself from last year's REVOLUTIONARY WAR event. Enjoy!









Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ROLL OUT ROLL CALL SKETCH LIST

This weekend I'm gonna be at Roll Out Roll Call, a Transformers & GI Joe/Action Force convention in Southampton. More details to be found at https://www.facebook.com/RollOutRollCall, but the guest list includes John Paul Bove, myself, and Larry Effing Hama! Really looking forward to this one!

Anyhow, I barely have time to make this happen, but let's see what's what. I'm opening up a sketch list for the show! Head/Shoulders images only for now. Ill be sketching at the show itself over both days. (Though, due to work, I won't be at the even until 12pm on the Saturday.)

Pre-Order Price for an A4 Black & White HEAD/SHOULDERS shot (8 available) is £25

To be eligible for these, all you need to do is:

* Reply in the comments section below,
* State YOUR name, the name of the CHARACTER you want, and an idea of the day you'll be available to collect the piece.
* Sorry, no fan/original characters, but feel free to request non-TF characters!
* PLEASE only order a sketch if you will be able to attend to pick it up, and, you know, pay for it.
* The numbers available are as stated above. Once they've been filled, please don't send any more requests unless further slots become available.
*Sketches will be available for pick up ONE HOUR before the show closes each day. (Drop by and arrange other times if that doesn't suit.)

Check out the samples of other sketches below. I'll also have original MTMTE artwork for sale - including Season 2 Covers! - as well as prints.

Treat me nice, Southampton. See ya there!







Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DICE 2014 Sketch List

Why not?

It's DICE O' Clock: The Dublin International Comic Expo hits Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin this weekend (27th & 28th September), and I'm prepared to let it. Details are here - http://dublincomicexpo.com/ - and the guest list includes Oscar nominees, Eisner winners, and me. So I'll fit right in.

I'll be signing and sketching for your delectation, with the latest array of Transformers More Than Meets The Eye prints to sell you too. But ahead of the show, I'm taking on a sketch list. This means I won't have time to shave, and it's unlikely I'll make time to shower. Brushing my teeth is a slight possibility, but my appalling personal hygiene could be YOUR gain.

So, there are examples of what's on offer below, but you can ask for anything - Death's Head, New Warriors, Monster Motors, surprise me! The sketches cost €30 each. They're Head & Shoulders/Busts ONLY and are inked with added greytone. All you need to do to nab one is reply in the 'Comments' below, adding:

The Character's name
Your name
The day you'll be collecting your sketch

The show wraps at 6 pm each day, so if you could leave your collection time for these images until after 4.30 pm on your chosen day, that'd be great. But definitely come along and hang out while I draw. Very important though:

PLEASE ONLY ORDER A SKETCH OF YOU CAN COLLECT IT!

When I think of all the poor, uncollected sketches I've burnt to keep warm over years, it imbues me with spine-snapping fury. So, don't do that.

Alright then? See you in a few days! 

Keep it Nicey, keep it Spicy, keep it Dublin International Comic Expo-y!

(You can have that one, John.)






(


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AUTO ASSEMBLY 2014 FULL-FIGURE SKETCH LIST!

Blimey, you guys! Those slots for the head sketches for Auto Assembly went pwetty fast! Gargantuan gobbets of gratitude to all who ordered. I can't wait to see your indifference as I hand them over to you.

I'm now ready to open up another sketch list! I'm only taking on FIVE A4 (29.7 x 21 cm) Black & White FULL SINGLE FIGURE commissions. Each illustration will be priced at £80 and are fully inked/finished, with added grey tones and textureThere are examples of what's involved below the text.

If you're interested, follow these simple instructions!

*Reply in the 'Comments' section below.
*State YOUR name, your CHARACTER request and what DAY you will be available to collect your piece.
*Sorry, NO fan characters.
*Combiners/Gestalts will cost £120 due to the extra fiddliness!
*Once five names appear in the Comments section, consider the list cut off. 

If you don't make the list, I'll be taking on more bust commissions at Auto Assembly itself, as well as selling original Transformers artwork, including More Than Meets The Eye Season 2 covers! Plus...there are new prints coming. Stay tuned!

See you all next week!






Thursday, July 3, 2014

AUTO-ASSEMBLY 2014 SKETCH LIST OPEN!

That time already, huh?

We fast approach one of my favouritest times of year - somewhere between bath night and drain-cleaning weekend - Auto Assembly! Birmingham's best August-held Transformers Convention! It's on 8th - 10th August and just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Full details of the show are at autoassembly.org.uk, but you'll not find any other convention with such fan-to-guest interaction. (Whether you want the guests to interact with you or not.)

This year, I'm trying to get the jump on my sketch list. Today, I'm only offering a list for bust/head & shoulders sketches, but I'll be firing up a shorter list for full-figure pieces nearer the time. (As well as unveiling my new prints.)

So, if you fancy picking up some artwork from me (and there are samples below the text as to what you can expect for your buck) here's what you need to know:


Pre-Order Price for an A4 Black & White HEAD/SHOULDERS shot (20 available) is £20

To be eligible for these, all you need to do is:

* Reply in the comments section below,
* State YOUR name, the name of the CHARACTER you want, and an idea of the day you'll be available to collect the piece.
* Sorry, no fan/original characters, but feel free to request non-TF characters!
* PLEASE only order a sketch if you will be able to attend to pick it up, and, you know, pay for it.
* The numbers available are as stated above. Once they've been filled, please don't send any more requests unless further slots become available.
* I will be providing more sketches AT Auto-Assembly. I tend to get booked up VERY quickly there, but if you don't want to commission me here and now, you could take your chance at the show.

Right, I'm off for a cuppa. I'm ready to lay into your commissions once the last drop of t has been swilled, so hit me up!

YOU MAY TOUCH ME IN AUGUST. X