Wednesday 10 December 2014

Sunday 30 November 2014

JJ Abrams - A force for good?

Like many of you I've watched the new teaser trailer for the next film in the Star Wars franchise: The Force Awakens, and...hmmm, well, not sure what I think. I do feel wary after watching the incredible visuals of each of the prequel trailers, when they were first shown years ago, which proved that not even they could convey how hokey some of the final effects were to turn out to be, not to mention the plotting, the dialogue, the acting, or (how can we ever forget/forgive) some of the new characters!

My personal bug-bear is the tinkering with the lightsabres. OK, Maul's double-ended sabre was a nice touch but now we're looking at the possibility of some kind of cruciform version. Leave 'em alone!

So, we'll just have to wait and see - but I really hope that Mr JJ Abrams proves to be a more welcome addition to the much-loved universe than Mr JJ Binks.

Monday 24 November 2014

Peter Cushing


Star Wars' Grand Moff Tarkin -  as played by the great Peter Cushing. Taken a long time to get round to caricaturing this fantastic face.

Friday 31 October 2014

Bela Lugosi sez Happy Hallowe'en!

Wishing blog visitors a gruesomely happy Hallowe'en from me (and Bela). A bit of a rush job this, as I wanted to get something done this evening before the clock struck midnight, so not as much titivatin' as I'd've like to have done - but it's all good fun.

Monday 27 October 2014

Furious Pitt In Pencil

Mechanical pencil on paper

Quick sketch of Brad in his latest big screen role. I haven't done a caricature in 'proper' pencil for a helluva while and quite fancied it. The main reason is that I didn't want to spend too much time on it and pencil always takes less than half the time than its digital alternative: probably because with digital I spend to much time cleaning up and exercising the freedom of choice to change stuff. So the above is very sketchy, but that's OK...

Sunday 26 October 2014

Derek Bauer post - updated

I have updated my post on cartoonist Derek Bauer as I noticed that the image links were broken due to their source site being taken down - therefore, I've uploaded scans from my own book. Bauer had a big influence on my style and the keen-eyed will see where I've cribbed from him. Hope you enjoy it.

If anyone has issue with copyright please email me.

Guy Martin

If you are a speed freak/TT racing fan/adrenaline junky then I recommend the film 'Closer to the edge' which is a documentary covering the Isle Of Man TT races and follows the fortunes of the (then) leading riders; of which Guy Martin was one. It's a funny, shocking and engaging watch - and you don't have to particularly like bike racing as it will satisfy anyone who loves well-made doc's.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Are Strandli & Kristoffer Brun

This is a commission I was asked to complete for the designers of a website dedicated to the two Norwegian rowers Are Strandli and Kristoffer Brun, back in the spring of this year. They recently got the website finished so I feel at liberty to post the artwork. Good fun to do.

Click on image to expand for larger and clearer view.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Roy Hodgson

You would not believe the amount of trouble trying to capture Roy Hodgson's face has given me! I think I've sat down on about five occasions to fix a caricature only to have each session ending in failure. Always strange to find out which subjects end up being the most difficult to caricature. It's not that he doesn't have strong features: the bags under the eyes; the large rounded ears; the architecture of the jowls - that nose! Sometimes the most 'obvious' becomes the most difficult. The above drawing is the nearest I've come and it's still not quite 'spot on'! Oh well....

Sunday 5 October 2014

My My, Ma Ma lives!

More WIP for upcoming Dredd-related work I'm playing around with. Still needs some tweaks - her left wrist needs thickening up, for instance - but this should work for the final composition. Still not 100% sure as to which technique I'm gonna use for the final...

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Urban-ity WIP

Sneek-Peak of a Mega City three-hander (hopefully) coming soon-ish

Sunday 31 August 2014

Technique Part 4 - Drawing Hair

I had a communication recently which in part asked for advice on the best way to render hair in a caricature. I was going to reproduce my short reply here but as is usually the case it has expanded into something more comprehensive. No doubt I will think of further things down the line, but if you've been having problems yourself or just want to know how I go about it then read on, and I hope you can get something from it.
In this post I've referred mainly to drawings, as cross-hatching and shading feature heavily with this format, but some of the advice offered will hold true for painted caricatures, digital or actual.

All caricatures shown below are created digitally using a cintiq in SketchBook Pro.

The Approach
Anyone looking at past drawings of mine will notice that I don't always render hair the same way, and certainly not always with high detail. I usually approach each caricature from a fresh start point and try and think about the effect I want to achieve. Sometimes I want to render the hair with high detail while other times I want to keep it simple - even blocked in with total black or white. Certain approaches can help to accentuate the comic effect over the serious - and to achieve this I try to consider not just the shape of the drawn hair but the style that is used within it.

The Shape Vs The Style
The two main criteria to consider when approaching the hair is exactly the same as for the face - or any other part of the caricature - which is first, how to caricature/stretch/morph the hair (thus giving it The shape) and second, how to best represent the quality of the massed strands of hair (giving it The Style). A style can be anything from shading, cross-hatching, straight or squiggled lines to wavy patterned strokes as well as blocked areas of black or white.
John Kerry

Although the shape of the hair is important as it's a major element in the success of the overall caricature, this post is more leaning towards how hair itself is rendered, so from here on I'll concentrate on that.

Style - simple
Sometimes very exuberantly detailed cross-hatching or shading in the hair will actually detract from the overall effect of the caricature. It's not always necessary to draw every last strand as this can overwork a caricature, especially if the face is already highly detailed with crosshatching. I understand that it's tempting to always and everywhere render at full capacity by filling in every corner of a caricature in order to show off a learned drawing technique. The danger is thinking 'more is better' when in fact it's 'less...'. It's all about what you focus on in the image - and you should have a focal point as contrast will help the image have more 'punch'.

In the above caricature of John Kerry, not only did I keep the lines simple but I suggested a type of pattern or wave. I felt this gave a more comical effect to the image as well as contrasting the cross-hatching in his face.

Sometimes by keeping the hair devoid of busy detail, volume can be suggested with simple lines by paying attention to the thickness of the pencil stroke -  which would include considering how it tapers (see image below of Robin Williams).

 Robin Williams

  Gabriel Faure
 The caricature of Gabriel Faure above shows fairly simple hair as it's mainly comprised of blank space. Just some lines to denote basic architecture help place the hair in space. The white contrasts well with the hatched face.

Style - busy
When not simplifying hair to make it contrast better with heavily crosshatched faces I will go all out on it by considering it an intricate 3d object - so I'm looking to have locks and strands pass under and over each other to help give the illustration volume in space. I'd suggest keeping cross-hatching on hair to an absolute minimum as too much can 'confuse' that area and pull it away from actually looking like hair. Instead, consider drawing strands in the direction they naturally lie and if you want to suggest darker areas then either block it in or draw massed smaller strands running in the same direction. Other than that, the same rules apply to the hair as they do everywhere else.

Ben Stiller & David Tennant

The above two images show how layered, wavy, thick or tangled hair can be sculpted and filled with detail. By not applying cross-hatching to the hair but representing strands drawn 'in direction', the detail in the hair doesn't fight with the cross-hatching in the face.
As an aside from the hair issue: further contrast is achieved with David Tennant's caricature by foresaking detail in his jacket and using almost abstract block areas to denote the dark pin-striped suit - it just gives it that extra punch I was referring to. (click on image for closer look).

Directional light
 Sometimes you may wish to consider a half-way approach between simplicity and detail by combining areas of shading/heavy line work in the hair as well as blocking out whole sections - either in black, to show deep shadow - or white, to suggest a strong light source. Consider the images below to see how this can be achieved:

 Peter Capaldi
By using a combination of detail in the hair near the forehead and temples and leaving the top section white, a strong light source is suggested. Combined with the light reflecting off the actual temples, this has helped make the drawing more pleasing (though not automatically more successful)

Hair Styles
Not all hair is the same! We may know it but we don't neccessarily draw it. Hair can be straight, curly, slicked back or shaved to the length of stubble, and therefore must have different drawing techniques applied to them to best represent each look. Below are some examples of different styles and comments on how I went about each one:

Shaved and shiny!
 Roberto Di Matteo
   This is a kind of inversion of what I've suggested above, though the principle holds true. I've used simple cross-hatching in the hair in distinction to the lack of detail in the face, therefore, a contrast remains for the desired effect. The shine was created by just using a soft eraser brush on SketchBook Pro.

White & Wild
Ibrahim Tapa
 The white 'Mucha' curls sit nicely against the cross-hatched face

Black & Conditioned
Michael Madsen
I just blocked in the entire hair then took a white brush to draw in the highlights. Again, with the help of the solid black jacket, the central details of the hatched face pop-out.

Greased, Oiled and Smarmed
Shia Labeouf
Similar to Michael Madsen above, a lot of blacked-in blocks are used but locks are seperated out and more highlights are added. Notice how the light hits the sharp edges of where the hair folds back. If locks lie flat and level in relation to themselves then keep all highlights level and in a line. Raise and lower the position of highlights to accentuate difference if the sections of hair sit at different levels. Again here, the basic idea of lines, and not hatching, make up the pomaded architecture of Shia's locks. Hatching kills shine!

Natural Afro-Textured
Miles Davis
Not as much blocking in with solid black as you might first imagine. I wanted the highlights to be from unsketched areas and not filled in with white after the fact. The highlights above his widow's peak give the hair volume in space as well as showing a difference in hair height, front to back.

Wild Abandon
Jerry Garcia
 OK, this is well over the top and all attempts at realism have been abandoned in favour of humour by producing a ludicrous level of (hatched!) detail to Jerry's wild mop. However, there's enough blocked black in the image to stop this failing altogether and as I don't think 'conditioning' was high in Jerry's concerns at the time, the wool-like texture of the hair's cross-hatching can stand.
Final thought...
Be prepared to break any of the above rules if by doing so you first; make the likeness of the subject more recognisable and second; make the caricature funnier. These must remain the primary concern. It doesn't matter how you've approached describing the hair or whether you've made it look photographically real or not, it must meet the condition that any other element of the caricature must achieve: if it doesn't possess the qualities of helping make the caricature instantly recognisable, and to a lesser degree humourous, then it's been done wrong.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Doug Stanhope

My name is Russ Cook. I try and draw things and that is why I drink.

A quick sketch of comedian Doug. His wallet-photo line almost gave me a seizure.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Frank Frazetta

Little sketch I did late last night of the pioneering and highly influential artist Frank Frazetta - I love his work. Started off intending it to be a caricature but it kept straightening up and I thought 'why fight it?' I'll have to super-stretch his face another time.

Monday 4 August 2014

Charles Bronson

Had some fun putting this painting of Chuck together. Learned some more lessons in how to render digital airbrush effects though I still feel a way off from experiencing a certain 'flow' that I've managed to execute more with other techniques. Onwards, ever onwards...

Bunch O' Beefies

A recent commission was undertaken for the creators of the Beefy's Foundation website, an online hub for Sir Ian Botham's charity endeavours. I was asked to supply a bunch of cartoon Beefies to place on the various pages, all dressed in various outfits according to his interests and charity events that he has been involved with. I thought I'd gather them altogether in one image here - but if you wish to see them in-situ then hit this link to visit the charity site. I wasn't being intentionally lazy by keeping all the heads the same - just felt it had more comic potential...

Saturday 19 July 2014

José Manuel Barroso

The president of The European Commission looking as though he's lending a conspiratorial ear to someone just out of view.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Original Artwork For Sale

Just to let you know that original art is now for sale! If you've seen original artwork by me on the net somewhere then there's a good chance it can be exchanged for hard currency. At present I'm not considering art exchanges - but maybe in the future...
If you want to know a bit more then click on the tab at the top of this blog marked 'Original Art For Sale'.

Friday 27 June 2014

Vincent Price

 Acrylic paint on  watercolour card - 41.5cm x 29.5cm

"...The midnight hour is close at hand", heh, heh! Been away from the paints too long so I've had good fun (for the most part) wacking down some real colours to try and capture the great face of Vincent Price - who's looking suitably horrified at the impudence of this caricature artist. The reference image was quite low-res - without any discernable fine details - and so forced me to keep the brush marks real loose.Close up, the result is pretty impressionistic but that's no bad thing.


Above are some progress shots - 'pologies about the bad quality; they were lit only by one angel-poise lamp - but it gives an idea of how it built up. Some details changed, like the bow tie, but I kept pretty faithful to the original sketch with this one. And yes, his 'tache really was that wonky.

Above is the original sketch, done digitally with Sketchbook Pro.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Pelé - revisited

Created the main image of Pelé a while ago and uploaded with a different setting...which I never really liked, but couldn't come up with anything better at the time. Seeing as all eyes are on Brazil for the 2014 soccer world cup, I thought it would be a good time to revise it and reload it! I much prefer these colours.

Monday 19 May 2014

Jackie Chan

Tools: Photoshop

I've have had this doodle knocking round the hard drive since digital-time began and have now finally admitted to myself that it wasn't going anywhere, despite liking the feel of it. Somehow couldn't find inspiration to develop a bigger peice for it to occupy. All the same, he looks happy enough.

John Waters

Sketchbook Pro
Mondo Trasho!

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Stephen smacks it to ya one more time!

Do not give your work away for free, friends. Repeat: DO NOT GIVE YOUR WORK AWAY FOR FREE!

I would write my own post on this, but for now here's the great illustrator Stephen Silver giving you what you need to hear. He directs it towards art students - and that's understandable because they're often new to the commercial world - but we all need the reminder because we can all be tempted to let our standards slip. I know I previously linked another of Stephen's videos where he gives similar advice - but it bears repeating because so many of us are intent on learning the hard way. Heed that man!

(Just saying - slightly earthy language, if you're easily offended by such stuff.)

Gil Scott Heron

The revolution will not be caricatured...or perhaps more caricatures will not be televised...

Sunday 13 April 2014

Thanks, Reece!

I was very excited to get a tweet from one of my comedy heroes; Reece Shearsmith, in regard to a recent bit of fan art that I'd created of him. I hadn't tweeted it or sent it to him but he obviously got to see it somehow and very kindly took the time to tweet me the above message. Wotta gent! After I'd completed the original Reece sketch, I'd resolved to do a complete 'League' piece at some point, with all three (visible) members - but now I think I'll bring that project forward! I strongly recommend anybody (is there anybody?) who isn't familiar with his work to check out the genius comedy that is League of Gentlemen, Psychoville, and Inside No. 9 as well as his recent acting in The Widower. Special stuff.


Bit of a late post. Must have a Death Wish...

Thursday 10 April 2014

Stewart Lee

Have been really enjoying the third series of Stewart Lee's comedy vehicle, so it was good fun to morph what has been called by The Times "the face of the decade". Mr Lee doesn't tickle the funny bone, rather he gives it a rude kicking and then glowers at it. Tried my best to get the caricature as spot on as his observations. Looking forward to a fourth series...

Tuesday 8 April 2014

A parade of percussionists...

Put this together last year as a gift/card for a good mate's 40th birthday, himself a gifted drummer living and working out of LA...a line-up of a few of his personal heroes.

Monday 17 March 2014

Tony Benn

From a time when conviction politics and tobacco smoking were still legal...

Sunday 16 March 2014


Some full colour Grindhouse madness with Danny Trejo as Machete. Lines in Sketchbook Pro, coloured in Photoshop.

Friday 14 March 2014

Eric Cantona

King Eric! Apparently, doing little recently to shake off his bad-boy image...