Every week, 2000 AD brings you the galaxy’s greatest artwork and 2000 AD Covers Uncovered takes you behind-the-scenes with the headline artists responsible for our top cover art – join bloggers Richard Bruton and Pete Wells as they uncover the greatest covers from 2000 AD!

This week, we chat to art droid Paul Williams about his latest cover – Judge Dredd Megazine #422.

Paul was the winner of the 2000 AD art search competition at Thought Bubble 2017 and has since been published in Prog 2072’s Future Shock: Sunday Scientist. and in the DeMarco, P.I. 3-parter An Eye… in Megazine issue 410-413. He had his very first cover just last year, with 2000 AD Prog 2146.

With this latest Megazine cover, he’s created a classic Dredd image that you’ll be able to see for yourselves from the 2000 AD web shop and comic shops when the Megazine hits the shelves on 15 July.

So, over to the Williams Droid for the skinny…

After landing my first cover for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic last year, I started pitching a few new ideas to Tharg but wasn’t managing to tempt a second commission out of him.

I was having no luck with a couple of pieces that attempted to “showcase” the character of Dredd (below) so I decided to take a different approach.

Clearly I had to up my game! Simply posing Dredd wasn’t getting me anywhere so I wanted to try something that was a bit more “graphic” (in terms of design) and less just depicting a moment frozen in time.

This resulted in a concept that I think is quite different to my usual style, or at least in terms of drawing from some of the influences that don’t show up so much in my comic work. Below is the rough I sent off.

After getting approval from Tharg’s delegate on Earth, Matt Smith, I began to work in some more detail to give it movement.

Usually, most illustrations begin with a sketch but in this case all I had on paper was literally a bunch of lines of action spreading out from the top right corner with a vague idea that I wanted the Lawmasters to follow them. I then took that concept into 3D modelling software and mostly figured out the composition by moving my bike models around in a perspective grid. 

Incidentally, I usually favour the more ‘classic’ Lawmaster in my Dredd art but wanted less complicated shapes for the foreground of the image so I nicked the design Jake Lynch has perfected for a one-off, as it’s quite streamlined.

Because I work digitally my art doesn’t always separate into “pencils and inks”. Sometimes, like here, it will involve something a bit more like “sculpting” where I’m moving things I’ve drawn around and resizing to find the right compositions, then taking bits out and re-drawing them to add a bit more fidelity.

What will usually happen is I’ll do that until I have something that could pass for inks, then I’ll do “final” inks which are tighter and have a clearer line.

I remember wanting it to almost feel like a “splat” of ink on the page that had organised itself into a more complex illustration, with high contrast between the solid blacks and the empty spaces.

That required me to leave out a bit more detail than I’m usually comfortable with but – for something so out of my usual comfort zone – I was satisfied that it looked more or less exactly like what was in my mind!

Thanks to Paul for letting us inside the making of his latest Megazine cover – out from Wednesday 15 July in print and digital!

You can read an interview with Paul and his co-winner, script-droid Laura Bailey here and both Paul and Laura talk about their DeMarco strip on the Thrill-Cast here. And you can find Paul on Twitter and Behance.

And finally… a look back at Paul’s very first 2000 AD cover – Prog 2146.