Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Colin MacNeil’s dreaming of flowers for Judge Dredd Megazine #437

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!

Don’t forget that you can now order the 2000 AD Covers Uncovered Annual, which will feature all the covers from this year in a gorgeous square-bound bookazine format!

The latest Judge Dredd Megazine has plenty of thrillpower blasting out of its pages, with the penultimate installments of Devlin WaughThe Returners and Angelic, and a done-in-one Tale From the Black Museum. But opening the Megazine, you get a very special complete Judge Dredd thriller from Ken Niemand and Colin MacNeil.

And it’s all to be found underneath a stunning, if rather different, cover from Colin MacNeil to begin the tale of A Dream of a Thousand Flowers.

.

COLIN MACNEIL: I was asked to do a cover for the Megazine based on the strip Dream of a Thousand Flowers, drawn by me and written by Kenneth Niemand.

The idea I had was of Dredd’s shadow falling across a wall that had flowers painted over it, just like in the strip. A nice big, bold, but odd image. Perfect for a cover.

.

Once I had a sketch approved by the editor I took the decision to paint it, or at least try. It had been a number of years since I last used a paintbrush. It was taking forever, so I decided to switch to digital!

.

The first task was finding a texture for the wall. I eventually found a nice texture on the wall of an old building near where I live.

Rather than drawing every individual flower, I drew several different types then just copy and pasted them across the image till it looked appropriate.

.

The bullet holes were natural dents in the wall, which I had photographed, that I manipulated digitally to look like bullet holes. The blood trails were from scans of ink trails on a bit of paper. Again, a bit of digital jiggery-pokery and they became blood. Dredd’s shadow came from a photo of the painting I started.

.

After that, it was a case of playing with levels and filters till it became the final result.

… And that’s how the cover was done!

.

And what a beautiful cover it is. Just like Colin says, sometimes it’s the covers that are wonderfully big, bold AND odd that are the very best. And this one is right up there with the best covers of the year!

Thanks to Colin for sending all that work along and telling us all about it. You can find that gorgeous cover on the shelves of all good comic shops and newsagents, as well as the 2000 AD web shop.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Mark Harrison brings Harryhausen to The Out for Prog 2254!

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!

Don’t forget that you can now order the 2000 AD Covers Uncovered Annual, which will feature all the covers from this year in a gorgeous square-bound bookazine format!

This week, it’s the return of The OUT to the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2254! And with it, that means the return of Mark Harrison to Covers Uncovered, less than a month after he graced us with his entertaining explanations to putting the latest cover together.

The OUT Book Two is flying high in the pages of 2000 AD right now – don’t miss one of the most acclaimed series of recent years! And whatever you do, don’t miss out on Mark Harrison telling us just how the cover to Prog 2254 was put together!

.

MARK HARRISON: Hi again all! I took time out from the drawing board to discuss the cover – it’s a nice reminiscence and meander down memory lane (I wonder if it’s going to be a similar experience for you!).

SPOILER WARNING FROM MARK – DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE STORY!

I grew up in the late 60s and 70s and the Summer school holidays were a time of endless sunshine, scuffed knees smelling of grass, and morning TV for kids before the BBC testcard sent us outside to play. And that 70s morning TV for kids was perhaps completely unacceptable by today’s standards.

This was best typified by 1930s Tarzan films of Johnny  Weissmuller that ran in the early mornings during the holidays and filled impressionable minds with monochrome horrors – all those deaths at the hands of wildlife, cannibals, or even the jungle itself, even at a distance and off-camera still terrified at a young age. 

You could experience the foolhardy eaten alive (piranha, crocodiles, lions, etc), drowned, burnt alive, or torn to pieces (ritualistic tribal contraptions). If there was a bridge over a pool of lava or a seemingly bottomless crevasse you just knew some less than sure-footed fellow would be providing us with a Wilhelm scream at some point as he fell flailing to his death.

And all before 10am in our living rooms. We as a generation turned out mostly fine.  Mostly.  Our planetary husbandry might leave a bit to be desired. 

Part and parcel of these serialised films was the perilous quest or trek.  This was a lethal undertaking, across quicksand swamps, along treacherous ravine ledges, or hacking through jungles where giant spiders or man-eating plants lurked to trap the unwary. 

Invariably there would be the loss of many an expendable character, typically the wide-eyed panicking native bearers of some private army expedition (the red shirts; the NPC of Tarzan films). 

And this tradition of showing what dangers the heroes had faced and had just escaped by virtue of their being higher up the cast list extended to science fiction and fantasy films where you could expect to see a montage Trek of Terror where our intrepid party wanders in front of a cinema back-projection only for one hapless soul to be plucked off the path by a dinosaur or dueling monster ready to fight over their still warm corpse as their companions scurried to safety.  

It would also provide  our hero (probably Doug McClure but not exclusively) with my favourite movie hero line: “That could have been me.” 

This is the stuff I grew up on, the McClure/ Ray Harryhausen movies that informed my childhood and that was the inspiration and the homage that Dan and I  brought to this episode of The OUT, only with a modern twistbecause what would anyone connected to social media do these days when faced with a possible life and death scenario? Why take a selfie of course!  Which is just what we have Cyd doing here!

Captured by natives, with dueling monsters dwarfing her – Cyd’s response? A selfie of course!

.

The camera disconnect from reality as we become stars and ‘content’ in what might be our imminent demise is something I can see happening. Not desired of course! (for more on this idea see this Reading The Pictures article.) But it’s the 21st Century human need to matter in the Universe. No matter how small and insignificant we might be! 

For the cover I knew I wanted the layout to reflect something ‘Pulpy,’ as if illustrating one of those early sci-fi/fantasy stories, with Cyd low in the frame,  craning to get into shot being taken by the  floating Vuepro camera.

Caught in the flash throwing up ironic ‘love’ hand gestures with a somewhat forced rictus smile as she tries to ignore the danger behind her. 

The ultimate ‘Hey- look at me!’ holiday postcard shot you might take and underplay to look cool. 

This was a cover I saw in mind right from the planning of book 2 of The OUT, so you could even say it had the unusual effect of dictating the content of the story, not reflecting it or being a scene from it. 

Wanting a travel montage of doom, Dan happily provided one in the story – Although with a  blasé Cyd becoming bored with it all. ‘Dueling monsters, hey ho. Next!’ 

The in-strip moment added in to this week’s episode of the OUT – just so that Mark’s cover could happen!

.

This cover and episode also marked a significant change in how I was rendering my art, in that I would outline or ‘Cut out’ in colour the characters and scenes and assign them to different layers in PhotoShop.  A rough idea of smoke and dust too. 

This would lead to me ultimately drawing in colour and adding the line art later as a final pass. 

Here’s a sneak peak look at a future episode to illustrate my current process (subject to inevitable change!). I’m almost fully rendering the tone and colour and still I haven’t started inking the line art.

Steps 1, 2, and 3 of Mark’s new process – different way of doing it, same damn fine art as a result!

.

Theoretically (The jury is still out on this) this minimises unnecessary line art that might get painted over in a shadow and tonal pass and speeds up my work.

The tone and colours can be contained to the layer’s cutout helping me ‘stay within the lines.’ 

Pencil layouts for the cover
And then Mark’s new process kicks in over the pencilled lines, adding tones and colours.

.

The tag line:  “What the Harryhausen? ” was stolen from Bruce Campbell in the TV Series Ash vs Evil Dead and I didn’t expect 2000 AD to use it; too on the nose.

But they did keep the Vue Pro framing which I’m grateful for as it’s again a throwback to the 2000 AD sci-f graphics of old.

The final cover – Harryhausen would approve!
And then adding in those now-familiar Vue Pro framing making it unmistakeably an OUT cover!

.

In a sense, if The OUT is a love letter to the science fiction Dan and I grew up with as kids (the books, the films, the TV) then this cover also harkens back to those 2000 AD covers of old when hyperbole was ‘Hyper-powered’  (Remember when everything was ‘Hyper’?) 

By the way, credit to Susha Matthews  for the original monster designs included here that came with wonderfully imaginative backstories. ‘Back off, kid, this is my story…’ 

(More artistic brilliance from Sasha Matthews – who also contributed to Mark’s cover for Prog 2251)

.

Oh, one more thing that the readers might like…

A possible episode ending (lost due to space constraints)  was of Cyd being released by the gangster aliens to return to the surface and contemplating the return journey: “What- go back through all THAT again!?!!”  

To which the gangster boss would say:  “No, no- you can use the stairs.” Indicating a staircase shortcut to the surface, to make the earlier perilous journeys even more ludicrous and the losses even more comically tragic and unnecessary.

But we already had so much going on in an already packed episode.

Okay then, back to Infinity and beyond! (3 episodes to go and we haven’t even plotted book 3 yet! But hey, what’s new?!) 

.

Thank you, as always, to Mark Harrison. I know Covers Uncovered is all about the imagery, but I always love getting something through from Mark, as I know it’s going to be full of wonderful ideas, crazy asides, amazing flights of fancy… and that’s usually just in his first paragraph!

Be sure to check out both the Covers Uncovered for 2000 AD Prog 2251 and the interview with Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison on the OUT.

You can find the Harryhausen-tastic cover by Mark on the front of 2000 AD Prog 2254, out on the shelves of all fine newsagents and comic shops, as well as the 2000 AD web shop, from 20 October!

Posted on

PRE-ORDER NOW: the first 2000 AD Covers Uncovered Annual!

The secrets behind the greatest comic book covers in the galaxy – revealed in a brand new annual!

Every week, 2000 AD Covers Uncovered takes readers of the 2000 AD website behind-the-scenes on the covers of both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine. From idea to pencils, from inks to colours, 2000 AD Covers Uncovered reveals the processes behind the jaw-dropping, genre-defining art that graces the covers of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comics! 

For the first time, this new annual collects the artwork for every 2000 AD and Megazine cover from a single year in a square-bound bookazine format. Each cover is presented without logos and cover furniture, allowing readers to savour each image in all its glory.

Alongside, step-by-step images such as wireframes, pencils, inks, and inspiration are presented alongside commentary from the artists themselves, providing fascinating detail about the process behind their covers

Written and curated by blogger Richard Bruton, the 2000 AD Covers Uncovered Annual 2021 is not only an enthralling collection of stellar art but also an indispensable insight into the artistic process.

PRE-ORDER FROM 2000AD.COM >>

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Mark Harrison takes us OUT…or bust!

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!

The new 2000 AD, Prog 2251 is out on 29 September and it’s got a doozy of a thrill-powered cover by Mark Harrison, artist on The OUT, the stunning series taking us far, far across space, out to the furthest edge of the universe, and far into the future, where photo-journalist Cyd Finlea has been cataloguing the alien societies she’s been encountering for a long 10 years now. She’s lost track of how far she is from home, but she’s keeping going, just her and her sentient flatspace bag, seeking out other ex-pat humans.

.

Now… over to Mark Harrison – this one’s a great one!

MARK HARRISON: So…. I was expecting this but not so soon! I thought this was seeing light in October- November so it’s a bit of a shock to me it’s being published now. I’d better get my skates on for the last few episodes!

And weirdly this particular cover has relevance to those last episodes. Let me make explain why.

Or NOT as you will see.

I have to be deliberately opaque with this cover and temper my disclosure.

THE OUT…or Bust!” ( A reference to the “Klondike or bust” Gold rush prospectors seeking fortune in a far off land. Everything or nothing. Risk it all. And for Cyd Finlea this is risking herself to find her long-lost daughter.

The first cover heralding the new book of The OUT turned a simple idea into a very complex one that required long-term careful planning and calculated vagueness that even now, nearly a year after doing it, I have to maintain.

Before I even considered doing a new cover I had contemplated resubmitting the pitch artwork that was used to first generate interest in The OUT.

That would be this one – although, as Mark will tell us, this is just some of that pitch artwork…

(Just some of Mark Harrison’s original pitch art for The OUT.)

.

MARK HARRISON: This was unpaid work done by myself about three years ago in consultation with Dan Abnett as a possible original story after concluding our run on Grey Area.

It was just ideas I had, a wandering space hippie traveling the stars and had elements of a storyline within the art, some of which was a little too revelatory and relevant to the current storyline (so the pitch art included here is cropped).

So, as the pitch art (in full) was too on the nose I went about designing a new original cover.

Originally I was going to have a simple bleached out image of a bored Cyd sitting with Bag by a dusty roadside at an Alien bus stop waiting for a galactic bus, a personal recollection of myself and my brother waiting for a rural bus in the Summer sun that would seemingly take hours to arrive.

And that was the cover. Very stark, so much white. But ultimately I wimped out and didn’t present that version. Plus it was reminiscent in feel to a Grey Area cover I had done of alien immigrants escaping through a border wall.

(Mark’s image of Cyd and her sign, prior to thinking about the background.)

.

MARK HARRISON: I still wanted Cyd holding up a cardboard sign she carried with her as she thumbed a lift to somewhere other than here, but I was stumped for a background.

Then I thought why not show the whole adventure yet to come as a sort of sequence of scenes, three in total, a Triptych? In a sort of traffic light of three colours representing… something.

And within these three panels would be the entire story. The twist was it would be realised by children or represented by the things a child could identify with. Why children? Ahhhh…

In an early sketch I had ideas for wooden building blocks, dolls, teddy bears, monsters etc. Glow in the dark 5 pointed stars and suns and moons that might make up a hanging mobile above a cot. Stick figures made of pipe cleaners.

And a daisy chain of aliens.

(The original sketch idea for the fleshed-out cover version)

.

MARK HARRISON: There was one slight problem. The story only existed as a synopsis and none of this had been scripted, fully discussed and certainly not designed! Now I was being asked to guess what things might look like or even if they would be relevant months from now.

Kind of putting the cart before the horse but that’s how Dan and I like to roll!

Also, the imagery in the background had to be vague but enough to suggest a scope and diversity. This is also about making the strip/comic attractive and intriguing to the reader/comic buyer.

(Fleshing out the backgrounds for the cover.)

.

MARK HARRISON: After the first initial sketch, I discounted using the playthings of children to represent scenes as it was too specific and would require a lot of work trying to get it to feel right.

(Although the paper daisy chain remained as a graphic overlay, with a design change to make it look less like a chorus line!)

Then I hit on the idea of a single specific child telling the story through their drawings.

Be it in crayon, pen or chalk. Simplistic and yet also poignant.

The book as seen through the imagination and emotions of a child. So there is comedic imagery, safe and happy for fun moments… then more uncontrolled scribbling, to suggest anger, frustration, upset for the darker times.

It was all a little delicate and needing clear, simple ideas and style, unencumbered by a lifetime of influence and the obvious clichés that an artist can subliminally fall back on.

What better artist to turn to than a child! Two, in fact, the daughters of a friend who provided the bulk of background drawings with the briefest of direction from me as to what was required. I wanted their imaginations unfettered...

(The new background to The OUT cover – courtesy of Anya and Susha.)

>

These would be photographed and PhotoShop manipulated to something approximating what I had already sketched out (and not shown the girls).

Sometimes I was challenged by their choices, but then I thought why not? Go there. Figure out how to make it work later!

It was an interesting and exciting approach that came up with ideas and designs my rational adult mind wouldn’t have contemplated. Like the dueling monsters, already formidable with tooth and claw, but still feeling the need to also arm themselves with medieval weapons!

I was tickled by the idea that somewhere there was a place giant monsters could source oversized swords and mace! I loved their inventiveness that was unshackled from the self-conscious constraints of logic and “realism”, something that can hamper us in later life as we second guess our decisions.

Fantasy for the pure sake of it.

After all, this was The OUT. We can do what we like!

Of course, such invaluable artistic assistance should not go uncredited. Thank you, Anya and Susha. You’re stars!

(But not paid ones, remember???)

(That early Harrison original!)

The cover underwent a process of moving things around, adding additional art, keeping it deceptively simple and seemingly random.

Finally, as an aside, the cover also incorporates a special personal touch, namely the earliest existing “drawing” of mine appropriately on the inside cover of a book of fairy tales, fables, and abridged stories (hence it surviving all these years)

I happened across it purely by chance and thought why not include it. From crayon scribble to digital cover… and a whole lifetime in between.

Funnily enough, my favourite colour turned out to be blue. (Still a child at heart!)

.

And that’s it – a strangely and unexpectedly personal cover whose publication has been eagerly awaited by two young girls – despite their critical comments on how I changed their art! (Artists! )

Now THAT was a particularly stunning Covers Uncovered! Thank you so much to Mark Harrison for sending it through to us. You can find his stunning The OUT cover on the front of 2000 AD Prog 2251 – in comic shops, newsagents, and from the 2000 AD web shop from 29 September!

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – A legend returns: it’s Mick McMahon on Prog 2250

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!

And this week we not only get the thrill-powered jumping-on Prog for you with 2000 AD Prog 2250, featuring 48-pages with FIVE new on-going stories and two great one-offs, but a return of the absolute 2000 AD legend that is Mick McMahon on the cover!

It’s all coming out on 22 September! Just look for the big boots of Dredd on the cover!

We were honoured to chat to Mick McMahon about putting together yet another iconic cover featuring the one and only Judge Dredd, that looks just like this…

.

So, without further ado… Mick McMahon!

MICK MCMAHON: The brief is Dredd in action, so pretty open-ended. My first move is to draw some Dredds and hope that one of them feels ‘right’. As I sketch on these first sheets I gradually start leaning towards the idea of a big Dredd filling the cover with a white background.

.

And here’s the three Dredd’s that Mick’s highlighted on those initial sketch pages… where you can see the whole thing really coming together, from basic shapes to complete cover idea in miniature…

.

MICK MCMAHON: Just for once I get it ‘right’ more or less first time. I can sometimes spend a week faffing around with this stage.

Oh yes… and when it comes together this way, the McMahon-ness of Dredd just screams out from even the sketch stages – it’s unmistakenly, brilliantly McMahon! All of which gives us this… the rough drawing of the cover…

.

MICK MCMAHON: I scan the sketch into photoshop and make up a dummy of the cover, and mail it to Matt.

.

MICK MCMAHON: Matt likes it, so I proceed with the pencils. All the drawings so far have been done on Staples A4 copy paper. The pencils will be drawn on Staples A3 copy paper. I print out the rough drawing in blue and use this as a base for the pencils. I use a Derwent Graphic HB pencil for all my pencil work.

.

MICK MCMAHON: I usually use Daler Rowney Bristol Board for the inks, but this time I decided to experiment with Arches 140lb hot press watercolour paper.

I print out the pencils in blue and ink them with Pilot size 10 lettering pens.

.

MICK MCMAHON: I scan the inks into Photoshop and proceed with the colouring.

.

And that, 2000 AD fans, is how an absolute legend gets the cover done!

Thank you so much to Mick for sharing just how he does it. It’s a stunner of a cover, unique, stylish, striking, something that can only come from an absolute legend of 2000 AD!

You can see Mick’s incredible cover on the front of 2000 AD Prog 2250, available at the 2000 AD web shop from 22 September.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – On Yer Bike Joe – Paul Williams’ Classic Lawmaster Cover

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 #436.

Since winning the 2000 AD art search competition at Thought Bubble 2017, this is the fourth time Paul’s art has graced the covers of both the Prog and the Judge Dredd Megazine, as well as providing art for Prog 2072’s Future Shock: Sunday Scientist. and the DeMarco, P.I. 3-parter, An Eye, in Megazine issue 410-413, both scripted by Laura Bailey.

This latest from Paul gives us a twist on the classic image of Dredd astride his Lawmaster, looking just like this…

PAUL WILLIAMS: This cover came about after I’d been kicking the kernel of an idea around my head for several months before Christmas, not quite finding the version of it that was unique enough to retain my interest for quite some time.

There are plenty of ‘Dredd on a Lawmaster’ covers in 2000 AD’s history, most of which were drawn by some of the all-time greats and so I didn’t want to go down that route unless there was something in the design that would make it different or memorable, even as a more generic ‘pin-up’ style image. Eventually, I hit upon the idea of Dredd being framed by his shadow, cast from the Lawmaster’s bike cannons and that piqued my interest enough for it to stick.

My style has naturally evolved towards a focus on heavy contrast in the past year (as evident below in an unsuccessful cover pitch from 2020) and I knew that this concept would give me the perfect opportunity to play with that some more.

Like all artists who have depicted Dredd (albeit only on covers, in my case), you want to put a bit of your own touch on how the equipment and uniform are designed and the above gives a good idea of where I was at with that going into this pitch, even though most of it will be hidden out of view. The shoulder eagle is pretty consistent now with how most artists draw it but all of the other pads have a raised border surrounding the central panels.

For some reason, I’ve always struggled to find a way to draw the more traditional left shoulder pad with the bars over the top in a way that looks good and so one day I decided to try it Kev Walker style from the Judge Dredd story “Fast Food” (see below) and found that worked well.

Uniform aside, obviously the more important design when you’re showcasing the Lawmaster is the bike itself. I have my own 3D model that I built for drawing reference which is largely ‘classic’ in appearance and I had intended that this would be my basis for the image.

If I may go on a tangent for a second, one side of illustration that I do like to employ is the use of 3D modelling software. Almost everything I use for reference is something I have created myself (unless I need reference for a specific item or vehicle, such as when I had to draw a military MRAP from multiple angles for a project and it was just a matter of saving time by downloading an existing model rather than needlessly making my own) and the reason I do this rather than drawing everything from scratch is because, honestly, I get bored only ever working in one medium all the time. Switching between 2D and 3D goes a long way to keeping me creatively stimulated, which is important when you’re working on bigger projects that potentially have you in it for the long haul.

When I started work on this cover, however, I discovered that this design (shown above) wasn’t really suiting the composition I had imagined, which should be more angular and a distinct set of geometric shapes. I normally prefer the more rounded front on the bike but I felt it would definitely take away from the impact I wanted this image to have so I decided to scrap the reference and draw the Lawmaster from scratch.

After coming up with a front view that I was happy with, I combined a few existing 3D design elements to create the background reference that would also provide me with the perspective lines (and sense of motion) for later on. I’ve also made the decision to switch out the U-shaped (when viewed from above) Eagle that I typically use on the front of the Lawmaster for the flat one which I feel will ‘read’ more easily in this composition.

The final touch was, of course, adding Dredd behind it all, nice and comfy in his bike seat…. what’s he looking so miffed about?

Next step was to pencil up a rough that I felt confident was good enough to send to Tharg’s delegate on earth, Matt Smith (see below). I threw a simple line-art filter over that background reference to give a general gist of how that would look, knowing I could save myself some wasted time if Matt didn’t deem it worthy enough to adorn the cover of 2000AD or the Judge Dredd Megazine but luckily that was not the case and I was well on my way towards creating my 4th cover for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic!

I took the rough into Procreate on my iPad Pro and commenced the inking, making small changes along with the way such as improving Dredd’s expression and fine-tuning the shading on the bike’s front.

As you can see, I initially envisioned the shadow to be much more prominent a part of the design. But at this stage, I was finding it less impactful (partly because I changed the positioning slightly) and, if anything, was taking away from the sense of movement I had hoped this illustration would have.

That’s one of the ways I’m still learning as an artist; I can ink a lot of precise detail into a piece but that’s often to the detriment of any sense of action, when looser brush strokes and mark-making would better suit but I do struggle to let go of that need for tight control of the pen line.

That’s when I had the idea not to draw the shadow as a full, blocked-out shape but to ink it as speed lines protruding out all around Dredd, which I hoped would help make it feel like the Lawmaster is leaping right off the page at you. So I set up Procreate’s useful perspective tool (see above) and started to carve out those lines.

Next up was the background and the bit that I had been privately dreading, because to be honest, I didn’t really have a clue how I was going to ink it. I knew that I wanted the lineart to have an element of motion blur but – with the limitations of my style that I previously mentioned in mind – I wasn’t entirely sure of the best method. I was also wary of making the background too difficult for the colourist to interpret so I didn’t want to lose too much of the forms within it, whilst also attempting to do exactly that.

Eventually, I settled upon a technique that I was happy with and which I felt conveyed the motion in the way I had hoped and, once that was locked in, it was just a case of filling out the rest.

I really enjoyed the entire day I spent meticulously inking in all those dots and blur lines, as followers of my instagram account (@sketchymagpie) will tell you…

But as with all things we achieve, the hard work along the way is part of what makes it so satisfying to eventually finish!

Thank you once more to Paul Williams and congratulations to him for getting Tharg to say yes to that fourth cover. And honestly, he might be regretting his decision to painstakingly ink all the dots and blurs, but we think it’s come out beautifully! So stop complaining Williams Droid, otherwise, Tharg will just make you do more details!

You can see Paul’s cover adorning Megazine Issue 436, available at the 2000 AD web shop from 15 September.

There’s more Covers Uncovered from Paul for Prog 2199 (the rather iconic cover that marked the end of End of Days) and Megazine 422. Plus, you can read an interview with Paul and fellow Thought Bubble winner, script-droid Laura Bailey, here and both Paul and Laura talk about their DeMarco strip on the Thrill-Cast here. And catch up with the latest from Paul over at his Twitter, Instagram, and his website.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Paul Marshall Skips Out On Prog 2249

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!

2000 AD Prog 2249 is out now! Featuring endings, endings, and more endings, as we bid farewell to the current thrill-powered line-up to make way for all-new strips in the jumping on Prog 2250. But before we get to that, it’s time to take a moment to enjoy the brilliance of Paul Marshall‘s Skip Tracer cover to 2000 AD Prog 2249…

Over the last 12 episodes of Skip Tracer: Eden, Nolan Blake’s been put through the wringer by the creative team of James Peaty and Paul Marshall – action, adventure, a classic villain, and a military-industrial complex looking to use his newfound daughter as a living weapon. And now, it’s all coming to an end here in Prog 2249. So, it’s our great pleasure that Paul grabbed a little time between those ever-approaching deadlines to send over his art for the cover…

First, how it all came about…

PAUL MARSHALL: Matt asked if I could provide a cover for the last episode of the current Skip Tracer storyline.

The brief was to show Nolan holding baby Eden in a similar fashion to the old ‘Hard Boiled’ movie poster.

That would be this one…

PAUL MARSHALL: I provided a couple of roughs, one a static pose and the other a running/ action image. Matt went with the latter idea, so it was all quite straightforward really!

And that’s it! Hey, sometimes these covers have a long and involved story behind them, and other times it’s all just about the artist getting it done!

So, here’s Paul’s roughs and inked/final version of the cover, with and without colours by the ever-magnificent Dylan Teague!

Thanks to Paul for sending that along – Skip Tracer:Eden might have finished, but there’s going to be more to come from Nolan Blake in the future!

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Nick Percival Bringing The Scares To Dredd In Prog 2247

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, it’s 2000 AD Prog 2247, featuring a creepy and kooky Nick Percival cover for the beginning of the three-part Judge Dredd tale, The House On Bleaker Street, written by Kenneth Niemand and with suitably terrifying art from Nick Percival.

So… let’s hand it over to Nick Percival for the tale of making the cover…

PROG 2247 out now

.

NICK PERCIVAL: It’s always good to return to Dredd now and again and this spooky story was a good palette cleanser after a year of Dark Judges shenanigans.

The House on Bleaker Street (which is a sly wink for people that’ll get the reference) is a great script by Kenneth Niemand (first time I’ve worked with him) and totally tailored to the stuff I like to illustrate, so a nice, dark, horror tale for Dredd.

I couldn’t really give too much away on the cover image, since this three-parter reveals a new nemesis for Dredd that we don’t see until Part 2, so it’s a fairly generic layout but still gives a Scooby-Doo ‘haunted house’ type spooky vibe. So, a nice big image of Dredd with the mysterious House on Bleaker Street below with some hint of supernatural forces at work. (Cough..zombies..cough!)

(Damn, nasty cough you’ve got there, Nick!)

And that’s what Nick has the temerity to describe as a SKETCH!

Nick Percival: I wanted a ghost-like, ethereal feel to the piece with lots of mist and soft edges, giving it an otherworldly feel. Really enjoyed working on this one and it sets up some potential for things that can be developed further down the line for Dredd which world be fun to do.

Jinkies!

The finished cover to Prog 2247 – giving that Scooby-Doo vibe, Dredd style!

Thanks to Nick for sending along the imagery to what is SO much a Nick Percival cover! There’s no one better to give the readers the scares as Percival, let’s face it!

2000 AD Prog 2247 is out on 1 September from everywhere thrill-powered comic books are sold, including the 2000 AD web shop!

As for what you can expect from The House on Bleaker Street, Nick was kind enough to send us along a couple of images… try not to have nightmares!

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Steve Roberts gives us monsters for Regened Prog 2246

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 it’s the return of 2000 AD Regened, with Joko Jargo taking over the Prog to deliver 48 pages of all-ages thrill-power, including more adventures with Cadet Dredd, the latest from the Rogue Trooper-verse in Mayflies, the next generation of Survival Geeks in ‘Splorers, and go right back to the beginning of Marlon Shakespeare’s story in Chopper Don’t Surf.

And to round out this Regened Prog, we have a new Future Shock from Karl Stock and Steve Roberts, the art-droid co-creator of Bec & Kawl and the only art-droid to have won a Bafta for his TV work on the CBeebies series DIPDAP!

Not only that, but Steve’s also responsible for the fabulously monstrous cover to this latest Regened Prog… so, time for Steve to talk Covers Uncovered…

PROG 2246 out now

.

STEVE ROBERTS: I was really chuffed to get the chance to draw a cover for Regened. When Matt asked for a Cadet Dredd cover I did get a bit nervous because it had been a long time since I had drawn Dredd and I had to make sure I got it right. Especially as this was young Dredd.

It was a nicely open brief so here are some ideas that I sent over. One featuring a pack of some sort of alien spider creatures which sort of reminds me of Die Hard. A too static moody Head and shoulders shot that I thought I could attempt an Akira style city with. Then I sketched some sort of ridiculous mutie and finally we have the one that was chosen – a multi-eyed slug alien!

I think Matt was right to go with this one it had the most oomph. These are very sketchy but my preparatory drawing has definitely loosened up over time. I do feel that my drawing can lose a bit of energy as it goes through the various stages on the way to the final art. But I guess that is the way it goes!

Steve’s ideas #1 & 2 – Yippee Ki Yay for Cadet Dredd and Dredd goes all Akira.
Ideas #3 & 4 – Excess head violation and the final version – Cadet Dredd about to make a monstrous arrest.

.

I would like to experiment more with a looser style in my finished comics in the future if possible. But I am a bit torn because I do love trying to ink really smoothly and clearly. Design-wise, I was quite keen to draw Dredd’s helmet like a slightly 70s motorbike helmet, so quite round, but I didn’t go the whole way with that.

I pencil and ink on paper as I have always done and then scan it in and patch it together if needed. Then I clean up the line art on the computer. I made a conscious effort to not use too much solid black shadow. I wanted to keep the image light and clear.

The Mega-City Meal Deal – But does Dredd come with fries and a coke?

.

Dredd’s arm was very wrong so I fixed it and had it outstretched which I think works a lot better – It was looking a little dislocated! I hadn’t noticed until I got the drawing scanned in and started working on it.

The composition worked well on the rough sketch but not so much on the final art.

Attempting to eat a Judge? Gotta be 30 years in the iso cubes.

.

I got colouring in the way I always do with comic strip pages. This is with a nice solid black line art sitting on the top of flat colours. I also like to avoid using any gradients and airbrush tools. I like flat blocks of colour. I am always aware of not getting carried away when I’m colouring.

.

When I looked at it though it felt a bit unfinished somehow. I felt I had played it safe so I decided to try something new and lose the line art completely and paint it digitally. I definitely hadn’t done this before for anything 2000 AD but it was an enjoyable process and as it had been so long since I had drawn anything for the comic, it seemed right to try something new.

It did take a little longer than expected so I’m not sure I’m up for doing a whole strip like it but I will definitely develop it further in the future. It would have been sensible to have had it mind from the beginning though as I wouldn’t have needed to ink it and could have painted digitally right on top of the pencils.

.

And that’s the cover!

Thanks so much to Steve Roberts for sharing the latest Regened cover with us here, it’s great to see his work back in the Prog!

You can get hold of the Regened Prog 2246 from your local comic shops and newsagents and from the 2000 AD web shop.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Alex Ronald Gives Us The Vamp In Hell On Judge Dredd Megazine 435

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 – time to check out the devilishly good cover to Judge Dredd Megazine issue 435 – out on 18 August! The incredibly talented Alex Ronald supplies the Devlin Waugh cover, as everyone’s favourite bon vivant vamp has a date with the devil…

MEGAZINE ISSUE 435 out now

.

Devlin Waugh‘s latest adventure, The Reckoning, reaches episode four, with the scandalously louche lothario finding himself in deep trouble as he and the Devil settle down for a little chat. Devlin Waugh: The Reckoning comes to you courtesy of Ales Kot and Mike Dowling, and Alex has taken inspiration for the cover straight from Mike Dowling’s incredible work inside, giving us a cover that’s the epitome of everything Devlin.

Alex Ronald had his start at 2000 AD back in Prog 984 on Judge Dredd, with his first cover coming on Prog 1869. His earlier work included Dredd, Vector 13, Rogue Trooper, and Sinister Dexter, before heading off for pastures new, including working in the CG industry as both illustrator and 3D modeller. His return marked a very different style that’s seen him work exclusively on 2000 AD and Megazine covers, giving a gorgeous look to some of the most stylish covers of recent years.

Now, over to Alex to tell us about having Devlin come face to face with the Devil…

ALEX RONALD: Matt was looking for a cover depicting the conversation between the Devil and Devlin In Hell.

I opted for something that was a mix between two panels in the comic, one which had an armless Devil leering over the smoking hero and another where we saw the Devil’s arms...

Blind date from hell? Devlin meets the Devil – from Judge Dredd Megazine, art by Mike Dowling.

As usual with my covers I initially sculpt the figures in Z brush. I already had a full figure Devlin model from 2017 so I just had to repose and create the new clothing. The Devil itself was a new sculpt.

I set the models up in a 3D scene with lights and once I found a good camera angle, saved out the image to sketch over.

On approval it was down to my favourite part – the paint over.

I hope the readers like what I’ve done with it!

Oh, we’re sure they will!

Thanks so much to Alex for sending along the artwork – you can catch his Megazine cover, featuring the vampiest of vamps possibly meeting his devilish match, on the front of issue 435, available everywhere the best comics are sold, including in the 2000 AD web shop.

Now, if that wasn’t enough… a little more of Alex’s work on our beloved vampire dandy, with his cover to Devlin Waugh: Blood Debt, the essential collection of recent Devlin tales from Rory McConville, Ales Kot and Mike Dowling.

And now a few of those great Alex Ronald moments from 2000 AD past… beginning with his very first work for Tharg, 2000 AD Prog 984…

And then his very first 2000 AD cover – Prog 1869…

Now a few more recent covers – first the 2019 Christmas 2000 AD Prog 2162 – and you can see more of that one in Alex’s Covers Uncovered for that Prog here.

Next, covering the great Full Tilt Boogie for 2000 AD Prog 2191 – again, read his Covers Uncovered for this one here.

And finally, his latest Regened cover to 2000 AD Prog 2206, with another great Covers Uncovered here.