Thursday, 21 February 2019

Rough Nights & Hard days

One of the recent pieces I have done for the upcoming Rough Nights & Hard days by Cubicle 7 Entertainment has been featured in this preview article (2nd image down):

The others were done by the very talented Mark Gibbons:

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Colour sketches

Usually while doing archaeological images for clients, I give them some colour & light options to chose from before moving onto final, this is after the initial stages of course, like research & reference gathering, compositional sketches etc. I find doing sketch options a very rewarding process as it takes better advantage of the team effort a commission is, as it allows the client to have a say and also can lead to some unexpected results that I wouldnt do by myself. For me colour & lighting is the icing on the cake really and really presents the site in a strong way, which is often ignored in archaeological work unfortunately. Its a shame as this kind of lighting is not something out of the world, but the wondrous light of our every day lives and moments in those lives.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Tah-Ra Mentuhr- from Starter Set - Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition

Original sketch by Sam Manley

A little spot illustration done for the Cubicle 7's Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay starter set book. Over pencils by Sam Manley 

Sunday, 20 January 2019

17th century sketches

Messing around with a more gestural textural way of paint sketching. Been exploring 17th century recently too, here is a Dutch character I have been thinking about

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Jungfreud lands Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying

Jungfreud lands, made for Cubicle 7 for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game start set book

Recently I started a job working for Cubicle 7, here is one of the pieces I did for their out now Starter set book, even if I only got in at the end of the book, was fun to do some final pieces for it

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Making Hobbit: Entrance to Rivendale

People were asking to show my process when making an image, and while getting rid of files I saw I still had some of my sketches from this piece so decided to show this part of the process.
I usually start most of my pieces with traditional pen & ink, exploring the idea in its most basic, broken down to line. Here you can see me exploring different shapes & compositions in line form.Traditional is great in this stage as it forces you to just put ideas down without the ability to undo, this can lead to unexpected results.
I then scanned these in and explore some of my favourites more in digital. First with digital line drawings, which in this case didnt get me much. So instead I started to explore more the shapes in the scene with black & white and then with greyscale. You can even see some simple black shapes at the top for bridge designs I was playing with. I spent alot of time in this one exploring different graphic shape designs and settled on a bridge that looked like a parabolic arch, the perfect arch, actually discovered by the Sassanid Persians but not really explored properly till the 20th century. Since the arch is mathematical perfection I thought it perfect for Tolkiens Elves.
Digital is great here in these later sketches, as you can edit easily like flip things, add or substract from them without any damage etc, which would be impossible traditional and so in this case it would limit what you can achieve. Overall, these kind of exercises are great, breaking everything down its simple lines & shapes, before developing further with form, texture, colour & light etc

Friday, 7 December 2018

Pierowall 17th century church

Pierowall 17th century Presbyterian church, Westray, Orkney Islands, 'Commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland'
Another piece of mine done for Historic Environment Scotland. This time a 17th Century Presbyterian church on the island of Westray, in the Orkney islands. It was an interesting challenge, especially for the researchers over in Historic Environment Scotland, as 17th century churches arent often reconstructed, so they had to do some heavy lifting in the research. The church itself had some lovely tombstones, like the one shown in the chancel here. We missed out on the tombstones in the graveyard, which many did have rich engravings on their fronts but the angle chosen for the image was nicer for the overall site. One would think that such a secluded community would be quite poor but it was actually a major shipping route from the prehistory till now, so members would have been reaped the benefits. That wealth is not shown alot in the church though, as Presbyterians believed in simplicity in the decoration and so walls were left unadorned.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Shamrock House Reconstruction

Shamrock House  Reconstruction, GurnessOrkney; commissioned by HES’
Another illustration commissioned recently by Historic Environment Scotland. This is also set in the Brochs of Gurness history, though at the end of it. This is during the Pict period, somewhat near the end of the Roman era/start of the early middle ages. The Broch had fallen into disuse at this stage and a habitation layer above the Iron Age Broch had this house. It is called Shamrock because of its lobes, a feature of some Pictish houses in the region. As you can see it is only a small house, enough for a family/extended family. The game board is actually a find from the house, how this game would have been played is hard to say but there are a good few of these Pict gaming boards found,

Friday, 9 November 2018

St. Patrick's Medieval church, Moybologue Reconstruction

Recently I was commissioned by Moybologue Historical Society to do a reconstruction St. Patrick's church, at Moybologue, co. Cavan during the middle ages. It shows the church at the height of its use, with its unusual features like an attached Belfry, the several Bullaun stones, and a few early medieval stones. This church was part of a larger community, hinted at here with the motte & bailey silhouetted on the left. You can also see the inclusion of yew trees and an embankment crowned by a fence here, which is was common place in churches during the middle ages and features of the site suggested the same may be true here.

For a hint at the process in making this, Im going to copy and paste Moybologue Historical Society's post here since they did such a fine introduction:

We used historic antiquarian and archaeological articles and reports, descriptions in the national monuments service, historic and modern maps, drone photos and footage, 3D Photogrammetry models as well as data from earth resistance surveys and electrical resistivity tomography to create as close a reconstruction as possible of how the church looked for a modern audience.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Warhammer Pen & ink sketches

While most of my work these days is digital, I do keep up sketching in pen and ink. Here is some sketches of a random character I was messing with on my down time last night, set in the warhammer universe ( you will have to excuse the background text seen, as I dont usually use sketchbooks, I usually just use letters and the like to draw on, sketches are meant to be thrown away :))

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Broch of Gurness Entrance Reconstruction

Broch of Gurness Reconstruction, Orkney; commissioned by HES’

Another of the images done for Historic Environment Scotland recently. It shows the Broch later in its history than the previous one I showed, at this stage the Broch had been lowered quite substantially and a sizable village had grown up around it. The entrance to the broch itself is what we wanted to focus on here and the series of lintelled doorways along a path leading to the final doorway at the Broch. One of the theories about Brochs is that they may had some ritual purpose and this framing of the path and the final doorway may have been part of it.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Broch of Gurness Reconstruction, Orkney; commissioned by HES’

Broch of Gurness Reconstruction, Orkney; commissioned by HES’
Another of the Broch of Gurness illustrations done for Historic Environment Scotland. This one shows the Broch at its full height before later in its history it was reduced. It is believed that originally all there was, was the Broch, and the ditches, the village surrounding it was added later. There was actually loads of other Brochs like this one, dotted along the coast on both the mainland Orkney island and the smaller Rousay Island, shown across the water here. It must have been quite a bustling area and busy shipping route as it was later in its history as well. Also seen here was an area which was left without houses or had any signs of settlement when the site was excavated. It is theorised that maybe it was an area for slaughtering animals or other activities hidden away from the more visible front side.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Viking Grave, Broch of Gurness

Viking Grave, Broch of Gurness, Orkney; commissioned by HES
A while ago I was commissioned to do a series of illustrations reconstructing different parts of the Broch of Gurness, in the Orkneys by Historic Environment Scotland. This was one of them, it depicted the last stage of the Broch, where after its initial main use in the Iron age, it eventually seems to have been used somewhat by local Vikings as a burial place. I believe this was a common enough feature in Scotland, suppose like the later Normans, they tried to integrate themselves into the culture that was there before.

In this particular grave not much was found of the original Viking, as the soils destroyed all except bones, a knife, an iron necklace, a sickle and some beautiful Brooches, google "Broch of Gurness Viking Brooches" to see the originals, shown here on the women being buried. Who this lady is we dont know, but she was obviously someone important to be buried with something like the Brooches. Could something be read into the burial goods like the sickle? It very well may point to some connection with the harvest but this could have either have been earthly (like a wealthy landlord) or symbolic, I wouldnt dare to venture a guess myself.

All in all, the Vikings are always interesting as they represent really undulated prehistoric tradition in Europe going back to the Iron age and probably far beyond, and mark its end of its pure continuation(probably not that pure though, since humans have a tendency to change generation to generation)

Friday, 28 September 2018

Hobbit- The coming of Smaug

The latest in my Hobbit images as I read through the book, this is from when Smaug first attacks the Dwarven lonely mountain stronghold. As Tolkien put it "The dwarves rushed out of their great gate; but there was the dragon waiting for them. None escaped that way"

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Hobbit- misty Mountains

Another image showing the Hobbits, Gandalf and their fellow companions journey to the Lonely mountain. This one shows them traveling across narrow paths in the misty mountains, one night a lightning storm erupts while the stone giants awaken

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Hobbit: Entrance to Rivendale

The second in my series exploring the Hobbit. This shows the group enter Rivendale via a narrow bridge after wandering the uplands for a time. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Hobbit: The Lone-lands

Just started to reread Tolkiens the Hobbit, its been years and years since I read it. Still an amazing book though, this was inspired from the early part of the book as the Hobbit and Dwarves head into the Lone-lands, Tolkiens descriptions are really suggestive without being overbearing.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Medieval Parish Church Exterior Redo

Like the interior of the Parish church I redid later, I also redid the exterior, albeit shown a little earlier in the day. I did thorough research for the original church so ill just copy what I wrote then to here so you can read about some of the background of the church, if you are interested:

An illustration of a medieval parish church based on several parish churches I have visited around Ireland but also with evidence from Britain. Parish churches were one of the most important structures ever built in Ireland, as with parish churches came the division of land into parishes. This division seems likely to have begun before the arrival of Normans but it was with the Anglo Normans where it reached its zenith and continues even to this day as one of the ways of dividing the land.

Its hard for us to imagine these days, the power that the church had in the middle ages. It was a power so complete and utter that there was no escaping it. They were the most powerful institution in the middle ages, often in some places, more wealthy than the King himself. Like a local lord, peasants and serfs, had to work some of the year, for free, on their lands. They didnt pay any taxes and they also received tithes from peasants and serfs, that is one tenth of everything they made. You can imagine this made them extremely rich. Also in every important stage of life, there was the church, when you were born, when you died, when you got married, when you gave birth and after, it was always there. And if you shirked your duties to them or didn't pay your tithes, you could be spend time in the stocks or flogging and you may not get your place in heaven in the end. Im sure sometimes they resented this but at the same time, these were extremely devout people and probably believed by doing these things for the church, they were doing it for god too and their place in the after life.

The Church here shows some typical features of parish churches in the middle ages. For instance an embankment is often found to surround an old church, which would have had Lychgate entrance, none survive in Ireland, as with many religious artifices here could be a result of the destruction brought on by the reformation, so this based on British examples. The graves themselves have been found in excavations not to align to east-west, but rather are more often aligned to the element that they are closest to, e.g. aligned to the paths or the church itself. Also a common feature of medieval church graveyards would have been the yew tree, as it was was in prehistory and still to this day, its probably because the yew trees needles sterilize the ground around them, so prohibiting other plants to grow. Also notice the house within the graveyard, this is the priests house, which would have been a common feature within many medieval churches areas.

The Parish church here is the typical of a high medieval church with both chancel and nave. The nave was the part where the parishioners would sit, or more often stand, while the chancel is where the alter was and was the holiest of holy in a church. The nave was the responsibility of the community itself to take care of with their time and money, while the chancel was the responsibility of the clergy. The church also has a double bellcote, the feature with the bells, which is often found in medieval churches in Ireland, this specific one is based on the one in Dalkeys medieval church, in Co. Dublin.

The door is based on one I visited recently in Kilsheelan in Co. Tipperary, which is probably a Romanesque doorway from an earlier church moved to Kilsheelan when the Normans built the church there. The windows are based on ones found in Wells, Co. Carlow, which are high medieval windows, note the sandstone, which is Dundry stone. Dundry stone is often found in churches in the east of Ireland, its an imported stone from Dundry in south west England and is one of the signs of an early or high medieval church. Also note the roof is covered in clay tiles, there has been some found in Dublin during excavations very similar to the ones shown here.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Shop Open

Some people have been asking recently if I could setup prints for them, so I just opened a shop over in Society 6. Let me know if any of ye have specific images ye would like as prints or any feedback regarding the items. The shop can be found here:

Monday, 27 August 2018

Dystopian Garda

The last of my Dystopian/Post Apocalypse Characters, a Garda for the dystopian/Post apocalypse stuff I have been messing with

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Dystopian Industrial World

I have been reading 1984 recently and so I had a hankering to do a more industrial Dystopian type of future. These 2 are done alot quicker than my usual and are a mix of Russian Constructivism and industrial factory architecture. It was nice to do a stronger sci fi tint, something I havent really done much before, but was alot of fun

Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Lost Conquistador

One from a while ago I forgot to post, still like it so thought to post it now :)

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Post Apocalyptic Farmer

Continuing on from the scobe character, I had an idea that perhaps farmers would use bits of old farm equipment (now probably largely useless without fuel) as armor, so here the characters have used bits of ploughs and other machinery to protect themselves.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Post Apocalypse Garda Compound

Still having fun playing around with this idea of post apocalyptic Ireland. Im thinking that this is just the top floor entrance of a much larger compound underground. I reckon to maintain order the Gards(Police in other countries) would need to become more militaristic and aggressive in a world without totally devoid of order

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Inside a Medieval Parish Church Redo

2 years ago I did a medieval Parish church cutaway and recently I decided redo it a bit. It was mostly based on evidence from the eastern side of Ireland, so would be firmly within the anglo-Norman area. Since most medieval churches in Ireland were left go to ruin after the reformation, very little evidence of the interior of medieval churches survives in Ireland, besides the walls and structure itself, essentially everything made of stone. Because of this, the layout and walls etc are based on Irish evidence but the rest mostly comes from Britain, i.e. everything that isnt stone. So the interior of the church structure is mainly a combination of Wells, Co. Carlow, Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny and Faithlegg, Co. Waterford. There are two main parts in a parish church, the nave and the chancel, ill deal with both individually Nave The nave is where the parishioners were situated in a church during mass, everyone who wasnt clergy essentially. Probably the first thing that would grab most peoples attention is the wall painting and its colour.We are so used to the drab and plain interiors of churches these days, it would quite surprise us just how vibrantly colourful medieval churches were. Most people were illiterate so wall paintings served the dual purpose of beautifying an interior and helping illustrate some of the biblical stories. Its the same with the houses, most were many vibrant colours, it seems the people of the middle ages were quite colourful lot! Most people would have stood in the nave but from excavations there has often been found a small number of seating, most likely for the rich or better off in the community. The seating here is loosely based off ones found in AllSaints, Incklingham, UK. The statue recess is based off such a recess in Kilfane but could have been a wall press too. Separating the nave from the chancel is the Rood or chancel screen, a partitition that divided the interior space of all churches, this one is based off a British example. The roof is Kempleys' roof and it is theorised in England that alot of their churches had ceilings created by the tie beam or bottom collar, instead of open to the roof, which would have been plastered over. The reason for this is that ceilings would have been easier to keep clean, could be even painted on, as the upper parts of the roofs often could be very dirty, full of cobwebs and even bats, so keeping them out of view from below, made alot of sense. Chancel The crowning glory of a medieval church was often its chancel window, many windows in churches would have had glazing or stained glass but others would have just remained open, only to be closed by wooden shutters that could slid into place from the inside. With the alter, illustrations from the time show a cross and two candles ontop of a table cloth as alter decorations. Altars are usually found in Ireland to be either against the gable wall or almost abutting it. On either side of the altar are two statue recesses, found in Kilfane church in Kilkenny. The statues throughout the church are loosely based on ones from the middle ages found in Fethard. co. Tipperary and others from Medieval Waterford city. Just above the altar in Kilfane there was a slight rectangular recess, here I inserted alabaster carvings, which have been found in churchyards in Ireland and were probably imported from Nottingham and elsewhere in England.To the right of the altar is the the piscina. The piscina is from St. Mullins in Carlow, piscinas were used to wash the holy vessels after the mass. This is the recess closest to the chancel gable on the left wall.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Post Apocalyptic Scobe

I am still playing around with the Post Apocalypse. Its been interesting trying to think of those who would come out on top if society collapsed. My guess is, that those who have access to weapons and already have an organisation of sorts would be the most likely candidates. Hence why this fella, from a group we used to call them 'scobes' or 'wa's' in limerick, I know the English call them 'Chavs'. 

Its an interesting design problem to think how they would be, e.g. like I played with the idea here that they may use shovels and bits of wheelbarrows as a form of Armour. I also figure, lack of dental care could be a serious issue in a post apocalyptic world!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Post Apocalypse Biker

Been reading alot of post apocalypse books in the last while, like the Road, I am legend, Wool etc. So just for fun I have been playing with the genre

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Medieval Mongolian Warrior

In my opinion the mongols were the greatest empire that ever lived. Why? While the later European Empires had more land, they won by technological superiority, so in the Americas, with the Spanish, and later other Europeans, it was Renaissance technology versus late Neolithic/Copper age technology, cannon vs flint essentially. In the later European Empires, especially in Africa & Asia, it was 19th Century technology vs medieval, steel swords vs gatling guns. But with the Mongols they took on people their equal in technology or even more often, their superior, the Chinese, the Islamic Caliphate, even European heavy cavalry, and they still defeated them all. They used their militaristic prowess, and their tactical and strategic brilliance to defeat foes that on paper, should have easily trounced them.

The mongols were not the most heavily armored, in fact if caught by a heavy cavalry charge they would been destroyed, they also could not even sustain alot of fighting with heavy infantry. Instead the mongols relayed on their mobility, and their discipline, their ability to feign retreat, encircle and strike again, showed unmatched discipline which they gained from years of training. Constantly keeping their enemies at arms length till it was time for them to launch the killer blow. This often worked too because their enemies were the superior, whose arrogance led them to charge headlong at them, not understanding who they were fighting against.

They travelled quick too as they did not have a baggage train, this made them have the weakness of relaying on foraging, which the Egyptian Mameluks used to their advantage, using scorched earth tactics to starve them. But this also allowed them to gain the strategic ability to move fast, and often surprise their enemies with how quickly they showed up and the ways they could travel, across a desert for instance. They also had no issue about using sneaky tactics, convincing an enemy to change sides and then when they won, destroy them too or taking the offer of betraying a city, then sacking the city and killing the traitors. The Mongols hated treachery, they of course were practical and used it when if it was offered, but they always punished it after.

Its not all good though, the Mongols have been rightly condemned for essentially putting entire cities to the sword but this was a common tactic of the time, make an example of someone who resisted and others would not. Still in modern eyes this is monstrous and there can really be no justification for things like this in my opinion. Overall though,the Mongols came from nomadic herders in the steppes to creating the greatest empire ever made, against foes their superior, using surprise and tactics and their enemies own arrogance against them. Their military genius was even still studied in WWII by the Germans & Russians for ways to use tanks in warfare and their empire is still a fascination in the modern era when most empires are very unpopular.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Tower House retouch

Recently I have been going over some of my older images and retouching them a bit, like this old image I did in 2015. Its of a tower house, which were a type of late medieval Irish castle, believed to have originated around 1300, or sometime within the 14th century, but most are probably from the 15th to the 17th centuries. They are found quite commonly around Ireland, an estimate on the number originally built ranges from 3,500 by some sources, to 7,000 by others, even today, most of Ireland remaining 3,000 castles are tower houses. By the 17th century, this would have made Ireland the most heavily castelllated part of the British Isles. The tower house signifies changes in Ireland, in one hand it shows a resurgence in Gaelic power in the west and the slow reconquest of Ireland, after years of decline following the coming of the Normans in from the 12th century. On the other side it is a sign of the collapse of centralised power in the form of the English monarchy and a rise in decentralisation. This decentralisation of power was to continue in Ireland from the 14th century to the early 17th century with the final (and the first complete) conquest of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth.

Tower houses can be found elsewhere too, across the water in Scotland and Northumbria and on the continent in France also, some have even suggested at times these areas are the origin of the tower house in Ireland but most now believe the origin lies in a native progression, starting in the Anglo Norman areas and spreading West. It was in the West and South though, that they can be found in most abundance and also in the most evolved and elaborate forms. Tower houses were actually built by various parts of Irish society, while the major lords kept building large enclosure castles or extending them, some also built smaller tower houses, but it was mostly the lesser tenants who were building them,  and it spread further down the chain to even priests and rich merchants building them in the towns. In fact some argue that the proliferation of tower houses was a sign of a new class rising and making itself heard.

It has been found in some surveys in certain areas, that 1 tower house in 5 has a Bawn wall in Ireland, a Bawn is the external wall you see attached to the castle shown here. The bawn here is based on a combination of evidence, including; Barryscourt, Dunlough, Kilcrea castles, among others. The actual design of the tower house itself though is nearly entirely based on Kilcrea tower house, in Cork, my favourite tower house and one which I have visited a few times and read extensively on. The only changes to the overall design of Kilcrea was the inclusion of a second chimney for the kitchen room inside, and the machicolation (the spikes you see that come down off the top floor, which had gaps in the floor to drop objects on attackers, based off Blarneys), I added these elements so the castle would be more representative of Tower houses as a whole. Also the crenellation (the regular gaps in the walls at the roof & bawn, which provided cover for archers) in the castle are a style specific to late medieval Ireland, the bawn crenellation are based off Blarney castle.

Notice as well how white the tower house is? This is probably how most tower houses would have looked, as they were coated with a substance called Harling, a mixture of limewash and crushed pebbles. Because of this, commentators at the time often mention the white gleaming castles of the Irish, as you can imagine these would have been visible for miles around and been quite a symbol of power and prestige. You may also see the little figure on the dark side wall of the tower house, these were Sheela-na-gigs, a type of sculpture common in Ireland at the time, this one is based off the one in Ballynacarriga castle. Tower houses are believed to have been surrounded by mixed farming, some cereal with animal husbandry too as shown in the illustration. Often they are found associated with churches and friaries, some were even built attached to churches, and some probably werent too far from some sort of clustered settlement. The natural landscape around the castle is actually inspired by the Lee valley basin around Kilcrea castle.Note as well the dry moat, not all tower houses had moats, but some did, like Kilcrea, so I included it here.

Notice also the slight batter (where the wall comes outwards at the bottom to defend against a battering ram), also in the bawn towers.  As you can see though, the real bling in the tower house is the top of it, this is where most showing off happened with turrets, crenellations, chimneys, gabled/pitched roofs and machicolations, as shown here. Another place they showed off was the ashlar(fine finished masonry) windows, the top floor in Kilcrea was believed to be the hall with the floor directly below the lords chambers, hence why they have the nicest windows, especially the hall floor. Also notice the variety of windows, some were narrow slits just for archers to fire from inside, others have the addition of a cross slit, which could be used by crossbows too and then there were others with either triangular or circular holes, these were for later fire arms, some windows even had all three. All these windows, except for the decorative ones on the top floors, would have been splayed inwards allowing maximum cover for archers in the event of an attack.