This is an illustration I’ve had in my mind for years – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Being both a book and a movie, and a movie again it is a story that has been imagined and re-imagined so many times. I wanted to see what my representation of it would be, so whilst based on Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth, I wanted to take it further and create a new version of her with my style.
It was really about the tattoo, so that was where I started. I first remember drawing dragons like this as child, it’s obviously from all the Chinese dragons I’d seen growing up and especially every year in china town. I think my first proper ones though were a giant silk wall hanging I painted for my uncle in Singapore when I was bout 12. To be honest the design of the dragon hasn’t changed much over the years although this is much more aggressive in it’s posture and expression – a proper bad ass. It’s also a whole lot more detailed and I can draw scales a bit better now, all in all I’d say it’s a lot better than my 12 year-old self’s attempt – as you’d hope!
Whilst it took a long time drawing Lisbeth and her tattoo, I spent almost as much time on the lettering as I did on the rest of the drawing. I really wanted to make the typography an integral part of the illustration, not just an addition slapped on at the end. So various incarnations of the smoke and how it became the lettering as well as under and over ‘punking’ the letter forms until I felt it was the perfect balance!
As usual it’s the little additions of the lighting that really make it come to life and make the colours work.
Check out some details below and if you’d like to see a video of the tattoo check out my instagram here
When the film adaptation of J. G. Ballard's High-Rise came out I was really keen to do an alternate book cover. It can be challenging to decide on a visual style and look for something that has been adapted onto screen because there are obvious influences that will be different from the original book – but in this case I wanted it to reflect both and to be as much a High Rise movie poster as a book cover.
Having studied architecture at university I have a bit of a soft spot for the brutalist architecture of the 50s and 60s. With this in mind I made this image more of a blueprint or architect's visualisation than a photographic reproduction. It's still very detailed – the high rise itself is stark and imposing but with a much looser graphic flow to the city which almost fades into a cubist pattern.
I wanted the title to accentuate the perspective adding to the feeling of height and power.
Here's another book cover illustration I've been working on in my series of re-imagined novel covers, The Confectioners Tale by Laura Madeleine.
I really liked the idea I had when I saw this book, it was a chance to create some really beautiful food imagery – I think this was probably partly influenced by BBC's Bake Off Creme de la Creme!
I thought about how to create a really fresh and tantalising cover that would really bring out the sweet tooth in everyone who saw it. It had to reflect the quality and craftsmanship that the artisan patisserie in the book would have created, but also nod to the story – there are a few clues on there.
Set in Paris across two time periods – the early and late 1900's, it is a tale of forbidden love and the betrayal. A mysterious clue draws Petra to uncover the secrets of her Grandfather's forbidden love, with a thrilling story divided between two very different decades.
I illustrated the title typography to fit the cover as I feel this so important. As well as doing a lot of research, mainly eating cakes and watching a lot of baking, cookery, and general foodie shows on The Food Network! This did allow me to work out how each patisserie was constructed and how the finish should look. The colour scheme, is as fresh and enticing as possible - pistachio, lime, apple, vanilla, raspberry, chocolate, cherry, rose and of course lilac macarons.
Apple Dômes, vanilla slices, rose macarons, pistachio gateau, lime tart, lilac macarons, all this talk of cake is making me hungry so I'm going to have to leave it at that!
I’ve recently been working on reworking a bunch of book covers to see what could have been if they were completely illustrated.
My first one up here is for Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist, a dangerous tale of 1920’s prohibition New York and it’s inhabitants. What starts out as a seemingly glamorous Gatsby-esque adventure unravels as the lies of the characters fall apart to reveal darkly twisting truths.
I wanted to represent as much of the feel of the story as I could without giving anything away, which is why I took the start point of the book, the 1920s typewriter, and pulled it apart with a suggestion of everything not being quite as it had at first seemed – to get behind the scenes and expose the working of it all as it were.
I had a lot of fun working out how the different types of typewriters of this period worked and how I could show enough without filling an A3 page with exploded, levers, push-rods, springs, screws and countless other components! So there I did use a bit of creative license to keep parts together to get the balance right.
As I’m sure you know I love hands so whilst I almost felt I shouldn’t go down that route it felt so right for this cover, elegant and seductive, really suggesting the entanglement and topsy-turvy nature of the story and it’s two main roles.
There’s also been talk that The Other Typist is going to be made as feature film with Kiera Knightly in one of the starring roles, so that would be interesting to see what the film posters look like when it comes out.