Character design – Thor

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’ve covered Josh’s family already, so it’s on to the Norse gods – the Asgardians. Thor is up first.

 

Millions of children are familiar with the Marvel comics version of Thor, thanks to the Avengers cartoons and films. For copyright reasons, we were unable to reference that version of Thor (not that we would want to).

In the original stories Thor had red hair and a big red beard. He wore magic gauntlets to protect his hands when wielding his lightning hammer, Mjolnir. I tried to include these elements in my design, while making it (hopefully) original. (Though in all these Viking characters there is more than a little influence from Asterix comics).

 

These are my reference sketches and notes for Thor.

Thor-2 Thor-1

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Thor:

Thor-colour

And here’s how he appears on the back cover of The Last Viking Returns.

back-cover-Thor

Next week I’ll focus on a new Viking character – the hero Sigurd.

 

Character design – Nan and Pop

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next in the family are Nan and Pop.

 

I hadn’t drawn Nan or Pop at all in the three years between The Last Viking and The Last Viking Returns, so it was back to the drawing board to learn them again.

These are my sketches and notes.

Nan

 

Pop

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Nan and Pop:

nan-and-pop-colour

Character design – the twins

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next up in the family are the twins.

 

The twins only appeared once in The Last Viking – on the very last page. I didn’t give a lot of though to their design. I didn’t think I’d need to draw them more than once. I was wrong.

Norm has fleshed out their personalities in The Last Viking Returns. It turns out the twins are not all sweetness and light – they are berzerkers in the making.

I needed to refine their appearance, make them look a bit older and cheekier, and practice them before trying to do any final artwork.

These are my sketches and notes.

twins-1 twins-2

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for the twins:

twins-colour

Point to note: the twins have never been officially named. I’ve been referring to them as Timothy and Tabitha (which aren’t very Viking-like, but to be honest neither is Josh).

Have you got some names in mind? Give us your best ideas in the comments.

The Last Viking Returns – front cover timelapse

The Last Viking Returns, the sequel to our children’s book The Last Viking, will be released September 1 this year.

In this post we reveal the cover for The Last Viking Returns!

I’ll also show a step-by-step look at the design of the cover, from the first rough sketch to the final drop of colour.

First off – here’s the final cover design.

The Last Viking Returns - front cover

For a step-by-step look at the design process, including a time-lapse of me colouring the cover, watch the YouTube video below.

(For the trivia-minded among you, the time-lapse represents about 4 hours work squished down into 8 minutes of footage; the whole video is 10 minutes long).

Character designs – Wolverine and the lady dog

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next up in the family is Wolverine, Josh’s faithful companion.

 

As with the character of Josh, I’d already illustrated a whole book with Wolverine before, but I hadn’t drawn him very much at all in the 3 year gap in between. I needed to practice drawing him again.

Wolverine
Continue reading “Character designs – Wolverine and the lady dog”

Character design – Josh/Knut

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m going to do a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’m starting with the family characters. First up is our main man Josh.

 

Even though I’d illustrated a whole book with him before, it had been almost 3 years since I’d drawn him regularly. I wanted to feel more confident at drawing him consistently, so I sat down and worked out how to draw him again. These are my sketches and notes.

 

Josh-1 Josh-2I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Josh:Josh-colour

Next up will be Wolverine, along with his new friend…

The Last Viking Returns in 2014

The Last Viking Returns is the sequel to The Last Viking (2011) and is once again illustrated by me and written by Norman Jorgensen. It’s being released in September 2014 by Fremantle Press!

Here’s a timelapse of me painting a page from The Last Viking Returns.

This page features Odin and his ravens, as well as Freya (the goddess of love and beauty), Sigurd (blacksmith to the gods), and Thor (no introduction needed).

All the illustrations in the book (including this one) were drawn with pencil, then scanned and coloured digitally using a Wacom Intuos3 graphics tablet and Photoshop CS3/Corel Painter X3.

The footage was captured using Screenium. The colouring process took 4 hours in real time.

 

I wish I could paint this fast

Here’s a timelapse of me painting a page from The Last Viking Returns.

This page features Odin and his ravens, as well as Freya (the goddess of love and beauty), Sigurd (blacksmith to the gods), and Thor (no introduction needed).

All the illustrations in the book (including this one) were drawn with pencil, then scanned and coloured digitally using a Wacom Intuos3 graphics tablet and Photoshop CS3/Corel Painter X3.

The footage was captured using Screenium. The colouring process took 4 hours in real time.

The Last Viking Returns is the sequel to The Last Viking (2011) and is once again illustrated by James Foley (me) and written by Norman Jorgensen. All being well, it’ll be released in October 2014 by Fremantle Press!

Merry Christmas, from James and Norm … (and Odin)

Merry Xmas, from Odin

 

I often joke with school kids that Odin looks like a pirate Santa. (You may already know that similarities between depictions of Odin and Santa are not coincidental). Anyway, that running joke led to the drawing above. There could be a story in it; who knows?

On behalf of Fremantle Press, Norman and myself, I want to say thank you for your amazing support since the release of The Last Viking. Can you believe that was 2 and a half years ago?? And it’s now only 10 months until The Last Viking Returns!?

Right now I’m working on final illustrations, but I’ll have more time for behind-the-scenes posts in 2014. Stay tuned. And Merry Christmas!

 

James