The Echo book cover illustrated by Matt Richards

Long before the incredible Gravity hit the big screen,
I was busy drawing spacemen for an exceptional client.

The Echo is the stunning sequel to James Smythe’s critically acclaimed literary sci-fi novel The Explorer. Late spring last year, I was briefed by Harper Collins to illustrate the cover.

Once in a while, a brief comes along that slaps a grin across your face from start to finish.
The thought of travelling back in time to tell my 6 year old self that in the future, I would be paid to draw spacemen resided in my head throughout this project.

If Gravity had been out beforehand, it would have been handy for my image research, but to be honest, checking out old cosmonaut videos and photos was hardly a chore for me.

The image was created with 2 astronauts drawn separately in pencil, these were then scanned into Photoshop for some cleaning up and to layer certain elements for the designers at Harper Collins.

For a project like this, the illustration is just part of the process. The image goes through another transformation after it is handed over to the design team. Cover designer Kate Gaughran, worked her magic producing the luscious soft-touch matt lamination jacket that can be found on the hardback edition of the book.

These photos really don’t do the finished product justice. So, you are just going to have to get down your local bookshop and get yourself a copy. Buy it please, you’ll get funny looks off the shop keepers if they catch you stroking books in the corner of Waterstone’s.

A special thank you to Dom Forbes, at Harper Collins for a great brief. 

James Smythe’s website
James’ profile on Harper Collin’s site


 

Detail of the The Echo book cover illustrated by Matt Richards

Detail of the The Echo book cover illustrated by Matt Richards

MRI-TheEcho-font_and_back

By On January 18, 2014 · Leave a Comment · In Graphic, Illustration
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black & white fashion illustration by matt richards

I’m so excited about experimenting with a new bit of kit.

And yes I know loads of people out there have had them for ages, but the studio finally got an iPad to help out when we do web development (yes I’m one of those geeky types). But another reason for the investment is the recent release of Wacom’s pencil for the iPad – the Intuos Creative Stylus.

Adobe Ideas is a stripped-down version of the industry standard Adobe Illustrator and as I use it practically every day, it was a logical choice of software to use.

I’ve hardly had a moment to try thing out as I’ve been flat-out busy on some really exciting projects (all in good time, no doubt they will be revealed). If you are not on Adobe’s Creative Cloud as yet, your vector-based artwork is only exportable in jpeg form, so sadly it will be a little while until I will be using it on professional briefs. Nonetheless, my initial impression is that it feels far more natural in comparison to the conventional tablet to monitor way of digital art working.

Full review to follow.

 

By On December 13, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Fashion, Illustration, Sketchbook
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big draw life drawing by matt richards

This Thursday, Tokarska Gallery opens its Big Draw exhibition in which you can see some of my Life Drawing.

The 2013 Big Draw runs from 1 October to 3 November in fifteen countries, with more than 200,000 people expected to take part. Hundreds of new and enjoyable drawing activities connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists – and each other. These events are for those who love to draw, and those who think they can’t.

Since its launch in 2000, The Big Draw has successfully supported the Campaign for Drawing’s aims by encouraging everyone to draw. Big Draw events highlight the power of drawing to help people see, think, invent and take action.

Tokarska Gallery hosts a weekly life drawing class and is running a special session on Thursday 10 October 2013, 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Using a clothed model and open to all age groups, the session is the perfect introduction for those wanting to get involved.


The Big Draw at Tokarska Gallery
Private View
3 October 2013, 6pm – 8pm
Show runs
3 – 19 October 2013
Open Hours
Thur – Sat, 12 – 7 pm

By On October 1, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Exhibitions
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I’ve got so used to static models, tonight’s movement was a challenge

A majority of our life drawing models are dancers, and it seems that this proves to make for someone who can hold quite challenging poses for a long time with barely the slightest movement.
Although there was a fair amount of movement this evening, the interesting physique of the model (a gymnast) made up for it. Also probably a good reminder to keep things moving, and not to be precious as the pose can (and will) change at anytime.

Our model tonight was called Diego.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.
The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On July 30, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
 


Just a few samples from this week’s class

More pencil life drawings from my weekly life class. I wasn’t really feeling it this week, I think it kind of shows!

Our model tonight was called Manuella.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On July 23, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
 

Feeling comfortable moving over to pencil, but I need to go shopping.

The difference in density between charcoal and pencil is huge, and tonight I was weary to mix the two because of this. But I want my drawings to have more contrast than they do.

I have noticed that the varying hardness of charcoal really effected the quality of my drawings, so I want to figure out what pencils work well for me too.

I’m sketching out in a 2B and working in detail using a 6B pencil. It’s definitely speeded up mapping out the pose without creating too many heavy lines from the outset, I guess because I’m always sketching with these when I am working on illustration briefs.

I have a tendency to be a little heavy-handed in my mark-making, as I find it gives energy and fluidity to my line. The downside being mistakes are hard to remove.

My Art Teacher at school would sometimes not let us used a rubber in life-class to encourage detachment from the image (to be less precious), and document our mistakes I suppose.

I need to get in a good range of pencils to cover the initial rough lines that map out the form, & then to offer contrast as I go over again in more detail.

At the moment its a hotch-potch mixture of Faber-Castell, Caran d’Ache, Lyra, and some Staedtler.

Our American & extremely chatty model tonight was called Ruby.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On July 16, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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Charcoal is great for lose, free drawing, but it can sometimes lack detail. So I’m moving on to pencil.

I use pencil regularly in my sketch books. I’m struggling a bit getting enough detail into my life drawing with the charcoal, particularly when studying features of faces.

It will be interesting to see how this change in materials affects my drawing over the next few weeks.

Our model tonight was called David.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.
The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On July 9, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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Elegant poses and some complex foreshortening.

I arrived at life class tonight already warmed up as I have been working on a pencil-drawn commission and I certainly had a more fluid, confident line in the warm-ups.

Frank had to save one of my compositions where I was getting out of proportion. Purely from looking at the drawing too much, we can become oblivious to a problem that we know is there but we can’t quite make it out. It takes fresh eyes to spot these things – apparently using a mirror helps as you can spot the problem in its reflected form.

Our model tonight was from France and called Sophie.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On July 2, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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I’m not sure I could work without music and it goes perfectly well with a life drawing class.

We always have a soundtrack to our evening of drawing and its tone certainly affects the drawing.

Frank (our tutor) curates the music to match the stage of the evening. So things tend to be energetic to start, an attempt to loosen us up (we only have five minutes a drawing after all).

Reggae & Ska often feature with examples such as Roy & Millie’s We’ll Meet or Born to Love you by Derrick Harriott. In contrast, as we move into the final hour, the soothing tranquility of a Jazz piece such as Bill Evan’s Peace Piece sets a reflective mood for this more reflective part of the evening.

I think it would be really strange to draw without any music at all, I wonder how many life classes out there draw in complete silence?

Our model tonight was called Stella.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On June 25, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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With so much going on, the head is almost a body in itself, so this week I want to look at a portrait

There isn’t a lot of time to get everything down even in the longer poses. It is quite easy to get distracted by putting all your energy into getting the portrait resembling the model. However, I do a few portraits for my commercial illustration work and wanted to give time to these in my life drawing class.

So instead of having to rush a full pose, my 60 minute drawing focused on the torso, giving me far more time to work on a portrait. The image is also larger without having to fit a full pose so getting some of the details in was helped quite a lot.

Our model tonight was called Samuel.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On June 18, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook, Uncategorized
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Being short, it’s rare that I look down on a model. Tonight, I wanted to try drawing from a different perspective.

I’m working on a brief at the moment in which I have to create isometric drawings that include people. It got me thinking that although I move around the studio in life drawing, I don’t move up and down!

So for a few of the poses I drew from a step-ladder – although the height probably didn’t make a drastic difference to the final images, it was interesting to see the world through a slightly taller person’s eyes!

Our model tonight was called Alex.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On June 11, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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Rusty start tonight, everything felt clumsy. But I do seem to be adding new mark making to my drawings.

I normally avoid smudging the charcoal as I like its raw textures, and I can’t help but feel the image melts a little when blending. Tonight however it seemed to work. Eyes half-shut, to observe the block areas of shadows, these were marked in to establish the rough angles of the pose. This was smudged in to give a flat, light mid-tone that could be drawn over again with charcoal, or highlights drawn in with the rubber.

This achieved two things, I mapped out the whole drawing more quickly, something I always seem to stall on. And lightened the tone of my drawing.

So there you have it, even when you experience one of those nights that you are not happy with what you produce, you can still find something new to add to how you create your drawings.

Our model tonight was called Anders.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On June 4, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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After 3 weeks away from class I wondered if I’d struggle with tonight’s life class.

I was pretty confident that after getting used to a weekly life drawing sessions, 3 weeks of abstinence would throw my timings right out the window.  But I was quite surprised by an en enjoyable session, but still slowing down in the longer poses.

Charcoal felt better, courser – I think I only used one stick, I think I’ll have to look out for this in the future.

Our model tonight was called Simea.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On May 28, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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Something wasn’t quite working for me tonight, but sometimes that is the way it is.

My compositions kept running off the page, incomplete sketches I had to rush to get to Tokaska’s gallery on time, the charcoal felt too soft, and yes, a bad workman always blames his tools.

We actually all chatted about it, and there doesn’t seem to be a set formula – sometimes the music helps, other times a particular mood effects your drawing –  maybe in this case, it was the coffee and biscuits during break that solved the problem? Who knows, but whether it works or not, changing something may get you out of the rut you find yourself in.

Maybe it was just an off day and just like in life, you just have to go with the flow. I moved position for the final drawing and something seemed to click a bit better. Frank sympathetically pointed out, even if it isn’t working for you, at least enjoy the mess you are making.

Our model tonight was called Ivor.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On April 30, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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I’m enjoying side-profile portraits.

And it helps when the model has well defined structure too. Having a well defined jaw-line and cheek bones eases plotting out the negative space around the shoulder up to the chin, and measuring the rest of the features on the face.

Aretha Franklin was part of our soundtrack tonight.

Our model tonight was from Chile and called Florencia.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On April 23, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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Neighbouring 3D designer Jonathan Thomas, worked with me to produce this tongue in cheek poster to promote one of his products raising money for a great cause.

The Walthamstow Dad T-Shirt raises money for the Whips Cross Hospital maternity Unit. £5 from every purchase goes to the Big Push Campaign. And I was challenged with a fantastic brief which in short was “Watchmen meets Les Dawson”.

Jonathan’s own work  specialises in unique artisan projects ranging from huge workplace installations to bespoke furniture for private homes.

His background includes a prestigious list of clients & projects including WPP interiors, Savile Row window displays and marketing campaigns for the National Gallery.

He has collaborated on a number of high profile projects with Thomas Heatherwick and helped to establish what is now Heatherwick Studio. He was a creative consultant at The Partners and has lectured in 3D design at UCA Canterbury and Surrey Institute of Art & Design. He previously founded the award winning multi-disciplinary design company Make Limited.

The Walthamstow Dad Challenge throws down a gauntlet to owners of the T-shirt to take a photo with them in the tee, in some exotic location. The winner bestows the honour of being named Walthamstow Dad of the Year.


Click here to see more of Jonathan’s work
Click here to buy the T-Shirt

By On April 19, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Graphic, Illustration
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Troublesome warm-ups can sometimes lead to a nicer long drawing.

Everything seemed to come together at the last minute this evening in the hour pose while I was left not so happy with the warm up sketches.

However it was great to have a model who used the wall to create some poses that shifted the balance of the body.

Our model tonight was called Mai.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On April 16, 2013 · 2 Comments · In Sketchbook
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One of my drawings tonight was left handed.

Not to make things easy, Frank asked me to draw a thirty minute pose left-handed tonight.

I think in an attempt to stop me slowing down too much in the longer poses. When you only have five minutes to draw the human body, your lines instinctively become loose and fluid. The trick is maintaining this line when time is more a luxury & you want to hone in more on the detail.

Tonight’s model comes from a dance background, and she has a fantastic face for portraiture. She reminded me so much of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. If we get her again, I think I’ll use one of the poses to focus on her face and it’s striking features.

A note on the models. At art school I was used to drawing the same two people week after week and in all fairness to them, their poses were pretty similar; sitting down reading, sitting down falling asleep, sitting down getting cramp.

So credit to Frank and all the models we have had to date in our class here in Walthamstow. Not only have their poses been varied and challenging but their ability to hold a pose is very much appreciated.

Our model tonight was called Manuella.


Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On April 9, 2013 · 3 Comments · In Sketchbook

Getting tempted to change materials.

I really like how you can push and pull charcoal marks around, but I feel a little clumsy when getting to the finer details.

I’ve had experience of life drawing with pencil in the past and wouldn’t mind introducing it to this class at some stage. However, an A1 sheet of paper is a lot of ground to cover when reverting to pencil. No doubt I’ll have to adapt my style again so I’m going to leave it for a couple of weeks – perhaps explore different approaches to mark-making with the charcoal.

Our model tonight was called Samuel.

Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On April 2, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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Working on the head has definitely improved…

…Well, in the hour pose at least.

This week our model had an incredible tattoo across her stomach but I felt it too much of a distraction to spend much time on (some of it can be seen in the 10 minute pose).

I’ve started a board on Pintrest of some really nice drawings I’ve found to try and start thinking  about different ways of mark-making. Charcoal is a fantastic pliable medium, but I do fancy doing something in pencil (as I do in my sketchbooks).

I might add some of my own drawings at some stage, but the problem I find with this, is there is ALWAYS someone out there who overwhelms you with their talent!

I also want to mention some of the music we are listening to while we draw. This week’s mention goes to Rodrigo y Gabriela – 2006, the Mexican guitar duo have an astonishing pace that is a really good album for warm-ups. Check them out here.

Our model tonight was called Lidia.

Giving me guidance, my class tutor is Frank Gambino, trained as a graphic designer, however in recent years his main practise is in portraiture and figure studies. Frank’s studio is in Belsize Park, London, where he works on commissions and runs popular life drawing classes. However, conveniently for me, he is also running classes in East London, at the Tokarska Gallery.

The Tokarska Gallery, a contemporary art gallery run by emerging artist Nadiya Pavliv-Tokarska.


Visit Frank Gambino’s website
Tokarska Gallery

By On March 19, 2013 · Leave a Comment · In Sketchbook
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