09 Jun 2023

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I Am Gerard Thomas: Graphite on paper > 'Void Space' illustration

I’ve been reposting on the socials, again, this series of illustrations I did in 2022. It’s odd doing so considering the range of images I have on file that I’ve done over the past few years, but this article probably sums up why. The long and short of it comes down to the simple fact that I just really like these images, far more than anything I have done to date. The ‘why’ though has taken me a while to digest and piece together; just because you do something does not always mean you understand the reasons behind it

It dawned on me a few days ago that despite my love for the big colourful images Chris Foss is so well known for, it is this image that has always captivated me from the the very first time I opened the book –

iagt chris foss birth machine

‘Birth Machine’, Chris Foss

And I’d go as far as to say of all his work, it is the pencil and pen drawings that I always seem to find myself pouring over again and again.

My attraction to this image has eluded me until recently but after writing about how I lost my desire for pursing illustration, which forced me to reflect on the work I’d done up until now, I realised that I not only deeply love black and white as a medium but that many of the artists I admire have a strong draughtsmanship quality to their work; and Foss’ ‘Birth Machine’ is an outstanding piece of draughtsmanship.

Which of course swings it back to why I seem to enjoy reposting the series of illustrations so much.

While I enjoy playing with positive/negative space, abstraction and composition, especially when applying it to subject matter as visually regimented as science fiction, in retrospect what I enjoyed most about the pieces was the actual process of creating them. Using mechanical pencils (Rotring 600’s in .3, .5 and .7 if you are interested) with soft 2B graphite leads on a heavy Fabriano 160 gsm paper, the old school analogue process is the complete antithesis of digital art. Working this way is exacting – no unlimited undo, no layers, no digital ‘luxuries’. Planning, patience, drafting tools and process dominate this workflow – draughtsmanship, it turns out, is the appeal.

It’s probably why in many ways I like working in 3D – it’s an exacting and technical process.

Looking at the pieces again, there is huge (read massive) room to improve and develop but unlike other forms of illustration, there is an attraction for me. It always has been it seems, I’ve just never really put the pieces together.




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