Category Archives: General Stuff :)

Shake those Saucy Screens…

How do you follow something as excellent and fun to be a part of as EGX 14?

Well, in my case you start up the next art residency in London. Nothing like a break in proceedings 🙂 I was back teaching the following day after the 6 day marathon of EGX and back in London for my first day painting on Thursday 🙂

Anyhow: once a week, I’ll be very happily sitting in Shake Shack, Covent Garden, soaking up the atmosphere and trying to limit myself to only a couple of things on the menu, whichever day I’m there. The problem is it all looks so tasty 🙂

This week, it being their Shack-Toberfest special week, I limited myself to… well… maybe more than a couple of things which related to their specials of the week. A fabulous burger, a very medicinal cup of half and half (lemonade and iced tea. Manna for a throat which had accompanied me through the 100 hour week which was Eurogamer Expo):

50/50. Drawn on Tesco Hudl using Adobe Photoshop Touch app and a New Trent Arcadia stylus.

 …and a Stein of Shack beer:

Happy ShackToberFest. Drawn on Microsoft Surface RT using Fresh Paint app and Dagi 501.

All in all it was spectacularly tasty and I’m delighted to be joining them between now and Christmas.

Of course, me being me, you know that there will be some interactive sessions and, I hope, the students might well be involved at some point (towards the end or possibly at the start of the coming year, still working on a college calendar of events and happenings at the moment). I’m intending to test drive the Hudl 2 while there next week and so on and so forth.

It’s a strange thing to say but if you’ve ever wanted to work out which stylus works best with which screen, or if you’d like a quick demo of an art app on your phone or tablet, then Shake Shack, generally on a Wednesday, might be the best place to be! I’ll happily run through which app is best on which device or which stylus might be worth a test drive… but I’ll be just ask happy to sit and paint a burger, drink or lovely, yummy, cup of Concrete. I could explain but I think it’s the sort of thing you should experience.

More, much more, artwork to come. Exciting stuff. Thanks Shake Shack for liking my digital artwork enough to want me to take up a table on a regular basis and I look forward to seeing what comes from the partnership.

The Madness of Marques Brownlee.

Because of my advancing age (43. Blimey) I’m more into podcasts than I am into YouTube vodcasts (which is where my daughter, for example, is more in her natural affinity). I tend to listen to podcasts as I walk to and from work then any free time after that is given to drawing on screens rather than watching them…

So it was from podcasts like TWiT, British Tech, CNET UK and so on that I heard about the sapphire display video from @MKBHD. That probably helped, in the mental formulation of this picture, in as much as it was an audio thing rather than a visual thing.

The only thing I had in mind with the picture, at the beginning, is that I wanted an iPad screen covered in Samphire… The text came last as I was considering how the picture had fallen onto the screen and how it looked. Hopefully people won’t take it seriously and have Marques booted from YouTube.

Regardless. Today started off with some horrible news hit me for six and then some (a youth group connection with the crashed plan  yesterday) so I sat in my shed and painted the above image on an iPad 3 using the very fabulous ArtRage app and a Pogo Sketch Pro stylus. Took my mind off the world which was exactly the intention.

Of course if the screen IS made from Samphire I’ll want this video to hit at least 100 million views and to be called a tech guru for the rest of my life.

Process video:

ArtRage is lovely in many ways, especially as (if you remember) it remembers what you’ve done and with a gentle amount of effort you can create a video of your picture coming to be. Hence the video above, gently soundtracked by the very awesome Duke Special.

The illustrated Sunday Brunch…

I’ve chatted about him before but a good friend of mine is also an amazing inventor/maker. Occasionally he invents things for me (such as this wonderful tablet easel stand called the Eye) and more often than not he comes along and helps when we do amazing events at the college… Nick was invited to have his new one wheeled self balancing unicycle (link goes to last years version) shown off on Channel 4s Sunday Brunch – as part of promoting the Maker Faire happening next week in Newcastle and I was more than happy to help him carry the unicycles when they were powered down….

All in all it’s been a heck of a weekend. Let’s recap shall we?

On arrival, once we’d safely stowed the one wheeled objects away of course, we headed out for dinner. That was always going to be at Honest Burger in Camden. Because pudding in Camden is always:

Chin Chins
, but you knew that, right? This flavour is Mango sorbet with hot sawwce (chilli, garlic and other fiery ingredients) and Pistachio and Cardamon powder. Yum…. However:


Post dinner at Honest (yes, pudding came first) and drinkies at the Grafton we headed back to the hotel to have a very lovely chat with the Tech Camp team about their project that they would be showing off (something very cool called a Time Machine – strobe illuminated water droplets that could slow, stop and move backwards… ) prior to shut eye.

Five hours later and it was back up and running time. But that’s unfair on the hotel, which was excellent. Especially good were the complimentary Dairylea dunkers that had to be seen to be believed:


Onto the production studio for the show and a complimentary bacon sandwich, coffee and time for two pictures to be drawn on my trusty Tesco Hudl:


I honestly drew these before ‘the incident’ and no, I’m no claiming some sort of Odessa Effect style pictoral foreshadowing here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were whisked past a very cool ceiling window:

before Nick was filmed riding the Jackal:

It was deemed more suitable for Nick to drive the Jackal after Tim the presenter flew off the front of the machine having let go of the dead mans switch (which is perfectly understandable as a thing to do. I’ve done similar myself on the Noway Nick built). I didn’t take a photo but it’s there for all to see on 4OD as of tomorrow I think. He ducked and rolled well though and was smiling/still positive about the invention, which was very good of him. Did cause a slight wound to the Jackal:

…but if you’re going to get a ding then for it to happen on a pre recorded sequence for a live morning show on a major TV network seems the best way of doing it.

Pre-record completed there was a run through of the sequence, which they were kind enough to let me stand in the background and draw:

and then after a short wait (when a slight debate about whether a potentially strobing light was more dangerous than a Tesla Coil or a laser gun):

we were onto the live sequence itself:

…and, since I didn’t get thrown out immediately I drew Yvette Fielding prior to her interview segment which followed the Maker Faire sequence.

… and then I was chucked out 🙂 Partially as a taxi was  due to arrive to take Nick and I, and the unicycles, back to rainy Surrey. Which was a real shame… I’d have loved to keep drawing – especially would like to have drawn Lethal Bizzle and Katy B – but time was pressing and the studio staff had a million thinks to think about without also having to worry about an orange hairy potential trip hazard.

Then it was catch up with the family, sharing Easter presents, watching son play Wii Fit and, to chill, I hooked up with @DQSlothdude on iPad/Drawing Together app (all of the pictures above were drawn on my Hudl using either Sketchbook or Photoshop Touch) and drew this:

Basically? An Easter to remember 🙂

The time traveler’s screen.

When I wake up, if time allows, I try and do a quick drawing on a screen because, well. You know… Screens.

The top image above was drawn this morning between 5.11 and 5.38 because I just couldn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep after, either, but at least I got a scribble out of the time I suppose. The two pics below where added when I had ten mins or so between doing college paperwork 🙁

The newest screen in the arsenal of things to draw on is a PS Vita which someone kindly sold me for a ‘couldn’t say no’ price (or at least that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it. I’ve wanted to play Tearaway for yonks and my patience gland was all used up.

But the Vita comes with a touch screen and a quick search led to two apps – Colors! (which seems to have been announced, released and then disappeared) and Paint Park (which I’ve tried out before…) Paint Park Plus (as it now is) has a few extra brushes and colours available so I thought it’d be rude not to have a play.

(although I have used Paint Park before, having confiscated a PS Vita from a student in the past 🙂 )

The interesting thing for me, with this pic, is that it reminds me of a thought which often goes through my mind. Obviously Hockney has picked up screens with his typical panache and there are a wealth of amazing screen artists out there (Matthew Watkins, Ben Rabe, Stefan Marjoram, Roz Hall, Fabric Lenny, Lumilyon and so many more)… But how would the old masters, or some of the most famous painters, taken to a touch screen device. When Renoir was old and arthritic would it have been a help of a hindrance? Would Dali or Van Gogh have loved an iPad or smashed it on the floor in disgust. Would Duchamp or Picasso have drawn on a screen with a stylus or turned the apps off and drawn on a screen with a permanent marker?

Leonardo? Reckon he’d have loved a tablet. Possibly…

Some of my favourite artists, the ones above or others like Bacon, De Kooning, Kandinksy, Klimt… Would they have seen the value in zoom, undo, rapidly evolving apps and processes or hated the lack of tactility? Would they have loved a capacitive paint brush for the speed it delivers on glass or hated it for the separation from a paint brush as they had understood it? Away from paintings what would Sagmeister, Rand, Saul Bass, Carson, Brody and so on do with a screen and an app?

Intrigued. If I were a time traveler I think that would be my passion and my hobby, to visit the great artists and ask them to teach me to see as they do and to show them a glass screen, app and range of styli to play with. To have a tablet with paintings and drawings by the greatest artists of all time? A lovely thought.

And of course the artists of now? The ones who’s artwork I can’t wait to see, knowing it’s still being worked on? Less painterly but I love Yulia Brodskoya’s work, Pienkowski, Korky Paul, Quentin Blake, Bill Sienkiewicz, Noma Bar, Ian McQue, Dave Sim and Gerhard. Most of all, the artist who I appreciate the work of most, is Dave McKean and I’d love to catch up with him one day over a pint and a tablet art session.

Who knows, one day any of the above might come true and one day maybe the names above won’t leave me feeling like I’ve got a million things to learn and little likelihood of doing so…

In other news – it was my daughter’s birthday party yesterday and excellent fun it was too. The personal highlight was seeing a man in a suit dance with an alligator to ‘the time of of my life’. No alcohol was involved, which is probably a good thing too.


Android art apps (and styli) in five tweets.

I really should find time to update my ‘so you’ve bought/been given a tablet’ page as new styli and apps come out all of the time and my preferences have changed a little. However was mentioned yesterday in a tweet that I could suggest some of the best art apps on Android and here are my replies (because 140 chars is just not enough sometimes 🙂

Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop, Didlr, Art Flow, Infinite Painter, Watercolor pencil are my faves (in order).

Clover is interesting too in a hmm way. S Note is pretty good too if you have a Samsung.

Harmony + Webchemy work well if you have a web connection, PhotoViva is good odd. Drawing Pad good for all ages 🙂

Depending on what you have, it’s also all about stylus. Jot Script has worked on 90% of Android screens I’ve played with.

After that I tend to go for Dagi, Pogo Sketch Pro, Nomad Mini 2 or Compose + Stylus Sock for Android.

To be honest I might be being a bit harsh on Clover there. It’s a very cool, quirky and odd art app and I thoroughly enjoyed drawing with it yesterday. The only problem is that the interface is VERY unique and tends to take up a third of the screen, which is quite a lot on a 7 inch tablet. Also – I’m almost embarrassed to admit – I took a while to work out how to save/share a picture, even when I found the save button. It’s THAT obtuse an interface…

That said, in the absence of some of the heavy hitters on the Android store (ArtRage, Procreate, Art Studio et al) it’s growing as one of my favourite real world media apps on a non iOS machine. (That said: Fresh Paint is by far my favourite real world material app when I’m not on ArtRage…)

So there you have it. I can be brief, it seems, but only if I use Twitter to compose my blogs and then I’m not brief where Twitter in concerned.

I should get back to writing books. It’s obviously an itch that needs scratching.

Way back when, when I was a different me… (4).

A long while ago I wrote books (that’s probably a blog post to come) and then, when the time wasn’t there to write them I decided to draw them instead. Then, going through my backup CD images and finding a very cool website called I decided to put the two things together and make a printed art book.

Probably sounds very vain. Sort of was, but mainly I was trying to come up with different ideas to present my work in a portfolio style format which I could take to work interviews. Actually there’s probably a blog post about that sometime soon but I can’t find one of the things I would need to write that one…

So anyway, some images from a book of my artwork from the mid-80s to mid-08 when I was primarily computer bound:

This last one sort of catches the whole 20 years in one 48 image spread. Games worked on (Populous 2 Mac version – never released, Theme Park, Top Gun, Top Gun 2/The Cabal – never released, Burning Ambition – never released- spot a trend?), speculative games (Heroes Inc., Ro-Ra, Sunchasers), 2d, 3d, comics and all sorts. I suspect if I’d focused on something I’d possibly be more organised and methodical but then again that’s very much not me and I’d likely never have hit the tablets… Screens that is.

On the very unlikely chance this has whet your appetite for more scribblings prior to my hitting the tablets you can buy it (and more than three of you doing so could double the sales figures 😉 ) >>here<<*

*Actually, blimey, I wouldn’t blame you for not. Blurb’s prices seem way higher than I ever remember them. Yikes.

I:heart:ko, dragon skin and detailed notes.

Where to start?

I like technology (you may have noticed). I like using tech creatively and, every so often, not for the purpose it was intended.

I also like listening to podcasts, more often than not about technology, and some names make me happy to see on the list of show contributors. High up on the list, probably higher than anyone, is Andy Ihnatko, who has a melodious voice and a collection of stories that never seem to end but only in the best way. He has an easy and generous laugh and fequently seems to bring a healthy dose of joy to whatever subject he talks about. Which is all very good.

Today, for a change, I was photographing a (sadly) slain dragon using my iPhone 5S and Olloclip while listening to the Ihnatko Almanac podcast. Listening to Andy talk about cameras and tech and Ansel Adams and all sorts meant that, for a very lovely 20 minutes before work, all was right in the world. Except for the dragon, who had been slain.

Since you may not believe me about the dragon here are some pictures of its skin. I also had a marvelous morning teaching… Some days things just click and the students and I move forwards in a hugely exciting way. I really can’t wait to see the outcomes of this final project.

Following this I rounded the day off with the use of my trusty Adonit Jot Script to make detailed to-do notes in Penultimate app, while listening to Lady Gaga.

(penultimate app on iPad 3).

All in all, just your average Tuesday really… Barely worth the bloggage I suspect some would say.

(OK, ok. I confess. The pictures may have been macro shots of the sap from a fallen tree during the recent storms. But that’s only may. They MAY have been from a slain dragon and that’s the story I’m sticking to. They definitely are not from any sort of revolting food which has been suggested to me as an alternative. I may have, in the past, been known for taking photos of grill pans etc but in this case the truth is either sap from a tree or a slain dragon. Take your pick).

Camera Comparison. Sort of…

Through a process of slowness and inertia I found myself swapping from an iPhone 4S to a Samsung Galaxy S4 over Christmas.

For the most part it’s a very nice phone but, to be honest, a Samsung phone without an S Pen feels a little lacking to me. Also the Android app store, while full to bursting, doesn’t really have many of the apps I want (trying to find a podcast catcher app as good as Downcast is proving particularly painful).

So over Christmas I picked up a Nokia  Lumia 520, primarily to play with Fresh Paint.

But I’ve also been interested to see the camera comparison between the two (and an iPhone 3GS which I’m using now, see above Downcast rationale).

First up the Lumia, then the Samsung, then the iPhone 3GS:

Not really much to say, over and above that I still miss the 4S’ camera but that’s mainly for Autostitch and the ease of image to app and out again.

Way back when, when I was a different me…2.

A long while ago (I really should start writing dates down as I can’t remember diddly from last week and back let alone…. 2002?) I drew a 40 page comic/kids activity comic for a large scale religious family retreat holiday thing. It was a mix of computer artwork, primarily made in Creature House Expression, and hand drawn artwork,  drawn on watercolour paper using Derwent Inktense pencils.

The comic starred three characters from around 500bc Israel and a modern era superhero and was both a heck of a lot of fun to do and a huge amount of work.

As is still the way I do things (when it’s this sort of project) I drew everything on folded up A4 paper, scanned (well, now I generally photograph the artwork) and coloured using a variety of pieces of software: Photoshop, Pixelmator and Expression mainly.

As is also still the way I do things I can’t find the flipping image that goes with the picture above, having it on a machine that I’ve not used for so long I’ve forgotten the password. That’s one thing that HAS changed. While I still have two desktop machines on my desk (a Mac Mini and a lampstand Mac) and a machine next to it that I can’t bear to part with (an Apple Cube) I don’t use any of them having now almost completely swapped to an  mobile digital lifestyle.

This is a similar piece though, Trivia Man captured in the Stained Glass dimension. Was a lovely project, for a while I was asked to work on the sequel (although than never came to be) and also, in only the grandiose way that my mind can take A and B and think of Q as a logical successor, I had a rock opera in mind with the characters (yes, I know. I’d like to say I’ve calmed down but the songs were there from another source, I just repurposed them and had started drawing up the artwork when the sequel was cancelled. C’est La Vie. I dream big which is what’s got me to where I am).

I did come up with an unrelated follow up project, a 110 or so page 4 issue comic which I remember being quite proud of at the time, both as a story and artistically, but after having a pile or rejection letters misunderstanding it that almost dwarfed the projects page count I left it on the shelf, the shelf behind me as I sit and type this in fact, and there it remains. Haven’t looked at it for 8 years or more, hope it holds up when I do eventually look at it again.

Way back when, when I was a different me…

So for a variety of reasons I’m chucking out and binning a lot of stuff, some of which reminds me of different aspects things I’ve been up to over the past 20 or so years.

From 2005 (?) to 2010 (?again 🙂 ) I managed a very wonderful youth arts centre. Marvellous fun it was too with lots of music and film evenings and pretend journalism courses and artwork nights and drama and all sorts. Some amazing teens walked through our doors and I’m still convinced that one day I’ll hear their names in a context that their talent deserves.

We were, in many senses of the word, a fantastic team. Not just the youth workers but the kids as well (and many of their parents too).

We even did gigs at Woking band stand, generally in ABSOLUTELY freezing or rainy conditions, and I often look back at those adventures and smile.

But one of the things I remember most is the bus journey to and from work. It was actually a very happy 75 minutes either way in many ways. I didn’t have anyone asking me questions, giving me tasks, all that fun stuff. It was just me, my music, and whatever I was writing or drawing at the time. Occasionally I’d tell people I love drawing on busses and, more often than not, they’d get the wrong idea.

I’d often (and still do) listen to podcasts and one of my favourites, then and now, is Mayo and Kermode’s film reviews. So one day, one a bus, I drew this:

… and then the next time I was on the bus (I seem to remember it being Tuesday and Thursday nights) I turned the sketch into this:

Now all I remember about it really is that I was on a bus, with my laptop perched on my knees, anticipating the curves and bumps of a journey I’d done for 10 years or so (having used the same bus for my prior job as a computer games artist).

It would have been around Jan-Feb time (as I was testing out not only a new piece of software on the lappie – Microsoft Expression Design – but also some lovely fonts from – something I used to treat myself to once a year). I vaguely remember this being, almost word for word, what the two said to each other (may have added cruxial but bearing in mind MKs mastery of the English language I may not) and it made me giggle to myself on the bus. So I drew this.

I miss being able to time artwork to bus timetables.