Character Design: Tech Detective

I was approached by a design agency in Manchester to illustrate robot characters for their client, a tech company who were looking for something quite specific.

I had the free rein to come up with suggestions of robots that would best suit their brand. Out of the ideas I suggested they opted for the detective and their dog.

In early sketches, I used a rough and ready style, and also provided a vector version. Vector art can be helpful in reproduction as it can scale to any size, from a pin badge to the side of a van.

In design apps, vector brushes can create very good clean line work, but I still find that they can't quite match the variation and liveliness of line work in pixel form, due to how software needs to process the data. Even converting pixels into vectors with the very best industry tools will smooth off lines and simplify them. I'm sure it won't be long before line work and speed of drawing is captured perfectly in pixels or vectors with no discernible difference, we're very nearly there. Saying that the software doesn't really matter, as long as the end product looks great.

This work was created in clip studio and the vectors in affinity designer. Affinity designer is super fast, but also Clip studio has the ability to export pixels in 4K and 600dpi resolution, which makes bigger files but keeps the aesthetic intact. Whatever gets the job done.


Website Design with WordPress 6

In the last few years, WordPress has gone from strength to strength. I last did a video on WordPress when version five had launched, and now WordPress has 6 even more layout features, making it even more powerful as a website designer's editor of choice.

While new features like page templates and new layout blocks mean that it's not as easy to 'pick up and go' as it used to be, the premise of WordPress is still core - putting the power of editing into the hands of non-technical uses so they can get on with adding content to their websites without worrying how to do it.

The ability to edit headers and footers separately, and change templates and colour schemes on the fly are very helpful and I hope in time will make cumbersome page builders a thing of the past.

As a website designer helping my clients get the best out of their websites and I recommend WordPress for websites.

John Cooper is a website designer and developer working directly with Global clients. Nothing is outsourced. John designs WordPress websites for small and medium businesses around the world since 2008.

Contact John today for a website quote.

    web design with WordPress 6

    Illustration and video animation

    I recently worked with Gorse Hill Studios, creating illustration and video animation for schools on the subject of CCE (child criminal exploitation).

    For the brief, I had text descriptions of scenarios that can happen in CCE . Animatics were created - roughly sketched storyboards with movement - so the client could see what the end videos would look like. Voice-over narration was recorded by the Gorse Hill team with school children describing the scenarios they may encounter. The video animation was kept really (really) simple. It's mostly image transitions, as the voice-over was added later, and the turnaround time was really tight.

    Illustration and video for schools. This video has no sound.

    I'd like to think my signature style works well here, helping to soften the tough message the studio and project leaders are addressing in the work they do in schools.

    Working in the educational space is really rewarding as the work has a purpose outside of the aesthetic of the illustrations. Having simple scenarios to work from, as opposed to a script, meant that I could try and tell the story in as fewer frames as possible.

    The illustrations where created in ClipStudio then broken into elements. The audio was edited in audacity. These assets were imported into DaVinci resolve for video editing and exported as 1080pHD MP4 for videos. Some colour correction was done Affinity Photo.

    Illustration update, Easter 2022

    Festival mascots, illustrations of folks doing live shows and live drawing at events. Just a sample of the last few months of output...

    Buzzing with Character design.

    This is Liza Bee-nelli, the mascot for the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. The character design is a reimagining of the Fringe Mascot from 2017, when she was first introduced to promote shows. For this new version, I started with a pencil sketch in ClipStudio, then took it into Affinity Designer, my new favourite playground for designing vector artwork, as the mascot had to be flexible enough to be recreated at any size.

    I've been using Affinity designer for around 16 months now and it's more than proven itself as a professional workflow tool, it just clicks with me a lot more than illustrator ever did. In particular features like layers and gradients are just a joy to use.

    Here's the previous character design mascot logo from 2016, designed in illustrator. I've come a long way!

    Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

    Live drawing the BCorp conference

    A full day of capturing an event, as is happened. Live drawing, graphic recording, it has many names, is the process where an artist (me!) draws quickly to capture an event as it happens. This is often talks, discussions and Q&A's, visually representing the themes and subjects that are spoken about. Like taking minutes, but much more fun.

    It's a great way to document an event and create marketing and publicity material that can be used after the event to share and remind attendees. Also it's great for social media.

    For this kind of work I'm available by the hour, or full day. Get in touch for info on prices.

    Distance, a comic strip diary. Feb 2022

    Distance is a comic strip diary created 1 page at a time.

    Distance vol1 and 2

    Edinburgh Festival Publicity

    Heading off to the Edinburgh festival this year? Need posters, flyers and a social media pack for all your online stuff? I've got you covered.

    How about some illustration to really make your idea pop out? Edinburgh is a tough space to promote in at festival time (I should know), publicity needs to be super targeted so potential punters can see what you're about in the 2 seconds it takes to walk by your poster. Get in touch for a quote.

    Character Design

    A selection of character design work from books and publicity.

      Get a quote for your project

      Illustration for video production

      Teaming up with animation and CGI company, The Outset.

      Illustration for video production
      artwork for video

      Providing the illustrations for this promotional video on place-based innovation

      See also:

      The Outset.

      Motion graphics work

      Branding & Graphic Design: Making Presentations

      Making Presentations is a training company that specialises in presenting skills, online and face to face.

      The design work, logo, icons and deck slides are all bespoke. This is communication design, where the artwork has a very specific job to. The icons are more detailed illustrations, to keep online attendees engaged longer. The series of deck slides also are illustrations, in a simple neutral style to connect with as broad a demographic as possible and guide the attendees through their training journey.

      Making Presentations founder Richard Pascoe put a lot of thought into what he needed for his artwork slide deck, and it shows.

      Brand designing logos
      presentation graphic design
      icon design set of icons
      character design harry potter

      Graphic Design- Posters

      Posters for events, campaigns and promotions. We work a lot with the live events industry where design needs to be high impact. We provide posters alongside branding and social media packages.

        Get a quote for your project