Monday, October 25, 2010

"Propaganda" - Digital PaintingTutorial for Digital Arts Magazine

In the November 2010 issue of Digital Arts  magazine (out now in the UK) you can find our digital painting tutorial inspired by early 20th Century Chinese Propaganda posters with a theme of "Inspiration". 

One detail we didn't have the space to explain in the magazine was what the Chinese text says, which is a loosely translated quote from Jack London: "You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club"

Have fun,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scarecrow's Joyride - Digital Painting tutorial for PSDFan

Excellent Photoshop site PSDFan has been relaunched this week, and we were asked to provide a brand new tutorial to help kick off the proceedings as part of their "7 tutorials in 7 days" theme.
You can see a sneak of the tutorial here and if you act quickly you can see the tutorial plus the full layered .PSD file and custom brushes (plus Premium membership to the website for a month) for just $1! 

The tutorial covers a whole variety of things from Photoshop techniques to design theory with my trademark silly asides and random trivia to make it that bit more entertaining.

Have fun,

Monday, September 27, 2010

Guess Who’s coming to Dinner? A PSD Tuts+ tutorial

We were pleased to hear the team at PSD Tuts+ really liked our last tutorial “The Monstrum Dichrous” and they asked us to make another one. We were asked to make the subject of our image an alien, but that was our only restriction, we we’re allowed to go any way we wanted with it. 

I wanted to avoid any of the standard cliché’s (a space station corridor, space marines/explorers about to be ambushed, you get the idea). So I started to browse the web for something random to inspire me; when looking to avoid cliché’s it helps to completely avoid the subject you’re thinking about. 

I always keep an eye on the photography of the excellent Marcus Ranum (, as it turns out Marcus had recently posted a photo of a model dressed in camouflage sitting in an American diner and inspiration hit me! Why not draw a story about an alien that isn’t hell bent on destruction, abducting people or mutilating cattle, who instead is an incognito visitor that isn’t interested in humans at all, just our tasty pancakes! It’s obviously been a while since his last visit to Earth as he’s wearing old fashioned clothes to try to blend in.
Have fun,

Monday, September 13, 2010

A tribute to Chris Bachalo’s “Death” plus WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE…

In an unintentional theme this week, we’re featuring two fantasy based illustrations. First off we have my tribute to Chris Bachalo and Neil Gaiman’s “Death”, the star of the books ‘The High Cost of Living’ and ‘The Time of Your Life’. I’ve always been a huge fan of Bachalo’s work so this image was great fun to make.

Secondly, a long time ago we posted this image, but we couldn’t tell you what it was for…

We can now reveal that this image was made for the newly released “WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: Vampire Hunters And Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil ” by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman.

If you haven’t already heard of the book (shame on you!) here’s the book’s description as kindly provided by
These days you can’t swing an undead lycanthrope without hitting a Minion of Evil. They’re everywhere – TV, film, the basement-right behind you! It’s never been more important to know what you can do to keep them at bay. Garlic? silver bullets? holy water? torch-wielding mob?
From today’s foremost experts on nightmares-come-to-life, this indispensible guide identifies and describes mankind’s enemies – supernatural beasts, ghosts, vampires, serial killers, etc.-and unearths effective time-proven responses to each horrific threat.
* Separate fact from fiction, the deadly from the merely creepy.
* Learn when to stand your ground and when to run screaming for your life.
* Determine which monster-specific heroes to call and their likelihood of success.
* Consider your own potential as a Champion for Good, Conqueror of the Damned.

Whether we’re talking ancient vampire hunters or modern-day FBI profilers, it’s good to know someone’s got your back in the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. And this book, with over fifty illustrations, as well as commentary from luminaries like filmmaker John Carpenter, author Peter Straub, and the legendary Stan Lee, provides all the information and reassurance you need to sleep soundly at night. Just not too soundly.
I’ve just realised this is the second time we’ve worked alongside Stan Lee without him knowing (Stan was a big part of the UK’s “Who wants to be a Super-Hero?” TV show on the BBC which we provided most of the on-screen artwork for). It’s like we’re slightly illustration-stalking him!

“WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: Vampire Hunters And Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil” is Published by Citadel and is available everywhere now, so what are you waiting for? Go hunt down your copy now!

Have fun,

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Character Design for ‘Deseble Rising’: Xaisen & The ‘design a Minkee’ competition winner

We’ve been lucky enough to have been asked by author Mark Saint (who has one of the coolest voices in the world!) to illustrate the character designs for his upcoming book “Deseble Rising”. Although we’ve got to keep quiet on the specifics, we are allowed to show you the very alluring Xaisen. Keep an eye out for more character designs showing up soon.

In other news, talented illustrator Louise Holden aka Minkee recently held a competition to design what sort of animal a Minkee actually is. It’s always nice to have a purpose when I draw my warm up image of the day so I couldn’t resist entering, and I won. We’re now the proud owners of a Limited edition Minkee Print that will adorn our soon to arrive baby’s newly decorated nursery. Go take a look at her site and get one of your own.

Have fun,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Angry Panda - now appearing in "European Panda"

Joel Millerchip and Chris Nunn are starting a ZINE press specialising in black and white illustration, graphic design, and art, and are running an ongoing project on the website, where people design and create a European panda in any medium as long as its black and white, so I thought I'd make my warm up reference sketch fit their theme.  Here is my somewhat "Angry Panda".

Have fun,

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"The Monstrum Dichrous - a Photoshop CS5 tutorial for PSDTuts+" PLUS an interview for "Gamers Dig Art" and Get "Bitten" for Charity!

Prepare yourself for a big blog post.  For those of you with short attention spans, I've put the key points in bold writing for you.  I'm awesome, I know.

We were happy to be asked by the people running PSDTuts+ to write a tutorial that specifically covered Photoshop CS5's Mixer brush to create a fantasy painting.  

Here we have "The Monstrum Dichrous" (loosely translated from Latin as "the Omen of 2 distinct colours") which is a bit of a spiritual successor to "Lovebirds".  It seems we have a running theme of 2 spirits (one red and one blue) that take form of various animals that are mysteriously always present at times of destruction.  The question is why are they always there?  Are they merely observers or are they somehow responsible for the chaos around them...

To see how we made this image, go and see the tutorial on PSDTuts+ now!

When you're done with that you should go and visit Gamers Dig Art where I was interviewed by the excellent Ramel Hill. The interview is loads of fun and covers all manner of things including "How I'm going to survive to upcoming Zombie Apocalypse!".  Read the Gamers Dig Art interview here

Now for something much more selfless, good friend of Cool Surface Tigz Rice (who we're making a book with btw) has an excellent new book out called "Bitten" which you can win by simply donating just £1 to Cancer Research UK.  Here's more from Tigzy's site:

"Following the success of 'Wonderland' in 2009, this August sees the release of 'Bitten', a new picture book for adults from London based illustrator and photographer Tigz Rice. Adapted from the well-known classic 'Snow White', the book follows the story of a mistress so desperate to keep her beauty she will do anything to save them, including harming her own family. But is she really the one to blame?
The book features an all star cast including cabaret star Joe Black, model and The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts' student Emily Marshall, Burlesque performer Lily Belle as well as alternative models Kristina Frenchum and Sally Parkinson. 
Printed by Ripe Digital, the book retails at £18 - however to say a massive thank you to Cancer Research Orpington for helping provide costumes for the book, Tigz will be holding a charity raffle to win a copy of Bitten, with the proceeds being donated to Cancer Research UK. 
How to enter? Simply follow the link in the bar above to donate £1 to Cancer Research UK. You can enter as many times as you like to improve your chances of winning. One lucky donator will be named on August 14th 2010."

Right I'm off to donate now,
Have fun,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rack VS Cousens: Robot 27 Limited Edition Prints available now!

I recently collaborated with Toe Fluff creator Steve Rack to invent Robot 27 - the best comic you never read!  Starting with issue 187 (naturally) Steve worked on the left side of the image while I worked on the right.  We than expanded the saga of Robot 27 vs Zapgirl by providing a cover each of our own with Steve handling art chores for issue 186 and I made issue 188 my homage to the famous Wolverine vs. the Hellfire Club moment from the X-Men's "Dark Phoenix" saga

Only 27 sets of these prints were made so get your hands on this limited edition artwork before they're all gone for good.  Prints are A4 in size. Art image is 17 x 26 cm(indigo press on 250gsm Tintorreto gesso). Each set is signed and numbered.
Visit Steve Rack's online shop:

Have fun,

Monday, July 05, 2010

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - an art tutorial for PSDFan

When we were asked to write another tutorial for PSDFan we wanted to have another go at a video game character after the success of our previous Legend of Zelda inspired tutorial "Broken Link".  As some of you will know, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge Special Edition is out at the end of this week so I made an illustration to celebrate the game because I'm reaaaally looking forward to it (and I'm hoping somebody will take pity on me and send me one of thise lovely Guybrush Threepwood voodoo dolls they were giving away at E3).

To see the full tutorial head to PSDFan now.

Have fun,

Monday, June 28, 2010

A little something we cooked up for SmART Car...

Cool Surface was among a number of talented illustrators (including our good friends Stephen Chan from ThunderChunky and Ben The Illustrator) that were asked to design something for SmART car to hopefully go into The Smart Festival 2010. Here was what Sarah and I came up with.

Have fun,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cool Surface joins "The Memories Project"

When old friend of Cool Surface, Garrick Webster, approached us to join the Memories project we didn't hesitate to say yes. We're going to be creating an image for the Memories book, which will be sold to benefit Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres. This image will accompany the story Drying Paint by Antony Kitson.  
Cancer is such a pervasive killer these days that few of us go through life untouched by the disease. We’ve decided to do something about it by launching the Memories project and the outcome will be a beautiful art book. Proceeds from the sales of Memories will go to the charity Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres.
Memories will look at the thoughts and experiences of individuals who have survived cancer, as well as those of people who have lost loved ones. There will be ten stories inside, each looking at one person’s recollection of a particular day in the struggle against cancer. For each of these ‘memories’ a dozen leading artists, illustrators and designers will be creating their own visual response. Two further stories will go ‘open brief’ and we’ll be inviting creatives worldwide to make their own images to accompany the text. The best submissions will go into the book.
That makes for 12 touching stories, and 144 smashing pieces of artwork
The project is being launched this summer by Designers Against Human Rights Abuse (DAHRA), Subism, OneTenEleven Media and editor Garrick Webster. Along with a number of writers and, of course, all the image contributors, they’ll be volunteering their time and skills to the project. We expect it will take a year to complete, culminating in the launch of Memories and an exhibition.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Skull Fluff - for Steve Rack's "Toe Fluff" exhibition

This is our submission for Steve Rack's "Toe Fluff" exhibition, where numerous artists have taken Steve's Toe Fluff template and created their own unique version. 

The 'Toe Fluff' exhibition will run from the 27th July to the 11th August at the Post Modern Art Gallery in Swindon, UK. The private viewing will take place on the 30th July from 7:30pm until late. Swindon based producer, The Transitionist, has compiled a selection of tracks especially to accompany the show. Profits from the show will be donated to The Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. The show is being sponsored by Ripe Digital.For more details you can visit the Toe Fluff website.

Have fun,

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Happy Little Trees: A Photoshop CS5 painting tutorial for Advanced Photoshop magazine

You may have guessed by now that we're huge fans of Adobe Photoshop CS5 since we got to play around with the beta version, so we were more than happy when Advanced Photoshop magazine asked us to provide a tutorial to highlight how the new CS5 painting brushes work.

You can see the "Happy Little Trees" tutorial in Advanced Photoshop issue 70.

Have fun,

Friday, May 28, 2010

Recommended Reading: "The Pirate Cruncher" by Jonny Duddle

Here at Cool Surface we're huge fans of the amazingly talented artist Jonny Duddle.    Jonny's painterly work exudes fun and is almost guaranteed to feature a monkey or two.  And lets face it, who doesn't love Monkeys?

We've just got our hands on a copy of Jonny's first ever storybook "The Pirate Cruncher" published by Templar and we're happy to say it's absolutely great.  The art is beautiful to look at and although we can't say anything about the story because we don't want to spoil its ending, it's very funny and well presented.  It's a great kids book and one a lot of adults will enjoy too so don't wait around, buy it now! 

Have fun,

(Have an art book you'd like us to review?  Please get in touch and we'll see what we can do)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Creative Boom! Another week , another banner PLUS an interview!

If you head over to Creative Boom this week you'll see that we're sneakily taking over the site as not only have we designed their latest banner (pictured here) but I was also interviewed by our good friend Tigz Rice which you can read here. First Topless Robot and now Creative Boom.  Which website will we hijack next?

Have fun,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Competition winner: The new Topless Robot banner

The top site for "nerd news, humour and self-loathing" Topless robot held a competition to redesign their banner.  Being big fans of the site we felt compelled to enter and as the more astute of you may have guessed from the subject line, we won!  The best part is that the prize money can only be spent on geeky stuff which gives me the perfect excuse to buy some graphic novels and games!

Have fun,

Thursday, May 06, 2010

10 years of Dazed Magazine covers: A Decade Drawn Out - "Dazed & Illustrated"

To celebrate Dazed magazine being around for a decade, the magazine picked out 10 of their favourite covers and asked artists to illustrate their own cover based on the existing covers.  Always wanting to be a little bit different, I managed to get 3 covers into one image.

Have fun,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bedroom - created with Adobe Photoshop CS5 and featured on Gizmag

We've been keeping this under our hats for a while now (which is tricky as I don't think either of us actually owns a hat...) but we've been part of the Photoshop CS5 beta testing team for Adobe. We're still not allowed to talk about the details of it, but suffice it to say that it's a lot of fun to digitally paint with it.

This was a painting I made whilst playing with Photoshop CS5. To see a more detailed review of CS5, head over to Emma Davenport's feature for Gizmag: Is Photoshop CS5 worth the upgrade? New features and improvements unboxed!

Have fun,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bowl o' Fruit

And now for something completely different!
No attractive females or hairy creatures today, you get a lovely bowl of fruit instead. This still life study was drawn from reference using only the airbrush in Photoshop, and the latest issue of Photoshop Creative magazine (issue 58) takes you through step by step how we did it.

Mmm... juicy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Why won't they stop staring at me?!"

If you've just tried to reach the official Cool Surface website and have been redirected here, there's a good reason. The Cool Surface website is currently under construction and will be revealed soon. To make up for any confusion caused, here's a picture of a cute puppy and kitten. Feeling better now? Good.

And what's more, the latest issue of Photoshop Creative (issue 57) features a tutorial which will take you through how we created this image.