12 Brilliant Scottish artists & illustrators you should be following

12 Awesome Scottish artists & illustrators you should be following

Discovering the thriving Scottish online art community.

Life as a professional artist/illustrator can often be a solitary one. Weeks at a time sat at your desk or screen working into the wee hours drawing monsters to pay the bills. Eventually stumbling, blinking, into the daylight with only limited social skills, trying to fit in like an alien in disguise blending in with human society. Fortunately for us, there is a thriving online community of artists and illustrators worldwide operating as a mutual support and encouragement network, helping us all to remain sane and motivated in our work.

The online art community can be an especially strong support line for new and beginning artists when they’re first finding their feet. Although, what can be more difficult for the emerging artist is when discovering that community at a more local level, people who have a more regional understanding of the art business, who you might be able to meet with in the real-life physical world and potentially share local job and opportunity information.

So, this list of the 12 Scottish artists & illustrators you should be following is kind of the list I would have liked to have discovered when I myself were just starting out. A collection of Scottish artists who, while all having great and inspiring work, are also deeply involved in the online art community and could serve as a launching point to find your way into a specifically Scottish online art community.

This list is obviously going to be a little biased towards artists whom I’m more familiar with personally or know in real life, and this shouldn’t be considered in any way a comprehensive list of Scottish artists. So, please don’t feel slighted I’ve I haven’t mentioned you (got to leave some big names for the sequel list after all).

 

Tom Foster

Judge Dredd Tom Foster

Judge Dredd Tom Foster

Scottish 2000AD artist Tom Foster is still in the early years of what will be a good long comics career. But, already the quality and style of his work combined with his expert draughtsmanship is equal to some of the bigger name 2000AD legendary artists.

After winning the Thought Bubble portfolio competition in 2013, Tom went on to become a regular artist at 2000AD He has since provided his impeccable artwork to some of the titles most iconic characters, including Judge Dredd, Sinister Dexter and Bill Savage.

2000AD Tom Foster

2000AD Tom Foster

Tom is also a regular contributor to digital art magazine Imagine FX, providing inspiring and informative tutorials on comics creation and character anatomy.

Putting his background in stand up comedy to use, Tom gives us a disturbing insight into the life of a comic artist in the 2000AD video From The Drawing Board: Tom Foster.

You can follow Tom on Twitter, Instagram and Deviantart.

Paul Scott Canavan

Ariss the Eternal Paul Scott Canavan

Ariss the Eternal Paul Scott Canavan

Paul is a Bafta award-winning artist and illustrator in the Scottish video game industry, with an impressive number of game titles and accolades to his name. Paul’s work on The Thirty-Nine Steps for The Story Mechanics saw him recognised among the prestigious Develop’s 30 under 30 for 2012, and he’s had his work featured in Spectrum, Concept Art World and Kokatu.

Despite this impressive list of achievements, Paul is still a super down to earth and approachable guy. Regularly passing on his knowledge and experience through Imagine FX tutorial features and live industry demos.

Pledge of the Fallen Paul Canavan

Pledge of the Fallen Paul Canavan

Currently, Paul works as art director at Glasgow’s Axis Studios, the team responsible for the CG trailers of some of the industries biggest games. He still somehow manages to fit in the time for the creation of impressive and inspiring personal work and private commissions.

You can follow Paul Scott Canavan on Twitter, Deviant Art and Artstation. See more of his work on his personal folio site here.

 

Triumphant Expanse Paul Canavan

Triumphant Expanse Paul Canavan

 

 

Kevin McGivern

Conor McGregor Kevin McGirven

Conor McGregor Kevin McGivern

Like me, Kevin is a professional artist and illustrator based in Glasgow, unlike me, he has an enviable list of big name clients to his credit. They include Disney, Marvel Studios, BT Sport and ABC Studios. The immediate stand out feature of Kevin’s work is his amazingly life-like and stylised digital portraits of pop culture icons, famous personalities and celebrities. Much like his art idol Norman Rockwell, Kevin takes his work to levels beyond simple photographic replication, imbuing his subjects with character and personality.

Denial Kevin McGirven

Denial Kevin McGivern

Kevin’s print stalls are a regular sight at most of the Scottish conventions and events, where he sells big sized prints and collections of post cards of his artwork inspired by his love for pop-culture.

Kevin is a big part of the local online art community, often offering up advice and tutorials to upcoming artists. Keep an eye out for his upcoming announcement on physical art community events in Glasgow and Edinburgh soon.

Follow Kevin McGivern on Twitter, Instagram and Behance. Check out his latest work on his site here.

The Thing Kevin McGirven

The Thing Kevin McGivern

 

Claire Maclean

The Bride Claire Maclean

The Bride Claire Maclean

Claire might be known to some of you as the event organiser of the popular Inverness Drink & Draw bi-monthly art community social meet & creative night. The event has become an arts hub of Inverness and has strengthened the Highlands art community in the time since Claire began running the event.

Surprisingly Claire has only recently launched her career as a professional freelance artist. After being a grant and loan from The Prince’s Trust earlier this year which she used to set up her own home studio. Already Claire has the beginnings of an impressive looking folio of work, and as I hear, she has many exciting new projects and pieces in the works.

The Stoor Worm Claire Maclean

The Stoor Worm Claire Maclean

Keep up to date with the progress on Claire’s burgeoning art career by following her on Instagram and Facebook, or check out her work on her folio site here.
You can find out more about the Inverness Drink & Draw events on the event Facebook page.

Tree Claire Maclean

Tree Claire Maclean

Gary Erskine

Comichaus Gary Erskine

Comichaus Gary Erskine

Gary Erskine is perhaps one of the more well-known names on this list, as a seasoned comic book art professional of over twenty years Gary has worked with most of the big industry publishers. Throughout his career, Gary has worked with Marvel, DC, IDW and Dark Horse and on big name licensed comics titles like Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Captain America and Judge Dredd. On top of all that, Gary has worked outside the world of comics and has contributed his design and illustration work to film and video game with Axis, Sony and EA Games.

Gary is a regular at all the Scottish comic conventions. A humble and approachable guy that belies his intimidating list of accomplishments and credentials. He’s always willing to chat comics and give out advice and wisdom to new comers on breaking into the world of comics.

Roller Grrrls Gary Erskine

Roller Grrrls Gary Erskine

Currently, Gary is working on his own self-published comics title Roller Grrrls, with Anna Malady, a girl punk action story in the world of Roller Derby.

You can follow Gary on his regularly updated Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook. Keep updated on Roller Grrrls on Facebook.

Ripley Gary Erskine

 

Ian Mcque

Lightship landscape Ian Mcque

Lightship landscape Ian Mcque

Ian Mcque is an Edinburgh based illustrator and painter, known around the world for his unique style and dark, post-apocalyptic sci-fi illustration. Infused with depth of world and character, every piece tells its own story. The scrappy construction aesthetic gives the impression that the City of Edinburgh has a personality which influencing the style. Or I get that feeling at least, maybe others who’ve been to Edinburgh will agree.

Mechs cover Ian Mcque

Mechs cover Ian Mcque

Ian has over twenty years experience in the games industry. He previously held the position of lead concept artist and art director at Rockstar North, the game developer behind the Grand Theft Auto series. And, is now freelance professional concept artist for the film industry.

Follow Ian Mcque to witness his prodigious output of new artwork on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and check out his Big Cartel store where you can buy his excellent prints and sketchbooks.

Ian Mcque

Ian Mcque

 

 

Alisdair Wood

Revenant Alisdair Wood

Revenant Alisdair Wood

An Edinburgh based designer and illustrator, and sometimes comic book artist. Alisdair Wood has been with Rockstar North since its early days. And, he has created illustration and design work for a number of titles in the Grand Theft Auto series. Going way back to Grand Theft Auto 2.

If like me, you’re a big horror fan, you’ll love the dark stylings of Alisdair’s personal and comic book work. The indie comics publisher Madius Comics title Horrere has a featured a few of his illustrated horror tales. The dark, sombre Victorian aesthetic will make fans of Poe, Lovecraft and M.R. James feel right at home.

 

Queen Victoria Alisdair Wood

Check out Alisdair’s personal folio site for more of his cool horror themed and horror movie inspired works.

Alisdair recently held a very successful Kickstarter for his Cult of Woodoo enamel David Bowie character badges. Tiny portraits of The Thin White Duke in Alisdair’s distinctive style.

You can follow Alisdair on his Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.

 

Cult of Woodoo Alisdair Wood

Cult of Woodoo Alisdair Wood

 

Neil Slorance

Doctor Who Neil Slorance

Doctor Who Neil Slorance

Neil Slorance is a name some of you will likely already recognise. A Glasgow based artist and illustrator, well known for his work on Titan Comics Doctor Who series and for his political satire work in The National. The reach and popularity of his work on social media have led to Neil making appearances on Scottish television. Where he is invited to deliver his, always entertaining, political observations.

The appeal of Neil’s work lies not in his draughtsmanship or any of his particular technical skills and abilities. But, rather in something which cannot be taught. Neil has a natural talent for being able to infuse his affable personality into his work and is really able to communicate who he is as a person through his art. Some time spent looking at Neil’s work leaves you with the feeling that you know him personally. This is particularly evident in his self-published indy titles Modern Slorance and Dungeon Fun.

Neil Slorance

Neil Slorance

Recently, Neil had a successful exhibition of his work at the CCA art gallery in Glasgow. See more about his work on his personal site.

Follow Neil for updates on his work, his political observations and adventures his with bread and tortoises. On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Check out his Etsy store where you can buy his prints and copies of his self-published books.

Willie Rennie Neil Slorance

Willie Rennie Neil Slorance

 

 

Gordon Neill

Wolfenstein Gordon Neill

Wolfenstein Gordon Neill

Gordon is perhaps not as experienced as some of the other artists on this list, but, what he does have is an infectious enthusiasm for digital art and the online art community. An enthusiasm which is inspiring to beginners and pros alike.

Gordon and his fellow artist Colin Searle organised Digital Artcast. A regular YouTube show featuring discussions and interviews on art and the entertainment business. Digital Artcast has so far had some huge names on the show, names like concept environment artist Titus Lunter and lead Bioware concept artist Matt Rhodes.

SciFi Corridor Gordon Neill

SciFi Corridor Gordon Neill

Gordon has recently completed his art education and is looking to rise in the concept and digital art world. Already he’s complete an internship at Glasgow’s Axis Studios.

Follow Gordon on Twitter and Artstation, and check out his personal folio site.

And, be sure to check out Digital Artcast on YouTube.

 

 

Rowena Aitken

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Rowena is a digital artist and children’s book artist based in Edinburgh. The Kilted Coo and Ruan the Little Red Squirrel are some illustrated children’s books of hers that you can find in stores around the country.

A big part of the Scottish online art community. Rowena regularly updates her social feeds with digital art tutorials and art advice. And, she is always available to chat and discuss the art business. Imagine FX and Tuts+ have also featured some of her instructional tutorials.

"The

Rowena is currently in the process of redesigning her folio site, so keep watch on her feeds for updates. Follow her on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.

"Ruan

 

 

Michael Doig

Bear Michael Doig

Bear Michael Doig

Michael Doig is an experienced and award winning games industry concept artist turned comic book artist. Before comics Michael Doig became a Bafta nominated games artist and winner of Dare To Be Digital 2009. Over the years he created concept art and game assets for Tag Games, Proper Games and Sega.

With his frequent collaborator, India Swift, the duo created a series of visually impressive short comics. Which you can view on Michael’s Artstation and Taptastic. The team are looking to debut their latest new title, The Girl and the Glim, at the upcoming 2017 Thought Bubble Leeds Comic Art Festival.

Sirens Michael Doig

Sirens Michael Doig

The team of Doig and Swift regularly stream their work process. On an almost daily basis, you can watch the team’s comics work take shape. Keep an eye out on their Twitch and YouTube for updates.

Follow Michael Doig on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Artstation, for updates on his work and news on his comic streams.

Skywhales Michael Doig

Skywhales Michael Doig

 

 

Liam Wong

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Liam is a multi-award winning artist and lead graphic design director for Ubisoft. He’s the man responsible for the impressive visual style of games like Far Cry 4.

Recently Liam took up photography and, it seems, he’s a complete natural at it. His first photography project Tokyo Nights (TO:KY:OO) gathered over a million views world wide and a host of media attention. His photography work has a distinctive, immediately recognisable, cyberpunk-neon style, each image inspiring its own Bladerunner-esque tale. Liam’s first foray into photography saw him listed as one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2017.

"Shibuya

Liam gives regular talks and presentations around the world on his work and experiences. And, he frequently engages with his social media followers imparting valuable art advice and tips.

Check out Liam’s work on his folio site, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

"Suntory

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you’ll have discovered at least one new artist here. One whose work and art community involvement in Scotland will inspire and motivate. Please feel free to share and pass on this article if it has been helpful or informative to you.

Like I said earlier, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the talent in the Scottish art community. I maybe could keep on with this list until #120. But, if it seems I’ve grossly overlooked anyone, please get in touch or add your artist in the comments below.

Finally, if you are not already, remember to follow me on my social media feeds for updates on new artwork and more engrossing & informative articles like this one.

-Craig

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know.

Some quick and easy Photoshop time savers you might not be aware of.

Working with Adobe Photoshop is essentially a major part of my day-to-day work. I’ll spend at least a few hours every day doing some work in Photoshop (drawing, painting, editing, photomanip, etc), so over time I’ve built up my own quick and dirty shortcuts, and ways of doing things that’ll save me a lot of time and effort. I use these so often, that I’ll forget that a lot of people (especially beginners and intermediates) might be completely unaware that some of these sneaky methods exist.

So, I’ve put together a list of the top 6 shortcuts and techniques I use, which tend to elicit surprise when I mention their existence. Some very simple, others a little more complicated.

If you’re a regular Photoshop user, you may know these already, but if there’s any you find that are new and useful to you, then please let me know. And, feel free to share this article.

Four Woods animals

Four Woods animals

#1. Draw A Perfect Circle.

A simple one to start with. This can be a real lifeline when you’re working on technical or perspective drawings. Still, I occasionally come across the odd artist or two plugging away at it the hard way, unawares of this simple method.

Make a new layer and grab your Elliptical Marquee Tool (Keyboard shortcut ‘M’, or the second option under the rectangular marquee tool), hold shift and drag to create a circle selection.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. Elliptical Marquee Tool

Elliptical Marquee Tool

Keep your selection active and go to Edit>Stroke, in the menu that appears choose your brush point size and hit okay. You now have a perfectly circular circle.

To put your circle into your perspective drawing, use the Skew tool (Edit>Transform>Skew) to move the move the circle into position. You can use the square selection of the Skew tool, and its edge points as a guide to fitting your circle into proper perspective.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. Circle in Perspective

Circle in Perspective

#2. Resize a batch of images.

So, let’s say we’ve got 100 finished images ready to print, but our client comes back and asks that all the images be 50% smaller than they currently are. A whole night of resizing images one at a time lies ahead for us, right? Perhaps not. The Actions window comes to our rescue!

Open all your images, all 100 or whatever, and get them ready to edit. Choose the file you wish to edit first, and then open the actions window (Window>Actions or Alt+F9).

Click the folder icon to create a new action set, and create a new action by clicking on the new layer icon. A window appears, prompting you to press ‘Record’. Hit record and get ready to edit your image.

Resize your first image in the usual way Image>Image Size, choose your scale and hit okay. Save your file, choose where to save it, and once saved close the file. Hit the Stop icon (the circle shaped one) on the actions window, and then prepare your next file for resizing.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. Actions Window

With your second file ready to be resized, instead of going through all that again, just hit play on the actions window. Your file will resize, save and close on its own. Repeat this process for the rest of your files and you’ll have them all done in no time.

The actions window is really handy for dealing with any monotonous and repetitive Photoshop task and saves you from having to repeat a similar process over and over again.

Edit: My Photographer friend Alasdair Watson informs me that this can all be done without even having to open the images up in Photoshop, by using EDIT>AUTOMATE>BATCH. Making this process even simpler and quicker. 

#3. Turn off pen pressure.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. Pen Pressure

Pen Pressure

A very quick and simple one for the digital painters and graphics tablet users. It surprises me how often I encounter a fellow digital artist who is completely unaware you can do this.

Normally the graphics tablet will control pen pressure, associating opacity with how hard you hold the pen down. To turn this off, so that you can have Brush Preset determine opacity, or to set it manually, simply turn off the pen pressure toggle next to the opacity counter when using the brush tool.

#4. Increase image size without losing quality.

So, this can be a tough one; let’s say you’ve spent days working on a painting at A4 size (8.27×11.69in), and then the client gets back you looking for an A3 sized print (11.7 x 16.5in). Disaster, right? Not necessarily.

The simplest solution to this is if you’ve created your painting at 300dpi(Pixels/Inch) or higher then you can simply print your image at double the size if you halve the dpi. So an A4 painting at 300dpi can be printed safely at A3 size at 150dpi.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. Resize Images

But, what if your client has asked for your artwork to be printed at several sizes larger than your original artwork? That might be more challenging, but there’s still a way to make it work.

So, let us say you’ve got your A4 sized painting at 300dpi and the client wants it to be printed at A2 size. The proper way to resize your image (or at least the way I’ve seen a number of tutorials suggest), is to use Image>Image size and increase the scale of your painting by 10% while checking the ‘Resample Image:’ box with ‘Bicubic Smoother’ selected. Continue to increase in 10% increments until your image is of a size able to be printed at A2 at 150dpi.

A much simpler method I often use in this situation, although probably not the best way to do it has always worked for me. With your A4 sized painting at 300dpi flatten the layers, and then in the Image>Image Size box increase the resolution from 300 to 900dpi. Open a new file in Photoshop at A2 size and at 150dpi, select your 900dpi and copy and paste it into the new file. Use Edit>Transform>Scale for any further resizing if necessary, and you should be ready to print. Quick and dirty, but I’ve always gotten away with it.

Bonus Tip!

Remember if you’re saving an image for print, to save it as under a CMYK colour mode (Image>Mode>CMYK Colour), and consider using Levels to give a little boost to your brightness as printing can often produce a slightly darker version of your image.

#5. Paste flattened version of all layers into one new layer.

Another quick and easy one, very useful but not widely known.

Create a new layer, which collects and flattens all your other layers into one using the short-cut CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E. This can be really handy if you want to colour or value shift your whole image without flattening the whole document, or you can use it to create a subtle filter for your image.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. Flatten Layers

Flatten Layers

#6. Save layers separately as different files.

Finally, this is a wee automated short-cut that has saved me a lot of time and effort in the past. Especially, if you’re working on something like collecting a bunch of screen-cap reference captures in one file with multiple layers, for example, and you need to save all these captures as separate individual files.

Prepare your file to save, and decide where you’re going to save the image to. Then go to File>Scripts>Export Layers To Files, decide on your file name prefix and what type of file you want to save as (in this example Jpeg would work), and then hit Run.

Photoshop will run a script, and all your separate layers will save as separate files, leaving you with a folder filled with your screen capture images.

6 Photoshop tips and techniques you might not know. File Saving

File Saving

Thanks for reading. Hope this article has is helpful to you, and at least one of these tips comes as new information. If anything here helps you out, let me know, and please share and pass on the article.

-Craig