Manga Studio: Kirby Crackle

Kirby Crackle is peculiar visual effect created by Jack Kirby. It’s distinguishing feature is that it’s made up of clusters of Black blobs. Built up over white these create a cool looking visual effect of power. (See the Jack Kirby drawn example below).


Many artists have since latched onto the Kirby Crackle (as it became known) and used it for their own work, so much so that it’s now common element of comic book design.

Anyhue, Manga Studio allows you to create your own brushes, and I thought it’d be fun to come up with some Kirby Crackle.

Step 1: Create a new document, with a nice clean layer.

Draw a LARGE circle (about a quarter the size of the page) on this layer – using the Ellipse tool (press U) and draw the ellipse will holding shift will ensure it stays circular. This is our template circle.


Step 2: Create a new layer on top of this layer, this is where we’ll draw our Kirby Crackle. Draw a number of Circles WITHIN the larger circle. You can draw any number you like – make sure every circle has a little space around it.


Step 3: Fill in black within the small circles – using the FILL tool.


Step 4: Draw a Marquee around the small circles (don’t worry about covering the big circle – you can hide this layer if you like).


Step 5 – select ‘EDIT – > Register Pattern -> Brush Material

Step 6 – Give it a name and select OK

Step 7 – tweak the brush controls, I find that best results are from setting the size to alter on pen pressure, setting the interval to something where each krackle element is just touching the next (this depends on the size you’ve drawn the circles – but on my circles it’s set to 70%) and set the Brush SHAPE direction to RANDOM.

And voila: Kirby Crackles…




2000AD Prog 1699 out this week, featuring a one off Dredd episode by Al Ewing and Me, “A House for Aldous Mayou” is a neat little one off, sad and poignent, and explains a lot about Dredd’s worlds technology. Clever stuff by Al.


New York, New York!

Start spreading the news… I’m hitting the NYC comic con this year, 8th Oct to the 10th – I’ll be borrowing the floor of the eclectic micks and will have a sketchbook. This is all last minute (and on the dirt cheap) so, though 2000AD are there, I haven’t organised anything yet.


BICS – Birmingham

Is it just me, or didn’t BICS used to mean the Bristol comic con? Anyway, whatever, I’ll be hitting BICS this year – bought and paid for just before I decided to also do New York – which means it’s gonna be one knackering couple of weeks. If you spot me, say hello. Unlikley to have a table – though, afaik Strip Magazine UK WILL have one, so you’ll probably find me there or at the 2000AD table.


Some sketches!

Tools of the Trade: Lamp Quick Review

I used to love a lot of light when I drew, and, over the years, somehow collected an odd bod assortment of lamps to draw by – the best, by far, being an ex-BBC angle poise lamp, with a flourescent tube bit on it. Flourescent tubes aren’t great to colour by as they cast an odd hue, but for drawing b&w comics they’re grand.

Then, eyesight went a little and I needed glasses, once that happened, for reasons I’m unsure off, I just wasn’t comfortable drawing with anywhere near as much light. So my lamps, one by one, vanished.

I positioned my drawing table by the window and under the bulb in the room, and didn’t really need much more lighting.

More years go by, and I find myself needing light again – it’s a smaller, gloomier room. And the window is tiny. The table isn’t in as handy a spot and I was lampless.

Ikea sell a range of lights/lamps. Up until recently I’d been using a fairly cheap clamp / spotlight combo from Ikea. But it never really threw off enough light. So a quick trip to Ikea and I have one of each of these:


Strip light Ikea Global Work Light £12.99



Ikea Tertial Work Lamp for £ 7.99

Initially, the Tertial Work lamp – which resembles a pretty straightforward angle poise lamp looked promising. On paper looks great. In real life though, it’s pretty damn cheap – the head comes away with a slight twist (this is a design feature, but as you tend to grab the head to move it it rips away quickly in your hands) and the light, Halogen bulb, as recommmended by Ikea – is enough to give you tan. Incidentally, the on/off switch is located in the cord coming off the base – not at the head – where you’d expect. I’d avoid it.

The Ikea Global Work Light on the other hand, while equally as cheap (come on, it’s £12.99!) is far more suited to comics drawing. The switch is at the head, the flourescent tube is a much colder light and, while it lacks the spring loaded neatness of the Tertial lamp seems to be sturdy enough for most things. So, if you’re in the market for a cheap angle poise lamps (and let’s face, proper angle poise lamps cost a bloody fortune) I’d go for it.


Nathan On Telly

(Forgive the self indulgent post – this is the quickest way for me to share the photos on facebook and other places…)

A while ago, my son Nathan filmed for a new Cbeebies TV show, “Big City Park” – filmed on location in Ormeau Gardens.
Here he is. (He’s the little one with the glasses)

Inking In Manga Studio

I’m back in Manga Studio. A recent update fixed some major stability problems (though, to be fair, they were easy to avoid – but somewhat fatal). Which has really boosted my confidence in using the software for production level stuff. The last job I did in MS – four pages of the recent Johnny Woo – worked really well, but I began to miss the feel of real paper. The current job is BOX (from Strip Magazine UK) episode 2. This is a shorter strip, and, I’m hoping it’ll allow me to play more in MS.
I’ve added some neat textured brushes, which, when you turn the opacity to 100% on them give a great range of effects as solid line art.
Here’s a panel. (Blueline – drawn with pencil on paper, scanned in and turned blue in MS. Blueline with inks, and just inks)

Projects On the Go…

BOX – written by John Freeman – ongoing series in Strip Magazine UK – I’ll let you know more details once I have ’em! (5 pages per month)

NumberCruncher – 8pages x 10 months – creator owned series with Si Spurrier

Monstorology – 48page creator owned graphic novel with Gordon Rennie.

How’d’ya like them apples…


Cellar of Dredd Commission

John Burdis who runs the blog asked me if I could come up with a pic of him and Dredd and include the title of the blog in the title. So I came up with a little scenario and inked it up.

I pencilled it, scanned it in, touched up the pencils (mostly by enlarging dredd’s head a bit and changing the size of his left hand). The added dialogue, and it’s balloon and a border in photoshop – and converted the pencils to blueline. Printed that and started inking with combination of dip pen (for foreground Dredd and Judge Burdis in background and most of the foreground elements) and brush (for the background texture, including the ‘Cellar of Dredd’ lettering).

The torch – I’ve been asked a couple of times about the torch – I HEAVILY inked the torch hand (adding a lot of shadow to it) and then masked off everything but the arc of light from the torch (using some spare paper and scissors) and then flicked a lot of white acrylic ink all over the hand.
And that’s it. Hope you like. Email me if you’re interested in getting a commission like it (I’ve enjoyed the two that I’ve done, they feel like old school 2000AD covers to me…)