this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Some recent commissions

I recently started taking commissions, on the themes of robots, spaceships or imaginary places. It’s been a pretty good response so far, and it’s been really enjoyable creating work to order – but on subjects that I love.

Here are a few recent illustrations…

Illustration Timelapse

I filmed a few time-lapse videos while I was drawing a recent commission. It’s of a stilted city, similar to a couple I’ve drawn before. I’d already sketched it out in pencil before I started filming, but I’ll try and do the whole process from start to finish at some point.

The first shows me putting in some initial lines with a fine pen. This is how I usually start inking any of my drawings. It’s basically outlining all the main elements at this point.

Illustration timelapse 1/4 from thisnorthernboy on Vimeo.

The second shows how I add a nice thick line to foreground elements, to areas I want to highlight, and in this case a key line around the whole illustration.

Illustration timelapse 2/4 from thisnorthernboy on Vimeo.

In video three I add detail, texture and any odd little bits of grit and noodling I feel it needs. All with a very fine 0.03 pen.

Illustration timelapse 3/4 from thisnorthernboy on Vimeo.

Lastly I add in some clouds and birds in the distance. I love drawing clouds. I actually added a couple more bits of detail after this – drawing in some barnacles and seaweed on the submerged bits of the drawing.

Illustration timelapse 4/4 from thisnorthernboy on Vimeo.

Here’s the final image…

Final illustration

Final illustration

This was drawn on Daler Rowney, Fine Grain, 200gsm cartridge paper. I used Copic Multiliners in thicknesses of 0.03, 0.05, 0.25, and 0.5.

Thumbs up

You can now find my illustrations and drawings on Facebook! I’ll be posting old and new work there, and keeping you up to date with news of commissions, books and any other exciting stuff.

Like me here!

Robot Number One

Open for commissions

Since I started this blog just over two years ago, I’ve had lots of people ask about buying my drawings, or requesting commissions. I haven’t had anything available so far, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.


I am now accepting commissions.

I’m keeping things quite strict though, so this is how it will work if you’re interested in owning some original art.

If you would like to buy an original drawing, email me at rob [at] thisnorthernboy [dot] co [dot] uk , you can request one of the following:

A robot
A Spaceship
An imagined place

What you’ll receive will be a black and white pen drawing, on an A4 sheet of good quality, 200gsm cartridge paper. The artwork will be approximately A5 in size, centred on the paper so you can frame it easily if you’d like to.

You can also request for the illustration to be landscape or portrait in orientation.

Any other requests – type of landscape, style of robot etc. can be made, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to take this into account. I know this sounds a little strict, but I only want to accept commissions that I’ll enjoy drawing right now, and in return you get a lovely surprise when you open your finished illustration.

What will this cost?

I’m going to charge a flat rate of £40 including post and packaging for the UK. And a rate of £40 + post and packaging for the rest of the world.

When you email me to request a commission, if you can include the country you’d like it shipped to, I’ll work out the cost of postage and let you know. If you’re happy with the overall cost I’ll accept payment by PayPal.

When will you get your drawing?

I’ll aim to complete and post all illustrations within two weeks of receiving payment.

What might your commission look like?

Well, it could look a little like these…

So if you’d like to own some original art, and support me as I work at being an illustrator – drop me an email now.

Thank you,


In the wars

still working in the illustrations for a children’s book about castles. It includes lots of cool stuff – Knights, swords, trebuchets – and a few skeletons and skulls.

This skull had to show damage from a sword or axe.


Return of the Robots

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or following me on Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, you’ll know that between August 2013 and August 2014, I drew a robot a day for a whole year. It was quite daunting committing to a daily project of that length, but it was something I felt I had to do to get me in to the routine of drawing every day – a skill or habit that I’d need if I wanted to become an illustrator for a living. I think it achieved its purpose – I now get pretty restless if I don’t draw at all for a day, and I’m currently work on my first book illustration project.

I haven’t really drawn robots since I finished the Droid a Day adventure though, and to be honest, I’ve missed them.

Today I’ve given myself the day off from paying work to rustle up another droid, and I’m pretty pleased with the way he came out.

Droid V.366.0

Droid V.366.0

Initial sketch.

Initial sketch.

Final inks.

Final inks.

Fragment of Laputa

A floating island, or a fragment of one. Not unlike the Kingdom of Laputa described by Jonathon Swift in Gulliver’s Travels.

Fragment of Laputa.

Fragment of Laputa.



Lonely tree.

Lonely tree.

Drawn with Copic Multiliners on cartridge paper.

Floating islands are a continued theme with my drawings, more here and here.

The Towers

I’ve been working on a couple of illustrations of medieval(ish) towers over the last couple of days. I have a little project that I’m thinking about – and these fit in to that in some way.

Drawn on cartridge paper, using Copic Multiliners and Staedtler Pigment Liners. Coloured using Copic Ciao markers.


The Towers

The Towers

Sentry in clour

Sentry in clour

Watchtower in colour

Watchtower in colour

The Giant’s Ring

The Giant’s Ring is a neolithic henge at Ballynahatty, on the southern edge of Belfast. The site dates from 2700BC – making The Giant’s Ring older than the pyramids.

The illustration below was inspired by a great photograph on Instagram by my friend Jonny. I’ve taken a few liberties with the landscape though.

This illustration continues my fascination with stones and henges.

The Giant's Ring

The Giant’s Ring

Cloud details

Cloud details

Stones detail

Stones detail

Birthday Haul

Today, the 24th of March, is my birthday. I’m 42 years old. An important number for any Douglas Adams fans. For me it’s the age at which I’m hoping my third career begins. Roughly seven years working in and managing bars, 15 years as a designer, and now embarking on a quest to make a living as an illustrator.

My day started pretty well with some lovely presents, including some inspirational books, and a stuffed crow (I’ve called him Russell)…

Photo of birthday presents

Birthday haul


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