this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Steampunk Spaceship

My most recent commission was for a spaceship, with some steampunk influences. I wanted to keep it very much like one of my spaceships though, so it’s kind of an amalgam of my asteroid belt clippers, and some weird alt-history Victorian airship.

I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, it was one of those rare illustrations that just flows nicely all the way from initial doodles right through to the final ink.

Finished Steampunk Spaceship.

Finished Steampunk Spaceship.

Work in progress.

Work in progress.

Initial sketch.

Initial sketch.

Imagined Places

I’ve drawn a fair few cityscapes and imaginary places over the last few months, some of them purely personal, some have been commissions, some have been posted here before, some haven’t, so here they are collected in one place.

The first, City on the Edge of Nowhere, is one of my favourites.

City on the edge of nowhere.

City on the edge of nowhere.

Sporty Spaceship

A little one-man speedster, based on 1930s aerobatic planes. Had to have a nice bright orange paint-job obviously.

Sporty Flyer

Sporty Flyer


I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut, and even now at 42 years old, I haven’t quite given up hope, so when Jeremy Marshall commissioned an illustration and said “… is there any chance of an astronaut featuring?” I jumped at the chance.

The astronaut.

The astronaut.



Thumbs up

Originally posted on this northern boy:

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

Recent commissions

View original

Nobody gets off this rock.

A recent commission for someone that likes castles, and tentacles!

Calamari Island

Calamari Island

Commissions update…

Recent commissions

Recent commissions

UPDATE: Due to demand, and the amount of time I’m spending on each commission, I’m increasing my prices. My standard commissions, as described below will now be priced at £75.


I recently announced that I’m accepting illustration commissions and the response was fantastic. I’ve completed over 20 illustrations so far, and still have a few more booked in. If you’d like to own some original art by me, here’s how it works…

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 £75 including post and packaging for the UK. And a rate of £75 + 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 to three 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,


Sketching from the imagination: Sci-fi

I’m lucky enough to be featured in 3DTotal’s new book – Sketching from the imagination: Sci-fi. It’s 320 pages of sketches, drawings and concept art from 49 amazing artists and illustrators (and me).

I’m sharing its pages with one of my absolute favourite artists – Ian McQue – which makes me feel a little bit dizzy.

If you order it before June 8th they’ll throw in a free sketchbook.





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.


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