this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Two years today…

Two years ago today, I posted my first robot drawing and started my Droid A Day project. The beginning of this year-long mission also marks the moment I made a conscious effort to get back in to drawing seriously after a gap of nearly twenty years. I’d started blogging here on WordPress a few months earlier, but my goal to draw and post regularly had fallen by the wayside pretty quickly. The Droid project, and the fact that I posted about beginning it on Facebook and Twitter, gave me a more tangible and focussed reason to draw. Very quickly after starting my daily robots and droids, I realised that even if I got bored, or tired, there was no way I would be able to give up – I didn’t want to fail, and even more I didn’t want to be seen to fail. Sometimes, telling everyone you are going to do something is the best way to make sure you do it.

My first robot of the project was a pretty basic affair, drawn in just a few minutes. As the days, weeks, and months passed by, my drawings got more detailed and involved (when time allowed), and I definitely upped my skill levels.

Since the project finished I’ve still managed to draw almost everyday, although I haven’t drawn too many robots, and my drawing is still progressing. One of my aims for the project, or at least what I wanted to get out of it was to get in to the habit of drawing daily, because if I want to be a professional illustrator I have to be able to draw when the projects demand, not just when I feel like it. While I can’t say I can draw brilliantly every time I pick up a pen or pencil, I’m definitely getting to the point where I can usually produce something that’s half-way decent, and I’m learning how to get around those artistic blocks and days when you aren’t at your best. I’m still very much a work in progress, and I suppose that’s how it should be – always learning, never satisfied with where I’m at.

Am I an illustrator now? I don’t necessarily feel like one, but I have completed the illustrations for a children’s book (out in late September), and completed some illustration commissions. If one measure of being an illustrator is “are you earning money from it?” then yes I am most definitely an illustrator.

Two years ago, as I drew that silly little robot with a laser gun, I’d never have thought I’d be at this point by now. I’m making progress. Maybe not as quickly as I’d like, but I’m making progress.

Robot with laser gun - the first of 365 robots.

Robot with laser gun – the first of 365 robots.

Robot 365 - The final droid of my year-long project.

Robot 365 – The final droid of my year-long project.

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…


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