Daily Painting – Day 5

We skipped yesterday as I was busy celebration 28 cycles around the planet, but here’s my next daily painting. It’s a cow. Isn’t that awesome.


Again, painted in Manga Studio using the oil paints. I think the cow turned out alright, but not so thrilled with the background.

Daily Painting – Day 4


This is another nerd painting, but I enjoyed doing my Power Mushroom so much, I had to return for the classic Blue Shell. Truth is, I hated this one when I painted it but that was about 24 hours about and today I feel a lot happier with it. Again, painted in Manga Studio with the oil paint brushes. The original video took around an hour and a half. Check out the vid below to see this painting right from the bank page!

Daily Painting – Day 3


This is probably my favourite of the paintings so far. I think it’s more fluke than talent, but I still think it looks great. I think I’m finally getting a better grip of light and shadow, though backgrounds could use a little more work for sure.

No speed painting video of this as I’m reserving those for more pop-culture, geeky paintings that will appeal to my Youtube audience, but I think the painting stands well on its own. Subject is a pic summoned by google, painted in Manga Studio.

Daily Painting – Day 2


I feel like this wasn’t a great choice for my second daily painting. I wanted to do something a bit quirky, and a bit geeky so I went for the Mario Power Mushroom. My source image was CGI and so there wasn’t a huge amount of detail, just a lot of very smooth, sterile lighting that was tough to get rough. I feel like the face turned out well, whereas there just wasn’t enough to do with the cap to bring it to life. Still, it could have been worse. Tomorrow I think I’ll return to something more naturalistic. A leaf perhaps.

If you’d like to see me painting in action, I recorded this one as I painted it.

A Quick Round Up

Hey guys, I know updates have been a little thin on the ground lately but with me leaving my job and setting off in bold new directions (TBA) it has been a bit of a hectic few weeks. I just wanted to stop in to give you a quick update on how things have been going and what you can expect in the upcoming weeks and months.

Firstly, I’m changing up how I get my writing out there. For a while now I’ve been writing short stories, Novels during NaNoWriMo and little bit of flash fiction, and I’ve generally taken the approach of posting the Flash Fiction in the blog and hoarding everything else while I find time to edit it. I want to get in the habit of producing a little bit more and really working my reluctant Rewriting bones. With that in mind, I’m going to move on from the flash fiction for a bit and try to really produce longer, 5000 word-ish stories and post those up straight to the blog too. I’m also considering leaving them there permanently rather than pulling them when I publish to Amazon. In the past, I’ve enrolled books in KDP select but the benefits for that programme are a little thin on the ground these days. Even free book days have declined, barely generating the spikes in the graph they used to. So, all things considered, I think I have more to gain by leaving stuff here to draw in readers. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.

Secondly, I’ve been trying to get back into art and cartooning. For years I was interested in webcomics but I’ve never really had the time I want to devote to it. I’m hoping to get back into it shortly, but I’ll give you more info about that later. With that in mind, I’ve been digging out some of the more recommended books on developing one’s artistry. My first stop was the highly recommended Drawing of the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I have never been that great at drawing from sight, but after a couple of exercises I was producing pictures like these!

Superman SketchGarfield Sketch










Superman’s donning a bit of an afro, but I was still very impressed. The book is still in print and I really recommend it if you’re interested in upping your drawing skills. I’m hoping to keep it up, as well as branching out into painting, so expect to see a lot more art posted here among the writing.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to make a little out of my free time. I’m usually spending my downtime playing games, and I’ve been branching out into youtube. So, if you want to see me do a really bad job playing The Elder Scrolls: Arena, or do a slightly better job at Sim City 4, then check out my Youtube channel and let me know what you think .

So, that’s that. I’m going to be more diligent about updates from this point on, and I’ll be keeping you up to date with more outside the writing, but I today I just wanted to remind you I’m alive, and still creating wherever I can!

Curfew – A Short Story

Hey guys, just a few updates before the story. We’re recording another Those Aren’t Biscuits tomorrow so it should be up on Thursday as usual. I’m also waiting for the first issue of the new Judge Dredd Mega Collection to arrive in the post, it’s a reprint of the 1990 story America, and I’m planning on reviewing it when it arrives, so watch this space. 

This story started out a little more sci-fi when I planned it out, but as I was rewriting, I thought it worked better if I just pared it back to the characters and kept it a little more relatable. Let me know what you think. 

* * *



Domino waited. She watched the nearest clocktower, saw the digits count down. Her heart beat faster with every minute. It was dark now, they were right in the middle of winter. The weatherman even said something about snow, but it wasn’t until 9 so she probably wouldn’t see it. Cars were honking and engines grinding on the roads, everyone trying to get home at once. An announcement piped up over the city’s speakers and reminded her she only had ten minutes left. As if she needed reminding. As if anybody did.

It was Jackson’s fault. He was usually there first; of all the dealer’s she knew, he was usually the most reliable. He took the rail in to the city centre past the sec-checks, and could make it to most neighbourhoods pretty quickly. How he knew all the tricks, she didn’t know, but he knew them and made good use of them too. But curfew was rolling out earlier and earlier these days and if he got caught, she didn’t know what she’d do.

She heard footsteps and ducked back into the recess of the wall and peeped out. An older woman. Well dressed, probably worked for the city. She peered back at her and smiled. “Curfew soon, dear.” Domino looked up at the clock and pretended to be surprised. “Do you need a ride?” She waved over to the corner where her car was parked up with the door open. The woman must have spotted her a mile off. “I have quick clearance, I can take you anywhere you need to go.”

“Oh no,” Domino was flustered, she tried not to babble. “My sister’s supposed to be picking me up.” The woman eyed the clock, she wasn’t convinced. “I mean, I’d love to go with you, but if she gets here and I’m not waiting, then she might wait for me and then she’ll miss curfew, and I don’t want to get her into trouble.” That sealed the deal, well-dressed-and-nosy gave another little smile and walked off to the car.

They were pretty high up on the overpass, she hadn’t expected anyone else to come along. The streetlights were still on, but if Jackson didn’t turn up soon she’d be stood out here in the dark. Then the questions would be even harder to answer. She watched the lights go out section by section across the city. Curfew was any minute now, but she had a good ten minutes before all the lights dropped completely and the streets were filled with cops. She slipped her hands into her pockets, tried to look non-threatening and impatient. Best to start the lies early, she thought. Look believable. She heard a car pull up behind her and she ducked back into the recess. The door opened, few people would bet out on the street now the traffic was clearing. She pressed her back against the cold bricks and did her best not to be seen. If you can’t act cool, better to hide and hope for the best.

“Dom?” A voice hissed. “You around?”

It was Jackson, she poked a hand out of the shadows and waved him in.

“You’re late.”

He stepped in alongside her and she caught a look at his face in the dark. It looked bruised.

“What happened?”

“Shh!” He crouched down, she copied him. A cop car crawled past and then moved off. There was almost no traffic now.

“I know, I’m sorry.” He pushed back his greasy hair and she could see that his usual cocky grin was gone. “I got stopped by the early patrol.” He started pulling papers out of his jacket pocket, then thrust her a pale green slip.

“A fine?” She laughed. “You got away with just a fine?”

“Barely,” he snatched back the paper. “A bloody huge fine.”


“I got off the rail early, heard they were doing checks. I thought it couldn’t hurt to be careful, so I jumped off ahead and figured I’d walk. I had plenty of time but turns out they were doing foot checks too.”

“Unlucky.” She stood but he shook his head and pulled her back down.

“I think they followed me, don’t know how many. They know I don’t live in this sector, so I spun them a line about my Granny’s blackout being on the fritz. Said I needed to go be with her this curfew, make sure everything went ok and she knew how to call tech if it didn’t work. I don’t think they believe me, but what could they do?”

“So they let you go?” Domino couldn’t believe it, she trusted Jackson, but this was just the kind of setup her friends fell for.

“No,” Jackson pulled up his jacket and shirt, the bruises to his ribs were clearly visible even in the dark. “This was just incase I was being less than truthful.”

When no cars had passed for a couple of minutes, they stood again and swapped glances.

“Look, Dom. I have to get to a safehouse without any problems. If I’m caught with barter on me, I’ll be in serious trouble.”

Domino pushed him against the wall. “Shit, Jackson. I’m putting my neck out here too. I need it.”

“I know,” Jackson’s grin returned. He fished in his pocket and pulled out the little flashlight. “Take it tonight, pay me in the daylight sometime.” Domino couldn’t believe it, she rushed into a hug before remembering his wounded ribs.

“You really trust me?”

“Of course,” Jackson laughed. “That thing runs on batteries, who else can hook you up with those.”

Domino slipped it in her pocket, she said her thanks with a nod, and stepped out into the street.

She wasn’t in as much danger as Jackson. She was only three blocks from her flat. The curfew was rolled out in the next few blocks, but she could probably reach her door before things really got dark in her building. Hopefully she’d have it unlocked before then and she wouldn’t have to fumble around in the dark. She crossed the road without thinking, there was no traffic at this time, despite the jams only a few minutes earlier. When things got really bad, people just parked up on the streets and ran.

She picked up speed herself, her building was in sight now, but she just heard the voice behind her.

“Stop!” And she did, like a conditioned response. Even if she’d had time to the think, the fear of a bullet in her back wouldn’t soon be forgotten. She turned and saw the police officer who had shouted her. His uniform was black and yellow, with two strips on the shoulder. A captain then. But she couldn’t make out a face under the helmet. He walked towards her and then the exposed lips smiled and he lifted the helmet off. She didn’t know his name, but the face was familiar. He lived in her building. He was nice. Outside the uniform, they always seemed nice.

“Working late?”

It was a trick question, the first thing they taught you in the underground. Employers had to get to curfew too, nobody worked late.

“I’m sorry officer,” that was the right answer. This was going smoothly, if she could just get past without a search she’d be fine. “I got caught behind a protest on 5th, and I didn’t want to seem associated so I had to take a longer walk home.”

His smile dropped, but it had the right effect. There was always a protest somewhere during the curfew, if it wasn’t on fifth it would be on 6th or 7th. He did just what she expected. He nodded and then returned to his vehicle, driving off in the direction of a protest she sincerely hoped he would find when he got there.

And now she was at the front door of her building, Curfew was any second. She made it through the door, reminded herself not to take the lift so close to the power switch off and sprinted up the steps. The power went just as she pushed her key in the lock. Not bad, Domino, she thought. She pushed her way into the flat and locked the door behind her. It was pitch black inside, she had to make her way to the bathroom feeling her way with her hands. The blackouts had dropped before the power cut and now all light was sealed off in the tiny flat. She felt her way to the bathroom cupboard, finding towels and blankets. There she stuffed up the cracks at the bottom of the bathroom door, then made a soft bed in the corner. She kicked off her shoes and pulled a blanket over her head.

Domino took the tiny flashlight from her pocket and twisted the top. A ring of LEDs sprung to life, illuminating the entire room. She quickly pulled the blanket over her head. It would only take the tiniest crack for light to seep through to her neighbours and she would be caught. Then she felt around for the prize she had concealed in there earlier, the book. She opened the pages gingerly, old books like this were antiques. No scrolling, no screen. She pointed the flashlight at the page and didn’t stop reading until she heard the blackouts lifting the next day.

Breaking the Creator’s Curse.

Creator's Curse

You might have heard of the Creator’s Curse, if you work in a creative medium then you’ve almost certainly felt it. It has been described a few ways, but the basic concept goes like this: During the creation of a work, the creator becomes more proficient, therefore the finished product is never the creator’s best work. This is usually put forward as the reason why artists are more critical of their own work. (Personally, I think this is only half the story. The rest of the disappointment is usually created by the finished work failing to live up to the artist’s impossibly perfect initial concept, but we’ll talk about unreasonable expectations another time.) The result is that a lot of artists, writers, inventors, candlestick makers, end up sitting on their latest work, hiding it away and telling themselves that they’ll go public when they finally get better. This is counter-productive for obvious reasons. 

I wasn’t always a writer; as a kid I wanted to be a cartoonist. You can still find my comics littering the internet, some of them are pretty good, but I never sat down and really worked at producing comics. I had the tools, I had the time, and I even had a few decent ideas under my belt, but every comic I sat and produced took too long, or turned out a bit scruffy, or the perspective was off. There was always a reason why I wasn’t good enough to do the work, and years later when I step back and look at the work I did in comics, I see the mark of the Creator’s Curse on every decision I made. I constantly took time off to practice, to learn drawing techniques and do tutorials, but if I’d started drawing a strip back then and stuck with it until today, I’d be a far better artist than I am now.

In Writing, I am no different. I am currently editing a story I started quite some time ago. It is a Timewasters story that was supposed to follow Time Trial, and it is a really awkward job. Looking at it now, I can see a lot of problems that are in my early stories. It is overly wordy, drowning in adverbs and over explaining at every opportunity. It is also far too long, nearly 10,000 words on a plot that is really not that complicated. It has too many characters, it has a setting I’m not happy with. Basically, it’s absolutely not what I would write now. However, when I compare it to other stories I wrote around this time, it is absolutely it line with my weaknesses as a writer back then. In fact, at the time I wrote it, it was easily the best thing I had written. And I sat on it for nearly two years. Now I’m going back and forth on whether to release this story. I’m delving into it headfirst, editing and rewriting wherever I can, but I know I can only do so much without scrapping it and starting again.  I don’t want to do that. I like that story, and I think it still works, but it feels like a relic. Had I just released it back when I first finished it, I wouldn’t feel the same way. Its flaws would be part of my past and I would be looking back on it fondly. I would be a better writer now.

 It is so easy to shelve a project, easier than sticking with it, easier than releasing it with flaws, because then you can tell yourself you’ve going to fix it. But the further away you get, the harder it is to return, and eventually you’re so far removed from your work that it feels like someone else wrote it and you can never get the spark back. 

 Breaking the Creator’s Curse is simple. Recognise it. Understand why it is there, and work past it. Learn to accept that you are always growing as an artist, that you will always move past your work, (sometimes quicker than you realise) and that the best way to improve is to work more. The Creator’s Curse is ultimately self defeating, its cause and its solution are the same. As creators, we get better whenever we create, and putting ourselves out their for the feedback of our peers and the perspective it provides is always going to be better than letting something sit on a shelf until it becomes perfect.

Friendly Neighbourhood Wacom-Doodle.

spider-man drawing

It has been a while since I’ve really sat down at the Graphics Tablet an produced a drawing, but I’ve been trying to get back into practice. I’ve always wanted to tell stories, but as a kid I was convinced I’d been making a living as a cartoonist. It has been a few years, and Spider-Man is more than a little out of proportion here, but I think it turned out pretty well for a quick job.