Computer graphics art

This page features a few examples of my computer graphics art – all commissioned by publishers to illustrate books on a variety of marine subjects. It was once the case that illustrations were painstakingly done by hand but all on this page were produced on a computer using special software. On the face of it, this might seem like a rather mechanical process but this really isn’t so. This isn't clip art. Each picture is produced on a computer not by it. The images still have to be imagined and then created — and I can tell you that this is every bit as artistic and skilful an endeavour as wielding a pencil and paint brush.

However there are tremendous advantages in working with computer graphics, since the images remain malleable at all times and can be adjusted to suit specific circumstances. For instance, a picture used very small can look messy if it contains too much detail. Conversely, a large picture can look sparse and empty if it lacks detail. Of course a hand drawn picture can be enlarged or reduced in size. But then everything changes scale – including line thicknesses which might become fat and clumsy or so thin they become difficult to see. With computer graphics, detail can be added or removed and line weights adjusted to match the other dimensions.  

In short, the flexibility a computer brings allows the illustrator to fine tune the work much later in the process, even after the layout has been determined by the designer or typesetter. To redraw a conventional drawing usually involves starting from scratch. Not so computer graphic art, where the original can nearly always be adapted as the publication evolves.

Most of my work is for the boating world, and here I find that my maritime background and sailing experience comes in useful. Of course, it always helps if illustrations are visually attractive, but that's not enough on its own. What is absolutely essential is that they be accurate enough to be believable. Plausibility is everything in technical books.

Outboard motor installation

This simple illustration (right) of an outboard motor installation is from the RYA Seamanship for Sea Anglers book, published in 2008.

Boat AC electrics circuit

Here we have a basic AC electrical system (left) of the type you might find on a modern yacht. The illustration is from the RYA Electrical Handbook, published in 2009 and available from the RYA website. The use of colours for the circuitry make it very easy to understand in conjunction with the accompanying text.


Spitfire and fathead sail

These drawings compare a Spitfire's wing shape with the sailplan on a modern catamaran. The drawing appears in the RYA Multihull Handbook, published in 2010.


Lure smoke trailDick McClary's RYA Fishing Afloat book (published 2009) with its numerous references to colourful fishing lures provided me with a wonderful opportunity to be exuberant with the artwork. This 'smoke trail' of bubbles left by a 'jethead' lure is just one example, and I'm sure you will be glad to learn that I didn't create every bubble individually. It started with just one which I copied in different sizes until I had enough to form groups of them. From thereon, copying the groups and arranging them to form the trail finished the job.


Marina berthing

This illustration comes from Rob Gibson’s RYA Boat Handling for Sail and Power – a book that has since been translated into a number of languages. It shows the recommended manoeuvre for entering a berth starboard side to, against the flow of the stream. This is another example where computer graphics allows the illustrator to create a single image – in this case the entering yacht – and then duplicate it in various positions and angles to form the completed artwork. Even to animate such an image would be a fairly simple task.