Thursday, 17 July 2014

cat skull painted with wasabi flowers and leaves

cat skull painted with wasabi flowers and leaves

Illustrators Australia and Redbubble are teaming up to put on a gallery show of t-shirt art called Wear Art Thou. As a member of Illustrators Australia I was invited to join in on the fun. The invitation came in May, but being distracted by work I only remembered the show when there was just 10 days left to think up a design, create the artwork and enter. Ahhh, pressure!

In a lunch break at work I scribbled a quick list of ideas then discarded most for being unsuitable for a t-shirt, or simply being too tacky. The idea remaining was to illustrate a skull.

The thought process went - Skulls are always popular on clothing, but skulls on t-shirts have been done to death (pun!) so it would need a point of difference. How about a cat skull? Cats are always popular on the inter-web, and I am super fond of them too. Might turn out a bit nasty looking, better soften it up with some sort of whimsy. Flowers would be ideal. Our last cat was called Wasabi, I could use flowers and leaves from a wasabi plant, making the image into a tribute for her. Awww, how sweet. So now the skull won't be scary, it will be poignant. Yep, lots of boxes ticked.

In a way it is actually two paintings: the first an airbrush style illustration of a cat skull, the second a naive painting of leaves and flowers appearing to wrap around the skull. The texture in the background is a photograph of the cement floor in my studio space.

This artwork was created to sell on line on a variety of products, so here comes the sales pitch...

Cat skull painted with wasabi flowers is available to purchase on line via Redbubble 
on t-shirts, throw cushions, tote bags, posters, prints, stickers and gift cards.
Easy to order and delivered to your door

cat skull throw pillow   cat skull tote bag   cat skull poster

cat skull sticker   cat skull gift card

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

aardvarks and flying saucers

We have here yet another cover illustration for Ethel the Aardvark

Forward Aardvarkia

Forward Aardvarkia is loosely based on an example of British wartime propaganda, but features a mysterious, suit wearing aardvark and a fleet of flying saucers.

It looks like an acrylic painting but is actually rendered with the mixer brush tool in Photoshop.
Just in case you are interested, this is the rough sketch. I scanned it and 'painted' over the top.

I like the juicy brush stroke detail the mixer brush tool can make, however it is not as intuitive or as fun as using a real paintbrush

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Make your own paper rabbit mask

Print it, colour it in, cut it out and wear it.
Right click and open the image in a new window. Print at full A4 size.
make a paper rabbit mask

This rabbit mask and the electronic file it appears on are © Richard Morden. 
It is not to be altered or reproduced for commercial gain without the artists express permission.


Remember: Always have a grown up around when using scissors.

1. Print the image onto A4 paper.

2. Paste the A4 paper to some card cut from an old cereal packet to make the mask STRONG. Use a glue stick for pasting, as it won't dampen the paper and make it all bubbly and yuk.

3. Colour in the rabbit mask however you like. It could be coloured to look like a tiger, like a pirate, like a princess, like a rockstar, or even to look like a rabbit. You could use crayons, paint, ink, textas or glitter. However you colour it in, be creative and have fun doing it.

4. Cut out the rabbit head and eyes. If the whiskers are too tricky just cut them off. Poke holes through the dots beside the eyes for the string to go through. A sharp pencil would poke a nice hole, or maybe use a safety pin and wiggle it around a little to make the hole big enough for the string.

5. Tie a piece of string to each hole. Tie strings together at back of head.

Now wear the mask and hop around like a rabbit!

This rabbit mask was inspired by the Illustration Friday theme 'Disguise'.

It would be great to hear how you went making your rabbit mask. Write in the comments field to let me know.  R :)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas aardvark

Cover art for another Ethel zine. This one features an aardvark in a Santa hat, packing a box of books.

Ethel the Aardvark is the bi monthly fan-zine which goes out to members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. I am one of the two editors.

It is by far the nerdiest publication I have ever had anything to do with, which I have to say is something I enjoy.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Bah Humbug

Bah Humbug Christmas card art

A hand painted visual pun combining the boiled sweet known as a humbug with Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous catchphrase 'bah humbug'.

I realised after posting it online for people to buy as printed Christmas cards or t-shirts that not everyone was going to get the gag. It depends on whether or not you know of two things: boiled sweets called humbugs and at least passing knowledge of Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol. So if you get the joke, pat yourself on the back and feel smug.

If you didn't get it, thats's okay. You are not alone! Upon finishing the quick painting it was shown to a room full of friends who all looked at me in confusion. Oh well.

The Bah Humbug card art is not at all intended as anti Christmas sentiment, rather it is a wry acknowledgement of how stressful the lead up to Christmas can be, especially for those of us not organised enough to shop for presents in October. I always end up buying gifts at the last moment. Bah!

Following are the initial concept sketch and the acrylic on craft paper painting. You can see the painted image was digitally edited before posting it on-line as final art. This was because the craft paper, while nicely textural wasn't very Christmassy. So I gave the background a lustrous green hue. Seems to suit it.

Bah Humbug concept sketch
 Bah Humbug painted

This design is available as beautifully printed
Bah Humbug Christmas cards or a Bah Humbug Christmas t-shirt

Bah Humbug Christmas cardBah Humbug t-shirt

Thursday, 17 October 2013


I have an artwork in the
Illustrators Australia Annual 9x5 Exhibition 

wee wish you a merry Christmas card art

Wee wish you a merry Christmas
available as printed Christmas cards

The exhibition is at St Helliers Gallery, Abbotsford Convent
From October the 19th to November the 3rd

The theme is 'FLOURISH'
Each artwork has been done on a 9x5 inch piece of plywood

If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Abbotsford Convent over the next couple of weeks this exhibition is worth popping in to have a look at. I promise most of the works are more tasteful than mine.

For further details and to see previews of the artworks
see the Illustrators Australia page about the exhibition

Responding to the theme 'Flourish'

Illustrators Australia like to give us a tough theme each year for this group show. Flourish was no exception to this rule. I struggled for weeks with what to do.

I had originally planned to paint a clean edged graphical style  highbrow artwork portraying the most flourishing thing on this planet, LUCA - the Last Universal Common Ancestor. This is the little single cell critter that all life on Earth descended from. It has to be agreed LUCA really has done pretty well for itself, flourishing to the nth degree.

But that concept was just a bit too serious and I wasn't in the mood for serious.

I decided if I was to spend hours doing an artwork it may as well have some sort of practical application. A Christmas design I can sell as cards fits the bill pretty well. Great idea but I still didn't know exactly what I should be painting.

Three days before the deadline, exasperated, I commented flippantly to my partner "Why don't I just paint some kid peeing a flourishing Christmas message into the snow".

A concept of questionable taste, but at least it wasn't too serious.

rough pencil sketch

Painting process

I tried a painting technique I have seen others use to great effect - starting with a dark background and painting light shapes over this to create form, leaving gaps to make outlines. Sounds easy, but nothing is ever easy. Especially painting. And snow, what made me think painting snow would be a good idea? Snow is a bugger to paint, especially in acrylics which dry substantially darker then when you apply them. I now hate snow.

9x5 plywood


trees and sky

snow base

shadows on snow

Fortunately I wasn't totally unhappy with the end result, but it was an exasperating journey with brushes not acting as expected and colours not looking as intended. I don't do much painting. Maybe these vexations are just part of the deal.

Any painters out there, what say you? Painting always tricky, or does it get easier with practice?

Monday, 19 August 2013

fan-zine artwork

science fiction fan-zine cover illustration
illustration designed as cover art
for science fiction fan-zine 
Ethel the Aardvark cover art
cover illustration with
logos and headlines in place

Well that's the fanzine for my sci-fi club sorted for a couple of months.
Phew! *wipes sweat from brow*

This issue featured many wonderful contributions of images and articles by talented Melbourne Science Fiction Club members. Good content certainly makes for a good zine. Alas the contributors' artworks are not mine to show you here, however I can show you the few pieces I did for the issue - the cover illustration and a couple of author portraits.

As the current graphic editor/designer of Ethel the Aardvark, the bi monthly fan-zine of the MSFC, I regularly need to quickly create visual content to accompany articles. So I have been using the zine as a bit of an experimental playground to tinker with illustration styles and techniques.

The cover for this issue has a faux aged paper texture with corner creases incorporated into the artwork. The aged texture is a scan of an old book's plain back cover and the illustrated elements are derived from old artworks of mine. The theme of this issue was Space Opera. I wanted the cover illustration to evoke the look of a well used, dog-eared novel of space faring sci-fi drama.

The portraits are of two well revered science fiction authors who recently passed away, Jack Vance and Iain M Banks, both of whom are the subject of tribute articles in this issue.

portrait of Jack Vance
portrait sketch of Jack Vance
pen, ink and digital

portrait of Iain M Banks
portrait sketch of Iain M Banks
pen, ink and digital

Thursday, 8 August 2013

take heart

I have made a late addition of artwork to the group show 'Take Heart' at the Gleaners Inc.

The heart theme was a perfect opportunity to start designing some vampire playing cards, one of the many things I have been saying I would do for ages.

The King, Queen and Jack of Hearts were drawn with dip pen and ink. They are inspired by the 1930s Hollywood take on Bram Stoker's vampires. Only in this interpretation Mina and Lucy are not saved from a blood sucking destiny, instead they appear to have embraced the long toothed haemoglobin habit.

Take Heart 
is hosted by Betty Jo Designs
at Gleaners Inc
2 Ballarat Street Brunswick, Victoria

The art will be up for the month of August. Why not pop in and check it out?

Here is a sneak preview of the cards, but to get a better view you will have to visit the show. I will post some clearer images of the card art when the show is over and I get the art back.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

zoomorph animal cards and t-shirts

First there was a deer-cat, now it has friends.

These hybrid animals feature on cards and t-shirts. Click through an item to choose options and order. T-shirts in your choice of style and colour, children's or adult's sizes.

Deer cat

A cat with deer antlers

deer cat gift card
deer-cat gift card
deer cat t-shirt
deer cat t-shirt

Horned dachshund

Dachshund with the horns of an oryx.

horned dachshund
horned dachshund t-shirt

Moose mouse

A mouse with moose antlers

Winged rabbit

A rabbit with bird wings

winged rabbit gift card
winged rabbit gift card
winged rabbit t-shirt
winged rabbit t-shirt


A pug with the body and tentacles of an octopus

octopug gift card
octopug gift card
Octopug t-shirt
Octopug t-shirt

Monday, 13 May 2013

vigilant panda

Vigilant panda possesses incredible powers of vision and insight. It is ever alert and prepared for adventures and mighty deeds. An unusual commission from a few months ago.

He wears an Inverness cape, in homage to the super sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Prior to this commission I would not have known what an Inverness cape was. Oh the things you have to learn as an illustrator.

vigilant panda