Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Mighty Cliff Robinson!

Well, it simply wouldn't be proper if I didn't start this blog with the stunning Dredd vs Death commission I got from the legendary Cliff Robinson. A veteran 2000AD artist of nearly 30 years, Cliff's Dredd work is absolutely iconic, resulting in him being responsible the second most 2000AD covers and his images being used to market everything from socks to scented bubbles!

Quality(?) goods featuring Robinson's Dredds!

I initially got in touch with Cliff totally by chance, or rather he got in touch with me. Following a commission I'd had done by Ian Gibson, a 2000AD message boarder's wife contacted me ask advice on getting a surprise commission for her hubby's wedding anniversary. I suggested a couple of names, with Cliff being one of 'em.

Shortly after, I was stunned (and a little starstruck) when Cliff contacted me out of the blue to say thanks for giving the lady his details (though to this day, I'm sure it was actually Rufus Dayglo who got her in touch!) After a few sickeningly sychophantic emails back and forward I asked Cliff if he'd do me commission and sent him one or two ideas. Being a proud new dad I thought I either wanted Dredd with my new baby or an action piece with Judge Death. Thankfully, Cliff opted for the latter.

I was pretty vague in what I asked for, just Dredd and Death having a good old barney at Pete Wells Block on Deadworld. I always get Pete Wells Block in my commissions instead of my likeness as I've found that putting 'me' in the picture often detracts from everything else, especially with non-comic readers who 'just don't get it!'

With half of the cash paid up front (as is often the case when getting commissions) Cliff sent the amazing rough below, which was obvously born of the two images below it. I was thrilled and urged him to carry straight on...
The roughs

Soon after I was sent the inked version of the roughs which, to be honest, I would have been more than happy with as my finished commission. It's brilliantly detailed with faultless design and even suggests in own story - Dredd without his Lawgiver using anything and everything at hand to beat his deadliest foe. As you can see, Cliff is a perfectionist, so a commission from him certainly takes a while but is always more than worth the wait!

With the figures inked, Cliff began working on the background, sending me this Deadworld tower with my name on it in huuuuge bones!
Note, in the preliminary picture with Dredd's legs on it there is a skull. This would have been photoshopped to make a field of bones which Cliff would then have inked and, tada... we have my amazing image! The image itself is huge, A2 I think and is proudly in my study above the very computer I'm typing on now!

As a bonus to this story - Cliff contacted me a few months after and said he had found another load of preliminary sketches which he kindly sent me. Have a look at them, they're mental!



My eyes!

In summary, I can't recommend Cliff highly enough for commissions. He's by no means the fastest artist but that is because his work is absolutely flawless and stunning with many intricate details that you'll notice long after your commission is finished. He offers excellent value for money, especially considering his status in 2000AD lore and the fact that his work is universally admired. His imagination is fantastic, taking limited ideas and turning them into something that seems to already have it's own back story. He is generally good with communication though sometimes, when deadlines are swamping him, he can be a bit remiss.

If you wish to contact Cliff, you can get him through his blog or facebook.

So that's my first proper post on "Yes Commissioner!" Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see changed for the next one...


  1. Brillant, brilliant stuff. Would love to see every thumbnail as a finished piece.

  2. Thanks for sharing so much material from one of the finest pages of C.R.'s career (I think it safe to say, even within the contentious context of 2000ad fandom!)

    There's probably going to be (unenviable) comparisons with Brian Bolland because of their similar inking style and of course, with the characters having been created and developed by BB over the years. That said, CR's figure dynamics/perspective (and doubtless other compositional elements, less obvious to my amateur eye) all combine to convey that "Wow!" factor which few artists (comic creators or otherwise) really convey on a consistent basis.

    Robinson's work seems to have reached that strata occupied by Bolland and others in the loosely-defined 'hall of greats' who keep striving, regardless of previous success.

    As an 'old school' or rather 'dinosaur' type myself, when it comes to artistic excursions, I was hoping you might expand a bit on the photoshoppery mentioned above? I would have thought the background bones comparatively easy for Cliff to pencil after dealing with such precise foreground figures and probably more of a hassle via computer art than sketching but I haven't the first clue about such matters.

    Are there any basic, basic, really beginner's links that you may be aware of ... I really like the finish of 'computer-inking' and it's something that I'd like to experiment with sometime.

    Anyway, thanks again for not hoarding such treasures away! I've visited Cliff's blog several times to take in the detail of that particular picture.

  3. You might like this, Pete. I'm not sure if this fight scene is from a particular story or just a one off for your commission but I found someone has begun building it in Zbrush (sculpt sw). I'm currently working in Zbrush myself on a commission for someone and by chance just happened upon this scene by another artist on YT. Check out the video link below, enjoy!

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