Posts Tagged ‘DIG Magazine’

Late Bronze Age Achaean Warrior, for DIG magazine issue 1710.

It’s not all comics, you know! I’m still providing illustrations for Cricket Media’s archaeology magazine, DIG. Every issue they have a “Let’s Go Digging” section, all about current archaeological projects. The splash page for the section is a big illustration based on the articles that follow. It’s often about sites and periods I know nothing about, which is both interesting and something of a challenge. But every so often the artwork is for a period or a site which I know well.

This month’s illustration was about the Trojan War – specifically, how interpretations and reconstructions of it have changed through time. The brief from the art director was to come up with an illustration that reflected this. So I decided I would use this as an opportunity to paint something I’ve wanted to for a long, long time: an Achaean warrior from the period of the Trojan Wars, as reconstructed by Peter Connolly. Like most other historical and archaeological illustrators, I’ve always been a huge fan of Connolly’s meticulous – but still highly imaginative – approach to evidence and data. He work manages to both convince and surprise in equal measure. He was a master of taking what survived and extrapolating a solid, practical but still inventive past from it. You can see his interpretations and conclusions echoed in so many current works (Osprey’s Roman series being an obvious example). Part of the reason for that was his hands-on approach to the evidence: “reconstructing” for him meant creating a physical replica, not just painting an image of one. And even when he did “just paint”, he took the same approach – his buildings always looked not just like places you could walk around in, but places that people had made: solid things of earth and stone, weight and presence; his armour always looked like something you would actually wear: sturdy, dependable, with lots of practical details like leather edging to stop wear. It’s no wonder that his work is often visible in the arms and equipment of re-enactors – Connolly’s illustrations always have the look of being drawn from “real life”, even if that was thousands of years ago.

So my illustration here is a homage to his work. I’ve tried to make this Achaean warrior’s armour and equipage look solid, practical, dependable – plausible, and, hopefully, real.


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Casting the Sanxingdui bronzes - Artwork for DIG Magazine.

Casting the Sanxingdui bronzes – Artwork for DIG Magazine.

Another assignment for DIG Magazine: this time, I’m in China, illustrating the huge cast bronze heads from Sanxingdui in Sichuan Province. The heads are Bronze Age, and have been dated to c. 1200-1100 BP.

The heads were buried in large “sacrificial pits” within a walled Bronze Age town about 3.6 km2. The site was first discovered in the late 1920s, and the pits were excavated starting in the late 1980s. When discovered, the heads are of a style previously “unknown in the history of Chinese art”, and were cast in a different method to that employed by contemporary Shang Dynasty craftsmen.

I’ve never illustrated any Chinese archaeology before. This job was a chance to draw something completely different. Good fun – particularly the cutaway of the casting mould.


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LGD July August 2015

DIG magazine – winner of the Parents Choice Gold Award, 2014. Artwork for July-August 2015 “Let’s Go Digging” section.

I’ve very much enjoyed producing the splash artwork for the Let’s Go Digging section of the upcoming July/August issue of DIG Magazine. The theme of the archaeology section is “Taming Horses”, with articles on sites with early evidence of horse domestication – and the splash artwork introducing the section draws on those articles.

Horses from Pazyryk, kurgan burials, Scythian gold – it’s all been great stuff to draw! But I’m looking forward even more to doing the artwork for the next issue: this time on Aeneas and the aftermath of the Trojan War.

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Rough draft for DIG magazine.

Rough draft for DIG magazine.

I’m back working for DIG – the children’s archaeology magazine published by Cricket media. I’ve done artwork for them off and on since 2003, when they did an article on Çatalhöyük. Since then I’ve drawn ziggurats and moon bases, castles and water-wheels, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Titanic. It’s a great publication, and I’m glad to be back drawing for them. This will be a regular job, creating a splash page for each issue’s archaeology section.

The next issue’s theme is the domestication of the horse, so I get to illustrate a selection of archaeological sites and artefacts to do with horse-riding peoples of Central Asia. So I get to draw cool stuff like Scythian gold vessels and horse-ornaments from the Pazyryk tombs – hurrah!

DIG is like a latter-day Look and Learn – the kind of magazine I loved as a kid. It’s a chance for me to revisit the kind of visualisation of the past that got me interested in archaeology in the first place.

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