Commando Comic No.5187 ‘Ice-Cold Commando’

To celebrate my latest cover for Commando Comics being on the shelves here is a post looking at the creation of my second cover for the comic. This post was originally created for my Patreon supporters back in December 2018 and I have decided not to update the text so it reflects my feelings and thoughts at the time.

Four Commando Comics are published every fortnight by DC Thomson & Co Ltd and you can find out more information about them and a free digital trial at their website: https://www.commandocomics.com

You can also buy this issue of Commando ‘Ice-Cold Commando’ digitally over at Comixology.


There was a four month gap between being briefed my first Commando cover and the next. The gap seemed to widen when my first cover was printed and on the shelves without having received the next brief but thankfully back in September a new cover arrived. At that time it was titled ‘Winter Warriors’ and the brief was pretty straightforward with a few supplied visuals.

‘Daytime, Finland. Very snowy. Two German Ski soldiers fire at Len who is jumping over a crevasse. Len is a Commando so he’s in a Commando uniform and he’s scavenged the coat from a dead Russian Lieutenant. To make matters even more confusing, he’s scavenged a German MP 40.’

Above: Hunt the Killer art by Alessandro Biffignandi and interior art on Ice-Cold Commando by Jaume Forns.

Having spent some time searching for various references, including your typical ski and ski poles used during WW2, I set about producing the rough that would let the Commando team see what I had in mind. I knew they wanted the character to be the main focus and that it needed to be a good action piece. Just as much for my own use as to show the editorial team I also worked up a colour version of the rough. This helps me make up my mind how I’m going to approach painting the work (and even in what medium) and also lets the the client get a good idea of what the final art will look like. Their only alteration at this point was to move the main figure more to the middle of the cover, an easy enough change and one I quickly changed on the colour rough and re-supplied for their approval.

As is my usual practice I then went onto pencilling a final version of the art but flipped onto tracing paper. As I’ve mentioned many times before flipping the art helps highlight any balancing issues. You can easily draw something like a face that when flipped looks odd and uneven, it is an easy way to spot your balancing mistakes and I recommend every artist should photograph or scan their work as they produce it and flip it to spot any potential mistakes before it’s too late. Also, as I pencil onto tracing paper it makes it much easier to then transfer the final pencils onto your art surface of choice.

Starting the painting I knew I wanted to tackle the overall background first and I also knew I’d be doing this in a mixture of watercolours and gouache. Many brilliant watercolorists can use the negative space left by masking the board to fantastic effect and if I was going to paint this purely in watercolours that is how I’d have approached doing the snow. However I wanted to use gouache for the snow and I started by painting in the mountain and trees in watercolour. The trees look like how I would paint them before the snow storm arrived and that is pretty much what happened.

I outlined a lot of the main character in watercolour in appropriate colour hues to how I was going to paint him. This acts almost as a barrier for the washes of paint I was about to add into the background. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t stop paint from running over the lines but it does hinder them and with a bit of self control you can make life easier for yourself. All of the background hill and crevice were given a wash of watercolour and then gouache was added in afterwards. Several tones of grey/blue gouache were added as the snowfall on the trees and then a much lighter but not actual pure white was added mostly to the right hand side of the trees to indicate the strongest light source. The snow falling through the motion of the skiing character would be added near the end of painting.

I then painted in the main character and the two German Ski Troopers in watercolour making sure that their white coloured outfits were treated to a different greyish tone to separate them from the whites of the snow. Len’s stolen Russian winter coat was also treated to a brown/yellow hue to fit in with the mountains, the same golden glow right across the middle of the cover.

After finishing the painting the next stage was to scan it in and tidy up the file as it was. Again I knew from the beginning that I wanted to add a motion effect in Photoshop to give Len even more movement. Part of me regrets that some of the lovely snow covered trees became blurred but I think the effect added helps a lot with the action. 

The final art was supplied to the client for approval which, I’m pleased to say, was with much enthusiasm. Here is the press release for the comic which should be on the shelves from the 27th of December and for the next two weeks after.

Commando 5187: Home of Heroes – Ice-Cold Commando

Graeme Neil Reid returns for his second ever Commando cover! Fronting Jaume Forns’ icy interiors to ‘Ice-Cold Commando’, Reid’s cover leaps into action with Commando Lieutenant Ron Lamont’s escape across the frozen Russian wasteland. Get your woollies on, troops, it’s time to go skiing!

Story: George Low | Art: Jaume Forns | Cover: Graeme Neil Reid

It’s quite exciting that the press release makes a big deal of the cover art and for myself I’m excited that the story is by an ex-Editor of the Commando Comics range. I haven’t read the story yet myself so I plan to walk into town and hopefully see it on the shelves and buy myself a copy. If you can get a copy yourself please do and let social media know all about it, it helps me get more work from the team if they know folks like it! 

James Bond, Dr No – Part 2

Following on from the previous post this is Part 2 of my look back at the work involved in creating a poster for the first James Bond film ‘Dr No’. This post collects together a series of posts from my Patreon back in 2018. Most of these posts show video clips as I worked through the painting in gouache and you can see the whole painting in a full video at the end.


10th September 2018

“I was curious to see what kind of man you were.”

I had planned to make a start to this painting over the weekend and several times I had a couple of hours in front of me with nothing else planned but for one reason or another I just couldn’t begin. This happens every now and then, I wouldn’t call it a creative block as such as I don’t really get those, but just the wrong frame of mind. I ended up rearranging my shelves and tidying up the studio instead. All useful things to do of course and it also took a while to set up the camera for recording again.

Not a bad start today, always begin with a likeness and always start with the face furthest away opposite to the hand you are using, so in this case top left for my right hand. Wish I’d got more done but then I’m happy with what I painted so that is the main thing. Again I’m doing this in gouache a medium I’m starting to enjoy more and more and with that I’m going to have to put buying gouache paint and brushes onto my to do list.

This video is sped up (I record using the iPhone’s own time lapse settings) but in this case you get to see me paint Julius No’s face over the space of one minute whereas in the final edit it’ll probably be about 20 seconds as I’ll speed it up again.


11th September 2018

“Careful. The whole place is probably wired for sound.”

Two sessions for you to see and again although these are speeded up they’ll be even quicker in the final cut. Quite happy with how it is all progressing, the paint seems to be happy to do what I’m asking it to do which is great.

Dr No’s outfit might need some more lighter colours added to it but I’m holding off until I’ve seen how it looks with the green circle background added. With that in it may lighten the outfit anyway so best to wait.


12th September 2018

“East, West – just points of the compass, each as stupid as the other.”

On it goes, I’m hopeful that a good session tomorrow and the painting will be finished. Most of the main elements are done other than the metal hands and the circle background. Once those are in I have some small detailing to add but that should be it. After that the usual story of scanning it in and sorting it out in Photoshop.


14th September 2018

“Unfortunately, I misjudged you. You are just a stupid policeman…”

The final painting session didn’t take long, maybe just short of three hours, but the scanning and tidying up of the art in Photoshop took the rest of yesterday and this morning. Scanned in artwork always shows up all the little imperfections as you can zoom right into the art. You have to take a balanced view as it would be easy to correct every little thing until you have nothing left of the character of your brush work. I always remove dirt and scratches and correct the colour to match as closely as possible the original work. This might need adjusting or changing for the poster later on but I like to have a file that is as close to the original painting as I can make it.

I decided not to lighten Dr No’s outfit colour. In the movie it does come across as being lighter than the colour I’ve left it but I think it suits the colour scheme of the painting better. It gives the green circle warmth and fits in with the well tanned features of Mr Bond. Again if I decide to I can always create an altered lighter version for the poster but at the moment I’m liking the balance.

Next week I’ll figure out if I’m going to have time to paint the Bond ‘Girls’ for the poster, it might be that I can fit it in in time. And I’ll need to sort out the video recording too.


17th September 2018

“What should I say to an invitation from a strange gentleman?”

Over the course of Sunday and this morning I’ve managed to paint the three Bond ‘Girls’ for the poster and get  them scanned in. I thought they should be done in the same medium and style as the main image but kept them monochrome as they get coloured in the design. I need to set aside some time this week to sort out the poster, create all the text and logos etc.


18th September 2018

“World domination. The same old dream.”

The final full video of the actual creation of the painting. I spent way too long animating a little circle going across the screen last night 🙂 Probably a very easy way to do it but I ended up creating every frame in Photoshop and placing them in order on a timeline. When it comes to video technology I’m stuck ten years back. Anyway it looks okay and I wanted it to be like the start of Dr No in some small way which I think it is.


19th September 2018

“That’s a naughty little habit. Listening at keyholes?”

Just finished off the final design for the poster which you’ll all be able to get your mitts on at the start of October. (Editorial note: My Patreon supporters get to download a high resolution file each month which they can print for themselves, in this case the Dr No poster print was available in October 2018). I’m glad I made time to paint the three ‘girls’ as I think it suits the design better. I’m pretty pleased with the look of this one, it’s nice when it all works out well together.