Thor and Avengers digital artists from Gateshead to publish book of art

Award winning North artists who worked on everything from Guardians of the Galaxy to Mortal Kombat have crowdfunded thousands of pounds for a celebration of their work.

Gateshead-based digital art and design studio Atomhawk has turned to Kickstarter in search of the money to produce a new book featuring some of the spectacular concept work its staff have done for major video games and films.

And after only a week the firm has seen more than £6,400 pledged of the £15,000 needed to turn the idea into reality.

“Rather than just a glossy coffee table book we want to include interviews with artists and tutorials, so it’s much more geared to not just those who love art but budding artists who want to learn how the professionals work,” one of the firm’s directors, Cumron Ashtiani, said.

“In the four year’s since we teamed up with 3D Total to create The Art of Atomhawk Design, Volume 1, our art team has really grown and developed and we’ve worked on some outstanding games and film titles.

“That first book was really based on the art of the company’s four founders plus one extra artist, but this one now has something from our 20 staff

“We now have a fresh and diverse body of work, which we know will make a great looking and inspiring book, with something in there for everyone.”

The Art of Atomhawk, Volume 2 will feature art from some of Atomhawk’s most high-profile video game and film titles – some of which is currently on display as part of Newcastle’s Centre for Life’s Game On exhibition – as well as personal contributions from its team of artists.

The book will also include images from Atomhawk’s own creation, The Realm, which was inspired by local North East landscapes and architecture, and saw the likes of Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge reclaimed by foliage in a post apocalyptic world.


The Realm – Girl and the giant in front of the Tyne Bridge


The Realm – Grey Monument


The Realm – Brainchild of developer Cumron Ashtianti


The Realm – Brainchild of developer Cumron Ashtianti

More here.

The tome will also include step-by-step digital art tutorials and professional art tips from the Atomhawk team, sharing the secrets behind some of the studio’s greatest work to date, and for backers who pledge enough to receive a “deluxe edition” will also come with exclusive online access to a selection of video art tutorials on a range of subjects. Each 30 minute tutorial will be delivered by an Atomhawk artist, sharing the techniques they use when creating the high quality art which will feature in the book.

“We’ve worked on Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy and we’ve recently been able to announce that we did work on Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron too. We’ve also now done three different games for Warner Bros and have two more in production.

“And from The Realm we have work looking from the bottom of Dean Street looking towards the Tyne Bridge, of Grey’s Monument and the classic image that we used for the marketing was of the girl and the giant looking out over the Tyne Bridge, with the Sage in the background, as they hand over a flower.

“The Realm was interesting because we raised £100,000 on Kickstarter, but we needed £200,000 to make the game. That was in 2013 when Kickstarter was new in the UK and at the time we were the fourth biggest total of any project raising money in pounds. It did incredibly well but we didn’t realise that the pool of people wasn’t big enough to raise the full sum and with Kickstarter unless you get it all, you don’t get any of it.

“So with this book we’ve been fairly realistic in what we’re asking for. There’s no profit in it, and in truth it will probably cost us more than £15,000 to make.

“But we want to get the work out there as it’s hugely valuable, particularly for staff morale, to see our hard work immortalised in book form.

“Its six year’s work, and some amazing projects and I hope in the future people can look back and be able to know that this is what was happening at this time in the North East.”

Rewards for backers also, if you pledge £1,000, include a personalised portrait, or for £3,000 the chance to create a brief for an Atomhawk artist to paint a bespoke image for inclusion in the book.

For more information and to back the project visit

via Thor and Avengers digital artists from Gateshead to publish book of art – Chronicle Live.


The Secret Life of Eric Kallman

Eric Kallman has an incredible two D&AD Black Pencils and nine Yellow Pencils to his name. With so much success, we thought it only fair that he shared some of his secrets. Here he sheds light on some of his most (in)famous TV commercials and integrated campaigns.

Eric Kallman is currently at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, having previously worked at Barton F. Graf 9000, Wieden+Kennedy and TBWAChiatDay. Unbelievably, he has two Black Pencils and nine Yellow Pencils at D&AD, and in 2015 he will be Foreman of our Professional Awards Integrated & Innovative Media Jury.

With so much success to his name, we thought it was only fair that he shared some of his secrets. The stories below shed some light on some of his most (in)famous TV commercials and integrated marketing campaigns.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever coined a term for what I do – I write ads like everyone else. People tell me my style is distinct, but I don’t think about it that much. I just do my thing.

I’m a big fan of Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, Tim & Eric. I’m a lucky dude and the stars aligned with the weird part of my brain.

In most cases I enjoy the writing and prep. But with these campaigns, we had surrounded ourselves with A+ people, and are doing stuff that’s pretty radical, really different.”

Old Spice

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

We had an established relationship with Old Spice and an existing rulebook for the campaign. But the different insight for bodywash (rather than deodorant) was that men buy their own deodorant, but women buy bodywash for their boyfriends.

We had about five days to turn around a campaign, using the same established parameters, but this time it was aimed at women.

It was myself and my partner Crag Allen penning it. The first thing we wrote was “Hello Ladies”. Usually we were visual, but this one came out as dialogue; we thought we had a radio script. We had no idea what it could look like.

We ended up writing six or seven of those scripts. There was a ‘hero’ version that Craig my partner had, but it didn’t have an ending. So we just picked out “I’m on a horse” from a different script and put that at the end.

The director, Tom Kuntz, told us he’d like to try filming it in one take.

So everything you see is real, apart from the diamonds on the hands. It was actually shot outside on the beach. It’s a smaller set than you’d think, but was incredibly intricate – to the extent that it was one guy’s job just to rip the towel off.

Black Pencil / TV & Cinema Advertising / TV Commercial Campaigns / 2011

Response Campaign

After The Man Your Man Could Smell Like was released, it blew up. Ian Tait was looking at the YouTube comments, and he said, “usually people comment on the commercial. But here everyone’s writing to the character. Let’s write back.”

Our first idea was to insert a tiny video player into the comments sections, but that wasn’t possible. So we simplified it.

It wasn’t a big production. I remember going into it, we were sat behind computers writing things in real time. I remember someone saying ‘welcome to the most work you’ll ever do for a Pencil’. We were just in a little studio, cut off from everyone. Afterwards we went back to Wieden’s and everyone was celebrating. Craig and I just winked at each other.

Yellow Pencil / Writing for Advertising / Writing for Film Advertising / 2011

Terry Crews

This stuff was fun because we already had the character figured out. We were trying to cast a bodybuilder and it was an account guy who suggested Terry Crews.

So on the shoot we were in a garage with Terry Crews, and a green screen. It was an unorthodox experience.

He’s a very intelligent, well educated, professional guy. He was very well spoken but he would go back to the trailer, and come out in character: pumped up, eyes twitching, intense.


Beard was the first spot Craig and I did. Skittles already had the Taste the Rainbow campaign; which was epic, but not funny. Skittles was the magical candy; it was always a situation where something magical happened in a mundane situation.

Yellow Pencil / TV & Cinema Advertising / TV Commercials 21 – 40 Seconds / 2007

Shooting Touch, the first thing we did was blow up this clear plastic desk that we filled with Skittles. We had a desk built with electric charges, and a million Skittles in it. When we blew up the desk the far end exploded and fell but the bit near the camera didn’t. We thought The Mill could fix it in post… but they couldn’t. So the effects crew spent the afternoon building another one.

The Skittles themselves were in a million big bags; they send a truck load and someone’s job was to open each bag. I remember shuffling Skittles into this clear desk thinking we weren’t going to get the shot. But when it blew up the second time it worked – and a million Skittles hit me in the face.

Those are all real Skittles.

Yellow Pencil / TV & Cinema Advertising / TV Commercial Campaigns / 2007

The very next day we were filming Stable. Our actor with the udders looked really out of it. He almost collapsed after the first line. We were in the middle of nowhere, dairy country, and we had to call a doctor out. He came, and saw the guy lying on his back with prosthetic udders on him… The doctor just said he hadn’t seen anything like it before. Thankfully the actor recovered, and then we shot through the night.

Those two days were a mixture of blur and confusion.

Nomination / TV & Cinema Advertising / TV Commercials 21-40 seconds / 2008

The Best Animated Films of All Time, According to Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam knows something about animation. For years, he produced wonderful animations for Monty Python (watch his cutout animation primer here) , creating the opening credits and distinctive buffers that linked together the offbeat comedy sketches. Given these bona fides, you don’t want to miss Gilliam’s list, The 10 Best Animated Films of All Time.  It was published in The Guardian back in 2001, before the advent of YouTube, which makes things feel a little spare. So, today, we’re reviving Gilliam’s list and adding some videos to the mix. Above, we start with The Mascot, a 1934 film by the Russian animator Wladyslaw Starewicz. The film pioneered a number of stop animation techniques, making it a seminal film in the history of animation. About Starewicz’s film, Gilliam wrote:

His work is absolutely breathtaking, surreal, inventive and extraordinary, encompassing everything that Jan Svankmajer, Walerian Borowczyk and the Quay Brothers [see below] would do subsequently…. It is important, before you journey through all these mind-bending worlds, to remember that it was all done years ago, by someone most of us have forgotten about now. This is where it all began.

Tex Avery produced cartoons during the Golden Age of Hollywood animation, mostly for Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, and created some memorable characters along the way — Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Droopy dog and the rest. In 1943, Avery animated Red Hot Riding Hood, which amounted to a rebellious retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale. 50 years later, animators ranked it 7th on their list of The 50 Greatest Cartoons. According to Gilliam, Avery’s work delivers this:

The magic of Tex Avery’s animation is the sheer extremity of it all. The classic Avery image is of someone’s mouth falling open down to their feet, wham, their eyes whooping out and their tongue unrolling for about half a mile: that is the most wonderfully liberating spectacle…. There is also a childlike sense of immortality and indestructibility in his work; people get squashed, mashed, bashed, bent out of shape, whatever, and they bounce back. In essence, it is like the myth of eternal life.

During the mid-1950s, Stan Vanderbeek began shooting surrealist collage films that, as NPR put it, “used clippings from magazines and newspapers to create whimsical but pointed commentary.” If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. It’s precisely this approach that surfaces later in Gilliam’s own work. And if one film provided particular inspiration, it was Vanderbeek’s 1963 film Breathdeath (right above).

About Walerian Borowczyk and his 1964 film Les Jeux des Anges, Gilliam writes:

Borowczyk was a twisted man whose films were infused with a unique cruelty and weirdness. He started out making extraordinary animations, graduated to directing classics such as Goto, Island of Love and La B te… Les Jeux des Anges was my first experience of animation that was utterly impressionistic. It didn’t show me anything specific, just sound and movement from which you create a world of your own.

Jan Svankmajer is a surrealist Czech animator whose work has influenced Tim Burton, The Brothers Quay, and Terry Gilliam himself. In his Guardian list, Gilliam points us to one film, Svankmajer’s stunning 1982 claymation short, Dimensions of Dialogue, in part because the film “has moments that evoke the nightmarish spectre of seeing commonplace things coming unexpectedly to life.”

Based on a short novel written by Bruno Schulz, Street of Crocodiles is a 1986 stop-motion animation directed by the Brothers Quay, two American brothers who migrated to England in 1969, shortly after Gilliam, also American born, became a British citizen. In 2002, critic Jonathan Romney called Street of Crocodiles one of the ten best films of all time — surely enough to make you give it a view.

Other films mentioned in Gilliam’s list, The 10 Best animated Films of All Time, include:

Out of the Inkwell by Dave Fleischer (1938)

Pinocchio by Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen (1940)

Knick Knack by John Lasseter (1989)

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut by Trey Parker (1999)

via The Best Animated Films of All Time, According to Terry Gilliam | Open Culture.