Rian Hughes

Rian Hughes
Rian Hughes is a British comics artist, illustrator, graphic designer and type designer.

As a comics artist he became known for his work on Dare,, an updated version of Dan Dare, written by Grant Morrison and serialized in Revolver; as well as Robo-Hunter and number of other features for 2000AD and other titles.

At a time when highly rendered or fully painted comics were a big trend, Hughes forged a highly graphic, flat color approach in which design played almost as important a role as drawing. If not exactly in a direct lineage to the ligne claire school of illustration and comic art (see my post on Hergé), notably because of the frequent absence of lines, he was nonetheless a defender of the principles at the root of that style.

Hughes was one of the early adopters of computer graphics for illustration and comic art, using Adobe Illustrator to create images in vector shapes. His style was very influential on illustrators in the 90’s and he continues to be widely noted for his distinctive approach. He was one of the earliest and most notable proponents of the “retro-60’s” style that has become prominent in illustration and animation (see my post on Ghostbot, creators of the familiar animated eSurance commercials).

Hughes is also notable a graphic designer and typeface designer and is one of the most influential designers in comics industry. If you’ve ever noticed the high level of graphic design in DC Comics, for example, particularly as compared to the more pedestrian and cluttered design in Marvel’s books; a good bit of that influence is from Hughes. He was also instrumental in the design overhaul of a number of British publications lass familiar to American audiences. Hughes created many logos that comics fans will instantly recognize, as well logos for a variety of other clients.

Hughes has been noted as a font designer and has designed numerous inventive and stylish display fonts, many created specifically for illustration, comics or design projects he was working on. (Must be nice to be that facile. Need a font? Design one!) You can see an overview of his fonts on Identifont as well as on his own site.

Hughes’ website is called Device, (formerly Device Fonts), and features his illustration, comics work, logos, design and fonts, as well as an impressive client list and some short animations.

Hughes’ site doesn’t include much of his comic book work as many would like, (comics fans may find much recognizable material in the Logos and Design sections, though).

A new collection has just been published under the title of Yesterday’s Tomorrows (not to be confused with the book of retro-futrism titled Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future by Joseph Corn and Brian Horrigon).

There is an illustrated article about the book on the FirstPost site, and a more detailed review on Jog – The Blog.

[Suggestion courtesy of Jack Harris]


Nosepilot (Alexandru Sacul)

Nosepilot is a diversion: a Flash animation in which charmingly simple vector drawings morph and change and blend one into the other in a loose, not-quite-a-story sequence set to music.

I think Nosepilot has been on the web in one form or another for at least 8 or 9 years, and has been immensely popular at times. There’s a whole story that goes with that. Rather than rehash it here, I’l let Scott Thigpen tell you about it on his Artsy Fartsy Weblog (which may or may not be up for much longer, if not go here).

From the scrolling text in the glasses in the Nosepilot opening screen, choose your language (mostly for text and credits, there’s no dialog) and the animation will begin.

After ten or twelve minutes, the animation drops you off at a group of still images. Click around and they switch to different versions and enlargements of themselves. Find the right one and they link to another group of images that respond the same way. You can click through these images into other sets (by finding the right one to click on) for at least 8 or 10 sets. I’ve never taken it farther than that, so I don’t know if it goes to any particular conclusion (I suspect not).

Nosepilot is just a diversion, there’s no “point” to it. If you don’t like it after the first few minutes, you won’t miss anything significant by clicking over to the latest celebrity gossip on Yahoo News.

I admire the simple, effective use of vector illustrations which allowed Sacul to make the piece resolution independent (the movie scales up or down with changes to the size of your browser window).

Here is a link to Sacul’s animated illustration portfolio.

Addendum: I may be wrong in my assessment of the “still images”, having missed an underlying graphic narrative. See this post’s comments for more.