Art

Drawing conclusions

Raj Dhunna is a regular contributor to the magazine and for issue 5 he got creative with the artwork that accompanies our behind-the-scenes piece with Champions League co-founder Craig Thompson. Craig’s telling of his anecdote from the 1999 final was compelling on its own, but Raj’s efforts bring it to life on the page. Here the illustrator gives us an idea of the journey from sketch book to Champions Journal

INTERVIEW Dan Poole

Have you been drawing since you were a kid?

Yeah, always. What I used to do in school was draw diary covers with permanent markers – I’d draw all these rappers and footballers and then sell them.

Your career started early then.

Yeah, I’d be like, “Listen, geez, give us a couple of quid and I’ll do you one too.” I had to do loads: T.I., David Beckham, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali... I remember one week I made 20 quid and I was well chuffed. That must be when the penny dropped: I’ve got something here.

Are you a football fan?

Yeah, massive.

Who’s your team?

Liverpool.

Ah, so was illustrating a famous Manchester United win a bit of an issue?

Nah, it felt good. I’ve always said that I’m more of a football fan than a club fan, so it wasn’t too much of a kick in the teeth.

You don’t just do football illustrations, do you?

I try to diversify with a wide array of subjects: a lot of music and a lot of lifestyle, as well as sport. If I just did football stuff, it would all become too familiar; this way I can challenge myself to make it look interesting and dynamic.

What’s the process once you’ve been commissioned?

When I get a brief like this through, I make sure that I analyse the text to see what stands out: any key moments or key figures that represent the story. Then I do a bit of research on what the people look like, what the location looks like, and get some images together – almost like a mood board. Then I get the measurements that have been provided and take the scale down in my little drawing book; that means doing a bit of maths, which is always annoying. Then I start sketching and just see, spatially, what can be filled and what can be left. Once I’m happy with those sketches I send them over to the art director with annotations, so that they know what the different blocks and blobs are. After that I’ll send over another iteration based on whatever direction is chosen, maybe with a bit more colour involved and a bit more of a likeness for people’s faces, and we go from there.

Are faces the hardest bit?

They’re actually the easy bit. I’ve always been quite confident drawing people.

So what were the challenges with this one?

This illustration was well fun, to be honest. I got to draw someone who was really angry and someone who was feeling sheepish. I liked that. The difficult part was tying so many nuggets of information into one composition without them looking detached.

“I TRY TO DIVERSIFY WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF SUBJECTS: A LOT OF MUSIC AND A LOT OF LIFESTYLE, AS WELL AS SPORT. IF I JUST DID FOOTBALL STUFF, IT WOULD ALL BECOME TOO FAMILIAR; THIS WAY I CAN CHALLENGE MYSELF TO MAKE IT LOOK INTERESTING AND DYNAMIC”
By

And what did you most enjoy working on?

What I really like are the small bits of information that I managed to find a home for. The Solskjær sticker, the Sheringham sticker – things like that, which almost acted as narrators for the whole thing. The fans as well; I like drawing people doing their thing. You’ve got Mr Singh at the back there, the lady losing the plot down at the front… stuff like that is nice.

And fortunately you didn’t have to draw them social-distancing.

That would have been terrible. I’d have rejected the brief immediately.

What are the tools of your trade?

Dead cheap paper. That way I’m not fretting about it being precious and putting pressure on myself to get it right. Instead I’m encouraging mistakes, because they can lead to happy accidents. I always use cheap gel pens too, for the same reason.

Do you have a specific drawing desk?

Nah, I just dot around. I used to have a studio space but I never used it. Wherever I am, I find it quite easy to have tunnel vision.

Do you listen to music while you’re working?

It’s a mix of stuff. I watch a lot of films, I have albums playing too, podcasts – but never all at the same time. Imagine!

Does watching a film ever distract you?

I guess I’m not looking up all the time, just soaking in the dialogue.

So you wouldn’t be able to watch anything with subtitles.

Exactly. And I couldn’t watch Drive, because there’s so little dialogue in there that you’d miss the whole film. “Ryan, what are you doing now?”


Do you look forward to seeing your illustrations in print, or does it make you nervous?

I never get worried about seeing it because my job, along with the art director, is spotting any problems early on. So when something comes through the post, there’s just a lot of happiness. Because so much of my work lives on screen, when I do see something in print I really enjoy it. Seeing it next to the text gives it more of a home. Actually, this is probably the happiest I’ve been about a piece of work that will be printed. That’s because there’s a lot of details in there, like the engravings of the logos on the champagne flutes. Those will be really nice things to spot on page, as opposed to pinching your screen and zooming in.

To read the article that Raj’s illustration accompanies, head HERE

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Art

Drawing conclusions

Raj Dhunna is a regular contributor to the magazine and for issue 5 he got creative with the artwork that accompanies our behind-the-scenes piece with Champions League co-founder Craig Thompson. Craig’s telling of his anecdote from the 1999 final was compelling on its own, but Raj’s efforts bring it to life on the page. Here the illustrator gives us an idea of the journey from sketch book to Champions Journal

INTERVIEW Dan Poole

Have you been drawing since you were a kid?

Yeah, always. What I used to do in school was draw diary covers with permanent markers – I’d draw all these rappers and footballers and then sell them.

Your career started early then.

Yeah, I’d be like, “Listen, geez, give us a couple of quid and I’ll do you one too.” I had to do loads: T.I., David Beckham, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali... I remember one week I made 20 quid and I was well chuffed. That must be when the penny dropped: I’ve got something here.

Are you a football fan?

Yeah, massive.

Who’s your team?

Liverpool.

Ah, so was illustrating a famous Manchester United win a bit of an issue?

Nah, it felt good. I’ve always said that I’m more of a football fan than a club fan, so it wasn’t too much of a kick in the teeth.

You don’t just do football illustrations, do you?

I try to diversify with a wide array of subjects: a lot of music and a lot of lifestyle, as well as sport. If I just did football stuff, it would all become too familiar; this way I can challenge myself to make it look interesting and dynamic.

What’s the process once you’ve been commissioned?

When I get a brief like this through, I make sure that I analyse the text to see what stands out: any key moments or key figures that represent the story. Then I do a bit of research on what the people look like, what the location looks like, and get some images together – almost like a mood board. Then I get the measurements that have been provided and take the scale down in my little drawing book; that means doing a bit of maths, which is always annoying. Then I start sketching and just see, spatially, what can be filled and what can be left. Once I’m happy with those sketches I send them over to the art director with annotations, so that they know what the different blocks and blobs are. After that I’ll send over another iteration based on whatever direction is chosen, maybe with a bit more colour involved and a bit more of a likeness for people’s faces, and we go from there.

Are faces the hardest bit?

They’re actually the easy bit. I’ve always been quite confident drawing people.

So what were the challenges with this one?

This illustration was well fun, to be honest. I got to draw someone who was really angry and someone who was feeling sheepish. I liked that. The difficult part was tying so many nuggets of information into one composition without them looking detached.

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“I TRY TO DIVERSIFY WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF SUBJECTS: A LOT OF MUSIC AND A LOT OF LIFESTYLE, AS WELL AS SPORT. IF I JUST DID FOOTBALL STUFF, IT WOULD ALL BECOME TOO FAMILIAR; THIS WAY I CAN CHALLENGE MYSELF TO MAKE IT LOOK INTERESTING AND DYNAMIC”
By

And what did you most enjoy working on?

What I really like are the small bits of information that I managed to find a home for. The Solskjær sticker, the Sheringham sticker – things like that, which almost acted as narrators for the whole thing. The fans as well; I like drawing people doing their thing. You’ve got Mr Singh at the back there, the lady losing the plot down at the front… stuff like that is nice.

And fortunately you didn’t have to draw them social-distancing.

That would have been terrible. I’d have rejected the brief immediately.

What are the tools of your trade?

Dead cheap paper. That way I’m not fretting about it being precious and putting pressure on myself to get it right. Instead I’m encouraging mistakes, because they can lead to happy accidents. I always use cheap gel pens too, for the same reason.

Do you have a specific drawing desk?

Nah, I just dot around. I used to have a studio space but I never used it. Wherever I am, I find it quite easy to have tunnel vision.

Do you listen to music while you’re working?

It’s a mix of stuff. I watch a lot of films, I have albums playing too, podcasts – but never all at the same time. Imagine!

Does watching a film ever distract you?

I guess I’m not looking up all the time, just soaking in the dialogue.

So you wouldn’t be able to watch anything with subtitles.

Exactly. And I couldn’t watch Drive, because there’s so little dialogue in there that you’d miss the whole film. “Ryan, what are you doing now?”


Do you look forward to seeing your illustrations in print, or does it make you nervous?

I never get worried about seeing it because my job, along with the art director, is spotting any problems early on. So when something comes through the post, there’s just a lot of happiness. Because so much of my work lives on screen, when I do see something in print I really enjoy it. Seeing it next to the text gives it more of a home. Actually, this is probably the happiest I’ve been about a piece of work that will be printed. That’s because there’s a lot of details in there, like the engravings of the logos on the champagne flutes. Those will be really nice things to spot on page, as opposed to pinching your screen and zooming in.

To read the article that Raj’s illustration accompanies, head HERE

Art

Drawing conclusions

Raj Dhunna is a regular contributor to the magazine and for issue 5 he got creative with the artwork that accompanies our behind-the-scenes piece with Champions League co-founder Craig Thompson. Craig’s telling of his anecdote from the 1999 final was compelling on its own, but Raj’s efforts bring it to life on the page. Here the illustrator gives us an idea of the journey from sketch book to Champions Journal

INTERVIEW Dan Poole

Have you been drawing since you were a kid?

Yeah, always. What I used to do in school was draw diary covers with permanent markers – I’d draw all these rappers and footballers and then sell them.

Your career started early then.

Yeah, I’d be like, “Listen, geez, give us a couple of quid and I’ll do you one too.” I had to do loads: T.I., David Beckham, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali... I remember one week I made 20 quid and I was well chuffed. That must be when the penny dropped: I’ve got something here.

Are you a football fan?

Yeah, massive.

Who’s your team?

Liverpool.

Ah, so was illustrating a famous Manchester United win a bit of an issue?

Nah, it felt good. I’ve always said that I’m more of a football fan than a club fan, so it wasn’t too much of a kick in the teeth.

You don’t just do football illustrations, do you?

I try to diversify with a wide array of subjects: a lot of music and a lot of lifestyle, as well as sport. If I just did football stuff, it would all become too familiar; this way I can challenge myself to make it look interesting and dynamic.

What’s the process once you’ve been commissioned?

When I get a brief like this through, I make sure that I analyse the text to see what stands out: any key moments or key figures that represent the story. Then I do a bit of research on what the people look like, what the location looks like, and get some images together – almost like a mood board. Then I get the measurements that have been provided and take the scale down in my little drawing book; that means doing a bit of maths, which is always annoying. Then I start sketching and just see, spatially, what can be filled and what can be left. Once I’m happy with those sketches I send them over to the art director with annotations, so that they know what the different blocks and blobs are. After that I’ll send over another iteration based on whatever direction is chosen, maybe with a bit more colour involved and a bit more of a likeness for people’s faces, and we go from there.

Are faces the hardest bit?

They’re actually the easy bit. I’ve always been quite confident drawing people.

So what were the challenges with this one?

This illustration was well fun, to be honest. I got to draw someone who was really angry and someone who was feeling sheepish. I liked that. The difficult part was tying so many nuggets of information into one composition without them looking detached.

“I TRY TO DIVERSIFY WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF SUBJECTS: A LOT OF MUSIC AND A LOT OF LIFESTYLE, AS WELL AS SPORT. IF I JUST DID FOOTBALL STUFF, IT WOULD ALL BECOME TOO FAMILIAR; THIS WAY I CAN CHALLENGE MYSELF TO MAKE IT LOOK INTERESTING AND DYNAMIC”
By

And what did you most enjoy working on?

What I really like are the small bits of information that I managed to find a home for. The Solskjær sticker, the Sheringham sticker – things like that, which almost acted as narrators for the whole thing. The fans as well; I like drawing people doing their thing. You’ve got Mr Singh at the back there, the lady losing the plot down at the front… stuff like that is nice.

And fortunately you didn’t have to draw them social-distancing.

That would have been terrible. I’d have rejected the brief immediately.

What are the tools of your trade?

Dead cheap paper. That way I’m not fretting about it being precious and putting pressure on myself to get it right. Instead I’m encouraging mistakes, because they can lead to happy accidents. I always use cheap gel pens too, for the same reason.

Do you have a specific drawing desk?

Nah, I just dot around. I used to have a studio space but I never used it. Wherever I am, I find it quite easy to have tunnel vision.

Do you listen to music while you’re working?

It’s a mix of stuff. I watch a lot of films, I have albums playing too, podcasts – but never all at the same time. Imagine!

Does watching a film ever distract you?

I guess I’m not looking up all the time, just soaking in the dialogue.

So you wouldn’t be able to watch anything with subtitles.

Exactly. And I couldn’t watch Drive, because there’s so little dialogue in there that you’d miss the whole film. “Ryan, what are you doing now?”


Do you look forward to seeing your illustrations in print, or does it make you nervous?

I never get worried about seeing it because my job, along with the art director, is spotting any problems early on. So when something comes through the post, there’s just a lot of happiness. Because so much of my work lives on screen, when I do see something in print I really enjoy it. Seeing it next to the text gives it more of a home. Actually, this is probably the happiest I’ve been about a piece of work that will be printed. That’s because there’s a lot of details in there, like the engravings of the logos on the champagne flutes. Those will be really nice things to spot on page, as opposed to pinching your screen and zooming in.

To read the article that Raj’s illustration accompanies, head HERE

To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
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