Thursday, 13 October 2011

Mark Making #3: Kevin O'Neill

This is the third in a series of Blogs on Mark Making, featuring 2000ad artists from my youth. This time it is the turn of the comics Goliath; Kevin O'Neill. Now world famous for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Marshall Law, Kevin has been working with writer Pat Mills for most of his career. Kevin first became recognized for his work on Ro-Busters, this led onto Nemesis the Warlock where he used his unique drawing style to great effect for many years.
I have isolated some sections from a page featuring Torquemada and Trinity.

Kevin O’Neill often used Screentone to apply shading to his black and white artwork.
In the example below the area of dots is screentone; a rub-on sheet of regular patterns that you cut to shape and apply on top of your artwork. The most popular make was Letratone. I used it myself a few times and have to admit it could be tricky to use but the effect is great. It was particularly helpful if you were restricted to printing only in black & white with no grey areas. This stuff basically allowed for gray areas, only looking like dots up close.

This helps create a powerful contrast to the organic flow of the pen and brush lines, as well as giving even shading. Screentone is available in a number of styles.

This example places the even dots directly on top of the curved brush lines. Nowadays this style can be reproduced on photo shop but the hands-on approach is somehow more satisfying.

This area has a mix of curved brush strokes, straight angular ones and tight areas of screentone. Note the absence of parallel lines in favor of natural angles.

This next piece shows the kind of technical detailing that ran through all of Kevin’s work on Nemesis.

A great example of graded screentone framing a silhouette.

This small picture of Trinity relies on to tone so much that it does not have an edge line to the torso, only an area of constant tone.

This next page has more organic examples of mark making. Take a look at the variety of mark making in these close ups.


  1. Do you know if he did all those marks with a brush, or did he use a pen as well?

  2. I think its a mix of larger brush strokes and small pen marks.