It's all a long way from the vision in the illustration I did for The Observer Sport Monthly a couple of weeks ago (subtle link!), which showed a fantasy final between Brazil and England, with Owen scoring the winning goal in Berlin. I wanted to publish the drawing here, but hoped to do so under better circumstances!
I was sent a brief which asked for a 'Roy of the Rovers' comic strip-style picture, as described above, and also a mock-up picture of the kind of thing they wanted - with Theo Walcott in the background, and Roberto Carlos failing to defend against Owen's winning strike. I thought the scissor-kick was quite unOwen-like, yet I had to show his face clearly and the goal was to be in front of him, so sketched out a few ideas.
I picked out the sketches that I liked best and amalgamated them on the computer to produce a layout guide at the correct size. My quick and free-flowing sketches are nearly always more lively than the finished product!
Next I worked up the pencil stage and sent it to the editor, who approved it.
The editor liked the inked and coloured version overall, but wanted me to work more on Owen's face (likenesses are not my strong point, but I can do it if I slow down a bit) and to make it look more 'Roy of the Rovers', so there were a couple of versions at this stage (including thickening up some lines and brightening the colours). A good editor can always get better work out of you. You'll also see I have drawn it further out round the edges. This was in case more lettering or other elements were to be added, so I had room to make the drawing bigger or smaller within the frame if need be.
It was thought that a classic 'Roy of the Rovers' look was not coming across. My view is that it wouldn't because I still had to draw the players in modern kit, whereas part of the old football comics look is the 1970's hair-do's and short shorts! I had the idea of utilising Photoshop to make it look like an ageing comic, scanning in some grubby comic page edges, halftoning it and fading the colours (especially the yellow). This did the trick.
This drawing was to be the cover, but towards the end of the deadline they got an exclusive Ronaldhino photo (the main feature being an interview with him), so my drawing was moved to the inside. I had an hour to re-lay it out, so felt it was rather rushed, but overall, I was happy with the job, despite the fact that the newsprint effect was lost somewhat by now actually being printed on newsprint rather than the glossy cover paper.
Note: I haven't included the inset drawing I also had to do of the present England team hoisting the World Cup trophy, based on the famous 1966 Wembley photo.
For a bit of World Cup fun - if you remember the 1998 tournament - see Len Twaddle's True World Cup Diary.