The Ian Gibson column: Don Lawrence’s 001 brush

Ian wonders why we're using computers to do things that are much quicker by hand...

For my sins, which are numerous (I lost count ages back when I ran out of fingers!), I ventured onto the web, and found some utube videos of artists displaying their Photoshop skills.

Everything was on display: from how to make a ‘superstar’ even more super to how to colour comics!

It was fascinating to watch the images unfold via the wonders of this new technology we are already taking for granted. But I have to confess that I was horrified at the amount of time it took to produce the work!

One particular ‘how to’ site for comic colouring showed the application of skin tones and shadows, with the artist saying it only took about an hour to do the face! A job that could have been completed in five minutes with a brush!

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Has the ‘undo’ function taken away our ability to make positive decisions? I know a lot of us would like an ‘undo’ function for our lives in general. Now that would be fun – if a little chaotic! But I’m minded of my dear pal, Don Lawrence, who conjoured magic with nothing more than his 001 brush and wonderful imagination. May I take this opportunity to direct everyone to his work, particularly on Storm – a series he worked on right up until his last days.

If I did have the facility of an ‘undo’ function – it would be to go back to the time we spent together and learn more from his technical mastery. But creative genius is a lot deeper than any techniques. It springs from an ability to visualise: to create the entire scene in the mind and translate this onto the page. That is a mental skill. And Don was a consummate master.

Rob Von Bavel is re-publishing a lot of Don’s work. Some are compilations of special images and some are re-made editions of his stories. Well worth checking out as the production values are superb, and show up how poorly his work was printed originally, particularly his Trigan Empire.

Rob is an ardent admirer of Don. And is putting a lot of time and effort into making sure that the images are presented in the best way possible. The books aren’t cheap. But then, they are books that you’ll want to keep for a lifetime!

Ian Gibson, a bona fide comic book legend, writes every week for Den of Geek. His last column is here, and you can find his website at