20 April 2011

Cliff Robinson Commission

Last year I finally decided to jump into the commission market, mainly due to two things. Firstly there is bugger all Dredd merchandise out there and secondly, Pete Wells and his ever growing collection of pieces sort of pushed me into it.

Now I've had a few done, you've all seen the one for this blog by PJ Holden but I've also had one done by Dave Evans (also known as Bolt-01), of my family (as Judges) in a shootout and I also have a set nearing completion by Staz Johnson, again of the Burdis clan.

Anyway back to the Cliff Robinson commission. I emailed Cliff about doing a piece for me and he quickly got back to me with all the details for completing such a project. I didn't really need to read much, as it was always going to be a get go from the start! Now the main thing was, should I go colour or should I go black & white, in the end I went black & white, mainly due to the amazing amount of detail that Cliff puts into his work!

What to have, that was the easy part. My brief for Cliff was as follows, Dredd injured, my wife tending to him and me covering them. I know, I can't help myself, I have to be a Judge! Cliff got back and mentioned putting in a Lawmaster as well, who was I to argue against his artistic eye!

Next I sent him some pics of me pulling my 'war face', so he could get the expression correct instead of trying to figure the expression from a holiday snap, so it was off to the bathroom mirror with my camera and to commence pulling faces. I didn't tell Carolyn what I was up to, so I had to use a happy snap for her.

Here is one of the pics he copied, I also stipulated that my good food chin should be back to my military day -

The next email I received was of two ideas that he had come up with and now the hardest part for me was to choose which and bloody hard it was too! First up is the page, with the two pieces on it, followed by them pictured separately...

Aaaaargh! What to do, they are both superb and both have amazing points about them, plus the angle of both ideas was great. The bottom one being like a cover for the actual prog, I can see the logo above my head now but in the end I went for the top one!
I think it was because of the way the bike was included and took up quite a large part of the picture but also the way Carolyn was positioned in the picture.

Here are the two pictures closer up, starting with the rejected one.

I emailed Cliff back and awaited the next stage of the process! Soon after a more comprehensive sketch came my way. Straight away I could see that I had made the right choice, this was still a rough but the details were already starting to come through.

Cliff got back to me and said 'This is a VERY rough sketch of the main figures' and  also 'First, the gun is covering up your badge of office and second, how do you feel about having a big gun rather than a Lawgiver?' After a slight delay, due to BIC's I replied to Cliff's email saying that I was quite happy with the large calibre weapon 'As for the stance, if you bring the right arm down lower, so that the weapon is more parallel to the ground (like the first pic) that would be okay. There would be no need to aim the weapon as this is CQB (close quarter battle) and therefore it's all down to getting as many shots off in the killing zone as quickly as possible! Plus that would help uncover the badge'. I did write a much longer email going into extreme details about stances and other military things and then realised that I was putting too much into it and so deleated it.

Soon after Cliff came back with a more detailed picture, plus a slightly different stance and said 'Here's an updated version of your picture and a jpeg of Judge Burdis in a pose closer to your discription. I can replace the existing one with the 2nd pose if you'd prefer'. Obviously I spent ages looking at this more refined picture before I even bothered with the new stance. After a while I went with the new shooting stance.

This was more like it, the enemy are surrounding us and so the spread of the shot would destroy anything nearby. No time to aim, just point and shoot, perfect. I got back to Cliff and he placed the new stance into the picture. The next email came and the excitement level went up another notch, not only had he added the new stance but Carolyn's face was now on the female Judge and it was spot on.

Cliff asked if I could send some new 'war face' pictures for the picture as the first set I sent did not suit the angle of the stance. So back upstairs I went and readied a new batch and sent them off.
When the next email came, well I was blown away, this is what I had waited for! The likeness was amazing and the whole picture was falling into place now.
I think this is when Samuel was sat at the computer and somehow found the commission file and opened it when Carolyn was behind him. The surprise was gone!!!

I emailed Cliff back straight away when I recieved the last picture. This was in the wee hours whilst I was at work, so I could only really see it on my phone but I knew I was very happy, so I said I was very happy with it in the email. Cliff got back to me and like a true creative type asked how 'very happy' was I with it and did I want anything changed and that he'll wait until I had seen the picture on the big screen before he starts to ink!
After seeing it at home I immediately emailed back to say that I was 100% happy with it and the biggest plaudit came from Samuel as he recognised us both straight away, I did cover the badge!
Now all I waited for was the inked version!

This just blew me away when it arrived. Even though I thought I had seen all the details in the pencils, this just added so much more and somehow seemed to highlight other unseen details all over the place.
I had asked where the ideas for the robot designs came from and Cliff replied with 'I just made them up! Didn't use any reference, but I think maybe I had The Matrix in mind when I drew the arachnid robot. The reason each of them are different from each other is mainly because I thought it would be fun coming up with new designs, and also if they'd all been the same design I'd have had to worry about continuity as I drew them (I was being a bit lazy in other words).' It made me laugh that in his mind coming up with the different designs could be classed as lazy.

Next up Cliff asked if I would like any background details added (I thought that it was all finished, what do I know) and I said yes please! He then sent a file showing the picture with and without the added details. It was a no brainer, I went with the background details added!

Now we come to the final piece, Cliff added little bits here and there until he decided that he was finished and then sent a colour scan of the picture. This helped show the 'underlying blue line and natural colour of the cartridge paper' 

I was blown away with it, I mean just look at it! All those extra little pieces all over the picture that draw your eye in, for instance the boot knives, the intricate details on the robots, well I could go on but I'm sure you can see what I mean. Along with the finished piece Cliff had enclosed many of his sketches and here are some of those laid out!

Finally after a few days I had to let this out of my sight, as I needed to get it framed and this was a killer. After all those months I had to pack it up and take it down the town, aaaargh! I decided to go for a non reflective finish just so that the picture would be easier to see as it was going up in the front hall of the house.

I must say a massive thanyou to Cliff for doing this, as he's a busy man.
Finally, I would put him in the top 5 Dredd artists of all time, so how lucky am I!

One extra final thing, if you have ever thought about asking one of your favourite artists to do a commission. Stop waiting and bloody well ask! Of course it's gonna cost, depending on what you want but it is a one off and it's going to be something for you! Now how often will that happen.


  1. Woah, Cliff's actually made you somewhat good-looking John! He;s better than I thought! That is a bloody cool scene he's drawn!

  2. I thought he toned down my rugged handsome features a little, LOL

  3. Dear Judge Burdis,

    Just found your site. I have been a fan of Dredd since reading my first progs in late 1982. Love this Cliff Commission. What a great artist to give you just what you want!

    Dredd 3D I loved. Saw it twice. I really hope it gets some sequels.

    All the best

    Rock Savage


Please feel free to leave a comment and add any extra information that you may know of!