Worlds of Details and Skilled Pen Drawings by Tom Radclyffe

In Tom Radclyffe’s work, ledges meet archways and overhangs before blossoming into girder-riddled sprawls of shaded, angular constructions.

His imagined illustrated cities present worlds of detail through which to get lost and wander.

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Although generally improvised, intentionally drawn without planning, the dark alleys and looming buildings seem to suggest their own narrative.

Like the backdrop to a grand, futuristic adventure or steel and brick character in an intriguing mystery, every metropolis that Tom constructs feeds the imagination and draws us in further.

Tom talks to us about the process he goes through, the very particular tools he uses, and the qualities he looks for in his materials.

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I draw buildings.

My work has focused on architecture since the second year of my BA and my interest in the subject has strengthened ever since.

Within my work I like to explore the idea of Imaginary Landscapes. I see it as a form of exploration or discovery, I don’t plan what I am drawing but instead let it happen organically, as if I am discovering somewhere new.

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I don’t keep a sketchbook, I instead see my larger cityscapes as an alternative to this—somewhere I can play with ideas and try new things.

I always use the same pen (a Sharpie TT) and usually the same paper (the Moleskine Plain notebook), it is a combination that works because each has particular qualities I like; the pen bleeds very quickly—which keeps the drawings more spontaneous and stops me from being overly precise, the paper is fragile and has a soft yellow tint, which works really well with the deep black of the Sharpie.

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My working process is slightly unorthodox. Usually, I do not produce roughs for a drawing or plan the drawing before I start, instead I keep notebooks full of abstract ideas (some which seem to make no sense at all!) and I use these as my starting points.

The drawing then develops as I draw. I use pencil to sketch a wireframe outline of the image—I then fill the rest with pen.

All of my work is drawn freehand and I try to avoid using anything over than the pen. Images are touched up in Photoshop, but ideally all I do is adjust the image for digital.

I work in a fairly small space, in the corner of my bedroom in West Hampstead. As a result of this I like to use materials which mean I can get up and move at any time. If I want to go draw in a coffee shop, or other location all I need is a sketchbook and my pen.

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© Tom Radclyffe, 2016

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