Hamerex: The Last Ride (part 1)


Hey, I recently completed the cover artwork for Hamerex’ new EP, The Last Ride. The EP has been available for about a month now, and is already getting great reviews such as this one: http://sinisterangelsrealm.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/hamerex-last-ride-ep-2015.html – here’s the first part of my commentary on the process of making the cover.

TLR Final Print 6 Preview

The EP can be ordered on CD or downloaded from the band’s Bandcamp page: http://hamerex.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-ride

This is a new method of communicating the ideas and methods behind my work – I get to post more updates which means my blog spends less time gathering dust, and you don’t have to read it all at once, which helps if, like me, you have  habit of leaving a hundred tabs unread.

Part 1 (Themes & influences):

I was given the title of Hamerex’ latest release some time last Autumn. It wasn’t difficult to imagine what the cover art should look like – the EP had a strong ‘apocalyptic’ theme, with song titles and lyrics all referencing mass destruction and the end of the world – the cover had to be a scene which reflected chaos, terror and doom. I went through a few sketches of imploding planets and collapsed cities, but since ‘The Last Ride’ is a lyric from the song ‘Ride On Ruin’, there was my concept straight away. Rider. Ruins. Ace.

The biggest influence in musical imagery was undoubtedly the cover of Judas Priest’s Painkiller album – it’s been one of my favourite album covers for many years, and I have the poster flag hanging above my window. I’ve wanted to do something in homage to it for ages, and this was the perfect chance. This shows most clearly in the burning ruins in the background, and the fact that the Rider’s position is similar to the ‘Painkiller’ character, albeit reversed.

Judas Priest – Painkiller (1990) Illustration by Mark Wilkinson

The other major influence was John Martin’s series of apocalyptic paintings, which are huge canvases featuring massive storms, earthquakes and Biblical judgements destroying populations and civilisations on a grand scale – an ideal fit for an apocalyptic-themed record.

John Martin – The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (1852)

I wanted to update the John Martin feel by giving the ruins a distinctly modern look – the left edge is framed by a huge collapsed building with a metal skeletal structure, and the horse rides across a metallic girder-like structure above tangled steel reinforcing rods. This is partly a carry-over from the last Hamerex album cover, 2013’s ‘IX’ – which also features a ruined cityscape with a few visible modern features such as shattered glass, reinforcing rods and sewage pipes. The idea is that these infernal environments aren’t a medieval fantasy as in one of Heironymous Bosch’s Hell scenes, but an echo of the world we live in. In that sense, The Last Ride is less the Great Fire of London, 1666, more the Great Fire of Leeds, 2015.

It also looks a bit like a Warhammer Chaos Knight, with its massive horns and flowing cloak. But don’t tell anyone I said that. That’s not cool.

Part 2 coming soon!

Hamerex official website: http://www.hamerex.com/

Hamerex on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hamerex/

‘IX’ finished and available soon!


Hamerex’ album ‘IX’ is printed and will be released this week!

Guitarist Steve said:

“Who likes the look of the digipak? It was designed by James Sixtyeight with his paintings and photography with my mum taking the band photo which isn’t visible in the picture. You can pre-order the album for £7 with £1.50 postage via paypal on our website www.hamerex.com. It’s seriously worth it and I’ve had comments that’s cheap for all the work that’s gone into it. The music’s decent too 🙂 “
This is the illustration which covers the wraparound digipak:
Cover Illustration CD Res - No Title

It’s somewhat different to the actual painting, as I thought it looked more effective reversed on the right side fold. Here’s a work-in-progress shot of the cover as I was applying the black ink, with the previous 6×18″ drafts as a scale comparison:

2013-05-21 IX WIP 1024

And here is the finished painting, showing a little of the margins.

2013-05-29 IX WIP 1024

This is the full package in all its glory (from hamerex.com):


The official announcement on the album’s release is here:

So what next…?

Hamerex ‘IX’ Cover Concepts Part 3

Current Works in Progress, Hamerex

Here are the final drafts for the ‘IX’ album cover, completed a few weeks ago now. I’m drawing towards the end of this project and getting quite excited about the end product. I’ll be starting work on the inlay very soon, and working on some Grindstone Art promotional material in between, such as a pretty web banner to replace the plain grey header up there.

Both of these images are rendered in black acrylic ink & white acrylic paint on corruguated cardboard. Cardboard takes ink & paint really well & provides a natural mid-tone, which makes it easy & pleasant to work with. It also has a distinct texture which can be used to add a certain dimension to the painting, such as to add drybrush effects. It’s also free, which is never something to complain about – these started off as an Ikea box left by the bins outside a pub nearby.

The only obvious drawback to corruguated card is the obvious distinctive lined texture which can be difficult to avoid in photographs, so I’ll need to be careful when I photograph the final illustration for the cover. Incidentally, that’s pretty much complete, but you’ll have to wait to see that.

Final Hell City draft:

Landscape Concept 6x18 1024

Final Lucifer draft (note that the colours on the images above & below are the same, but I had to photograph them under different lighting conditions. I like the warm effect but it’s an inconvenient demonstration of how lighting can dramatically affect your images.

Landscape Concept 6x18 2 1024


Finally, a title page mock-up using the Lucifer head draft:

Landscape Concept Lucifer Title




Hamerex ‘IX’ cover concepts part 2

Current Works in Progress, Hamerex

Here’s my second set of draft images for Hamerex’ forthcoming album, simply titled IX. These are in a different format than the previous images as they’re designed for a much wider layout. It’s quite liberating to work in such a wide landscape format as you can explore detail to the right and left of the central image. It requires a different level of attention to the composition, and doesn’t reward confined perspectives. I’ve played around with perspectives a few times during this project and you can see more of my experimentation as I release more images. The best is still to come 😉

Once again, these use the central railway bridge as a linking motif, with some recognisable features from Wakefield’s landscape. Both images are approximately 100 x 300mm (excluding margins) and rendered in black acrylic ink on packing paper.

IX Black Concept 1 1024

IX Black Concept 2 1024

Hamerex: ‘IX’ cover concepts

Current Works in Progress, Hamerex

The first colour concept image for Hamerex’ forthcoming album. The basic theme of the cover is Wakefield, West Yorkshire (the band’s home town) as Hell. The album has a recurring influence from Dante’s Inferno, one of my favourite books. I’ve been through Wakefield many times on the train so have mainly seen it from the top of the large rail bridge that cuts through the centre. Looking down from the bridge reminds me of Hell’s Malebolge, a series of concentric rings of vast trenches or canyons in which the shades of sinners march, flee, boil or are trampled for eternity. Hence, I’ve chosen the bridge (viewed from ground level) as a unifying factor throughout the visual development progress. Or, in real-personish, as an image that links all the drafts.

IX Concept Inked 1 Preview

I was never entirely satisfied by this draft, & didn’t think it was necessary to work into the detail of the bridge or the buildings in the background. The emphasis here was mainly on the mini-Balrog-like demons and marching shades.

IX Colour concept 2 1024

Again, I didn’t think it was necessary to work into the detail of the bridge or the buildings in the background, though this does give more of an impression of the Wakefield skyline that gets much more attention in later drafts (coming soon!). The emphasis here was on the giant three-faced Lucifer who resides in the lake of Cocytus, the centre of Hell.

IX Colour concept 3 1024

This draft focuses on what would be the reverse-side of the cover, a scene influenced by the Fifth Circle of Hell, the City of Dis, in which the souls of Heretics burn in stone sarcophagi, surrounding the tombs of the leaders.

All images are  rendered in Acrylic ink & paint on packing paper.

A video clip of the recording progress can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/23dfPJyjPL0

A live performance of the song ‘Inferno’ from the forthcoming album can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/l30-xUCL8xE

Hamerex’ website: http://www.hamerex.com/

These images can also be viewed at Grindtone Art’s deviantART page.

Hamerex – Into War (2009)

Hamerex, Past Works

Here’s my first update on the old stuff I did before Grindstone Art was an actual thing: Hamerex’ first EP, ‘Into War,’ released in 2009. I was very excited about this as it was my first commissioned record cover. I used this in my portfolio when I was applying to Lincoln. I’ll write a little more about the process later, but for now, have a look. I’m still quite pleaed with this a few years on but I certainly learned a lot in the process & there are a few shortcomings that show now I might not have spotted Way Back When.

Hear the record at Hamerex’ Bandcamp page HERE.

Cover illustration for Hamerex' Into War EP


Front & rear of Hamerex' Into War EP inlay booklet


Rear cover with tracklist for Hamerex' Into War EP

CD top print for Hamerex' Into War EP.

More later, Metalhorrors!