How to Paint Page 15

An illustrated step-by-step guide to painting that difficult page you’ve been putting off.

When working on your section of a collaborative dystopian graphic novel for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, you want to make a good job of it. Not least because it has been written for you by Pat Mills and everyone keeps telling you that Pat Mills has very high standards, including Pat Mills himself.


Step 1

Draw a slum set in Scotland approximately 30 years into the future. I used a 0.1 Mitsubishi Uni Pin to capture the scratchy but precise detail of futile overcrowding.

15 line


Step 2

Decide on a time of day. In this instance I worked closely with fellow artist Will Morris to choose ‘dusk’, as our scenes overlap and the lighting suits both our needs.

Working in acrylic inks, carefully mark out the areas of shadow using indigo and artificial light using radiant yellow. You would normally only use sepia and indigo for cold natural light but you thought brighter colours might add to the trapped vibrancy of humanity on page 15, so you have no choice but to suck it up and use colour, clever dick.



Step 3

Using the sepia of thwarted hope and the earth brown of encrusted destitution, add some depth to the shadows of the buildings made from modified shipping containers.



Step 4

Combine sepia and indigo to add in the shadows of an oppressive oligarchic regime.



Step 5

Ensure that the populace are overshadowed by the same scheme.IMG_4168


Step 6

Keep adding the shadows, because both the plutocratic system and many features of climate change can become caught in a self-perpetuating positive feedback loop. Remember not to overwet the page with tears.



Step 7

With a careful mix of radiant yellow and warm red, refresh the page with blazing elements of the last dying light.



Step 8

Finally, digitise page and add in ironic details suggested by Pat Mills and story editor Denise Mina. It’s up to you which notorious climate change denier would be most appropriate to name the slum after – in this instance I chose ‘Owen Paterson’, though ‘Lord Lawson’ would have worked equally well.

IDP 2043 15.2




I can’t thank you enough for this guide. Page 15 was giving me so much trouble until I read this blog, but now I can truly unleash the sense of desperation of an overcrowded climate refugee encampment. Thank you!!!!!! – Cynthia, Stockport

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