SketchUp version of the MI-6 building from the ground-level point of view from "James Bond" #1 by James Masters

Pipeline #1022: James Bond and SketchUp

I’m not a big James Bond fan.  I have enjoyed a few of the movies, however, and enjoyed the first story arc in the new “James Bond” series at Dynamite that were written by Warren Ellis.  So I reviewed them at last week.

My one hang-up with the series is the art from James Masters.  He’s got some good stuff in there — far ahead of a lot of what Dynamite typically commits to the page.  But his use of SketchUp for all his backgrounds gets distracting.  I discuss that a bunch in the middle of the column, but I didn’t have a good example for you.

Until today.



For those of you not aware, SketchUp is a program that allows you to draw 3D models fairly easily.  There’s a Pro version that’s several hundred dollars, but also a free version that’ll get most of the job done.

There’s a huge community built up around it, filled with people who share their models, often freely.

You can go to and find, for example, a full 3D model of MI-6’s home building.  It looks like this:

MI-6 Building in London, England, done in SketchUp

Not bad, but not textured. You can, though, spin it around right there on the website, or download it to freely use.

You can zoom in a bit and choose something of an up angle on the building that would represent a ground-level point of view on the building, like I did here:


SketchUp version of the MI-6 building from the ground-level point of view

I only had to play with SketchUp for a few minutes to get that to work.

Put that in as a background layer for your comics work, zoom in just a bit more, draw a human character and a lamp post in front of it, and you might get something like this, from “James Bond” #1:


SketchUp version of the MI-6 building from the ground-level point of view from "James Bond" #1 by James Masters

If Masters was using this model, in particular, you can see where he added more lines to the building and used some dramatic shadows to add to the model, but the structure is the same.


Tools Are Not Bad; Only Their Misapplication

Again, I just want to repeat something I said in the column: There’s nothing wrong with using 3D models.  Don’t you think for a second that most of those X-Wings and Millennium Falcons in the “Star Wars” comics aren’t drawn off 3D models.  Using these models and blending them into the art is a great way to produce comics in a timely manner that looks solid.

My problem with Masters’ work in this comic is just that it’s so often painfully obvious that these are models he’s working from. Every single line is deliberately traced in ink, often with little change to account for depth, shadow, or general style.

This sample image is actually one of the better instances of the integration. It gets more obvious when you see the office interiors, where windows are drawing with every window pane and frame detailed, every desk perfectly positions, and every bookcase repeated a second time with the same details.  No line goes missing.

The second “James Bond” story was originally due to conclude this week.  Looks like it might still be a week or two off.  I look forward to reading it as soon as it comes out, though…

Once again, check out my full review of the “Vargr” storyline at today!








What do YOU think? (First time commenters' posts may be held for moderation.)