IMAGINE a world of blue skies and golden sands, of lush green countryside, and pretty market towns.

This is the picture-postcard world inhabited by Richard O’Neill, whose artistic skills have produced striking, unforgettable images of places we know well.

Bradford's majestic Lister Mills minster rising from the city skyline, the jumble of red rooftops in Robin Hood’s Bay, Ilkley’s craggy Cow and Calf Rocks, the neat terraces of Saltaire.

His hand-drawn, digital art brings bold colours, clean lines and sharp definition to familiar sights, creating a world reminiscent of a bygone era, of smart seaside promenades where couples stroll arm-in-arm, of high streets where shopping is carried in wicker baskets, and of picnic-friendly hillsides.

Yet despite its retro evocations, Richard’s work is firmly planted in the 21st century, his work tools not a palate and brushes, but a high-tech modern-world gadget.

Richard grew up in Bradford, attending Bradford Grammar School, where art classes did not fire his enthusiasm.

“I loved drawing. To me art was about freedom of expression, but at school it was more important that your easel was standing correctly and you were holding your brush at the right angle,” he recalls. “I refused to conform, so art and I parted ways.”

He took a different path, studying catering and hospitality management, before taking a course in journalism. He went on to work for a theatre charity.

Being made redundant from that job, in 2011, “was one of the best things that could have happened”, he says. “It forced me to look creatively at what I could do and take a leap that I would otherwise never have taken.”

He picked up a pencil again and began drawing. “Not just doodling, but at least an hour a day to improve my technique,” he says.

A self-confessed geek, he had at that time bought an iPad, and had the idea of combining his drawings skills with digital work.

“Nothing seemed more natural than blending the two interests,” he says. “It was on holiday at Holy Island that I drew my first picture on the iPad. It’s pretty rudimentary, but I saw the potential.”

As he established himself, he sold his pictures through a handmade gift company he set up with his wife Judith. “It later became clear that travel art was the big seller, so we concentrated on that,” he says.

In 2015 the art-based gift company Star Editions, which sources work from around the world, began to license his pictures, raising his profile.

He draws with a stylus on an iPad. “Like any medium it has its idiosyncrasies you have to get used to - you can’t work in bright sunlight or rest your hand on the screen, and most styluses are big stubby things that you wouldn’t think would lend themselves to fine work.”

He loves coastal scenes, feeling lucky to have the magnificent North Yorkshire coast on his doorstep.

“But I also like to tackle places that are, perhaps, unloved, give them a bit of TLC and spruce them up a bit,” he says. “Subjects that are unlikely to ever be covered by another travel artist also appeal - I did a picture of the International Space Station, for example.”

The hundreds of locations captured by Richard extend across Britain, Europe, and as far afield as the USA, Australia and the Far East. But Yorkshire remains at the heart of his work.

“When I was young we often holidayed in North Yorkshire. To me it was the perfect country idyll, and I’ve hopefully carried that feeling through to my work.”

Landmarks across the region included in Richard’s vast gallery include Bradford's City Park, the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth, Salts Mill in Saltaire, Whitby Abbey and the Humber Bridge. Nationally recognised images include The Shard, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and Blackpool Tower.

He has captured the towering viaduct across the River Nidd at Knaresborough, and the gentile surroundings of Harrogate with its ornate shop fronts.

“I recently visited Hawes and photographed the church, which I later drew. I’m always on the lookout for inspiration.”

Richard, who lives near Northallerton, was originally influenced by railway posters and artists such as Brian Cook and Frank Newbould.

“My wife and I love travel posters, in particularly mid-20th century railway posters. I love the use of vibrant, solid colours and there’s a timeless quality I find appealing.”

He receives commissions from home and abroad. “I’m afraid there’s no glamorous travel involved - I’m supplied with reference photos and work from them.”

Digital art, he says, can be misinterpreted. “There is a belief that we simply scan a photo in a computer and press a button, but nothing could be further from the truth. It can be a long, painstaking process, sometimes with a lot of research - no different than traditional drawing or painting.”

He adds: “Drawing by hand gives the image a human element that can otherwise be lacking. My fingerprints are metaphorically all over my pictures, with wonky lines, imperfect curves and bits of colour that don’t quite match. I like to think that’s part of their charm.”

Each picture takes around two days to complete. “However, as I have young children - he has nine-year-old twin daughters, Emily and India - the hours are spread over a longer period,” he says. “One of the advantages of working digitally though is that some of the work can be done almost anywhere - watching television or even in bed.”

Richard’s work is also licensed to the art retailer Athena, as well as being available from Amazon, and through his own website.

“Initially my pictures were on prints and cards, but now my images can appear on almost anything - Yorkshire Cycling tea towels were very popular.”

His scenes feature in advertising campaigns and there is a permanent installation of his work at Harrogate International Centre.

Commissioned work includes pictures of people’s homes or special locations.

Richard’s favourites include a 1964 view of James Bond writer Ian Fleming’s desk at his house in Goldeneye, Jamaica, and a contemporary interpretation of Roseberry Topping.

“I’m pretty proud of both of those,” he says.

Last year Richard carried out his first school visit, to Ripon Cathedral School, to talk about his work. “I really enjoyed it. Hopefully it will inspire the children to use technology in a creative way,” he says.

His work also features in a new book, The Oxford Art Book, showing the city through the eyes of different artists.

One of Richard’s daughters loves art and has already decided she is going to follow in her dad’s footsteps. “I may need to rename my business Richard and Emily O’Neill Art,” he laughs, adding “I feel very lucky to wake up every morning and do a job I love.”