Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Daily Post: Another Monster

Not much to say about this one. More monsters to come!

Daily Post: New Monster

Another new monster for a prospective monster book.

Daily Posts!

From now on (or until I can't manage it anymore) I'm going to try to put up posts every day. I've got a lot of sketches and in-progress work that I'll be posting, at least one piece a day in addition to the more infrequent finished work. People have expressed an interest in this stuff and I would like to get a few more eyeballs checking out my blog, and since I draw at least something every day, I'm hoping it won't be too hard to keep up, especially now that I have my new faster and more convenient scanner.

So starting off, here's a monster for a monster book that's in progress:

This one was actually completed last night, but most of the images this week will be things that I've done in the last month or so.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Million Things to Do: Works in Progress

I only tend to post my finished work. This may make it seem like I don't actually produce all that much, and someone once remarked that they liked my work but I was "slow". Let me dispel that notion right now. I'm usually working on several projects at once. Here are a few of them.

3 of 30 designs (presently) from a proposed monster book:

Two blue-lined panels for a wordless sci-fi comic. Right now less than 3 pages penciled, nothing inked. This one is at the bottom of my priority list, but getting done slowly. I did character designs for it about 2 years ago that some of you may remember being posted. Its been on the back burner for a while, but now it's sort of on the 4th burner.

On the drawing board now: the background for a Christmas card mailer. I was able to improvise a not completely accurate makeshift curvilinear grid, and I'm pretty happy with the way it's came out. I wasn't sure if it was going to work, and have never tried anything quite like it. I don't know how well you can make it out, but this is birds-eye view of a town on a curved landscape.

I'm also in the process of writing the final draft of my first young adult novel for teens, and completing the first draft of a second, approx. 60,000 words each, or the equivalent of 200 book pages each. I have a first draft of a chapter book for young readers that needs to be rewritten, so no new writing projects until I get at least one of these in the can.

I used to find that when I started several projects at once, nothing really got done, but recently I've been more consistent about finishing things I start. The key, it seems, is not to set any one project aside for any great length of time, the one exception being book manuscripts. It's good sometimes to sit on a manuscript for a while once I have a completed draft so that I can return to it with fresh eyes.

Since having a bunch of stuff in process tends to turn my studio into a mess, I came up with the recent strategy of putting each new project in a project folder when I'm not working on it, unless it's too enormous to fit, in which case I'll just put it in my generic too enormous to fit portfolio.

Then there are projects I'd like to do that I've done preliminary sketches for, and I have a file for story ideas, but all that stuff isn't going to be touched for a while, and no new drawing projects until I've gotten a least a 2 of my current drawing projects in the can.

I've not been so great about keeping sketchbooks, but I still do random stuff and little drawings. I think I'm going to have to put together a project folder for this stuff too. Here's a little drawing that falls in this general category:

Then I have a two person show to prepare for at The Pence Gallery next February, where I'll show some completed work that hasn't been shown, and some new pieces that still need to be produced. The show will showcase my drybrush and watercolor work of animals and landscapes.

This may seem like a lot, but routine definitely helps.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Geese of Prospect Park

And a detail:

This image is based on a photograph (used with permission) that the very talented illustrator Danny Hellman posted on Facebook of his daughter Alice feeding geese in Prospect Park, geese that, unfortunately, no longer exist. The 250 geese that frequented Brooklyn's Prospect Park were tragically slaughtered by the Federal government because they apparently were thought to pose a risk to air traffic at JFK airport. More information can be found:


Danny's photos were amazing, a series of candid shots of his very charming daughter whom I wish I could have captured with a little more fidelity. My picture pales to Danny's. I found capturing the animation of Alice very difficult, so I went with a simple, more sedate pose, based on the photo that initially caught my attention. At some point I'd like to give drawing Alice another shot! She seems like a really fun Kid, and Danny's affection for her is very apparent in the photos.

Alice's pose was taken directly from the photograph, but the rest I invented or elaborated on using a variety of other sources.

I envisioned using this as a mailer, so at the front of the mailer would be this image, with room for my website and other information:

And last, here are some geese I didn't end up using, among them, some of my favorites, but they didn't end up working for the picture. Maybe I'll use them somewhere else some day.

All of the images were done with my usual method, brush, ink and pen rendering, scanned and colored with watercolor textures. Here I experimented more with feathered brush strokes. By "feathering" I mean a parallel series of tapered brush strokes that have a nice, soft, modeling effect. Not always used for the rendering of actual feathers.

If you would like to see Danny's illustration work, check out his website, here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Once There Was a Man Whose Nose and Mustache...

Edit: Here's a new version with the lettering more integrated.

I've probably drawn about 10 versions of this image since the time I was 18. I was an obsessive perfectionist when I was a kid, and would draw the same picture over and over until I got it right, though I never seemed to get them right. 10 may be an underestimate. I'm still pretty anal, but not so much anymore that I'm not satisfied with the things I make. I think I did, at one point, make a version of this I was happy with, but its long lost. So here's my current version of it.

This will also likely be the only limerick I ever write. I'm not a great fan of limericks and don't tend to write rhyming verse in general, so this isn't something I intend to pursue. This is it folks.

Here's a detail:

And the finish:

Back by popular demand: hand lettering. I haven't hand lettered in a while, and there is something satisfying to me about hand lettering vs. typography, though sometimes one seems more appropriate to me than the other. For this one though, no matter what type style I tried, it never quite seemed to gel, so I ended up hand lettering it. I don't tend to get too fancy with my hand lettering--I'd like to try different types of title lettering at some point, but right now this is my default hand lettering style.

Another thing I tried here was something that I frequently used to do in painting, but that doesn't always translate well to print; a neutralizing green beneath a skin tone. There are a number of ways to do this--believe it or not, green is a color commonly used in skin tones to neutralize its compliment, red, so the skin tone won't have the artificial glow to it that it generally has if you go straight pink or red-brown. One technique I used was to apply a base tone of green and then glaze (apply a thin layer) of the pinkish color over top of it, but this tended to be more effective when seeing the actual painting in person, rather than in print.

Lately I've been using pastel textures, which made me think of the illustrator Gary Kelly. Kelly puts down his base tone of green, then similarly lays in a pink color after he's fixed the green layer with spray fixative, and the green would peek through here and there in grainy patches, causing you to visually mix the colors, sort of like what some of the impressionists used to do. In pastel, this effect reproduced extremely well. When it's done well, most people don't even catch it, unless they know to look for it, and it enriches the shadows. I've always liked the rich effect of a color peeking through from underneath its compliment, and so using the two-tone pastel texture I made for the last piece, this was easy to do.

Oh, and just an added note about the repeated imagery: not quite reused art here. I printed out the pencil drawing in blue line and inked it twice. I don't like reused artwork, but I hate redrawing things, so this seemed like a good compromise. Again, most people don't notice, but other artists definitely do. Reused art is the cardinal sin for cartoonists, and I suppose I'm just as much of a snob about it. It's just that extra element of craft when the images are all hand drawn, or at least, in this case, hand inked.