Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flying Spaghetti Monster / SquiddySkull

While working on some tee-shirt concepts for a favorite metal band of mine, I deviated for a moment from some more lofty and original ideas and went with a more stereotypical skull graphic.  The thumbnails actually looked pretty sweet so I thought I'd do a small 6x8 inked version, ballpoint on bristol board. 

It took just under 2 hours to do this while sitting at my local coffee shop during their weekly open mic night.  Towards the end, as I was making the background a nice and evil black, an epic solo performance of 'Jesus Loves Me' provided a lovely soundtrack. Probably not the inspiration they were going for, but the lord works in mysterious ways. Or flying spaghetti monster, whichever.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alice in Wonderland illustration

just finished up my Alice in Wonderland illustration, which I am contributing to a collaborative wordless adaptation through Facebook.  

Here's a link to the album "What's The Use Of A Book Without Pictures?" by Neoflux Productions http://www.tinyurl.com/BookWithoutPictures

Any artist or photographer can join in and email to claim a paragraph, which is then posted in the facebook album, later to be collected in a PDF and perhaps printed and bound for nonprofit publication, in which case all sales will go towards printing for library submissions.  It seemed like a great opportunity to practice my compositions and ink work, and get involved in a large group effort.  And who doesn't love Alice in Wonderland?

My passage sees the loquacious Duchess blathering on while Alice politely suggests she limit her words.  The piece itself is 8x10, pen & ink on scratchboard.  For those of you interested in the typical process blogging, here are shots of some thumbnails and my rough pencils.

At first I wasn't sure which direction to follow.  I wanted to shy away from replicating the familiar character designs, but I was also a bit intimidated by the prospect of a complete redesign.  I ended up getting excited about representing the Duchess and something of a grotesque, saggy old loudmouth with an oblivious enthusiasm and unintentional domination over Alice.  I turned Alice herself away from the camera in order to place the viewer in her shoes, facing up at the overbearing Duchess.

And lastly, here's an example of why I love claybord so much.  After consulting with some of my illustrator friends and graduate classmates, I realized that Alice's hand at the center of the composition just called too much attention to itself and appeared to be grabbing at the Duchess's chest.  Not critical to the overall image, I decided to scratch it out and re-ink the area.  A quick and painless adjustment when using claybord.  Kind of remind you of those 'find the difference' bar games, doesn't it?

original with 'boob grab'
adjusted drawing, sans hand

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sealion Gig Poster - Process Diary 4 - The Finish!

And finally, here is the finished gig poster!  I happily took some direction from the band and toned down the font choice to something a little less distracting than the cowboy font I used on the original mockup.  This version lets the image carry more of the weight, and is more legible anyway.

Regarding the drawing itself, In typical form I had moments of sheer terror where I got sloppy and took the values much too dark.  As you could see at the end of my last post, the bottom right of the image was getting a bit too dark for the rest of the composition.  Fortunately, Ampersand's Claybords are extremely forgiving and allow me to scratch away layers of ink to bring white back to the surface.

A lot of artists make tactical use of these un-inked scratchboards by laying down black areas selectively and then scraping back into it for texture and pattern.  But for me it's worth the price of admission purely for the flexibility to draw like normal and then sculpt my values until everything feels balanced.  In the end I was able to save the image, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Here's the final drawing in solo form.

I loved the process of developing such a large piece, and ultimately seeing it hang on the wall gallery style (the 12"x24" board came cradled with a 2" wood backing, resembling a thick canvas).  I'm also thrilled to be working with the tight knit community of local musicians who were hiding right here in Dallas.

I'm looking forward to doing more pieces at this scale for both gallery display and for use on gig posters, and I'm excited to have rounded a new milestone.  It will be pretty awesome to see it pop up around town!  To anyone who'll be at the show on the 20th, we'll be selling 11x17 prints on the cheap.  Again, check out Sealion's new CD for free streaming and pay-what-you-want download at their Bandcamp page.

Thanks for reading along!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sealion Gig Poster - Process Diary 3

Alright!  On to transferring the drawing to Claybord!  I'm going to include Blick Art Supply links along the way here so you can look further into any of these materials, should you be curious.  Feel free to write me if you have questions beyond that.

Once the Ampersand Claybord arrived at my door, I was ready to roll with finalized pencil outlines on newsprint.  Fortunately, my roll if Saral graphite transfer paper was 12" wide, exactly the right size for the claybord.  So I laid it down quick without needing to trim anything, facedown, with my newsprint drawing over it facing up.  I then layered some tracing paper over that, which is totally unnecessary, but does help to identify if you've missed any spots while tracing.  With some strips of masking tape to hold everything firmly the the board, I was ready to start.

Any hard tipped writing utensil will work here, but I used my favorite ballpoint pen, a uniball vision micro... these are the darker grey barreled pens that you can get at any office supply store.  They're super fine, cheap, and totally reliable in my experience.  They lay down great on bristol board or any paper for that matter, but unfortunately, they don't lay down quite so well on smooth hard surfaces.  

My claybord inking is done with handful of Micron pens.  A lot of people prefer the super fine tips (005 or 01), but I'm most happy with the 03 generally.  I also have some 05 and 08 sizes for doing fatter outlines, but I find I'm happiest just going to town with the 03s.

finished tracing the original pencil drawing

At this point, I'm basically just tracing the drawing as closely as I can.  I might make tiny adjustments here and there, but for the most part I fixed the stuff that was bothering me in the pencil stage.  Once everything's been traced, I can tear that sucker off, check my transfer, and start tracing THOSE lines with my micron pens.

starting to ink on the actual board

After all of the outlines have been inked, I start shading the forms directionally with hatch lines... which means short strokes in the direction of the form (around curves, across flat shapes, etc).  From the minute I got home yesterday at 5, all the way to midnight, I was constantly tracing and shading.  All in all, the inking process here has taken me about 15 hours.  

Here's a sneak peak of the almost finished drawing.... it got a little dark in the bottom right, which I subsequently fixed.  But more on that later...

Next Post: refining outlines, balancing values, and tweaking the poster design,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sealion Gig Poster - Process Diary 2

After toying with compositional thumbnail sketches to my general comfort, I cut large sheets of newsprint to the exact size of the final drawing and began roughing in the shapes. Because I normally work between 5x7 and 8x10, I would typically scan my thumbnail drawings, tweak them in photoshop, and the print out a copy to transfer directly to an Ampersand Claybord. But given the oversized scale of this piece, I went at it freehand for a change.  This was a challenge, and the lack of control caused (allowed?) me to modify the composition from it's original form.  

Call me neurotic, but I'm now on a 3rd pencil tracing of the full-scale image (1x2 feet) on newsprint.  As I continue to make adjustments to various details, such a hand poses, angles of the background elements, size and texture of the crumbling concrete, etc, I've found it necessary to continue transferring to a new sheet in order to retain the paper's fidelity and most importantly, so I can see the image as closely as possible as it will be when I finally transfer it to the claybord.  In all honesty, had the board already arrived at my apartment, I surely would have started transferring it by now.  But it's a blessing in disguise, because I continue to make improvements on the image that will be worth the delay.

Lastly, here's a rough mockup of the poster with text.  This is more about testing the composition than it is getting the values correct.  But ultimately, I'm enjoying the monochromatic presentation, and imagine I'll be doing something similar to this in the end.

By the way, you owe yourself a visit to SealionSounds.BandCamp.com to stream the new album "Keep The Camera Rolling", or pay-what-you-want download.

Next Entry... transferring & inking...