Shopping for Turkey

Hopefully by now most of you have managed to get your hands on a bird. No one wants to have to chase down their holiday meal at the last minute.


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“Three Dumbbells”

Here’s another Slapstix clown design I did at Cast Art. I probably did a hundred Slapstix designs while there, so not all of them were made. I don’t recall if we ever made this one. I eventually used a similar gag/pose on another character design I did.


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The Poker Face

I decided to dust off an old Slapstix figurine design from Cast Art for today’s post.


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Fuel Up!

Here’s something I did for Plain Joe Studios in Corona. It’s a flat, graphic style I don’t usually do, but it’s the direction I was given and it was fun for a change.

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The thing I hate about going to the zoo is that I rarely see the animals because they’re always hiding or sleeping behind a rock or in a cave or something else. About the only things that can’t hide are large animals like giraffes, rhinos, and elephants, and half the time some of those are off somewhere being fed or washed or massaged or something. Consequently, the zoo turns out to be not quite as entertaining as, say, a trip to the dentist when you know they’ll be using nitro.


Anyhow, I’ve never actually gone to the zoo with the intent of sitting around and sketching, though I’ve always wanted to do that. When I needed to draw animals before the days of the internet, it required a trip to the library and checking out whatever reference material I could find. The internet changed all that and now I can just do a quick search to find reference. It’s amazing how easy it is to find proper reference material in this day and age. The downside? Well, the downside is that everyone is looking up the same reference. It’s like artistic inbreeding or something.

Thumbnails: An Economic Approach To Design

I did a previous post about how I brainstorm with doodles, and it was such a big hit with all three of my readers that I decided to revisit the topic.

The purpose of thumbnails is to work out ideas in an economical fashion. There’s no point in wasting time with an elaborate drawing, only to find out the composition doesn’t work. So what are the uses of a thumbnail?

Point-Of-View (POV): There are a lot of ways to view a scene, and a lot of different camera angles from which to choose.

If you look at the first thumbnail for the scene above, it was a straight-on POV. We see the same thing on stage, because a live performance pretty much only allows for that perspective. Because artists are not limited to this, it’s sometimes thought too simplistic a POV, but many artists use it successfully. Illustrators like John Bauer or Maurice Sendak pretty much used a straight-on POV, and they produced beautiful scenes. Basically, it’s okay just as long as the individual elements are still composed in an interesting way. In any case, I later used an overhead POV for the page above.

Relationships: Thumbnails can also help you determine relationships. In the scene above, I juxtaposed a close-up of the main character’s large head with little bees. Another effect was to bring the main character’s head through foliage, such that the daylight behind him produces a halo of light, further drawing the viewer’s attention to him. I used this same halo effect below.

Viewer’s Eye Flow: You can use thumbnails to determine how you want the viewer’s eyes to move across an image. In the illustration above, the viewer is first drawn to the main character (halo effect, remember? It says, “Look at ME”). From the starting point of the main character, your eyes drop straight down, working your way to the larger crabs on either side, flowing up the seaweed, back toward the main character. Guiding the viewer’s eyes this way can help them see things in a certain sequence, perhaps from most important element to least important.

Composition: Another principle used above is the rule of thirds. If you slice the image horizontally into thirds, you’ll note the sand occupies the bottom third, while the water fills the rest. This principle is also present in the illustration below. In this case, the image is sliced vertically into thirds, with the main character occupying the far right third, and the bright flamingos occupying the rest.

Another way to slice things up is to divide the image diagonally, and in this case, doing so causes the elements to flow toward our main character. In the scene below, the large branch slices across diagonally. The background tree-line also serve to reinforce that diagonal flow, again leading the viewer’s eye where we want it to go.Below are more thumbnails used to work out composition or character designs. Of course there are many other ways to work out designs, like digitally drawing, slicing, resizing, and moving things around.

Perhaps some of you would like to share different time-saving techniques which economize your workflow?

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©2010 frank grau

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My Faithful Reproduction of “The Creation Of Adam”, From The Sistine Chapel

I’ve been too busy to do something for a post for the last two weeks (and, as usual, Non-Disclosure Agreements prevent me from posting work which I’m doing for clients). Even though this week proved to be busy as well, I found some time to treat all three of my readers to my recreation of one of Michelangelo’s famous scenes from the Sistine Chapel.

Keep in mind I only had about 45 seconds to get this done from start to finish, because the little wife is almost finished getting dinner on the table and I can’t keep the family waiting. But this is as faithful a reproduction as anyone can do in less than a minute (well, even less than “less than a minute” because I also used some of that time to type this text).


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fgAfter my last top-ten post, hand-written letters came pouring in from all over the globe pleading me to do more of them… Well, that’s not entirely true. There were no hand-written notes. In fact, there were no notes at all, but, hey, let’s not split hairs. The point is, everyone loves top-ten lists; maybe not so much when the title falsely promises to solve problems that plague you, but a provocative title is better than no title at all. Top-ten lists lacking a title make no sense. Look, I’ll show you what I mean. Here’s an example of a popular top-ten list without its title:

1. Plastic shoe laces

2. Gerbils

3. Coal


5. China

6. Prestidigitation

7. Medium height

8. Sonny Bono

9. “Only when I touch it”

10. The Magna Carta

See what I mean? A top-ten list without a title is completely unintelligible. Whereas, the title without the list makes perfect sense, because we at least all know what the list is about, right? Even without giving you the list itself, we can all imagine what kinds of things we should avoid eating if we want to keep the weight off; say, for example, an anvil, a pickup bed filled with lard, or or a small country. Heck, the mind reels with a plethora of items one should avoid eating to prevent weight-gain. In fact, there are so many things that can be included in such a list, I’ll just let you fill in the list yourself. To help you out and get you going, I’ll lay out the numbers so you don’t have to do that part.

Have fun!




4…. (Oh, forget it, you know your way to 10 from here. Finish writing the numbers yourself. And if you can’t count to ten, weight-loss should be the least of your worries.)

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