Progress Doodle #6

This’ll be the last progress doodle post for the year. Even though these sketches are rough, I hope you enjoy seeing the process. Let me know if you have any requests and I’ll try to do a progress sketch on my down time. … and have a happy new year!

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Progress Doodle #5 – Christmas Elf

Here’s a little Christmas doodle I did on Procreate a couple nights ago. I know I need to cultivate a habit of posting regularly and I think Procreate’s progress video feature is a great way to share the creative process, even if it’s just personal little doodles and stuff.

I notice when deciding what to sketch, I tend to default into character design of some sort. Characters (being persons, more or less) are, well, more personal than a still life, landscape, architecture, etc., and I think they’re more likely to grab people’s interest more so than things. Well, at least they grab my interest more.

The one thing about working at Plain Joe Studios is that I’m more aware of the importance of storytelling. And it’s not that I didn’t care about telling stories with my art, it’s more that I’ve always sort of told stories or at least implied them without really being aware that I was doing so. And I’m not suggesting that an image needs to tell a full-blown narrative, but that it’s something that the viewer can look at and imagine in their own mind a story to go with what they’re seeing, even if that simply means they want to know more about a character.

One of my favorite children’s book is “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” by Chris Van Allsburg. The thing I enjoy about it is not really the illustrations, as good as they are. What Van Allsburg did is present single, stand-alone illustrations on each page accompanied by a small caption hinting of some further mystery, intended to pique the curiosity of the reader to want to know the whole story, or perhaps to create a story in their own mind. That book still captivates me when I go through it. but I digress…

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The Legends of Lightfall #1

Plain Joe Studios (PJS) has been creating a six-issue sci-fi-fantasy comic series called “The Legends Of Lightfall”, which we’ve spent the last year-and-a-half producing. The issue is available for pre-order here, and it’ll ship in January as far as I’m aware.

The client took some of the art and put together this small promo video, which I got to see for the first time yesterday.

Other’s had already fleshed out the initial concept designs and story/script before I joined the creative team on this project, so I was honored to be offered the chance to join the project with the task of illustrating (story-boarding/penciling/inking/painting) the comic.

The creative team includes:
Art / Design / Lettering: Johnny Davis, Kirk, Langsea, Bryce Reyes, Suzanne Beaudoin, and myself
Editors: Johnny Davis, Michael Melilli
Script: Doug Peterson
Creative Development: Steve Blount, Susan Blount, Mel McGowan, Johnny Davis, Kirk, Langsea, Peter McGowan, Bryce Reyes, Justyn Smith, Marlee Golz, and myself.

I’ve actually gone back to revise and add a few things to the first issue (one of those things being a map of Lightfall), so by the time you read this I’ll have just wrapped up the illustration stuff, more or less. If you get a chance to read the first issue, let me know what you thought and please be sure to share it!

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Spacial Storytelling Characters

When Plain Joe Studios does spacial storytelling, that often involves creating characters to aid in telling the client’s story. One of the characters we created as part of the Go Kids cast was a squirrel named Tom E. Over the years I’ve had to create different iterations of this character for different applications. Justyn Smith of River Valley Church took the various renderings I did and assembled this for a side-by-side comparison.

 

That one on the bottom-left was supposed to look like TomE. if he were in the world of Minecraft. You might think it should be easy to copy a character made up of blocks, but it was actually more difficult than doing something organic; it was very time-consuming to get all the angles and shading precise enough to fake a character made of blocks in a 3D digital space (I hope to learn SketchUp and/or some 3D program in the future to streamline these kinds of tasks). In a future post, I’ll share the entire image with the faked Minecraft background illustration.

That iteration on the bottom-right was a sketch I did when asked to imagine the character in the wacky style of Nickelodeon’s Ren & Stimpy. It was never used because, well, I guess after seeing how goofy the character looked when adapted into that style, they decided it wasn’t a direction that suited the character.

How about that version of Tom E. on the blue stand; can you guess what that was done for?

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Illustrative Storytelling 2.0

Second verse, same as the first… Here’s another rough sketch and the final art I did at Plain Joe Studios for our client, River Valley Church. Like last week’s rendering, this was one of the many “worlds” illustrations which provide a backdrop for their Go Kids characters.

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Illustrative Storytelling

Here’s a rough sketch and the final art I did at Plain Joe Studios for our client, River Valley Church (RVC). Go Kids is a children’s ministry featuring a cast of characters we designed at Plain Joe Studios as part of the spacial storytelling done for RVC. This was one of the many “worlds” illustrations which provide a backdrop for those characters.

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Another Idle Doodle

I recently came across an old chicken-scratch I did on a notepad while helping out a friend with his fire-life safety business. I was waiting at a fire panel while he was doing some testing out in the field. Back then, he was going to get his home swimming pool area redesigned and asked if I’d design some kind of little fountain while I waited idly at the fire panel. I mean, since he was paying me to help him anyway, and since I’m an artist, there was no point in paying me just to stand around when he could get some artwork out of me. So I complied and doodled out a rough idea according to what he had in mind. Since I had more idle time than needed, I decided to embellish things.

I guess one of us scanned that page, because I recently came across it while going through old emails. The thing is, I never would have sketched something like this in one of my sketchbooks. This is really just a casual I-don’t-care-how-it-looks-and-never-expect-anyone-to-see-it kind of sketch.

I only share this because it occurred to me after seeing this that I rarely break away from something familiar when I draw. This doodle, though stupid and sloppy, is something I never would have done on my own in a sketchbook. I found it to be uninhibited and, well, sort of fun, like I didn’t have a care in the world what anyone thought of it. And I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought except that there was a sort of Mad Magazine cartoony charm about it that I wish I could infuse into other things I do.

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Worked all night?

I don’t look like this, but I certainly feel like this whenever I’ve been working all through the night until the next day.

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Robot Spotlight Concept Illustration

So I decided to give myself a crash-course in using Adobe Flash and Final Cut Pro to create a video that turned out, well, not so great (the resolution stinks). But it’s my first time using those programs and I was in a hurry to actually complete something before the morning. Well, it’s almost 8 am and I’ve been up all night, so I probably spent too much time on this stuff.

In any case, Plain Joe Studios sent me on a bluesky to Gateway Church in Arizona to help create a new spatial story for their children’s ministry environment. I was there several days, and there was one night I woke up at 4am and couldn’t sleep because I had this idea for a rotating spotlight light-fixture; so I got up and created this in Procreate in several hours.

Speaking of sleeping in, I’m off to bed. I just can’t seem to get on a regular sleeping schedule…

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Clip Studio Paint is the New Photoshop … For Me

Although I illustrate almost exclusively in Photoshop, I’ve used Clip Studio Paint EX for lettering comics because it has useful tools designed for making that job so much easier. Otherwise, I haven’t really played with the program at all, even though I’ve been wanting to do so.

While up late into the night (because I’m a night-owl and can’t seem to get on a normal schedule), I decided to launch the program and check out its brushes. And honestly, while I’ll still be using Photoshop for a while, I have to say that inking and painting in CSP is so much more fun and its brushes are so much nicer and natural that Photoshop.

Here’s just a page of doodles done while playing with the program. Nothing fancy or “nice” because I was just enjoying getting a feel for the pen tool and brushes and wasn’t trying to create something to post.

Another nice thing about CSP that I think is better than Photoshop are (as I already mentioned) the tools available for creating comic books, not to mention tools for simple frame-by-frame animating. And best of all, you can render in vector without the STUPID, counter-intuitive techniques required by Adobe Illustrator, a program I (and many other artists who came from traditional media) simply loath.

As far as the many custom tools or blending options Photoshop offers for photo-editing which we artists utilize for illustrating, I don’t know how many such tools CSP has yet. Maybe not as many (for now). However, the advantages it has over Photoshop is still pretty impressive.

So while I won’t be switching to this program just yet, I plan to learn it and keep it as a backup program when/if my OS X no longer supports CS6 (I haven’t updated my iMac OS in years because their updates tend to take things away or mess things up. Gone are the days when I was actually excited about an Apple OS update and was willing to pay for it. Now I don’t even want it for free). The thing is, I suspect that day will eventually come, and I refuse to allow Adobe to extort a monthly tribute from me rather than sell me a copy of Photoshop, so I’ll be looking for a new program to replace Photoshop CS6 for illustrating. At first, I thought Corel Painter would be my go-to replacement program if I had to leave Photoshop behind, but now I think CSP will most likely be the software I turn to. In fact, if I can find the time to learn it, I’d like to start using it for my professional work right now, or maybe bounce between CSP and Photoshop and use the best feature of both programs.

So if you’re worried about what you’ll do when your Pre-CC copy of Photoshop is no longer supported and you want a software you can purchase and own, you may want to check out CSP.

Incidentally, Clip Studio Paint has a mobile version for the iPad, but it’s a subscription-based app, which baffles me because the only reason I’m willing to use their desktop version is because I can buy it. Hopefully they don’t do something stupid and start requiring a monthly fee for their desktop version. If they do, I’ll dump them in a heartbeat and use Corel Painter.

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