Comic Con 2017 – THE LOOT

I acquire a lot of art books. I mean, a LOT. Most of them serve as inspiration when I just feel like getting into a certain mood before tackling a project. Others provide ideas for color palettes, lighting, or anatomy reference for animals and people, and still others help with period costuming (unfortunately, I have no access to a theatre company’s costume or prop department, so I make due with period films or period artwork for reference).

So my trek to the Comic Con is really to see what’s new in pop art and to hunt for new and inspiring art books (as I’ve stated elsewhere, Comic Con these days is less about comics and more about pop art, gaming, films, toys, with some comic stuff thrown in there to appease the die-hard comic fans).

In the past I made a beeline to Bud Plant‘s booth, which was a great booth for art books. Unfortunately, Amazon has killed small book dealers and Bud Plant, after surviving going completely out of business, has been reduced to a small table in the back, near the food area. It’s really sad, because I’ve purchased some hard-to-find art books from them in the past.

The other book-seller I make sure to peruse is Stuart NG, who seems to have a healthy business due to his plentiful offering of imported books (usually from France) which aren’t something you usually find on Amazon or in your average bookstore.

And then I may purchase a sketchbook or something from the many artists who are there to show their stuff.

So here are some very poor iPad pics of the stuff I hauled back home…

The two books on top are children’s picture books in that unspeakable language, French. I’m a sucker for a charming children’s picture book. It doesn’t matter that I can’t read them, because I really only enjoy them for the art. The Dean Cornwell book is something I’ve wanted for years because I really admire his art. He’s simply a fantastic Golden Age illustrator.

The books in this unforgivably blurry photo were all free. The top two are James Bama books which were given away by Flesk publications. I suspect they had quite an inventory they couldn’t move and it would be cheaper to get a tax write-off by giving them away than to let them collect dust in a warehouse. I already own a Bama book with his DocSavage illustrations. These two are more personal western art, art which is well done, but not really of much interest to me. Still, who am I to turn down free art books, right? The bottom left item is a Heritage Auction House catalog featuring a lot of Disney and other animation art for sale.

Oh, and I didn’t shoot a pic of it, but in case you were wondering, I got DC’s The Flash pin with the Con bag (for those of you who know to what I refer).

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Go Kids – Arrival Of The SWAG

My gal trying out the t-shirt

My gal trying out the t-shirt

A couple posts back, I shared some of Justyn Smith’s photos of some products River ValleyChurch produced based on the Go Kids artwork I created. After my wife saw all of the cool stuff, she said she’d like some of it and so I asked Justyn where we could purchase some of it. He was so kind as to ask for my address and offer to send us a box of goodies. Well, the swag arrived last week! Here’s a few pics of all the cool stuff Justyn sent us  – Thanks, Justyn!

go kids swag

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“Cyndy Squirrel’s Change Of Heart” – Children’s Book

Cyndy's Change of Heart - Go Kids children's book

 

Plain Joe Studios commissioned me to illustrate a children’s book, Cyndy Squirrel’s Change Of Heart, in 2016. The book was written by Justyn Smith and Aaron Cole for the River ValleyChurch children’s ministry, Go Kids.

 

You can check out a flip-through video below:

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Cozmo’s Billboards

Cozmo's Day OffOne of the backgrounds I created for the interactive iOS children’s book app, Cozmo’s Day Off, by Ayars Animation contained an alien city scene, with ships and rockets zipping about. As on all of the pages, there were many fun little interactive elements on this page for kids to discover.

One of the interactive elements on page 8 is the ability to rub a couple of billboards which exposes different ads underneath. You can see below where they’re located on the page.

Cozmo's Day Off page 8

Here are some of the silly billboard designs I created for this interactive feature. The really fun thing about producing this book app was the freedom I had to be as creative or goofy as I pleased. In fact, we had far more ideas for this book app than we could feasibly implement.

Cozmo's Billboards

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Tom E. Squirrel Saves Christmas Cheer – Children’s Book

Tom E. Squirrel Saves Christmas Cheer

 

Plain Joe Studios commissioned me to illustrate a children’s book, Tom E. Squirrel Saves Christmas Cheer, in 2016. The book was written by Justyn Smith and Monica Morgan for the River Valley Church children’s ministry, Go Kids.

 

You can check out a flip-through video below:

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Carlos Comes Home – children’s book

Carlos Comes Home

Plain Joe Studios commissioned me to illustrate a children’s book, Carlos Comes Home, for River Valley Church in 2015. The book was written by Justyn Smith and Monica Morgan for the River Valley Church Go Kids children’s ministry.

You can check out a flip-through video below:

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How I Brainstorm With Doodles

For newer readers who missed this the first time around, I thought I’d repost this…

Few illustrations are done without preliminary brainstorming. Some begin as sloppy little doodles done on anything from napkins, to envelopes, to whatever scrap of paper is handy when an idea comes around.

On top is the thumbnail that served as the basis for the final drawing. below that is the final menu page illustration.

Sometimes I’ll spend time on a rough sketch, and other times I just want to come up with some very rough compositional idea, so I’ll noodle around with sloppy little thumbnails. These aren’t the kinds of things many artists want you to see, because they’re not pretty, and, in fact, are embarrassingly bad from a rendering point of view. But their purpose isn’t to look pretty, so don’t judge them too harshly.

Furthermore, when time is critical, I’m even less inclined to draw anything beyond chicken-scratches. Yes, many have been horrified to find, after selecting me to be on their Pictionary team (in hopes that having an artist on their team would ensure a landslide victory), that I draw sloppy little stick figures just like anyone else.

Around the beginning of May of 2012, because the current project at Ayars Animation was a bit ambitious and was taking far longer to finish than we had hoped, Frank Ayars and I discussed the idea of doing smaller projects. I suggested that I take a week or two off so that I might attempt to complete an entire picture book in that time. If you knew me, you’d know that’s pretty ambitious; not because I illustrate slowly, but because I tend to get bogged down in the minutiae of a picture, and I spend far too much time in details that can hardly be appreciated by anyone.

So I decided to do a book with, what would be for me, a rough illustrated style. Basically, this meant I’d do a fast color over an acceptably clean drawing. It’s actually what a lot of printed children’s books already look like, so we’re not talking about rushed or bad art. I just wouldn’t take the time to make it too polished. The irony is, I often tend to refine all the charm out of my looser drawings, so illustrating a book this way could actually render pretty good results.

Overall, I had to come up with a character, write the text, and illustrate it in a format which I could then hand over to Frank Ayars for implementation. I also put together a small pdf with storyboards and instructions on how the app-user interactions might work, how the articulated characters would move, etc. I also had to design any necessary navigation items and such. I think I spent a couple of days just thinking of what to write, bouncing ideas off my wife, and receiving creative input from my oldest daughter.

After that, I began noodling around with the design of the menu page. The thumbnails you see in this post were made while working out a composition for the menu page of the app. I designed the character of Retro loosely off of the two other characters you see here, which I had created around 2000 A.D. (I added “A.D.” so readers don’t confuse it with some other year 2000).  The one character on the left was a character called The Flooglemop, about which I had actually began writing a story way back, as well. I was writing that story all in verse, and I realized how stupid a decision I had made in attempting to write such a long story that way, so it never saw completion. The other character was just a doodle done for fun.

Though the entire book app is done in a very loose style, it actually turned out quite nice. For the record, from the decision to embark on the project to the time I handed off all the completed assets to Frank Ayars, it was about ten days. It was nonstop work, and I felt like I had given birth, only without the resulting stretch marks.

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If Other Professions Were Paid Like Artists

I came across this comic on a guitar forum and thought it was worth sharing.

if-other-professions-were-paid-like-artists_zps0972b4f6

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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Odds & Ends

I always thought Kent Mansley was a great antagonist character in Iron Giant, which is one of my favorite Warner Bros animated films. Anyway, I though he’d make for an interesting Monday morning doodle.

Iron-Giant

Speaking of robots, I recently came across a listing on ebay of the same robot toy I had since I was a wee lad. It was probably the only toy I had kept from my childhood.

robot

Unfortunately, there was a time in life where I needed cash and I trusted a co-worker (whom I hardly knew) to sell it for me. Well, I never saw that co-worker after giving him my robot and I never saw a penny from it. So I lost the coolest toy I had from my childhood and I’ve regretted it. Well, it’s only a dumb toy, so I really don’t regret it that much. But it would have been cool to still have something like that from my childhood. Kind of like when people keep their first teddy bear, only in my case it was a robot whose torso spun around 360 degrees with it’s chest-panels popped open and two laser-gun barrels went in and out, making shooting sounds and blinking lights. Heck, that would be a cool toy today, much less back in the 60’s when this metal toy was made. Here are a few pictures from the ebay listing. Mine was exactly like this one. I can’t believe this thing sells for around $100-300 today, depending on condition.robot guns

 

robot box

Yeah, that “Rotate-O-Matic” isn’t a feature you get on today’s cheap, plastic junk. This baby spins from the hip.

On another note, the last day of the Comic Con was today (well, yesterday, if you’re reading this on Monday morning when this post goes up). I only decided to attend the Con on preview night this year. The only thing I picked up while I was there was Mark Schultz’s “Storms At Sea”, an illustrated book which I’ve been waiting for him to complete for the last half-dozen years or so. I was surprised to find that the art was just pencil renderings because these renderings were labeled as “studies” in his other sketchbooks. I suspect he decided it would take too long to actually finish these in ink and just decided to release the book with the graphite renderings. I’m happy to say that I’m not disappointed because Mark’s graphite studies are quite elaborate, and I tend to enjoy them just as much as the inked versions.

storms-at-sea

The text in the book wasn’t much of a real story, but was actually a sort of convoluted sci-fi history of earth, which I found to be a mixed bag of one-world/Illuminati-type conspiracy theories, darwinism, and anthropogenic-global-warming propaganda. I was hoping for a real detective adventure, which I’m sure Mark could have written had he wanted. Instead I think he chose to go into this kind of narrative as an excuse to draw all the cool things he did, which I think is okay if that’s the only way we could have gotten all of this great artwork. If you haven’t seen Mark’s work, this would be a great book to introduce you to his art.

Incidentally, every time I see a sailing ship in that position which you can see on the cover illustration above of “Storms At Sea”, I tend to suspect the artist was inspired by Howard Pyle’s 1905 painting, “Attack on a galleon”, which was also borrowed by Gustaf Tenggren and Frank Frazetta for their respective works. At least Mark Schultz is in good company. You can see Pyle’s painting below as well as those he inspired.

An Attack on a galleonPyle_1905

You can see how Tenggren loosely borrowed the same general wave pattern in the water as well, while Frazetta stayed pretty true to the rear view of the ship (I’m sure there’s some proper nautical term for that part of the ship, but it’s late and I’m currently too lazy to look it up). I always enjoy spotting these kinds of inspired details.

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