Yet Another Background Illustration

Here’s the latest background I did at Plain Joe Studios for River Valley’s Go Kids program. This is by far my favorite background I’ve done for them. Or maybe it was just the most fun to illustrate. I think I just have a dark side to me that I enjoy something a little more spooky in a fun, Saturday-morning-cartoon sort of way (though I don’t at all care for ‘horror’ as a genre).

River Valley Go Kids “Valley of Shadows”

To be entirely frank (because, like Groot, “I am Frank”), I’m lazy about geometric precision. Give me a jungle to draw any day over a city scene with skyscrapers and bazillions of windows and everything needing to be in perfect perspective — forget about it. The fun thing about a cartoon ghost-town like this is that I can get all wonky with the structures, which is really fun. Throw in a hint of swamp and a giant skull rock and you’ve got the makings of a Scooby-doo episode. Now this is my cup of tea!

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IG Process Videos – Jan 1, 2019

Here are a few progress doodle videos I posted on Instagram last week, in case you don’t follow me there.

These are all just quick color sketches. When I sit down to do these, I really have no idea what I’m going to do. I just start drawing or blocking in colors and whatever happens, happens. Sometimes I like the results, other times it stinks. But it’s an effective and fun way to practice getting fast at conceptualizing.

The thing about working professionally is that you can often get stuck working on something that only focuses on one aspect of art. If you don’t practice other things, you don’t grow. So, for example, if you’re doing a lot of coloring, your figure-drawing skills may fall to the wayside. Or if you draw a lot but don’t paint, your color sense may suffer.

The thing is, no matter how good someone is, I notice that they aren’t great at everything, which is fine because no one is great at everything. But in those limited areas at which you want to excel, you have to constantly practice and keep growing. It’s difficult to stand still. You tend to either move forward or backwards. And I don’t even mean moving backwards relative to others whose skills have exceeded your own (though that will happen as well). I’m saying you either use it or lose it. If you’re good and you lose it, you may regain that skill with practice, but it’s frustrating to have to go through the relearning process every time you ignore some aspect of your skill-set. So I figure if I keep practicing, at least I won’t lose it and hopefully I’m moving forward, even if it’s at a glacial pace. Maybe by the time I’m dead I’ll be really good at what I do.

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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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Disney’s “Bambi” – by Pierre Lambert

I probably have most of Pierre Lambert’s art books on Disney animated films (except for the tome on Sleeping Beauty). The most recent book is “Bambi,” which I found at Stuart NG‘s booth while walking through Wonder Con this past weekend with my lovely bride (you can order it HERE). Like Lambert’s other Disney books, this was in French, but Stuart NG included an English translation, which was nice (but honestly, I get these books for the art and rarely read them). From Stuart NG’s blog:

“Like those volumes, this volume is licensed only for France and will never appear in print in English. So the text is in French; however, anyone ordering this book from Stuart Ng Books will receive our exclusive English language translation booklet, illustrated with five unpublished deer movement studies by Rico Lebrun!”

While Bambi isn’t one of my favorite Disney films in terms of story, it’s definitely one of my favorites in terms of art. If you look at the deer in the final segment of Disney’s Fantasia 2000, it doesn’t even begin to approximate the animation quality of the deer (or other animals) in Bambi.

My favorite thing about “art of –” books is seeing the art in development. I really like seeing how characters develop.

But my absolute favorite part of such books are the backgrounds, both in their conceptual stages and their finished stages without any character overlays.

I really enjoyed Ty Wong’s dreamy background designs for this film. I believe Wong did some work for Hallmark’s greeting cards, which makes sense given that his work certainly provokes an emotional response.

I absolutely dig pencil renderings like the one below. I wish I could capture that mysterious sense of mood. It would be fun illustrating an entire story in this kind of style.

One of the workers in Stuart NG’s booth told me that the next book Lambert would be making would be on the art of Peter Pan which I’m really looking forward to seeing. Peter Pan is another favorite of mine. Well, pretty much all of the films Disney produced while Walt was still alive are my favorites. After that, I prefer Pixar’s offerings over anything made by Disney.

For the record, I’m not in any way associated with Stuart NG. However, since I bought my copy from them, and since this book will not be imported and can’t be found on Amazon’s USA website, I though t I’d give Stuart NG a plug, as they provide a service Amazon doesn’t, namely, they take the risk of carrying the book in their inventory for customers to actually handle and review before purchasing. I think that risk deserves my patronage, so I buy from them if I can. I encourage everyone to support your local brick-and-mortar store if you’re financially able, before Amazon puts them all out of business.

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Guitar Break #8

More stuff I made up while noodling around…

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Comic Con 2017 Badge

So my Comic Con badge arrived in the mail today. Here’s a video of the package opening.

I’m not sure why they’re mailing it in a box when an envelope would have been more than enough room and would have probably been less expensive to ship. Maybe they’re trying to counter the ticket-price sticker-shock with a somewhat pleasant badge package.

I wonder if people are already selling the box, pin, and and ephemera on ebay. I’ll probably save mine since this is the first year they’re doing this. I suspect as ticket prices increase, the fanciness of this package will get even more, er, um, “fancy-schmancy”?

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Guitar Break #6

Noodling around on the USA Hamer Newport. You can’t really see the orange-sparkle finish on the hand-carved, spruce arch-top, but it looks nice in person. Here’s a little bit of bluesy nonsense I came up with for fun.

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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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Go Kids – Beyond The Illustrations

In 2013, Plain Joe Studios subcontracted my services to produce some character designs and illustrations for the Go Kids children’s ministry of River Valley Church. Since then, I’ve been doing illustrations and children’s books for the Go Kids program using these characters. gokids_group-pose

Recently, Justyn Smith, co-author of the Go Kids series of children’s books, shared images on Instagram of costumed characters and products based on my character designs and illustrations. I asked his permission to share those images and he graciously gave his consent.

The image of Tom E. Squirrel on the left is a poster I created for Go Kids. The watch and pins on the right are products based on my illustration.

The image of Tom E. Squirrel on the left is a large poster I created for Go Kids. The watch and pins on the right are products based on the illustration.

The cookies on the right also utilized my illustrations, like the image I created on the left.

The cookies on the right also utilized my illustrations, like the image on the left.

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Go Kids t-shirt and mug.

Justyn Smith with Robbie the parrot.

Justyn Smith with Robbie the parrot.

gokids_tom-costume

Tom E. Squirrel in the flesh… or, in the fur.

gokids_carlos-costume

Justyn Smith with Carlos.

When I showed my wife these pics, she immediately asked if we could get some of the items, so I wrote to Justyn and he generously offered to send me some stuff gratis. What a guy!

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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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