Progress Doodle #7 – Random Sketches

Before getting the Cintiq, I used to sit at my drawing board with a large stack of copy paper next to me and doodle away, tossing those drawings into the trash as I created them. I didn’t throw them away because they were bad. I threw them away because I created so much of it that it wasn’t feasible to keep and store a lot of nonsense sketches which served no purpose beyond my having some fun doodling.

After getting the Cintiq, however, I would do the same thing digitally. So basically, I’d create a Photoshop document, create a new layer, start doodling, delete the drawing, sketch something else, delete that, and so on. It just didn’t make sense to keep so many sketches, even digitally.

Then I decided I could keep the files if I just created one file, create a layer, sketch on it, lock the layer and turn it off, then start a new sketch on another layer, lock that and turn it off, and sketch again on yet another layer and so forth. This way I could have one layered document with 20 or 30 doodles on it. The problem, of course, is that the file thumbnail only shows the visible layers, so if I want to find a sketch among so many files, there’s no way to tell which file has the layer with the sketch I want. This really isn’t such a problem, because if I ever liked a sketch enough to go back to it, I’ll usually save a separate jpeg of it anyway.

These days, if I want to doodle digitally, I’ll create a Procreate file and just do different sketches on different layers. The nice thing about Procreate is the video feature, so instead of having to open a file and look through so many layers, I can just create a video of my sketch sessions and going through that video will show me what’s on a particular file.

So how do you doodle for fun?

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Illustrative Storytelling 3.0

Here’s yet another sampling of an illustration done at Plain Joe Studios as a supplement to the spacial story characters created for River Valley Church’s Go Kids ministry. The smaller versions show the different ideas before arriving at the final rendering.

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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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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

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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