Working Under a Watchful Eye

Quick post, late night, under the influence of nighttime cold medication. I'm suffering from a terrible bug and I'm trying to reassemble myself for work tomorrow, after a vacation decimated in large part by the illness that harries me now. But enough about me, here's one of my drawings done for work:

Open in a new window for a HUGE image!

And here is a link to the excellent story written by Steve Johnson. It's a story that is somewhat disturbing, but definitely a trend that will continue.

I suppose my little cartoon makes light of this topic, but I tend to shrug and laugh when faced with the darker side of employer/employee relationships, and I won't say any more about it than that because, now, I'm certain they're probably listening! ;-P

Here's my original rough sketch.

As a laughing colleague or two pointed out to me, I have, again, drawn naked people for a front page centerpiece. This is a disturbing trend that I do not approve of, mostly because it may betray some tacky thing about me that I was, and still am, unaware of. The doodle above was my first idea after reading the story. I submitted it to those in charge and -- much to my surprise -- it was approved and there was nothing to do but to do it.

I kid of course, unless you can tell me what's wrong with me.

Here's how it looked in the paper:


Drawn in MangaStudio 5 with a touch or two of Photoshop.

Some Food, Part 3

Hello! I hope this isn't getting tedious; here are more food drawings with plenty still to go. I think I'm losing interest in doing the (crappy) lettering job and arranging these all together for the blog. It was fun to draw but damn if this isn't turning into a chore!

Open in a new window for a much larger view of this stuff.

My attitude problem may stem from having to tend to this while I'm on the first vacation I've been on in a very loooong time. I spent some days hanging out with visiting parents and it was wonderful; and just as that wound down I came under the heel of a wretched cold or flu or some gawdawful thing about which I will not go into detail since we are talking about food here.

I've been out of commission for a few days and I'm still feeling terrible, but vacation's end looms and I should get this together since "free time" will be back to a bare minimum shortly.


Same here.


The chicharron thing above was a challenge to draw. It was a lot like my previous post's "chicarron of trout skin" which was not very good either. This one's quite a step up from that one, tho. 

I really like the flat, graphic quality of the seaweeds in this post's second collection of images. I could have composed it a bit better, but that's my favorite, maybe of the whole batch posted before and yet to come -- so maybe I should just stop here and skip the rest!

So sick and lazy tonight. To be continued...

Some Food, Part 2

Two more sets of drawings from my motherlode of art created for Eat magazine, which appeared in the November 30th Sunday edition of the Bay Area News Group newspapers. An online version of the project has not yet appeared, but if and when it does, I'll provide a link. Great writing, great photography, and twenty-six drawings like these:

Open in new window for a very large version of this image.

I wasn't sure how to approach this assignment when I started. My general instructions asked for drawings of the items served, and I thought I could do pencil style sketches, but the variety of textures and colors made that extremely difficult. It would be more effective to give each a painting-style treatment. The images above were my first two efforts.

On the left, I kept it loose and it just flowed. I was done in about ten minutes and pretty happy with it. The second one was a nightmare. You should see the actual thing; such a rough texture. I experimented with about three different approaches and this was the best of my attempts. I was not overjoyed with it and I meant to come back to it later, but time was short. It's not too bad, but I was really struggling with it.


Open in new window for a very large version of this image.

Gosh, I also meant to come back and fix the cup on the top one. It took a while to paint all those little round things and I hastily filled in the container just to get the general shape right before moving on to the next one. It looks pretty wonky to me. Too late!

I should mention that for reference, reporter Daniel Jimenez took iphone pictures as he made his way through his meal. I was doubtful about how that would turn out, but his efforts were fabulous. He made it very easy for me, although he explained that he started eating a few things before remembering to take a picture, but I just left out the bite marks.

More coming soon!

Some Food, Part 1

I drew a slew of food illustrations for a special magazine insert for the San Jose Mercury News Sunday paper, which appeared on doorsteps November 30.

Daring reporter Daniel Jimenez bravely went forth into a posh restaurant and ordered one of the most expensive meals in the Bay Area to judge for himself if it could possibly be worth it. Mr. Jimenez did what he had to do to get to the bottom of the story, which meant eating all kinds of stuff I would NEVER eat.


Open in a new window for a much larger image.

I created a lot of drawings for this piece and I will share them all, but it would be way too much labor to put them in one post right now; I'm a little full of Thanksgiving turkey and wondrously lumpy smashed 'taters, and can't sit upright in this chair for very long. I'
ll try to show the entire collection in four or five posts and then, ideally, put them in a single enormo-post when I’m done.


Same here.

All of the art was drawn in photoshop, with a touch of MangaStudio here and there. I’ll talk more about the project and the drawings in the entries ahead.

As implied above, I’m not a foodie by any stretch -- I’d frenzy-pounce on the “flash-grilled lobster” for sure, yet flick the yuzu lime thing off my plate with a fork so as not to get any on my fingers -- but I enjoyed drawing all of these.

More to come!

500th (Or Thereabouts) Post!

Officially, according to the list backstage, this is blogpost #502, but I didn't notice when the big one arrived. Actually, I've deleted a lot of posts that, upon revisiting, were bad or stupid or I no longer cared for. This is more like post number 550, I'd bet. But I have to plant the official #500 flag somewhere, I suppose; so accurately or not, here it is. Wish I had a better drawing for it!

To celebrate here's a kind of depressing, somewhat unappealing Caravaggio study.

This is a study from a detail of a Caravaggio painting. I enjoyed drawing those Giants players in my previous post but it was hard because I'm so out of practice. I'm going to try to get back to doing actual studies once in a while. So I started today!

Gave myself 30 minutes, but took about 35 or 40. I approached it like a careful study for about 25 minutes then put away the reference and just riffed a little. Opened the reference back up and tried to fix what I screwed up.

Oh well. It's fun.

Giants Do It Again

The world is topsy-turvy and anything can happen. Weird to think that, a few years ago, I figured I would slip free of this mortal body (many decades down the line) and never see the Giants contend in a World Series. This season, the instant they beat the Pirates in the one game playoff, I would have been more shocked had they not won it all. Again.

Open in a new window for a big ol' image.

Drew this in photoshop over a couple of days (and a little bit of night) for the special section of the Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times etc. I had a great time doing it!

I'm pressed for time right now, but I'l come back with a more formal post about it in the near future, including a pic of how it looked in the paper, as usual.

Staying in the Game

This painting is in today's TechMonday section of the Mercury News-CCT-OaklandTribune-etc. A link to the online version of the story by George Avalos is here.

Open in a new window for a larger version

I did loose photoshop painting studies from some staff photos. I wasn't too concerned with likenesses. I wanted to represent each sport rather than each player -- kind of like those old Pee-Chee folders, for those who remember them -- but I suppose Frank Gore's number totally gives him away. Oh well.

While painting I thought I might be channeling Leroy Neiman, but I'd forgotten just how crazy his colors actually are. My humble efforts above are tame and nearly monochromatic in comparison. There was no time to take another shot with a better Neiman emulation once I realized how poorly I'd done. I'll keep an eye out for another opportunity, tho. I would love to try it!

Hm! It usually runs in BW and color, but I've only found BW version
so far. Will update when/if I run across the other.

The End.

Live and Learn!

I created this cute little illo for the paper a couple of weeks ago & forgot to post it. It's about older folks going to school, taking classes and keeping in the habit of learning new things. Here's the story by the always fabulous Angela Hill! 

Drawn in Photoshop!

Had a good time with this drawing. It was difficult coming up with the idea but I really like how it turned out. Tried to keep the characters less detailed than I usually do. It's so easy to get carried away, but I think I managed to keep from complicating it.

The End

The Soulless Scourge of the Humble Commuter

I wrote a detailed post for this piece. Really, I did. It was in draft mode and I, you know, cleaned up the blog a short while ago. I edited and deleted a few things, and... and I guess I don't need to say any more about that.

Drawn in Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop

Rather than labor my way through recreating the missing text-- there was a lot of it -- I'm going to take the easy way out and simply post the final drawing. The illustration was created for a story about the soulless scourge of the humble commuter, the evil red-light cameras.


The End.

The Bagrada Hilaris Is Not Funny

Photoshop drawings done for a project at work that didn't pan out. Hate for them to just sit around, creeping me out. So! Here are ten (10) Bagrada Bugs. Nasty little pests.

Open in a new window for larger image.

Google and Amazon

This is one of my latest illustrations, created for the Bay Area News Group papers. Here's the story written by the Great Brandon Bailey (unfortunately he is moving on to another job. It's been good fun working on illustrations for his stories and it's a bummer to see him go.)

This was a slightly-out-of-my-comfort-zone effort in that there was a pretty short deadline and I committed to creating it in Illustrator rather than my regular Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop process. It wasn't as frightening as it has been in the past; I must be getting used to it. Not totally happy with how vector art looks when I churn it out, but it's not as ghastly to my eyes as it used to be.

This is the illustration reconfigured for online presentation.

I thought I could save time by making just a few boxes and cloning them repeatedly –– and I tried that –– but it seemed obvious to me that it was the same few boxes over and over again. So, I went in and tweaked all of the box shapes and drew an original face for each one. It wasn't an unbearable amount of work –– much less than I thought it would be –– but so much for my clever shortcuts.

Here it is as prepared for the print edition.

It's always fun to draw, regardless of how I have to do it. Even vector art is better than no art (he said, half-joking and half-not-at-all.)

Here's how it looked in the paper.

The End.

The Ol' Vitruvian Man Bit

Even though I’ve been doing this newspaper graphics and illustration gig for a long time, it’s always fun when something I’ve made goes on a section front, paired up with the efforts of seasoned journalists. Here’s an illustration I created for a story by Brandon Bailey which ran on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News. You can read his excellent work at this link.

Open in a new window for a very large version.

I suppose a possible reaction to this illustration might be, “so, the Vitruvian Man shtick, huh?” I know, I know, you can shake your head and say, “bit cliche,” right? I kind of feel that way, too; but sometimes illustration is about finding a common cultural touchstone and tweaking it to fit your message.

As I brainstorm-doodled, I was using a figure I had drawn previously for another medical illustration, hoping it could be a springboard to get an idea going. One of my editors said that it reminded him of the Vitruvian Man. Hmm. I thought hat might work! I decided to commit entirely to it and see what happened. I don’t believe I’ve made use of this image before –– this crutch, if you will –– in any of my illustrations; at least not that I remember, so don't hold me to it if you come across one in the blog backlog.

Here's how it looked in the paper.
Don't bother clicking, it doesn't get any bigger.

Ha! Now I think, “But so what if I did?” What can you do? Leonard DaVinci was a badass. Here we sit in far away modern America, almost 500 years after he died and you can riff on his work and everyone still knows who he was. He was an art monster.

I found a good size jpeg for reference and the instant I looked into that drawing’s eyes and started making my line on a blank document off to the side, I felt it. The profound weight of those marks on that paper shouting at us from the intense heat of the Renaissance as it exploded like a Big Bang of science, culture and aesthetics. The drawing is so amazing because of where it’s from, when it’s from, and what it represents. Such a beautiful drawing. I certainly enjoyed the experience of adapting it to my purposes.

Drawn in MangaStudio5 and Photoshop.

The End.

Crowdfunding For Animals


Drawn in Photoshop and Manga Studio 5. Open in new window for a huge image.

I was working on this illustration concurrently with the "Housing Crunch" illustration covered in yesterday's post. They were both due on the same day of a busy week, which made for an extremely tight deadline squeeze. It's hard to complain about having two illustrations to do... so I won't. I'll just mention again, it was down to the wire on both of them and I was so relieved I finished in time.



If the image doesn't move you, here is the excellent story by Patrick May. That should do the trick!

The End

Housing Crunch

I had plenty of time to work on this one. I was given the assignment a week ahead of time – couldn't come up with an idea, tho. In my defense, nobody else had any ideas either. I worked on other assignments, stopping occasionally for a futile brainstorming sketch session. It was a bleak drought of creativity.

Open in a new window for a very large image.

The bosses called a late breaking meeting to try to figure out what to do about this disturbing lack of production on my part and, just before walking into the room, I roughed up this concept.

The lesson learned? Should I be threatened with a compulsory meeting involving all of the bosses, I then find my inspiration. The other lesson learned is "Don't come up with an idea that involves drawing bunches of tiny houses." The drawing took a looong time and coloring was even worse, so there was a large dent in my sleeping pattern afterward, but I finished in the nick of time and I'm glad it came out okay.

Here's how it looked in the paper:

Don't bother clicking, it doesn't get any bigger.

The informative and excellent story by Pete Carey – finished way ahead of time in a truly professional manner – can be read at this link.


The End

The Dreaded Flip Play or Slide, Jeremy! Slide!

Darth Jeter made his final appearance at the Oakland Coliseum earlier this season and the powers-that-be, here at the newspaper, decided to commemorate his worst offense, the force choke perpetrated against the Athletics in the all-around dismal year of 2001. What. Ever.

Drawn and painted in Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop.

I couldn't find any good reference picture of that damned Yankee as he cut the heart out of the mighty A's post-season with a flick of the wrist. I had to watch the low-res TV replay over and over and over, studying his pose at that terrible moment.

I utilized the 3D figure model in MangaStudio 5 and posed it as closely as I could to my studies, and then I was able to rotate and turn the model until I found a good angle. Then I searched for pictures of his head that were pretty close to what I needed as reference.

It's an amalgam of extensive reference and winging it. It came out alright, I think.

Here's how it looked in the paper.


If you'd like to wallow in it some more, here is a link to the story by John Hickey, who usually writes about more pleasant things, but somebody had to write the story and his straw was the shortest (I'm just guessing that's how the sports department decided who got stuck writing this one-- certainly we don't have any Yankee boosters writing for our sports pages. Right? I shudder at the thought.)

Sorry to see you go, Jeter, you heartless, no good, pin-striped... um, 5-time World Series champion.

The End