Off to Tech Heaven

Here is an illustration I did for work in February. I had totally forgotten about it. I happened to be in the office where the writer works and she stopped by and said that she really liked the illustration I had done for this story... and I had no idea what she was talking about. God, I felt like an idiot. It took a few seconds -- loooong seconds -- before I pulled up the vision in my head and was able to stammer out a few words that indicated, in a sputtering fashion, that I was indeed the fool who drew that thing a few weeks back.

Open the link in a new window for a HUGE version of this image.

It was a very quick turnaround so I didn't spend an overlong amount of time with it, and in this instance I never saw it in the paper. I usually follow up and check on the stuff I've done to see how it printed, but I sent the image to the page designers, made a version better suited for online presentation (above) and sent that to the web folks; and then I pretty much blotted out the memory.

It seems strange that I lost it so soon, because I really connected with the story when I read it, and here is the link to Michelle Quinn's story. I mourn the demise of my G4 iMac and my 3rd generation iPod. Well, I still have them but they can only talk to each other, and the iPod is forgetful and can't hold a charge for more than 10 minutes. But I think of them as my favorite tech devices, particularly when it comes to interface and usability. They sit next to each other in a corner and every time I look at them I wish they'd make new iMacs like that, and update the iPod classic to look like that one. I should just throw them away but I'm still in love.

Here's how it looked in the paper!

So, I can't really explain why I lost track of it. I kind of like the drawing, too. Weird.

I drew it in Photoshop, colored it therein, too.

Here's my first rough, for those (like me) who like to see these things.

The End.

New Wave of Mobile Messaging!

Here's an illustration that ran in the Bay Area News Group papers a couple of weekends ago. The excellent story by Troy Wolverton is here! It doesn't really feel like an illustration to me, but that's the case whenever I work in vector. All I did here was trace app icons, create a wave and arrange them until the editors said "good enough!"

I'd say my lack of enthusiasm for vector art is an old-school bias against these new-fangled computer-thingies, but I draw freestyle in Photoshop almost exclusively, having neglected pencil and paper for several years now. Something about adjusting lines with little handles makes it feel more like putting a model together rather than drawing. But at least you don't have to wait for the glue to dry! That always put me off model-making. Anyway, where was I?

Open in new window for giant size image.

Here's how it looked on the page designed by Daymond Gascon:

Don't bother clicking. Doesn't get any bigger.

That's about all I have to say this time 'round. Except for...

The End.

Just Messing Around

Trying to get back into the habit of having fun and enjoying the process of drawing and painting characters out of my head. I haven't been feeling the joy lately. So, this weekend I goofed around and whipped up these three characters based on heads I doodled for fun last week.

Open in a new window for a pretty large version.

I gave myself until last night to finish them, but I cheated a bit this morning because the lady on the right had no legs. Much better now. I'll probably tidy it up later and re-post because I can see a bunch of simple things that annoy me. Looks like I wasn't up for drawing shoes at all, doesn't it? Weak-ass crap that is.

Again, just for fun! Figures drawn mostly in Manga Studio 5, tweaks and some drawing added in PS.

Coping With Fear

This was fun to do! Here’s the story by long-time colleague Jessica Yadegaran.

Open in a new window for a very large image.

This illustration was pretty much done straight from the initial rough. I tried to keep it cute –– as I often do –– but I tried to be cute in a different way. I'm trying to diversify my cartooning styles. I've been flattening things lately, leaning more toward an animation flavor rather than my Mad Magazine tendencies. Everything I do would look like a poor man's Jack Davis if I just sit back and scrawl.

Rough drawing on the left, line work and flat colors right. I made that blue guy less interesting as I went along, didn't I?

In preparation I spent time looking at lovely animation-style art on Pinterest and tried to lean on other artists’ tendencies rather than my own. I drew these character’s bodies while looking at other artists’ cute kid drawings.

In retrospect it looks like I drew my inspiration from artists who draw a little bit like me. I’ll be darned but the proportions of the final figures look almost spot on with my roughs. Oh well.

And my characters’ hands look like the kind of hands I’d draw, too. I was purposefully trying to do them differently but they looked wrong when I tried to steal their style from other artists.

Here's how it looked on the page. Ace designer Jennifer Schaeffer
always makes good-looking pages, no matter the dross I toss into hopper.

Drawn in Photoshop.

Just A Head Scribble

Found a little bit of time tonight to mess around with the painting tools in Manga Studio 5. I really like the oil and india ink brushes. This is about a 10 minute scribble out of my head.

I appear to still be mired in a catastrophically huge art-slump. I'm not very happy with my artistic output on the job, and the necessary time and energy for personal art isn't quite happening right now. I should try more of these 'round midnight scribble sessions and see what happens. This is kind of fun.

2013 Hasn't Been That Great For The Blog, Has It?

Is the blog still alive?

It’s obvious the habit has been broken. The blog began its eighth year in February, but 2013 has been the least productive by far. I’ve managed less than 30 posts and about half of the images are accompanied by tedious complaints about how I’m not finding time to draw or blog. Kind of like this one, I guess. Who wants to read that crap?

Back in September I was very depressed by how it was going. I started preparing the blog’s formal obituary notice – if it's no longer any fun why not just kill it? – but I haven’t had the heart to finish it. I occasionally look in on the blog as though it were an old, sick friend. I smile and check the pulse. “Hey, 13 visitors today. Oh! And 45 last Thursday? That’s not bad, eh?” And the blog coughs, and mumbles something I can't make out. I pat it gently. “There, there, you’ll be alright.” And then I make sure the “Do not resuscitate” tag is still tied firmly to the toe before quietly moving on to another web page.

Here are a few heads I doodled up in Photoshop the other night. Just goofing around.

Very good and pretty bad

I have a 20 month-old daughter and she has been alert, mobile and needing a father’s attentive eye during the morning hours I used to fill by creating personal art. She is transforming into a person, and the days of dropping her into a crib and rocking her to sleep are long gone. We go for walks every morning. She sits in the stroller and points at cars and trees and dogs; or she’s exercising her little legs at the park, running about in a wobbly manner and terrorizing the ducks who inexplicably don’t hear her coming. This is not a complaint. She is some of the best fun I've ever had and it's a joyous privilege to have this time with her.

My job, on the other hand, still affords opportunities for illustration but there has been a decline in the type of assignments I enjoy. As the newspaper business continues to change, I can foresee a time where creating art will be such a small part of what I do that I won’t be able to think of myself as a working artist anymore. To be honest, I’m feeling that way now and I'm struggling with finding a solution for the disappointment.

I’ve done a few illustrations at work since my last blog post, but I haven’t been happy with them. It has been extremely frustrating, but it has ignited an enormous urge to do work that I have more passion for. I have two small projects I’ve been cultivating during bouts of insomnia for the past year and I hope to show new stuff soon.

From slogging to blogging

The blog isn't quite dead. Why should it be? As long as I still have a hope that someday I might become a real artist, then there's no reason why I can't just wake up the slumbering blog when I want to play with it. I've found it's always a matter of momentum when it comes to this habit. Post three times in a week and a fourth becomes easier. Skip November and missing December is a piece of cake.

I'm confident 2014 will be a huge uptick for the blog and – with a bit more concentrated effort – my professional life will begin to achieve the kind of fun I'm having in my home life.

The End of 2013

Disjointed Connections

Digital illustration for a Troy Woverton story that ran in the Bay Area News Group newspapers' Technology section on Monday, Oct. 13. Click here to read the story.

Open in a new window for a much larger version.

Without purposeful intent I've been experimenting with a flatter style of illustration lately. My next effort will also be that way, but intentionally so. I've been feeling bored by my work and this is a strategy way to revive my interest in drawing. 

Here's how it ran in the paper!

I have enjoyed the process. I'm not completely happy with the pieces so far but I feel like I'm learning something new, and it's refreshing to be surprised by what I have when I finish.

The End.

Always On

Here is an illustration that ran today – Monday, October 6 – in the San Jose Mercury News Technology section.

The story by Patrick May (click here for the link) is about coping with the stress brought on by our reliance on today's popular personal technology. In the article Patrick considers a variety of our anxieties and their causes. We just can't get away from it all, can we? Not that I'd want to, to be honest.

Drawn in Photoshop, this version of the illustration ran online.

The tech-worry I have right now is upgrading my iPad2 to iOS7; I'm holding on to iOS6, thank you. I mean, what if it jacks up my favorite games? 

This version, a bit taller and with the tech-devices flipped, ran in the paper.

The End.

Hey! Another Old Doodle!

I just found this on an old computer of mine. I don't think it has ever been seen on a screen other than that of a Lime Green 233 mghz tray-loading iMac back in 2002. And now, dear internet, I give it to you:

Open in a new window for a MUCH larger image!

Probably painted in Photoshop 5 or maybe 6. 

Know What They Know

This is an illustration for a story about accessing the information that companies have gathered about you as a result of monitoring your internet activity. Or something kinda like that. For the full scoop read Brandon Bailey's story on the San Jose Mercury News website right here.

Click to open in a new window for a HUGE file to view.

Above is the final art and below is the rough. Drawn mostly in Manga Studio and colored mostly in Photoshop!

Don't bother clicking. It doesn't get any larger.

The end.

Me, In Action!

I can see the attraction of creating animation. It's never really grabbed me before, but now? I think I've been pleasantly grabbed. There's a better way of putting that, but I can't come up with it before coffee.

My creation is a humble creation, yet getting this far has taught me a lot. Because of the research I've done to learn how to make this, I also am aware that animating in Photoshop (and in old Photoshop CS4 to boot) is not the way to advance this skill set. However, since I have nothing else at the moment, I'll probably just muck about in the old sty for a brief period and build on this ever so slightly.

The idea behind this effort was to make a quick, animated logo for my website -- with this little animation and animated text -- but that was way too complicated for my first attempt. I can see how to do it now, but I don't have the time at the moment to make that happen. So, this is what I've got today.

The End

It's A Burd; A Short Process Video

An experiment! This is my first shot at a short process video, created in Photoshop. A week or so ago I discovered that you can make movies in Photoshop! Who knew? Why don't people tell me these things?

It's not a perfect attempt. It is, after all, my first try at something like this. It wasn't hard to do but there has been the usual "trial and error" nonsense that slows me down every time I try to learn something new. I'm able to post this today because of determination, stick-to-it-iveness and that bout of insomnia that lifted me from bed at about 4 am today.

This is a 30 second overview of how I created this illustration. The scribbles were done in Photoshop, the final line artwork was created in Manga Studio 5, and then back to Photoshop for the color.

I blogged this illustration last month, so you can scroll down a few entries to see it or click here.

I'll probably do a few more of these on account of my newbie's interest, but that's likely to fade pretty soon. If you find it helpful or interesting, throw a little feedback my way! Comment here or tweet me or email me or whatever. Just a few nods of the head will probably light a fire under me for a while.

The End

p.s. I'm not very happy with the resolution on this thing and, being a rookie YouTube movie uploader and movie embedder, I'm not sure yet how to fix it. I'll get there, tho.

How come the little button thingies to make it larger aren't there? Crap. Oh, well.

New Character Design Drawing!

New drawing. Nothing grand, this is just an example of me goofing around in short-burst spare moments with an eye on trying to build up a stronger backlog of character design work.

Drawn in b&w, colors stained in haste. Then, about 20 minutes of touch up work before giving up on it

I know I should have created a more suitable couple of weapons -- not that there's ever anything cooler than a Colt and and Winchester -- but I gave myself a time limit on this and I wasn't going to make it. The guns were almost completed for another drawing I abandoned earlier, so dropping them in here was a quick & easy cheat.

Beware! The Claws of the Cat

Today I did a few drawings in Manga Studio 5. I'm practicing with it, and really starting to like it. I spent some time exploring how to modify the drawing tools, and they're much more customizable than I had previously thought. I didn't do any finished art, mostly just drawing experiments, but I finished off this doodle to give myself the feeling that I actually did something.

Drawn in Manga Studio 5, most coloring done in Photoshop.

One of the first comics I owned was the first issue of "Beware! The Claws of the Cat"with art by the great Marie Severin, featuring Wally Wood laying down his always lovely, always overpowering inks.

My original copy was lost decades ago but I picked up another one and it's even better than I half-remembered. I spent a lot of time with that book when I was a kid, and there wasn't a panel in there that was unfamiliar to me all these years later.

This was an experiment in trying to emulate that Wally Wood feathered line. I hit it in some spots, didn't too do well in others. Fail and learn, fail and learn.

The End.

Named In Honor Of...

This illustration has been on slow-cook for a month or so, and I'm glad it's finally run. Originally I'd intended to have each guy driving his own little car, except for Mr. Caldecott who would be standing in a hole. It quickly became clear that it would have to be larger to accommodate such illustrative silliness, so I scaled back the nonsense.

Click to bigify

To learn what this is all about, and to read a fine story by Gary Petersontake a look here.

I'm including a few super-huge character shots below for the art wonks who occasionally look in. I tried to keep the digital painting technique kind of loose and watery. I'm pretty happy with the way most of the caricatures turned out.