Lights Out

This is the online version of my illustration for the "Your Life" section in the April 20 Sunday edition of the San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and all those other papers churned out under the Bay Area News Group banner.

The story, written by DeAnne Musolf and posted online here, examines the the problematic effects on sleep which may arise from too much exposure to our personal electronic devices before going to bed, particularly the effects on our kids.

Open this link in a new window to see a pretty danged huge version of this image.

My daughter -- bouncing in the sunlight on her second birthday as I type this -- has a stunning mastery of the iPad, which her mom and I worry about. We're limiting her time with it and try not to use it when she's around. I fret she may be developing an addiction but then again, I am the one standing inside the closet, out of sight, checking my email...

After I read the story and my rough was approved, I planned to photograph my daughter holding the ipad and use that image for reference. But long before going home I refined the rough and drew her from memory. The illustration was 90% done before shift's end and it really looks like her. I guess I've been studying her without realizing it.

Here is how page designer Jennifer Schaefer designed the page layout.

My initial rough is below, left. Obviously, for the sake of story placement, I lost the window along the way and attempted to evoke the the impression of night rather than showing it directly. On the right is a screen capture of how it looked after cleaning up the rough and experimenting with a color scheme.

Drawn, colored, painted in Photoshop!

That's all for this time! 

Selecting Your Stuff

Sorry I've posted this a little late, but Angela Hill wrote another nifty story, this one discussing the stuff we have and probably don't need. Angela's story is here. It's a few weeks old, but timeless.

My illustrative accompaniment is a play on Charles Shulz's Pigpen character. We go through life and the possesions that we accumulate and drag around with us can seem to be a cloud of debris that eventually ends up somewhere else by way of garage sale, thrift store or garbage truck.

Open link a new window for a monster-size version of the illustration as it ran online;
a moderately large monster, that is. Not King Kong, more like Mighty Joe Young, but still big enough to intimidate!

Hopefully it's not too oblique a reference. I think that the people who still read newspapers are people who grew up reading Peanuts during it's initial run, and they will make the connection.

Every once in a while I try to cut down the clutter in my life. This morning I stared for a full minute at two shelves full of old magazines that I don't need anymore, but I have one of those annoying emotional attachments to them. Several years ago I had about seven shelves of old magazines and because of a de-cluttering frenzy, I'm down to two. And you know what? I haven't looked at them once since I selected them for saving. I might be on the brink of another severe de-clutter.

Here's how it looked in the paper on a page designed by Jennifer Schaefer.

Back to the illo: I tried to keep it loose and light, not only because it was a busy work-week, but because I really liked the rough I submitted for approval. I don't show it because it's pretty much what I ended up with. I wish I had stuck with the original figure (shown below, left) and gone with her. Sometimes drawings that are modified with the intention of making them "better drawings" can end up losing some of their charm. The second one walks more like a real person, but the stiff spine and simpler face of my first effort appeals to me more.

The initial character sketch and her eventual replacement.

Drawn in Manga Studio, colored in Manga Studio and Photoshop.

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.