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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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