Oakland Tribune Masthead

Weird. Lurking in my blogspot unpublished drafts collection was the following post. Typed it up and forgot about it... for seven years: 

I found this in an old folder on an old computer. I drew it back in 2001, not too long after I was hired in the Pleasanton-based Oakland Tribune graphics department. One of my first tasks was to do an engraving-style image of the Oakland Tribune Tower for the masthead. Strange, but I worked for the Trib for years and yet they sold the tower before I ever had the chance to set foot in it!

I was still very new to Photoshop and I created this with a mouse like the cavemen did. My grasp on the dots-per-inch concept was neolithic as well and, about half-way through, someone explained to me that 72dpi wasn't going to work for print. Yeesh. Told you I was new at Photoshop.


I managed to get it done tho, and it was on every front page – seven days a week – for a decade or so. Kind of cool. 

R.I.P. Oakland Tribune.

Been hellabusy at work and life recently. Still have a couple of recent unfinished unpublished drafts for a couple of illustrations which I will polish up and post soon. But then again, that's what I thought about the OakTribune masthead post, right?

The End.

California Ain't Going Nowhere

I threw this effort together for a Matt Artz: Ace Reporter story about all that noise some folks are making about California seceding from the United States. Turns out it might be more trouble than it's worth – surprise, surprise.

Drawn & colored in Photoshop.


Not too crazy about my Trump doodle there. He looked better early on, but toward the end I zoomed in and refined him until he sort of strayed from a decent likeness. Ah well. He's one of those characters that you don't have to have a perfect likeness to get the point across. I have a feeling I'll have to draw him again a time or two over the next four (8?) years. Plenty of practice ahead.

It ran on the Nov. 27, Sunday front page of the Mercury News, East Bay Times, Marin Independent Journal and looked like this:



The End.

Happy Trumpsgiving!

This artistic effort was created for a story about the possible tension at the Thanksgiving family gathering because of the hard feelings that have been generated by the election. It is, of course, a riff on Norman Rockwell's classic painting.

This is one of those illustrations I'm both happy with and totally disappointed in. I had only about one shift from start to finish. Imagine if I could have cluttered the table with more food, more utensils, more fists shaking, perhaps some food flying through the air. More angry faces! Some background.

Drawn in Photoshop.

Ah well, I guess it turned out alright, all things considered. Below is how it looked in print!



The End.

A Pleasant Evening

Sketched up a couple of goofy, loose character doodles last week. I did some coloring and re-drawing tonight with no purpose other than giving myself some playtime.

Drawn in Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop

Listened to 50s rock & roll and blues from the 20s and 30s and had a blissful 30 minutes or so where I was lost in thought and in the music and time stopped and I was held in a perfect moment.

I came back to Earth on the interruption of a commercial to find most of the drawing was pleasantly colored and the ice had almost completely melted into the orange juice. It made for bland beverage but a pleasant journey.

Too bad the art ain't great, but it was a nice way to spend the evening.

Another Unused Illustration

I found this today in an old folder squirreled away in the archives. It was for a front page story about how the water restrictions and fines weren't working on those people who can afford to pay the fines and keep wasting water... or something like that. It's been a while.



Not sure why it wasn't used. I recall it was a quick turnaround, so maybe it just wasn't fitting right, or the designer didn't dig it. Totally can't remember.

Therefore it's an unsuccessful, unfinished piece but I like it as a rough sketch kind of thing.

The End.


Election Stress

I created this illustration with Manga Studio & Photoshop, and it ran on the front page of the Mercury News on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The excellent story is by Angela Hill, a writer I've paired with many times in the past. When she writes with a smile I think my work compliments her work very well. You can read this piece online here.

Drawn and painted in Manga Studio with a bit of Photoshop.

The concept occurred to me immediately when I was given the topic. I put the rough together in the early afternoon, after discarding some other compositions along the way. When the rough was accepted, I discovered I only had a few hours to get it finished, so there was some illustration-about-election-stress stress when I found out it was needed that quickly, but it worked out.


Sometimes I think my art is better when I don't get the chance to polish it up too much.

The end.

Illustration Denied

Here is a color rough for an illustration I will not finish... because it's been canceled. This was going to accompany a story about creating pathways and tunnels for animals so that they don't have to cross busy streets and highways. One look at my rough and they decided against it. Sniff.

Had fun drawing it, tho.


Painted in Manga Studio and Photoshop!

Abstractin'

A few years ago I found an old folder in the attic full of post-it notes stuck on sheets of typing paper. Hundreds of post-it notes with head drawings and abstract doodles. Looked a lot like this:

Drawn in MangaStudio. Click to enlarge, altho they
probably won't be improved by closer examination.


The other day I ran across a video on YouTube where an artist was drawing abstract stuff as an exercise for coming up with ideas for more realistic work. I'm not pursuing that goal here. I enjoyed watching the abstractions appear as he drew and thought they were just fine. I want to play, too!

I decided to turn off the thinking machine and just doodle. Draw a line or two, spin the page 90 degrees, draw more lines, spin the page again, draw more lines; and so on, until each one looked right. Well, they don't all look right to me but, at some point, they looked "done."

Drew three pages of them this evening and stacked them in the order I drew them, top to bottom. You can tell by the third page that I desperately wanted to get back to drawing something that wasn't an abstract doodle!

It was a lot fun to focus on composition and not craft. But now I seriously want to draw real stuff, like dogs playing poker, or something like that.

Family Harmony

Here is my latest illustration. It ran on Sunday, Sept. 25 in the Bay Area News Group family of newspapers (Mercury News, East Bay Times, etc.) and online. You can read the excellent story by the always excellent Michelle Quinn at this link.

Drawn in Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop

Below is my first rough. 

I didn't have a clear idea about how to show what was going on in the cloud so I just put an old iPod up there before showing it to the editors. It's the same idea, same concept, but I needed a better symbol. Otherwise there wasn't much change from the get-go.




Here is how I tweaked it for online presentation:




Below is how the great Daymond Gascon used my scribble on the biz front. 



The End.

P.S. Yes, I put that shirt on him on purpose because . . . shhh . . .  (whispering:) I really dig KISS.

Keeping You Safe

This is a piece that ran in the Mercury News on Sunday, Sept. 4. The excellent story, by biz writer Queenie Wong, can be read here, at this link.


This is the reconfigured format for online presentation. Open in new window for a HUGE image.

Here is what it looked like in print.

Design by the always wonderful Daymond Gascon.


That is all!

Blue Tooth At Home

I did this a couple of years ago for a story about blue tooth devices for home and car... I think. It's been a while and I can't find the story online, but that sounds about right.


I'm a bit rushed today so I don't have time to do all the usual legwork, but I'll update this later if I get around to finding the story, the pdf for the printed page, etc.

A Beginner's Guide to Old Time Radio

I was recently able to do an illustration for a topic near and dear; old time radio! You can read the fab story by Pat May at this link! Here's what I did:

Drawn in Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop

I've been listening to radio theater most of my life; I've listened to so much of it that I've probably spent more time listening to radio shows than watching TV. The internet is a great resource for this nearly dead art form.

There are some good contemporary radio theater practioners, and I'll list a few when I get a chance (if I get any response to this entry) but this is a rushed post today.

I didn't realize the story was so heavily connected to the commuter until fairly late – totally bad oversight on my part. I began a quick fix, putting the shadow in a convertible, but I wasn't able to get it to a point where it looked decent, and other chores kept me from giving it the necessary attention. Too busy that week, darn it!

Here's how it looked in the paper:


The End
SaveSave

Doodle Dump

A couple of screenshots of recent brainstormings.

I was given two assignments on the same day, and sketched roughs for both of them on the same sheet of "paper." You can scroll down a couple of posts to see the finals.

Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop 


.
The figures below were doodled in anticipation of another illustration, but we ended up going in a different direction when the story didn't quite match up to what I thought it was going to be about. That happens from time to time.

I'd forgotten about that assignment and therefore haven't shared it here yet. I'll do that soon. Ended up being a Sunday front page illustration!

Photoshop sketches

The End

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

This illustration ran in the Mercury News on Friday, August 5. You can read the story by Pat May at this link. Don't have much time for typing today, but I'll try to update this post later this week.


Drawn and painted in Clip Studio Paint, with a touch of Photoshop

And here's what it looked like on the front page:



The End

Strange Fan Art

I found a very old sketch of the figure on the right, but he wasn't the Hulk yet, just a figure running. I started inking his torso and thought the body looked like a Herb Trimpe Hulk torso. I obliterated the previous noggin, sketched up a screaming Hulk head, found some pants for him, and finished the drawing.

Initially – and with a feeling of great horror – it looked as though Herb Trimpe had been inked by Robert Crumb; not what I had intended at all... but you know what? I would buy that issue in a freakin' heartbeat. I started liking it.

Drawn and colored in Clip Studio Paint, altho I'd rather just call it Manga Studio.







Clearly the Hulk was yelling at somebody, but who? I started sketching a figure, and I thought she would turn into She-Hulk, but I've never been keen on that character, except maybe for Byrne's first run. I decided a somewhat retro Wonder Woman would do, but I pushed her slightly in the direction of a Crumb drawing to keep her in tune with her opponent.

It's a slightly goofy piece of work, I'll admit, but it was fun to play with. I guess I should have put the golden lasso in there somewhere. I could have worked that in pretty easily, now that I'm looking at it.

At this point, for a second, I considered withholding this post until I looped it in there, but it's nearing bedtime and I won't have time to get to it tomorrow. Who knows how long it'll take to get back to it. 

I'm just calling it done! 

The End.

Speak Easy

Here's an illustration that ran with an excellent story by Richard Scheinin in the July 18 Tech section of the Mercury News. The story is about apps that might help you get over your fear of public speaking, or at least give an assist as you try to sweat your way through it. You can read it at this link!

Created in Illustrator.

Yeah, no public speaking for me, thank you; but the illustration came pretty easy thanks to all of the nightmarish anxiety I have when confronted by the possibility that someone might hear if I start to speak aloud.

Original rough, drawn in Photoshop.

I could have used my rough sketch as the final illustration, but I've been wanting to do vector work, since I haven't done much of that in long time. I like the rough better but the final version was fun to work on.

Here's how it looked in the paper, as designed by Daymond Gascon:




The End.

Another Experiment


I took a version of an illustration I recently created for work and used AnimeStudio to make it wiggle a little bit. Not a big deal, but I had started experimenting with some animation a year or two ago and unfortunately I wandered off and forgot what I had learned. Life is crummy like that sometimes.

So, I was able to bear down a couple of nights ago and attempted to relearn a few things. God, it was hard. It's not really "an animation," more of a looping gif type of thing but, since I'm not bright enough to figure out how to make a gif out of it, I made a dull looping movie. Progress!

video


Again, this is a minor attempt. I put it here mostly to shame myself into making more and better things. It's bound to be a letdown if you bother to click. Striving for improvement through embarrassment! Tally ho!

Later...
Ugh! Flash-based video above. Here is a YouTube version, which might be easier for phone and tablet people (like me!) to look at.


More later. Hopefully not a year later. Soon! I hope. Soon.

Dad Draws Evelyn, Evelyn Draws Dad

While my daughter Evelyn was out playing, I sat up against a wall, drew a quick sketch of her and then filled in the background. She stopped me as I worked and wanted to contribute, so she has a few drawings appear in the screen capture. No music for this one; I made a little tune that I liked but it was too long, so I'll save it for another project.




Drawn on an iPad with Procreate!

The Bat-Man

Drew a Batman for a neighbor kid. Colored it in a hurry this morning, and I'm still in a hurry, so that is all for now.

Drawn in Manga Studio, printed, lightbox inking on paper,
scanned back into Manga Studio, tidied up, colored in Photoshop!

The End.

Experimental Piece

Goofing around with Procreate on the iPad, Garage Band and iMovie. Maybe not so great, but I had a good time!




The End

Star Wars Again

A while back – around the time of the latest Star Wars movie release – the newspaper ran a contest for “most dedicated Star Wars fan." My job was to do a drawing of the winner as their favorite Star Wars character for a section front illustration.

So, here it is! It was another case of a very quick turnaround. I was scheduled for a vacation when it was due, and I believe I started it on my last day of work, finishing it up on my 2nd or 3rd day of vacation. I worked on it in between playing with my daughter and cleaning out the garage.

Created in Clip Studio Pro and Photoshop

The End.

Head Sketchbook Project Staggers Along

I'm determined to finish my heads sketchbook project, and this is the second post since it's latest revival,* but it's clear that the blog can fill up with an annoying run of head sketches in a hurry if I continue to update in this fashion. I'm not sure how I'll handle it from here on. Possibly I'll wait until I get 16 or 20 drawings before posting them.

I'll worry about it later. Here's the latest batch. Random heads off the Internet! Drawn with an assortment of pens.



Gauri: I did a little pencil shading with an old 6B. I found an old set of watercolor pencils and took a chance, coloring in the square around her head. I applied a little water but the pencil refused to melt into watercolor like it should. The pencil set is probably 20+ years old so maybe they have a shelf date.

Ezra & Ezra: Started each of them left handed, switched back to right after total frustration set in.

The End.

See two posts back for that story.

Ugh! Politicians.

Speaking as someone who may be called upon to occasionally caricature or cartoon the President, I’m all for Trump or Cruz. Great hair on one, great faces on both. Absolutely fun to work on -- again, speaking as someone who might have to draw them.
Kasich is a bit more conventional in appearance so – while I’m (uncertainly) certain he is a fine fellow – I’m for the other guys. Bernie and Hillary are also awesome; for my own selfish interest I’d vote for them, too

Open in a new window for a MUCH larger image.

This illustration ran on May 1 in the San Jose Mercury News and East Bay Times newspapers! The fine story by Matt Artz can be read online here. Mr. Artz always does good work!
How it appeared in print.

Drawn in Photoshop on a tight deadline. Actually, I had plenty of time, but I had planned to use photographs of their heads on the bodies; I thought I was done! About three hours before deadline I was told the editors were expecting the heads to be drawn. So, I took about 30 seconds to huff and cuss and sputter angrily before reopening the illustration and drawing like the wind. 

To expedite the process I did an extremely spare tracing of Kasich and Cruz's heads, with minimal strokes indicating mouth, nose and eyes; I don't often do that. I prefer to draw freely and start over if I miss on someone's likeness. I believe my caricatures can be hampered by tightly referenced drawing; and they can end as dull portraits rather than playful or creative likenesses.*


But Kasich's face worried me. As I implied above, he's looks like a generic middle-aged white guy – no offense to me intended. To be honest, before this assignment, I couldn't have picked him out of a line-up.** With so little time to work and such a dull face, I couldn't count on making a good sketch on the first or second try. And still I'm not sure it really looks like him!


Cruz was easy and his came out best, I think. Trump? I could have used the time to take another swing at him. Not totally happy. As the clock was winding down I overlaid the photo I used for reference and tried to correct things, which unsurprisingly didn't help much. Oh well.


That's all for now!


The End.

*Although they look more like dull portraits than creative likenesses anyway.

**I'm not following the Presidential race at all this time. I don't know why, but I'm just not interested. I know I should be, but every time I try to rouse the interest, I lose interest. Wake me when it's over and I can just make funny cartoons about Hillary.

Let Us Finish This Damned Thing!

In early 2008 I bought a small sketchbook intending to fill it with head studies. I misplaced it after several months and two or three dozen drawings. A year passed. In late 2009 I rediscovered the book, promptly drew one head (very poorly) and placed it on a high shelf in the closet. The world whisked around the sun a time or two.

In 2011 the book came out from hiding and – again – I drew a single head. It was better than 2009's solitary effort but not by much. I must have been discouraged. The book settled back in the closet, out of plain sight and easy reach. Like Van Winkle's eyelids, the cover shut and did not open for a very long time.



In 2015, February marked yet another rediscovery. The tiny sketchbook had completely fallen from memory and was such a surprise that it prompted a blog-post where I spouted off about how this time I would see it through to the end; but a measly four drawings were all that I generated, two of which appear here. March contributed one half-assed effort – that would be Jon. Jon wouldn't be joined by Arlene until June but she was followed quickly by three Contessas.

Today, ten months later, the book is back in play. Wilhelmina was drawn this morning. I'm about 1/3 of the way through the book.

Enough! I'm not putting it back in the closet. I'll never learn to draw at this pace.

Let us finish this damned thing.

Dumping E-Waste

This is an illo for a San Jose Mercury News story about recycling electronics devices and such. It was written by long-time colleague George Avalos and you can read the story at this link.

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop!

When I received this assignment the topic was clear but the story hadn't been written yet – not an uncommon situation. The general concept for the illustration was agreed on and it was suggested I not spend a lot of time on it; there were too many other assignments to sort through, so maybe just grab some bits & pieces of older illustrations and put them together with a couple new sketches. Sounded good!

But that never works out. I should know better. I spent too much time looking through old work and trying to make clip art out of it when it would have been more efficient to simply make a new drawing.

A few objects there at the bottom of the stack are cut and paste jobs, and there were a few others, but they didn't fit nicely and I wasted more time warping them, redrawing them, trying to get them to match with the general style. I finally came to my senses, put my shoulder to the old grindstone and drew the stupid thing.

Page design by the great Daymond Gascon


The End


A Tragic Love Story

Long-time colleague Matthias Gafni tells a powerful story of age, disease, the right to die and the compounding cruelty of the law; awful, awful circumstances. Matthias always does a great job and this is one of the most moving stories I've illustrated. You can read it at this link.

Open in a new window for a larger image. Drawn in Photoshop.

I plowed through this illustration as quickly as I could. The topic really bothered me and once I had the concept I did my best to keep my thoughts from dwelling on the tale. I much prefer illustrating fun, light stories and always find the darker and sadder assignments draining.

There is truth in that most news is bad news, but some news is worse than that. One must work on what he or she has to work on and hope that tomorrow's task is less depressing.

Below is the lovely Sunday page designed by Chris Gotsill.

Jack Kirby Study

In the bloom of youth, when I was “the kid who loved to draw,” one of my favorite things to do was to imitate panels or entire pages from my favorite comics. People, cars, buildings, animals, spaceships – you could learn how to draw everything by looking at comics. Redrawing pages and panels was a major part of my early self-education. I spent my formative years studying the great comics masters without once realizing that was what I was doing.

I still get to draw for my job occasionally – so I have not given up on drawing entirely – but I’ve drifted from the habit of drawing for pleasure and fallen far from the practice of drawing on paper.

HB and 4B pencils on Strathmore 300 bristol paper!

It has been more than a decade since I’ve created art regularly in any other medium aside from digital. I would like to return to the days of curiosity-driven study and joyful sketching. I’ve spoken often about getting back to the basic pleasures of drawing in the real world but haven’t made much progress.

Well, here is a nugget of progress. It’s a study of Fantastic Four, issue #91, page two. I wasn’t trying to create an exact replica, just looking at and following Jack Kirby’s design and layout. I think I may have followed too closely in spots – resulting in a piece that looks like Kirby on a bad day – but it was fun to do and the fun was what I was hoping for.

There will be more drawing on paper to come, and maybe more comics drawn on paper since this was such a good time!
The end.