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Category Archive for ‘Process’ at ART+STORY
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Archive for the 'Process' Category

The Write Stuff, A Sketch + Colors

We are approaching the final hours to score my design “The Write Stuff” on Threadless! I’ve gotten some pretty positive responses on this design (including enthusiastic words from friends at 826 National) and it will be really exciting if this is selected for print, but I’m calling on everyone to give it that extra push it needs to really stand out by scoring it a FIVE (if you haven’t done so already). Don’t have a Threadless account? Sign up for free here. Just for fun, I’m posting a sketch from the “making of” and a couple images of the design against the Silver tee color, as well as some alternate colors of tees. The colors of the design itself have not been altered here — just the shirt colors. Enjoy!

But…

Here’s one of my first sketches on the Cintiq 12WX! I took a couple tries at drawing myself on the Cintiq before this one. I drew myself all bright and cheery, but it just didn’t look right. I felt like I was making myself look too good, and who wants to see that? So I pushed this one a little more and gave myself that look of desperation. This was an unscripted pose, but it seemed as though I might be in a confounded state of pleading or grasping to understand something fearful, so I added the “But…”

Computer Upgrades!

My computer for the past eight and a half years has been a Power Mac G4. The very first Mac G4 ever produced, known as the G4 “Yikes!”

I purchased it within the first month of its release in September of 1999, and at that time it was considered so powerful that the U.S. Government declared it a “supercomputer.” Today, with a 400MHz processor and a 10GB internal hard drive, it’s anything but super, but this machine has held up surprisingly well over the years. It came with Mac OS 8.6 installed and has since been upgraded to OS 9, then to OS X 10.0 Cheetah, and finally 10.3 Panther. It was able to run all of the operating systems relatively smoothly, but I don’t know how it would’ve handled 10.4 Tiger and I think 10.5 Leopard simply would not have run on this machine. The limited hard drive space became an issue quickly and I added an 80GB external drive and then a 250GB external drive to hold all my applications and files. CD burning had only just come on the scene when I got the computer, so I’ve always had to do that with an external. I’ve had two external CD burners over the years and it looks like my second one is now broken. With all of these peripherals, it’s come to look as though it’s on a sort of life support.

About four to five years ago, when I had to color a storyboard assignment in Photoshop using only a mouse, the budding carpal tunnel that I felt in my wrist urged me to purchase a Wacom Intuos tablet. This streamlined my workflow in Photoshop a bit more. It gave coloring and pretty much everything a great deal more natural feeling, but I would continuously run into walls using Photoshop simply because my computer couldn’t handle the heft of the program, particularly when working on large files. At times I would have to wait minutes for it to complete a single action and saving large files could take ages. Anywhere from 15 minutes on, and in some rare cases, over an hour.

Well, no more. My new machine is a 15” MacBook Pro. The processor is 2.4 GHz. That’s six times the speed of my G4. The internal drive is 250GB, twenty-five times the size of the G4’s internal drive. It has wireless internet and bluetooth capability, a DVD/CD burner, a built in iSight camera, a nice video card, and comes with Leopard and lots of bundled apps, including iLife ’08, and on top of all that, it’s portable! I’ve gotten iWork, so there won’t be any need to install Microsoft Office on this machine, and now I have Photoshop, too, so I can get to work.

The Wacom Intuos has always been great and for a variety of things it is far far better than using a mouse, but drawing/painting on a separate surface and looking at another was always rather counter intuitive, no matter how well I may have adjusted to it over time.

I’m now able to work directly on screen with the Cintiq 12WX, a newer model of Cintiq that brought the screen size (and the price) of the Cintiq a little more into the realm of possibility. It’s still not a cheap item, by any stretch, but it’s a powerhouse of graphic potential. This should really streamline my storyboarding process, in particular. No more scanning necessary (while technically also true of the Intuos, I could never get the hang of drawing with that, even though painting seemed to work more or less okay, so I always had to draw on paper and scan it in). I have no intention of abandoning physical media entirely, because there’s really just no replacement for that, but this will be a lot of fun to experiment with and will certainly give a boost to some very key areas of my work.

Jamie Pretty Jamie

I’ve been drawing upon various themes lately in my sketchbook, one of which is “pretty girls.” It’s not an unpopular subject among cartoonists and illustrators, in case you haven’t noticed, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one. That is, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s fun to study different types of women or qualities that I find attractive and try to translate that to a (at least somewhat) pushed, cartoony sort of character that still comes off as pretty or sexy somehow. It’s a subjective process. What it is that makes a person attractive can be an elusive sort of thing. It’s not always in the details, and there is no single type that best exemplifies beauty. I’ve mostly been exploring petite types and models or young women. Typical, but hey, that’s what I’m drawn to at the moment and that’s what I’m exploring. Beauty is personified in all kinds of people.
Of course, all that egalitarian sort of talk aside, the most important pretty girl in the world is my fiancée, Jamie. Here’s a drawing of her.

Hang In There…

Aerial View of City Park

Aerial View of City Park
(click the image for a larger view)
This is part two to yesterday’s post, this time a view of a city park. Also quite rough, this was worked out at the same time as the previous cityscape and is part of the same story. In fact, this is part of the same opening shot, just a pan to the right (and a little bit down). The park is something like Central Park in New York or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. A fictional large city park.
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the pan.
Pan-Shot Thumbnail

Aerial Cityscape

city_layout_62pctppi_crop
(click the image for a larger view)
This is a rough layout design and opening shot from a personal project I started last year. The project has been sitting on the back-burner for a while, but I revisited it a little bit today. This is a fictitious place, though I hope some people would find something familiar about it. It’s kind of an amalgam of, or inspired by, different cities — primarily San Francisco and New York, with a little added bit of a Northwestern element. Obviously, it’s quite rough, but there’s an energy in this that I really like and that I think would be hard to duplicate if I tried redrawing it.

Notes on Materials — Watercolor Sets

Wow that last post was pretty wordy, but the bottom line is, I thought I’d put one kind of watercolor paper in my Moleskine mod, but it was another. Still hot press, and still Fabriano Artistico, but bright white instead of off-white and 50% heavier. Good news is it still managed to fit in the book and it works fine.

IMG_1104

On to the subject of watercolors. I have two Windsor & Newton sets. I bought the smaller one first, but then I bought the larger one so I wouldn’t have to mix colors as often.

IMG_1099

The smaller one didn’t have any browns, grey, or black, and so I found myself mixing those pretty often [edit: it has two browns!]. The larger one has a good number of colors which still can be mixed if I choose, lending itself to an even broader spectrum and allowing me to work a tiny bit faster. It also has a good amount of palette space, which is nice. But when I took this to Sketchcrawl 15 on Aug. 25th, it was a little cumbersome. It didn’t fit in a pocket, and so I had to bring a bag, and it just made it a little more difficult to watercolor on the go. It was easier sitting, but standing proved more of a challenge. Picture this:

IMG_1133

So when I went out to Santa Monica about a week ago, I took the smaller set with me and it was much easier to use standing up. Much much easier! See here:

IMG_1130

And another plus is everything fit in my pockets! I was wearing cargo shorts, which helped some. If I were a lady or man-bag-guy, I could put it in my purse, but on that day I was cargo-shorts-guy. I also found that since I’ve been using watercolors more readily, I’ve gotten a tiny bit better at mixing colors, and so I didn’t mind mixing my browns, greys, and blacks. In fact, I felt those tones turned out a bit more interesting. A little richer maybe and infused with a little more color, so they could be warm or cool, depending.

So. Conclusion? I’m really happy with this combination of supplies for sketching out in the field. It’s my sketch-kit on-the-go.

IMG_1124

(Shown here are my modified Moleskine Daily Planner turned Watercolor Sketchbook, Windsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box watercolor set, 0.9mm Pentel Twist-Erase mechanical pencil, and small Pentel Japan Waterbrush Pen.)

IMG_1128

(The only things that would complete this picture are a few paper towels and my Kuretake Brush Pen)

I’ll still use my larger set at home and as I continue to be more familiar with colors, I may end up swapping out some of the pans in my small set for ones I like better. The small palette space may still be a bit limiting, but that can be remedied somewhat with the wipe of a damp paper towel and… practice.

Notes on Materials — Moleskine Mod

IMG_1106

The modification has so far gone well. The stubborn curve is starting to come out of the pages and I’ve enjoyed the versatility and portability of this “frankenskine.” But shortly after starting to use it, I became aware that I did NOT refill this moleskine with the same paper I tested out in the weeks prior.

The paper I originally used seemed thinner and slightly off-white, whereas the paper I put into the book was a bright white and somewhat thicker (and as a result, stiffer).

See if you can tell the difference between the two in these photos:

IMG_1115
IMG_1117
Martha’s instructions at Trumpetvine Travels call for Fabriano Artistico 90lb (200gsm) Hot Press. So which one was which …and how did this happen? A trip back to Blick art supply (on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles) quickly answered that question when I took a look at their watercolor papers and saw what a mess they were! It’s no wonder I grabbed two different papers. They were totally mixed up, with at least three different kinds of paper shelved under each label. By looking at the item numbers penciled on the edges of each sheet, however, and comparing them to the numbers on the shelf labels, I was able to at least figure out which ones I had bought.
And it turns out that the paper I initially tested on was in fact Fabriano Artistico 90lb (200gsm) Hot Press (what Martha suggests) and the paper that I put into my modified Moleskine was a different one — still a Fabriano Artistico Hot Press, but Extra White and 300gsm. The paper is indeed a bright white and it is 150% the thickness!
This mixup explains why the bookblock was such a tight fit for the Moleskine cover. Fortunately, Martha’s recommendations allowed for some leeway, so the bookblock did at least fit and I’m finding it works well enough for my needs so far. One possible advantage is there’s less show-through when using ink, but the downside is I think the ink from my brush pen does not flow quite as smoothly on this paper, although the difference may be pretty slight.
More notes on materials in my next post, when I talk about the pros and cons of different watercolor sets (I bet you can’t wait! I know this is REALLY exciting stuff!).

Moleskine Modification

I don’t have much time to write this post, so I’m hoping the pictures will speak for themselves. Today I took a Moleskine small daily planner and reloaded it with 90 lb. Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper (according to the instructions posted by Martha at Trumpetvine Travels). This is something I’ve been meaning to do for months, but with Sketchcrawl 15 tomorrow and only two pages left in my current Moleskine sketchbook, today was the day. Some of the watercolored sketches I’ve posted in the past couple weeks have been on loose pieces of Fabriano Artistico already cut and folded with the intention of binding, but I never got around to it. Well, at least now I’m sure I like this paper. It’s versatile. It takes well to pencil, ink, and watercolor. Everything I need in a sketchbook but in the Moleskine format. Anyway, here are the pictures! Sorry there are so many. I’ve sized them down to make them a little more manageable.

Don’ Trip

Don' Trip
A new tool arrived on my doorstep Saturday: the Kuretake brush pen. It’s essentially a fountain pen with a brush tip. I’m so impressed with the elegance and quality of this pen! Thanks to John Sanford for the tip. I’m delighting in the smooth flowing thick and thin and just experimenting with the various qualities of line it’s capable of. The above drawing was done with the Kuretake, as were the drawings in my previous two posts (”OMG LOL” and “Sad Toad Man”).
This one, as is the case with a lot of my drawings, is largely the result of just experimenting with line. I happened to draw a character on the right and began playing with abstract line on the left. As the abstracts evolved, I began to see a relationship between the two. I imagined that the abstract stuff was something this character was seeing. A drug-induced hallucination, perhaps? Or maybe the result of sheer psychosis or a hyperactive imagination? Or perhaps it isn’t so literal. Maybe we are seeing a representation of his emotional state. The odd thing is the disparity between the wild quality of the abstracts and the extremely sedate expression on the guy’s face. I imagined he’s trying to stay cool in the face of all this really crazy stuff he is either seeing or thinking or feeling. “Don’ trip,” he tells himself. Don’t trip.
This video I saw last week of Oliver Sacks in 1986 is still resonating with me and the above drawing/painting brings to mind, yet again, the quote which turned up in one of my doodles:

“One way or another, people want to live creatively and they want to live vividly.”

OMG LOL

OMG LOL
These are some sketches from my ongoing quest to find the cartoon me. I am still warming up to doing some autobiographical or semi-autobiographical illustrated tales (a.k.a., “comix”) at some point. Note: The character in the bottom right is not me. I don’t know who that is.
I’m in the process now of compiling a list of story ideas and there are a lot more than I thought there were. I’m keeping them in a journal I’m calling “Short Stories” in homage to Roald Dahl. In a story by Dahl titled “Lucky Break — How I Became a Writer” (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More), he explains that he kept a journal bearing the name “Short Stories” and whenever he’d get the inkling of an idea for a story, he’d jot down a line or two. He kept it very simple and straight forward. Just, as Dahl described it, the “slender threads” of a plot. Almost every story he ever wrote started out as a thought written down in that journal.

More About Me. Bla Bla Bla.

I’m still working on self-characterization. I think it’s getting better, but the process remains rather elusive. I think I have a design that works, I step away from it for a couple days, I come back, it looks like shit. The self character I posted previously now looks like some kind of strange bird, or something. Ah, well. Below are some sketches I did last night. Of course, they’re not hammered down designs. One sketch looks different from another. I’m working it out. Still, I think I’m seeing some progress in these. Tomorrow they will probably look all wrong to me.

char23 - More about me. Bla bla bla.

Me, Myself, and I

char16
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve got some story stuff I’m working on that will be auto- or semi-auto-biographical. The stories themselves are rough at the moment and just kind of fluttering around in my brain. I will tackle what I can as I can and we’ll see what comes of it. In the meantime, I thought I’d share another character design sketch. I’ve been developing my “cartoon self” off and on for a few weeks now or so and I’ve refrained from posting the sketches here, because, well, I guess they just weren’t quite ready to show. Later on, after the character is more established, maybe I’ll post the earlier drawings for the sake of curiosity. Suffice it to say, that caricaturing or making a functional character of one’s self is a unique challenge.

Je t’aime, Jamie

I’ve been doing a bit of sketching, developing characters for some auto-biographical story ideas. This is a quick sketch of my love, Jamie. Isn’t she cute? Happy Valentine’s Day, Jamie!

char15