Tuesday, June 23, 2009


So I finally broke down and let my wife buy me an iPhone. What can I say, I love it! It lets me be a little less tied down to my office in case I get an email for freelance work rather than the phone call. I think the iPhone can handle the call too. I can also carry a portfolio on it and even do some painting while I am bored in the car or wherever. I have seen this app on my friends iPhone and it was one of the first purchases I made when I got mine. I simply played with it trying out the tools and getting myself a "feel" for it for a few weeks and then finally I made a real picture with it. Fruit. Artists always start with fruit for some reason. I just thought that is was a simple enough shape to work with and start off before trying things of a more challenging nature. Hmmmm, maybe that is why artists always start with fruit. You think that they would have explained that better in art school! Someone actually used this app to paint the cover of the New Yorker just recently! How awesome is that!? So here is my iPhone fruit!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's your Vector Captain Action!?

I had heard of Captain Action most of my life yet knew almost nothing about him. I mostly saw ads for the toy in old comic books but knew that they didn't make him anymore by the time I read those issues. I even saw an issue or two of the old DC comic that had some great Gil Kane artwork in it. Several years ago I started to hear this and that regarding the character in that someone was trying to revive him and make new toys and such. Then, just recently, I got one of those mailers from my high-school to keep graduates up to date with goings on and such at the ol' place. I usually just glance at it and skip right to my graduation year to see if anyone I knew has done anything interesting. For some reason I read the whole thing this time. Must have been a night with no baseball on! Anyway, while reading about past graduates, I come across a name and I read that a fellow graduate (a few years older than I, I must add.) now owns the copyright to Captain Action and has been trying to revive him. I recognized the name from the other comic newsletters and magazines I read. Wow! I guess that sparked my interest to examine him further. I was also inspired to draw a pic of the good Captain.

At first I was simply content to follow the same path artistically has I had with my Planet of the Apes piece not too long ago. I got a basic pose I liked and set to work. When I had him scanned, digitally traced and ready for detail, I initially thought that it might be fun to fully render him out in Photoshop from that point on. I started the process and then stopped about two hours in thinking it was a mistake and I should just go back to my original plan. So the next night I went back to Illustrator and started over. As I was working tho, I decided I would at least push myself to see how far I could render him in just Illustrator. Was a good time to do things I could not do since I really came to know the program making t-shirts. One tool in particular, I had never gotten an understanding for: gradient mesh! It took me longer than I thought it would but I am very pleased with the results in knowing that IT WAS ALL DONE IN ILLUSTRATOR. I don't know if I would do it again like this. I mean, some of it would have been SO much faster in Photoshop, but I do like the fact that it is all a vector drawing.

Here I posted both the finished piece and the progression that the figure took from sketch, digital inking, refined ink with color fill and the final painting. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ghosts of Photoshop's Past

When I was in art school, they had not yet embraced the coming digital age. Thus, most of my education was focused on traditional media. My class had one half-semester of "digital illustration" where they tried to show us how to use Illustrator. It might have been version 3! Having never seen computers like this before, I was lost. There was no textbook and if I tried to keep notes I would not be able to see the teacher using a plethora of shortcut keys. I did not take to it well. Then, just before graduation, someone showed me the key basics of Photoshop. I was thrilled that I could scan in drawing and compose pages for a portfolio and not spend countless hours and money at Kinko's cutting and pasting and copying! Those were the days!! Then I started dabbling in making a picture right in Photoshop. Of course we had no wacom tablets then and drawing with a mouse was a no-go. I settled with scanning a drawing from my sketchbook and simply coloring it. Digital glazing I called it then since all I knew how to do was put down color and lower the opacity and repeat the steps until the picture was fully colored. Took me a long time too! The results seem to have been worth it tho since the fruits of that labor garnered me an entry into the Best of Ringling and a showing at the Society of Illustrators in New York for an illustration publication whose name escapes me now. Was fun and I was on my way towards a digital future. On a side note, I found it striking that when I graduated, I had two digital pieces that I would point out to interviewing employers and then years later when I returned to be the recruiter, the students were pointing out the one or two traditional pieces that were in their portfolio.

Now recently being "pushed" into the freelance game, I have noticed that most everyone asks for a "consistent style". I, of course, have been more of a chameleon most of my career and it had served me well. Now, thinking I need to focus in, decided to re-visit some old pieces that no longer resemble any way in which I work now and revamp them to be more uniform. The first was,.......the first. I felt a little weird re-doing this piece but I also found it fitting that it should be the initial piece tackled. Now, I find nothing wrong with it still, it's really just the matter that I don't draw like this and I don't work like this anymore. Nor do I wish too. The original took me several days if not a week if I remember correctly. It was not eight hours a day for a week straight, but more like an hour or two here and there but about a week nonetheless. The revamp took about five hours straight. I hope you like it or can at least appreciate my thoughts on it.

Here is the original:

...and the new version.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sampson (or is it Hercules??)

This was just a doodle in my sketch pad that was not even finished. I kinda liked how it looked so I scanned it in and began to play around with it in ArtRage. I cloned his arm to make two and pasted it all together and then just painted it quickly. A posting on the ArtRage forum had the background texture, so I downloaded it and threw it in there. Then I figured that I could just add all the little doodles from the sketchbook to go with it. Kinda makes up for the boring composition. No? Well who cares, it's just a sketch!!