Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wait - What? #1: The Office Monster?

Every once in awhile, I sketch something that I have no idea what it is or why I drew it. Can't explain why this happens. Probably a result of playing around or just looking to create something different. So this is a new category for the blog that I'll label as "Wait - What?"

A pencil marker image of whatever this is . . . 
This guy was in an old sketch book, I do remember drawing it . . . but I can't explain why. A robot head, tentacles and it seems to be wearing some office attire. Maybe an alien disguised as an accountant? Maybe it's a coffee robot? Or some traveling volcano simulator?
I don't know . . . your guess is good as mine. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Dog Dress Boat

This is another quick sketch done with the help of the children at Reynolds School. They were asked to name an animal, what is it wearing and what is it doing. The results were: a dog in a dress driving a boat. I had less than 10 minutes, so this sketch looked very rushed and unfinished. Last weekend, I cleaned the line work, erased the scribbles and quickly added digital color to the image.

Digitally colored version created with ArtRage Pro 4
The original pencil sketch created for the 1st graders at Reynolds

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Old Sketch Found: Dog

UPDATE: Image colored with markers

Inked image colored using Prismacolor Premiere Markers


I found this very old sketch of a standing dog in a pile of old papers. I have many of these scattered around my office, never really having time to archive my work. Now many of the sketches I make are not really worth keeping, some of it is just not good enough and usually winds up in the garbage. But when a sketch has something worth keeping, I'll be sure to tuck it away somewhere. That's what happened to this image.
The AFTER and BEFORE of a newly found old sketch
I have no idea how old this image is. It was drawn on what seems to be a manila envelope or folder. (Maybe the toll cost in Chicago could be a clue to the year.) Apparently it was the only image worth saving and was torn from the page (or envelope.) So I decide to quickly draw an inking of the sketch and scan it for possible future usage. I've no plan to use this character now, but you never know when an idea might arise and this character could be a perfect choice.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Premiere Markers Review: BlueBird

The hobby and art supply chain ACMoore had a recent sale on markers, so I decided to purchase a whole set of Prismacolor Premiere Markers. The markers usually sell for $3.99/ea but they were on sale, 4 for $10. So I bought 20 markers. The only markers I use are alcohol-based because their inks tend to blend better than the cheaper water-based markers. (Water-based markers leave streaks and uneven coloring.)
Just to note: this is not the first time I talked about these markers. You can see my previous comments here.

Premiere markers have good color, the nibs are well made and the inks go on wet, (or at least it seems wetter than other alcohol-based markers.) There are duel tips on both ends, allowing one side for broad strokes and the other pointed for detailed work. The price is reasonable ( Reg. $3.99 / cheaper in sets) when compared to Copic markers that sell for $6-$7/ea.

Quick color chart of the selected pens
Note: the 20th marker is a blender (not shown)

Cons: While these markers are good, they aren't Copic quality markers. The ink goes on very wet, which forces you to color faster so that the ink doesn't clump in one area. I also find I need to go over an area several times quick to get an even spread. This causes the ink to bleed through the paper, ruining the next page or two (which doesn't happen with Copic markers.) Because the inks go on so wet, there is more bleeding into other colors and spreading outside black lines.

The original blue pencil sketch of the blue bird

Finally, the only store I have found these markers is in AC Moore stores and they offer only a limited assortment of their colors. I tend to stay away from dark or deep colored markers because using markers one should work light to dark, (recoloring over the same area creates a darker tone.) This cuts about 50% of the colors off my to-get-list.

(Note: for some reason, Premiere markers are not displayed in the Art supply section of the store, they are usually displayed near the stationary area in the ACMoore stores I visit.)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Green Dog in T-Shirt Running

Another recent sketch made with the second graders at Reynolds School helping me create a new character. Three simple questions: Animal? Clothing? Action? Their answers for this image were: A dog, wearing a t-shirt and running.
The above image was cleaned up a little, lines darkened and then quickly colored on a tablet. 

After pencil sketching, the answer "green" was given for the question: "What color should the dog be?" 

Original digital pencil sketch which was cleaned up and added bold detail to the pencil lines

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Doodle: Horse Head

To me, a doodle is something drawn without any planning, thought or reason. Often I find that when I doodle I'm letting my subconscious create the image, allowing the drawn lines dictate what the doodle will become -- searching for the final image.

Doodle of a horse's head on a yellow sticky note -- drawn with several gray tone brush pens
I usually doodle on sticky notes for some reason. (Maybe because I'm on the phone taking notes or jotting down reminders of what to work on next.) The size is enough to usually do a full character or profile image. The size also restricts creativity, sometimes forcing the doodle to be drawn differently than it would if created on a larger sheet of paper.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Giraffe in Shorts Hanging Upside Down from a Tree

Recently, I had the privilege to draw for the children at Reynold School. All this week, I will be posting a few examples of these images made at various schools + library readings.

The sketch below was created by asking several children the following: Name an animal. What is it wearing? What is it doing? Their answers given were: A giraffe, wearing shorts and hanging upside-down from a tree.

With less than 15 minutes to sketch, the image was roughed out enough for the children to see their concept. Over the weekend, I cleaned up the original sketch, added a simple color layer and added the confused looking monkey.
The pencil sketch cleaned up and colored (with an extra character watching the monkey business)
I thought this one sketch was quite a challenge with the limited time, but everything seemed to work out okay. The biggest response from the children was when I added the banana in the giraffe's hand. I decided to add the monkey to give the image more of a story and action.

The original digital pencil sketch made using ArtRage Pro 4 on a Surface Pro tablet

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Lasso Dog

Another quick sketch made digitally (circa 2014). This image was originally created at a local library where the children helped suggest what I should draw. Their answers to my questions were: dog, big hat, lasso. They seemed to really enjoy how I created the rope using a simple pattern technique.
Digital sketch made using hard pencil setting in ArtRage Pro

Monday, April 25, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Stealing Honey Bear

This sketch was created some time ago (~ spring 2015) with a group of children at a local library supplying these three subjects: Name an animal. An article of clothing. An action.

They gave me a BEAR wearing a HAT and he's STEALING HONEY. (Pretty sure "hat" was picked after "bear" because of the very popular Jon Klassen picture book at that time: "This is Not My Hat". If you don't know what that means -- look it up!) 
The revised version of the first sketch below after being revised -- more of a stealing action

I'm showing these now because it has been awhile since I drew images with a group of children. I usually try to get the children involved in helping me decide what to draw as I explain a little about the thought process of creating something new. Originally I finished with the image below, but then the child who gave me "stealing honey" insisted the bear was just holding honey -- so I quickly made changes and made him running -- that seemed to make everyone happy.  (That kid's probably going to be an art director or critic one day.)
The original pencil sketch of a BEAR wearing a HAT and STEALING HONEY

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Dancing Dino

This year so far has been a mental drain on my creativity lately, at least for drawing. I'm going to try to get back on track of submitting more images to the blog. I've also have been sketching more on my Wacom and hand-held tablets. I still prefer pencil and paper, but that usually means having to prepare and sit at one of my desks. Tablet drawing can be done anywhere, even lying down.

Dancing Dinosaur, colored and drawn on Surface tablet using ArtRage Pro4

This week, I'll be uploading several sketches made using ArtRage Pro 4 on my Surface tablet. These are usually an animal (or creature) wearing something and doing something -- these subjects are usually given by children. (More about this in my next post.)

The main difference with tablet drawing is that the feel of the stylus is much smoother than a pencil on paper. This causes me to sketch far lighter and  shakier lines than I usually draw. Sketching lighter loosens my sketch hand, so I create far more light lines which eventually need to be cleaned via eraser.
The original digital pencil sketch

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Guster: Re-Covering a cover video

I usually only post stuff related to my character designing or drawing. But this is something I want to archive on the blog for future viewing. Guster has been my favorite band for over a decade now. I've gone to see them perform more than any other band. It's not just the music. It's the band members. It's the fans. It's the humor.

It's the fun things they do, like:
• Firedrills! Where all members of the band switch to the instrument on their left.
• Having their drummer Brian (who is the worst singer) sing an old pop song from the 80's.
• Playing an acoustic set of their songs with violins.
• Doing surprise "pop-up" sets in public, (like when they performed by the rear gates of the Mann Theatre or in front of a dumpster in Pittsburgh for 12 people.)
• Hiding free tickets for a scavenger hunt and giving video clues online.
• Tweeting fans to bring strange items to their concerts to dress the stage up (like potted plants and strange lamps.)
• This video . . .

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Teddy Bear

Just trying to get back into submitting stuff to the blog. This sketch was a simple teddy bear image I was doodling with a brush pen. No pencil sketching, just directly drawing on a pad with a brush pen.

Teddy Bear sketched with pen brush and colored with Copic Markers

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Illustration Friday: Sparkle

Illustration Friday: Every Friday a word is given on the website, Artists and illustrators then submit an image that represents that word all during the week.
This week's word: Sparkle

Thought Process: It's been some time since I did any sketches for Illustration Friday. The word sparkle immediately made me think of the comical effect of "sparkling teeth" often seen in cartoons, commercials and comedies.

Cartoon lion with a shiny tooth/fang -- hand inked and then scanned into Photoshop for coloring
I remembered doing a pencil sketch of this cartoon lion seen below, except he wasn't smiling -- in fact I drew him without a mouth at all. So I added a huge toothy grin -- exaggerating the smile. 

The original pencil sketch of the cartoony lion (sans mouth)
To add the "sparkle", I had to darken the entire image in order to visually show the white tooth shine. It helped to texture the image, creating a slightly darker tone to help emphasize the sparkle.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Monsters and Bunnies: Nap Time

Another image from my collection of sketches called "Monstas and Bunnies". This is one of a planned set of 12. Once the set is complete, I plan to create a calendar for 2017.

"Nap Time" - finished sketch created with pencils scanned and colored with Photoshop
Possibly might try to KickStart this project, hoping the work itself will be enough to generate interest to get the calendar printed. If the KickStarter goes past the set goal, I plan to then turn the set of images into a children's book with a story about the Bunny and his year long travels meeting "Monstas".

Penciled cave background added and gray tone colored using Photoshop
Originally, I created a single image of a lion terrified of a group of bunnies. It was a sketch exercise I created for the website Illustration Friday, where I still occasionally submit new artwork, (work + time permitting.) The lion was high in a tree while several cute innocent bunnies were simply passing by. I got a lot of site hits and feedback from posting that image and it later inspired more similar sketches. But this time, the big creatures weren't frightened by a bunny -- they were adoring the bunny.

Original pencil sketch created around Spring of 2015
There something appealing about big giant monsters (many inspired by Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are") being friendly with a small cute bunny. One by one, images appeared in my head and I started sketching them down. More to come ... 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Doodles and sketches: Alien Critters

Here are a couple of creature doodles laying around my desk for the past year. Many of these were simply quick sketches, but then I started inking in details. I currently have no plan or intention to use any of these characters yet, but  I may one day look back and reconsider (or revise a character into something better.) Instead of having them get lost in a pile or just forgotten -- I'm tossing them up here.

Various alien characters sketched and inked over the past year
The name near each character was given when saving each image. I tend to name things on the spot without reason or meaning. (For example the creature in the lower right is named Space Cow, even though it has more fish-like features than a cow. But for some reason, Space Cow works for me.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Creative block / 5-minute exercise: Mouse Skiing

This unfinished image was done a few years ago, I found I was having a creative block and needed to get out of that state of mind.  Many times when a project is not working, I'll stop what I'm doing and doodle. In this case, I set a 5-minute alarm to create a character.
Quick digital inking of a pencil sketch, unfinished due to a 5-minute limitation

The trouble with having a career as a designer is that you eventually burn out, especially when the work is repetitive, tedious and just not inspiring.  There are good days and very bad days when nothing seems to work. But taking a few minutes to create something you enjoy can sometimes do wonders.

Very loose pencil sketch of the inked drawing above
For this exercise I simply started penciling a character, not really focusing on any specifics. I usually start with the head and after adding big ears it was looking more mouse like. Once the head was made, the body's pose suggested a skiing posture. After adding the scarf I felt there was enough of the sketch to scan and ink in Art Rage Pro. Once the 5-minute alarm went off I stopped drawing the image.

(Just to note: This exercise turned out better than I expected . . . it doesn't always work out this way every time.)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

UPDATE!: Sea Tea Time

UPDATE: Feb. 11, 2016
Image color touch-up and added a poem . . . officially FINAL!

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(originally reposted on Dec. 8th, 2015)
Was: Illustration Friday: Wet (aka Sea Tea Time)
Recently revisited this image over the weekend and added more detailing and color. I still feel the tone is too dark, especially with the water. It looks fine on screen, but when printing, everything seems toned down and the colors don't pop the way they do on a computer screen. Arrrggghhh!
Will probably play around with this image again in the future.

Cha-Cha-Changes: The latest and last revision to this image (for now.)
Update Text: Keeping the elements I liked from below, I made changes that I felt were not working in the image below:
• Stronger texture highlights were added.
• I felt the sun didn't fit with the style, so I redrew a more textured pencil sun instead.
• The coloring of the sky and water were too similar; adding textured shadows to the water and toning down the blue sky helped create a stronger contrast between the two.
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This is an old image I did last year* which I'm posting now for Illustration Friday. Every Friday a word is given on the website, Artists and illustrators then submit an image that represents that word all during the week.
This week's word: WET
The digitally colored image made in Photoshop

*Below is the pencil sketch I drew during the 2015's SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC in February. I had no reason for drawing this image, just random inspiration. I've already purchased my tickets for this year's conference in February and decided to also show my portfolio this year, looking forward to it.
The original pencil sketch that was drawn on the back of a sheet during the SCBWI Conference

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Daily Quick Sketch: Running Gator

Testing out some new alcohol based markers. These aren't as good a Copic markers, but far cheaper. The brand is called Premiere, and they sell 2 for $5 in Michael's stores. Like Copics, they also have dual tips on both ends; one pointed and the other a broad flat tip.

Sketch made using new Premiere alcohol-based markers - then inked with a Jet pen

The colors are okay, but the ink doesn't spread out evenly the way Copic markers do. Instead, these markers clump up and cause streaks if you go over any area that's already been colored. In contrast, a Copic marker would allow you to build up and go over the same area many times to create deeper colors without causing streaks or clumping.

Image sans the pen/markers:
Note the unevenness of the ink, especially around the mid belly - causing a coffee stain effect
So I guess the bottom line here is: you get what you pay for. A marker for $2.50 doesn't come close to the high-quality marker that costs $7. Overall, I'd give the Premiere Markers a 3 out of a 5-star rating. I wouldn't want to do complete images using just these markers, but if needing a specific color for detail or highlights - this marker will do the job for a great price. I plan on buying more Premieres that are missing from my huge collection of Copic markers. (Especially the lighter shades of color.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Follow-up: Using

I mentioned in a previous post about using and I wanted to follow-up on my experience using their custom product/printing service. I first tested them out by ordering a couple of t-shirts using some of my 2015 INKtober sketches: T.H.E. Walking Dead and Batman vs. Baseball. The shirts arrived in less than a week after the online order was made.

Image showing the high-quality T-Shirt printing
The quality of the t-shirts was excellent. Tight coverage and spot-on color. The shirts are very comfortable and light, great for spring and summer wear. (My only issue was that some of my designs had transparent backgrounds, so those parts of the images blended into the color of the t-shirt. This could make the print look muddy if a dark colored t-shirt is selected.)

Metal traveling coffee mug using my image "T.H.E. Walking Dead", created using
Link to the T.H.E. Walking Dead product page CLICK HERE

After getting the T-shirts, I purchased 5 other items from Redbubble: pouch, travel mug and pillows. All of these items were very reasonably priced for the high-quality made-to-order products. It used to be, (not too long ago), you had to buy a costly minimum quantity to get this level of quality. 

A zipper pouch using my design "Ghostie Emojis" on
Link to the Ghostie Emojis product page CLICK HERE

I've added several other designs in the past few months, which have already been selected by other people to create their own products. There is also cash back sent to the artist for each item being made using their artwork. It's not a HUGE amount . . . but still, it's nice to see others enjoying the artwork.
There are so many great gifts and self-promotional ideas that can be used with this service.
Imagine creating products using your child's artwork, creating a prototype sample of an idea or design or making personalized "inside joke" t-shirts for friends, etc.

I highly recommend
They often have discount sales from 20%-30% off . . . sign-up to get email notifications when these sales happen. (I suggest only purchasing when there is a discount sale. Usually, their best discounts occur around holidays.)

To see all my designs available on - go to: Arrrggghhh's Shop

Monday, February 8, 2016

UPDATE: #INKtober 2015 No. 7: T.H.E. Walking Dead

UPDATE to the Update:
You can see my follow-up post using this image to create custom products.

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Originally Updated on Dec. 3, 2015
I colored this image over the weekend to test out the website RedBubble. RedBubble is a company that prints customized t-shirts, pillows, mugs, etc. It allows you to easily use your own images, even sell your own work and setup is very easy.

I've ordered two t-shirts to test the quality of their product. The cost was around $50, which for two customized t-shirts is a fairly good price.

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Originally Posted on Oct 8th, 2015

#7 and I think it's my favorite so far, mostly because it made me smile as I drew it. This is a great example of writing a joke where maybe I'm the only one who finds it amusing.
INKtober 2015 image #7 inked with a brush pen then gray tones added in Photoshop
As I finished the image, I started wondering if my little play on words would go over some people's heads since the cartoon has a double meaning to it.
Some might just think it just "a DEAD character WALKING his pet" and that's as far as they'll see it. But those who read into the ghost's full name and dog's name tag should see the actual pun intended.
Inked on Canson marker paper with a black Faber-Castell brush pen
I'm sure it'll annoy some Walking Dead fans simply because there is no zombie in the image. That kinda makes me smile too . . .
The original combined pencil sketches.
This was actually made combining two sketches into one with the leash bridging the two sketches together.