Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Product Designs: Pet Riders (PetSmart)

Few of my designs just arrived in the PetSmart stores for Halloween. These are just a couple of the Pet-Rider designs I have done over the past 5 years.

This is from the PetSmart.com website, showing my Cowboy Rider design that is on sale on for Halloween 

Packaging photo for the Cowboy Rider

We first made this type of pet costume for Target stores in 2009. They sold very well for four years, usually selling out. Since then, I've designed many versions: The Headless Horseman, Horse Jockey, Caveman on Dinosaur, Chef on Lobster and many, many more.

Packaging Photo for the Princess Rider

Below is a sampling of the artwork that is needed to print the faces for the riders.

Artwork for printing faces and details for the Pet Rider costumes' dolls.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Illustration Friday: Skull

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

Pencil and Ink variation of Skull & Crossbones

First: I've been away from this blog for practically the entire summer.
Reason: I've injured my shoulder and have been dealing with a frozen shoulder since early April of this year. It makes drawing very uncomfortable, since it is my right arm - a.k.a. my drawing hand. The feeling is a constant pins and needles ache - and at times it feels like the circulation has been tied off. The past few months it's intensified, so being in a creative state of mind has not come easy for me. Hopefully I can recover soon and get back to submitting more drawings to the blog.
Meanwhile: Above is a altered variation of a Skull design I did some time ago.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Monsters and Bunnies: Nap Time

This one I had put aside for some time.
Originally the monster was suppose to be more dragon like, with tiny wings coming out of his back. But the sleeping position made it hard to place the wings since they would be pressing against the wall. I liked the composition as it was -- and decided to simply eliminated the dragon wings.
Gray scaled sketch of Nap Time, the fourth of six illustrations featuring Monsters with Bunnies
The other problem I still have is trying to show the monster's right leg shaking, like a dog's involuntary leg reaction to it's back being scratched. The motion lines are not that apparent and the right leg looks like it's just floating the the air. I will change this so that the leg lays on the ground properly, (and I'll probably adjust the position of the bunny's head so his ears point out to the left.)

The original pencil sketch
To confirm that they were fast asleep, I added a big fluffy pillow behind the monster's head. The pillow help to create a humorous contradiction to the harsh and dank cavern surroundings. (Ups the cuteness too.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monsters and Bunnies: Sled Ride!

Here's yet another Monsters and Bunnies sketch. This image is a part of my group of 6 images I had been sketching for a long time. I hope to eventually finish them, fully colored . . . then create high quality prints.
A grey scale version of one of a set of 6 images for "Monsters and Bunnies"
This one I thought of because all the other images felt like they were set in a Spring/Summer setting. So I thought it would be good to have a cooler setting and get more blues and cool colors into the set of images.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Monsters and Bunnies: Hopscotch

Here's another of the 6 images I've been working on for the past several months; these images feature monsters and bunnies. I've been too busy lately to finish the coloring, but this one came out nice just in gray tones.
Hopscotch: Another Monsters and Bunnies image done in pencil.
I plan to make all six images fully digitally colored and then make several high quality prints of each to sell on my website. (But that won't be for a least a few months.) The current working size is 7" X 5", but that might change once all the images are finalized.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Illustration Friday: Temptation (Slojo Intro)

Illustration Friday: Every Friday a word is given on the website, IllustrationFriday.com. Artists and illustrators then submit an image that represents that word all during the week.
This week's word: TEMPTATION
Thinking of the word temptation reminded me of an old animate clip i made. Click "Start the Cartoon" below to watch the clip . . . 

This is an old animated clip from 2000, one of my first Flash animations when I was still learning Actionscript coding. It features a sad sack character, Slojo, who used to be a clown. The premise was simple, he's the most unlucky person in the world and generally bad things happen to him for no given reason. Even when he does good things for others, karma is not on his side.

It was important to give Slojo normal, yet clown-like features. I didn't want the character to instantly be recognized as a clown, but looking at him you can see the former clown that is still his persona. 

Even though I wrote several 5 minute cartoon shorts for the character, I never finish animating them. It was a hectic time with the Internet bubble breaking and the company I was working for had to let go of about 85% of my fellow co-workers. 2000 wasn't an inspirational year . . . and then of course by 2001, things became even worse.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Baby Hawkman

It's been a busy month between work, festivals and fixing up our home so we can put it up on the market. I've also have a frozen shoulder again, this time the right side, which makes working even harder since I'm right-handed. But finally a breather with this Memorial weekend holiday.
So I want to try to get back into doing a few daily sketches this week.

The sketch below was done for CBC ComicBook Alley which had the theme of Thanagarians this week. Those who grew up reading comics like me, know this to be the people of Hawkman's home world. I thought it would be fun to make a baby version of Hawkman, since his people are a warrior class from birth. (This is also a nod of inspiration to the best "Baby Super Hero" artist/cartoonist out there . . . Scottie Young.)

Quick sketch of Baby Hawkman made using ArtRage Pro pen and water brush settings
Few words about Hawkman. I always liked his character as a hard-headed warrior, a space officer and as a brutally violent avenger. He is one of the few heroes who doesn't consider killing a foe to be wrong. But his history is probably the most messed-up. Hawkman has been revamped and resurrected into so many different versions - it hard to identify him anymore. Even with DC Comics constantly rebooting their comic books, Hawkman's history is still a mixed bag of conflicting origins.

The original pencil sketch of Baby Hawkman

Friday, May 16, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: It's Over!

Had this sketch laying on my desk for quite some time now. No idea why I would sketch an image of the old cliche "It ain't over till the fat lady sings". Simple no idea why I drew this. 

Sometimes, sketches just happen with no reason at all. Perhaps I overheard someone say the phrase -- or saw a TV commercial that referred to the saying. Either way, I feel it's always nice to simply draw whatever comes to mind. I rarely use reference when sketching, doing this challenges my memory and forces me to think about what I'm creating. It also helps explore and discover new ideas.

Daily pencil sketch . . . Well, I guess that's it!It's over!

I like this sketch, but feel there's much to be improved.
Her shoes should be sandals or something more relative to the era. I like the face, but the body needs to be tweaked. It doesn't balance that well and the overall composition and center of gravity of her girth should be corrected. I think she should be holding a shield too . . .

Curious about the origin phrase itself, I found the saying refers to the Valkyrie Brünnhilde in Wagner's opera, Ring Cycle. She sings an aria that is about 20 minutes long towards the end of the opera - which then ends with the Armageddon of the Norse Gods called Götterdämmerung.

So yeah, I guess that is definitely an end to everything . . .

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Illustration Friday: Voyage (Bobby's Biggest Bubble Sketch)

Illustration Friday: Every Friday a word is given on the website, IllustrationFriday.com. Artists and illustrators then submit an image that represents that word all during the week.
This week's word: VOYAGE
Inked and gray marker comp version of a Bobby's Biggest Bubble Kickstarter sketch
Thought Process: Not much thought behind this one. I had already had this image pencil sketched for one of my KickStarter backers for helping me get my children's book published. In all, I had to make about a dozen different full pages sketches of the four main characters from Bobby's Biggest Bubble. 

Pencil sketch of the four main characters from Bobby's Biggest Bubble
This is very close, but a rougher version to the original Kickstarter reward pencil sketch

This turned out to be my favorite of the group and I've been thinking of doing this image as a promotional poster for the next two sequel books.

Another version of the sketch, playing with different subtle changes with textures and details

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Doodle: Lyon

Here's another doodle of something I made while trying to think of designs for pet toys.
Again . . . a doodle to me is when I simply sketch without any forethought or plan to what I am drawing. Sometimes the final results surprises even me.
A doodle of a lion made with a #2 pencil
This character looks like I was starting to draw my dog character, Roger, (from my comic strip, "Home of the Brave" and children's book "Bobby's Biggest Bubble".) It definitely has Roger's face -- but then with more doodling, the character turns into a vagabond looking lion.

Why a lion?

Why worn out clothing?
No idea . . .

Friday, May 9, 2014

Doodle: Perched Owl

Another Doodle posting. I had a couple of people write me saying they enjoy seeing the unpolished designs. So I'll probably start adding more Doodles along with the Daily Sketches and Illustrated Friday images I try to post here each week.

This one turned out to be an owl perched on a branch.
Again, my doodles are very sketchy drawings I do without any plan or reason. The pen line just wanders until an image is formed. Generally these are made in several minutes.

I'm posting these on the blog because I have no time to submit finalized colored images this week (due to a heavy workload.) I'll be posting several more to keep the blog updated with new content.

Doodle: Korky

I find sometimes I just start doodling, with no plan or idea what I'm going to draw. It's almost like being in a state of meditation. So what starts as a few scribbles and lines, slowly starts to form into something unexpected. This was the case for this doodle below.

Sketch of my character Korky -- drawn with a ballpoint pen on the back of my 2013 tax forms
I've many doodles laying around, I'm thinking I'll throw a few up on the blog whenever my workload gets too hectic (like this week.) This way, it may not be my best work, but at least there'll be something new on the blog to look at.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Thor

Had this sketch laying around for quite some time now. I believe it was originally drawn shortly after we saw the second Thor movie.

Fan Art: Thor in mid float, colored digitally with Photoshop and ArtRage Pro

I went retro with the costume, since it's the Thor costume I grew up seeing. I like the newer look of Thor's chain-mail textured suit seen in today's Marvel comics . . . but the classic Kirby style is the iconic look I prefer drawing. Probably because it is so "comic book".  If you were to wear such bright colors in real life, it would seem quite campy.

The original pencil sketch of classic Thor

While the modern style of superhero costumes tends to be more movie-like with realistic qualities, I feel the characters lose some of their iconic presence.  Every artist seems to take more liberties with how superheroes look today, which is a good and bad thing. (Look at Iron Man, he appears in so many difference suits - what is his normal iconic look of today?)

Going slightly off topic: An example of comparing when a new costume design works for me and when it doesn't
(Images of Superman are the property of DC Comics)

Another good example is how Superman looked when DC's launch it's reboot with the New 52: Superman wore jeans, a t-shirt and his cape. It was very enjoyable seeing him look more like a common person. Then, several months later, DC's New 52 decided to make Superman's suit look like armor. He's Superman . . . why does he need armor? DC's New 52 seemed like they were on the right track . . . but then they did a complete 180 and made his costume worse by adding the metallic armor style.

I'd rather see Superman go through 200 t-shirts and jeans a week, where every fight looks like he was in a battle. I never liked the idea that Superman would come out of a major fight without a single thread of this costume being torn or damaged.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Prof. Vormit

It worked out that this sketch fits perfectly with Illustration Friday's word of the week: REVENGE. So I digitally colored the original sketch and submitted this to the I.F. website.

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

Digitally colored and added a dark background, helps emphasize the glow of the fizzy drink test tube

Well, immediately, I thought of this character, and how I could use this sketch to emphasize "evil" . . . even though this character would actually be the kindest person on the planet, having just invent a great tasting and healthy fizzle drink for children.

The first version of this image: Digitally colored in Photoshop using various water color and texture brushes
Image felt too flat  . . . needed more depth and darkness

This sketch was inspired by a character concept I thought about for a story.
The idea is simple - create a character who appears to be vile, corrupt and evil -- but make him really be the kindest, most generous and caring person possible. I could see many uses for such a character, mostly for the humor, but also as a children's book character who can teach life lessons about prejudging others.

Original Pencil Sketch: Prof. Vormit excited about creating his great tasting health drink for children
The first thing that came to mind was the image of an evil scientist. It's such a strong stereo type, especially in cartoons. I gave him a hideous beastly face, with a bell-shaped figure and of course the mandatory evil looking goggle glasses. To counter his evil persona: He's always smiling, has lollipops in his lab coat pocket (gives them out to everyone he meets) and he's created the best tasting fizzle water soft drink that's healthy for children.

Once I finished the sketch, his name came to me instantly.
Prof. Vormit 
(a combination of varmint and vomit. I dropped the second T in his name, it just looks better.)

He's such a nice guy . . . really. . . 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Monsters and Bunnies: First Steps

So for some time now, I've been sketching monsters with bunnies. There something about it that seems interesting to me.  Maybe it seeing the combination of the two "species" together -- how any monster seems to be cuter when in the presence of bunnies. (Go on try it, take the worst monster/killer/evil being and surround it with bunnies. Even if it's covered with blood - the bunnies make it cuter.)
"First Steps" • Part of a 6 image series of monsters with bunnies
This image was inked and colored using RagePro 4
Now, I'm not trying to create grime images, my cartooning style doesn't work like that. Plus, I believe there is a New Mom/Teen/College market for this style of images -- so of course I'm trying to make the monsters very cute even without the bunnies. 
Add those bunnies and the image just ups the cuteness level. 

Original pencils sketch of the baby dinosaur/monster
I plan to make a series of images/prints to sell. It'll take time for me to figure out pricing, material and how to best package. (I may want to soften the artwork and eliminate the black holding line too.)

I'll try to keep this projects's progress up to date here on the blog.

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

Revamped version of "First Step" to "Vanitisaurus" for Illustration Friday's word "Vanity"
For this week's Illustration Friday, I made a variation of the image to work with the word: Vanity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Space Mook (Updated)

This is two versions of a marker sketch of a character I call Space Mook. He's like a cross between an ape and a bear -- sporting a fancy mullet and rocket pack (which is really a guided missile.) He's one of many bounty hunters from my old sci-fi story called "Krem"

Marker sketch of Space Mook: A galactic bounty hunter, from my sci-ci story KREM
Krem was a huge story I worked on over many years. It started when I woke up from a very bad fever and found the Krem character next to my bed. Looking at the drawing, I started to imagine his back story, (which grew and grew over the years.)

Adding a simple background behind the character 

I hope to find more of Krem's supporting characters in my archive boxes of artwork and show them here in the future.

Original pencil sketch of Space Mook

Forgot I did this, here's the very first rough sketch of Space Mook. So of the shoulder patch logo sketches are included. He he seems mostly ape-like. I do like the retro glass helmet, think I should add that back. 
Funny seeing this now, I feel I want his character to look more like this -- than what I developed over time.
I will revamp him again and in digital coloring (not markers) next time.

The very first rough sketch of Space Mook

Monsters and Bunnies: Go Fish! (UPDATE)

We'll I finally colored this image -- but not with watercolors as I previously mentioned . . . instead I used Copic markers. I find markers tend to go on heavy and too dark . . . this was the case for this image. Most of the time, I purchase the lightest tones I can find in Copic markers because I can always go over a given color again to darken it's color.

Color comp using Copic markers, black pen and pencils. When time allows I will recreate this into a fully colored digital image for printing.
Unfortunately, the blue Copic markers I own were still too dark.

Copic markers are very expensive, usually they cost $5 - $8 dollars each, so I tend to be very careful on which colors I purchase. Copic markers are cheapest if purchased as a set, (there are sets of 4, 6, 12, 36, etc.), but I find most of these sets usually contain too many dark/bold markers. I may get more markers for the price with sets, but then I also have many extra colors that I don't have any intention to use. 

The Original post below . . .                                                                             

I've been working on a theme of monsters and bunnies for awhile. I've a tale to tell with that theme, but it'll have to wait for some time. (Too many other stories already in progress.) 

Original pencil sketch of "Go Fish" - part of a series of images with bunnies and monsters

Since I'm currently in the middle for designing products for next Easter, the bunny/monster theme keeps popping up in my head -- so I came up with this sketch. I'm going to try and do a watercolor version of this image when I get the time. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Sword Fightin'

Been a long time since I posted something here. Work is getting stressful and I'm having a very hard time getting the work done lately. It's probably a combination of burn out and simply doing seasonal concepts over and over again. The market is still in recession, and no one is risking on ordering anything remotely new or different. This makes it hard to do postings here, since my creativity for this type of work usually comes from less stressful times. But enough with my belly aching . . . 

The revamp version of  an old pencil sketch I call "Sword Fighin'!"
This is a revamped version of a very old sketch I did of Timmons, L.B. and Hairy. Back when I worked in New York City, I would often sketch my characters while commuting on the train to/from work. It was a nice way to practice fleshing out and fine tuning my characters.

The original sketch with all it's gritty and fading pencil lines

I hope to one day compile all of the trial and error it took to create Lumpy Bumpy to what he looks like today. (FYI: He's the big alien dinosaur laying down in the background.) L.B. is totally different from then when he was first conceptualized many, many years ago.

I also hope to start posting more images here on the blog again.
I can probably handle posting pencil sketches, but coloring images is too time consuming at this point. Hopefully things will slow down in the upcoming months and most posts here will be back on track.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Spidey Leap Frog

Today's daily sketch is a little marker comp I did of Spider-man leap frogging. I had the pencil sketch for a very long time - probably over year in my sketchbook. Looking to test out my Copic markers, i decided to color the sketch and add highlights with a Gummyroll white pen.
Marker comp of Spidey leap frogging
I've always thought Spider-man had the best superhero costume design which was always tweaked and improved over the decades. He is probably the most fun and challenging hero when it comes to drawing him for Marvel comics. There is so much detail that must flow well with the costume -- or it doesn't look right.

Original Pencil sketch

No matter what your opinion is on the character, you have to give credit to Steve Ditko for such a unique costume design . . . so ahead of it's time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Babbly Bear and Tuscan

I found this very old, rough pencil sketch -- one I barely remember drawing. 

Original pencil sketch on plain printing paper - probably from the late 80's

I have no idea why I drew this, nothing comes to mind to why I would draw a bear in a pink tutu talking to toucan. You're guess is good as mine. (And if I'm being honest, this happens a lot when looking at old sketches.)

Either way, I thought it would be a good subject for a daily quick sketch exercise.

Digital Ink sketch using Art Rage Pro 4.0.6

I wanted to stay very loose with the pen lines. Often I feel I get too clean and worry about open lines or lines crossing over. I hope to develop a more artistic free flowing holding line . . . to get pen lines that looks similar to my pencil lines. 

Digitally colored in ArtRage Pro using waxy crayon settings

Trying something a little different than the usual, I used the waxy crayon setting for coloring in Art Rage Pro. There's a nice subtle blending of colors with this setting.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Bunny

Been extremely busy these past two weeks with work. Gearing up now to start designing for Easter. I drew this bunny a few weeks ago, trying to make a simple generic rabbit. 
Inked version of generic bunny sketch
Then, I made the mistake of re-drawing on a sketch pad with markers without testing the paper first. I saw the ink was starting to spread, but thought I could control it. Then the ink kept spreading . . . and spreading . . . until I wound up with this.

Muddy version of a failed attempt to use markers on paper that absorbs ink like a napkin
So, I went back to coloring this bunny digitally instead. Can''t go wrong with good old digital color. (Actually, I take that back -- you can go wrong with digital, especially if you lose power.)

Simple and clean digital coloring -- ala Photoshop

Friday, March 7, 2014

Daily Quick Sketch: Lil' Lumpy

I've been trying to get my office organized and in doing so - I keep finding old sketches long forgotten. Most are not worth remembering. Many are just scribbles or half drawn characters. But a few are worth bringing back to revamp or update. This image is one of those scribbles that I feel needs more attention.

Lil' Lumpy drawn with digital inking and color pencil crosshatching using ArtRage Pro 4.0.6

Lumpy is one of my oldest children's book characters from a story over 15 years ago. The story's characters were fleshed out over years of redrawing and tweaking. Today, Lumpy looks totally different then what I had originally created so many years ago. I think what happens is subconscious editing, where the focus on what works is emphasized; while eliminating or changing the parts of a character that don't work.

Lumpy's story is part of a 10 book series I plotted out years ago.
I always felt that the story's characters would do very well with the children's book market. But for me to create the series, I would need a good publishing house to support it. I always felt I needed to do other stories first before bringing this character up to the plate . . .

The original rough pencil sketch of Lil' Lumpy recently found among a stack of papers

At least, that was my thinking for last decade and a half. Now publishing has changed drastically. Publishing a book is now the "easy" part - it's the marketing that will exhaust a new writer.

I've not found the answer to getting noticed yet. It's still a mystery why some succeed -- while others fumble. Perhaps it's all about who you know. Or it's just luck. Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can finally discover the answer.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Illustration Friday: SPACE

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

SPOILER ALERT: The big climatic ending to my first children's book: Bobby's Biggest Bubble
Thought Process:
A no-brainer this week.

Space makes me think of the space scene I drew for the climatic ending of my first children's book: Bobby's Biggest Bubble. Of all the terrific comments and kind emails I have received about the book -- this 2-page spread was usually the fan favorite, especially for boys.

I like to think it's the coloring that made this page "pop" . . .
Knowing the amount of pink bubblegum coloring the pages would have, I boosted the night sky's blues and even made the meteor a brighter blue to counter the pink; balancing the warm coloring on the left with the cool coloring on the right. 

This page was the greatest challenge I had when making the book. It was the part of the story I worried about the most. Even though this 2-page spread was near the end of the book, other then the cover, it was the first page I completed with full color.
Once I had this part of the story behind me, the rest of the book fell into place.

You can see more about this comic strip at this link here and more recently here.

Home of the Brave: Knock Knock

Back in the early 90's, a good friend of our family started a health newspaper which was circulated all over the state at health spas and gyms. She approached me looking for a comic strip to fill their entertainment section. I mentioned I had already had a comic strip printed in a nationwide fanzine for over two years . . . she could reprint those strips at no cost. She was very interested, but questioned if it was related to health or sports in anyway. It wasn't . . . 
An example of Home of the Brave as it appeared in "The Spa Times"
So I revamped the comic strip; changed the story so that Ollie wanted to be a Super Health Officer instead of a Super Crime Fighter. But I still used many of the old images, sketches and jokes, adjusting them to work better with a general health theme. The strip became more polished looking and I got away from using too much black in every panel. 

To see other posts about this comic strip, click the keyword "Comic Strip" below in the labels sections.

Daily Quick Sketch: Rex-9

This was a test sketch, where I'm trying to develop more robotic features.

The inspiration to this character would have to be based on Alan Moore's Halo Jones series, which ran in England's "2000 AD" comic and was illustrated by Ian Gibson. In the story, there is a K-9 robot companion to Halo named, Toby. Somewhere down the line, this friendly robot dog turns out to be a derange murdering killing machine.

A gritty digital coloring of the Rex-9 pencil sketch

While I have no intentions to use this robot dog as a killer in a story, the character Toby kept popping in my mind and influenced the final look. The difference here is that Rex-9 is not really a trusting looking robot . . . I would never trust this puppy bot the way Toby was trusted in the Halo Jones story.

Pencil sketch of robot dog, Rex-9

I need to focus more on actually constructing the parts of a robot. Those who draw robots well, show the working anatomy of robotics in a way that is easily understood. While I'm sure this image can be recognized as a robot dog -- I still have a way to go with developing better robotic features and components.