Monday, December 30, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Lil' Whale

This is a character I pulled from my sketch pad.

Occasionally, I think of an animal and try to create a new version, different from how I usually draw the animal. This forces me to think outside the box and it sometimes helps to discover a whole new style or technique.

Here I made a more angular body, longer mouth and placed the two eyes together and higher up than what I usually do. I also added more texture with the horizontal lines on the body/tail and the under belly's ribbing.

Lil' Whale under the water? or leaping into the sky?

The background I did very quickly in Photoshop, using several splash and cloud brushes. 

The original scan of the Lil' Whale doodle from my lil' sketch book

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Little Toucan

Just another quick sketch using markers and ink. This time using a black pen brush. I like the pen brush, but the trouble with using them is that eventually the brush tip wears out and doesn't hold a fine line anymore. You can see around the sides of the toucan's feet, the brush point split, causing the tiny gaps. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Korky

Yet another testing daily sketch using my new marker sets.

This time, I wanted to create a sidekick for one of my oldest characters, Chef Gordon Baloo. Keeping to the theory that dogs and their owners tend to look alike, I created the character of "Korky" based upon key features of Chef Gordon Baloo.

Daily sketch of the hyper puppy, Korky, made using Copic markers and a Faber-Castell "B" brush pen

The key features I took from Chef were his stout frame, wide pointy-chinned grin, baggy + googly eyes, bulbous nose and circular ears. Hopefully doing these similar (but different) features makes an automatic visual relationship between the two characters.

Chef Gordon Baloo: One of my oldest characters and the key influence to designing his sidekick, Korky
Added the original pencil sketch seen below.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pencil Line + Marker Comp Technique

This post is used to show an example of a technique I use when creating new characters. It combines a pencil sketch with a separate marker color comp to create a final image. 

First Step: The pencil sketch
Starting with a pencil sketch, I scan it into the computer at usually 200 dpi or higher. It's important that your images are at least 200 dpi in case you ever want to go print. Once the image is scanned into Photoshop, I use "Level" 
settings (CTRL+L on a PC) and adjust the image to clean up any smudges or erased lines that may appear. This also can darken the sketch lines, which is important for the final look.
Original sketch using a pencil, which I find to be the most adjustable and comfortable way for me to create
Second Step: The Color Marker Comp
Once the scan of the sketch is cleaned up, I print out a page to use as a guide for the marker comp. The reason I do this is to not ruin the original sketch, because the markers for the color comp will probably soak through the sheet and ruin the image below.

For this color comp, I will be using Bienfang 100% Rag Translucent Marker Paper because it is a great smooth surface that allows alcohol markers to spread evenly. It's also thin and light -- but still strong and durable, so the paper won't rip if you erase too hard or go over an area multiple times with a marker. 
Another reason for this brand of paper is that it is also transparent, like tracing paper, which is very important. 
A color comp of the the sketch, filling in all the color without any black holding lines
I take the print of my sketch and place it under a sheet of the marker paper. This will now allow me to color-trace the sketch. I color the entire image without drawing any holding line or outlines. Once the inner areas are colored, I select a darker color marker (in this case green) and outline the entire image. For final touches, I add shading textures to the skin, wings and belly area.

When the comp is finished, I scan it EXACTLY with the same settings as the sketch. This way they are the same size and should easily combine together.

Step Three: Combining the two together
I now have the two drawings scanned into Photoshop. I copy and paste the sketch image over the color comp image. [Note: The sketch image layer MUST be over the background color comp image.] Select the upper sketch layer, then change it to "Multiply" in the Layers settings. Doing this allows all the white areas to become transparent leaving only the sketch lines.
The 2 images combined: a nice effect with some color bleeding that creates a slight aura around the character
You should now see the two layers combined together, but you will probably need to rotate the top sketch layer for it to align with the color below. To rotate the sketch layer, select the "Move" tool (shortcut "V" key in Photoshop) and click on the sketch layer. If "Shown Transfom Controls" is select in the top menu bar, you should see the movement handles appear around the sketch. From there, go to any corner and click when you see your mouse icon change to a rotate icon - then simply adjust the sketch to fit the color below.
So there you have it, two hand drawn images of the same character, scanned and combined in Photoshop. It creates a nice effect AND allows many alterations and adjustments in Photoshop. It's now very easy to add a background under the character; or change the colors to something completely different.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Illustration Friday: Spirit (Updated)

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: SPIRIT

Marker and Ink image of Santa for Illustration Friday's word of the week - Spirit
Thought Process:
First thought was the "Christmas Spirit" since it is the middle of December. This made me think of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" which as everyone knows -- is loaded with spirits. But I didn't want to draw a ghostly figure . . . instead I was looking to show the emotional spirit of Christmas. So who better to do that than ol' Saint Nick. 
Pencil sketch of the Christmas spirited Santa. The original idea was to have him in his red long-johns.

But I didn't want to draw just another Santa image. I wanted the image to show Santa's Christmas spirit on a more personal and emotional level.

By taking away his coat and hat made it seem like Santa was casually relaxing at home; This is not the business-like gift delivering Santa . . . it's the happy and jolly "Thank God that's over and I have 355 days off from work" Santa. 


The background was pretty bland for a cheery spirited Christmas image. And just for good measure, I figured adding a snow storm in the background would help instantly convey that this dancing fool was indeed Santa. (Though, skipping around in a snowstorm like that without proper clothing - it'd be a miracle if he didn't catch pneumonia!)


Okay, this is weird.
Somehow either someone or some program turned my non-snowflake falling PNG image into an animated GIF. I found it animated like this several days after I uploaded my original non-animated image to Google+.

Perhaps Google does this to some images automatically? I doubt it, since that could be a few legal problems I'm sure Google lawyers would warn against.

So I think this snow effect is something that Google+ does automatically to snowy images. I've seen several images on there that have this same animation - so i'm guessing that is the answer.

Real nice touch . . . Thank You, mystery animated GIF making app or person! 

My Santa drawing that was mysteriously turned into an animated snowing GIF image

For those interested, I found a webpage that explains how to make this snow effect.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Illustration Friday: Pattern

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: Pattern

Thought Process:

I do many patterns as a designer for toys, pet, costumes and novelty items. The patterns I make are usually graphically simple, because busier patterns don't sell as well as something clean and simple.

I thought about the many patterns I created over the past decade. I wanted to come up with an idea to alter my artwork slightly and make it funny. Then it hit me, several years ago in Shanghai, I was asked by the product developer and buyer of PetSmart to create patterns for pet blankets. They were looking for something different, not the typical paw print pattern you see everywhere. So I created about 8 patterns to show them.

As usual, I didn't have much time to develop the designs, but as I was sketching and doodling, I came up with this playful puppies jumping fences pattern. I know it doesn't make much sense , but it was still cheery, silly and playful. (PetSmart never bought this design, it's was too comical for their brand of products. But I still remember liking the colorful playful pattern and rhythm it created.)

So I thought, lets break that rhythm, ruin the perfect pattern and have a solo dog doing what usually comes natural.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Illustration Friday: Refrain

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: REFRAIN

Sesame Street's Cookie Monster refraining from eating a big delicious cookie
Thought Process:
This week's word was tough. The first definition to come to mind is "to hold back" which makes me think of curbing one's appetite. I tried to think of characters that couldn't control themselves, especially with food. Wimpy from Popeye was my first thought, but he's pretty old school. Pac Man was another, but I don't think people generally think of him as a compulsive eater (and again old school.)

That's when I thought of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.
Here's a character that usually has no control over his appetite for cookies. He's still brings back childhood memories of enjoyment when he chows down on a pile of cookies. Though in past few decades, Cookie Monster has been learning to eat healthier and cookies are not his main go to food anymore.

I understand the urge to have children learn to eat healthier -- but I find it sad to see Sesame Street alter a favored character simply for a simple moral spin. Kids understand he is over the top, that's what makes him so lovable and enjoyable. 
Seeing cookie crumbs fly all over when he eats is parts of the fun.  Having vegetable leaves fly all over when he eats? Not as funny.  
Original pencil sketch of the Cookie Monster concept for Illustration Friday's Refrain word of the week
Drawing Process:
The focus is on the huge forefront cookie that stands out on a bright foreground with Cookie Monster centered directly behind it. I decided to have Cookie Monster posed grimacing, head in hand, gazing over the cookie which is less than an arm's length away. The motion lines around the character help express his urges to pounce on the cookie. In the background, a radial burst of energy is center to the head of Cookie Monster to help pull the focus to the center of the image.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Illustration Friday: Shadow!

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: Shadow

A promotional image for the short online cartoon: Slojo, Ex-Clown

Thought Process:
 Shadow This made me think immediately of a little cartoon I tried to animate in 2000 called, "Slojo: Ex-Clown". It was to be a small online cartoon about a sad sack individual who used to be a circus clown. The twist (or gimmick) was that Slojo was always unlucky and suffered the consequences usually in a chain of events. In this case, all he is doing is standing around . . . and he's about to suffer for doing so.

I was just beginning to learn animation and thought doing a solo project like this would allow me to practice and hone my skills. The animation was very crude and rough, almost is a stop motion style. Fortunately that year, I was hired to animate and design websites. Unfortunately, I 
no longer had the time to finish this project.

Background story: This image is strange to me when I see it.
While I did make an animated intro for the cartoon, plotted and story boarded 
an entire 3 minute episode -- I do not remember ever doing this image. Yes, It is my work, my style and character . . . I just don't remember planning, sketching or working on this particular image.

This was not the first time that has happened to me. When I was younger, I would sometimes wake up with completed sketches of characters that I didn't recall creating. There were also times when I would dream up complete stories. I would try to write those dream stories down as soon as possible, for it seemed like the stories started to fade away as I woke up.

The subconscious
 mind is a strange, confusing and wonderful thing.

I will try to post the original Slojo animated intro soon on the blog . . .

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Halloween Jacko

Happy Halloween everyone!!!

Having a hard time making new costumes for Target's toddlers for 2014. It especially difficult when redesigning something so traditional like a pumpkin costume. I believe I have designed over 20-30 pumpkin costumes for babies, toddlers, adults and pets over the past 8 years. Coming up with something fresh, new and cost efficient is a big challenge. 

Jacko, sketches in pencil, colored in marker and inked with a black brush pen
When trying to clear my mind, I usually create new characters in hopes that doing so it may inspire a new look for Halloween costumes. I feel it's important to step away from the work when faltering and look elsewhere. Sometimes the slightest things can help inspire new concepts and great designs.

Because of this sketch, i'm thinking of making a Jack O' Lantern design for toddlers . . . hopefully it'll look interesting when I'm finished.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Scare D. Kattz

I've been working on Halloween designs and also just purchased a set of 24 color markers from Spectrum. Like Copic markers - these are alcohol based. Unlike Copic markers, these were 24 color markers for about $40. So, since Halloween is approaching, I did a black cat character to test out these new markers.
Scare D. Kattz
There is a quality difference with the Spectrum markers. The blend/bleed of their markers isn't as fluid as the Copic markers. The ink does blend, but they seem to go on dryer. Also, a big difference is that the Spectrum markers simply have a fine point end and a chiseled flat end; no brush point, which sacrifices a lot of control.

Comparing the high quality + costly Copic markers with the low-cost Spectrum markers
Note Copic's brush tip; this provides much more control for the ink and line 
I found if I color in small areas and also use a circular motion with the pen, I can fill an area evenly.  Not as easy as using a Copic marker - but doable. Then going over the area again, once it is dry, allows making layers of shading.  I still need time to really get the control of these pens, and while they aren't the best in the market, they are affordable and well worth using for color comps and sketching.

Comparing the Gelly Roll vs. SoufflÄ› white pens for highlights and touch-ups


After seeing many great artists using this white pen, I had to try Mitsubishi's White pen. By far a better quality white pen than the Gelly Roll 08. Major reason is the ink flow. Gelly Rolls eventually start to dry out at the tip and the flow of ink starts to clot. The Mitsubishi pen flows with ease. So, while Gelly Roll is a good white pen -- I recommend the Mitsubishi White pen (UM-153, available at

Some example scribbling and signatures using the Mitsubishi White pen on a black surface

Also, I may have mentioned this before. For final highlighting and touch-ups, I use the Gelly Roll White #08 pen. This is a very impressive pen and the coverage of the white gel ink is fantastic. But be aware, the company also makes a similar looking white pen with another line of their pens called SoufflÄ›. These pens go on very wet and are not opaque at all. (I have a color set of these pens and have no idea what to use them for -- pretty worthless. Be warned!)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Illustration Friday: Creature II

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: CREATURE

I usually never submit two images to the IF website, but I couldn't help also send this "monsta" from over a year ago. This creature was made by playing around with the fur brush in SketchBook Pro -- so it's really just a doodle.

This creature was made on June 9th, 2012, which was before I created my eBook character, Bladimir Blarfarg around Dec. 2012. Though I can't prove it, I think subconsciously this little guy was the inspiration to creating Bladimir.

Close-up cropped image of the the original doodle sketch "Fuzzy Monsta"
There's are definite signs of Bladimir here; the horns, blue fur, wide mouth, stocky body with small arms and legs. But you have to admit, he's got too much of a creepy factor to be used for a children's story. Kids probably would still like this creature -- but to properly market a book for success - you need to appeal to the parents, since they are the paying buyers. You also need a universal appeal and lil' Fuzzy here just wouldn't work on that level. So ol' Fuzzy Monsta here was never considered for the eBook. (Sorry dude)

You can see the complete original full body doodle of Fuzzy Monsta here:

Illustration Friday: Creature

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: CREATURE

As previously mentioned, I've been swamped with work lately, so I haven't been submitting illustrations to the website Illustration Friday for weeks now.
Fortunately, this week's word is easy for me to submit past works.

Bladimir, the Blogdunsta from the upcoming eBook "Bladimir Blarfarg and the Worm Wire Glasses".

Thought Process:
Not much thought process to this submission, my first thought to the word CREATURE is obviously going to be the creature I've been working on for the past year. I simply submitted one of my illustrations from my eBook, 
Bladimir Blarfarg and the Worm Wire Glasses".

(Sidenote: Noticed that the font I picked has a "y" that looks like a "g" - I'm constantly seeing "Tiny Legs" in the lower right corner read as "Ting Legs". Even though that does bother me, I like this font's style since it goes so well with the mood and character of the story.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

QwikFlix: Scooter Bounce

I've been meaning to add a few of my old animations to the blog. It's just tedious to code and setup since it was created in Flash long ago. Since then, ActionScript has gone from 1.0 to 3.0 and it is quite a difference. Not only does the coding need updating, but in order to view the Flash file on Blogger . . . more coding must be added. But I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Even added a play again button so that the clip won't loop on and on forever.

This was a test animation from when I worked at a company called CSI, which was several years prior to the popular TV show making it's debut. (Yes, it was a hoot to tell people I worked at CSI . . . sigh.) I was developing the main cast, trying to give each a personality to play on for our project, SchoolKidsOnline. (That's Scooter in the top right of the image below.)

Scooter was going to be the nerd who enjoyed sports. While he didn't have the physical stamina like his other team players, he was a genius with probability, trajectory angles and other physics-related stuff. He was also smart enough to create robots like his basketball-bot and strike-less bat.

Android viewers will need to have their OS running Jellybean in order to play the Flash movie.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The 11th Annual Collingswood Book Festival

So New Jersey's biggest book festival is right around the corner, On Saturday, Oct. 5th, 2013. The location is at Downtown Collingswood on Haddon Ave. If there is rain, the festival will be held inside the Collingswood High School (is 424 Collings Avenue, Collingswood, NJ 08108)

I'm really looking forward to going to this event. Not only will I have a table to show + sell my book and doing signings, but I will also do a reading of the book at 1:50PM. 

For more information on the event, check the link below:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Illustration Friday: Together

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: Together

Thinking Process: I had no idea what to do with this week's word. I was very stumped. But then I thought of the word and one of my favorite childhood songs came to mind, the Beatles' song "All Together Now". 

That made me think of the album the song appeared on, Yellow Submarine, and how influential the cartoon was when I was a child. The cartoon not only had fantastic music, but was the first true mind-blowing creative visuals I ever seen in a cartoon.
And let's face it, it had everything a child could ask for: The Beatles, really creepy bad guys
, a Sea of Monsters and a hole in Ringo's pocket.

So thinking of the cartoon and the song, I thought of the two opposing characters being together: Blue Meanie and Jeremy Hillary Boob (aka Nowhere Man).

Addendum: Just added a video of making this image on YouTube, watch below or you can go to the YouTube page and a larger better quality version of the video. Click here: TOGETHER VIDEO

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Illustration Friday: Totem

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: Totem

Though Process:
Totems make me think of stacked creatures, usually with a canister-shaped body. I didn't want to do the typical tiki head look. Instead I thought of something else that was stackable . . . marshmallows.

So once I pictured the marshmallows stacked, I figured they were running. But what were they running from? Only thing I could think of that would make marshmallows run, was an angered chocolate bar and graham cracker - with sticks.

Makes sense . . . right?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Illustration Friday: Hidden

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: Hidden

Thinking Process: Not much time to spend on this, so I did a quick pencil sketch for this week. Thinking of something "hidden", made me think of cats -- the way they hide and get ready to pounce on anything that comes by. I thought it would be funny to have the cat hide under a rug, which holds the entire shape of the cat, making it very obvious that the cat thinks it's hidden -- but it's not. Adding a simple mouse just standing there, staring at the cat added the little touch of humor I wanted.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Illustration Friday: LUSH

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: Lush

Though Process:
My first thought was the work LUSH my immediate thought was a thriving vegetated area. Then I thought of the word as an adjective: luxurious, abundance and thriving. But there was nothing humorous.

But when I look at the word as a noun as a heavy drinker, a drunkard;
I thought of an old cartoon I did year ago. This was originally a card that simply said "Hep-fee Burphday!" inside.

[ Sidenote: Looking at the many other drunken/alcohol images on Illustration Friday site - I guess I wasn't the only one thinking of using the NOUN version of the word this week! ]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Illustration Friday: Fresh

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: Fresh

My submitted drawing for Illustration Friday's word of the week: Fresh.
Thought Process: The idea came immediately to me because I already did a sketch many years ago by request of my brother for his web design company, Chopping Block.

He called me asking for a character design, a cool nerdy grocer. I did several goofy cartoon sketches and sent they to him.  My style tends to be very cartoony, 
It wasn't the type of look he wanted. But I had a good time drawing the images and kept them all these years.

So the concept here is that the grocer is getting "Fresh" with the "Fresh" Produce. There is also something very funny to me about the phrase "cute tomato". It reminds my of those old B+W movies, especially East Side Comedy's Bowery Boys where it seemed like every girl in those movies were referred to as a "cute tomata". 

The original rough pencil sketch

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Library Book Reading: South River Public Library

Getting ready for the reading at South River Library.

Attached is the promotional flyer. Please help spread the word . . . 

South River Public Library is located: 
55 Appleby Avenue
South River, NJ 08882
Contact: Dawn Bladzinski 732-254-2488

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Illustration Friday: Hybrid

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: Hybrid

This was a vacation week for my wife and me, so I pulled an old image from the archive for this week's word.

This is one of my favorite supporting characters to an old story I wrote many years ago. It's a story I plan to tell one day in a children's book, but it won't be for at least a few years from now.

One of my "hybrid" characters, Babbit. (He's a Bat + Rabbit)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The sequel: Bobby's Ginormous Jelly

Already getting a little overwhelmed that its already past mid-summer and I need to get the sequel finished in the next few weeks. I'll have a few days of vacation to focus on getting the work done.
Being to promo the new sequel book due this fall.
Hope to have it all done in time to have something to show for library book readings like the one in South River, NJ on Aug 12th and especially for the Collingswood Book Festival in NJ this Oct. 5th.
I'll be sure to post more info here as thing move along.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Product Design: Robot Basket

Few people asked me what I do for a living.
I'm a Creative Director under my own company name (Arrrggghhh Ink LLC) and I work exclusively for a company in China. I help design and create fabricated textile products, which is a fancy way to say I design toys, costumes, pet and novelty items.

I can not usually show my work online, because many items are exclusively made for major retail stores like Target, PetSmart and Wal-Mart. We would not be a leading company today if we didn't secure our designs from the general public (and our competitors.)

Attached is a design I did several years ago. It was a robot design for an Easter Basket. Usually I sketch out and color a design. I then add bits of detail information to help explain the look and materials for the prototype designers in China. The team in China are usually so talented, that there is rarely a time I need to do turn-arounds or sketch from another point of view for them to design a prototype.

A Robot Easter Basket design that was too costly to make

This particular design came out very well as a  prototype, but unfortunately the design's cost caused it to be too expensive to make for the retail market. This is the part that many people do not realize about designing products: Not only does the product need to look and fell good, but you are limited to what you can design because of pricing.
This becomes even more of a challenge in a bad economy.

The original concept design including text directions on the design.

In a bad economy, retail prices tend to stay the same or go lower. But the cost of labor, material goods and shipping do not stay the same. So what most retailers do during bad times? They find cheaper alternative/substitute solutions -- without giving up too much quality to the product.

Personally, when I design, I think of things I would have enjoyed as a child. I still want to see this being sold in retail stores one day. Maybe if/when the economy gets better . . .

Monday, July 8, 2013

Illustration Friday: Protest

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: Protest
Protesting the protestin' . . . a single frame image of a little animation for this week's Illustration Friday
Thought Process:
This week's word was easy because I already have a character who lives to protest. This was a cartoon concept I had long ago about two animals in New York's Central Park. I don't want to give anymore information than that - since it's still something I may do one day.

But this particular character is a very sly and manipulating power-crazy squirrel. (I always pictured his voice to be similar to Joe Pesci.)

UPDATE 3: Added a Play Again button to the animation.  So now it automatically plays once, stops and waits for you to click the button to play again.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Laughing Dog

This is an old image I used for several projects.
Originally it was the cover illustration of a greeting card. It has since gone on to be used for a pet toy website logo and part of a design for a European nursery rhyme book (Hey Diddle Diddle)
The original pencil sketch
Recently I inked the image for printing, replacing the shading with lines. I kept the pen work very loose to give a playful feel to the overall image.

Image redrawn with ink lines (for printing)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Daily Quick Sketch: Lil' Hippo

Had this little guy made quite some time ago, finally had it colored.
"Percy" was a character that was made from random sketching and doodling
No reason for creating this character, he was just developed from random sketching and doodling. I will archive "Percy" away until a character like this is needed.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Illustration Friday: WORN Darth Vader

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: WORN

Remember: Even Darth Vader had a few bad days . . . 
Thought Process:
The first thing I thought with the word WORN, was someone tired . . . exhausted. That made me think of characters you never really see portrayed that way. Darth Vader came to mind. The thought of Darth Vader looking fatigued, slumped shouldered, dragging his light sabre on the ground (while it's still on) seemed like a good image to do.

For this image, I wanted to stay very loose and sketchy.
It took about 20 minutes to finish.

The original pencil sketch

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Drawing Process: Bobby's Biggest Bubble

I've recently had quite a few people asking about how I did the artwork for my children's book Bobby's Biggest Bubble. I'll try to explain my process below:

I used a great small (and inexpensive) program called ArtRage Pro to do my line work and coloring. My story was very whimsical and funny, so I wanted the book to have a Saturday morning cartoon style, using solid black outlines and vibrant flat "cel"-like coloring.

The finalized kitchen scene from a page of Bobby's Biggest Bubble (sans type/lettering)

I found ArtRage Pro was the best program for the line control I needed. (Other more popular programs, like Photoshop and Painter, just didn't have that feel or line control I wanted.) Using the program's default "Round and Smooth" ink pen setting and adjusting it's Smoothing setting to about 40-50% gave me just enough control while keeping the line smooth and clean.

The image was first pencil sketched, scanned and then placed into ArtRage where I traced in the ink lines (using about 9% pen size).

The original pencil sketch scanned into ArtRage Pro to be inked and colored

Each element (e.g. kitchen background, the bubble) and character were drawn on separate layers, allowing composition/size adjustments.
The "inked" layers all seen together without coloring. Note: many background items were extended in more detail from the original pencil sketch. Doing this allows more control of placement and making adjustments if needed.

For coloring, I used the Watercolor setting of Wet on Dry to get the solid color fills.
I created separate layers for 
highlights and shades and placed their layers over the color layers. Then I drew in the highlights and shadows using the same smooth Ink Pen as before, only at a much larger size (about 15%). For shading, the layer's Opacity was turned down to 15-20% using black as the color. For highlights, the layer's Opacity was turned down to about 60% using white as the color.
Lowering the opacity creates a transparent coloring control that allows me to darken or lighten the colors underneath.

The image shown w/o highlights/shading, but includes the word balloon and outer framing (via Photoshop)

When the image was finished, it was exported to a Photoshop PSD file (with layers) so that I could compile and convert all images (and layers) into a high quality TIF files and place them into Adobe's InDesign for publishing. Final touches like text, word balloons and outline frames were done in Photoshop.

FYI: I plan to use ArtRage again for the book's sequel . . . love using this program!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Illustration Friday: Children

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: CHILDREN

Too busy with work, so I have to go to the archives for this week. And since I never posted it to the blog, (and it features two children,) here's the front of the bookmark for Bobby's Biggest Bubble.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Post-It Note Sketches

Post-It Note Sketches 

Occasionally, I'll simply start sketching on post-it notes. These sketches come out my head without rhyme or reason, almost in a meditative state. (Like the alien guy with a baseball cap - no idea what I was thinkin' of at the time -- I have no idea what he is either . . . ) 

Here are a few of those pencil sketches . . . 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Arrrggghhh! It's Another Quick Sketch Video: Illustration Friday SWEET

A video showing my technique sketching, using ArtRage Studio Pro 4.0.2 . This image was created for the website,, where artists and illustrators submit artwork based upon the site's word of the week. The word for this image was SWEET.

Illustration Friday: Sweet

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: SWEET

Thinking of the word SWEET, I immediately thought of candy.
That made me think of popular characters related to candy. Willy Wonka, M&M's and the cartoon Adventure Time came to mind, but I wanted a contradiction to the word SWEET. Something sweet that wasn't being sweet.

This instantly made me think of the classic ending of the original Ghost Busters movie with the fantastic character: Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The sweet and lovable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man tapping the city into oblivion.

I originally thought of an image of Stay Puft fighting the Michelin Man (the famous tire company mascot) since they both looked very similar in size and shape. I was going to do a Godzilla-like side-by-side fight overshadowing a city . . . but while it might have been a good image - it didn't focus enough on the word SWEET.

Going back to the concept "sweet not being sweet", I instead decided to focus on just Stay Puft tap dancing like Shirley Temple -- and in doing so -- destroying the city behind him.

The original pencil sketch of the IF: SWEET concept
I wanted to originally have a dramatic image looking up under the belly of Stay Puft, from the point of view of people being demolished below. But it was hard to convey that Stay Puft was being "sweet" and tap dancing from that angle. He would just look too menacing. So instead, I did a spotlight focus with Stay Puft tap dancing with his telephone pole "cane". Doing this makes a "sweeter" and cuter persona -- and eliminated seeing people being trampled on (which would be too dark for some people and make the cartoon less "funny".)

RE: Illustration Friday
If you would like to join in on the fun, head over to Illustration Friday. It's totally free, no need to login or sign up for anything. You can view all the submissions from this week (and past archives of previous words.) Have a sketch to show? Send your own artwork up for others to see.