Saturday, January 31, 2015

Daily Quick Sketch: Goblin Week!

So tomorrow (Saturday) is the end of Goblin Week, aka #Goblin Week which has been running since JAN 25th until tomorrow JAN 31th, 2015.

#Goblin Week was established several years ago on Tumblr & Twitter. It is basically a fun and friendly creative gathering of people drawing/sketching goblins. All images of goblins that are tagged with #goblin week will be gathered by the event creator Evan Dahm.

Playing around with goblins. This image was pencil sketched and then digitally colored.

There's still one more day to go if anyone is interested in submitting there own images.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flip side: Otter sketches

In the last post, I showed an old Christmas card sketch in blue line pencil. Funny thing is, on the other side of that paper there are several sketches of my supporting character, Otter, from my book, Bobby's Biggest Bubble. You can actually see the pencil indentations of Otter in the paper.

Several character sketches fleshing out the character, Otter, from Bobby's Biggest Bubble

These sketches weren't the first of Otter. These are closer to the actual final version of the character seen in the book. Originally, Otter was to be the antagonist. But over the years, it became more important for Otter to be the supporting friend during Bobby's adventure.

Daily Quick Sketch: Christmas Card Concept

This was an old concept I had when I tried to get into gift cards business a long, long time ago. At the time, I did many silly pet cartoon cards and sent a packet of a dozen dummy mock-ups to Hallmark and Gibson cards.

A rough concept sketch for a humorous Christmas card.

Once I found how little greeting cards paid, I quickly decided to look elsewhere for work.

Original blue line sketch from several decades ago . . . 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First Business Card + Origin of Arrrggghhh Ink

I think one thing all artists, illustrators and designers can agree on, is that they hate looking at some of their early work. At least I feel that way about this item: my very first business card. It has so many errors and flaws -- it makes me cringe. Too many small details, too many motion lines and let's not talk about that font!

My first business card as a freelancer (can't believe people actually hired me!)

Looking back, I remember this image helping me decide on my company name, Arrrggghhh Ink. This card inspired me to make several other similar images. In all those versions, things were always going wrong with the characters screaming, "ARRRGGGHHH!"

This eventually led to things going wrong with pen ink; for example, ink spilling on a white horse getting zebra-striped ink stains along his back. (And instead of screaming "Arrrggghhh", the characters usually just cursed the ink.) Adding the word "Ink" to "Arrrggghhh" was a simple play on words so that, "Arrrggghhh Ink", when spoken would sound like an incorporated pirate company. (And of course there's the Ink/Inc pun . . . )

With so many characters cursing the spilled ink over the years, eventually the tipping ink bottle became my company icon.

An example how the spilling ink bottle became my company icon for Arrrggghhh Ink

My use of the word "Arrrggghhh" has been with me for decades. It was equally inspired by Charles Schultz's Peanuts (which was more Aaugh! than Argh!) and Monty Python's Holy Grail. As a kid, I always loved seeing different spellings of word ARGH in comic books. There was even a short lived comic by Marvel called Arrgh Comics!

When I started using computers, I created my I.D./handle as Arrrggghhh for bulletin boards, online services and I've been using it as my username in almost every online game I've played.

The latest version of the company logo, using the same elements, but cleaner and simplified

Looking back, was it the smartest name to use? Probably not.
People rarely ever spell the name right. Verbally telling someone my email address is often a task.Yet, people smile or laugh at the name when they see or hear it . . . that's why it's a great name. (I've even had several people snort with laughter on the phone; one time was with an IRS agent . . . really, some of them do have a sense of humor!)

People do remember the name - just not the spelling.

I can live with that . . .

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Children's Book: Lil' Mouse in New York City

Back in 2001, I was working on a children's book idea about a small mouse visiting New York City. I had the story summarized and even started to take reference photos of the city, especially at night around Time Square - the central focus area of the story. My idea was to alter the photos into graphic backgrounds and draw the characters on top of those background. (Similar to what an animated film does.) The difference would be that I'd make the backgrounds very abstract but still recognizable as being New York City. Doing this gave the book a nice look and it would  also help stop any legal or copyright problems from occurring.

The now defunct children's book "Lil' Mouse in New York" circa 2001

In the story, Mouse is awestruck and overwhelmed by the pace of the city. At one point, Mouse feels he doesn't belong and could never live in such a huge city. Then one by one, other animals appear before Mouse; several park pigeons, a police horse, a guard dog and even a mouse-friendly cat. They each convince Mouse that he would be great in the city. In the end, Mouse, with guts and determination . . . decides to call NYC his home. (The running theme throughout the story was pretty much set to the song New York, New York.) This was all coming together during the Spring of 2001.

Then 9-11 happened. Everything changed. I stopped working on my books, especially a children's book about a city that just went through hell . . . it no longer made sense to continue.

Being a freelancer at the time, the attacks made it impossible to find new work. Even companies that would normally pay on time, were now taking months to send their checks. I couldn't continue my desire to do children's books anymore . . . I needed to find steady work to pay the bills. I went back into the toy making business.

Simon Prescott;s "Small Mouse Big City" - published in 2010 by Sterling

Cut to nearly a decade later, the same concept was done by another writer illustrator, Simon Prescott. My feeling now is that even though my idea for designing the story is very different, my fear is that my idea is too close to his story.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Quick Daily Sketch: Gramps Attacks!

I can't tell you how strange it is to find old work that I did . . . and have no memory of drawing it. That's what happened today. As I mentioned in prior posts, I've been trying to organize my work and sketch books. I have too many sketch books that I start then I jump into another, then another . . .
After awhile, I lose track of where my sketches are stored.

In this case, it was a smaller sketch book, trapped between two larger books on my top office shelf. I quickly flipped through, not expecting to find anything . . . but there were quite a few sketches, including this one:

Gramps flagpole leaping into action with probably one of the most dangerous guns ever created.
At least he's not pointing it at someone . . . 

Of all the characters I have created in my lifetime, Gramps is my favorite.  Gramps is from my comic strip, "Home of the Brave". He was a super spy, who caused many well known events in history to occur (good and bad.)  He, along with some of the greatest inventions and weapons ever created, have spent the past several decades hiding in the family attic. Though the family thinks he is insane, and he is . . . the things Gramps knows could topple governments, change history and alter reality (which might be why he's insane.) So it was a pleasant surprise to find this sketch, since I don't remember ever creating it.

I even put a version of Gramps into my first kid's books: Bobby's Biggest Bubble.

Every once in a while, I think of possibly going back to the strip. In the last 80's, there was no world wide web access, only dial-up services and bulletin boards. The strip was available via a monthly downloadable fanzine format, which could be accessed through Qlink's dial-up service. And though we had a very limited audience, I was really inspired by the fans' comments and emails about the strip. (The strips were later reprinted and then continued with new monthly strips in a local tri-state tabloid called Spa Times.)

Another sketch of Gramps, though this time he's a bit more younger and this image I remember drawing.
This is how Gramps looked just before he hid away in the family attic.

There is so much material on the strip, yet I've never taken much care of my artwork in the past. Drawings were often just piled up and thrown into random boxes. Hopefully, one day I can find which box I put them in . . . then maybe reboot this strip into the 21 century.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One from the Archives: Wooster-Sawz

Found this old sketch from one of my old hard drives. All I remember is creating several young kids who grow up in a very bad neighborhood, wanting to make a change. They decide to wear super hero costumes and start helping people in trouble around the neighborhood.
Circa 2000: Original pencil sketch of team leader, Wooster Saws

Wooster is the key character, motivator and leader of the group. Ironically, he is incredibly skinny, very weak and is usually picked on in school. But it is his street smarts, drive and heart that make the others follow him -- even under the worst situations. The group consists of a motley crew of characters: Shelli, a freckled faced girl with braces who is shunned by the other girls. Todd, a huge muscular jock who is picked on by his peers because of his speech impediment. And Chaz, the overweight mathematical whiz-kid who lacks any and all social skills.

I still haven't located the other three character sketches, hopefully if I do, I will update this post with those images. There is also a rough summery of the story somewhere on one of these old CDs/Hard Drives. Hopefully one day I can revisit the idea, and maybe do something with it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Daily Quick Sketch: Santa? (Updated)

Well . . . better late than never.

During the holiday break, I did many Santa doodles - trying to design new and different designs for Santa. I never had the time to post these during the holidays, so here are a few you can see now, post-Christmas.

This one was inspired by Aardman Animations' Wallace and Gromit style. It's the only Santa I colored and posted to Google+ to see it they would "auto awesome" the image with a snow effect (like they did to my Santa image from last year.)

Wacky Santa highly inspired by Nick Park of Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame)

Still haven't seen the effect be made on the image, maybe they stopped doing that effect to the images due to too many people complaining that Google was altering their images.

This one was made because I was thinking of all the versions of Santa around the world. Many Santas were inspired by national traditions or fables. Our American Santa image was heavily inspired by the poem "The Night Before Christmas" and visually branded by Coca Cola's advertising in the early part of the 20th century. But what if another American classic had inspired the look of Santa instead . . . that's when I thought of one of America's most popular fables, Paul Bunyan.

This one I call Lumberjack Santa. A Paul Bunyon inspired Santa sans his big blue reindeer.

His open coat/bare chest was inspired by the Ghost of Christmas Present, in which several old "A Christmas Carol" movies had the ghost seemingly naked underneath his huge robe.  I was going to include a huge blue reindeer too . . . but didn't get around to it.

Here are a few more doodle sketches from around that same time:

Rushing Santa - always seems like Santa should be rushing around , especially in December.

This was a little weary Santa, looking like he a bit tired of it all . . . 

Not sure what to make of this Santa, but his mustache is definitely too crooked.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Daily Quick Sketch: Trick or Treat Ghost

Another sketch from several months ago in my sketch book. This one a simple ghost trick or treating on Halloween. I like the idea of not showing any visible hands holding the pumpkin handle, yet you can easily imagine that a hand is there.

Pencil sketch from one of my sketchbooks in 2014

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Daily Quick Sketch: B'Gok

Been cleaning up my hard drives for the new year. I found many sketches and images that I had the best intentions to post here, but never found the time. Many are now out of season, (quite a lot of Santa sketches.)

This character was made shortly after I did the image of the monster character Margarrr for Illustration Friday back on Oct 24th, 2014.  I actually sketched 4 characters but only colored two. Here is the giant monster B'Gok!

One of four giant monster characters made in Oct 2014.

These giant monsters were inspired by the old video game Rampage and Godzilla movies. The failure here is that I didn't create a city background to help scale the size of the monsters. Without that scale, this creature could be two foot tall. 

The original pencil sketch - seen here facing left. Later the image was flipped when being colored.

Inked version before it was cleaned up and colored.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Character Re-Design: Card Goblin

Okay . . . a new year.

Time to get back into the swing of things. This past holiday season has been a complete mental and physical drain both with work and life in general. I'm looking forward to a better year.
So let's begin with this project I did recently for Geoff Smith who hails from the UK . . .

In late October, Geoff had contacted me on Facebook. He had seen my work and was interested in a custom design, especially one that would be similar to the Goblin I created for Steve Radabaugh's Dungeon Marauders game last year.

At first I was against doing the project, especially being in the middle of a highly stressful deadline holiday season. But we agreed on a one&done deal, where I would do a pencil sketch based on what he wanted, then ink/color in my spare time . . . no deadline, no revisions/changes.

Final colored version, inked & colored in ArtRage Pro
Whenever I had the spare time, I'd doodle a few ideas out for composition and character in my sketchbook. The first character image was too happy and pleasant . . . almost too elf-like. But I did like aspects of the character. Geoff did say he wanted a bright eyed goblin, but this was going away for goblin territory and more into a Archie comics territory.

Pencil doodle in my sketchbook that started looking more like an elfish version of Jughead. 

I decided to use more of the character I made for Dungeon Marauders, creating a more grittier and gruesome look. But this time I went too far in the other direction . . .

Rough sketch. It was here that I knew that the legs would have to be omitted to keep it close-up and truly see the cards in his hands. Though the cards are blank, their positioning and general focus is just as important as the character.

The Goblin became too evil looking and creepy. He definitely didn't seem of sound mind. Since Geoff wanted to used this character for his website/small business (trading cards & games) this character needed to be a little more friendlier and look less like a zombie. The entire composition balance was off too; too much space behind his head and the shoulder dagger just wasn't working for me. Still . . . he needed a weapon. A sword would be the answer to both composition issues.

The plan then was to go somewhere in the middle of the two sketches. It would be quite some time later that the 1st official sketch was done over the Thanksgiving break. On Dec 2nd, I sent the below pencil sketch to Geoff. The rope was a last minute decision to create a nice border for this image to be used as a spot illustration.

Second pencil sketch: tighter details and the composition was now balanced thanks to the addition of a long sword.

It wasn't until New Year's weekend that I finally inked and colored the image, creating several variations for Goeff to play with. With the final touches finished, I sent several files off into a DropBox folder and shared the contents with Goeff.

A color variant, giving the character a very unique look from the normal Goblin traditional colors.
Funny how we take today's technology for granted . . . sending something instantly overseas in a matter of seconds. Geoff seemed very please by the work. Glad I could help. I wish him the best luck in his business ventures.

Now onto another little project for my friend Steve and his new game Fae Ball.