Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Dragon

Below, I'm showing half of a dragon character. I'm trying to find a strong simple dragon for a story, but the character's look isn't there yet. With most of my character sketches, I try to play around, doing things differently than I usually would for a dragon. (e.g.s: wings attached to the upper arms, finned ears, and a large underbite jaw.)
Right half of dragon character design
Personally, this character doesn't fit what I want yet, though there are several features I do like. I will carry those details over to my next attempt drawing the dragon character I want for my story.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Even More Monstas and Bunnies sketch stuff

I've been sketching this image on and off for a few months now. Another image for my grouping of Monstas and Bunnies, (I'm thinking of switching to Monstas & Bunny instead, since I've been using the same bunny in all the images.)
Pencil sketch for GO FISH, another image for my collection of Monstas and Bunnies images.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Looking Back 2000-2001: Bobby's Biggest Bubble supporting characters

Way before the book was printed, I would often come back to work on Bobby's Biggest Bubble, in over a 2 decade span. My career made it too difficult to focus on making the story, especially with so much travel. While I did have a laptop with me when travelling, I found it difficult to really work/design under those conditions.

I was an animator/web designer back in 2000 and most of our computer design department was let go after the Internet market bubble broke. Only my friends John Biank, John Kowalczyk, and I remained. I stayed on for about 7-8 months, but the work wasn't the same. Our work room was empty and depressing and the projects became too corporate with less and less design needed. Eventually, I left and started freelancing again in early 2001.

Character sheet of the townspeople for Bobby's Biggest Bubble

Freelance work was good. I first got many small projects from This led to several companies finding and hiring me to animated their websites. I was animating for several Japanese online English teaching courses. The pay was decent, tno deadline pressures and they pretty much let me direct my own work (and others.) This provided me with some spare time and I started to go back to doing the book. Above is the image that I pulled over 11 years later to help create my picture book.

Unfortunately, 9-11 changed my career, as it did with so many other people. The freelance work dried up. I was not getting paid for work completed. I was forced to leave freelancing and go back to working under a steady full-time job.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bobby's Biggest Bubble: about 5 years ago

It's hard to believe that it's been five years since I used Kickstarter to help publish my first picture book. On June 1, 2012, the Kickstarter project reached its goal thanks to friends, family and the many strangers who were generous to help me create something I had envisioned for decades.
The start of Bobby's picture book began about 5 years ago, but his story is decades old.

I had no idea how much work was involved. I spent every weekend working around the clock to make the deadline. Learning the process of creating a hardcover book was surprising too. At time's I felt overwhelmed, and I became my own worst critic when the work hit a few snags. When all the work was finished, the proofs were approved, and the order to go to print was confirmed, it was the highpoint of my career.

Today, the books still sell online, though at a far, far slower pace than it did in 2012. I still donate books to schools, libraries, and charities whenever I can. I'm down to the last few boxes of the books of the original 1st print.

I'm also trying to get more of my stories published, but this time I'm going the traditional route. Many of my stories are currently in submissions to various agents and publishers. Time will tell . . .

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Zombie Kitty

Today's quick sketch is a little walking dead cat. I know the season for me to start designing for Halloween is fast approaching, so this came to mind.

Zombie Kitty, colored in Photoshop CC

The original inked image that was hand drawn using brush pens and then scanned into Photoshop.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Perched Owl

Today I was trying out some new brush settings I created in Photoshop. I have been looking for a good inking brush for Photoshop, but I still find other programs do a better job of the line control and point tapering when creating an inked image.

Final image after eliminating some of the background leaves and branches

As I was playing around, I found a waxy crayon setting I really enjoyed and decided to do a quick image using this and several other brush settings. To do this, I started with a scribbled image of an owl that I had drawn some time ago. I decided to not create the outline like I usually do, but to paint and build up on the highlights, shadows, and textures.

Here's a little step-by-step shown below:

The scribbled image of a barn owl on a branch

I quickly brushed on a tree trunk, branches, and leaves on a black background.

I filled in the gaps with a neutral shade of green and blurred the image to create depth
Added a branch for the owl, giving it darker and crisper lines, making it appear to be closer.
Finally, the owl character is drawn on a layer over the branch layer.
(While the tail is drawn on a layer under the branch layer.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Three Lilttle Kittens

During the weekends, I've been playing around with developing characters for a story idea I've had for the past few years. In this tale, I use characters from the classic Nursery Rhyme the Three Little Kittens. I want to develop a unique style.

I wanted the kittens to look like triplets, with slight variations. This was simple to do via scanning the colored image (seen far below) into Photoshop. In Photoshop, the character was duplicated twice onto separate layers, then each layer was altered with size, shape, and color.
The final compilation of all three kittens crying ('cause they lost their mittens!)

First I wanted very simple features, to make a minimalized version of a cat.
This version lacked character,

The is a marker/ink sketch, which was scanned into Photoshop.
Then duplicated/altered to create two more variations
Original pencil sketches of kittens

UPDATE: Cowabunga Donatello!

Originally posted on 6-12-2012

Still testing out the digital inks and color styles that I will use for my kid's book, Bobby's Biggest Bubble. So I thought I'd do a cartoon with my version of one of the Ninja Turtles, Donatello.
(He was always my favorite, mostly because of his nerdy persona and I like that bo stick.)
The digital ink + colored version of Donatello created in ArtRage Pro

As far as digital painting programs go -- I'm leaning more towards ArtRage Pro again.
Painter is powerful, but its interface is just too #$%* clunky.
Photoshop doesn't provide the line and palette control I want.
Sketchbook is nice, but it just doesn't have the extra bells and whistles I need.

Found the original pencil sketches which I thought I lost. This reminds me, I should do the two remaining turtles I haven't drawn yet, then compile them into one scene together. You can see my version of Raph here.

The recovered pencil sketch of TMNT's Donatello

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ramblin' On: Digital Artwork vs Physical Artwork (Image: Pirate Dreams)

Ah, the conflicts between digitally and physically drawing.

Personally, I never liked to paint. Painting is punishing when you are unsure of your finished image. This is the reason I think most paintings are portraits, landscapes or still life; they are usually based on reality and what the artist physically sees.

Pirate Dreams: Originally created with color pencils + watercolors, then I digitally recolored the night sky

Growing up, I was always more driven toward things that weren't real. The mysteries and unknown. Imagining what could be out there but never found. When I started drawing, a pencil and eraser were the only way I could explore my imagination; So much more forgiving to changes than using crayons, ink or paints. Because of this, I became an Illustrator/Cartoonist and not a Painter.

Then came the digital world. Programs like Photoshop/Painter allowed one to paint with an eraser. Layers allowed one to experiment. As time went on, these programs became more and more expressive at mimicking mediums with Wacom tablets and other technological advances.

Pirate Dreams: The original pencil sketch

Today, I find myself mostly creating pencil sketches and then finishing digitally. (If I need physical coloring, I always go to alcohol based markers because they provided great color blends and control.) I strive to change my heavy cartoony line style to something more painterly and loose, to better fit the picture book market. When painting digitally today, I still struggle to "see" what that final image will be. (Oh, it's easier to paint now, but my traditional methods still get in the way.)

One thing I'm sure of: a physical piece is more challenging, a better representation of an artist's process and therefore more rewarding since there is an actual finished piece of artwork. The same can not be said of digital art.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Touching up my Batman cartoon for a shirt.

This is an image I did in black & white for Inktober awhile ago. I started to color it and adjusted the image so that it can be printed on several different colored t-shirts.
Colored version of one of my favorite Inktober cartoons - soon to be a shirt on
I already had this available on RedBubble as a t-shirt, but after ordering a dark t-shirt version, I found several areas that needed to be corrected (or backed by a white background.) Hopefully, I can make the shirt available in about a week or two.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Old LB pencil sketch found, redrawn and colored

Did a quick color comp of one of my oldest characters, LB, based on an old sketch that fell out of a sketchbook. I don't remember why I drew LB in this pose, but I enjoyed doing a quick image of the character again. It's been awhile since I drew LB. Still one of my favorites.

LB color comped using a black pen brush, markers, and Signo white pen for highlights 

Note: this is a new color scheme I'm using for the character. The major difference is that the bumps on his nose are no longer blue. I'm thinking the bumps look better all the same color, even though doing this ruins one of the story ideas I had roughed out years ago.

Original pencil sketch found in sketchbook - estimated circa 2011 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Daily Quick Sketch: Mouse with Cheese

Here's a quick 5-minute sketch using pen and markers. Again, no rhyme or reason for why I did this, just feeling around for a character. Once I fleshed him out as a mouse, I added the cheese in hand - 'cuz - mice like cheese?
Very fast sketch of a mouse holding cheese, made with brush pen and markers

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sketching process: Football Player (and a lil' turtle)

Had this sketch on my tablet for some time, never finished it until now. Why I drew this image is beyond me. Sketching is often just exploring new ideas. Looking for new ways to draw things. Perhaps this picture was inspired by the last Superbowl game . . . Though there's really no direct connection.
A digital pencil sketch from my Surface Pro tablet
Sketching is a form of meditation for me: It usually starts with random lines and scribbles until something clicks, where the lines start to look like something to me . . . I then start to refine the shapes/image. From there it's trial and error, adding or deleting until I end with someone that satisfies me. Once the image is clearly defined, details are added: shading, lines on his outfit, his arm hairs and skin blemishes.

Since this is a sketch, I see things that should be corrected. His back leg is too short and its foot too large, and it's not positioned correctly. His head should tilt forward to show motion, and it should be placed more to the right. To constantly change and correct an image like this is just wasting time. This sketch has accomplished what I wanted from it, practice for creating a new idea and image.

And who knows, this image could inspire a new story or another idea one day . . .

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Concept Design: Furry Pet Costumes 2016

So here are a few pet costumes I designed for PetSmart Halloween 2016. PetSmart was looking for furry creature costumes. That made me think of doing something similar to the way that Muppet-like monsters are made.
Original concept designs submitted for creating a trio of furry pet costumes for PetSmart Halloween 2016
This is an excellent example of how a product is actually created from design. Above you see my original concept art. It gives enough detail and specifics to create the items our client, PetSmart, is looking for. But as you will see below, the details are altered to reach the price point that the customer wants. So small details are eliminated, colors are modified, and the final product is usually a simplified version of the concept art.
Many designers I have worked with in the past, would take such changes personally because they'd get too personal with their work. That not the right frame of mind in this business. Your job as a designer is to bring forth ideas to help improve business and sales. If your design is too expensive to produce, at least you can provide the manufacturer enough details to work with - so that a final product can be created for the right price. It's far better to over design with more details to allow the manufacturing department to figure out how the item can be produced, shipped and sold.

I noticed these costumes weren't selling in many local PetSmart stores. These items looked great with these dog images, but PetSmart decided not to put these photos on the costumes' hangtags. Overall, these costumes looked like furry balls on hangers, which were hard to figure out how they'd look on dogs. It's a shame that they had these photos made for posters in front of the store, but decided to save a minuscule amount of money by not printing the hangtags with these same pictures. It would have been far more efficient and cost effective to do the hangtags with photos and simply drop the cost of the promotional posters in the storefront windows. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Daily Sketch Challenge: Mr Freeze

Those familiar with this blog know I often do daily sketches for sites like Illustration Friday or events like Inktober and Goblin Week. On, there is a group of artists that draw 30-minute images based on the topics of the day. The purpose is just to exercise the creative muscles and share images for amusement.
I'm not going to do an image every day, but I will try to get involved to help hone my drawing skills. Jumping into something new and different every once in awhile can help break the normal repetitive cycle of artwork I do for a living.

Daily Sketch Challange: Mr. Freeze (42 min.)
Above is my first DSChallenge sketch for Tuesday, Jan 3rd, 2017. The Topic was Batman's foe, Mr. Freeze. One thing interesting about this character is that he appeared in the Batman comics as Mr. Zero in 1959. He was later named Mr. Freeze on the campy Batman TV show in 1966. It wasn't until over 30 years later that Freeze became immortalized as a true member of Batman's Rogues Gallery with Paul Dini's tale "Heart of Ice" from Batman: The Animated Series.

The original pencil sketch for Mr. Freeze