Thursday, December 31, 2009

Polar Bear Postcard

Here is the second illustration I've done for The Last of the Polar Bears, a new graphic novel I've been working on. You can read a little bit more about it and see the first illustration here.

This illustration was created for the back of my new winter promo postcard to celebrate the new year. If you'd like a copy of the new postcard, sign up here to receive it (yes, it's free, so don't be shy!).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 Art Year in Review

In January and February, I was finishing up my how-to draw book, Draw Furries - How to Create Anthropomorphic and Fantasy Animals (more info). I started experimenting with coloring over pencil lines (as opposed to inked) in Draw Furries. I thought it wouldn't work because I'd tried it in the past and it looked sloppy (for example, pencil illo from 2006), but as it turns out, that's just because the pencil lines were sloppy. My line art is much cleaner and refined now, so adding colors works fine (and suits me because I enjoy penciling a lot more than inking).

In March, I began working on my children's illustration portfolio, which I continued to work on till August.

In April through June, I worked on two chapters of Domo: The Manga for Tokyopop. With it came an opportunity to try my hand at color comics, something I had been thinking about doing for a while. I really like the results. I still love black-and-white comics, but I don't think one should limit themselves to black-and-white if color makes sense for the project.

I started doing 1-hour speed paints in June, around the time I started the Boy and Gator illustration series, when I realized that I didn't have a good technique for painting trees, and as a result the background in this image was taking me much longer than it should. Since then, I've tried to do that daily speed paints, when time allows, and have practiced everything from water reflections to realistic portraits of dogs.

In July, not pictured here, I did some Sonic the Hedgehog "Off Panel" comic strips for Archie. That was a blast from the past for me, as I spent a lot of my teenage years with my cousin making little Sonic fan comics. I think the strips are currently running in the back of the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, up through issue 208.

In September through November, I turned my focus onto a new comic project, and started doing a lot of research and development for it. Writing, sketching, character designs, etc. Because of this, the only color work I did was in the form of 1-hour speed paintings. November's speed paint is a Christmas gift for my aunt.

Finally, in December, I finished my promotional poster illustration for The Last of the Polar Bears - the new graphic novel I'd been developing the last three months, and will be continuing to work on in 2010.

Here's links to the illustrations featured in the 2009 Summary of Art:


Blank 2009 Art Summary MEME comes from:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Last of the Polar Bears - promo poster

This is the promotional poster for The Last of the Polar Bears.

The Last of the Polar Bears is what will hopefully become my next graphic novel. I've spent the last year thinking about it and the last couple months writing and developing the groundwork for it. I just finished plotting out the story in detail from beginning to end, so now I'm ready to move forward with the creation of the comic itself!

This promo illustration, portraying an iconic scene from the first chapter of the story, had a pack a lot of punch with a minimalist execution. With so little detail, it wasn't difficult to draw, but every aspect of it needed to be just right.

I find it very helpful to create a number of tiny thumbnail sketches, to quickly try out different takes on an idea. Working with a general idea of a polar bear cub poking his head out of the den for the first time, finding himself surrounded by an unending sea of white snow, I created a couple of concept sketches:
In these examples, note how composition, placement, and size of the cub play a big role in mood and feel.

#1 is a strong close up on the cub's face, grinning as he takes a peek at the outside world - cute, but completely at odds with the title of the book.

#3 is closer in feel - the landscape is vast, the cub is small--there's a real sense of loneliness going on, but it's so far pulled out from the character that scene no longer feels intimate.

#2 is almost right on target. The cub is cute and awestruck without looking too giddy. But the centered figure is boring and predictable.

#4 takes the aspects of #2 that I liked, but moves the cub into the lower corner. The title is placed in the upper right corner to balance the piece.

Once I had the composition figured out, I set about drawing the character.

He went through several drafts (including some slight variations with him smiling, not shown here) before I finally hit upon a version that worked for the poster.
And here you have it, the finished line art of the cub seen in the poster (flipped in the illustration):

Stay tuned for lots more. I look forward to introducing you to this little guy and the rest of his family. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Speedpaint 29 - Angry Gorilla

Today's speedpaint is a stern looking gorilla from Disney's Animal Kingdom. I find the human similarities in apes and monkeys fascinating. Their facial expressions especially. Perhaps because of how expressive they can be, I couldn't help but feel bad for this guy. He was looking out at the people passing by with such a fierce and unhappy expression, like he couldn't put his guard down with everyone around. Or maybe gorillas are like this in the wild too? In any case, it makes me think about the implications of keeping animals in captivity. Not that I'm anti-zoo or anything. They allow people to view and appreciate animals that they wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to see and I enjoy sketching zoo animals.

My clock crashed when I was working on this one, so I don't have an exact time but I think it took me about an hour and 20 minutes. Photoshop CS3.

Here's a bonus speedpaint. A sheet draped on the floor, 16 minutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Speedpaint 28 - Thanksgiving Charly

Another Christmas present. This one's for Charly's owner. :D

Photoshop CS3, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Charly the Shih Tzu was also the subject of my very first speed painting attempt earlier in the year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Speedpaint 27 - Thanksgiving Tiki

This is a painting of my parent's cat, Tiki. Like the last picture I posted, this is also going to be a Christmas gift. I got caught up in the details and ended up spending about two and half hours on it (I broke my own speedpaint rule of "Work at 50% and never zoom in", so it's super detailed even at 200% zoom).

In case any one is wondering, I should clarify that these paintings are done primarily for practice. I haven't lost my mind or given up comics or completely overhauled my art style or anything like that. Just trying to challenge myself and pick up some new techniques to use in the future on actual work.

For the past couple months, I've been focusing very intensely on a new graphic novel pitch. I've put a great deal of work into it so far: research, detailed chapter-by-chapter synopsis, in-depth character descriptions and histories, mountains of sketches, and character designs. Thing is, that's all behind-the-scenes stuff that I can't share. I have one more chapter to go on the synopsis, and the ending has been set since almost the beginning, so it's just a matter of fleshing out the final part. Then I can move onto scripting and storyboarding the first chapter. This new story is something I've been thinking of since last year, so it's really exciting to see it all coming together. I should have a lot more to show in the upcoming months. :)