Saturday, January 30, 2010

29 - Brand New Monolith, Same Old Ape

A quick sketch as a news update.  Homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. I've purchased a new computer, this is more or less what the new box looks like.  I am also making the leap from Windows XP to Windows 7 - my friend Allan was a big help for me to decide what to shop for. 

The reason I bring this news up is that I don't know which of my art peripherals will work reliably with the new system.  I expect that there may be a few days where I won't be able to update JSVB until I can establish a new workflow.  Once the changeover has been made, I hope to post to catch up for lost time. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

28 - "Paranoid Productions"

This image must be at least twenty years old.  It's a logo for "Paranoid Productions", a play-acting low-budget film company some of my friends started up while we were in University.  Earl dredged this up from his hard drive: the resolution and image quality are as good as they can get, as I have long since lost all of these old images. 

Still, I remember clearly putting this together.  Inspired by tales of Illuminati and the freaky pyramid-eye thing on the American dollar bill, I created this image using Corel Painter for the Commodore Amiga.  Back then, the Amiga had this crazy parallel processor that allowed it to achieve some realistic-looking graphic and animation effects.  Some studios continue to use Amigas to this day for creating title crawls and such. 

This is what I was doing back then.  In those days, Pixar (it seems) would have hired you if you could turn on the computer and/or draw a cube.  Probably you'd get to be line producer if you could do both.  However much I enjoyed working on a computer, I never thought back then that it had a lot in store for the future, especially compared to the masterworks of hand-drawn animation.  

If John Lasseter and Pixar guessed right, how many struggling artists like me guessed wrong?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

27 - Birds With Hats

For a while, I went through a "bird" phase in my sketchbook.  Here are items showing birds with hats. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

26 - Farewell To Good Friends

No artistic statement for today, just a picture.  That's me, my wife, Marlene, and Chris, and we just finished a beautiful authentic Tuscan dinner at Vancouver's CinCin restaurant.  Right now, Chris and Marlene are on the wing to Montréal, QC.  We planned the dinner to toast the fact that Chris and Marlene are newly engaged to be married, yet it became an elaborate farewell.  Very much a happy/sad event, but really, they are chasing their dream, and their future looks great!  CinCin! (That's a traditional toast to good fortune!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

25 - "2636: Many Currents"

For your consideration: a rare piece of abstractness.  Well, rare in that I very rarely attempt pieces in that genre.  This is an actual genuine photograph, although I did run it through Photoshop to crop it and play with the colour.  But it is a real photograph of something that exists.  What that is, I can't say, though.  I accidentally shot this pressing the trigger while moving the camera, and the shutter and aperture settings were all wrong.  Later, I discovered this enigmatic swirl as one of my pictures.  The rest of them are typical vacation shots. 

Is it art?  Since it was a mistake, maybe not.  Even so, I find it evocative, and that it fits my current state.

Monday, January 25, 2010

24 - Comment Q & A: Sonny Corpuscleone

I am not going to promise masterful art for JSVB.  Even so, I may once in a while present an art technique that might prove to be interesting. 

Case in point is the "Godfather"-inspired art for "Jeff Catches A Cold II" (Click This Link).

Recently, I got an e-mailed query: how did this image come together?  I superimposed sketchbook art onto a rendered background.  How did the background art get rendered?

First, I used an image from "The Godfather" (copyright Paramount Pictures, 1972) as a reference.  I digitally sampled a palette of colours from the scene using Photoshop.  I also used the scene to block out the basic shape and perspective of the building, road, and car, which saved a lot of time and effort.

Then, I imported the image into my ancient copy of Corel Painter.  Photoshop is great for working on photographic media, but even an old copy of Painter blows away Photoshop when it comes to simulating brush strokes.  I also use an electronic stylus, which is kind of like a mouse shaped into a pen that can be used like a brush - and never any spilled ink. 

Above is one of the intermediate steps.  The flat colours represent areas that I have blocked out with samples from the original still picture.  The areas that look "painted" are parts that I have gone over with the stylus.  The pink in the distance is supposed to represent my infected throat.  I was going to put more gooey cellular detail in that, but my cold really is slowing me down. 

Here is the finished background, before I inserted the characters.  I've painted over the flat colours.  I can use colour-based selections to precisely define which block of colour I want to add brush strokes to. 

The next step was to colour-correct the image.  Ordinarily, I would not do this, because I used sampled colours.  However, screenshots can be dark.  A simple adjustment of the gamma curve in Photoshop both brightens the image and adds a little contrast.  The Curve is the fastest, most reliable way to make this change, but you can also use the brightness and contrast sliders.  As it happens, boosting the curve also brings out brush strokes and washes out the colours, giving the image the appearance of watercolour or gouache.  That's the kind of look we are getting used to seeing from Japanese/Eastern animation. 

An interesting art exercise if you have Photoshop or any art program where you can adjust brightness and contrast... first find a decent picture of an oil panting.  Something dark and baroque would be perfect.  Try Vermeer.  Load the image into your program.  Boost the brightness quite a bit and contrast half as much, and you will transform the oil painting into a "watercolour".  In Photoshop, choose CTRL-M (Image/Adjust/Curves), and click and drag a single point in the middle of the line upwards and to the left. 

Photoshop makes a great tool for analyzing artwork.  You can use it to invert pieces, drain them of colour, separate the colours into components, or adjust the gamma levels to see exactly how the artist used paint to make illusion and reality on canvas. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

23 - Jeff Catches A Cold, Part III

My cold continues.  I've got a nasty cough, now.  The virus seems to be entrenched in my chest.  I've had hopeful word that the mighty leader BraveHelperT-Cell has been amassing an army of white blood cells near his fortress on the Islet of Langerhans.  If he can join battle with the enemy soon, maybe the viral invasion can yet be turned around. 

(Editorial Note: I have retroactively included this image in the Ungood Art Category for July!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

22 - Dancing With The Inkspots

Not long ago, I did something for the first time ever in my career.  I spilled a bottle of indelible ink.  Wow, what a mess.  Those bottles are not supposed to be easy to spill, as they usually have a wide bottom and a narrow top. 

Spilled ink spreads like fire.  I dumped enough ink to cover a large saucer.  I did a little swear-word dance, thinking, "What the yes please, thank you very much am I going to do now?"  Even as I was staring at the mess, black ink was soaking into all kinds of stuff I had around me. 

Then, I had a flash of genius.  Instead of "What am I going to do?", I thought "What would the wife do?"

I armed myself with plenty of hot water and dish soap.  I used careful blotting motions to soak up the liquid ink, not scrubbing.  I rinsed out stuff with detergent and water.  Hitting the sopping stains with Spray 'N' Wash caused the ink to scatter into a galaxy of tiny black droplets that misted all over everything.  Blotting is the key! 

Now I defy my wife to ever find out where I spilled that ink.  I expect I will have a quiet interlude from now until she reads my blog up to this point.  Should be interesting to see exactly how long that will take, and which of my parts will survive the aftermath.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

21 - Blue Eyed... Girl?

A strange  blue lady from my sketchbook.  She got a boost from a Byrne Hogarth workbook. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

20 - Photoshop Fish

This fish is from a mural that was painted near one of our civic buildings a few years ago (I did not paint this mural!). I got permission to use the fish for a project I was working on.

Although the mural is beautiful, time and weather have worn away at the paint.  Plus,  parts of the mural by the sidewalk are prone to graffiti.

The "after" version has its chroma levels resored in Photoshop.  I used a clone brush to erase the graffiti digitally while maintaining the fresco-like texture. 

19 - Jeff Catches A Cold, Part II

My ailment worsens.  The virus is stepping up its offensive tactics against my body's defenses, the White Blood Cells.  Last night, viral goons lured Don Vito Corpuscleone's eldest son out of hiding in The Bronchus, and viciously ambushed him out at the toolbooth on the New Jersey Trachea Pipe. 

Looks like this is the start of an all-out cold war!  Time for me to hit the mattresses. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

18 - A Scanner Brokenly

"A Scanner Brokenly" is a play on "A Scanner Darkly", which was an excellent novel by Philip K. Dick, one of my all-time favourite authors.  The book was also made into a decent movie adaptation, and is one of my artistic inspirations.  The name "A Scanner Darkly" is itself a play on a biblical text, 1 Corinthians 13:12, although Mr. Dick quoted and commented extensively from other Corinthian chapters in his novels and lectures. 

However, "A Scanner Brokenly" also refers prosaically to the fact that I rendered my flatbed scanner inoperative.  This puts a serious curb on the material I can present in JSVB, as a lot of my art depends on accurate scans.  I'll just have to show off stuff that's already on my hard-drive until I can fix or replace the scanner. 

An image from the past:  in February 2008, Canadians were on alert as a malfunctioning American spy satellite was supposed to de-orbit and crash in our country.  My wife and I made a spoof of the thing, took shots of it in our back yard, and she blogged about it using this photo.  Afterwards, this exact image became the #2, yes! #2 highest entry in the Google Image Search, if you used the exact search phrase "American Spy Satellite". 

These days, this image doesn't even show up on Google anymore.  Most of the shots are frighteningly real depictions of USA spaceborne surveillance technology, plus that same old rusty cat with an acid green toy vice-gripped to its head. 

Fame is fleeting in the art world, and anonymous fame is even fleeting-er in the Information Age. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

17 - Jeff Catches A Cold, Part I

Some unattended snot-nosed incubator in Oshkosh B'gosh overalls coughed up on me like a lawn spinkler in the grocery store the other day.  I, being even more foolish, didn't bother to wash my hands and now I have a cold.  It's definitely slowing me down, tiring me out, and affecting my focus and judgment. According to one current website, around ten percent of people living in Vancouver right now have either a cold or the flu. 

I figured it's important to find out what kind of virus am I dealing with.  I coughed up a sample onto an index card and scanned the result into Photoshop.  This is the picture below:

As you may notice, the virus is too small to see with the naked eye.  However, If I use special magnification, we can get our first look at the enemy strain below:

Well, it's a worse cold than I thought!  This virus looks militant, and he's rallying the troops for an all-out assault.  The symbol on the flag is the shape of the common cold virus.  With all of those knobs, it resembles a one of those balls you thow in a clothes dryer.  

This particular cold looks to be uncommon.  I think it thinks it's Patton!  I hope for my sake it's Oswalt Patton and not Gen. George S. Patton.  

My symptoms are fatigue, itchy eyes, coughing and a sore throat, and the urge to run a tank division past the enemy's west enfilade and flank those bastards.  Yes, a worse cold than I thought, indeed.

16 - Finger Exercises

Not often enough, I practise the basics of drawing.  Here is a page of cartoon hand gestures from my sketchbook.  They are adapted from Preston Blair's "How To Animate Film Cartoons", although you can find most of the material from his entire series of books in "Cartoon Animation". 

The style is definitely "old school", but Mr. Blair was an animation genius. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

15 - Haiti

On January 12, 2010, the island of Haiti was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.  It's beyond the scope of JSVB to deal with major international issues.  Even so, this news is so hard to understand.  Like probably a million other bloggers right now, I don't have any compelling images or fine remarks.  The best that I can do here is the old trick of some newspaper political cartoonists: just show some text and make it look dire. 

I can't even watch the news, really.  This disaster is so heartbreaking and unimaginable for me.  Pope Benedict had this to say:

“I appeal to the generosity of all people so that these our brothers and sisters who are experiencing a moment of need and suffering may not lack our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the international community.”

My wife and I will send what we can afford to the Red Cross.  There are other fine agencies as well, and the Canadian Government pledges to match all donations made to registered aid societies.  I urge my friends to donate as they can.   

The image above was created using public-domain photography and artwork.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

14 - Shocking Reviews

The first comments for JSVB have come in, and they are "shocking".  Allan says:

"I was actually shocked to see that you had comments turned off on your blog. Earl was too."

I guess there's no pleasing everyone, which is fine here at JSVB.  However, my friends Allan and Earl are distinctly un-shockable.  I had to come up with some kind of visual to illustrate how Earl and Allan would be when shocked.  The best I can do is to imagine them licking at batteries:

At least this takes care of today's JSVB update.  Thank you, Allan, for providing today's topic. Loyal followers (if there are any after this) are more than welcome to reach me by the e-mail at the top of the page, please.  

DISCLAIMER #1: To the best of my knowledge, Earl and Allan do not lick at batteries.  This image is meant to be allegorical.

DISCLAIMER #2: Do not lick at batteries!  It's bad for your health, and it's additictive.  Habitual battery lickers should seek medical help and absolutely avoid AA meetings.  And avoid AAA groups as well as C and D cells. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13 - Unlucky Thirteen

My thirteenth post is destined for the Ungood Art Archive.  I actually tried to apply some talent to this drawing.  What was I thinking?  Hell if I know. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

12 - "Chris & Marlene"

I was hoping to save this image for another occasion, but events have overtaken JSVB.  My good friends Chris and Marlene are moving to Montréal QC to pursue their careers.  Montréal!!!  I expect they will do well out there, and Montréal is fortunate to have them.  From what I know it's a beautiful and cultured city. 

I drew this image when Chris and Marlene were first starting to get serious in their relationship; Marlene is a big "Simpsons" fan.  This is what I figure they would look like if they were moving to Springfield.  "The Simpsons" characters and show are property of Matt Groening and Fox TV. 

11 - Andrew Ryan's Opposite Number

This is a picture I snapped a few days ago near the city harbour in Victoria, British Columbia.  Videogame enthusiasts may see a resemblance to the lighthouse at the beginning of "Bioshock" (2K Games, 2007).  The lighthouse in the game is at the very peak of Rapture, a fictional and very deadly city designed by a visionary named Andrew Ryan. 

I was interested in the momentary opposites that I thought were apparent in this composition.  Many artists generate visual appeal through the aesthetic placement of opposites.  For example, the straight lines of the monolith versus the rounded puffiness of the clouds, the orange hue of the sunset against the deep blue of the sky (colour wheel opposites, if you follow basic art theory), and so on. 

One opposite that is not apparent in the picture is that Ryan's fictional tower is in the middle of the ocean and it leads to the game levels below, whereas this real tower is land-locked and leads to a tourist information center.  Maybe inside there is a secret passage to underworld adventure...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 - Why Phi? Or: A Silver Golden Rule

A recent purchase of mine is this wonderful steel Phi Ruler.  It helps me measure out "Golden Rectangles".  A Golden Rectangle is one whose long side and short side are proportional to Phi (the Greek letter φ).  That is, one side is 1.618 times longer or shorter than the other.  This creates a shape that has a strong visual appeal, especially in architecture and graphic design but also in other visual arts.  I believe the reason for this might be physiological in humans, and the idea has been used since ancient times. 

Above is an example of a Golden Rectangle.  Very roughly, you can make one 5 x 8 inches.  You can fit two of these on a standard sheet of paper if you are making handbills.  A Phi Ruler makes measuring these dimensions a snap, as I have yet to find a visual utility for Photoshop that will do this. 

This is an excerpt from the instructions page on how to read the Phi Ruler.  I don't know who manufactures these things, so I cannot at this time give a proper credit. 

9 - Elvis Has Left The Address

After you move into a new place, you will sometimes get the mail intended for the previous occupant.  We've lived in our house for almost seven years now, so it was a surprise to get a letter at the end of this week from the former owner, and addressed in her maiden name no less.  Somebody's junk mail database is in need of an update. 

If I have the time, I like to draw a small, fairly elaborate RTS message.  I believe Elvis does it best: "Return to sender/address unknown/no such number/no such zone."  The postal delivery lady appreciates these little cartoons, even if I only get to do this once every five years.  Whoever sends us this junk mail never sends us any more.  (I've deleted the mailing information to protect privacy.)


Friday, January 8, 2010

8 - Wrinkle While You Work

A wrinkle study I sketched based on Byrne Hogarth's "Dynamic Wrinkles And Drapery".  It's an excellent workbook for learning all about how to render cloth and clothing. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

7 - Khristos Rodyvsya!

Today is Christmas in the Ukraine, as well as other places that practise Orthodox Christianity.  Celebrations started yesterday, with Sviata Vechera (Holy Supper).  They continue to Theophany, January 19th. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

6 - Dino Crushing Boredom

Not all artwork is great, especially in a sketchbook.  I remember drawing this being nearly insane with boredom while attending some mandatory meeting as a barely warm body.  I ended up with pencil smudge all over everything.  Those were the days. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

5 - "Green And Gold"

An almost random photograph.  Walking behind our house, I just pointed the camera up, adjusted the aperture, and shot these autumnal leaves.  I find the combination of natural order and abstraction fascinating.  Also, a sense of vibrancy, change, and even decay. This is one of my favourite shots from 2009. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

4 - Mama Horse & Baby Horse Sketch

I did these fast construction sketches a while ago when I had some idle time.  Later, I was asked for a Mama and Baby horse.  All I had to do was find them in my sketchbook and clean them up for use.  Every visual artist should have a sketchbook.  Adding to it can be a lot of work!  However, having these drawings on hand eases the process of developing the final art.  People seem to like the way the baby is nestled in the curve of the mother's neck. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

3 - Mouse From A Larger House

I've cropped this mouse out of a much larger picture I do not believe I can post online.  This is a close-up of the mouse in detail.  Lately, rodents have been living in our garden shed, so I thought this was topical. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2 - "Spirit Of St. Louis" (Limited Edition)

I created this image for Microsoft DevCon 2007.  The event was a convention for developers working with Microsoft's Flight Simulator product, which was cancelled not long after that trade show.   The copy I have on my wall was signed by Erik Lindbergh, Charles' grandson. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

1 - "Shyluk-AMBIVALENCE"

Hello and welcome to JSVB. I want to keep this blog as visual as possible, so I will try to keep the text to a minimum. Please send comments (if any) to my e-mail.

I created the Jeff Shyluk Icon image as a videogame avatar. I based the design loosely on Shepard Fairey's famous Obama-HOPE poster. Unfortunately for poor Mr. Fairey, both the poster and the President have not worked out the way he had hoped. As I have niether the time, talent, nor the political inclination to supercede Mr. Fairey's work, my icon is just a quick knock-off and a spoof. I don't intend to bring hope, but I do not want to be the cause of despair. I don't want to make a statement of any kind, except for "this is my video game avatar".