Wednesday, August 31, 2011

440 - Coloured Flying Cars

I've coloured in the flying cars from my JSVB post a couple of days ago.  At some point, I will cut them out and composite them into the animation I am planning.

To see the original flying car sketches, please click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

439 - Background Check

I've been working at throwing my futuristic city background into a new animation, my plan all along.  All I've got to show for it so far is the inclusion of a tower in the forground and a camera move.

It took me all day just to do that!  Flipbook is awesome software, but the documentation and interface seems to be turned just thirteen degrees towards the obtuse for me.  Once I figure out the trick, it's easy, but figuring out the trick in the first place is very heavy going. 

If I was doing the camera move by hand, it would have taken about the same amount of time, using one of the old-style multi-plane cameras.  Two minutes to set up and take down each exposure times three hundred frames equals six hundred minutes, or ten hours.  That's what this little film cost me today.  The next one I set up will take ten minutes, or less.

There's more to do: add flying cars, animated lights, effects, and an audio track.  I am checking each step as I go to make sure I understand the production flow.  Then I have to figure out how to upload a higher resolution version of the final product. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

438 - "Dude, Where's My (Flying) Car?"

Like many people I know, I am waiting patiently for the big auto companies to release a flying car for public use.  From time to time I also draw them, although I am not all that big into drawing cars, and I probably should use a ruler more often. 

I don't think I'll ever work up enough money to buy a flying car, nor the nerve to pilot it.

These sketches are necessary monkey work for myself because I want to composite some flying vehicles into the futuristic city scene I created a couple of days ago.  These designs seem to me derivative of others seen in movies and videogames.  I'd rather have aircars that look too familiar as long as they are quickly recognizable as flying futuristic vehicles.  I don't want to invest hours coming up with a technically outstanding design that looks in the final run like a dog turd hovering in the sky. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

437 - "That'll Do, Pig."

A rim-lit moment that evokes the sensibilities of Hollywood movies about pigs who can talk:

The trainer is interacting with a pet pig during the "Richard's Racers" pig show.  It's a popular attraction for the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), which means that if I am taking this picture, I am not at home drawing stuff.  It was very good to get out, though. 

Animal rights activists think very little of Richard's Racers, and the more vocal ones seem unhappy with the agri-business in general.  I point this out to try to be fair in my commentary.  I will simply suggest that while the pigs never seem to get older from year to year, the trainer's waistline never gets trimmer (and niether does mine).

Amazing special effects photography brings us this fast-moving bonus photograph, as I capture the thunderous speed of a duck race.

Judging by how fast these ladies waddle, they are probably hitting their top speed at around 5 to 8 km/h (5 m.p.h. tops).  By comparsion, a typical barnyard chicken can run about 15 km/h, roughly twice the speed of a duck. 

And now you know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

436 - "The Headcrab"

The headcrab is the smallest monster from the iconic "Half-Life" series of videogames.  It's a beast roughly the size and shape of a small plucked and headless turkey or a very large chicken what would have escaped from Hell.  They run, jump, and attack on four claw-like limbs.  Standard headcrabs are vaguely fleshy-coloured, while poisonous headcrabs exhibit dark pigmentation. 

I shot the picture above which is not a headcrab, but to me it looks enough like one in low light.  It's actually just a facecloth that my wife folded over the soapdish in our bathroom to dry it out.  The low light, the evocative tile wall, and the fact that I have started again to play Half Life late at night all conspire to make my skin crawl a little every time I see this tableau out of the corner of my eye.  

At the very least, this reminds me to make sure I can find the crowbar for when I need it.

For another look at Half Life (almost), please check out JSVB Post #123 by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

435 - Future Imperfect 3

Window dressing, in a literal sense.  I painted in dozens of tiny windows and then fiddled with them extensively in Photoshop.  I did not expect to take three days on this scene.   The next steps ought to be very exciting, though.  I plan to add some population.

Monday, August 22, 2011

434 - Future Imperfect 2

Another colour pass for the futuristic city.  There's not a lot of detail (nor will there be), but now we see most of the colour palette in play.  I'll balance the colours, straighten out some lines, add some highlights, and that ought to suffice. 

To see the beginning stages of this piece, please click here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

433 - Chainsaw Mascot

I nearly always have considered soccer to be like hockey in super slow motion, with the excellent chance of a game ending up tied nil-nil. 

Recent advances in the sport have raised its profile in my estimation.  FIFA World Cup soccer has become spectacular.  MLS soccer has arrived in Vancouver (MLS stands for Major League Soccer, the top professional league in Canada and the USA).  And now I've also seen my first chainsaw-wielding soccer mascot. 

The Portland Timbers are the Vancouver Whitecaps' regional rivals.  Their mascot is "Timber Joey", who no word of a lie comes to every home game with a full-sized fully-operational chainsaw which he brandishes for the enjoyment of the home team fans.  If Portland had a machinegun manufacturing plant instead of forestry, who knows how this could have ended up.

On the face of it, Timber Joey appears to be a vaguely psychopathic red-haired wildman with a dangerous weapon, which is often not the first choice for major league mascot considerations.  Digging deeper, we find that Timber Joey is actually a spin-off of Timber Jim, who retired from chainsaw soccer activities in 2008.  Timber Jim was a lumberjack who asked the team if he could please be allowed to bring his saw to the games.  Timber Jim became a fan favourite, possibly because he never actually slayed anybody with his chainsaw, but more likely because he seems to be a big-hearted, energetic supporter of the team, and a frequent contributor to local charities.  Timber Jim and Joey have their detractors but they also remain local heroes, no matter how unlikely that may be.  As long as Vancouver has the eardrum-splitting Crazy P and the rediculean Green Men, I don't see how we can begin to complain about Portland's mascot heritage. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

432 - Future Imperfect

People who are aligned towards goodness all want to work towards a better future.  I am working towards a better futuristic city panorama.  It's not complete yet, just a ruff sketch and the first run of sunset colours:

If this turns into anything good, I promise to show more.  I am inspired by writer Niel Gaiman, who in turn quotes (another, better) writer Kurt Vonnegut:

"Kurt Vonnegut believed that what science fiction and pornography have in common is that they're both visions of impossibly hospitable worlds."

Friday, August 19, 2011

431 - Slugger

It's just a close-up picture of a normal forest slug.  Nonetheless, if you are very queasy, don't scroll down.

Instead of drawing things, which I should be doing, I went out on a nature walk with my camera. 

A scientific query: do forest slugs react to close-up flash photography?

Result: no, not much.

To see more slug-based JSVB entries, you can start by clicking here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

430 - Museum Piece

"That belongs in a museum!"
- Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr., Ph.D.

At my request, my wife took this picture of me in the baseball museum at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver.  The uniform under glass is a real "away" jersey that was worn by the defunct Vancouver Canadians "AAA" baseball team, and is a piece of history.  The uniform I am wearing to the ballpark is exactly the same jersey, except that it's the "home" version.

I was a bit astonished to find that part of my wardrobe is a museum piece.  I guess I should get out and buy new clothes more often.  

For another look at Vancouver's gorgeous, historic Nat Bailey Stadium, please click here. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

429 - How To Hold Scissors

Who knew there was a right and a wrong way to hold a pair of scissors?  Apparently, a lot of people knew that, and now late to the game, so do I.

I drew this both as practise for drawing dynamic  hand action as well as a public service message. 

The thumb goes into the loop on top.  Your pointer finger (index) stays out of the bottom loop and rests on the scissor as a guide.  The middle and ring fingers go in the loop.  If you have big hands and small scissors, the pinky may not fit in the bottom of the loop with the other fingers. 

Almost all scissors are too small for me.  I am constantly getting my fingers and thumb stuck in the holes.   This grip does not solve that problem, but I suppose it's a tighter, more accurate way of holding scissors.

Monday, August 15, 2011

428 - Feet And Boots

Here I am playing footsie with my sketchbook.  Got to draw more.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

427 - Ferrero Rocher Eyes

Bored, bored, bored.  With nothing better to do, I took a self-portrait with the iconic Ferrero Rocher candies in my eyes.  And then, voilĂ !  I have an entry suitable for my monthly Ungood Art Day presentation. 

Ungood Art Day is the thirteenth of every month here on JSVB.  I also keep an Ungood Art Archive which you can click  to the right.

To see a similar picture of me entertaining myself at a wedding with those little electric tea lights in my eyes, please click here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

426 - Jeff Tries Planking

I'm too old and too fat to care much about what the kids call planking, the game of extreme lying down.  My old-school version of planking involves a nice salmon fillet, a hot barbecue, and a flat hunk of cedarwood.

Planking salmon is one of the easiest ways to prepare tasty fish.  Costco sells good quality cedar planks for cheap, but you can find them at barbecue supply shops or simply use what cedar you can find (just make sure it isn't a treated cedar shingle!).   Soak the plank in water while you heat the barbecue on high.  Once the temperature is hot, put the plank in the barbecue and close the lid.  When the plank begins to smoke, put the salmon on the wood and turn the barbecue down to minimum.  Depending on the size of the fillet, you may be cooking for ten or twenty minutes.  When the fish is flaky, it's done.  Simply remove from the plank and serve with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. 

All you need for great salmon is the freshest fish you can get.  You don't need complicated cooking procedures.  For a change-up, I like to glaze the fish.  Just before cooking, I pour an equal mixture of maple syrup, whiskey, and lemon juice over the fillet.  Yum!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

425 - Off To The Races

I'd like to present a glamour picture of my wife.  We're at the racetrack, and she looks like royalty! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

424 - The Battle Of Hastings

My wife and I won a gift certificate to Silks, which is the buffet restaurant at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver.  Horse racing, the Sport Of Kings!  My wife and I have never been to a racetrack before.  The method of parimutuel betting might as well be printed in ancient Aramaic for all we understood of it.  We decided it would be interesting to try something new to us.

The buffet turned out to be very tasty, and the service staff was friendly and helpful.  The business of a racetrack is betting, so we were at first a bit out of place just watching the horses go around the track.  The professional betting agents at Hastings provided us a tutorial that helped us to understand the heavy load of  performance statistics  that comes with each horse.  Armed with this knowledge, we made the safest and most conservative bets possible.  My biggest pot was a single shiny dime, as horse #3 (shown above) was edged out by horse #6 (also above) in the fifth race, earning me a "show" on almost even odds.  My wife won a little more than I did.  We could have won quite a bit had we put money on the last race.  She picked the winner against long odds because she liked the horse's name, and because it was wearing an orange blanket.  Instead, she won breakfast in bed from me, as I picked the horse that came in fifth that race.  I suppose I had better stick to drawing the ponies, rather than betting on them.

I got some decent photoraphs of the races and Hastings itself.  The park is in a beautiful setting with views of the Burrard Inlet and mountainous North Vancouver as a backdrop.   I adapted today's drawing from one of my photos. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

423 - Collard Greens

Pictured in the center of the image is a mess of collard greens from our last tailgate football party.  Collards are a specialty of southern American cuisine, and are not common up here in Canada as far as I know.  I've never had them before, and was curious to try them out.

Apparently, specialty grocery stores will carry collard greens as they are a very healthy food.  We found seeds for them in our local garden store and grew them in our backyard garden.  The first crop was completely devastated by vermin, so we figured the plants tasted good enough for them to eat.  We watched the second crop more carefully and were rewarded with tender greens. 

I followed the famous "Memphis Blues" recipe and cooked the collards in chicken stock with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and vinegar.  Collard greens are wonderful!   They seem like spinach, except they taste good.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

422 - The Transcendental Tailgate

In my previous JSVB post, I offered what I feel is a pretty good easy-to-make homemade barbecue sauce recipe.  One of the best uses I can think of for barbecue sauce is to slather it on steaming hot pulled pork!  And one of the best places to be eating pulled pork is at the tailgate party before a football game! 

As long as there is a parking lot close to the stadium, and the owners don't mind a little rambunctiousness, and of course, if the weather holds,  then you have the ingredients for a tailgate.  Bring along a propane barbecue, a portable fire extinguisher, and a cooler full of food and drink.  Claim your parking spot, open up your truck bed (or raise the hatchback, or even pop your trunk), and that's a tailgate: an impromptu communal barbecue to celebrate your favourite team's pre-game event.

My wife was a very good sport allowing me to post this less-than-flattering portrait of her enjoying a pulled pork treat.  Her jersey is split down the middle with orange facing green, because she shares allegiance with both the orange Lions and the green Roughriders. 

The Lions won!  Hooray! 

For the barbecue sauce recipe, please click here.
For another take on pulled pork, please click to see JSVB Post #220 here, thank you very much.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

421 - BBQ Sauce For Losers

When I use the word "losers", I don't mean people who are losers in life, but rather people who lose things.  For example, many years ago, I decided to make home-made barbecue sauce.  I looked at the ingredients on the label of a bottle and thought that I could handle making the stuff on my own.  Following a simple concept, I put together a truly knockout barbecue sauce.  Thinking that it was so easy I'd never have problems making it again, I never wrote down my method.  A few weeks later, I tried to make the sauce again, but it tasted like sick, and not in the way the kids these days think "sick" means "good". 

After losing the recipe, I tried several variations, and came upon a sauce I liked.  I did write this recipe down, but not on paper.  I kept it on a computer and on a website.  The computer died and the website got taken down.  I lost the recipe again.

So here's the third finalist in my barbecue sauce challenge.  I feel that I have learned a lot about barbecue sauce since then, even if I have yet to re-create the best recipe.  Like the others, it's a Kansas City style sauce.  Barbecue sauces vary from region to region, but the ketchup-based KC sauce is what I consider the most popular and versatile.


1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp instant coffee grounds


1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 tb Worcestershire Sauce
4 tb lemon juice
4 tb steak sauce (HP, A-1)
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tb bacon drippings
2 tb Pad Thai Sauce
1 shot whiskey
1 drop fish sauce
1 drop liquid smoke
1 tb hot chili sauce


You can use 1 tsp cheap yellow mustard (French's) instead of the mustard powder.  You can use real garlic and/or onion.  Fry them chopped into tiny bits in a medium hot pan with a tablespoon of oil or bacon drippings until lightly cooked.  You can try lime or orange juice instead of lemon for creative flavours.  You can use canola oil instead of bacon drippings.  You use bottled Pad Thai sauce for its tamarind content.  If you have tamarind paste in your kitchen, just use 2 tb of that.  Whiskey, coffee, turmeric, celery salt, fish sauce, and liquid smoke are optional.  Ketchup is essential, do not substitute tomato sauce or paste for ketchup.  We need the sugar and vinegar content in the ketchup, so the cheaper the ketchup the better. 


In a medium-hot dry pan (no oil! no water!), pour all of the dry ingredients except for onion and garlic powders.  These tend to clump, so we will put them aside for a moment.  Stir and heat the spices until they begin to smoke a little and smell very fragrant.  Pour all of the spices from the pan into a small bowl and add the garlic and onion powders. 


Next, in the same medium-hot pan, pour in all of the wet ingredients except for the ketchup and the hot sauce.  If ketchup  is overcooked, it takes on a sickly-sweet taste.  Stir the ingredients to a low simmer.  Add the dry ingredients and stir.  The sauce should thicken slightly.  Turn down the heat to low and add the ketchup.  Stir some more, the sauce should thicken again.  When it does, remove from heat and store in a glass jar.  If the sauce is lumpy, you may run it through a food processor.


KC Barbecue Sauce is not subtle.  Taste the mixture.  It should be rather powerful: sweet, vinegary, and slightly bitter.  Add more molasses for a sweeter mix, more vinegar for a tart sauce, more steak sauce if need needs to be bolder.  Always add a small amount at a time, stir it in and taste before you try another adjustment.   At the end, add the heat in the form of hot sauce.  I start with 1 tb, but the amount will vary based on the quality of the chili.  Cooking the sauce will dilute the heat, so try to add the hot stuff at the very end.   Again, taste and make adjustments.

This recipe yields 1 to 2 cups of sauce depending on the ingredients.  If stored in a glass jar in the fridge, I estimate the sauce should keep for about a month or so. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

420 - Echoes Of Italy

I've dredged up another old sketchbook page.  I draw these things hoping I will come back to them and make something into a more finished art piece.

Monday, August 1, 2011

419 - No, No They Don't...

Today's JSVB post concerns feces, and contains some mature language.  Please do not scroll down if you are easily offended.

Someone asks you something where the both of you know the answer is "yes".  So to change things up, you answer the question with another question:


Loyal JSVB Cultural Elite know the true answer.  No.  No they do not. 


Observe this scatological specimen, most probably that of a juvenile black bear.  It's roughly the size of half a loaf of bread, quite fresh, and three feet from my front window.  The scavenger flies shooed off when I got close with the camera.  You can see evidence of salmon berry consumption, but I feel there should be more berry debris and less filler.  This animal is probably into eating garbage, which is going to be very bad for the bear. 

EDIT: I found out several days after the fact that the phantom shitter was a full-grown female bear with two cubs.  A neighbour watched as she crapped on our lawn and then ate all of the berries off of the small decorative bush in our front yard.  I had no idea the berries were desirable or even edible.  I've seen mother bears teach their cubs how to find good food and avoid garbage by making little eating demonstrations.  I've also seen that the cubs don't always pay attention or learn the lesson, which can be tragic. 

This helpful sign is a few meters away from my house.

For another post on bears in the neighbourhood, please click here.