Wednesday, December 28, 2011

517 - Wii Love Hockey

After a nice break for the holidays, it's back to the sketchbook.  A recent offering of excellent videogames has put a cramp in my productivity, though.

One game was a bargain-bin find, Electronic Arts' all-but-abandoned "Slapshot Hockey" for the Wii, which had been released way back in 2010.  Maybe you recall the television commercial with retired hockey legend Wayne Gretzky re-living his all-star career by standing in front of his television  and waving the crazy little Wii controller like a hockey stick. 

The gimmick to the game, other than that it plays a sweet, fun brand of no-fighting hockey, is that the set comes with a miniature foam hockey stick used for mounting the Wii controller.  Once the stick is assembled, you hold and brandish the stick much like you would as if you were a player.  You handle the puck, deke with the blade, and fire off your best wrist shot or haul away with a massive slapper.  On defense, you can deftly use the crook of the stick to hook your opponent or smash with it like a club to jam the wood into the other player's dental work (no blood, and everyone gets back up when knocked down). 

It takes just a minute or two of practise with the stick.  In no time at all, you feel like you are a major-league player.  You're slipping past the defense with a spin-o-rama and gunning for it up the slot with a wrist snap that zips the puck clean over the goalie's shoulder and into the net, blasting his water bottle.  The all-powerful feeling of hockey goodness and mightiness lasts just until you discover that your wife bought a second foam stick controller and wants to play. 

With me against her, we duelled on the ice.  Hockey is not usually a co-ed sport, and now I know why.  Although my wife's charming little Hailey Wickenheiser dance was awfully cute the first time she scored a goal against my team, the charm turned to alarm when she followed it up with five more much like the first.  It was all I could do to answer with two measly points of my own. 

Curse that I was more interested in Star Trek than the hockey's three stars when I was little!  I have a lifetime of booksmarts and indoor leisure to overcome if I am going to ever gain the skill to defeat my wife at Wii hockey.   

For a little drawing of Hailey Wickenhiser in a gold medal winning dance, please click here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

516 - Peace And Goodwill

Peace, goodwill, and very happy holidays to all.  Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

515 - Merry Christmas, Baby!

Merry Christmas, Baby!  This is the last of my Operation Draw Holiday Babies project for 2011.  I can always re-use the baby from last New Year's Day for the upcoming New Year's.  There are a small number of holidays I missed babies for in 2011, so I hope to draw them all out in 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

514 - Eyes Wide Xmas

Why not make Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999) into a cartoon?  I've frequently been interested in the idea of sending filmed product into the realm of classical animation.  Somewhere on JSVB, I've got fantasy characters of Scully and Mulder ready to go for a Saturday morning X-Files cartoon.  While my drawings are too crude, I think the idea would be awesome.  Maybe parents with kids would think otherwise, though.  Please click here to see JSVB Post #93, which has X-Files character models.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) remains as the gold standard for Christmas cartoons.  Filmed years before I was even born, drawn on a shoestring budget with woefully limited animation, it still stands as the most popular Christmas show ever.  Residuals for Charlie Brown keep pouring in, making it an unbelievably profitable property given its lowball budget.  Producers around the world continually try to match the Charlie Brown magic formula, which is why we get acres upon acres of cheap holiday film.  Not much of it seems to be any good, yet Christmas sells almost as well as sex. 

That's my thinking: a sexy Christmas film.  At least there's no crass commercialism or cloying Santa Claus.  Adult audiences would appreciate that.  It's one reason why I consider Eyes Wide Shut to be such a spectacular Christmas film.  Of course, the dead hookers in New York, the strange and aloof orgies in Republican mansions, and Tom Cruise  in general might not come to mind as solid holiday fare as would bell-ringing angel wings, syrupy egg-nog, and Mr. Bean's outsized turkey. 

Eyes Wide Shut, love the story or hate it, comes with some of the finest cinematography in the history of film, period.  It's such a gorgeous motion picture.  Even the minor actors receive a high quality of lighting and camera direction that some A-list stars would never get in their entire careers.  To my mind, the perfectionist Kubrick would have made a stunning director of animated films.  No stranger to animated special effects, Kubrick pioneered several techniques that earned him Academy Awards.   Animators are much more used to working with perfectionist directors than live-action actors, or so I believe.

I started the drawing above in a cartoony style, but in truth, I didn't have a good handle on the character models, so I opted for a more graphic-arts look.  If you've ever watched Richard Linklater's superlative animated film "A Scanner Darkly" (2006), I hope that you will see that I tried to emulate that vision.  I used an embarrassing amount of Photoshop to post-process the drawing into something that might appear filmic. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

513 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part X

Week Ten on the icon.  I am starting on Mary's robes.  The last time around, I had little idea of what I was doing, and I had to fix many mistakes.  This time, I approached Our Lady's garment with a lot more confidence, although not much more wisdom.  The lines look to me a little shaky, but I think I can fix that.  I blew out both my spotter and my rigger brushes tonight, which did not help.  I will have to figure out a way to fix the damaged brushes or else replace them. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

512 - Doll Kicker Motion Study

I have to admit to being fascinated by the antics of this little boy I saw the other day at the shopping centre, who in boredom and frustration was kicking at his toy Sheriff Woody doll.  As a child, I had a great deal of respect for my toys, but I did know other kids who busted theirs up just to watch them break.  Were they little psychotics in waiting or just boys acting up? 

Trying to avoid making a moral judgement, I applied what I saw of the little urchin in the mall towards a motion study in my sketchbook.  I wrote a couple of notes as well.  Ten years from now if I look back at this, I will wonder what the blue blazes I was thinking.  It's a cruel-looking page in my book, and rather un-Christmaslike, at least in the sense of a happy holiday. 

To see another rendering of the Christmas Doll Kicker, please click here. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

511 - Red Room

A mysterious photograph.  Look through the thick glass porthole into the red room.  What does it mean?  You tell me.  Maybe it's Christmas-y.  Maybe I am too torqued out to draw today.  It does not matter.  This is what you get.

Friday, December 16, 2011

510 - Kicking Woody

While I was Christmas shopping yesterday, instead of spending a lot of money, I spent time people-watching.  Christmas at the mall is the best time of year to study people, how they move, how they act, and how they react.  For a student of animation or human motion, or just as a fellow citizen, this kind of observation can be very educational.  I have a lot of fodder for my sketchbook.

Top of the list goes to a little boy and his mother.  Both looked affluent and perhaps too upper-class to be in my mall, but there they were.  The mother was tall and handsome, and in equal parts she seemed annoyed with her shopping duties as well as by the persistence of her smart phone.  She paid no attention to her boy, whose expensive-looking shirt was fully untucked.  Clearly he was bored and upset with his experience at the shopping centre.  The little urchin was amusing himself by kicking the tar out of his Sheriff Woody Doll. 

Just like in Pixar's "Toy Story" movies, the Sheriff Woody doll had a string on his back.  You're supposed to pull the string, and Woody will say one of his lines.  The boy was using the string as a tether so that Woody wouldn't fly off to Mars every time he was kicked.  

I've taken some artistic license.  For instance, the hat never came off.  I suspect Mom or the butler may have glued it on.  I researched the doll on the Internet just now.  A Sheriff Woody will set his buyer back fifty dollars, which I think is steep for just a doll.  Unfortunately, the talking Woody does not actually say "Thar's a snake in mah boots", and the mall was too clamorous for me to hear if poor punted Woody was capable of speech anymore.  Also according to the Internet, the entire head has a tendency to break off at the neck.  That did not happen when I was watching, although if it did, it would have been pretty awesome.

Here's a child who either has never seen a Toy Story movie (doubtful), or who has completely missed the point of Toy Story altogether.  That's not very surprising; I thought Toy Story 3 did so as well. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

509 - InSantaty Claus

A fact of life for most urban Canadians is that we get a disproportionate amount of news from our nation's media capitol, Toronto.  Christmas news from city they call The Big Smoke is especially troubling this year. 

A  few weeks ago, one of the Toronto school districts banned the use of balls, deeming them unsafe for children.  Yes, the ball, the most universal of all kids' toys, swept away from the playgrounds of clumsy Torontonian tykes for their own good.  I hear that the decision was eventually amended so that children could indeed play with balls as long as they carried valid permission slips.  Way to go, Toronto. 

Now, I've heard that Toronto's Eaton Centre shopping mall banished Santa Claus because the jolly old elf has become unprofitable.  Now there's something to ponder: only in Toronto would Christmas become so commercialized that they don't even have room for Santa.  It turns out that the little "Santa's Village" display in the center of the mall took up too much space that could have been occupied by retail kiosks.  The cost-to-benefit analysis concluded that the man in the red suit deserved the boot much the way that Ralphie got treated by Santa himself in that great Christmas movie (partially filmed in Toronto, as it happens).  Santa's village has been replaced by a much smaller display where kids use freeware Skype to contact Saint Nick online, presumably in his workshop at the North Pole. 

Just don't ask for a soccer ball, kid, because you'll kick your eye out.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

508 - Artoo And A Jawa Too

December brings us to the final, penultimate Ungood Art Day for 2011.  Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of Ungood Art this month as I haven't been trying all that hard. 

What I do have here is R2-D2 and a Jawa from "Star Wars".  Really. 

Well, if you look close, you may recognize Professor Sack, and  the big 'droid device is a new HEPA air filter.  New-ish, anyways, and just a loaner.  We are taking part in a science experiment to test air quality, funded by our local University.  A bunch of technicians showed up with enough machinery to fill a sandcrawler let alone our small house, and of course the Jawas began to appear not long after.  By the time  you read this, all of the junk should be gone, the experiment complete.

I can't abide those Jawas... disgusting creatures!

Although the resemblance in JSVB is Ungood at best, R2-D2 and the Jawa are both character properties belonging to the Lucasfilm Star Wars Universe.    To see more about Professor Sack,  please see JSVB Post #414 by clicking here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

507 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part IX

I like to think of this episode as "Christ Gets A Bathrobe".  I've spent today putting paint to Jesus' garment.  The upper tunic can be white, but pure white is too lifeless.  I've gone with ecru, an off-white, with white highlights and warm salmon shadows.  So help me, the robe looks comfortable, which is more than can be said for many Byzantine clothes. 

I also darkened Mary's clothing, which caused my original guidelines to get painted over.  Tonight I was hot with the rigger, so I re-painted all of the folds, fiddly work.

This happy little fellow is a "rigger" brush.  It's very useful for painting long thin lines, such as an illustration of a ship's rigging, hence the name.  Some painters also call these brushes "liners".  The long bristles hold a large amount of paint, meaning that the artist can draw a long, smooth line without having to reload.  The downside to a rigger is that the tip can be hard to handle.  I've been practising and like anything else, the more I've worked with it the more comfortable I am with the brush.
Riggers can be expensive.  A quality rigger can cost up to a hundred dollars, but then its line quality is unequalled.  That's something to consider the next time you look at the price tag on a piece of art and think its creator is asking for too much money. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

506 - Tree For Me

My wife and I picked out this year's Christmas tree and brought it home.  As we were leaving the store, a fellow shopper arrived in one of those miniature Smart Cars.  I wish we had dallied long enough to see exactly how he was going to pack a full-sized tree home on one of those.  He just about capsized his Smart Car going over the parking lot speed bump, just another hazard of driving a vehicle the size of a steamer trunk. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

505 - Pogo Cordon Bleu

I looked at our fridge leftovers.  Lurking towards the back was a pot of fondue cheese that wasn't getting any younger.  Who makes fondue anymore?  Well, we do, but we had made more than we could eat.

Pour hot, liquid fondue cheese on a cooked Pogo corndog, and the spread sweet European mustard over all.  That's a Pogo Cordon Bleu.  I found it to be surprisingly tasty, although I don't want to guess what it does to my cholesterol count. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

504 - Rose Bokeh

Boke is the Japanese word for "fog" or "haze". Bokeh is photographers' jargon for an intentionally blurred background with highlights.  The two words are closely related. 

I don't like to use Photoshop filters all that often, but sometimes it's fun to experiment.  My old version of Photoshop won't generate bokeh automatically, but I would bet that there is more recent software that will.

I photographed a rose and then rotoscoped it in Painter.  You can see that some of the larger paint strokes survived the ravages of Photoshop's filters, if you look close enough.

To achieve the bokeh effect, I created a duplicate layer of the entire image and set it to overlay.  I applied Photoshop's Maximum Pass filter, which does a very good job of breaking down an image into light-coloured squares.  Then I took the filtered layer, duplicated that again, and applied Maximum Pass again.  This second layer I set to darken, lowered the opacity to around 50% and applied about 10% radial blur.  I re-combined the two filtered layers and used the eraser to dig away at any part of the layers that I thought were taking away from the detail of the image.  Primarily, I erased the center of the bloom and part of the stem.

There we go, a rose bokeh.  


Monday, December 5, 2011

503 - Mother Of Tenderness, Pt. VIII

Last week, I took a break from working on the icon.  This week, there's more to do.  Most of it is monkey-work: fairly mindless and easy layers of paint to cover large flat areas such as clothing and the background.  Mary gets her traditional purple garment, and baby Jesus sets the trends for the upcoming year in stunning ecru.  Watch out for that colour, it's going to be big soon. 

I also added Mary's coiffe, which is a shiny blue cloth that completely covers her hair.  You can see it quite easily because I zoomed in today's scan to show detail. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

502 - Yeoh La Tengo

In Spanish, the phrase yo la tengo means "I've got her".

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a glamour photo of actress Michelle Yeoh.  I thought it was a great shot, and seeing as I like many of Ms. Yeoh's films, I figured that I should draw that shot for JSVB.

Whoever set up the shot really knows how to photograph women.  I find this seated pose to be very appealing and dynamic without going too far.

I don't have a credit for the photograph, which means Bad Jeff.  I think it originally came from a magazine.  Whoever scanned it managed to crop the hands and feet, so I had to draw those back in myself.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

501 - Thoughts On 501

I've pondered on the existence of JSVB, now at five hundred and one posts.  I've met my goals regarding this blog, and I wonder how far I should keep going.  Not in the aw-jeez what am I gonna do now? way that I see in some blogs, but more of an examination of my ambitions with this thing.

Blogs are designed to function with Internet media, but their importance has waned in comparison with the popularity of social sites like Facebook and Twitter.  A blog tends to be more work for the both the blogger and the audience, and it's slower to publish and get feedback.  I don't intend for JSVB to be social, but the social function is built in whether I want it or not.  I get statistics on viewers and an idea of who composes my audience. 

While I do have many nice people visit JSVB and even a few will e-mail me with comments, by far most of my visitors have come to borrow/lift/steal the artwork. And that's if they are human. Lately, I have also been getting a load of hits from spambots, automated search programs that look for unprotected blogs to infect. Five hundred pages of material does attract that sort of element.

After 500 posts, I have five regular viewers.  One hundred posts per viewer, looks like.  I've also have around 11,000 hits, which is over 5,000 hits a year.  Profitable blogs that earn enough money to live on should have at least ten thousand hits a month.  Statistics, therefore, can be depressing.  I'm more than nine-tenths away from being profitable after two years' worth of work. 

I find the number ten thousand to be very interesting.  There's a saying in Japanese animation: "It takes ten thousand tries to get a drawing right".  One drawing a day three hundred days out of the year would take me over thirty-three years to render.  By the time I am retirement age , I'll finally get the hang of this.  That seems to be par for the  course for many visual artists.

So, five hundred and one JSVB Posts down, nine thousand four hundred and ninety-nine more to go. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

500 - "CMO"

Welcome to my five hundredth post to JSVB!  My intention with the numbering was to provide an easy way to catalogue images.  You need a picture of a horse, check out post #4.  You need a hamster?  Try #177, #413, or #480.  Numbering the posts also leads to keeping track of how hard I am working on JSVB, and it provides some milestones.  I try to come up with something cultural and interesting every hundred posts. 

This is a picture of Port Coquitlam's CMO, or Coast Meridian Overpass.  It's a unique bridge in several ways: it was almost entirely paid for out of civic funds (as opposed to provincial or federal money), it completely crosses the second-largest trainyard on Canada's west coast, and it's the longest central-support suspension bridge in North America.  It's also the single largest public-works expenditure ever for Port Coquitlam. 

I got some decent use out of this picture, as it was displayed in a flyer that was distributed to every household in the City.  The mailer folded out into a long flyer, which is why this picture is unusually long and thin. 

Please click here to see JSVB Post #471, which shows my original sketch work-up for this piece.  I did not think back then I would be able to get the permissions I require to show the final image, but as it turns out I was in the clear all along.  I am pleased to present the final image to you for Post #500. 

Please click here and here to see a couple of photos I took of the CMO. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

499 - All Jeffs Go To Heaven

For JSVB Post #499, I post conclusive photographic proof of heaven: me surrounded by cheerleaders, yay! 

Well, okay, I am stretching my credibility here.  Heaven for me is as close as movie night snuggled on the couch under the blanket with my sweet wife. 

Why do I have so many cheerleaders clustered around me?  They were assembled for the annual CFL State Of The League address at the Grey Cup, for which my wife and I were lucky invitees.  The girls were very gracious to pose for this photo. 

Stay tuned for JSVB Post #500, which I will publish tomorrow!