Monday, January 23, 2012

534 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part XIII

Gilding is the process of adding gold to artwork.  Today's efforts involved setting paper-thin gold leaf onto my icon.  In brief, the steps involved begin with marking out the areas for the gold with yellow ochre, and then painting over those lines with a diluted glue known as "size".  The fragile gold leaf is applied to the size much the same way you would apply a decal.  It's a demanding technique that requires sharp attention, however, as is the case in much the rest of the art world, there are more difficult, expensive, and convoluted traditional methods of achieving the same effect. 

The gold creates a dynamic contrast to the rich colour of the paint.  Since I have yet to seal the gold onto the icon, it is too fragile to place on the scanner.  I took a photograph instead.  The ambient light in the room makes the gilding appear to glow.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

533 - Don Of The Dead

Spoiler Alert!  Don the pirate space captain from yesterday's JSVB post (please click here to see that) gets turned into a pirate space captain zombie.  It's actually a pretty cool plot twist, although there is more to the story than I am telling here.

I wanted to make zombie Don more disgusting to look at, but this picture gets reduced to the size of a postage stamp.  You get the basics with some scabs and the mood lighting.  

Thanks to MinMax Studio for their kind permission for me to use the characters from their award-winning space shoot-em-up video game "Space Pirates And Zombies". 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

532 - A New Don

This is a replacement image for a space pirate captain named Don.   This image is considerably enlarged, as the original is just a postage stamp in size. 

Don is one of the characters from the award-winning indie videogame sensation "Space Pirates And Zombies".  I must thank MinMax studios for their kind permission for me to give their characters a new treatment. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

531 - Year Of The Re-Use

Gong hei fat choi!  It's nearly the lunar new year, or the 4710th Chinese New Year.  This will also be a Year Of The Dragon, which the Chinese view as auspicious and risky. 

Few risks taken for today's JSVB entry.  Shameless, I re-used the little dragon from JSVB Post #140 (please click here to see it).  Gong hei fat choi I traced from written text, and the Imperial dragon is courtesy of Lee Boltin. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

530 - Tripendicular Wave

The mighty ship rolls and crests the massive wave.  Tripendicular! (a surfing word, meaning better than awesome)

All of my sources were public domain images, with some additional help from PhotoShop.

My wife wanted this image a few days before the Costa Concordia tragedy had occurred, so this is another one of those unfortunate art co-incidences.  In no way should this JSVB post be considered to have any connection to the recent maritime disaster off the Italian coast. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

529 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part XII

Now, I am getting closer to finishing this icon.  There aren't many details remaining to add.  Today, was a lot of fiddly little details: hair, bits of cloth folds, and Christ's blue sash. 

It's hard to see them, but I put in fine yellow lines along the edges of the garments.  These lines provide underpainting for the gilding.  Next week, I plan to slather 24 karat gold all over the icon, an expensive, nerve-wracking, but ultimately beautiful addition. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

528 - You're Deer To Me

I made a page of sketches, making up poses for deer. 

Do you like this entry?  Please send any Cervidian Medals Of Honour owed to me in care of JSVB.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

527 - Baby B&A


I enjoy restoring old photos using PhotoShop.  It's a nice combination of detective work, puzzle-solving, and art skill.  Admittedly, the "after" picture looks airbrushed; I was working fast. 

The big problem was that the picture has been sitting for a very long time in a frame with an oval window in view of the sun.  The colour was bleached away over the years into this weird pink egg.  I made a custom mask to select out the shape and used that to restore as much colour as I could.  However, there's not much colour information remaining in that egg zone.  Fortunately, the colours just outside of the egg, the skin tone, the hair colour, the stocking colour, and the dress, were all available for sampling. 

After I got the colour back, I erased some folds and stains, and also blotted out some debris on the image.  I think it's an improvement!


Friday, January 13, 2012

526 - Two Shots

Two shots and a miss.  Welcome to the first installment of Ungood Art Day for 2012.  The thirteenth of every month, I present something that I created that totally went south. 

These two sketches were preliminary work for a political cartoon featuring the now-she's-nobody-just-like-the-rest-of-us Carole James, former leader of our provincial New Democrat Party.   Please click here to see the finished cartoon. 

Preliminary sketches can be pretty ugly, and even by political cartoon standards, these are woofers.   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

525 - The Legend Of Black Bot

Yes, even more black robot rants.  Please click here to see previous items in this train of thought.
While musing on the topic of why robots tend to depict white people, I tried to come of with a list of famous black robots.  So far: Robby The Robot and Simon The Cylon. 
The Empire from the "Star Wars" series, strangely enough, is not a big employer of robots.  They seem to prefer the human touch, or at least human clones.  The few black Imperial robots involve some R-2 repair units rarely seen, and a glimpse of at TC protocol droid similar to an ebony C-3P0.  I would argue one of the most famous is the little box on wheels that Chewbacca yells at in the Death Star.  A very simple special effect, it's obviously a remote control car with some model parts glued on top.
Leave it to Star Wars geeks to come up with a backstory for every blessed frame of every movie.  A quick Internet search shows that this creature has a name: MSE-6, or Mouse 'Droid. 

I think it's pretty funny that the Empire would take the time and effort to paint every floor, ceiling, and wall of the Death Star black, give all the soldiers crazy masked helmets that are very difficult to see out of, and then pepper every level with an assortment of these little black bots for everybody to trip over.   No wonder Chewie gets chuffed. 

The MSE-6 is the intellectual property of Lucasfilm, as is Star Wars.  The Imperial logo, although you can barely see it (thank you Blogger lossy image compression algorythm), was drawn by Jim Wisniewski, although it is just a copy from some other Lucasfilm material. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

524 - Black Robot Blues

Lately, I've found out more about black robots.  Please click here to see JSVB Post #519, where I introduce my idea that there are very few robots designed to look like people who aren't white. 

I would consider the most famous robot of colour to be Robby The Robot, whom I have painted above, adding a traditional French Maid's uniform for comedy effect. 

I should also point out the newer iRobot® Roomba® models can come in black.  I figure a black Roomba® is pretty much the equivalent to Robby The Robot with a feather duster.  Maybe the Roomba® is more eager to sweep out dust bunnies from under beds and couches, though. 

My friend Tony pointed out that Simon/Number Four from the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" television series was a black Cylon.  I never watched the program  past the first couple of episodes.  After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I found that sort of show too hard to watch.  Much like Japanese cinema after Hirosohima and Nagasaki, American movies and shows seemed intent to replay that disaster over and over again as either catharsis or entertainment.  Either way, it felt exploitative to me.

Today, looking over pages of Internet BG lore, I see that it's also very complicated.  Gone are the goofy, clumsy Cylons that can get killed when the child's pet robot dog bites one on  the ankle.  Modern audiences demand a cybernetic villain with complex motives and behaviours.  Somehow, messing with our empathetic responses becomes acceptable television, enough to sell whatever needs to be sold during the commercial breaks.  Not that I am complaining, just that I find that I am not understanding the new Battlestar Galactica at all.  I get it enough, though, that I can see where a black Cylon would be a good fit for the show. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

523 - Mother Of Tenderness, Part XI

Back to work on the icon.  I finally painted over the last of the white areas.  The orange parts look garish now, but they will all be covered in gold.  The orange underpainting makes the thin gold leaf looke more golden and shiny. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

522 - Sins On Date Night

A date night, this time a fun night out at the old hockey game.  The Giants of course, it's not like we could afford the Canucks.  We've become used to people all around us paying homage to their smartphones rather than paying attention to the game they paid to see.  Please click here to see another JSVB entry on a similar topic.

I think I may have stumbled upon a worse sin than pawing away at a smartphone while enjoying at date.  That would be photographing somebody using their smartphone while on a date.  But dang it, I was curious.  I knew I could snap a picture pretending to take an action shot of the game, have the phone of the lady sitting right in front of us in the corner of the picture, and then blow it up at home in Photoshop.  See it all here:

Enhance the image 450% and run it through Photoshop Curves and the ever-useful Unsharp mask.  I blanked out the people's names. 


XXX: The couple behind us are pretty rad commentators eh?

lol: enjoying it

Another sin on date night: people who talk too much.  That would be my wife and I.  We talk through movies, we talk through stage plays, and apparently we talk through hockey games.  At least the people in front of us seemed okay with that, they called us "rad"!  Probably they would be not so okay with the covert photography.   And with another sin: blogging about it all.  Well, JSVB needs posts.  


Friday, January 6, 2012

521 - Bouncing Off The Walls

A quick illustration of a couple of kids having fun bouncing off the walls of a passenger ship as it wallows in heavy seas.  Most kids don't seem to get seasick the way most adults do. 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

520 - Davidian Sketch

My sketch study of the famous David figure.  Instead of using the Michaelangelo statue as a visual source, I used a da Vinci sketch.  The origins of David began as part of a series of commissioned religious pieces by Donatello.  Donatello died before he could render anything but the absolute beginning of formative sculpture.  The hulk sat for over twenty years before young Michaelangelo, himself not much older than Donatello's first cut into the marble slab, earned the commission to finish the statue. 

Leonardo da Vinci sometimes acted as advisor to Michaelangelo, and produced his own sketches of how he thought David should look.  Although similar in pose, da Vinci's David differs from Michaelangelo's in several respects, and seems to be a cruder version of the ultimate masterpiece.  My sketchwork... cruder still. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

519 - No Black Replicants?

Today's JSVB post is designed to see if anybody is paying attention.

Here's what I've been thinking about: in sci-fi movies, shows, and books, you just don't see robots made to look like people of colour.  They're white guys.  A civilization reaches a high enough level of sophistication, they start to make automatons.  Or an alien species wants to infiltrate Earth, so they create a being that looks exactly like a human.  In both cases, that artificial person is likely going to be white.  Maybe there are some examples I have not yet found.  I have seen Asian-styled robots, both very real and in anime form, but is that enough?

Let's take a look at some of the great humanoid robots of the genre:

Maria/Maschinenmensch - Metropolis (1927), white lady (metallic as well)
Gort - The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), silver metallic
Robby The Robot - Forbidden Planet (1957), black (!) metallic...   hmmm...
Ash - Alien (1979), white guy, also:
Bishop - Aliens (1986), white guy inside and out
Robocop - Robocop (1987), a white human cop becomes a cyborg
T-101 - Terminator (1984), big white guy, metallic interior
T-1000 - Terminator 2 (1991), white man, woman, silver liquid metal
T-X - Terminator 3 (2003), white woman, silver liquid metal
Was there ever a black Terminator?  I do not recall.
C-3P0 - Star Wars (1977-2005) golden metallic, some variants white metal and silver metallic
Roy Baty, Pris, Zhora, Leon, Rachel, Deckard(?) - Blade runner (1982) - all white. 
Production notes show that Tyrell (white) was also supposed to be a robot, but the special effects for him did not work. 

I was thinking that there was a black robot in The Adventures Of Pluto Nash (2002) with Eddie Murphy, but the android was played by Randy Quaid, definitely a white guy.  I think there was another Eddie Murphy vehicle called Meet Dave (2008), where Eddie Murphy literally was the vehicle.  He played a one-inch-tall captain who piloted Dave (also Murphy), a human-sized robot meant to blend in with Earth civilization.  Dave was black, but I never saw this show, so I can't comment beyond that.

My guess is that black robots frighten Hollywood.  The idea of having an African-American actor play a robot could be problematic.   Usually, androids are used in science fiction as slaves or at least as tireless unpaid boon companions.  Star Trek's Mr. Data (white guy in yellow make-up) explores his place in a human-dominant universe throughout his lifespan; he ends up being treated mostly as an equal.  Were Data definitively black, perhaps he would have been perceived differently by audiences, if not his crewmates. 

Terrible associations with racial slavery may prevent the black android from making a memorable appearance in science fiction cinema.  Could an audience take seriously any enterprise that would recreate a black person as a mechanical servant or slave?  I figure that's got to be a tough sell.  Still, for shock value perhaps there is room for a black android in the future.

I took a promotional photo of Harrison Ford as android bounty-hunter Rick Deckard and rotoscoped a promotional photo of Andre Braugher on top.  I painted out the picture digitally to make the image look unified.  So much for my New Years' resolution to be more careful with the rights  to images I post on JSVB.  

Braugher, who portrayed the genius-level Homicide detective Frank Pembleton on television, would  in my opinion make a really good Deckard if he could have played the role.  Was Deckard a replicant, a human android?  I put an otherwordly glow in Braugher's eyes to suggest that this might be so. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

518 - JSVB: Year Two In Review

Today is the second anniversary for JSVB.  What you see above is a matrix containing every self-created image I have posted to my visual blog.  The left-hand tower is my production for 2010, the right-hand tower is what I came up with for 2011.  I made 37 fewer posts in 2011 than 2010, but I feel that overall the quality has improved even if my post rate has not.  It's the old equation of quantity versus quality.  

Still, two years of plugging in posts (which amounts to giving away much of it) seems to be a lot of work for not much of a cause.  I have decided, though, that I might as well keep going.  At least JSVB fills my sketchbooks, so that's a plus.

2011 has seen some changes for Blogger, the software application that I use to publish JSVB.  It's free, so I should not complain.  However, Blogger has been making changes, some announced, some not so much.  Lately, the new changes favour people who make fast blog posts using their smartphones, but I find them to be awkward for my use.  Hopefully, when it comes time to shutter JSVB, it will be on my own terms, and not because Blogger has placed their application beyond my admittedly old-fashioned skill set.

I am happy with most of my posts, but one I regret intensely has to do with Japanese earthquakes.  At the end of January, I created two earthquake-themed posts, #295 and #296, which you can see by clicking here and here.  Six weeks later, by awful co-incidence, Japan suffered a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake.  Apart from the horror of the event, I did feel awful about my posts.  They could be seen as being in very bad taste in retrospect.  This was never my intention.  I did create a post about my hopes for the rebuilding effort, which you can see by clicking here.  Someday, I would like to create a more ornate poster for this theme.  If I ever manage to sell any, the money would go to the Red Cross. 

Now for some statistics.  My Top Ten post list has changed since 2010.  You can last year's list by clicking here.  Each text highlight is a hyperlink that you can click to see the corresponsing post:


10)  Mousey Tongue - A competent, cute illustration of a mouse that had infiltrated our house.  She was successfully trapped by humane methods and relocated across the river.  This used to be #8 on my JSVB popularity list for 2010.

9) Why Phi? Or: A Silver Golden Rule - This was my #3 most popular post in 2010.  It seems to be a favourite haunt of art students.

8) Rebuild Japan! - As mentioned above, this is a picture of Godzilla repairing the damage of the big Japanese earthquake.  I had a couple of nice comments about this, and someday I'd like to do a better version. 

7) Roman Dress - A very simple sketch of the style of dress an ancient Roman woman might wear.  I do not know why this post keeps generating hits.  I am making it a priority to come up with some finished artwork and upgrade this piece. 

6) Happy Birthday To Me (2) - My take on a sexy "Mirror, Mirror" Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek.  It's popular because even forty years after Trek was cancelled, every day thousands of people type "Naked Uhura" into their Internet search engine.  Go figure.

5) A One And A Two...  - I combine two great passions: naked women and Stanley Cup hockey.  Naturally, like-minded people have searched this post out.  Flashing boobs on the Internet seems to be a surefire way to get hits, although it is also exploitation. 

4)  Savage Reality  - Doug Savage is a local author famous for his cartoon strip.  I made some fan mail for him.  Doug is what the Twitterverse calls an "influential tweeter".  One tweet from Doug translated into a couple hundred instant hits for JSVB for this post. 

3) 30th Terry Fox Run - This JSVB post used to be #6 on the 2010 popularity list.  I am pleased it has moved up.   One part of the illustration ended up in some political publications.  I did follow through with my promise to update this post, and I am very pleased with how the new post turned out.  Please click here to see it.

2) Ricci De Mare (Sea Urchin) Recipe - This was the top JSVB post for 2010.  People still look this up on a regular basis.  An illustrated guide to the basics of preparing sea urchin for a gourmet meal. 

1) Nat Bailey Nooner - This post was #2 for JSVB for 2010, now it's my top post.  I think it recreates the fantastic ambiance of Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver's neighbourhood ballpark with world-class charm.  This picture ended up being used in a small promotional flyer for the stadium.

Well, another year of JSVB goodness.  Honestly, I would have never thought that I would have over 500 posts.  I would like to thank family and friends for their loyalty, and all my readers for their website hits and support.  Please continue to visit JSVB.  Perhaps in 2012, you will consider purchasing a print of something you've seen here and liked. 

Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best for 2012!