Monday, April 23, 2012

579 - Another Inconvenient Truth

In an extinction scenario that would be worthy of Al Gore, last night saw the demise of two ice-themed sea creatures, the Penguins and the Canucks, from NHL playoff hockey.  Although to be fair the Canucks aren't sea creatures except that their whale logo comes from a cheesy association with the Orca Bay Group, the team owner. 

Superimposing anthropomorphic features on the animals turned out to be harder than I anticipated.  These aren't my best caricatures.  That's Sidney Crosby on the left, Roberto Luongo on the right.  Neither player should suffer too much bearing their respective defeats as both are superstar players who will no doubt rebound in the league in one form or another. 

If asked, I would absolutely choose to sacrifice the Stanley Cup hopes of the Canucks (whom I vaguely admire) in exchange for the definitive derailment of the Penguins (whom I loathe, especially Sid The Kid)Looks like I got my wish this season.

Still, I am starting a career in making drawings of the Canucks losing the playoffs.  Please click here, here, and here to see more Canucks-related artwork on JSVB, although none of it is very cheerful. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

578 - Class Act

The Class of 2012 poses with completed icons.  Today, the artwork was blessed.  One of these days, I will post the final result so that it can be seen in detail. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

577 - Rescue Me

I believe this is the most minor character in Space Pirates And Zombies: a nameless guy floating in outer pace in an escape pod, who after his ship blew up is rescued by Captain Don.  Space Pirates And Zombies is the smash hit science-fiction shooter from MinMax Studio, and I am making up new character designs for the game.  The Space Pirates And Zombies characters appear on JSVB with their kind consent.

In the original design, the guy looks like a computer programmer forced to act like he's lost in space, wearing these goofy day-glo swim googles to make him look futuristic.  I loved the goggles, but tried to make the character more soulful.  He does get one line in the game, something about "Thank you for rescuing me, please don't dump me out the airlock."  I figure this is the look a man should have to say exactly that. 

Please click on the names to see other Space Pirates And Zombies character re-designs on JSVB:


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

576 - Bee Me Up

The other day as I was walking in the forest, a bee flew directly at me, hitting me square in the face.  Niether bee nor I were harmed in the tussle. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

575 - Tutorbot

Presenting Tutorbot, the latest in a series of characters I have come up with in homage to "Space Pirates And Zombies", the acclaimed space shoot'em-up videogame from MinMax Studio. 

The game starts off with a tutorial section to help new players figure out how to play the game.  The tutorial icon as it exists now is about as basic as you could expect to ever find.   The tutorial does have a bit of voice-over from a mechanical voice, so I figured that a tutor robot would be a good replacement for the original icon.  Now the voice has a face, even if it is made of metal and plastic. 

Please click on these names to see the previous Space Pirates And Zombies entries.  All Space Pirates And Zombies characters are the intellectual property of MinMax Studio, and are used on JSVB with their kind permission:


Sunday, April 15, 2012

574 - Fifty Garlic Chicken

For a special request, I prepared Fifty Garlic Chicken. 

There used to be a restaurant near where we lived called "The Stinking Rose", the name being a sly reference to garlic since Greco-Roman times.  One of their best dishes was Forty Garlic Chicken, which is a whole chicken stuffed with garlic.  I tried to improve on the dish by stuffing fifty pieces of garlic into the cavity, but they did not all fit and a few got scorched in the oven.

Stuffing a bird reduces the surface area through which moisture can evaporate while cooking.  A large bird like a turkey requires stuffing so that it won't dry out in the oven.  A smaller bird like a chicken or a quail doesn't need stuffing because the bird is small and cooks quickly.  Even so, stuffing a chicken can improve its flavour and moisture content.

What fifty garlic looks like, before cooking.
Commonly, I will stuff a chicken with a small onion and a small lemon chopped into rough pieces.  I've also tried "beer can" chicken on the barbecue (stuff an open beer can with 1/4 cup of beer remaining into the cavity as a stand to keep the bird upright on the grill).  Fifty pieces of garlic also work well. 

Stuff the chicken with the garlic.  Rub a mixture of olive oil, salt, and pepper (and other spices) on the skin of the bird.  Bake in covered cookware in the oven at 450°F  for an hour to 90 minutes, until the bird is cooked through and the juices run clear.  Consult and use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked!  Afterwards, dig out the garlic stuffing, mash it with a fork in a bowl with a pinch of salt and some more olive oil or melted butter.  Serve the garlic as a side dish; it pairs very well with fresh crusty bread and white wine. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

573 - Animal Magnetism

Today's JSVB post features depictions of animals in distress.  However, it's not very graphic, and the hamster in question recovers completely.  Even so, some material may be disturbing to some viewers.  Scroll down only if you are okay with this.

  "Smurf" is the name of a hamster in England who escaped from her cage, chewed the magnet off of a nearby toy, stuffed the magnet in her cheek pouch, and then was trapped by physics when the magnet affixed itself with unmovable force to the metal bars of her cage.  Her owner family was out at the time for a few hours, and when they returned, they found their beloved pet left hanging in this unusual form of distress.  The hamster required a trip to the vet and time to recuperate in a plastic cage until the magnet came loose.  Considering the similarity of confinement and rehabilitation to that of a certain X-Men villain, perhaps her family should rename their hamster "Magneto".  She recovered completely, which is good news. 

Magnets in toys present danger to pets as well as people.  I remember as a child owning a toy magnet set.  Some of the magnets looked to me like little chocolate candies, so it's likely that I ate a few.  A magnet on its own probably will pass through one's alimentary canal without incident.  However ingesting more than one could cause severe problems, up to the point of being lethal.  If magnets in the gut manage to pinch off a section of intestine, the resulting condition could require emergency surgery to remove the complication. 

One problem is that magnets in toys seem to be a lot stronger today than they were when I was a kid.  Rare earth magnets in particular are very strong for their size, which makes them an economical choice for consumer products.  Some jurisdictions have outlawed rare earth magnets in toys because they are so easy for children to ingest. 

Animal magnetism may be a desirable trait, but not when it's gained through gourmandizing!

Friday, April 13, 2012

572 - Stoogesday The 13th

So help me, I've been actually looking forward to the new "Three Stooges" (2012) movie quite a lot.  Not enough to want to see it in the theatre, of course.  I firmly believe that a trip to the Cineplex is one of the most financially irresponsible things I can think of to do.  But even so, I want to see the Stooges, even if the new film won't have Jim Carrey, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro as the lead actors (True! At least for a while.).

Second best is to pay tribute to the Three Stooges on JSVB for Ungood Art Day, traditionally the thirteenth day of every month.  I consider this piece Ungood in theme, as it represents the scandalizing violence that plagued a generation or two of parents of small children.  As  a child, I adored the Stooges, and still do today.  My friends and family remain aloof towards them, though.

This illustration is different from most of my other Ungood pieces in that I spent more than a day working on it, and it actually turned out much as I had hoped it would.  It's going to be that one rare piece that for as long as it lasts will live both in my Showcase as well as my Ungood Art section, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

571 - Faux Marble I

Lately, I've become interested in the faux marble tehnique.  This is where you create the look of marble using just paint.  This is my first shot at it.  I think it looks too artificial, but I guess it's a fair beginning. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

569 - CMO B & A

B & A is my slang for Before & After.  This week, I had an unusual opportunity to back-check an image I drew some time ago: the aerial view of the Coast Meridian Overpass (CMO) in Port Coquitlam. 

I needed a bright, idealized picture of the bridge.  Unfortunately, at the time there were no vantage points that were tall enough in PoCo to produce the angle of view that I required.  This despite that the City at one point enjoyed the services of an unmanned camera blimp (and just how cool is that!?) to take pictures of the bridge from high aloft.  The blimp pictures were great, but all of them were at the wrong angle for my needs.  So, I decided to create the image I wanted from imagination. 

The "Before" version, painted from imagination.

Like I said, this week I finally got the aerial view I wanted, about half a year later.  Better still, I was able to take this picture with my own camera, so I keep the copyright. 
The "After" version, photographed by me from on top of the new Shaughnessy tower. 
The painting has already been featured as JSVB Post #500, but the photo is new.  To read more about the CMO and Post #500, please click here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

568 - Angry Bird

Posting the picture of our car drenched in bird poop helped my wife and I uncover the chain of events that led to JSVB Post #566, which can be see by clicking here.

The executive summary is that we are the victim of a territorial, narcissistic, hormone-imbalanced, loose-sphinctered robin who may also be somewhat myopic:

It's Spring, and a young bird's fancy turns to love, or at least to mating.  Male robins, who are very common to our region, are making efforts to stake out their territory.  This involves fighting off rivals using extreme prejudice. 

Some robins will see their own reflection in mirrors and glass windows and try to attack that with violent lunges, pecking, and wing flaps.  They think the reflection is a rival. 

Our fellow also likes to fling his poop as well.  So, our unassuming car took the brunt of one of these attacks, leaving the door near the side mirror coated with white sludge.  When we leave the car in the garage, our neighbour's vehicle gets the treatment instead. 

We also noticed that certain angles of the sun turn the windows of our house into mirrors, and the robin attacks them as well.   This has happened before, so back in 2010 I made a visual deterrent to try to keep the birds away (this is the subject of JSVB Post #147, please click here to see that).  Looks like I need more of them. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

567 - Tilt Shift Train Set

A while ago, my friends Earl and Tony turned me on to tilt shift, which is a photographic trick to make your image appear as though it was a picture of a miniature model diorama.

The tilt-shift process was traditionally accomplished by playing with camera angle and focus.  Generally, the camera has  to be mounted high off the ground for this to work. 

It's easy to simulate tilt shift in Photoshop.  There are plug-ins and apps that will do this for you automatically, but it's simple to do by hand as well.  The key is a photograph with good composition and subject matter. 

I'm not suggesting that this photo is the best tilt shift ever, but the Port Coquitlam rail yard seen from above is to me suggestive of a truly grand toy train set.  Once you have something picked out, carefully crop out anything that would not look like it belongs in a diorama. 

Use Photoshop's Levels to create the proper lighting, which should be fairly even (or use Auto-Levels).  Then adjust the sharpness of the image so that it is ultra-crisp (I prefer the Unsharp Mask filter, or an inverted High Pass, but you can just use the Sharpen control). 

Next use either Curves or the Saturation control to make the colours as bright as possible without looking pixellated. 

Then, create a rectangular selection that goes right across the middle of the image.  The rectangle should maybe as tall as one-fifth the image height or so.  Feather the selection a lot (200 pixels if you are working from a photo direct from your camera).  Invert the selection.  Then use Gaussian Blur to create the blurry areas at the top and bottom of the image. 

There you go!  With maybe a few small adjustments, you can create the illusion that your picture is of a tabletop model. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

566 - That Kind Of Day

That's the kind of day it's been.

On the educational front, now I know why people drive cars with white paint jobs.