Thursday, February 28, 2013

744 - Boolean Gear

I created a gear image using Boolean functions.  Boolean algebra has five basic features: True (1), Untrue (2), AND, OR, and NOT.  You can combine those elements to make complex logical statements, or in the case of graphic arts a precise diagram with many integrated elements. 
To make the gear, I created a True disc.  Then I added True spikes using the AND function.  I chopped off the ends of the spikes using a larger concentric  circle whose outer boundary was an Untrue selection and applied it as a NOT. 
Mathematicians and computer programmers make a great deal of fuss over Boolean functions, but graphic artists can get a big assist from using Boolean math as well. 

Bring in the Logic Probe!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

743 - My Wife's Secretary

This past week, I've been wrestling with an intense illustration project which I finished today but cannot show on JSVB, at least not yet.  The rest of the afternoon, I planned to blow off by playing videogames.  However, I was stuck in graphic artist mode and the my computer opponent had me for a mid-afternoon snack. 
I decided to work out some art stress by attempting to sketch out a cute pin-up pose.  Once I was finished the basic structure, I began to add the details.  In the middle of that was when the phone rang.  Heather was calling.  She wanted to speak with my wife, who was out. 
"I'll leave my number, Jeff.  Do you have something to write that down?"
I groan, perhaps inwardly, maybe Heather could hear me; I don't know, I don't care.  I shuffle around my desk looking for a pen when I realize that I have my unfinished sketch right in front of me. 
"Go ahead," I tell her, and deface my artwork with her number.  That's why there's a "Heather" in the upper corner.  I blacked out the number because you don't need to see that.  Maybe the pin-up model's name is Heather.  Maybe the phone-call Heather looks like that on a bicycle.  Let's go with that, shall we?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

742 - "Jeff The Ref"

What a find!  The other day, my wife and I were trolling goodwill and second-hand clothing stores.  We've been invited to two costume parties in the month of March.  Who throws costume parties in March?  Goodwill clothing stores are good places to get the foundations for costume wear. 
In the Men's Uniforms section, I grabbed an actual BC Amateur Hockey Association Official's jersey.  It's comfortable, a decent fit, and easy to throw in the wash.  It cost four dollars on sale.  It's even made in Canada!  I don't need a ref's uniform for any costume party, but I will wear it around as a nice long-sleeved sweater. 
Tweeet!  Two minutes for lookin' so good!

Monday, February 25, 2013

741 - Headless Unfinished Cat

Got me a headless cat here.  Obviously, it's not finished yet.  There's a story why today's cat pose does not come close to matching the cat pose I drew a couple of days ago.  I can't share that story now, but maybe I will later.  Please click here to see the previous cat pose. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

740 - Cat Pounce Sketch

Here, I've laid out the groundwork for a leaping big cat.  The rear end needs work.  The different colours represent various poses and how they would relate to the cat's internal skeleton.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

739 - "Norman Decker Woods"

Happy 10th Birthday, Norman!
That's what we would be saying if, on this day exactly ten years ago, my friend Earl had fathered a child instead of a blog.
First of all, my deepest congratulations and respect to Earl for keeping his weblog diary going for ten whole years!  It's the only thing on the Internet that I will read every day.  And there's something amazing right there, as Earl posts every single day without fail.  The very earliest posts are among the Earl-iest, if I can use that term, since it took him a while to discover and refine his online persona.  Today, Earl's blog is confident,  informative, entertaining, and rewarding: all the things I hope for JSVB. 
Second of all, here's Norman.  Norman Decker Woods is what I calculate that Earl's ten-year-old boy would look like, had Earl and his wife Sylvia chosen to have offspring instead of a blog.  This isn't an actual child, it's just a simulation of what-if, an alternate-universe construct built in Photoshop.  As I see it, it's also a rather large and personal dip into the deep end of the Uncanny Valley. 
Since Earl's blog is very extensive, there were many childhood pictures of Earl and his family to choose from.  I found many elements of the Woods family that I could use to make this picture.   Sylvia is well-represented with photos as well, but they are all of her as an adult.  I had to guess a little more as to which of her features would go onto Norman's face.  It seems to me that the Woods men tend to pass on their eyes, forehead, ears and jawline to their male heirs, as well as a tendency for red hair.  I assume that Sylvia's skin tone, nose, cheekbones, mouth, and chin would fill out the rest of the face. 
I chose the names "Norman Decker" because of their weight as Star Trek references, and I could not resist putting the little guy in a Starfleet uniform.  I figure alternate-universe Earl would have wanted that, over-riding the good sense of alternate-universe Sylvia.  Otherwise, I suspect that the boy would have been named using the traditions of Sylvia's and Earl's respective families.  I think Norman himself would prefer the Pavel Chekov hairstyle.
The name Norman has special meaning for me and my wife, as well.  Like Earl and Sylvia, we chose not to have children.  Unlike Earl and Sylvia, we also decided to create our own simulated child as an experiment in what-if.  I feel there must be a difference in choosing to simulate your own child versus being surprised out of the blue with such a simulation, and so if this effort creates too much shock for Sylvia and Earl, I profoundly apologize for that. 
Even more than ten years ago, my wife and I decided to simulate our own hypothetical kid.  We used the popular "Sims" videogame as our test program.  In "The Sims", you can create the basic physical attributes of your character as well as some intrinsic psychological traits such as intelligence, neatness, bravery, and affinity for grilled-cheese sandwiches.  I took a few hours to model myself and my wife within the game as accurately as the program would allow, and then after the real-world  Mr. & Mrs. fortified themselves with wine, we ran the sim and allowed the two characters to mate, become pregnant, and have a simulated child. 
The result in the game was a little girl with brown hair, a big nose, and the need to wear eyeglasses.  She was artistic but not good at it.  In fact, she wasn't much good at anything at all.  Nor was she bad at anything either, just average competence.  "The Sims" game could draw a graph that plotted all of the personality attributes and abilities.  Our little girl was at the very top of the bell curve, perfectly average in every way.  We named her Norma, on account of her hyper-aggressive normality.
Sure, Norma would be competent and unlikely to fail, she was reasonably healthy and able to be fairly active.  On the other hand, she would never fully succeed at anything, would never be recognized for brilliance in any field, and would never attain more than mediocrity. 
My wife and I finished off  the wine bottle and archived Norma.  I think her files live on an Iomega Zip Disk, which is tough since it's been years since I've owed a Zip Drive.  There is no easy way to get Norma's files back so I cannot present her on JSVB, at least not now. 
If you look at Norman out of the corner of your eye, he almost looks plausible, if not real.  Unfortunately, I could not make a high-resolution image because nearly all of my source material, eyes, nose, face, and so on, were low-resolution pictures to begin with.  Norman will always have a digital look about him, but maybe that's for the best.  
My wife thinks that Norman would grow up to resemble comedian/actor Breckin Meyer.  Looking at pictures on the Internet of Mr. Meyer and his young daughter, I feel that she is likely correct within reason.  Norman Decker Woods would likely break some hearts, both with his looks and his personality. 
From my view, if you aren't having children and you are creating fantasies of them, frankly that's off-beat.  There are reasons in the world why we have the people we love, and reasons why we don't have the ones we ourselves create out of thin air.  Computer technology is becoming more adept at compositing fictional people we can believe to be real.  Soon enough biotechnology may fill the gap, the uncanny valley between artificial construct and artificial human being.  For now, we just have make-believe. When we weigh that against the measure of the real world, it's more than enough, I say. 
Happy 10th Birthday to "My Name Is Earl (J. Woods)", the blog that keeps inspiring me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

738 - Birdy Num-Num

This is not a real bird!
Never put any live animal in your oven!
Some survival guides suggest that all birds are edible.  That doesn't mean that they may be palatable, however.  Recent studies suggest that a few rare birds in Papua New Guinea may have poisonous eggs, so all Papua New Guinean JSVB readers ought to stick to supermarket eggs for now.  Also eating non-game birds out of season most likely will break the law in most jurisdictions.
The bird in my oven is not a real bird.  We have a couple of plastic decorative parrots in our kitchen.  Impelled by gravity, one broke loose of its tape restraint and fell directly into the pasta pot.  I put the bird in the oven on very low heat to dry it off.  I took the picture and posted it because JSVB needs more pictures. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

737 - Hearts Of Mylar

For someone, this Valentine's Day was left up in the air.  A couple of days ago on one of my walks, I saw a mylar heart-shaped balloon stuck near the top of a hundred foot tree.  It occurred to me that here was an example of good intentions foiled by lousy execution.  If the recipient of the present wanted to see their goods, I guess all they could do was look up.
I wanted to take a picture of the scene, but I wasn't carrying my camera.  A storm was on its way, so I am certain the balloon would be gone by now.  Instead, I re-created the image in Photoshop.  Despite that I already have many pictures of trees in my hard drive, I elected to use this photo by Simon Sen as the background.  The balloons are ones I picked out from a catalogue and pasted into the image.  I figure two balloons are more romantic than one, although two balloons also create more mylar litter.  Virtual balloons are a little greener.
Later on, I discovered that heart-shaped balloons stuck in trees is a fairly common image on the Internet.  People will take pictures of anything, as long as it relates to a holiday. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

736 - Hearts Of Wax

The day before Valentine's Day, I figure I will show off my very latest Ungood Art, seeing as today is also the 13th of the month, traditionally Ungood Art Day here on JSVB.
I admit these pieces don't have a lot of spark to them.  I even have ungooder Ungood Art waiting to be shown.  But it's the season for romance and Ungood Art, so  these tiny penny-sized sculptures fulfill today's intent. 
What makes these hearts Ungood is that they are both made out of the unique crimson wax wrapping from those little Babybel cheeses you can find at the supermarket.  Once you eat the cheese, you are left with this red wax shell that melts easily in the temperature of your hand.  Then you mold the wax with your fingers into something that you could throw at a co-worker's head, or into romantic hearts in this case.  I molded these hearts instead of doing something good for art; in particular, I was stalling from painting my religious icon. 
So, celebrate a Happy Valentine's Day with Babybel Cheese! Unless you're lactose-intolerant, in which case Valentine's would be just another manufactured hell from bacterial culture. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

735 - Wok Ruff

I like to see the ruffs from finished artwork.  I am posting mine for yesterday's "WOK!" drawing.  Good ruffs seem to have a vitality that sometimes gets lost when the artist does the grind work of laying down clean lines and ink.  This seems especially true if the artist is part of a team.  I envy artists like Monkey Punch, whose ruffs are strong enough to stand up as finished art.
See "WOK!", the finished version of this art on JSVB Post #734, by clicking here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

734 - "WOK!"

Here is the finished artwork that I started yesterday.  And seeing as I used up yesterday's JSVB Post to lecture on the relevance of staging a violent hit, I can't add much about the technique.
Hopefully, fans of Will Eisner will see some resemblance to his "Expressive Anatomy" textbook:  I lifted some of the pose elements from that.  If you're going to swipe, it's best to follow Eisner.  I did change the characters to make them look more like stereotypes.  I figured subtle characterizations could be lost when you're hitting people with cooking pots.
I tried to loosen up the clothes and make my ink lines flow more.  I added a number of secondary follow-thru's like ties, food,  and bits of clothing to make the scene more dynamic.  Instead of following the flow of motion, most of the secondaries point towards the action - that was a design decision from early in the sketch phase. 
As for "WOK!"... well, normally I detest visual puns.  I recall going to an art gallery that featured a number of pieces that were visual puns, like "Cold Turkey", and there was a blue turkey sitting on a block of ice looking with longing at a pack of cigarettes.  I just don't like that kind of art.  Except when I do it, then it's all good, y'know? 
For the rationale behind "WOK!" and a rougher look at the image, please check out yesterday's JSVB Post by clicking here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

733 - Unfinished Study In Violence

I've started work on this piece, but haven't finished it.  You can see enough of the ruff work to figure out where it's going to go. 
The two characters are interacting in a violent way.  The other day, my friend Earl was remarking about the nature of violent action in visual art, in that our minds tend to make up a lot more detail than what we see.  Perhaps our empathic response magnifies the effect of violence, maybe that's why violent entertainment can be fun. 
Most times, when an artist is depicting a violent scene, the actual point of impact gets omitted.  Certainly there are exceptions to this, but usually the impact tends not to be the most dramatic action pose.  Or more likely, the impact has a very narrow focus of context, so that you perceive just the brutal part but not as much of the surrounding scene.  Think of a picture of a boxer at just the moment that he gets hit by his opponent.  Although you view the physical apex of the struggle, you lose some of the narrative of the anticipation of the hit (the poses that lead to the point of action) and of the follow-thru (the poses that show the result of the action). 
Since time and talent are constraints and I do not want to draw every pose of a fight scene, I rely on the most dramatic pose for this situation.  Here I've chosen the follow-thru, since you can see how the action will be resolved.  The anticipatory poses are inferred, and the action of the hit itself is skipped over as being superfluous.  If anything, there are just a limited number of viewing angles for getting a decent composition for the point of impact, while there are more to choose from for the anticpation and follow-thru. 

I'll try to finish this piece tomorrow, and discuss if further then. 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

732 - Quinoa's Year

2013 is the International Year Of Quinoa, with quinoa being one of South America's most popular exports next to doomsday predictions.  You pronounce it "keen-wah", and increasingly, you can buy it at any reputable grocery store.  Quinoa isn't exactly a grain, although uncooked it looks something like millet.  Quinoa prepares much like rice, although it doesn't taste like rice. 
In a suitable small pot, boil one part quinoa to two parts water or clear soup stock until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa puffs out.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and it's ready to go just like that, with total prep time taking roughly ten minutes.  A half cup of uncooked quinoa will expand to a cup when cooked, and should be enough to feed one or two people. 
My friend Sean first directed me to quinoa, and I immediately came to love its versatile grainy-nutty flavour.  Quinoa is extremely rich in nutrients as well as being a good source of protein. 
Lately, quinoa has also been the source of recent breathless gonzo journalism, especially in the form of a series of UK-biased articles by The Guardian, which you can find using a basic Internet search.  These articles paint quinoa as the greatest destabilizing force for the South American economy since Hugo Drax built his space shuttle launch facility along the Amazon in "Moonraker" (1979).  Naturally, only vegetarian subscribers to The Guardian have the wits and know-how to save their well-intentioned but ultimately silly South American cousins from the folly of their ancient ways. 
The recipe pictured above features quite a lot of meat, although it's very low in fat.  First, I scrambled an egg in a teaspoon of olive oil in a hot pan.  Scrambled egg in oil instead of butter makes the egg much flakier.  I removed the egg and kept it for later.  While the quinoa boiled, I diced a breast of chicken and fried it in the pan with a spoon of olive oil along with a handful of shrimp.  I added peas, two tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon of minced ginger (which you can find in most grocery stores, or you can mince your own ginger root by hand).  I added the cooked quinoa to the meat and added the cooked egg and stirred.  That's it!  Twenty minutes from start to finish, and you have a nutritious and tasty meal ready to go.  For more veg and less meat, try adding some fried onion or fried celery chunks in place of the shrimp.  As NASA would say about quinoa, which they very highly recommend as a food for astronauts, "You're good to go!"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

731 - The Coleman Version

It took me three days to draw out yesterday's JSVB entry.  One reason was that I had an alternate version in mind.  Here, I depict the piñata that represents the bounty of goodies that would spill forth if BC Hydro was taken apart into pieces and privatized like BC Rail was.  Instead of Premier Christy "C.C." Clark taking her swings, I have her ever-energetic Energy Minister Rich Coleman attempting to eliminate the  piñata by ripping it off the ribbon and eating it whole.  Say what you will about Minister Coleman, I am sure he enjoys a sweet, sweet plum as much as any other BC Liberal politician. 
The trick to Christy Clark's form of leadership, and what sets her apart from her predecessor Gordon Campbell, is her willingness to allow the Ministers in her Cabinet to run the province as they please.  Fire the BC Auditor General John Doyle!  You're fired!  No, wait, we call mulligans!  You're hired for another term, won't that be fun?  (John Doyle, a decent, conscientious politician, left us for a job in Australia.  Australia: about as far away from here as you can get and not be on the Moon.)  Let's get a mega-casino in Surrey!  Wait, a referendum has it that 92% of residents do not want a casino!  Let's do it anyways!  (The Liberals flip-flopped again and have put the casino plans on the back shelf for now.)  Let's force everybody to get a smart meter!  No, gosh, it turns out we don't need them as much as we thought!  But maybe we do!  We'll just wait for now until someone tells us what our opinion should be!  At least we have our pensions! 
Although Rich Coleman has the look about him that he could keep political cartoonists working for decades, and although I find it personally very humorous to see a depiction of him trying to eat a piñata, it just does not seem right to get this sketch into finished form.  The best pose for Minister Coleman wrecks the best pose for Premier Clark, and the whole composition is a bit problematic.  Note how I try out different arm positions for C.C. at once. As long as you keep yesterday's cartoon in your head, this one seems to keep its cohesion.  Even so, I didn't have a strong caption in mind, and unless the cartoon can stand solid on its own, a good caption helps to tie all of the elements together, or so I believe.  I'll leave this one unfinished, and wait to see what comes out of the election hustings for the next few weeks. 
See yesterday's partner image to this one on JSVB by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

730 - No No Yum-Yum For C.C.

She swings and swings at the big piñata, but darn it all if the treats just won't fall into her lap.  Here we see our Premier of British Columbia, Christy "Just Call Me C.C." Clark trying to get value out of her B.C. Hydro Smart Meter Program by beating the living hell out of it.  Please click on this link to read my take on the Smart Meters, and be sure to follow up on the research and references! 
If you are following B.C. Politics, you'll know that this is the very same B.C. Hydro Smart Meter program that was forced into law a couple years back.  This law made it mandatory that every household in the province convert their nothing-at-all-wrong-with-them traditional meter to a first-generation B.C. Hydro Smart meter (likely rejected by the failed U.S. Smart Meter program), which among other things emits no less than five times the radiation of a microwave oven at intervals throughout the day, and can remotely shut off the entire power to your house like a breaker switch.  Through a system of demanding and demeaning phone calls to customers plus an army of sub-contractor technicians carrying demolition tools, the customers of B.C. Hydro were forcibly frog-marched into making the conversion. 
And now that the process is finally nearly complete, Christy Clark's endearingly unpredictable Energy Minister Rich Coleman suddenly and unexpectedly decided in public view that the Smart Meter program was only just a suggestion, and lifted the mandatory nature of the program.  Really, Minister Coleman?  I suppose the harassing phone calls from B.C. Hydro were just the Legislature's version of being "punk'd"?  That the "Just For Laughs" team had a hidden camera in the toolbox along with the bolt cutters and forged-iron pry-bars?  Gosh, all this, and somehow I forgot to laugh.  So did the rest of the province.
My guess is that the cumbersome and yet somehow profitable B.C. Hydro has resisted the Liberal Party's efforts to be dismantled and privatized.  As you can see in the image, the banner of B.C. Hydro has been battered and torn from repeated political pummelling.   Let's face it: a green-trending utility company based on a renewable resource may just be too big a plum for even an incumbent Liberal cabinet well-tutored in Gordon Campbell-style economics to eat in one bite.  Swing as she may, C.C. has not broken open the piñata prize before election time in May.  Strange, considering that the Liberals with Ms. Clark appear to have extensive experience dismantling useful public works - or is defunct B.C. Rail too distant a memory for the voters?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

729 - Arts Night In Canada

Tonight is the 60th anniversary of the first television broadcast of "Hockey Night In Canada on CBC.  This makes Hockey Night the longest-running televised sports show in the history of human civilization. 
Last night as I tossed around in bed trying to sleep, it occurred to me that artists do not get the same level of attention from journalists that sports celebrities do.  Probably for good reason, too:
 (please click on the artwork to embiggen)