Thursday, May 29, 2014

967 - Kneel Before Esplanade!

My friend Earl send me this perfectly charming picture of his lovely and refined wife Sylvia fairly prostrate with awe over my artwork.  Either that, or she's kneeling in the picture to show the scale before Earl's new gigantic starmap, an esplanade for science-fiction model ship mayhem.  

Here's another view, please click here to see it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

966 - "Commision: Harp!"

Now, I can finally post this.  Here is a project which occupied me for February and March.  It's a sort-of sequel to the nebula starmap I made for my friend Sean.  This is another nebula, but it's intentionally in the form of the Guinness beer Harp logo.  Then, it's surrounded by acres and acres of very geeky Star Trek references and science-fiction in-jokes.  

The file ended up being a whopping seven by five feet at print resolution, so Blogger can only show the image as a postage stamp by comparison.  A couple of months ago, I made a series of planets here on JSVB: each of them ended up as a feature on this map.  Then I decided I had to make a big Star Trek frame piece with accurate screens and buttons.  My client, Sean's brother Earl, did not ask for most of these things, but I knew he would want them and in the end, he paid most generously for them.  Some of the money went to purchasing some good art books, and the rest went into the ever-present, seldom-changing mortgage.  

Creating this file, I made any number of mistakes and learned about some new techniques.  At the forefront is Photoshop's PSB file system, which is new to me but has been around for nearly a decade.  Photoshop PSD files, the default, can only -only- go up to 4 GB in size.  PSB's can go to any size in terms of memory space, but have a limit of 300,000 by 300,000 pixels or 30,000 times the size of an average computer monitor. 
I have a friend whose life's work doctorate fits easily on a CD-ROM. A single CD-ROM holds 650 MB of data.  This picture topped out at 14GB, so he would need 21 doctorate degrees for his work to equal mine, more or less.  Put another way, you need 200 million words to fill one GB of memory.  This picture is worth two billion eight hundred million words.  I'll keep the remainder of my comments more brief than that.

The size of this image repeatedly crippled my graphics card and completely clogged my hard drive with drafts.  It took a day after I put the final touches on this project just to get my computer back into good enough shape to play games again. 

The printing company I used had no trouble printing a PSB file.  He seemed to enjoy printing my creative stuff, but like me, he also enjoys getting paid.  

Check out the Nebula map by please clicking here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

965 - 4 Nay, 1 Yea

I wanted to work out a warrior pose.  I made many drafts, looking for inspiration.  I tried to keep what worked and get rid of what didn't, which is the heart of the drafting process.  However as I drafted, I found I was getting farther away from the concept in my mind's eye.  This happens, and it's maddening.  

I resorted to image study.  Fortunately, the Internet has many images that I can use for reference.  I started with boxing and martial arts, which covered the first set of poses.  Then I looked at martial-arts inspired heroes: ninjas, Hong Kong cinema, Batman, and so on.  Then more superheroes: Superman (not much of a croucher), Spiderman, The Mighty Thor, Wonder Woman. 

Finally, I referenced the Silver-Age Captain America and got my "yes" pose.  Took long enough, and it makes me wonder if the project will be worthwhile.  

The key was to turn the foot stance so that the character approaches the camera three-dimensionally.   That is another requirement of the comic-book warrior pose, that illusion of visual depth.  Although I was finding more dynamic and open lines for my poses, they were also becoming flatter and flatter with every new draft.  Finally, I recalled that in my original thoughts, the character should be attacking the camera for the greatest effect.  I whistled off the "yes" pose and finally have the look of the character match my imagination.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

963 - "Macbear"

O Rotten Ronnie!  Wherefore art thou Ronald MacDonald?
Dispose thy Filet-O-Fish and make refuse thy fries;
Or, if thou wilt not, but leave thine Mickey-D wrappings,
And I'll no longer be undomesticated.

Monday, May 19, 2014

962 - Town Haul Ruff

I am showing off my ruff for "Town Haul", because some people like to see the pencil draft of finished artwork

Who are these people?  Why, they are you.. and me... your parents... their parents... your friends... their friends... everyone all around you, you see?  Look, look, look, you're thinking of this place all wrong, as if I've got all the money in my safe!  The, the money's not here.  Well, your money's in Joe's house, that's right next to yours, and then the Kennedy house and Mrs. Maitland's house, and a hundred others!  

Oh... er... I digress.  Really, it's probably only just me who wants to see the ruffs, and I want to pad my JSVB post count. 

True story: I've never watched "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946) all the way through, nor do I believe that I could ever do that. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

961 - Town Haul Pic Reversed

This is my Town Haul graphic reversed.  I made two versions: one facing left, the other facing right.  I did not know which one the client would want more, or both.  Photoshop makes it easy to reverse the image, but I had to keep the text on separate layers, otherwise the lettering would be reversed as well.  

The client picked this left-facing graphic.  


Saturday, May 17, 2014

960 - "Town Haul"

Click on image to embiggen.

Mayor Greg Moore, Mayor Richard Stewart, and Mayor Mike Clay, the Mayors of Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, and Port Moody respectively, are invitees to the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  They decided to make a road trip of the event, and stop at twenty different Canadian towns and cities en route from our west coast all the way to Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Their operation is called "Town Haul", and you can follow it on the Internet.  During their trip, the three Mayors will spend a lot of time talking politics with everyone they meet. 

My involvement was to provide the cartoon graphic to illustrate their journey.  I based most of the the look on the old Cambria Productions cartoons, which were famous for their imaginative storylines, nostalgic characters, and their remarkably cheap animation. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

959 - Mirror Universe

They say that art mirrors life.  In the toolkit of every good artist is a mirror as well.  For the graphic artist, the mirror may be real rather than figurative.  

As part of a larger project, I've assembled three cartoon characters I've designed.  Knowing that there's a good probability that the characters may face camera left or camera right, I digitally flipped the images.  

This is an important step.  By mirroring the image, we can see flaws that are generated by handedness.  A right handed artist will tend to have lines curve more naturally one way, while a left handed artist draws curves the other, following the natural motion of the wrist while drawing.  Flipping the image allows the artist to draw from both sides.

If working on paper, the artist can simply rotate the paper to see a new perspective.  Also, you can flip it by holding the drawing up to a strong light and by looking at the lines through the paper.  On larger pieces or paintings, the artist will use a real mirror.  Archival evidence points to some ingenious mirror systems used by some of the great painting Masters. 

Finally, digital art tools like Photoshop allow us to easily flip an image, as seen above.  Photoshop is also good for flipping photography.  Photographic elements can also be affected by handedness, so sometimes I will flip perfectly good photos just to enliven the composition. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

958 - "UXO"

UXO: Unexploded eXplosive Ordinance!  Here is a portrait of me my wife snapped.  I am standing next to a warning sign on the border of a UXO site.  And I am holding a UXO.   

The sign is real.  It's one of about a dozen along the stretch of Long Beach between Uclulet and Tofino on Vancouver Island.  Back in the day before either town catered to tourists, Long Beach was considered remote enough for weapons training for the military, and the beach was repeatedly bombed, mortared, grenaded, and shelled. 

Now the beach is part of a national park.  Unfortunately, the Ministry responsible doesn't have the budget to remove all of the UXO's, so they put up some signs and hope for the best.  I've done my patriotic duty by taking care of the bomb pictured above.

Well, there is more to the story.  According to the military, there is no technology available that will completely clear an area of UXO's.  Likely, Long Beach is clear by now, but it's better to be safe.  The government was hard-pressed to clean up the debris left on our shores from the recent Japanese tsunami.  There is a marsalling area set up for the public who find debris.  My wife found a plastic container for Japanese vegetables floating on the surf.  

And the bomb, of course, isn't a real bomb.  It's another piece of debris, likely part of a crab trap float.  I put the BOMB label on with Photoshop.  It's silly.

Today is Friday the thirteenth, traditionally Ungood Art day here on JSVB.  I'll post artwork that I've made that just isn't very good.  In this case, my wife took the picture, but I directed her.  

Below is a close-up of the UXO sign.  You can go to the website and check out what the Canadian government has to say about unexploded bombs, complete with a bizarre little cool-io hip-hop cartoon bomb mascot I wish I'd drawn (the mascot is on the website, not this sign).

Monday, May 12, 2014

957 - Running Bear

An image of a running bear.  I've named him Brad.  Brad the Bear.  He's part of a larger image, which I will get around to posting sometime later.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

956 - "I'm Nearly Famous"

JSVB Post #777: the JSVB Post that would not die.

The other day, I discovered that my "Wrath of Gandhi" poster has officially achieved the status of internet meme.  Such as it is, it has gone viral, or at least a mild infection.  

It was picked up by the Cheezburger Group and is now Internet Meme #8,173,936,384.  No kidding!  I discovered the meme-ification after another spike in my user stats showed that Cheezburger was actively pinging JSVB.  The Cheezburger people were very accommodating and had nothing but very nice things to say about my work.  And now for Internet fame!

I programmed a real-time personal fame meter to actively measure my presence on the Internet now that I am one of the constellation of stars that glitter in your heavens:

Hmm.  I guess I won't be Letterman's final guest.  Not yet.

Check out "Wrath Of Gandhi" by clicking here.
And, in a rare outside link, you can see "Wrath of Gandhi" here, where you could conceivably even leave comments: 

The title "I'm Nearly Famous" is courtesy of my friend Earl.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

955 - Squirrel Surfeit

I have a number of amorous squirrel sketches.  Each sketch has its own Photoshop layer.  In this image, all of the layers are mashed into one. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

954 - Superhero Origins

Every superhero has an origin story.  This one is mine:

"Honey, take a picture of me holding my hands like this."

Click.  My wife snaps this picture.  I used it as the model for the artwork in the previous JSVB post, which you can see by clicking here.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

953 - "My Super Power"

Some time ago, I was doing household chores with the television on, and the comedian said the lines in today's JSVB piece.  Honestly, it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard, which inspired me to draw this super self-portrait.  I'm still giggling at it after hours of grinding out the artwork.

The Internet says that Stephen Wright first made this joke, but my memory says otherwise.  It's a very funny bit, and if Mr. Wright and/or The Mystery Comic is searching for himself on the Internet and finds this, well, thanks bud! 

Silver-age comics are my favourite, since that's what I grew up with.  Nowadays, I find it amusing to recreate that look.  After doing the drawing, inking, lettering, and colouring using modern means, I aged the picture to make it look like out of one of my old comics.  I faded and blurred the black ink.  I created half-tone masks of the colours.  I layered on an old newsprint texture to make the paper less vivid white.  I even hand-painted some colour bleed over the blacks, something you'd see as a common artefact in the old comics.  Finally, I intentionally shifted the ink several pixels to the left from the colours to simulate offset-press technique.     

Next time you see a bird in the air, think of me!  Or Stephen Wright.

Friday, May 2, 2014

952 - Super-Self Colour Scheme

I've added experimental colour onto my super-self artwork.  I wanted to pick some hideous colours, but this ends up looking like what you'd get if you left Superman too long in the company of Miami Vice.  

The reason the colours are so garish is because they are triadic.  Looking at a colour wheel, if you pick a base colour (hot pink) and choose two colours that are equally distant from each other and the base,  you get a triad.  The colours are on the points of an equilateral triangle laid over your colour wheel.  I wrote the hexidecimal names of the colours as a reference (FF00AC, 00FFCD, FFCE00).  You can enter these into Photoshop and get exactly the same colours. 

Many early superheroes relied on a triadic colour scheme.  You get the brightest outfits where the colours will still work together.   Superman is the textbook example, with red, blue and yellow.  If you shift The Man Of Steel's pure red into pink by adding blue, the triad also shifts:  the blue moves into lime green and the yellow becomes an orangey-yellow goldenrod.  I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, but I feel I can make these colours work in the final image.  

As a historical note, comic book printers used to rely on pure cyan, red, yellow, and some formulation of black to print cheap issues.  Those inks can be combined to create most common colours in a gamut.  Since the mixes were created through the tiny dots of a half-tone, if you wanted solid colours, you'd stick to cyan, red, and yellow, which is what Supe's original colours were.  If you made a large enough batch of comics, the printer could use other custom-made colours, such as a blue when Superman's costume became darker.  Those custom vats came with a higher cost.

These days print is digital, and there are a much wider range of colours available to choose from.  Modern comics can be hand-held works of art, with an almost Baroque sensibility towards light, shadow, and colour.  Me, I prefer the silver-age stuff I grew up with.