Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1100 - "Mouse Wrangler"

Well, this is my big vanity project.  There's two pieces of it I'd like to explain:

1) I've had this idea floating in my brain for years.  Only recently have I had the time and gumption to make it work.  The whole thing began at the Calgary Stampede.  To avoid the crazy fees for parking a car near the Stampede grounds, I took the bus which is both economical and better for the environment.  However, buses get stuck in parking lots much more easily than cars do, and there was a whole load of us passengers hot and tired ready to head for home after the gates to the fair were closed.  After forty-five minutes of staring at each other trapped on public transportation, we started up some small talk.  How about that weather?  Where are you from?  What do you do?

People were genuinely interested that I was from Vancouver.  As for what I do, well, that tends to run along a sliding scale of reality, more or less.  I realized that I was stranded in a bus, dressed in my finest cowboy duds, which amounts to jeans, a silver belt buckle, a western-styled shirt, and a cheap black cowboy hat.  Add to this the glasses and a paunchy physique, and I know I'm no picture of a cowboy.  So this flashes into my head:
"Wall ma'am, shucks, but I'm jest an' old mouse wrangler.  I keep one of those fellers on my desk an' I wrangle him from sun-up to sun-down."  I pantomime clicking the mouse, and then I do my very best John Wayne swagger (I've since tried it in a mirror at home.  It's not a bad swagger, as long as I don't do it more than once a year). 

After that, I kept alive the idea of wrangling mice.  I sure wish I had cards to hand out on that bus.  I look at this design and while it can easily be made into a card, I'm wondering if I have the courage to pass it around outside of Stampede.

So, 2)  I've been on an active mission to make my work seem wittier.  I like working on projects that make people smile and laugh.  There is a small niche market for this kind of stuff, and I've been following it as best as I can.  It's not always an easy sell for clients, although I suppose anyone who likes this card is someone I with whom I can collaborate.  My wife laughed at this and thought mouse wrangling was cute, but now that I look for it, I think she done hid my black cowboy hat...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

1099 - Purple Mouse

It was easy work to make an iconic mouse shape in Photoshop.  

I added a little "wonkiness" to give this mouse a little more vitality.  Wonk comes from intentionally bending a few lines that should otherwise be parallel.  It adds a sense of motion to something that would otherwise look static and lifeless.   At the size this icon will be rendered, the wonk will be so small as to be nearly subliminal, but it's still more fun that playing all the lines straight.  

Oh yeah, before I forget: next post will be JSVB Post #1100.  I kind of like to make every 100th post a little better than the others, so 1100 ought to pull together some of the bits and pieces I've been working on until now.  

EDIT: Dang it, I just realized I put the mouse cord on the wrong end.  Oh, well.  Artistic license.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

1098 - "Lazy J"

Strange as it may sound, it's been a long time that I've been pondering the idea of drawing a portrait of myself as a pretty-boy cowboy.  Those who know me know that I don't have anything in me that's even remotely Western, although I do like that genre in movies and I do own a black cowboy hat, which is pictured above. 

Those who know me also know I'm not that pretty.  But country star Tim McGraw is pretty to a ridiculous extreme, so I Photoshopped my face onto his and used that as the model basis for this portrait. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

1097 - Stork Letterheads

Here's a collection of letterheads based on my stork design. This is a pretty lazy JSVB post, since all I did after making the original image and layout was to cycle the colours in Photoshop.  I've been feeling ill and dragged-out lately, so although I have been creative I have not been focused. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

1096 - Elitism

This picture diagrams the genesis of humans from the very beginning to the year 3100.  To be honest, there's very little in this picture I can claim to be my own.  All of the material except the sun was taken from screenshots of the new Elite:Dangerous videogame (2015).  Even then, most of it was taken by J. Fisher ("Archvillain").  All I did was recompose the elements and add some detail using Photoshop, including dreaded lens flare.  But I will admit my composition is better than Mr. Fisher's...


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1095 - Very Pale Rider

Silhouette is a powerful technique for testing the integrity of your image.  If you can "read" the silhouette, your drawing should have decent composition.  Thanks to digital paint functions in programs like Photoshop, creating silhouettes is easy and fast.

Even so, this silhouette took a long time for me to complete.  I am not making this into a finished drawing, but I am planning on leaving it as a silhouette (or "mask" in Photoshop terminology).  I spent a lot of time tweaking the proportions and details to make this look more cartoony.  I figure I am here being influenced by Mark Christiansen's animation homage in the classic LucasArts western videogame "Outlaws" (1997).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

1094 - Suction Cup Rodeo

I've been reading some interesting articles on the subject of humour.  Only recently have scientists been able to approach what makes us laugh, and the answer involves an expensive magnetic resonance imager.  

One conclusion is that a sense of humour is proportional to intelligence.  Smart people may not be funnier, but they can convince stupid rich people to buy MRI machines and fund science as to why a fake rubber turd on the boardroom table is hilarious. 

Smart animals enjoy humour as much as humans.  Birds, dogs, and lab rats, among others will laugh when playing. 

The octopus is a remarkably smart animal.  It is sensitive, emotional, and has a powerful memory.  Normally, octopi are solitary creatures and seldom congregate.  However, the octopi of the Italian island of Capri have formed social groups.  Their territory is rich with warm, comfortable water but tourism and fishing have eliminated most of the food, so the octopi have a tough time scrounging enough to live.  Worse, the area is teeming with deadly predators.  

Most of the Capri octopi are around the size of a human hand, so they seldom pose a threat to anything larger than an anchovy.  They will band together in loose groups to "farm" what food is available to them.

My wife showed me an amazing marine biologist's report of these little guys defending their territory.  A predator eel was swimming into the octopus feeding area.  Normally, a solitary octopus would change colour to blend in with the ocean bottom and squeeze into some tight hiding hole.  The Capri octopi were much more aggressive, however.  They formed what I prefer to think of as a "suction cup rodeo".

Working together, a couple of octopi remained in the open to lure the eel into the trap.  From above, the bravest octopus gently glided onto the unsuspecting eel's head and covered the eel's eyes with its tentacles.  Then, it hung on like a rodeo star while the eel tried in vain to buck the octopus off of its face.  The little octopus hung on like a champion!  The eel twisted, turned, and leaped much like a rodeo bull.  The octopus simply applied more suction.  Eventually, the eel had had enough and tried to swim away.  Once the little octopus finally let go, the eel wasted no time in escaping. 

The Capri octopus community watched this action from afar.  Were they laughing?  I don't think that's physiologically possible for an octopus.  But I imagine they were amused!  The plight of the eel, the vicious predator turned into a comic buffoon with an octopus glued to its eyes, is a classic comedy turnabout that occurs when the bad guy gets his come-uppance from the diminuitive hero.  There's a certain amount of class struggle that went along with the actual battle: the octopi worked together to trap the eel, but they also were unified by the spectacle of their hero humiliating and defeating a hated foe that normally would have been much more powerful than all of them grouped together.  Comedy becomes a means of social bonding, although we can only surmise the emotional state of the octopus by observing its skin colour at the time - octopi will change colour depending on mood.  If the octopi found the sight of one of their number glued to the face of an eel funny - and it's pretty funny to us humans - then this would also reinforce their social confidence and create a powerful memory of the event. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

1093 - Bad Bird

Today is the thirteenth of the month, which is traditionally Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  Nobody gets everything right the first try.  But in my world, it's certainly possible to have things go horribly wrong on the 1,293rd try.  That's Ungood Art: when I try hard to make a good art piece but in the end I don't.  

So my wife wanted decorative birds made out of dough to grace this year's Easter loaf.  I've tried making birds before, and they've always failed.  Two things went wrong: I assumed that normal bread dough would work (it doesn't), and I assumed that I can mold dough like modelling clay (I can't).  

This time around, I fixed the dough problem by using a recipe for  p√Ęte morte, which is an inert dough that doesn't rise and puff up.  I did not solve the problem of lack of sculptural and modelling skill, something which has become a theme in my Ungood Art.  

So, this little guy is a decorative bird.  It's not a fish!  The head, wings, and tail all stood up when unbaked, making for a reasonably realistic albeit lumpy pose.  As the bird baked, all the body parts drooped until the bird was flat on the baking pan, kind of looking like it died there which I suppose it did. 

The worst part are the eyes and beak.  Since I formed the dough without checking whether I had any decorative ingredients on hand, I realized I had nothing to make a proper face for the bird.  In a panic, I resorted to using jelly beans.  A dark jelly bean halved made two eyes.  A yellow half bean made the beak.

Did you know that sugar jelly melts when heated?  Seems like the kind of thing you'd catch in retrospect.  As the bird baked, the jelly melted, turning the eyes into sockets while the smouldering goo trickled down the cheeks.  The beak also liquefied and made a gruesome pool beneath the face.  I'm reminded of villains at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I knew my bird was bad, but I didn't think it was molten-Nazi bad!  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

1092 - Pickle

This is the pickle we are all in.  Who knew it would be kinda cute? 

Friday, April 10, 2015

1091 - Bird's Nest Bread

Too late for traditional Easter and too early for orthodox Easter, I'm posting the picture of some holiday bread I made.  I'm pretty good at making braided bread, but have always failed at making decorative bread birds.  These little cheepers represent my highest achievement in bird-bread making, and were created using a simple technique from the The Old Country.  One bird, however, turned into such a staggeringly awful mess that I promise to feature it in three days' time in my Ungood Art section.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

1090 - Krots

"Krots" is "stork" spelled backwards.  I drew this krots for my wife's maternity newletter, but since it was the April Fool's edition, I changed things around a little. 

To see the original design, please check out JSVB Post #1285 by clicking here.