Monday, October 31, 2016

1300 - "Jeff-O-Nomicon"

Yay!  I am a published author now!  Of course, I had to self-publish.  And I also typeset and illustrated all the pages, printed them, and bound them myself.  So there's only one copy of my book, and - full disclosure - it's more or less a fan-made copy of another book:
The Necronomicon Ex Mortis.  Legend has it written by the Dark Ones.  Roughly translated - "The Book Of The Dead".  The book served as a passageway to the evil worlds beyond.  It was written long ago, when the seas ran red with blood. It was this blood that was used to ink the book.  In the Year 1300 AD, the book... disappeared.  
So I made one of my own, hooray!  I know some crazy kids from Michigan also stumbled upon another possibly apocryphal copy, but I can't imagine how their story could be any more interesting than mine.  
If you haven't been following JSVB for the past while, please click on the following links to see the previous One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six steps I took to hand-build my own Necronomicon, reasonably faithful to the one featured in the Evil Dead movies.  Click on any image to embiggen it: 

The seventh and final step was the painting, sealing, and binding.  I took my baked Necronomicon cover and spray painted it matte black.  Yes, it looks shiny in the picture.  I could have made a better choice with my paints.  I spray-painted the inside cover as well, which obliterated the library mark from Lansdowne Elementary School, as well as covering my duct tape repairs.  

I painted over the black paint with student-grade acrylics.  I used burnt umber and black to make a series of muddy, leathery browns.


Again, the colours are bright and shiny, but acrylic darkens when it dries.  I started by dry-brushing the colour on and using careful washes and layering, but the pigments I used were ultra-cheap, so I slathered on the paint like it was cake icing.  

It took a night for the paint to dry.  I returned my Necronomicon to its lair in the garage to spray matte acrylic fixative on my paint:

Once again, the Necronomicon smelled horrible.  I cannot imagine exposure to these chemicals was good for me.  But then again, now I have my own Necronomicon!  

The ultimate step was to bind the pages.  I cut a long strip of thick cardboard to match the inside of the book spine in length and width.  I used hot glue (Smells bad? Check!) to fasten the cardboard to the inside of the book.  I stapled the printed, coffee-coloured pages together and hot glued the edge of the folio to the cardboard backing, making the crudest binding possible.  I didn't take any pictures of the process since it required at least three out of my two hands to achieve.  Imagine a big fat guy swearing in the wee hours of the night at hot glue that dries before the pieces are pressed together and you get the idea.  

Below is the picture of the final product, a fully-functional Necronomicon Ex Mortis (but please do not use the incantations lest you invoke possession by Kandarian demons!).  I wouldn't play with it much as it is a little fragile, but then the book in the movie got ripped to pieces anyways.  Scary!

 Today is both Hallowe'en and my 1300th JSVB post!  Normally, every one hundred posts, I like to share one of my larger art projects that turned out well.  I hope you enjoyed following me as I built my Necronomicon decorative prop!  Happy Hallowe'en!


Friday, October 28, 2016

1299 - Homemade Necronomicon VI

Out of the twenty pages for my homemade Necronomicon, these are the final five.  I hand-made several of the arcane markings, and to save time, I borrowed a few from the Internet.  I tried to stay away from images that were too dark and occult as I did not want my Necronomicon to be evil enough to worship.  

I also drew some of the narrative from the Evil Dead 2 movie (1987).  If you look carefully, you can find that the events that happen to the characters are also illustrated in the pages of the Necronomicon they find in the woods.  So leafing through my Necronomicon will also gave you an idea of what happens in the movie.

Click on any image to embiggen:

The only thing I regret not illustrating is a scene in Evil Dead 2 when the Witch propels Jake the Hillbilly headlong into a ceiling light bulb.  I recall back in the early 1990's visiting my friend Earl who at the time was living in his parents' basement.  We howled with laughter watching the film.  At the end of the night in my car as I pulled out of Earl's parents' driveway, I saw Earl in the living room window pantomiming the Witch and Jake and the light bulb: he was explaining to his parents exactly why we were making such a ruckus in the basement.  As long as I live, I'll never forget Earl's little one-man show, nor the look of utter perplexity veneered with permanent unconditional love which was a common enough expression on the faces of his parents.  


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

1298 - Homemade Necronomicon V

I have for you another batch of my homemade Necronomicon pages.  

The writing is Photoshop Lorem Ipsum, which is a nonsense text generator in Adobe that cranks out paragraphs to fill page layouts.  The words are mostly Latin and are largely meaningless.

The typeface is Aceh Darusalam by Gunarta.  It's a phoney Arabic font with English letters fashioned to look Persian.  

Click on any image to embiggen:


Monday, October 24, 2016

1297 - Homemade Necronomicon IV

This is the next batch of images for Necronomicon pages.  According to lore, the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred wrote his Book Of The Dead in his own blood and bound the book in flesh.  Yuck, right?  Abul Alhazred was the name H.P. Lovecraft made up for himself as a child.  I'm not sure whether I should be impressed or frightened by that.  Take your pick.

Instead of flesh and blood, I used an Epson colour printer and cheap printer paper.  I thought I had tested the ink for runs when wet, but as I recall I had tested an HP printer.  Epson ink will run a little if it gets wetted.  The cheap paper ran like Usain Bolt.  So, next Necronomicon I make, if I survive the process, I will include a special curse for Dunder Mifflin.  From now on, I will buy the highest quality printer paper I can find. 

Click on any image to embiggen:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

1296 - Homemade Necronomicon III

Continuing my series on building my homemade Necronomicon, I'll show you the pages I made for my Book Of The Dead.  There's twenty in all, so I will break up the presentation into parts so that my dear JSVB readers aren't overwhelmed by the occult (especially the ones that follow my iconography.  Gee: I kind of swing wildly between good and evil in my art, don't I?). 

Click on any of the images to embiggen them. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

1295 - Homemade Necronomicon II

I thought they smelled bad on the outside!

I am continuing my JSVB posts on making my own homemade Necronomicon, or Book Of The Dead.

Once I fashioned the Super Sculpey into an evil face on the front cover of my Necronomicon and an evil spine on the back...  ("What is that?!" my wife demands.  I tell her: "Don't you know?  All books have spines!"  She leaves me alone for the rest of the day after that, which is just as well all things considered) ... I had to bake the Sculpey to harden it.  That meant putting the entire book into the oven.  

Super Sculpey should be baked for around half an hour at around 250 degrees.  I did this a day after applying the turpentine so that the turpentine would have a chance to dry.  Even so, I filled the house with the characteristic reek of overheated Necronomicon.  It was very fortunate (or evil) that my wife was out of the house long enough for me to use all of the fans on full to dissipate the odor.  

Pro tip: cheap duct tape melts when baked at 250 degrees for around half an hour.  A good example is the cheap duct tape I used to repair the book when I made a crooked cut taking out its original pages with a circular saw.  The tape goo melted onto the oven rack.  I was able to scrape the tape goo off before my wife returned home, thank the Necronomicon.  Or thank goodness, take your pick. 

Since I had the oven on, I decided to do some more baking.  I know the method for easily creating paper that looks ancient by soaking the pages in coffee and baking them dry.  

First you have to make coffee, which for me is the hardest step.  I don't drink coffee at all.  I've only made three cups in my lifetime, and after the last one my father (who I made the coffee for) made me swear upon my honour never to make another cup of coffee again.  


So here on the stove is a pot of art pigment, and not coffee.  Once cooled, I poured it into a baking tray and submerged my Necronomicon pages.  I was careful to wet both sides of the paper, but I did not leave the sheets in to soak as I wanted them to dry quickly.  

I baked the paper on a clean cookie tray at 420 degrees, which seemed to be just right to dry the paper in two minutes without scorching (that happens at 451 degrees, apparently). Once all four corners lifted off of the sheet, I knew the paper was done.  


Friday, October 21, 2016

1294 - Homemade Necronomicon I

Hallowe'en approaches, and this year my wife and I decided to spend some money on costumes and decorations.  One item I dearly wanted to get is something that isn't easily bought or sold: a Necronomicon, or Book Of The Dead.  

Originally a fearsome invention by H.P. Lovecraft (an item that Lovecraft based on his own bizarre research into the occult), the Necronomicon has gone from a grimoire of dark witchery to a pop culture icon thanks to the popular "Evil Dead" franchise of horror-comedy movies, games, and TV shows.  

That's pretty much the Necronomicon I want.  Last year, I took my wife to see "Evil Dead: The Musical" (please click here to see JSVB Post #1076), and they had a really nice Necronomicon stage prop.  I guess that's where I figured, "if they can do it, I can too".  

There are a few guides on how to build your own Necronomicon on the Internet.  I stayed away from the ones that would be powerful enough to conjure demons and settled for one by knowledgeable Reid Carter, who built his own Necronomicon in the likeness of the one in the movies. 

My art supplies at hand were different from Mr. Carter's, so I diverged from his course wherever I had to to keep my budget down and my sanity up.  

The first step was to re-purpose an old book.  I had this one on my shelf for years, and it happens to be really close to standard paper size which was helpful since I wanted to use standard paper from my desktop printer.  The cover is a bit shiny, so I decided to sand it down with rough sandpaper to make it rough.

Sanding off the shiny part was strange.  I ended up peeling off the entire cover, which left a very rough composite of cloth and paper underneath.  It's sort of like the material for bandaging a mummy.  Although it was very fibrous, the "new" cover has an organic-looking texture, which should help.

Oh yeah, and the book was filled with pages I no longer needed.  I decided to cut them all out en masse.  I know now from experience: you haven't defiled a book until you've cut out all its pages using an electric circular saw.  Unfortunately I'm lousy with power tools, so my cut was not straight and I ended up damaging the book's spine.  I fixed it with duct tape.  Hooray for duct tape!  I put the discarded pages in recycling.  Now the garbage collectors can read about potato production in Peru, but some benighted Grade Seven schoolkid cannot (for it was also a library book that I gutted.  Evil, yes, yes, I know, I know already).

The next step was to apply the features using Super Sculpey polymer clay.  Sculpey is tremendous since it's pliable and workable until you bake it.  Then it hardens into plastic.  

That's what I recall from art school, anyways, which was around twenty years ago.  I bought a box of Sculpey for use in class back then but never opened it until today.  When I did unseal it, I found a brick rather than malleable clay.  I guess it hardens on its own if you leave it to sit long enough, say for decades.  

I softened the Sculpey bit by bit using a meat tenderizer.  Note the flesh tone of the Sculpey as I mallet it into submission.  BANG! BANG! BANG!  Maybe a thousand times.  My wife knew I was holed up in the garage making my Necronomicon, but she wasn't prepared for all that hammering.  Although the process was slow and painful (and as I found out later, completely unneccesary), I did get my entire box of Sculpey just barely soft enough to work on without spraining my hand.  

Here's the thing: right after I did all that banging around with the tenderizer, I checked online to see how to soften Super Sculpey.  Apparently all you have to do is add a little baby oil.  Sheesh.  Now you tell me.   

So here's the features of the Necronomicon  fused to the book.  Super Sculpey isn't super sticky, so I had to press it carefully onto the book.  I think I made the features too thick.  If I had more Sculpey, I could have covered the entire surface instead of just the main features.  On the other hand, Sculpey is surprisingly heavy, and I was impressed with how heavy my book had become.  Or alarmed, take your pick. 

Turpentine thins out Sculpey.  I brushed on the turpentine to smooth out my rough lines and used wire tools to make creases and wrinkles.  You want to know a secret about Necronomicons that they never mention in the movies?  

They Smell Bad.

The reek of turpentine, duct tape glue, polymer clay, and wet book makes a smell that is both unforgettable and instantly recognizeable as belonging solely to a Necronomicon.  So, if you follow my blundering footsteps into making your own Necronomicon project, do it someplace that has proper ventilation.  

My eye was sore all the next day.  I don't know for certain why, but I can guess. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

1293 - Senescent Sidewinder

This dusty old Microsoft SIdewinder  gamepad surfaced in a pile of stuff when I was looking for something else.  A few days later, the topic of old game controllers came up, and I realized I had one in my hands.  

It's not worth anything.  It's a precursor to the XBOX controller, but was designed for simpler games.  There's not enough controls to do anything fun like drive a car or fly an airplane, and all of the controls are just digital buttons: no analog sticks and definitely no analog directional pad.  

I need a picture of the thing for an illustration on an article on old game controllers.  I considered cleaning out the dust, but the dust may be worth more than the gamepad.  


Monday, October 17, 2016

1292 - Nativity 2 - III

This version of the Nativity has me continuing to block out colours.  They're really cartoony now, but as I go I want the palette to get darker and darker.   

I've caught the cold that's going around, so I haven't been very active in, well, anything that isn't strictly related to either snot or sore throats.  People have been kind enough to donate to me old books on iconography that they have collected.  Being too sick to get out of the house, I've had the opportunity to look through them.  I'm learning a lot about the Russian method even though that's not really what I do.  


Thursday, October 13, 2016

1291 - "The Agony Booth"

So: explanations.

Today is Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  On the thirteenth day of every month, I post a piece of art that I made that started out well but somehow went Ungood.  Every artist has their off-days, but not many of us will make a showcase out of them.  

I have a very rare video of Ungood Art, although not so rare if you take into account all of the footage of me I've ever made in front of a camera.  I am a terrible actor, and I tend to look like a foolish idiot on screen.  It's much rarer that I appear rational and nonchalant, so that's why I seldom allow have any footage of myself to be made available.  

Not long ago, I brought my wife and my brother-in-law to the big Star Trek exhibit at the Museum of Science Fiction in Seattle, a great show for geeks like me.  At the museum, they have a video booth with a display and a camera that intercuts the viewer into the famous scene in Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan (1982) where Kirk become hopelessly trapped by his nemesis Khan.  Or as we all know it: "Kha-a-a-a-a-n-n-n!!!".  What happens in the booth is you see the scene as it was played out in the movie, and then you see the scene again except you the viewer are spliced seamlessly into the event, completely replacing Kirk.  It's pretty funny, since afterwards as you stroll through the museum periodically you'll hear the bloodcurdling scream of a man, woman, or child calling out Khan's name.  

This video depicts my attempt to supplant William Shatner.  It's small and kind of fuzzy since my wife graciously shot what she saw on the television screen.  The audio is also a little off, and I blame technology and human civilization before I would call into question my ability to act on cue.  

Ladies and gentlemen, I present my turn in the Agony Booth:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1290 - "Happy Birthday, Princess!"

Happy Birthday to my loving wife: The Force is strong with us!


Full disclosure:

1) Today isn't my lovely wife's birthday, tomorrow is.  But tomorrow I plan to feature a colossal Ungood Art piece for Ungood Art Day, since that day is always the thirteenth of the month on JSVB.

2) Leia and Han are Star Wars characters and remain the intellectual product of Disney.  I saw a similiar design on a greeting card and figured I could do better, which I did.

3) Leia and Han's dialogue, simple as it is, has to be the high point of blockbuster science-fiction writing.  It's the point where the characters are the most grounded, human, and relatable in the entire run of the Star Wars movies, and in science fiction in general.  While Luke develops strange wizard-like powers to be able to confront Darth Vader, Han slowly realizes that he has become part of the Rebel community, something that starts in A New Hope (1977) and runs through The Empire Strikes Back (1980).  Luke becomes supernatural, which leaves Han as the character we depend upon to be the most human.  

This is also the point where Han stops worrying about himself and begins to worry more about Leia.  When the Millenium Falcon lands on the deck of the Bespin mine, his fate and the fates of his friends are all sealed. Throughout the first part of the film, Han faces great danger, but he is able to hang on using wit and devious imagination.  On Bespin, Han is completely outmatched by the forces of evil, and too late he realizes his tactical error.  His last remaining act is to assure his loved ones that hope and love are not extinct.  He finally finds someone he treasures more than money, ambition, and his own life itself.

Really, that's the way we all need to go if we want to see our names and more importantly the names of our loved ones in the opening credits of the sequel.  


Sunday, October 9, 2016

1289 - Exercises In Futility

"I need a grid to keep track of my daily exercises," my wife tells me.

I look at her effort to create a matrix on Excel.  It resembles semi-random cubist abstract art; Mondrian would have been proud.  I set about to make something more useful:
Click to embiggen.

I show her my work, but somehow she fails to be impressed by it.  I've forgotten she isn't nearly as much of a fan of The Three Stooges as I am.  

The images were sourced from various exercise manuals I found on the Internet, so there's no way to be able to acknowledge the original artists because these manuals never ever provide art credits.  I used Photoshop to make a couple of subtle alterations to the pictures anyways. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

1288 - Bloused Cuff Over Boot

The conversation turned to how to "blouse" a pants cuff over a boot, as I knew it would, so it was a good thing beforehand that I had drawn a quick sketch to illustrate my point.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

1287 - Peanuts Weather Report

Marshalled by firmament
Sheep-like clouds herd
And cluster darkening:
Overcast chills countryside
And city bounds alike.
Sly SkaĆ°i exhales -
Leaves curl, winds howl, 
Flakes drift from a sifted sky
And freeze into manifold
Abundant numbers inversely 
Proportional to their individual size.

Meanwhile, it's sunny and warm here.
I'm thinking the lawn needs mowing,
But maybe we'll just sing and dance.
Just how bad are our aubades anyways? 


My brother-in-law went travelling this week and was surprised by snow.  What kind of a Canadian is he, anyways, that snow should come as a surprise?   His online grumblings inspired today's JSVB post, which in turn has us featured at Peanuts-style characters, as could have been drawn by Charles Shultz.  JSVB is indebted to Mr. Shultz' draftsmanship.  

While we can complain about our weather, those stricken by Hurricane Matthew are not as lucky as us.  When the Red Cross calls for for international aid, we can be good citizens and assist them with our donations which will go directly towards life-saving supplies.  We can help!