Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Black and White

I have five black and white drawings in a show at Compound Gallery in Portland, opening this Thursday. I was asked by Chris Stevens to illustrate the title pages for a comics anthology he had written but has yet to be published. The original artwork is ink and acrylic on bristol, 9 1/2" x 12 1/4" for $800 each. Please contact the gallery @ 503.796.2733 for scans of the original artwork and to purchase.

> I tried to keep my approach simple, since I didn't want the art to compete with the interior art. These illustrations are meant to evoke the feeling of the story but not repeat the imagery drawn by each cartoonist.

> I was happy to draw an introductory spread to a story by my old friend, Farel Dalrymple. I thought I had drawn those buildings loosely, but they turned out to look overly photographic.

> These drawings were all blocked out in Photoshop, just rough shapes to establish the black and white. I lightboxed the shapes onto bristol and painted without much sketching, unlike my usual process.

> I had some trouble with this particular piece because I used matte medium to seal the drawing in, whereas the other pieces were sealed with gloss medium. Consequently, the blacks weren't as deep and crisp and didn't scan very well.

> The ear is my favorite part of this drawing. I had complete freedom with these title spreads, and it was a pleasure to loosen up and keep things simple for a change.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fables 52 - Pinocchio

For the 52nd cover to Fables, I was told to depict a conflicted Pinocchio and Gepetto in a forest. Also, there was going to be a backup story featuring Rapunzel and one of the Crow brothers, so I was asked to incoporate that somehow into the image. Unfortunately, Vertigo didn't send me a script to read for this issue, but I tried to expand upon the concise information I was given.

> graphite on bond, 5.5 x 8.5" NFS.

My first sketch depicted father and son gathering wood while Rapunzel's hair cascades down the background. I liked this sketch, so I was disappointed to hear that Bill Willingham envisioned something quite different and wanted to feature Pinocchio more prominently. My natural inclination was to avoid melodrama and focus on the interaction between characters -- the feeling and composition created by the position of limbs, the direction of a gaze. In this case, the drama of the piece is diminished by its indirectness, ie the way the gaze is pointed into the picture plane rather than outward, the characters gathering/chopping wood rather than expressing explicit emotion, and the surreality of the hair.

> graphite on bond, 5.5 x 8.5" SOLD

The second sketch was far more direct, but unfortunately it didn't leave room conceptually and compositionally for Rapunzel's hair, which was something I hated to lose in the first sketch. But it was approved, and I blew up the sketch by printing it onto 4 letter size sheets, measuring 14 x 21".

> acrylic on grey Rives BFK, 15 x 22" NFS

I transferred the drawing onto a sheet of paper, drew the figure in blue pencil, fixed and coated the drawing with acrylic gloss medium, and proceeded to paint. At this point, I had figured out that I would incoporate the Rapunzel element in the logo and decided to paint it in rather than make another drawing and paste it in Photoshop. The colors were mostly ivory black, white liquitex gesso, and titanium white. I wish I had used some reference for the wrinkles in the clothing, but I was pressed for time, and finished the painting in a day.

> Photoshop, 7 x 10.5" @ 500dpi

After some quick color balance and level adjustments in Photoshop, I was done. I actually prefer the pre-manipulated version, but it wouldn't work very well in print. "Not enough contrast," as the cover police at Vertigo would say.

> Close-up on Pinocchio's face.

There's not much paint on the face, and a fair bit of the paper (coated with some transparent ochre for texture) shows through. Actually, this could act as an underpainting for a much more rendered and fully realized painting. I've always liked the directness and simple means of underpaintings, (Mark Tansey's work comes to mind), and sometimes the beginnings of paintings are more fresh and full of life than the finished product.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Wired Magazine - Crowdsourcing

Wired Magazined asked me to illustrate a double page spread about "crowdsourcing," the concept of harnessing the power of the crowd for industries ranging from stock photography to techonological research. The benefits of the crowd are evident the implementation of open-source software like Linux, but the crowd can also squeeze out professional photographers by providing cheap stock solutions uploaded to large databases comprised of amateur snapshots.

> graphite on bond.

I immediately thought of depicting the crowd as a 1000 armed beast rising from the sea, threatening and powerful. I took inspiration from these amazing Buddhist statues I saw at Rengeo-in Sanjusagen-do Temple in Japan.

> graphite on bond.

The first sketch seemed too stiff, and I thought that the props were distracting and confusing, especially since this beast was organized to tackle just one task. So despite the multitude of heads and arms, I redrew the whole thing, if only to shift the weight on its hips a few inches.

> blue pencil and white chalk on grey Rives BFK, 15 x 22"

I love drawing hands. After having drawn hundreds of hand studies in my sketchbooks, drawing hands from imagination comes easily.

> 11.5 x 16.75" @ 450 dpi, Photoshop CS. (Click the image for a larger image).

I really enjoyed finishing up this piece. Unfortunately, the editor at Wired thought the coloring was too morbid and wanted to depict the crowdsourcing beast in a better light, so this is the not the final version that will appear in print.