Today’s word over at IllustrationFriday.com is “Captain”. It’s been a long time since I was able to take part, so I’m going to throw this against the wall and see if it sticks.
Here’s some early concept sketches I did for a publisher a while back. The project eventually evolved into something else and the character changed, so these sketches disappeared into my files. The superhero rabbit never got a name, so let’s call him Captain Carrot. There, now I’ve got something for Illustration Friday.
As I mentioned last week, I’m taking a character design class online from Stephen Silver at Schoolism.com. Last week’s lesson was on silhouettes. A strong character design will have a clear silhouette that is visually interesting, making the character instantly recognizable. To illustrate, I’ve taken Jafar from Aladdin and shaded him in. Notice how clearly everything reads:
Our assignment was to take Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and fill a page with little thumbnail silhouettes. We were told to play with shapes, trying to find a simple and clear design for the character. The good thing about doing fast little thumbnails is it forces you to think in broad, general terms and not get hung up on the details. When you are just concerned with the overall shape, your thought process can flow and brainstorm. The goal isn’t to do terrific sketches, its to get a lot of ideas onto the paper so that later you can develop the best ones. It’s a great exercise and I highly recommend it. In the future I hope to make it part of my process when designing characters for clients projects.
Here’s what I turned in:
Here’s a tip for all you Mac users with .Mac accounts. Apple charges $99 per year for the service, but you can get it at Amazon.com for only $79. I just renewed my .Mac account through Amazon and it worked. Saved twenty bucks.
Not a .Mac user? You might want to consider it. .Mac (pronounced “dot-mac”) is 10GB of storage on Apple’s servers that you can use in a wide variety of ways with simple Apple software that you probably already have on your Mac. It’s great for backing up data, publishing online (i.e. a website or your vacation photos), or syncing data on computers, for example.
I have a desktop mac and a laptop, and .Mac allows me to sync both computers so that iCal, Safari, and Address Book are the same on both machines (you can also sync Mail and Keychains if you want).
The service is not always stellar. I have my computers set to sync with each other every day automatically, but on my MacBook Pro there’s a glitch. I have to sync it manually. Apparantly this is a common problem. But at least I know my info is the same on both computers, especially iCal, which I use to manage all my projects and deadlines.
.Mac is also good for backup, storage, and sharing media. Each customer now gets 10GB of storage space online. Way more than I need for syncing, but great if you are publishing your own website through Apple, share photos and movies online, or want to back up a decent amount of data. (10GB isn’t even close to enough for me to back up all my computer graphics work, so I use external hard drives for that which I keep in rotation at a safe deposit box). But I do backup my Quicken files to .Mac, in an effort to help keep my business and personal life separate.
Give .Mac a looksee.
CreativePro.com is a great resource for, well, creative pros. They’ve got some helpful articles, and a free email newsletter called “CreativeProse” that almost always has at least one item/article that interests me enough to read. (Which, unfortunately, is not always the case with email newsletters.) Check out a couple of recent articles from a regular feature titled The Art of Business:
Winning Back Lost Clients
You can subscribe to the CreativeProse newsletter here.
Sad, sad news. From newsarama.com:
The comics industry lost a luminary this weekend – Mike Wieringo passed away Sunday of a sudden heart attack. Details are still sketchy as of this time, but according to close sources, the acclaimed artist had chest pains at some point during the day and called 911, but the responders did not make it in time.
Wieringo was 44 years old. He was a vegetarian, and “one of the healthiest ones of us in the bunch,” as his longtime friend and collaborator Todd Dezago described him. Currently, there are no details about services or a funeral.
I didn’t know Mike personally, but I was a big fan of his work and visited his blog often. He was an incredibly talented artist and, from what I understand, a really nice guy as well. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
A few months ago I was hired by Peter Green Design to develop some toy ideas to pitch to Disney. I was given a list of possible toys based on three Disney properties (Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and My Friends Tigger & Pooh) and asked to do a rough concept sketch for each. A few were chosen to be considered as official Disney toys, and I was asked to do cleaned-up color versions of those roughs.
From there they went on to Disney. I’m told there’s a chance a few of them may actually make it into the production pipeline. With any luck, we may see something in stores by Christmas.
Either way, it was great fun to finally work with some Disney properties. Designing toys, I found out, is almost as fun as playing with them.
My friend Sherwin Schwartzrock is a super-talented illustrator, designer, and comic book artist. He does it all, and all very well. He’s one of those guys whose work really raises the bar for the rest of us…which means I have to work harder to try and keep up. He recently started a blog, and now he has finally updated his website with loads of brand new content. Stop on by, you’ll be glad you did.
I’m currently taking a character design class online through Schoolism.com. My instructor is Stephen Silver, a brilliant character designer with a long list of credits in TV animation.
Our first assignment was to create a character called Fat Joe, so that Stephen could get an idea of where each student’s skill level is. The description of Fat Joe was given to us as follows:
You are to design a concept sketch of Fat Joe based on the play, The Long Voyage Home. Take it as far as you like.
SCENE—The bar of a low dive on the London water front—a squalid, dingy room dimly lighted by kerosene lamps placed in brackets on the walls At the far end of the bar stands Fat Joe, the proprietor, a gross bulk of a man with an enormous stomach. His face is red and bloated, his little piggish eyes being almost concealed by rolls of fat. The thick fingers of his big hands are loaded with cheap rings and a gold watch chain of cable-like proportions stretches across his checked waistcoat.
I didn’t know much about The Long Voyage Home (i.e. time period, storyline, etc.), and I couldn’t find much visual reference on the internet. As far as I can tell, it has something to do with fishermen (the kind that wear wool coats and stocking caps), and that John Wayne starred in the movie version.
Fat Joe is described as a dapper Englishman (waistcoat, jewelry, gold watch, etc.), but in my mind I couldn’t picture the owner of a “low dive” that is “squalid and dingy” being such a classy dresser. But that turned out to be a good challenge as it forced me to really think through the character. Who is this guy? Why does he dress that way if he runs such a dumpy, greasy establishment? Is he a back-room mafia type who owns the place but doesn’t run it? Is he a washed-up socialite? Is he a B-list scoundrel trying to impress people with the one greasy suit that he owns? The more I thought about him, the more I wanted to play around and explore possibilities.
Unfortunately, time is not a luxury for me right now. I’d love to have spent several days on this assignment, but I did the best I could with the few hours I had. I don’t think I nailed the character. I certainly would have liked to keep playing and experimenting. But for now I’m fairly happy with how the first drawing turned out (although he looks more French than English). The fourth one isn’t bad either.
Recently I was hired to develop a cartoon dog character for a chain of gas stations. The final design was just completed, but I can’t post it until it has been made public. However, these concept sketches were ultimately not chosen so I feel pretty safe posting them.
There’s a “tag-your it” game going around the internet. The challenge is to list five of your weirdest habits. I haven’t been officially tagged by anyone, but I wanna play anyway. Here’s my five (as if you needed any more proof that I’m not normal):
1. I like to eat my cereal dry, with no milk. Soggy cereal = yuck.
2. When I’m making conversation and start gesturing, I have this unconscious habit of reaching up with my left hand and giving a quick tug on the seam on my left shoulder. I have no idea why I do this. Maybe I’m trying to shoo away the invisible parrot that keeps whispering cynical comments in my ear.
3. My sleep cycle is a mess. I can’t seem to go more than a few weeks on a “normal” schedule. Eventually I go through a persistent bout of insomnia, and finally I give in and wind up working nights for several days. Then my body “crashes” and I go back to normal. My wife is a saint for putting up with it. The really strange part is that I often do my best creative work during those night shifts.
4. Whenever I’m in a Wal-Mart or Target, I feel a compulsion to browse the DVDs. Even if I have no intention of buying anything, I still have to hover there for a few minutes.
5. I can recite all fifty states alphabetically, in order. When I was in elementary school our music teacher had us sing a song that put all the states to music, from A to Z. For some reason the tune stuck, and I can still sing the whole thing. Although I rarely get asked to at parties.
There you go. Other than those five things, I am completely normal. (Pause.) Quiet, Polly! You’ll get your cracker in a minute.