Artist David Colman (his blog, his website) has recently published a book, “The Art of Animal Character Design”. I just got my copy and overall I am very happy with it. Colman is extremely talented, and this 174-page hardcover book is filled with great eye-candy. While light on text (Colman’s writing is short and to the point, which I like), he sprinkles the book with great little tidbits of advice on character design. (One of my favorite quotes: “Drawing is more thinking than actual drawing.”) The sketches are loosely grouped in “chapters”, each of which focuses on a different aspect of good character design. Even if you are more of a “people artist” than an “animal artist”, you will find a lot of principles and tips that will apply to you as well. I should mention that there are a few sketches of the nude female form in the chapters “Humans and Animals” and “Creature Design”. Still, in terms of artistic inspiration and advice this book has a lot to offer.
I’ve had some pretty fun projects lately.
I spent my my teenage years in the small town of Waterville, MN, the Bullhead Capital of the World. Every summer they celebrate with Bullhead Days, a town festival complete with a parade, carnival rides, a fried bullheads stand on the corner, and a Miss Bullhead competition (well, they call it “Miss Waterville” but I say why break with the theme?) This year is Waterville’s 150th anniversary. I was given the honor of designing a button and t-shirts to be sold as a fundraiser. It’s a pro bono project so I couldn’t spend a ton of time on it, but this is what I came up with. (I didn’t realize this was the 150th anniversary until after I had completed the design, but they told me not to worry about it since the celebration will be rather low-key).
And in case you are wondering, the bullhead’s name is Barney. Barney got his start as a go-cart dressed up to look like a bullhead. The owner drives Barney in the parade each year, complete with mechanical swishing tail.
Who says small town life is boring?
Last week I finally completed the artwork for “Day of the Field Trip Zombies” for Stone Arch Books. This is now the sixth children’s book I’ve ever illustrated, but unlike the rest it is a “graphic novel” (fancy name for a comic book). It was a lot of fun, but having never pencilled, inked, and colored a graphic novel before it took a lot longer than other books I’ve done. If you think of each panel as its own illustration, this 32-page book has over 60 illustrations, and approximately 1/4 of them are “crowd scenes” (which for my definitition is 5 or more characters in one shot). I had to really rush at the end so I’m being very selective about which pages I’m showing. But it really was a lot of fun, and the illustrations should work fine for the target audience (young children).
I think the book will be out this fall.
I know I’ve probably beaten this topic to death, but I can’t resist. Here’s the best summary I’ve found yet…
Breaking news! There are some awesome new art classes being offered online…but you better sign up fast before all the spaces are filled. The current courses at the new website Schoolism.com include:
Digital Painting with Bobby Chiu
Character Design with Stephen Silver
Drawing the Female Figure with Alberto Ruiz
(I wouldn’t be surprised if more classes/instructors are eventually added).
These instructors are some of the top people in the biz. Each week there is a new lesson/demo presented as an online video tutorial which you can watch at your leisure. There are also weekly assignments, and (this is the best part) the instructors will give you a personalized one-on-one critique of your work every week (although I’m not sure how that will work. Chats? Phone calls? Video cam? You get a special schoolism.com mailbox when you sign up, so I’m guessing it will be an e-mail critique. But elsewhere on the site the critiques are referred to as “discussions” so who knows?). (EDIT: Instructor Stephen Silver writes on his blog that his students wll receive personal video feedback from me as I draw over top of your assignments.”
The classes aren’t cheap, but if you are serious about making your living as an artist this promises to be a good investment.
But you better hurry. Spots are filling up. For example, there are only fifteen spots for Stephen Silver’s character design class. Even though his particular class doesn’t start until August, registration just started yesterday and this afternoon I was already student number 9. Although I might have been the 9th student to sign up for any of the classes, or the 9th student for his specific class. Not sure. Either way, don’t dawdle.
Today I was at my local Barnes and Noble, and they had a neat little Moleskine display. For those who don’t know, Moleskine (pronounced mo-lay-skee-nay) are luxurious high-quality journals and sketchbooks produced in Europe, and they are a big fad right now in certain art circles. But for good reason. Most moleskine’s are nice, smooth drawing paper mounted with a classy cover, a cloth bookmark sown in, and an elastic band attached which protects the sketchbook by holding it closed (or open). Also, the pages lie flat when opened for easy scanning.
Like most small sketchbooks, they fit nicely in the large pockets of my winter jacket but are a bit clunky to carry around during the warmer months.
So I was delighted to see that my local Barnes and Noble now sells what I’ll call “moleskine minis”. You can get a package of three small, 64-page sketchbooks for about $7.00. 192 pages for $7 is not bad as art supplies go, and the books are small enough (3.5″ x 5.5″) to fit in the pocket of my jeans but not too small to do a decent sketch on each page.
Now I have no excuse not to draw whenever I’ve got a little down time. And I couldn’t be happier.
PS–If you browse the moleskine website, the sketchbooks are listed under “notebooks”. Instead of sketchbooks they’re called “plain notebooks”. Go figure.