My friends in the band Swingset Showdown recently funded their debut album “Short Bus Ruckus” with Kickstarter, and hooked up with me to do the album art. These are the cats who made my theme song, so how could I refuse?
Swingset Showdown’s stuff is boisterous, tongue-in-cheek music that has more intricacy than it should, considering its juvenile nature. I wanted to capture that, so a major inspiration came from Jack Davis. His album covers had an overstimulating, to0-much-going-on quality to them that made their entertainment value last beyond the first glance.
Another concept I love for this sorta thing is doing flat compositions, where you’re almost looking at the scene like it’s a trompe l’oeil. Rockwell did this a bunch. The nice thing is that, since you commit to a flat perspective, you can focus on the silhouette and flow of a picture rather than whether your perspective math is correct.
After several such roadside scenes were used to make the album art, I turned them into a long landscape, and used that to make a polar panorama.
And then when you pull the CD back… (Explosion made in Blender, because I have no soul.)
I had a lot of fun working with them, and the album turned out great. Come see them get down at their CD release party on Saturday, Dec. 15th at the High Dive!
P.S. No Seabug in January, as I’ll be on baby hiatus.
P.P.S Jack Davis & Norman Rockwell copyright blah blah blah.
Tonight I was watching The Wire and doodling the occasional character, and thought I’d explain why I mostly sketch with an unusual tool.
Mechanical drafting pencils are awesome. They give you the softness and flexible line weight of a wood pencil. But unlike wood pencils, sharpening them has way less mess, and way less “dangit!” moments of breaking the lead right when you have the sharpness perfect. And who needs sharpening? These babies give you the instant lead benefits of a mechanical pencil. You can also use a favorite technique of mine for mechanical pencils: extend the lead overlong, shade at an angle, and the long lead will force you to draw light or break the tip. (This, IMHO, is an awesome way to learn how to draw on a bumpy bus ride.)
Nowadays I don’t often sharpen thanks to an economy of strokes. Here’s a McNolte caricature, and at this point my lead’s gone blunt.
At this point, I don’t grab my sharpener; rather, I start blocking in with an angled pencil.
(This is a blatant homage to J.C. Leyendecker. My theory is he blocked in to resharpen his tools as well.)
Once I’ve done a first pass I go in closer, refining my edges to be crisp. And what do I have at this point?
An incredibly sharp pencil tip, perfect for refining the silhouette and adding the final details.
There’s two downsides to mechanical drafting pencils. First, they’re expensive ($8) so don’t lose them. I bent this one’s arm out so its awkward shape would keep it conspicuous. Second, their lead choice is limited at most art stores, no darker than 2B. But I was able to find 4B lead on the internet, and that pack has lasted for ages.
Anyhoo, I’m writing and posting this from the WordPress android app, so forgive any horrible quirks.
In my spare time I’ve been messing around with oil painting recently, and one time-honored technique is that of the cartoon. Although its modern meaning points to animation, the term originates from the technique of inking a drawing as an initial paint layer. Since you paint oils in transparent layers that become increasingly opaque, this lets you put down initial layers, and once it’s dry you can still grasp the concept of the inked drawing through the earlier transparent layer, until finally it disappears.
Here’s a self portrait I recently started. Among things I ought to have done with this initial layer include painting a monochrome grisaille rather than working in a variety of color (and arguably too much detail), but since I was painting on top of failed previous attempt I dove ahead, just to have fun and not waste a practice board.
Because I still use drawing techniques as a crutch, I wanted to try methods of cartoon with a pen instead of a brush. I’m curious to see if it has negative results in the longevity of the painting. And if it’s eventually covered with opaque paint, is it possible nobody will notice? Are certain pens less damaging? Are some usable on canvass, some on boards? MANY earlier things I’ve tried failed to take to the art board’s slick surface. Indeed, it’s possible this pen only did so because it was painted on the failed oils of an older project.
After a day of drying, since I was painting on a flat board (thus meaning brush strokes occasionally scraped through unpleasantly) I went in and blended certain edges, and buffed out some brush artifacts. I couldn’t do this the day before, but after a day of drying the paint was sticky and tacky, allowing for a finger to blend adequately. Had I done this the day before, a finger would have mopped paint away far too much, showing the failed painting beneath. But another side effect I noticed was worthy of note: As the paint dried, it became more transparent. Perhaps this means initial layers can be painted more opaquely without fear of losing your structural data. The day before this photo was taken, the cartoon was significantly less visible.
Final note: although I draw almost every day, I usually wait til half a sketchbook, then upload the good stuff. However, I often take crappy phone pictures and upload them to Facebook. Isn’t this the place for daily progress? Hence, I plan to upload many more daily crappy blog posts. (And I can still sort the future good stuff into the Sketches section of this wordpress, eh?)
Sketching. What lies beyond it? When does one jump into the world of color, of rendering, of painting?
I’ve painted digitally, with one big complaint: if you can’t put it on your wall, who cares? It is not yet tangible.
As a result, I’ve been diving into oil painting. With the aid of an amazing book (Traditional Oil Painting by Virgil Elliott) I feel like the amount of progress I’ve made has been wonderful. Stay tuned for my first oil painting worth looking at by the public!
In the meantime, I’ve been keeping a journal of oil painting notes as I go. Here’s the main entries so far:
First off : Seabug is Saturday! So come hang out and talk Blender with Blender people.
Been caricaturing more. It’s hard to nail down a formula. There’s a clear difference between drawing a funny anonymous face, and drawing a funny face that looks more like Tony Danza than a Tony Danza photograph. Been trying to formalize a process, and at the very least here’s the ideas I’ve got so far.
Anyway, blah blah blah, talky art crap.
Here’s my Krita talk from LinuxFest Northwest. Enjoy!