Sunday, May 31, 2009

TAGS August 16 & 17, 1993

08/16: Monster schooled on dream logic.
08/17: Polly has doubts about cartoonists.

August 16, 1993: Brayn, the floating brain plays butler to Monster's imaginary dinner date, and is approaching a point of boredom fore the lack of anything interesting happening - that is until... MURDER! Well, we'll see how that plays out.
Monster's dinner jacket, by the way, is modeled after the Beast's from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast."

August 17, 1993: Fern (kangaroo) makes her first TAGS appearance as the sounding board for Polly's (penguin) deliberation who makes the none too subtle but accurate supposition that cartoonists are inclined to write about things they do and people they know.

120 [m ] - Trippy

Tripp Elementary Mascot - design A
20.32 cm x 17.78 cm (8.00 in. x 7.00 in)
Digital color over scan of brush ink.

Tripp Elementary Mascot - design B
17.78 cm x 25.40 cm (7.00 in. x 10.00 in)
Digital color over scan of brush ink.

Last year I took on a small assignment to design a mascot for Trip elementary school, a ram.

As with many clients, the job begins with very few parameters, and it's not until the end when you find out what they like and dislike, after many iterations. In truth, there wasn't a lot of revision on this assignment, but I still developed these two versions (one a quadruped, the other more anthropomorphic) to final and in 3 color schemes each on what basically was a one design assignment.

After seven years with Cartoon Network, I still haven't (or won't) shake off that Disney style.

Earlier this year, I "competed" the assignment by creating vector versions of these for their near infinite scalability.

Can't say I love the vector-izing jobs.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Champagne Bunny (the Birthday Squirrel)
Red Col-Erase pencil and blue roller-ball ink on copier paper.
12.70 cm x 10.16 cm (5.00 in. x 4.00 in.)
May 2009
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Made of Might

Red Col-Erase pencil and black ball point pen ink on paper.
21.95 cm x 27.94 cm (8.50 in. x 11.00 in)

Digital ink and color.

detail from "Supergirl"
Digital ink and color.

I thought I'd take a break and scan and color something from my sketch book. Over 15 man-hours later and this is all I have to show.

The sketch is "finished" with a black ballpoint pen, and demonstrates the intentional omission of the her far left arm still visible in red pencil. Because ball point pens aren't very precise drawing instruments, I made the terrible mistake of doing a vector ink of the figure just to achieve cleaner lines.

Vector art is a way of creating images with lines and curves as defined by paths calculatedbetween points. The basic idea is thus, if you know the co-ordinates of each of two points on a plane (simulating your paper), and you know the angle and "speed" ("Speed" is my way of describing how strongly the path follows the angle at the point) that the path leaves point "A" and the angle and "speed" the path arrives point "B", then the computer can calculate the resulting path and draw it. In a dot-to-dot fashion the path can define a shape and that shape can be filled with a color. Vector art, is then comprised of lots of such paths and shapes. Adobe Illustrator® is the most popular commercial program for making vector art.

By contrast, the other popular method of creating digital images is as raster art. The basic idea of raster art is that the image is created with a fine grid of squares, each square filled with a different color. Your computer monitor is probably displaying a grid near 72 line-per-inch (lpi). All digital cameras, still and video necessarily record raster images.

The main problem for me with vector art is that I get lost in the details. A given point has its co-ordinates defined to the 1,000th of an inch, but at 6400% enlargement, there is still enough space between 0.000 and 0.001 to fit in at least ten more points. Regardless of the actual resolution possible with the program, 1,000th of an inch is close to 14 times finer than screen resolution and about 7 times the resolution of a 150 dot-per-inch (d.p.i.) image in a magazine.

So for some 12 hours, broken up here and there, I'm lost in this virtual mirco-space that possibly to which no other human is neither privy nor cares. Additionally, if I decide to play more with the image with added lighting effects of highlights and shading, I will mostly likely do so in Adobe Photoshop®, a raster program.

It wasn't a completely futile exercise, however. One day I will reap it's benefits in the same way that a DVD copy of "Mean Girls" is certain to... eventually.

Supergirl and "S" shield TM & © DC Comics.

Monday, May 4, 2009

TAGS August 09 & 10, 1993

08/09: Monster at a loss.

08/10: Monster benched.

August 09, 1993: It's you and your crush alone and any thing you can imagine can happen, and for Monster it's... running out of ideas. Polly promptly falls asleep and the candle melts away. Brayn (floating brain) doesn't really have any more ideas than Monster.

August 10, 1993: Rudy (pig) makes her first TAGS appearance as a tag-along to a curious Polly (penguin) who only four strips ago was presented with the idea that Monster liked her. Monster mumbles the reprise from 08/09, “Don’t pressure me.”

120 [m ] - Up at Sunset

Star Wars the Clone Wars, Sunset Blvd. Billboard concepts.

Concept 1.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper with digital color.

Concept 2.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper.

Concept 3.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper.

Concept 4.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper with digital color.

Concept 5.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper with digital color.

Concept 6a.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper.

Concept 6b.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper with digital color.

Again, like all the Clone Wars marketing the Cartoon Network did and will do, the Sunset Boulevard billboard ad buy would be dependent on available characters and backgrounds from Lucas Films.

Here is a sampling of thumbnails I did from a brainstorm meeting of the creative team.

The ad buy was for a billboard in Los Angeles to be up from four to six weeks across the premiere date of the series. Most of the emphasis was to tease the series launch, but some of the concepts held open the possibility of an evolving billboard in which the billboard would change either week to week or before and after the premiere. Concept 4, for example, could have had the green light-saber gradually cutting out the Cartoon Network logo over the course of four weeks, requiring that each week a slightly different billboard be installed for the effect.

Concepts 2 and 6a proposed layers of flat images for added depth and interest.

Star Wars TM & © Lucas Film LTD.

120 [m ] - On Board

Star Wars The Clone Wars Premiere 10th St. Billboards concept.
Red pencil and black rollerball ink on copier paper.

Last year, Cartoon Network acquired the broadcast rights to the most recent entry of the popular Star Wars franchise, Star Wars, The Clone Wars. The marketing group then went to promote the computer generated series like I had seen them do for a single show in my seven years there.

Although the creative would predictably be limited to visual assets of characters and backgrounds issued by Lucas Films, we nonetheless experimented in early concepts with ideas requiring unique character poses.

Above is a concept with the visual idea that Clone Wars was taking over. Four large billboards outside the Atlanta, Turner Networks campus were to be dressed with consecutive images of Jedi Anakin fighting a team of battle droids. Normally, each of the the six billboards (4 large and 2 very large) facing south toward 10th street, were divvied out to the different Turner entertainment networks: TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies and Cartoon Networks. Buying, in a fashion, four boards plus, in fact, one very large billboard, was and is a big deal.

What ultimately went up for the tease/premiere were head shots matted in black, one different character each for the four billboards. Not unlike huge trading cards.

Star Wars TM & © Lucas Films, LTD.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

120 [m ] - Art

Most people do not get to see art. 

What people get to see in museums and books is certainly art, but by another definition, those are only the evidence that art happened.

As the twelfth of sixteen definitions listed in the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, art is the “skilled workmanship, execution or agency as distinguished from nature.”  Art as a process is what most people don’t get to see.  It’s the decisions, training and experiences that the artist brings to process that go unseen.

It has been my favorite analogy that being an artist is to be a kind of chef.  Like a chef, an artist has a talent for her/his business, learns the tricks and develops the skills to be good enough to make it a defining part of her/his life, if not a career.  Colors are like ingredients, flavors you learn how to combine.  You also learn techniques like bouncing the tip of your paintbrush on a canvas to make representations of little pine trees.

Some times in the process, you stop following the recipe and start playing with ingredients and trying things because you think it will taste good.  When I’ve drawn things, I can’t always say why I’ve chosen certain colors or put down particular lines, except that at the time I thought they’d look good.

I once had a job for five years in which I sat in a Main Street shop in Disneyland and drew and painted Disney characters to order for wristwatch faces.  There on stage, I certainly had modest audiences watch me fulfill an order for a painting of Cinderella.  However, because people don’t pay to get into the park to watch that, they’d only get to see but a few minutes of what I was doing, bits of art.  I imagine that it was like a magic trick: a slow magic trick making something out of nothing.  A slow magic trick with not much of a finish, because after the drawing part, the painting was the embellishment, and once the rabbit is out of the hat, combing its fur doesn’t make the trick better.

I have also performed as a quick sketch artist at parties and as a guest art instructor conducting how-to-draw sessions.  In both, but especially with the later case, I’ve resorted to memorized recipes.  Because I was not called upon to do anything original, there was almost no creative, decision making, and it had about as much art to it as there was in making a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

I’m not advocating that people should see my process of art.  It’s acceptable and fine that people like and enjoy the evidence of my art with out really considering the process.  I, in fact, do the same, past my quick, competitive evaluations.  I’m there when I’m doing art, and I can say that most of the time, it’s rather technical and boring, but necessary to get to the art at the end, the proof that art happened.

Friday, May 1, 2009

120 monotonae

"Omnicake Birthday"
Digital color of scan of pencil.
22.86 cm x 38.10 cm (9.00 in. x 15.00 in.)

For more pin-up art, go to my other web-log, Walters Presents.