Archive for the 'General' Category
Regular readers of my blog know that I almost never accept personal commissions. This has nothing to do with my not wanting to do them, it’s a simple question of not having enough physical time in a day to do it all. Every once and awhile the stars align and I am able to accept something of that nature… a lull in my work on the drawing board coupled with a stretch of my not traveling anywhere and a commission subject that is intriguing plus a client who is not in a hurry to get the art.
This all happened a few weeks back when I was contacted by someone who was unhappy that I had (long since) sold out of my “Secret Agent Man” James Bond print, and wanted to commission me to do an original, hand painted recreation of the art. This was something I wanted to do at some point anyway because I disliked the caricature of George Lazenby in the original, and wanted to take another try at him. Also, I had several “mistakes” pointed out to me by 007 experts that I could also correct. The resulting painting is seen above. For those interested, here is a list of the mistakes in the first one:
- They are wearing wing-tip tuxedo shirts. Apparently Bond wouldn’t be caught dead in a wing-tip shirt.
- The ruffles in Lazenby’s shirt are supposed to be vertical, not horizontal
- Roger Moore‘s hair part and mole are on the wrong sides of his face (I must have used a reference picture that had been flipped horizontally)
I actually had a lot of fun doing this, not just because I got to fix all those problems, but because it was fun to drag out the old watercolors and do some physical painting for a change. In fact, it was so much fun, I have made it an available commission to order from me at the Studio Store! For a mere $900 (cheap) you can commission me to recreate this artwork in ink and watercolor. It’s 13″ x 19″ on Strathmore 500 series board. Visit here for more details.
I have been meaning to post a review of this innovative sketchbook from illustrator and cartoonist Cedric Hohnstadt for some time but just keep on not getting to it. Today I rectify that oversight.
Cedric is a fellow Minnesota based illustrator and National Cartoonist Society member, and has a lot of experience in animation character design, creating cartoon characters for advertising, storytelling and illustration in general. Back in August Cedric did a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of a unique kind of sketchbook he calls a “Sparkbook“. Cedric sent me a copy for review.
First off, if you are looking for a book of instruction on drawing or even creating characters, this is not it. It does contain some pages (32 plus according to the back cover) of “instruction and inspiration” with short sections on such things as using thumbnails as experiments and studies, thinking outside the box, setting up contrast and conflict in character design, and other important concepts… but this is only a small aspect of the whole. The Sparkbook is supposed to get you to starting thinking about the personalities and “life” of the characters you are creating by getting you to think about story when you draw.
The book really is primarily a sketchbook, but each page or spread has an “assignment” printed along the bottom. These assignments give you a direction and goal for your character design sketches that pertains to creating personality through action, reaction, emotion, or other expressions of acting with your characters. It’s designed to get you thinking like a storyteller, and putting the kind of expression and emotion into your drawings and characters that creates a narrative visually… without the need for words. It’s a spiral bound sketchbook using drawing paper stock.
I’ll be honest, my initial thoughts when the concept was explained to me was that there was not going to be much to this book. It didn’t seem to me to be very hard to come up with a 100 different scenes that required some storytelling thinking and efforts. However after spending a little time with the Sparkbook, I think there is method to Cedric’s madness. The scenes he challenges you with are well conceived in that they require different combinations of storytelling skills to accomplish… some need slapstick action, some are more slow-burning and demand subtly of expression, others require distinctive body language, and many combinations of these and others. They are distinctive enough that few people, I think, would come up with such challenges on their own, and when artists do try to do something like that they tend to make choices that play to their strengths and comfort zones. Here Cedric forces you to exercise many different storytelling muscles. It’s a bit addictive, coming up with solutions to the assignment challenges—like puzzles that need solving. The book doesn’t teach, but it does make you think about a specific goal with each sketch, and presents you with real challenges in storytelling.
The printed Sparkbook costs $25, and ebook versions are $10 for the original and $15 for the expanded version. There are also social media connections like the Sparkbook Gallery on Facebook, where you can post your drawings from the assignments and get feedback from other Sparkbook artists.
I think this is a worthwhile purchase for anyone looking to get some direction when it comes to character design. I’d certainly recommend several animation books first, most of which Cedric himself recommends in a back “resources” page, but there is something great about having someone else give you an idea to run with in your sketchbook. It’s close to the kind of dynamic you’d be getting in a professional project dealing with storytelling, whether it be in comics, animation or even illustration. These kinds of exercises strengthen your perception and ability to create narrative in your drawings.
My only complaint about the book is that the paper in it is too smooth, I prefer a little more tooth in my drawing paper. That’s a small complaint, though. Cedric has a very innovative concept here and I really do think it’s a good one.
If you read this blog regularly you will know I do not often endorse blogs or websites here… mainly because I figure you’ve wasted enough of your time reading my drivel you can’t afford to go off reading others. However, the occasional blog come around where I just have to say “take a look at this” because it is one of those rare birds that actually had something interesting to say that is more than your typical internet snark or “10 most this and that” lists.
I posted the image above in a recent Sunday Mailbag. It was done as a wedding gift and promptly lost by Fed Ex during it’s delivery. The couple depicted are Robert Sundin III and Celestia Ward. Both are talented caricaturists who live in the Las Vegas area, and do their art under the name Two Head Studios.
Celestia also happens to be the editor of my book, and a hell of a writer.
A short time ago she decided to start doing this blogging thing. This got my attention, because when Celestia decides to do some writing, it’s worth your attention. I expected some thought provoking and insightful posts about some interesting topics pertaining to caricature, publishing and illustration. I was not disappointed. If those topics interest you, you will not be disappointed either. She’s already written some terrific articles on crowd-sourcing and its implication on the illustration world, advice on reproduction rights, a report on the recent ISCA caricature convention and the issues caricaturists face with regard to exaggeration and racial stereotypes, among other things. I say “articles” as opposed to “posts” because these are really magazine articles. Calling what she writes merely “blog posts” would be disingenuous (<— see that, Celestia! I used a big word in context! Are you proud of me?!).
One caveat: if you are one of those attention-span challenged web-surfing Spicolis who respond to anything in print containing more than a few sentences with “tl;dr”, don’t bother. Go on back to your 140 character pseudo-life. The rest of you will be glad you visited beacause these are very interesting reads…
… and perfect grammar, of course.
Shipping times get hairy as the holiday approaches… if you are thinking about getting something from the Studio Store in time to wrap up for a Christmas present, now’s the time!
I have only 15 Limited Artist Editions of my book left! Have a caricature of you or the person of your choice drawn by me inside a copy of The Mad Art of Caricature!, complete with a hand-numbered bookplate. Only 120 of these limited editions will ever be made, and 105 of them are gone.
I’m down to my last 44 Doctor Who “The Doctor is In” limited edition prints. Get one for that special Whovian in your life, either with the original 11 Doctors, or with upcoming Doctor Peter Capaldi hand-drawn in!
NEW! Limited copies of The Bro Code for Parents, “written” by How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson and illustrated by me. All copies signed! (not by Neil Patrick Harris, unfortunately, just by me!)
What are you waiting for, clod? Get out that fershlugginer credit card and order today!
This has been all over the internet the last few days. Artist Kyle Lambert did this digital painting of Morgan Freeman using ProCreate and an iPad… and his finger. According to the video, it took over 285,000 brush strokes and 200 hours of work.
This has elicited a lot of discussion and speculation on the internet about, among other things, the following:
1. Did he just trace a photo?
My two cents: Yes, he must have used a photo as an underlayer even though it is not seen in the video (easy to exclude from a screen capture video). No way could anyone do something that exactly perfect by translating what their eyes see and recreating that with their hands. Image overlays done by others show a nearly flawless reproduction. The human brain, eyeballs and motor skills just don’t work that perfectly together. Not that it matters, the impressive part of this is the exacting nature of the rendering done on something like the iPad.
2. Would this be copyright infringement of the original photograph?
My two cents: Yes, absolutely. There is no artistic interpretation here whatsoever. It is an exact reproduction of the original photo. It doesn’t matter if it was reproduced by hand taking over 200 hours, or scanned in under 15 seconds. Lambert credits the photographer but that is not the same as getting his copyright permission. Perhaps he did, I don’t know. If not, he needs to, unless the photographer has no interest in his copyright.
3. What’s the point?
My two cents: This is what it is: It’s a very impressive technical demonstration of someone creating something using a difficult platform that could have been created much faster and easier, and just as impressively, on another platform. That’s really the only point, that is was done on an iPad, which is amazing. The painting itself has no artistic interpretation or input, and wasn’t meant to have any. I’m not taking anything away from Lambert, he’s obviously a very talented digital painter… I wish I could paint one-millionth as well. No doubt when he brings his own artistic sensibilities into play he can do some impressive work, but this is just a demonstration of technical skill on an usual platform for such work, which I am sure is what was intended. It’s a little like building a vehicle like a Ford Explorer from scratch using hand-tooled parts, individually sculpted and carved pieces, and individually hand-created components. It might take thousands of hours to make, but in the end what you have is a Ford Explorer… made the hard way.
That said, I do not know why so many people are acting offended by this, like Lambert is somehow trying to pass this off as a great work of art or suggest it is supposed to be a commercial juggernaut of a style. I don’t think he is trying to do anything except demonstrate the technical possibilities of the software and hardware he used, which he clearly did very well. I’m quite sure he knows there is little commercial application for exact copies of photographs that were hand painted and took hundreds of hours to complete. He’s just demonstrating his technical skills with this platform… I hope he got some dough out of the makers of Procreate for his efforts.
…and I still hate working on an iPad. More power to you, Kyle.
UPDATE: Typically I would give the benefit of the doubt to the artist in a case like this, but this blog post and the data backing it up from fotoforensics seems to prove conclusively that not only was the actual photograph used in the creation of this image, but that PhotoShop CS 5 and 6 on a Macintosh was used in its creation. Since that directly refutes Lambert’s claims that at no time was the photo used, and that it was created exclusively on the iPad with Procreate, you have to question anything that he or Proceate claims. Of course the “proof” of the fraud could itself be a fraud… it’s the internet a wonderful place?
This is a great video interview with syndicated comic strip “Baby Blues” creators Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott about the genesis of the strip.
I’m fortunate to be able to call Rick a good friend. We have been on many USO tours together to places like Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even drew together on the U.S.S. Enterprise in the middle of the Arabian Gulf. He’s an incredible talent… incidentally he was honored with the NCS Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” last May. A well deserved honor.
Baby Blues has a special place in me and The Lovely Anna’s hearts. It began on the very day our first daughter The Animated Elizabeth was born. We were living in Atlanta at the time, and this comic strip debuted with the birth of daughter Zoe in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on the same our daughter came into the world. Anna would cut many of the strips out and save them for Elizabeth’s scrapbook.
Years later when we joined the NCS, Anna was only star struck by a few of the cartoonists, but Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott were the ones she was really over-the-moon to meet. I think we creeped Rick out pretty badly at first, since he seemed to get this deer-in-headlights look on his face when we would approach and would turn and walk quickly away. He still does that but eventually stops since he knows I won;t let him go on any more USO tours if he doesn’t talk to us.
That’s a joke, of course. He’s a good friend and a great cartoonist.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving… I hope you are spending it with family and friends, like it was meant to be!