Monday, September 27, 2010

Little Yoda and Little Spock

When I was a kid, I loved comics like crazy. It started off as a ‘reward’ thing – namely, that if I ever went to the Doctor or Dentist and was well-behaved, I’d get a comic book. I instantly became the bravest kid ever! Seriously, even today my blood pressure DROPS if I head in for a check-up! Wish I still got the comics though...

My favorite titles were Fantastic Four, anything that Jack Kirby released and what was called Marvel Two-in-One. This teamed Ben Grimm (the Thing) with various other heroes and/or misc. peoples. I loved the changing dynamic, which was also true of Marvel Team-Up (same approach with Spider Man, who I couldn't stand alone but in the team ups he was cool).

So this illustration is my own attempt to bring together two 'iconic' and 'wouldn't it be neat if...' characters. I learned a couple of things:

1) Drawing Yoda is very fun. He will appear again (I’m already wondering if it would be too sacrilegious to make up things like Poe + Yoda = Poeda);

2) You can get some good texture if you pastel the colors and scan them into the computer in ‘pieces’ and then later line them up. But it’s tough if your scanner sucks. Mine does.

Little Yoda (close-up)

As mentioned, Yoda was a real blast to draw. This is more Episode 2 or 3 Yoda as I wanted him ready to kick ass and take names (I mean, lead by example and protect the Good Side of the Force). Also a lot of the new ‘Clone Wars’ series in him, which is a must watch if you’re a fan of the story-line for Star Wars (helping fill in the time from Anakin being a pretty bad-ass Jedi up to his change to a Sith Lord).

Also as I mentioned, Yoda’s coloring comes via two separate sets of soft pastels (including various adjustments) as well as some minor software work (light saber, etc.). His skin has lots of shades of green as well as hints of brown and yellow. Fortunately, this means I was able to use my morning face as a guide.

Little Spock (close-up)

Spock was originally intended to be some kind of combination drawing with Captain Kirk. But Kirk is so - well to be honest - 'plain' you can't really caricaturize him. And I didn’t want to use the old clich├ęs of William Shatner’s EVENTUAL weight gain and hair loss.

Again coloration with pastels and some bits added in via MSPaint. I went with the darker hair, too, which I hope combines well enough here to be seen. At home, since I go back and forth from my office computer to my lap top (different functionalities often for same programs owing to age), I saw it on one computer but not so much the other. So in the office, the texture shows up great (Spock’s ‘comb lines’ were always really strong), on another it just looks black. But it’s there I promise, along with his invariable 5 o’clock shadow and surprisingly full lips (such a handsome boy, if only he'd smile more...).

Live long and prosper!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Little Oktoberfest

Now if my notes are correct, this is the 200 Year Anniversary of Oktoberfest. Wow, if you calculate all the beer that has been consumed during that span, you come out with a figure that indicates that was a lot of beer!

The 'official' Bavarian Oktoberfest has actually been held 177 times, which somehow seems a bit low to me in terms of 'only' 23 cancellations. Maybe I'm confusing 23 years of war with the number of years the French have spent the past 200 years surrendering (oh yeah, I went there mon ami!!).

Despite having lived within reasonable distance of there for nearly 20 years - I've been to Munich several times and think it’s fantastic!! – I have never been to Oktoberfest. Truth be told, I don't really ever intend to go either, for various reasons. To each their own.

Font is Herzog Von Graf (Oktoberfest not being 'Germanic' enough, go figure). PROST!!

Little Hippies

I saw this great drawing of a hippie the other day on 'Non Sequitur' by Wiley Miller and this has been in my head ever since. I wanted to do two 'original' hippies, who would I guess now be in their 60's to 70's at least. Wow!! And I can still remember getting tear-gassed at a peace rally. Ok, I was in my stroller but still!!

I found some great textures to use including for the hair (she at least has a lot of Vanessa Redgrave in hers) and also the clothes and more.

A lot of these patterns are from my pal 'Joe Smith', who you can either find on FB or wait a few weeks for his interview on my blog. I think I borrowed snippets from at least 5 of his works, including the flower in the hair. His stuff is awesome with a capital awe and I love seeing what he does each and every day!!

Font for background is 'Hippie Chick' and 'Gosford' for the signs.

Remember: Make War, Not Love... no wait...

DJ Little Ziggy

OK, I have to be totally honest with you: this did not start off as a DJ. I was actually going to finish the 3rd of my pirate series, even though 'Int'l Talk Like a Pirate Day' was by this time long over and I could only just barely feel the effects of the traditional rum.

Well, despite a pretty good sketch of ‘third pirate’ (sounds like the credits for some poor schlub still waiting on his big breakthrough in Hollywood), my first ink-over came out – hm, how to put this delicately – let's just say it would have embarrassed Freddie Mercury and perhaps even not made it into Elton John’s closet. Or out, either way.

The 2nd attempt came out very 'pimpy' so that wasn't right either. So I've got a pirate all drawn up and on file that needs some work again one day. Either that or I just need to draw in a decent manicure because he looks simply FAB-oohlala-lous!!

I then started this, just sort of free sketching. The 'afro' surprisingly enough came from a photo shoot of a CAUCASIAN model that caught a lot of flap for her 'black face' photo spread. The rest just sort of happened.

I would note that I’ve never seen a modern DJ at work, so his 'station' was seriously winged. In this case someone wrote in to tell me I had the bass and other bits backwards as no self-respecting DJ would have set his, uh, settings that way. I don’t know how accurate that is, but I do think it looks like a pretty good cash register.

Font is flower bold. It's amazing what you can find when you put in key words in the font section (in this case 'groovy').

Little Pirates

Little Pirate, uh, Girl

At the very last minute on the night before (Sept.18th) the 2nd most popular holiday of the calendar year, I got the inspiration to do some pirates for ‘International Talk Like A Pirate Day’. Aye, I just wanted to remine m’mateys and all ye landlubbers, ta gi' us some o' yer best arrr's!! Aarrr!!

OK, I’ll stop.

Well, as is usual, I got way too into the research, and way WAY too picky about the details. After several false starts, I finally went with a brave lass as the first example of what was originally intended to be AT LEAST 3 pirate-like persons. Not sure why I gave her a Mike Tyson tattoo, but there you go.

One colleague said she reminded him of Geena Davis in the movie ‘Pirates’ (I think it was called ‘Cutthroat Island’ in the States). I had to look it up, but I did find at least one similarity. No, better said, two.

Extra credit question: what ever happened to Matthew Modine? There for a while he was really big in the movies, but I swear I don't think I've seen him in forever. You'd think he could at least get a reality show gig or something...

Font: Black Beard. And it really is a holiday, I promise!! LOOK HERE -> 'X'. Get it, 'X' marks the spot? Oh ha ha, I crack myself up some times!!

Little Blackbeard

Blackbeard is actually a pretty famous pirate from back 'home'. With a range of nice isolated barrier islands, he apparently loved to hide out and stash treasures all over the place. Not sure nowadays how true that was, but hey, it made the tourists happy.

By now, it was the actual holiday day itself... and I was only on the 2nd of the 'pirate series' and feeling a bit stressed. I really did intend to try and complete the trifecta, but my cat personality took over and I went for the nap instead.

Font: rapscallion (mod.)

For what happened to the third pirate in the series, read the next entry!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Little, uh, Super Chicken

Our first actual request (or proposal, however you want to put it). A friend mentioned making a Super Chicken, or even a Super Egg, and so I did both!! I just wish now I could remember how it came up in the conversation (I love my friends, such an eclectic bunch!!).

Background is from Hubble Telescope (Orion System).

UPDATE: Okay, I looked up where all this came from. A friend had linked in a blog that was primarily about a family's wacky adventures raising chickens. Hilarity ensuing and the whole shebang, I promise you. But this particular post was about the fact that apparently their house is haunted, including more than just thumps in the night or teenagers trying to get away with murder.

So anyway, as usually happens when serious topics are raised on Facebook, there were some bad puns exchanged including along the lines of laying an egg and needing a Super Chicken to come to the rescue.

Well, to say the least that's all I can remember without reaching that level of chemical influence again. Darn state-dependent memory. Sure wish I could recall bits of college, too...

Little Super Galatic Space Chicken

Evil doers and Rodential Raiders of Hen Houses everywhere: BEWARE!! I mean, just check out the abs on this guy (sorry, could only fit a 4-pack on him).

Well, if I can toot my own beak here for a moment, I think my shading is getting better.

I might actually be dangerous if I ever crowbar open my wallet and get some real tools to use!

Little Robin's Egg

Hee hee, this was then the 'egg' part. I got silly and decided to de-evolutionize Robin into his earlier persona. Talk about unborn potential though, wow!! (My 10-year old son even commented at one point, 'how do you know what powers he has?' I also had to explain the coloring, go figure...)

Again, good shadowing Ziggy, pat pat... or should that be toot toot?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little Monty Python (Holy Grail)

This just may be the first of many Monty Python ‘tributes’, but I was just in the mood to illustrate one of my favorite scenes from my favorite movie of all time!! The brave King Arthur triumphs over the Black Knight, and is now ready to continue his quest with his faithful man-servant Patsy in tow...

The background I created here is supposed to be a kind of rendering of the actual scene, done in soft pastels. It was tough because if you know the movie, it’s just sort of a series of grayish tones.

The font is 'Cast Iron' which matches quite closely what the original series used.

Little Arthur

Ah, poor Arthur, doomed to have the downfall of England on his shoulders and a 20-year sentence for manslaughter to serve out. This is just one of the classic quotes from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'.

I think though I made Graham Chapman's face sadder than it should be, which even my son pointed out right away. It could be because I'm still bummed that he passed away.

Font is none other than 'King Arthur'. I love looking for fonts!!

Little Black Knight

He is invincible! Well, it's only a flesh wound! Well... we'll call it a draw. What a riot.

However, using the ‘mini-man template’ and then drawing armor and especially helmets on this pattern led to some odd dimensions. Well, at least I got to color in lots of gory blood!!

Sorry can't remember the font but it wasn't 'Black Knight' (some Gothic type, the name will come back to me). It was something like ‘Smash Your Brains In’ or similar. Dang and I wanted to use it again.

Little Patsy

It is hard to do a character that doesn't stay the same person all the time in the film.

He’s a bit mucky looking because he's supposed to be a bit more covered in, you know. It’s just because obviously King Arthur is immune to such imperfections. I LOVE HIS LITTLE COCONUTS (wow, that's something I haven't said in like, 2 or 3 days)!!

Font is a bizarre one called Coconut Split (again coconuts = hilarious!!). It looked sloppier in the previews than it came out, I was going for that 'serf' like writing style. You know, sign with your ‘X’ on the dotted line. Bloody peasant...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Little Poe

…But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered — not a feather then he fluttered —
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before —
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

Without getting into too much detail at this stage – if only to not to foretell too many of my planned upcoming images – Edgar Allan Poe has made a few appearances in my conscious thought lately. In terms of my unconscious thought: well, if I can figure out why I’m back in college and sincerely afraid I haven’t paid the rent on my apartment that just happens to be the house my dad grew up in, I’ll let you know.

This was an interesting character study for sure. From all the images I first collected and studied, it became very clear that I was seeing – perhaps better said sensing – not one but two ‘faces’ for Edgar. One seemed to be very sure, very handsome, even with a touch of haughtiness or even obvious intellectual superiority. The other however appeared sad, pale and withdrawn. As such, I approached it almost as two separate drawings, one for the left and the other for the right side.

It came out okay I think, even though you could argue that Poe is not an instantly recognizable face. Unless that is, you DO know him; then I guess here he is, as there is very little variety in either photographs or other images. Still, I found myself realizing how little I know about HIM personally. I even wondered if he were left- or right-handed and what maybe had even led to his uneven look (I know he was in poor health after the death of his wife, but before that?). Something to look into in all my ‘spare’ time.

Another thing I enjoyed about this piece is that I am finally seeing some personal progress in planning ahead for ‘backgrounds’. In this case, I wanted to use a very – not dark but not well-lit either – environment. I openly admit that I once again relied heavily on the style of Mike Mignola (he of Hellboy fame) and the very subdued colors of Dave Stewart (he NOT of Eurythmics fame). So along with the occasional dab of red splashed in (should be = 6 times, but probably only 5 can be seen), this part of the learning was fun to push forward!! Enjoy!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Little Kiss

This is the collected group, logo and even a nice wall-paper I found to go with it.

I keep trying my hand at 'backgrounds', learning more about the limits with what I have on the PC now in terms of manipulation, etc.. As usual, I worked on several different 'motifs', many of which fell very flat, very quickly!! I think my aspirations to match their ‘Frazetta’ album cover was pretty far-fetched.

It was fun to do (I know I keep saying that), but WOW!! Just when you think that 'oh 4 guys in black and white make-up and costumes will be easy to do'... YOU GET A REAL SURPRISE!! It wound up being a lot more complicated than I anticipated, especially in later work-ups in terms of keeping white bits white, black bits black, and other bits however I could get them!

Details –

Little Paul and Little Gene
I wanted to add a little bit of 'zing' behind the guys, using the colors that came off one of their albums (or if you want to be tetchy about it, off their 4 ‘solo’ records they did). It looked cool as an original, using again soft pastels to get the smokey effect. But sadly my scanner is not meeting my expectations, either in terms of originals or even line up. For some reason, it keeps scanning every third picture or so at about a 7° angle.

Little Peter
Hm, perhaps a better title is needed? Oh, what am I saying, I mean who would ever have wanted to be a rock-n-roll cat anyway?

Still, this experience has motivated me to work on some different color paper to try out effects.

The basic problem is I just don't have the software – or I guess even hardware –
to 're-blend' something like this, even when I try and 'white out' as much of the neighboring noise as possible. I think I'll try it on black next to see if that's a little more conducive.

I may also put a crowbar in my wallet and go check out either or both Illustrator and a Wacom tablet. I mean, who deserves it more?

Little Ace

Totally unrelated to this topic, but Ace Frehley recently toured this region in some really small but very packed venues. He's apparently still 'tight' with Paul and Gene but just decided whenever he didn't want to do the KISS thing anymore.

Also, were you aware that KISS is a MULTI-BILLION dollar enterprise? They sell everything from toys, shirts, wine!!, cologne and even custom made caskets. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Little Bean

What a genius (not me, Rowan Atkinson)! From Mr. Bean to 'Black Adder' to countless sketches, the guy is just fantastic.

The process of making this one, however, reminded me of way back when, back to when I probably did my first 'portrait'. My father had invited his boss home from dinner - an incredibly elegant and handsome Spanish gentleman. He was an internationally respected architect and had worked around the world. He had definitely lived an exciting life, with a great deal of his time having been spent in the sun. As such, his skin was, let's say, 'well worn'.

Well being something like 7 or 8 years old, I had no trouble illustrating all his little 'faults' : wrinkles, moles, discolored spots, etc. However, when I proudly displayed my finished work, both my dad and my mom almost had heart attacks.

I'm just saying sometimes these studies reveal little 'quirks' that you're not sure what to do with: again, wrinkles here, a mole there, a slight stigmatism (or is astigmatism? I mean, eyes that don't totally line up), etc. But for 'Bean' it just adds to the charm of Rowan's character.

The font I used in the 'label' is a great one I found called 'Lima Bean', with some slight adjustments.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Little Gandhi

Sometimes inspiration works in very mysterious ways.

A couple of weeks ago as this 'Little Ziggy project' began to crystallize in my remaining active brain cells, I decided to make a list of different targets to go for. And believe it or not, one of the first I decided to do was Gandhi.

I have no idea why. Is he recognizable? Sure. Do I particularly spend a lot of time thinking about him or even know a lot about what he did in his life? Well, apart from what Sir Ben Kingsley showed me some 25 or 30 years ago, no, I don't.

In fact, I don't even know a lot about India. As I was researching potential backgrounds, I was surprised to find out India is NOT the desert oasis I assumed it was. Underwater owing to monsoons half the year, yes, but not per se in desert form.

But anyway, he made the list and here he is. Along the way I discovered that you have to be careful not making a well-aged gentleman too wrinkly for his own good and that people and clothes that are essentially just slightly different shades of 'earth' can add additional challenges in terms of coloration. C'est la vie.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Little - I Mean - Wee Red Axey Hood

Off to Grandma's to deliver some wolf cutlets and sausages!!

This was done for an absolutely lovely friend of mine who’s nickname is in part Axey. This was funny (in an inside joke kind of way, but please play along) because it was is in line with her results for the FB test 'Find the fairy tale that most matches your personality'. I guess Conan (the Barbarian, not the comedian) doesn’t count as a fairy tale.

Oh and I should say as well thanks because I 'used' her hair. All natural!!

Here’s the pic with background, which I shamelessly pilfered from one of the dozens of fantastic photos by Wee Red's 'beau', Jean Luc Windholtz. Please go to his web-site to see more of his work at
you'll be glad you did!!

Little Mystique

By special request, here is Mystique of the XMen comics and movies (the shape shifter).

It really worked well after extensive character work (extensive for me mind you), which I include below (I would also note that I am STILL trying to learn how to draw 'women'... there's just so many 'bits' and stuff to watch out for!!)
. I was glad that I was still able to really hold on to the 'simplicity' aspect here!

Based on some input by a pal of mine in terms of the character sketches you see, I really wanted to add some 'pop' to this one. I worked on the background a LOT longer than the picture.

I tried colors of all sorts, I tried even putting her against a really creepy scene with lots of ravens, etc. This one shown worked out real well though and I love the added font, which also led to a sort of head-smacking experience (of course, fonts!! Smack!!).

For the one here, I had used it before for another project where I modify it more than a bit from the original (called haAJJA). Neato!!

Character studies (including only those that looked like something other than roadkill...):

These first two were a combination of inks and soft pastels. I hadn't worked with 'chalks' for almost 30 years, so it was kind of cool to go back to my roots (it's like finger painting only people don't stop and stare at an adult doing it!!!):

This final one was a re-touch after some coaching by someone in personal possession of said 'bits'. Got it to where it was pretty presentable and then inked it in, followed by scan and computer coloration.

Little Angus (of AC/DC fame)

This was the first in a 'new set' where I decide to try and push the process a bit more. The picture was done with inks, print and pastels mixed.

Also clothing is a scan using a nice crushed velvet pattern I found to match his little school boy uniforms.

I decided to do this one after removing several dead gnats from my ears by playing the 'Iron Man 2: OST' over and over again.

There Be Monsters Afoot!!

Little Count

This was from a recent set I put together on a whim.

It started when I had done a caricature of the Twilight dude and wanted to put it in a cartoon setting. So I came up with the theme of the different monsters, all plus-minus 'classical'.

Little Devil Girl

I just went with this one, because without making any puns, there's just not a lot of female monster characters out there to choose from. I intended her to be a kind of a mix of a demonness and even Mystique, so I just started and it happened.

My own private joke is that it’s my 6-year old daughter, who can be a pretty evil little monster when she wants to be! Especially now that she's old enough to realize how much her dad loves her!!

Little Wolfie

The Wolf-Man wound up being much more problematic than I expected, and was probably the toughest of the bunch to finalize. It’s just that there are so many 'werewolf' motifs to choose from.

Some of the other varieties I tried had a very ‘American Indian’ feeling to them (let’s just leave it at a bad mix of different browns and random desert colors) or just got a bit psychaedelic. I went through a lot of different texturing and colorations before settling on this one.

In my eyes, it’s still borderline 'too busy' for this exercise. I can see that hair is going to be an on-going issue.

Little Franky

This is my favorite of the monster set. I really wanted to capture the classic Karloff look.

The Monster has always been such a sad creature in my eyes. Hm, maybe because I saw ‘Young Frankenstein’ so many times!

Little Mummy

This one is pretty simple looking but I was surprised that it took a lot of focus to keep it from just being a bunch of horizontal lines.

I also especially like how the texturing came out, sort of a semi-deteriorated cloth look. Which I guess is pretty much standard Mummy garb, no?

Little Destroyer

I was so happy with this one because I had finally done a robot that worked (meaning it didn’t look like a toaster or one of your cheaper sex toys)!! This was stretching the self-imposed rules of the form a bit (no deletions, use the components available) but what the heck.

And finally, this was the final cartoon with the monsters (I called it 'Scar'd Silly' after a friend of mine). I think I did a pretty good job with the 'Twilight' caricature as well. At first it came out way too 'real' looking, but thanks to the wonders of MSPaint, and altering his features (forehead 20% larger, chin 20% smaller, etc.) it looked more caricature-y.

Need to work on my fonts though (the mummy is actually uttering an Egyptian symbol and the robot is saying 'bloody humanoids'). Am already gaining such respect for so many aspects that 'professional' graphic artists have to keep in perspective as they work!!