Where I've been for the past 2 weeks

Bacon in a Bottle logo design.

These two are for my Computer Art class. We're learning how to use QuarkXpress 8. I've never even used a Mac before, so it's pretty confusing, but I've done print work and know how to use other image manipulation programs, so it's not THAT bad. Right now, my main nemesis is Bezier curves, cuz I want to do some bacon fat white and yellow stripes under the logo text, like the Coca Cola logo.

These are for my Typography class. My professor wants "practical" yet "nontraditional" watch face designs, which drives me kind of crazy, because it seems like she likes my designs better when I just scribble a jumble of numbers together. She would probably disagree with this and say she prefers asymmetry and sophisticated compositions. I missed class one day because I was working the primary elections, so I'm out to sea on what she expects. I just started playing with the numbers for these two and crossed my fingers that she likes them.

Speaking of which, these are some subway studies from Primary Day. I wasn't interested in being very realistic. I just wanted to copy down as many little details as I could.

These three are from my first day of Illustration. We had to wander around campus and sketch interesting compositions. My professor didn't like my compositions very much and said she'd prefer more cropping and asymmetry. I actually think one of my faults is that I often don't include the whole figure in the frame, so I've been working against that to make my pictures clearer. But I agree the mongoose picture could benefit from tight cropping on the two opponents' faces. We actually DO have a stuffed mongoose and cobra on campus, right next to my old Art History classroom.

Right now we have to design a poster for the Brooklyn Book Festival. This is my sketch for it.

These are studies for my poster. The last one includes a sketch I did of Housing Works when I went to see Dr. Frank at his book release show for Andromeda Klein. MC Chris was there, too, and was awesome. There were also a bunch of other folks, including a pretty good band that played 2nd. I never caught their name but they rocked.

Finally, this is the latest version of my first Illustration Style project. We had to paste our images on to the article. My professor recommended I add gray to the background. She liked the grassy texture I used for the gray. I think I should have grayed in the foreground, too, but oh well. It's turned in.


Inking and line

I've been working on a poster for my Illustration class, for the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2010. I unfortunately don't have a scan to post, but I want to write a little about inking and line.

I don't really have a settled method for inking, but I do know that having everything look stiff in the final makes me crazy, so for this poster I tried to get all the real drawing done in the inking. I did a really rough sketch just so I would know where everything was, then went over the general shapes at a lightbox and used the original rough sketch for guidance.

In inking, I did the foreground characters first with a thin marker point. I wanted them to be attention getting, much moreso than the background. Tonight I went over the lines I already inked, selectively thickening them and adding detail, on the theory that it would make them stand out more and be more interesting to look at.

Then I went over the background, using a thin, unvarying line.

I originally thought it would be better in general to have a bright foreground over a greyish background...I think it comes from my days reading MAD, where very often the backgrounds were a gray ink wash. However, after poring over old cartoon stills and Frank, I think I'm much better off with dark foreground figures on light background. They pop out more. They don't even have to be black, though areas of black are really attention-grabbing, especially if they surround white areas like mouth or eyes or hands.


Illustration Style homework

Professor asked us to illustrate an article from the NY Times about the criminalization of poverty. Cities and counties are increasingly cracking down on the homeless and imposing tough fines that disproportionally burden the poor, partly to fill the coffers during these "tough economic times". What strikes me in particular about this issue is that the law is tying people down to being poor, creating obstacles to a better life and being sternly self-righteous about it to boot. The original article has a very stark illustration of a shopping cart with prison bars, but I consider my strength to be more in cartooning than in creating really designy, symbolic images.

The border around the cartoon is quite sloppy, and I worry that the greys on the poor vet blur together and make him hard to make out clearly. However, I'm happy how the policeman came out. The line work and the background especially owe something to my studies of Frank.


Preston Blair studies

Preston Blair was an animator at Disney and MGM. Among other things, he worked on Fantasia, doing parts of the Sorceror's Apprentice and the hippo ballet.

He also wrote a series of animation books. They're a how-to on drawing cartoon characters. Over the past few days I've been working on some exercises from his 1rst book, which was published long ago but is available online at the Animation Archives: Preston Blair's Animation First Edition.

I also did some tracings of panels from The Portable Frank to study how they work and absorb the ideas into my brain. My aim is to draw funny animal characters as skillfully as the cartoonists I admired growing up.

This line of study has been inspired by JohnK's Cartoon College.

The pages I've been studying:

Construction of the Head

More Construction of the Head


Some creepy Don Knotts guy.

Ghost World is a "graphic novel" by Daniel Clowes, which was made into a movie in 1999. One of the most striking things about the book is that all of the panels use a cyan wash for shading, as if the characters are perpetually sitting in front of a TV set in a darkened room. Or maybe you're the one in front of the TV, watching the characters...both the book and movie have a patient, voyeuristic tone.

The graphic novel has the guy above as a psychic who hangs out in a suburban cafe Enid Coleslaw, one of the main characters, frequents. She calls him "some creepy Don Knotts guy". In the movie, Steve Buscemi (who kind of looks like Don Knotts) is cast as Enid's middle aged buddy.