Monday, August 27, 2012

Trinity Cathedral Sketch

Had a meeting in NW Portland the other day. Arrived a little early and did a sketch around the corner at Trinity Cathedral. It was a warm day here in Stumptown and just thought it was amusing and appropriate that a guy had stretched out in the shade of the parish doorway for a mid-afternoon siesta. As religion is supposed to do, the church was giving this guy the comfort he needed at the moment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gouache Relief Strawberry

This is the result of a gouache-relief demo from my illustration class. I love this technique because it requires giving up some of the control we all strive for in paintings. In this case the lines are the areas not painted and the colored (or white-ish) bits are the areas that get painted.

Or you could just think of it as a really quick fake lino cut process.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Warm Up Sketch: Watercolor on Watercolor

A quick little watercolor study of a tube of watercolor paint to start my day in the studio.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Illustration Academy: Project #1 (Part 2)

This is the second image I created at the Illustration Academy for the first project (for more details scroll down ever-so-slightly and check out yesterday's post). I probably created 50 different thumbnails for this because I wanted to ditch linear perspective and yet still give the viewer the sense they were above the guy on the stairs. Alas, it was a no go. Turns out you still gotta' use a couple vanishing points sometimes (but god bless Brunelleschi for figuring it all out)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Illustration Academy: Project #1

Some of you might have noticed in my last post that I mentioned I was attending the The Illustration Academy in Kansas City over the month of June. Well my time there has officially ended -- and a great time was had by all! I wanted to post some of the projects that I made while there and this is the first.

The assignment was to capture the spirit of the location BUT using no line work and no rendering. Only interesting shapes, values and hues. (Oh, and get a figure in there to help tell a story) I added an additional wrinkle of trying to communicate depth of space  without using linear perspective;  instead relying primarily on overlapping shapes and the human mind's natural inclination to "understand" certain shapes in certain ways.

Anyway, all this is starting to sound very art-talky but it sure made the project fun!
In this case I didn't stray far from the studio. The building that the Academy is held in is an old brick warehouse and is a wonderfully exhausting five flights up some creaky wooden stairs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Fun

Been a little while since I posted anything new. This is due to my attending the The Illustration Academy. The program has been amazing. This little image is pretty much how I feel coming into the studio each day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Speaker Sketches: Oregon SCBWI Conference

Attended the Oregon SCBWI Conference this weekend. Had a splendid time chatting with everyone and of course doing quick sketches of some of the speakers. I'm looking forward to seeing how the chapter continues to move forward and evolve!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When Animals Act Oddly

I've never fully trusted squirrels.
Sure they're small, cute, and look adorable when they munch frantically away on a nut, but still . . .

Monday, May 7, 2012

Knowlege Knugget: Photoshop Lasso Tool

Quick tip o' the day: When you select the "Lasso" tool in Photoshop and then press the "Option" key BEFORE you start drawing you can make a selection that switches seamlessly between the Lasso tool and the Polygonal Lasso tool. For example, the grey selection on the right was made in one quick and easy stroke. Give it a try.

Disclaimer: If this is a new feature for you and increases your productivity ever-so-slightly -- you're welcome! Enjoy!
If, on the other hand, this is old news to you and you've been doing this since B.C.S. (before Creative Suite) then -- why did you keep this to yourself? Wassup' with that?! Share the knowledge and help a pixel pusher out!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stumptown ComicCon & Dr. Sketchys!

This weekend was Stumptown ComicCon. This was my first time visting the con. And I'm kicking myself for not going earlier. Saw a ton of great art, more than a few familiar faces AND stumbled on to my first Dr. Sketchy's drawing session. I have been meaning to hit up Dr. Sketchy PDX for ages and I took advantage of the opportunity. Way too much fun!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Author Sketch: Matt Phelan

Headed over to A Children's Place Bookstore on Saturday to catch illustrator/author Matt Phelan talk about his book "The Storm in the Barn" which was just turned into a theater production by Oregon Children's Theater. Matt was in town to watch the world premier. Really excellent work and a super nice guy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Roller Derby Sketchin'!!

Had the luck to be invited out to watch the uber-awesome Rose City Rollers in a scrimmage last night and did a bunch of sketching. This was my first time watching roller derby live -- and it won't be the last.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Speaker Sketches: Washington SCBWI Conference

Just got back from the Western Washington SCBWI conference. Had a great time (as usual) and did my customary speaker sketches (they just really help me remember what the speaker said) Should anyone actually know the people in the drawings and feel (rightly so) that my sketches look NOTHING like them, I abjectly apologize and would like to point out that some of these sketches were done 50 or more feet away from a moving subject. I'm lucky they aren't just peanut shaped blobs with hair.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Travel Sketch: Las Vegas

Went on a trip to Vegas recently. Very interesting place. Odd too. They've created something unique there.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Portrait: Charlie Sheen

New medium! (Same ol' Charlie)
This is a version of Charlie Sheen done as a monoprint.
Could be my favorite version yet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I've been creating watercolor textures to use for various projects and as I look at some of them characters start to emerge. Here's a couple of little monsters that were hanging out on my desk yesterday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Models: A different kind of sketching

These are in-progress sculpts of Patrick and Beth, the two main characters from "The Imagination Station" book series I've been working on. While I've already drawn these characters many times I've noticed that there are some angles that are, frankly, tricky. These models are meant to make it easy to draw our hero's from any point of view.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Portrait: Charlie Sheen

This is the same Charlie Sheen portrait as seen in my previous post  only this time it was created using a "Gouache Relief" technique. This involves painting the white areas with gouache, letting that dry completely, then painting over the entire image with black waterproof ink. (That last bit is fairly scary to do) And finally rinsing the entire image under running water and scrubbing (lightly) over the surface so the ink and gouache washes away revealing the image.

This technique gives a finished result that looks a lot like a wood cut print and creates some really distinctive marks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tutorial: Perfectly Selecting Blackline Artwork

This is a quick little tutorial I made for my illustration class. First time I've had a go with iMovie -- and it was a pretty pleasant experience. Always weird to hear your own voice though. This is a technique I've been using for years in my illustrations.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Characters: People Who Sat Still

A collection of sketches made while waiting. These people were kind enough to sit still long enough for me to grab a likeness. (Bless 'em!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Portrait: Charlie Sheen

This is a new project for my illustration class.
The idea is to choose a celebrity and after researching him or her assign keywords that will determine how the viewer responds to the finished art. Not one to ask my students to do something I wouldn't, here is my interpretation of Charlie Sheen (circa spring 2011). My keywords were: "Manaical, Self Involved, Dangerous"

Here is the process I used to arrive at the finished piece:

I researched a bunch of photos of Charlie Sheen and chose one that had a single light source and strong cast shadows.

Adjusted the photo so that it was more contrasty and the shapes that made up the features were clearer.

The original photo did not have the feel/keywords I wanted so I modified his face to look more like the photos of Charlie Sheen when he was at his most volatile.

Redrew the light and dark shapes so they could be transferred to watercolor paper

Created and ink wash of painting of the photo, being conscious to use the brush to create quick angular strokes that would reinforce my keywords.

I wanted to add a second element that would further reinforce my keywords and decided on the "catchphrases" Charlie would endlessly spout during this period. Again, actively using a mark making style that would suggest a person coming unhinged.

The two pieces were composited digitally and this is the end result.

What's really fun about this process is that you can easily substitute other equally compelling images to achieve a similar effect.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ice Rink Sketches

Went to the local ice rink with a bunch of other illustrators this morning to do some sketchin'.
Very different from figure drawing in the studio -- mostly in that these little ones didn't sit still for more than a couple seconds. Gotta' grab that pose quickly!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

I've been playing around with new ways to use my images (They're not just for books 'ya know!)
And spent the last couple weeks trying them out as wooden jigsaw puzzles. The cool kind, that were popular in the 1920's. This is one of the early efforts. Pretty happy with how it turned out. This is a 48 piece puzzle. Going to go for a 100 piece one next!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Portraits: Visitors

With the holidays we had a number of house guests over. These are a couple of the younger ones who were good enough to sit still while I sketched 'em.