Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Supporting Roles

Yes, more HP. I swear, I have drawn other things.

These two disparate characters are Seamus Finnegan and Lucius Malfoy, pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum in the Harry Potter novels. Both sketches here came about indirectly- or, more to the point, I was intending to draw one thing, and this is what happened instead.

I was sketching out a pose for Neville Longbottom (HP character, of course)when I looked down at it and thought, "oh, that's Seamus." So I scrapped Neville (which is fine- I didn't have a strong enough idea of what he'd look like) and Seamus more or less showed up fully formed on the page. I have no idea why he's posing like that for a photo, but that's what he wanted to do.

The other sketch, Lucius Malfoy, was a bitch to get on paper. Mainly because it was actually supposed to be Severus Snape. I had a very definite idea of how I wanted Snape to be posed: head back, looking down his nose with contempt at someone (most likely some poor Gryffindor). So, it ended up on the paper, but the more I looked at it, the less i thought it was Snape. If anything, that sneer reminded me of Lucius Malfoy. Also, they eyes were too... smug, I suppose. Which, the more I thought of it, made me realize that's not the direction I wanted to go with Snape at all. So, a liberal application of eraser (Snape had a stronger jawline and a broken nose) some refinement of what was there, and viola! Malfoy the Elder.

Some brief notes:

If you'll look over amongst the links, you will see one called "Mark's Charity". My Brother Mark is collection donations as part of a Special Olympics fundraiser. If you can, please take a minute to donate. Every little bit helps.

Also- with the labor day holiday coming up, There will probably not be a weekend posting. However, I expect to be back here on Monday morning (or Sunday night) and so should still have a post up that day. Then again, you all know me...

For you uninitiated out there, if you're interested in learning a bit more about the world of Harry Potter, check out this link at . It has a nice summary of the books and what all the craziness is about. You muggles you.

Everyone have a good weekend- Enjoy the picnic and lack of laboring, and see you around.

Music: "Lazy Eye"- Silversun Pickups

Monday, August 27, 2007

How I Spent My Hogwart's Vacation, by Steve D.

Now, where was I?

Right, sketches, chronological order, stuff like that. Well, here we have the third (or fourth and fifth, I suppose) sketch done after having been re-bitten by the drawing bug. These are two of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, Ron Weasely and Hermione(her-MY-oh-knee)Granger. As you can see, my head was still overfull of HP-goodness, and I needed some kind of outlet.

For whatever reason, the main three characters are the ones I most easily picture differently from their filmic counterparts. For a lot of the characters, I often imagine them to look like the way they're portrayed in the movies. But for the three main characters, I usually see them differently. Which is not to say that these drawings are my final word on what they look like- this is just what ended up on the paper when I was drawing.

I would say these versions of Hermione and Ron are about 17 or 18... Ron's confidence has grown, but Hermione's tolerance for Ron acting like a child has not. And no, Ron's not giving Hermione the "piss off, fascists!" sign. He's giving it to someone else.

I'm fairly pleased with how they both turned out. I drew Ron first, then Hermione. Ron was initally just a head sketch, but when I put the smile on his face, I knew he needed to be gesturing something. Once I finished Ron, it only made sense to draw Hermione next, and her pose came fairly naturally put next to Ron. Hopefully some sense of her annoyance carries through in her look and pose. Maybe it was too many years of drawing angry superheroes or whatever, but I have a tough time conveying emotions on a sketch's face- other than anger or boredom. I now see why so many artists use photoreference for facial features. Or a mirror. Mirror's good.

I decided on making the HP characters look more cartoony for two reasons- one, at the time I wanted a very clean, strong line with them, and the cartoon aesthetic gives me that. Two, I wanted to approach the characters with a more realistic effort later on, but not then and there. I think I succeeded better with Ron than with Hermione because it's much easier to exaggerate facial features on a guy and keep him looking "handsome" than on a girl and keeping her "pretty". Or it is for me, at least. Even in drawing, women are a mystery to me...

coming up: more HP stuff.

For those of you worried this will be an HP love-fest, don't worry. I've got all kinds of other geekery waiting for you. And a list of more stuff to work on.

Since you're here, please take a moment to check out the poll to your right. I have a bunch of different ideas for things to draw, but I'd like to know if you (and you know who you are) would like to see anything in particular. Or at least as particular as the poll gets. Or feel free to e-mail suggestions. Bad ones will be ignored, good ones will be appropriated and claimed as my own.

See you Thursday.

Music: "Secret Garden"- Peter Gabriel

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mike Wieringo

originally posted August 13,2007 at livejournal

Mike Wieringo died yesterday at the age of 44. Most people have no idea who he is, but to those of us in the know, Mike was a Titan among men. Mike Wieringo ('Ringo to his fans) was one of my favorite comic artists of all times. When everyone was grim and gritty with insane detail and more insane cross-hatching, Mike was drawing clean lines and fun characters. His art was lively without being cartoony. His art was NOT simple; most artists (and fans) know it's much harder to leave lines out than put them in. Mike was a master draftsman, and a master storyteller.

I didn't go out of the way to pick up Mike's artwork; I didn't need to. I was drawn to the type of books Mike evidently loved drawing. His defining runs on the Flash and the Fantastic Four? well, they just sounded like awesome books to me. And there was Mike, drawing some of the coolest characters in comics (when Mike drew the FF, they were COOL). He drew one of my favorite renditions of Spider-Man ever. He drew THE Flash- to me, everyone else's version is a pale shadow of his. He brought something different to each character he drew...

Nowhere is this more evident than in his sketches posted to his weblog. He would, as a warm-up, draw anything under the sun, at a level beyond most "finished" comic art ever hopes to be. and his imagination! Steam-powered Sherlock Holmes? check. Buck Rogers as a swashbuckler? check. Batman as an ape?!? check. and these were warm-ups!

Recently, i've taken up the pencil again, and find myself drawing quite often. A big part of my refound enthusiasm for drawing has come from looking at Mike's blog every day, and more often than not finding something new to ogle and wonder at. "where did he get THAT idea?" and "that's AMAZING!" were my most common thoughts while reading. Seeing what he could do in a few minutes made me want to get back into drawing. I wanted to be like Mike- i wanted to have his dedication to drawing, and more importantly, his love of drawing. So, in that regard, Mike is a huge influence on me. I hope i can keep it up.

I'm going to miss seeing his art on the stands and on the web... and everyone in comics is going to miss him.

(the sketch above is my very poor homage to Mike- one of his many creations that popped up on his blog- "the saturn kid", a character and concept i was insanely excited to see)

Mike's blog was the inspiration for this site, as well as a big influence on my approach to comic art in general. Mike's art is perfect for fans of any age- many of his drawings would fit perfectly in childrens' books or comics. I wanted to re-post this along with the link to Mike's website: and encourage everyone to stop by and take a look at some amazing art that will live on the web for years to come.

Have a great weekend. "Normal" posts will resume Monday.
Music: "I Grieve"- Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Double-barrelled postings

I'm anxious to post more here soon, so here's a double post- scroll down for all the fun!


Alright, now we're getting to it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out while we were on vacation. And, being proper fans, we went out Friday night to pick up our copies at Midnight. So as you can imagine, we spent the next day reading, and reading, and reading. I finished it that night. Not to spoil for those who haven't read it yet, but it was EXCELLENT! So naturally, my friends and I spent much time that week talking about everything that happened in it, and our thoughts on the how and why and what next of it. My mind was full of thoughts and ideas about the Wizarding World of the Harry Potter books. I couldn't stop thinking about all the characters, and what happened to all of them. As I sat there with my sketchpad, looking to draw something, it wasn't much of a stretch to settle on the characters from the books.

One of the things I love about the series is the world-building that went on throughout each of the novels. Rowling managed to take a seemingly-thin concept ("kid wizards at school, right...") and made it a living, breathing, "real" world to millions. Not to mention what the movies have done for all the images she described. The great thing about novels is that they let us imagine for ourselves what everything described looks like. So, all of us have our own ideas of what Harry Potter, Dumbledore, or whoever looks like. But, I'd never thought to draw them before. And, since I was so itching to draw, this is what I started with.

I settled on a more cartoony style for the characters, for two reasons. One, less realism with the characters invites less comparison with the movies (as much as I love the movies, I don't always agree with what I see). Two, the image of Voldemort pretty much came fully-formed into my head before I even started sketching. And, as he doesn't look very realistic (for a back-from-the-dead snake-guy), I thought cartoony might be the better way to go. Optimally, I would have drawn this image of Voldemort using french curves.

Harry was another one who came to me pretty much fully-formed. There's really only three features you need to do a reasonable Harry Potter drawing: the Hair, the Scar, and the Glasses. So that's what I went with. Hopefully I managed to impart a little look of determination into the sketch. My thinking was this was a late-in-the-game Harry. And, again, the cartoony face. Less lines also means less opportunities to screw up. Imagining this image in 3D makes me think of some type of anime character with improbably pointy hair.

Expect more HP characters...

Music: "Flash Gordon (Theme)" - Queen


This was the first sketch I did while on vacation- it had been so long since I'd drawn anything at all (other than layouts for paintings), I really needed to warm up with a sketch. Basically, I needed to see that I could still draw. If I couldn't make a person look like a person, all the enthusiasm in the world wasn't going to help me any. This poor person had the misfortune to fall asleep. I'm pretty pleased with the sketch, though one of my weaknesses is placement- had I planned better, I would have turned the paper, thus avoiding the partial decapitation. A lot of times, I will find that the picture "gets away from me", taking on its own directions as it needs. layouts only get me so far, and the picture will frequently change as I get more lead onto paper. This is fine when sketching from imagination, less so when sketching from life. Something to work on.

Life drawings are a tricky business, particularly when you're attempting to achieve some manner of likeness. For me, likenesses are a happy coincidence when I'm trying to just get the form right. For me, and for many artists, I think, success is when someone can look at a drawing of yours and say, "oh, that's such-and-such". A skilled artist can convey likeness in just a few lines- Mike Mignola, another favorite comic book artist of mine, is well-known for his very minimalist style, often using and handful of lines to suggest features. Yet, his adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula had some of the most accurate likenesses to be found in comics.

I'm hoping to convince, cajole, or bribe some friends into sitting for some figure sketching at some point. Hopefully someone would be able to recognize them in my sketches.

Music of the Moment: "Supermassive Black Hole"- Muse

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Sleeper Has Awakened

Well, I've done it.

Finally, after much thought and debate, I've finally decided to put together a place online for my sketches and occasional commentary. Those of you deep in the know are aware that I already have a blog hosted elsewhere on the 'net. That one was born out of a need to externalize a lot of interal things, and as a result, isn't necessarily fit for public consumption. Not so this one. This one is a site I want the world to see (or at least, those of you I've told about it, or have turned up out of curiosity...).

Why now? And why drawings? Well, funny (or at least long) story. Once upon a time, long long ago, I used to fancy myself something of an artist- or at least, I could draw something, and mostly folks knew what it was. I used to draw all the time. I've kept notebooks from high school subjects just because I've drawn over my notes (usually in class). I would draw almost every day- I could be sitting in front of the TV, or be shelving groceries at the supermarket where I worked, and have to stop because an image came into my head so clearly I'd drop what I was doing so I could get it down on paper. Clouds never looked like just clouds to me.

And then something changed.

I stopped drawing so much. Ideas came less frequently. I would spend my time at work not thinking about what I was going to draw, but thinking about work. Or about paying bills, or about getting the oil changed, or about one of a thousand little things that make up our lives. And then one day I realized I hadn't picked up a pencil for drawing in months... and it didn't bother me. Things were going on, and I had a lot more important things to worry about than wasting my time drawing stupid little cartoon characters. My brother gave me a beautiful sketchbook the Christmas before- a year later, it had maybe eight sketches in it. So I set aside the sketchbooks and pencils and kneaded erasers. I guess I'd moved on.

Last month, I was on vacation with my oldest and best friends in the world. A whole week sitting around doing nothing at the beach. Sweet! But not quite "doing nothing". You see, my friends draw, too. Not just doodles while on the phone- they draw ALL THE TIME. They have book after book after book filled with sketches, caricatures, toons, thoughts, ideas, sometimes just a few lines... They live and breathe drawing. They will be old, old men, barely able to see, and they will be drawing. They take sketchbooks and pencils with them everywhere. They took their sketchbooks TO THE BEACH. Now that's dedication. So I'd sit there with a book sometimes reading, mostly watching them draw. I'd occasionally offer my humble opinion on their efforts (I'm no artist, but I know the language) and watch them pour their talent and imagination onto blank pages. I sat, and watched...

And then something changed again.

As I watched them work in their sketchbooks, I began to realize something was going on. There was a feeling in the air- something different from all those times I'd look down at a blank page, and see only a dead end. Something different from those times I'd start to draw, only to stop a few minutes in when it wasn't working out right. My right hand was twitching, like I'd just picked up something lost. My eyes were moving, like I'd just seen something familiar, and welcome. My mind was racing, like I'd just assembled something new and clever and wonderful. I realized what had happened, what was happening.

I wanted to draw. I NEEDED to draw. I ran upstairs and found the tablet and pencil I'd brought along for the trip (unused other than for making lists for the longest time), came back down, sat on the couch, and DREW. My hand moved that pencil like an engine was driving it- I couldn't get the image out fast enough. My eye was picking out the right lines out of those I'd put down, deciding what to keep, what to erase (I'm a scratchy artist- clean lines aren't typically my thing). My mind was placing everything out on the page, waiting for my eye and hand to catch up. And I was thinking of what to draw next. And what to draw after that. And what to draw beyond that...

So here I am. 20+ days and 25+ drawings later, and no sign of slowing down. It's like the gap between then and now was a chance to recharge my imagination- or maybe it was more like a land in drought, waiting for the rain. That time with my friends, my brothers, will be among my most treasured memories. The time I found my talent again... There's a kind of energy you get when a group of people get together and do something they love- it's something that you all give off, and you all take in. Sitting around drawing in a group was like passing around lightning. You feed off each other's excitement and skills and creativity, and give out your own. The energy only builds, never lessens. And they say there's no magic in the world...

So, there you go. That's why I've got this site. I'm really excited about what I've been drawing- more excited than I've been in a long time. And I wanted to put it out there to share my excitement. Maybe you'll take some of that energy of creativity and of excitment (especially the excitement!) with you, and put it into something of your own. If you like, feel free to share your own ideas, and creativity, and excitement. Go ahead. There's plenty to share.

A note about the artwork: by and large, I'm going to present it in chronological order. At least initially, it'll be a chance to show my headspace at the time this whole mess started. There will be times, however, when I'll switch up, usually to present a series of pictures with some manner of continuity to them. Or if I'm bored. Heaven help you if I'm bored...
And don't go expecting high art or anything like that. I draw what I like, first and foremost. But I'll see if I can mix it up a little bit.

A note about this piece: McConland is an idea that came to me while hanging out with Dave, my friend and roommate. This was probably the result of intentionally mis-hearing (a trick learned from Harlan Ellison) a comment Dave made, my remark about what i'd misheard, and the insanity that follows when guys such as we put our twisted minds together. There's a vague plan to turn this sketch into a more formal one-page gag. You'll see... oh, you'll see...

This is dedicated to the Brothers Weaver, without whom there would be nothing for me to post.