Thursday, November 29, 2007


No, this isn't some manner of NyQuill-driven delirium; it's just the result of watching 300, which may have been inspired by a NyQuill-driven delirium.

300 is a great movie. Not a great historical epic, but a great popcorn movie. Stylized to the N-th degree, packed with action and general bad-ass behavior, it's a great way to kill 2 hours (so to speak). It's shot so beautifully, and the look is so stylized, it's not hard to pick up on little touches that appear throughout the movie. For instance, this whole picture above came from looking at Xerxes headgear in the movie- none of it made sense; gold just went all over his face and somehow didn't fall off, and there were jewels all around and all kinds of craziness. So, I thought I'd see if I could imagine what a princess (or concubine, or slave, or whatever) might look like decorated in this fashion. So, here you go. Don't blame me- it's the media's influence ;) Oh- the ear-to-nose chain is totally inspired by Jane Child -that early 90's girl singer with the crazy punk hair, but who wasn't punk... bonus points if you remember the song she sang. And maybe a cookie.

okay, I'm off to do a couple shots of NyQuill- have a good weekend. New poll to the right- also, it seems as though those of you who voted last round would rather be vamp-bait than anything else. Good call, but 'well done!' to whoever wanted to get taken out while in flagrante delicto. If you're gonna go, go happy.

Music: "Demolition Man" - Sting

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We are All Luminous Beings

Surely you realized it was only a matter of time before I posted SOME kind of Star Wars picture, right?

This sketch was actually done a few months ago (it's listed as sketch 16 amongst the files, putting it between Ed and Shaun), but it's been sitting around waiting for me to learn enough about Photoshop to color it decently. I won't say that it's been colored the way I want it, but I like it pretty well. The sketch itself is pretty straightforward: I wanted something action-oriented, and two lightsabers. I wasn't looking for an exact likeness (obviously), but something more in line with a comic-style version of Luke Skywalker, rather than the actor Mark Hamill. I'm pleased with it. it's relatively actiony, for me, and did its job.

The coloring was quite the ordeal. I found a surprising number of tutorials for creating lightsaber effects in photoshop- or perhaps not surprising- but I opted to go my own route with them. basically it involved treating them as a separate layer and using a number of built-in effects to get the color and 'glow' of the blades. The coloring was done by coloring on several layers below the actual drawn layer (which I treated as a transparency), thereby giving the picture an inked or 'comic book' look. This was the most time-consuming part of the project; making the layers and sorting out what went where. I followed up with the shading, this time using my Wacom tablet rather than blocking areas to fill (trust me). My favorite parts are the boots and the lightsaber hilts, which i did by drawing highlights in black and white using the tablet. Overall, this took about 6 hours to do, not counting the original sketch.

For those of you slogging through the explanation, thanks for reading! Hopefully that was illuminating for you- or perhaps you can give me some Photoshop tips instead, which would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, that's about it for this turn around- hopefully I'll have something else amusing or distracting for you by Friday. Till then, cheers!

Music: "Duel of Fates" - John Williams

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More High-Falutin' Real Life

Welcome back from the holiday- hopefully it went well for all y'all. I'm actually sick, so this will be relatively short (I can hear the rejoicing now). This is another page from my fancy sketchbook- you know, the one that's supposed to have the important work in it. This picture is actually drawn from a photo taken from an issue of National Geographic. NG is well-known for the quality of its photographs, so I figured if you're going to steal, steal from the best. I thought the image itself was very striking- the woman's face is cropped out of the photo- almost as if her entire identity were to be found in this passport.
That's it, nothing more to say. I'm going to bed.

Music: "Across the River" - Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We Travel on the Road to Adventure

Or at least the road to home...

Nothing to post today other than Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, and there's a new poll to the right...

I'm headed home later today and won't be back until Sunday, so no posts Friday. Come back Monday!

Song: "The Thanksgiving Song" - Adam Sandler

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Once Upon a Time

The Guy works part-time helping his father, who runs a small, vacuum cleaner repair business, but dreams of having his songs recorded and landing a record deal. His girlfriend has recently left him and gone to London, and he is still coming to grips with that loss and is emotionally vulnerable.

One day while busking on Dublin's Grafton Street, he meets the Girl, an East European immigrant who has moved to Dublin to start a new life for herself and currently works as a house cleaner in an upper-class residence. She is struggling financially, and cannot afford the piano she yearns for, while also being in the process of making crucial decisions about her personal life.

In a Dublin that has grown increasingly affluent and materialistic during Ireland's unprecedented economic boom, they are both outsiders, struggling with their art and their hearts. Through music, they find a common bond that brings them effortlessly together.

As the Guy and the Girl get to know each other over the course of an intense few days, their relationship blossoms as they share their music, put together a band to rehearse songs and record some demos, all of which results in them both bringing some much-needed impetus to their artistic and personal lives.

A few months ago I mentioned this song, "Falling Slowly". I first heard this song on VH1 (the one that still plays music videos) and was completely taken not only with the music, but also the video. I did some searching and found that it is the main song for a movie called Once, which has apparently been getting some amazing reviews (98% fresh from Anyway, you might be wondering why I'm so crazy about this movie... and I honestly can't tell you. It might be the music (which I've enjoyed), it might be the look of it (it has a very simple style), it might be the story (as quoted above from the website), it might be all the great things I've heard about it (the words "Oscar contender" have been used repeatedly)... it could be anything. The one thing it probably isn't though is the movie itself; I've never seen it. So you can now see that it's REALLY strange that I'm so taken with this movie. But, there you go. Can't help the things I like. It comes out on DVD next month, so I'll find out if the movie matches the hype. I somehow think it will.

The picture itself- This image is taken from a frame capture of the video (which is itself almost a paraphrasing of the movie). This image, of what looks like one of those rare and perfect, golden moments in your life- when everything just seems... right- really struck me, and reminded me of such a moment in my own life (which might make it to a posting), so I really wanted to try to get it onto paper. So there you go. The sketch itself went amazingly well; non-photo blue to pencils with nary an eraser in sight. I actually went back and copied the original drawing to go back and add shading- a chance to practice without messing up the original. I have at least 2 other versions rolling around somewhere, and will probably revisit this again to take another pass at it.

Anyway, there you go. more 'real' life drawings.

Music: "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?" - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quiet Time

Continuing with the subject of real life, this time it really is real life. I sketched this one down in Chinoteague, VA, this past September. Believe it or not, this was done while there was a Steelers game on. Either the little girl is a hard sleeper, or Dad's got some serious self-control. Chinco is a good time for drawing people; my friends will often be sitting around for some time (games and football, always good for that) and they're not very likely to slug me for drawing them. This drawing was done with a regular leaded pencil, and inked with the nearly-ubiquitous brush pen.

Sketching 'real' people is always a challenge. In a typical real world setting, folks don't normally sit still for you long enough to do a fully-rendered picture. Most times, I have to hurry up and draw like mad to get down the basic image (usually just pose and posture, maybe some features) and then, once they've moved, I use my memory and their general appearance to finish the image. It's really not important to catch the minutiae of the subject; what is important is getting the 'reality' of the person. I'd much rather make a drawing of a person sitting on a chair LOOK like a person sitting on a chair, rather than an anatomical model drawn in a sitting position with a chair sketched around them. Life drawing is a great way to learn real people. It's fun, but unfortunately not always easy to do. So, when the opportunity presents itself, I'll take it.

That's it for now; not a whole lot else to report. I think Monday will continue with 'real' people- though Monday's will more appropriately be called 'reel' people. Heh. I'm so punny.

Have a good weekend, and stay warm.

Music: "Hard Sun" - Eddie Vedder

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life, or something like it

So I FINALLY tried to draw something that wasn't based on a comic book, or a movie, or my own twisted little imagination. Since I have yet to actually go to any life drawing classes (which usually feature nekkid people, so many of the pictures might not make it through filters) and people rarely sit still long enough for me to draw them, I figured I'd fall back on the old standby and imagine what they'd look like. This is what you get.

There's no particular logic behind this particular pose or person (I'm pretty sure he's just whatever the lines ended up looking like), I just had this image of a person slouching on a chair in mid-discussion with a group of people. I'm pretty sure he's bored, and not buying into what the others are telling him. Or I hope like hell that's what he looks like, otherwise I'm really reading too much into this.

The big thing about this picture is the fact that I mostly colored it by hand. Well, figuratively, at least. In every drawing I've posted in the past, I've colored it using a combination of the 'magic wand' feature in Photoshop (which picks out defined blocks of space and 'highlights' them) and the paintbucket, which does mass color. With this one, since the sketch itself was pretty rough I thought a less-defined approach to the coloring was the way to go. So, I used the paintbrush feature and my Wacom tablet to color the picture, essentially like using a crayon with a coloring book. I did cheat a bit by using layers and coloring 'underneath' the picture, but only on the flesh parts- doing this let the lines stand out better, instead of getting 'painted' over. I'm actually surprised at how much I like the end result. Messy is not bad!

That's about it this time around. Friday should bring some more 'real' life to the post, assuming I can find a picture I'm happy with.


Music: "Silver Lining" - Rilo Kiley

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Sergeant Robert Lloyd Darrall served with the United States Army from around August 1951 to February 1954. Sergeant Darrall served in Korea during the Korean War from September 1951 to June 1953. He was with the 32nd Engineer Construction Group in support of the 8th Army. During his time in Korea, Sergeant Darrall went from Private to Sergeant in 18 months. Upon his return to the States, Sergeant Darrall joined the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne.

Robert is husband to Bernice, father of Mark, Roberta, and Steven, and grandfather of Jonathon, Kevin, and Emily.

Specialist Michael Edward Zerbee served with the United States Army Reserve from 1974 to 1980. Specialist Zerbee served with the 339th Field Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Specialist Zerbee's classification was 91 C, or a Practical Nurse. Specialist Zerbee's civilian career was also spent as a nurse, working for many years for the State of Pennsylvania.

Mike is husband to Mary, father of Michael and Linda, and grandfather of Katerina and Lillian.

Captain Michael Anthony Zerbee currently serves with the 911 Aeromedical Staging Squadron in the Air Force Nurse Corps, based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Captain Zerbee has served with the United States military since 1989. Michael joined the United States Army then, serving in Turkey from 1990 to 1991 as a Private First Class with the 21st USAFAD (United States Army Field Artillery Detachment). PFC Zerbee's classification was 31C, or Radio/Satellite Communications Operator.

Upon his return to the States from Turkey, Michael served as a SPEC 4 with the 3rd Air Defense Artillery in Fort Polk, Louisiana. After a 2-year furlough, Michael joined the Army Reserves in 1994. Serving with the 403rd Replacement Company in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Michael was promoted to Sergeant in 1997. Michael served as a 31C and later as an Admin Specialist (75H).

Beginning in 2001, Sergeant Zerbee served as a Field Medic (91B) with the 1st Battalion/103rd Armor unit of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In April of this year Michael joined the Air Force Nurse Corps as Captain. Throughout his military career, Michael has been stationed around the world, from Turkey, to Germany, to Louisiana, to Punxsutawney. Michael comes from a long line of military men; his grandfather Leo served in World War II, and his father Mike served with the Army Reserves.

Michael is husband to Inge and father of Katerina.

It's funny, you know. Every year, for the past, I don't know, let's say 5 years, on Veterans' Day, I've sent these three men an e-mail. Just to say 'thank you', for having such courage as to serve the country as members of the armed forces. So when this time was rolling around again this year I thought to myself, 'hey, since I've got this blog up and running, I can finally show them just how much what they've done means to me- I can finally do them justice." And I've realized, as I've been typing all this to post, there is NO WAY I can ever properly tell them. How do words compare with the fact that these men were willing to literally put their lives on the line- it didn't matter the time or the place. And it's not just them- it's millions of others, men and women, from across all walks of life. How do you show your appreciation for that? 'Thanks'?

That's the thing- did any of these men- and I'll just talk about them for now, since I know them best, but I think this would be true of many if not all of the veterans among us- did any of them do this for thanks? Did they do it for some kind of gain? Was there some kind of profit to be had? Of course not. They did it because they love their country. They did it because it was the right thing to do. How many of us can say we would do the same? How many of us, when our country called on them to go halfway around the world, to deal with blistering heat and unforgiving cold, to patiently suffer the insults and hurts of people who don't understand our country and our way of life, to fight and maybe die on behalf of people who could not fight for themselves- how many of us would say yes?

Look around you- millions have.

People claim there are no heroes today. That all our children have for idols are thugs and spoiled brats and liars and killers. That they have no one to look up to.

They are wrong.

We have heroes everywhere- they walk among us and we call them Father, Brother, Mother, Sister, Friend; we call them Private, Seaman, Sergeant, Airman, Captain, Colonel...

We call them Patriots.

We call them Veterans.

So- Dad, Mike, Michael- I don't know if you'll ever understand how much I respect and admire you for your bravery. I don't know if these rambling words, with these drawings I've done, can possibly show everyone how proud I am to know you and how much your strength and courage inspire me. I don't know if I can ever thank you enough for all you've done for our country.

But I'll keep trying.

"Freedom is not free." - Quote on the Korean War Memorial

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Veterans' Day

This Sunday is Veterans' Day. Hug your veteran, or just be thankful we have such men and women among us.

But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar'd brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled."
-Philip Freneau

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Another sketchy post. 'Sketchy', get it? sigh...

Anyway, the above is a fairly quick sketch of my new favorite flavor of television, Doctor Who. Or, to be more precise, the Tenth Doctor. I'm a new convert to the show, but I've rapidly learned two things: 1) the history of the show (which has been on the air for something crazy like 30 years) redefines 'convoluted' and 2) you don't need to know anything about it to enjoy the hell out of the show. And I do. It's a great combination of sci-fi, character, and a healthy dose of WTF? God bless BBC America!

The sketch itself is really more my impression of the character rather than any attempt at a likeness of David Tennant, the actor portraying the Doctor. He plays the Doctor as someone 3 steps sideways of crazy, very affable, and incredibly sad. Sometimes all at once. But he's a skinny, goofy-looking bugger, so he can't be all bad. Anyway, there you go. I'd like to take a crack at a proper drawing sometime, so expect to see it again.

Nothing more to report for this week; however, should anyone have any suggestions for a poll question, please feel free to e-mail me at sdarrall [at] aol [dot] com or via the posts here.

Please come back Monday for what might be the post that makes me the most proud.


Music: "Golden Years" - David Bowie

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In the Camera(phone) Eye

I've noticed recently there are a lot of pretty skies out there. I don't know what it is that is suddenly making me aware of this fact; it's not like there were no skies before now. Maybe it's that I'm not listening so closely to my audiobooks (I apparently have a sliding scale of bad books- if they take long enough to get bad enough, I'll stick it out and finish it), maybe it's just that I'm looking out while my mind wanders. Whatever the reason, I've been seeing a lot of beautiful sunsets and skies like the above, and the one below.

The other thing I've noticed is, given half a chance, my cellphone's camera can do a pretty decent job of capturing an image. I wouldn't try using it for passport photos, but it's not bad. Regardless, I now have the ability to hold these skies whenever I see them, instead of just trying to hold onto them with my so-fallible memory. I think I'm lucky, to now finally be able to see the skies, instead of constantly keeping my eyes on the ground.

So yeah, these pictures are really serving two purposes: 1) to share some of nature's beauty with anyone who happens to stroll by and 2) to avoid actually posting any art. I'm at a point right now where I don't like much anything I've got in the pipeline here, either due to trouble with the computer or just really not liking the sketches I've got here. Things are... less than optimal for me, artistically-speaking. I have a couple things I really like here, but they're not really where I want them to be just yet, and I have something coming up that I really hope I can put together. But, the ideas just aren't rolling out like they had been. The couple times I've wanted to pick up the pencil recently, I've not been in the position to do so. I hope this will all pass, and I'll go back to the artistic powerhouse I was before, dazzling you all with my dead on renditions of those so-popular comic book and science fiction characters. Or dazzle myself, at least.

Okay, for those of you who struggled through that last paragraph, sorry about that. I know some of you read this to actually see what's going on with me, so there you go. For everyone else, wake up! I'm done whining for now.

Hmmm... let's see...

Music: "Prime Mover" - Rush

(Yes, I know that these beautiful sunsets are created in part by all the pollution in the air. Thanks.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Where's the Rum?

Welcome back. Not much to post today, unfortunately. Nothing I was planning on posting today was working out, so I'll fall back on the old standby- sketches! There's nothing too special to say about this one- the main comment about these is a technical one- both were finished using what's called a brush pen. Essentially, it's a felt tip marker that has a semi-rigid tip shaped like, well, a brush. This little beauty allows you to alter the width of the line you're putting down on paper, just like a brush. It's a far cry from the technical pens I grew up using to 'ink' my pictures. I really enjoy using the brush pen- it gives much more organic lines to the drawings, and a weight that I really can't give them with pencils alone.
Also, if you'll notice in the picture, I left in the blue lines. Typically when I draw nowadays I first sketch the picture using non-photo blue lead, which gives me the advantage of letting me be as messy and experimental as I want to be before committing to actual pencils. The beauty of non-photo blue lead is that, with 2 clicks in Photoshop, it disappears completely from your drawing. Woo! This is the usual method of choice for drawing with comic artists, and I jumped onboard with the idea after watching the Brothers Weaver use them.

Let's see- the pictures themselves? Just some emo-looking kid and Captain Jack Sparrow. The Captain is photo-referenced, but damn, is it hard to make a picture look like Johnny Depp. Another of my many weaknesses are likenesses, although I can occasionally pull off a "hey, isn't that-?".

So, there you go. Sorry it's not more interesting, or I'm not more amusing at the moment- I'm pretty pissed that the computer is not working for me right now. Hopefully the land of joy and humor will return Wednesday. Otherwise, things will go 'splody.

Music: "He's a Pirate" - Hans Zimmer

Friday, November 2, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Final

"It's not death if you refuse it."

Welcome to the last Halloween-related post I'll be putting up here for a while... well, for a year, most likely. Rest assured (or be warned), this isn't the last you'll see of supernaturally-oriented characters, or even scary Hollywood-type characters; this is just the end of using Halloween as an excuse.

Today's posting is an old favorite character of mine, the Crow. Back in the early 90's, the Crow was pretty huge in the comic world. It was a very popular independent comic about a guy who's brought back to life to avenge his and his girlfriend's murders. What made this much more affecting than it sounds was the sometimes lyrical quality to the writing- sometimes literally, as the Crow would quote music. Moreso than that was the backstory to the book- the creator of the comic actually wrote the book in response to the death of his girlfriend. The depth of feeling he put into the work really helped it transcend its somewhat pulpy roots, and was popular with the non-comic-book crowd. So much so that it was made into a movie, which most of you have probably heard of, if only for it was while filming that movie that Bruce Lee's son Brandon was killed. Cheery stuff.

Anyway, for me personally, The Crow was a gateway into a whole new world- one where comic books didn't all have to be about superheroes smashing things up, and creators could talk about real-world issues (though certainly not foregoing their fantasy routes). To be honest, I haven't read the book nor watched the movie in a few years now. I know my nostalgia-meter is typically buried in the red, but I'd like to think that the book and movie would still hold up pretty well after all this time.

As to the picture itself... I'm fairly pleased with it overall, though I think it might have been better had I not attempted to color it. The character is basically black and white, so trying to work with those options, given my relative newness to Photoshop, makes the results somewhat... lacking. The lines are somewhat buried underneath the layers of color, though this actually leads to a less well-defined figure. One of my biggest drawbacks with my character drawing is the fact that I grew up drawing superheroes, who are essentially nothing more than super-defined musculature models. It's hard to draw normal-looking people. Even dead ones like this guy. It's hard to know when to put the pencil down, and keep from rendering ever last damn muscle. But, I'm trying. Oh- this version of the Crow is pretty much a split between the comic and the movie.

That's about it for this trip through Halloween. Thank you all for coming back to visit so frequently- hopefully it was a pleasant diversion while at work. It's been a challenge to put up so much work, especially based around one general idea (no, really, I don't sit around drawing Halloween-type stuff all the time...), but I think it's gone pretty well. Which isn't to say I wouldn't be perfectly happy to pull all the pictures down and re-color them when I've learned more about these dang computer programs.

Coming Monday- reality! Well, my version of it, at least.

Music: "It Can't Rain All the Time" - Jane Siberry

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Nine

'And they danced... '

This picture came into my head more or less complete, as will happen sometimes. Dave and I were driving around- looking for someplace to eat, I think- and he had a Leon Redbone disc playing. Well, this one song comes on, and it has a feel to it... You know what I mean- you're listening to a song, and it'll conjure such a perfect image in your head... It's like hearing a song you know well, and knowing just where you were when you first heard it, or if it has some kind of significance to you, you can recall perfectly the time and place when you heard the song. That happens to me a lot- there are a lot of songs that remind me of seasons, or of particular days, or events, or people. But, sometimes it works in reverse for me, in a manner of speaking. I'll hear a song, and it will put such a perfect image in my head... and a lot of the time, it has nothing to do with the lyrics. It's mostly the 'feel' I get from the music itself, or the tone the singer has.

Anyway, all that bullshit aside, this song came on, and I knew exactly what this picture was going to look like. The tune itself has a real Halloween vibe to it, which made this image so easy to draw. The drawing itself went quickly, once I went online to see what people who know how to dance look like. Not that there were a lot of references for giant pumpkin-headed people dancing, but I've learned to improvise. Most of the rest of the image is courtesy the magic of Photoshop. I like this picture a lot- pretty simple, but very satisfying.

That's all for now, but I'll be back Friday with... something. Maybe something Halloweenish. Maybe something random.

Music: "Ghost of the St. Louis Blues" - Leon Redbone