Sunday, March 30, 2008

"It's all in the reflexes..."

"Yes sir, the check is in the mail."

"What'll come out no more?!?"

"I was born ready."

And the almighty "INDEED!"

These are quotes from one of my favorite movies of all time, Big Trouble in Little China. It's an insane homage/send-up/mash-up/genre-bending action-kung fu-comedy from 1986, that almost no one saw in the theaters, but has gone on to become a genuine cult movie (the ones that gain in popularity after their initial theatrical release; not the ones with actual worshipers, or so we like to tell the uninitiated). Directed by John Carpenter (of Halloween, They Live, and The Thing fame, and starring Kurt Russell, BTLC showed audiences crazy kung fu movies more than a decade before Keanu did his thing, and was a great blend of action, horror, and fantasy. It also features one of the most ineffective heroes ever leading an action movie- Russell's character Jack Burton frequently takes himself out of the fight before anyone else can. I honestly can't tell you why I love it so much- part of it is the humor, no doubt, but also that it functions as a straight up genre movie, it looks pretty good for the time and budget it was made with, but it also never takes itself too seriously. I dunno. Try it yourself. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for some mindless, but not stupid, fun. Check out The Wing Kong Exchange for a website over-stuffed with BTLC goodness.

The picture... once again, if you think it looks at all decent, I give all the credit to the coloring. This was taken directly from pencils, then colored in PS, with a tweaked backdrop added in (and no, I don't know what it says). I'm fairly displeased with the general look of the body- one of my many weaknesses, all the people I draw look very stiff and unnatural. Here's the part of the picture I like best:

Doesn't that look better? meh. I need to spend much time learning many things about drawing. Unfortunately, it's not all in the reflexes...

More Wednesday!

Music: "Kung Fu Fighting" - Carl Douglas

Seriously, what did you expect?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Belong Dead...

I found this while digging through some of my older sketches- this is about 3 or 4 years old, I think. I'd had it in my head to tell a story with the Universal Monsters (imagine that), and thought it'd be fun to mess with their looks a little (and imagine that).

I learned that there's not a lot to be done with Frankenstein's Monster without veering wildly away from Jack Pierce's original design (at least, not at my level of talent; that and I think it's one of the most perfect monster designs ever), So I threw in a scarf. 'Cause, you know, it's cold when you're dead.

The Bride, on the other hand, was pretty easy to mess with. Or, in the vernacular, I sexed her up some. Hey, you don't know what's under that big white burial shroud-type gown of hers? And we all know sex sells... The one thing I liked about her 'redesign' was taking the lightning-inspired bouffant and turning it into a mass of dreadlocks. Nothing revolutionary, to be sure, but I think it makes for a more dynamic and interesting look. Also, sexier than a bouffant.

There you go. The coloring was done pretty much with only two brush settings in Photoshop. Since the picture was so rough, I thought it would be fun to 'paint' the colors in a pretty sloppy fashion. And, I'm lazy tonight. Still, I like the look to both characters, and wouldn't mind revisiting these particular ideas, not to mention the fast and loose (sloppy) coloring. It's fun to use a device made for absolute precision in such an imprecise fashion.

Music: "Frank and Ava" - Suzanne Vega

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Age of Bronze

For those of you looking for a discourse on Eric Shanower's epic comic book, sorry, wrong place. However, if you're looking for a picture of the Man of Bronze, then you've come to the right place... though I'm no James Bama.

If you've just read the above paragraph going "wha huh?!?", don't worry about it. "The Man of Bronze" is no comic character. That's a reference to one of the most famous pulp fiction characters in America, Doc Savage. Don't worry, I'll explain a little below.

Pulp Fiction is the name given to a series of stories written back in the early decades of the 20th century, most of which appeared in cheap nickel and dime magazines printed on cheap, or 'pulpy' paper. They covered all genres of fiction, but the most popular were the action-adventure/mystery ones. Characters such as The Shadow, Buck Rogers, and The Spider either made their debuts in the pulps or became best-known for appearing in the pulps. Doc Savage was one of those characters. He was kind of a "renaissance man of action", if you will. He was trained to the peak of physical perfection from childhood, with a finely-honed genius, and a group of assistants to cover all manner of expertise. Imagine Batman with guns and a special forces team, and you kind of get the idea. All filtered through the 30's mindset, of course, so you can imagine the kinds of stories and characterizations you'd get. Oh- he's called "the Man of Bronze" because his skin is supposed to be a deep bronze. Like George Hamilton, but bigger. Also- James Bama was the artist who painted the book covers of Doc Savage back in the 70's- he gave doc a crazy deep widow's peak, which is the image most folks think of when they think of Doc.

The pulps are long since gone, but the characters still live on, both in their own adventures (either reprints of the pulps, or movies, or TV shows) and in their intellectual offspring -comic books owe a huge debt to the pulps, as do the larger-than-life action heroes of the movies. Indiana Jones is a Pulp Hero.

I discovered Doc Savage books quite a while ago, entirely accidentally. I picked up a couple of them at a used book fair, thinking they were about a completely different character (Savage? Samson? Who can tell the difference at age 11?). I read them anyway, and was pretty much hooked. The stories are filled with great action, fun characters, and crazy cliffhangers with narrow escapes. Completely politically incorrect, but that's half the fun. Anyway, there you go. Go to Wikipedia to read up on Pulp Fiction and Doc Savage.

Oh yeah- the picture... This actually was never intended to be a Doc Savage pic. I originally drew it after watching an animated movie that featured Superman, among others, drawn in a very clean, distinctive style. Wanting to get the feel for that style, but not draw superman, I decided to make a retro-style superhero. It was a pretty quick sketch- he looked more like a wrestler than a superhero. But, when I started working on the coloring, I ended up going with a deeper skin tone than I normally use. I took a look at it, and the general look of the character, and decided it was going to be Doc Savage. So, the skin got properly colored, gave him blondish hair, and made his outfit a little more doc-like. Then, once it was all colored, I decided to make it look like it were an old photo (thinking on it now, I could've gone really crazy and given it fake distressing. But I didn't). I don't know how well the web-based jpeg reproduces the image, but I'm terribly pleased with the results of the coloring. I'm finding I'm getting as much pleasure out of coloring the pictures as I am drawing them- sometimes moreso. Figures- 30 years later, and I'm back to playing with crayons...

Anyway, there you go. A little something to make up for the lack of an update Friday and Monday's pseudo-update.


Music: "Gladiator Waltz" - Hans Zimmer

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This is one of the pages where I scribble down different ideas and hope, when I go back to this page weeks or months later, that I'll know what I was thinking at the time. Looking at this one, it's mostly ideas I had for the Flash Gordon project back a few months.

Sorry I've nothing else to post- I got in late and I'm nothing else is really ready to get posted yet. Also, I'll go out on a limb and guess that I probably won't have a post up Friday- I'm having a root canal done tomorrow, and chances are good that I'll be heading home (my family's home) this Thursday, so it's not looking likely. Hopefully I'll get something up for Monday.

Have a good Easter, y'all!

Music: "Absolution" - Muse

Sunday, March 16, 2008

If Lovecraftian Horror Has a Name... must be Indiana Jones. And Hellboy.

Just another of those goofy ideas that bounce around in my head from time to time. I always thought it would be fun to put these two characters together. They're both very much "everyman" type characters (red skin and tail notwithstanding), and they often(always) face some manner of supernature. And, since they were technically operating in about the same time period, I figured, 'eh, why not?'

I figured this would be in the mid-50's at some point, when Indy was the well-seasoned pro and HB was just getting started. HB's dad would've brought in plenty of experts to talk to him and teach what they know, so how could they not call in Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.? And, son of the devil or not, Hellboy is just a kid at this point, and not the bravest of souls.

It only now occurs to me that both of these movie series have sequels coming out this summer. Jeez! Woulda been a good excuse to put this out then instead...

Anyway- the picture itself- scanned directly from pencils, then tweaked and colored in photoshop.

Music: "The Way" - Fastball

Friday, March 14, 2008

I Can See Things No One Else Can See

Today's post courtesy the once and future root canal and the pharmaceutical industry.


Music: "Bubbly" - Colbie Caillat


Music: "I Want a New Drug" - Huey Lewis and the News

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grrr. Arrrgh.

Sorry, it's not a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" sketch (though that's not a bad idea, now that you mention it. Thanks!). It is, however, a 'fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer' sketch.

This is a preliminary sketch of a picture I ultimately did for my friend Thad's birthday last year. Every year, a group of friends and I take a trip down to Chincoteague Island. Last year's trip happened to almost coincide with Thad's birthday. Never a group to pass up an excuse for a party, we decided to celebrate the birthday a little early. Thad's a man of many different tastes, and we wanted to get him something that would be fun, birthday-worthy, and memorable. Once we ruled out the showgirls, we settled on Calvin and Hobbes. For those of you who don't know Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes... well, shame on you. Really. There's no excuse. Go look it up, buy the books, or something, then come back.

Seriously, you should be ashamed.

Okay, glad you're back.

Anyway, I also thought that, instead of buying a birthday card, We could make one, one that could fit in with the theme. So, one Google search later, I found some good Calvin and Hobbes reference material, and decided to make Thad a comic strip character. I found this great quote about aging (via Skottie Young's website) that seemed to fit perfectly with both the birthday and with Thad himself (it's that old adage: 'Growing old is required; Growing up is optional') So you get a picture of Thad acting goofy, and wearing a BPRD t-shirt (Hellboy is another character Thad likes). If you look closely, you can see another face I tried out, before ultimately picking what you've got in front of you. Oh- the ovals to the right are me testing out a brush-tipped pen before I started inking the picture.

There you go. Lots of words for a birthday card. We all had a good time. The company and the cake were excellent.

In other news, tonight was another art experiment- you should see the results of that in the near future.

Music: "Birthday" - The Beatles

(yeah, I know it was months ago, but I just posted an entire post about a birthday card! what else would I put?!?)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Digital Damsel

Though hardly a damsel in distress.

Last of my first spate of all-digital drawings, I was trying to go for a more animated look with this one. It really started with the line for her nose, and the eyes. I built the rest of the picture around those few lines, and tried to keep it as clean and as simple as possible- almost in direct opposition to the other two drawings. I was pleased with how it turned out, though I did get in to tinkering an awful lot with the line weights and over-working each line, something that's long been a problem of mine. When you can alter ever single pixel of a drawing, why not? But it came out pretty well. There's no real plan or design behind the face, though I think it's slightly reminiscent of 'Mirage', the femme fatale character from The Incredibles. As I look at it though, I get the feeling there's an actress out there someone will point out to me and I'll say "ooooh yeah, that does kinda/sorta maybe look like her. If I squint." But there you go.

In non-drawing news, I finished Joe Hill's short story collection over this weekend. I can't possibly recommend 20th Century Ghosts highly enough to you. It's a tour de force of talent, which is all the more impressive as this is his second published book (the first, Heart-Shaped Box will be picked up from the library shortly. The stories, though usually having horror leanings, do not all fall into that category. And those that do, I think would appeal to just about any reader. Two of the best stories, "Bobby Conroy Comes Back From the Dead" and "Pop Art" are anything but horror stories. "Bobby Conroy" actually takes place in Monroeville (a town very near my hometown) during the filming of Dawn of the Dead, and is a great little story about... well, no spoiling it. "Pop Art" is just... sublime. There's no real way to describe it other than to read it.

Okay, enough with the book report. See you Wednesday.

Music: "Confessions of a Teenage Girl" - Bonnie McKee

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's the miles...

My second all-digital sketch. This particular idea came about when someone pointed out that my Remus Lupin sketch didn't look "old enough" to really represent the character- he's often described as prematurely aged. My reply was, truthfully, I'm just not very good at drawing age lines (or laugh lines, if you're so inclined). Part of that comes from not being very subtle with pencil lines- age lines usually seem to work best when they're suggested in a drawing, rather than explicitly drawn in, and I definitely tend to draw in every line I can. So, when I realized I could start drawing right into the computer, I thought I might have an easier time of it with the ability to minutely control not only the line, but the color as well. For results, see above. I think it came out reasonably well, being what it was. For reference, I have a great book of facial expressions, including a series of an 80+ year-old woman. So, judicious application of pixels later, and I've got the above. It's interesting to look at the way the age lines follow the curves of the facial features, I think. Or maybe it's just me. Anyway, there you go.

Nothing to report otherwise; all's quiet. Oh, not quite- a new feature to the right: Ex Libris- titles and comments on books I'm currently reading, or have recently read, or think you might enjoy. Or hate, I don't know. But they're over there, if you're interested. Perhaps with some ambition, they'll have links to Amazon or some such. Or you can just take my word for it and buy them. Hey, have I ever steered you wrong before? (Don't answer that)

Music: "The Man Comes Around" - Johnny Cash

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Digital Dreaming

I was about to head to bed last night after a frustrating night of bad drawing- ideas would come and go, nothing was feeling right to draw, and what did make it to the page was hardly worth mentioning- and an hour or so of surfing the net, checking out, which is normally always good to get me excited about drawing. Not last night; nope, last night was all about making me feel like nothing I was drawing was worth the paper it was printed on. Let me tell you, times like that really make me want to pick up the pencil again. And break it.

So yeah, I was still frustrating myself by looking through these artists' pages, and my internet radio was playing on- it's a channel called 'Coffeehouse', which I guess is meant to be a mix of new music and classic rock- all the cool stuff that gets played in a coffeehouse, I should imagine. So I'm looking at this art, and thinking yeah, that's pretty cool, I'll never be doing anything like that, when the radio starts playing some different music. I'm not even sure what it started out playing, but it was good- really good. Nothing up-tempo, or 'feel-good' or whatever, but just good music. Another song comes on, and I'm turning on Photoshop, bringing up a blank page, and taking out the stylus, and drawing the above.

I know it doesn't look like much- hell, it really isn't much- but it's something new for me. The above is the first picture I've worked, start to finish, in Photoshop. No big thing for these folks on Deviantart, mind you, but pretty big for me. I've really been hesitant to look at digital art as art- The fact that someone could conceivably create the Mona Lisa entirely in a computer, without ever touching a tube of paint, never sat well with me. However, as I've come to use tools like Photoshop and the Wacom tablet more and more, I've finally realized that they're just tools- they are all there to help the artist convey whatever is inside his or her mind to the rest of the world. Whether it's via pencil, paint, or pixel, it's all art. And alliterative, evidently.

One thing I've learned about this experience is I still think analog- I sketched out the figure just as I would on paper, moving in just the same fashion- hence all the jagged little lines. It feels a lot like when I first started putting these pictures up on the web for folks to peruse- I know there's so much I can do with these programs, but I'll only learn through practice.

Oh- the music I was listening to led me to the picture above. Music is great for helping me find out what I'm supposed to draw.

That's all for now.

Music: "Girl in the War" - Josh Ritter

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Werewolf of Hogwarts'

Welcome back- yep, it's the return of Harry Potter pictures.

I really didn't have any particular plan for what to post tonight- I usually don't know what will get posted until I fire up the computer and find what kind of mood I'm in. Do I feel like posting just a sketch, or do I want to color something? I have a number of sketches already scanned in, just waiting for me to do something with them.

As it turns out, ABC Family Channel had a bit of a "Harry Potter" marathon on today, so that made it a bit easier to decide what to post. Even more so in that the last movie to air was "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", my personal favorite of the movies. Yes, yes- I know you PoA haters out there think it's the worst of the bunch for various technical offenses, but to me it's one of the best because it really shows the characters as people, rather than as pieces to be moved through the plotline and setpieces. The writer and director took the time to give more thought to the characters and how they feel than the previous entries, and the story was straightforward enough that they didn't have to pass along massive amounts of information in two and a half hours (which is why the remaining movies would all benefit from either a three and a half hour runtime or two-volume releases). Anyway, it's a favorite of mine.

Oh- the reason this post relates to 'PoA' is that one of the new characters introduced is Remus Lupin, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and (spoiler warning!) werewolf. As long-time readers may know, werewolves hold a special place in my blackened little heart, right along with vampires and other such nasty beasties. Lupin is a fantastic character in the books (who's not given nearly enough time) and is well-played in the movies by David Thewlis.

When I decided to draw Lupin, I knew almost immediately what he looked like to my mind's eye. He's described in the novels as looking a bit shabby, often with scratches and such about his face (apparently he doesn't have supernatural healing while running about on all fours). So, I knew he'd look a bit rough around the edges, plenty of scars and whatnot on his face. My drawing here is really an homage to Universal Studio's first screen wolf man, The Werewolf of London. Released in 1935, The Werewolf of London was much closer to Mr. Hyde than the Lon Chaney, Jr. wolf man we all know. So, I took the two ideas, the books shabby, scarred professor, and London's Hyde-like wolf man and combined them into the picture above.

Hope everyone's weekend was good, and I'll be back Wednesday.

Music: "Werewolves of London" (what else?) - Warren Zevon