Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, all that jazz

Hope your season is going as great as mine so far!  WOOOO HOOOO!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kansai Scene

Hi folks.  Here are the bits of a job for the Kansai Scene in Japan, an article on a Shinto cat funeral.  This has been a two day job, drawing the first day and color-finishing the second, so I hope they successfully take me into the wonderful world of Japanese magazine publishing.

I was lucky to actually visit a Shinto Shrine and Cemetery in one afternoon after I explained to some Japanese friends that I was making images for the article and they took me.  It was a nice afternoon and proved to me that I work in the nicest school with the nicest teachers in the whole country.  So without further ado...

Monday, December 8, 2008


This is sketch I did a while back and started experimenting with today. I'm more ok with it now than I was before, so I guess that's good.
Water ripples? Also thinking of someone standing on the hole's edge, their reflection blurry in the water's reflection. That might finish it off.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Music Animal Variation and Zipline Illustrations for Allen Broussard Conservancy

More for the Allen Broussard Conservancy:

They really liked the Harvest Music Jam Poster from October and asked if the animals could be re-cast for Christmas.  It was a fun process, deciding on a role for each.

Afterwards, they explained how in January, they are beginning their process of promoting a Zipline that they are setting up on their nature preserve as part of their Eco-Tourism. Continuing the animal theme, we decided on using the Florida Panther as the Zipline Spokescat, since tons of Florida stuff already uses an aligator as a mascot.  I think they turned out fun!  And I've totally got dibs on that zipline.  It makes me think of Medicine Man with Sean Connery and Loraine Brocco (sp?), going thru the treetops to a heavenly Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack (and which btw, made me really excited about environmentalism in the 8th grade - the circle is complete...).  

(Quick personal fun fact: The day-care center I went to from around 3 to 7 years old had a zipline from the top of [what at the time, seemed like] a huge hill all the way down to a space between two trees where you would be jerked to a swinging stop.  The way that one was built, it seems now like something too ramshackle and fun for a day-care to have for their kids today, but it was awesome.  It almost made up for the terrifying and mentally unstable male owner of the place.  Oh, memories...)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Happy Place: December Hyogo Times cover

For Assistant Language Teachers, December in Japan means cold. Whether huddled before a kerosene heater or under your kotatsu, this is the season for seeing your breath in your apartment (or my kinda gross favorite: seeing steam rise from the toilet as you use it...).

In this spirit, I considered an image with a class being conducted in a frozen wasteland, students in their uniforms (girls still insanely in their officially-required skirts!), with polar bears and penguins in attendance for pronunciation practice. (Of course the focus would be L's and R's...)

However, I simply couldn't face it. Ladies and gentlemen, I just had to go to my Happy Place. And this Happy Place is what I drew. Maybe you'd like to spend the winter there, too. Plenty of room in the pink castle...

In actuality, this is all just a giant rationaliation for a drawing I had the urge to make after seeing one of my student's drawings of a unicorn, or Pegasus or something. As my English club kids sat discussing their school festival project in Japanese, I sat sketching out the composition for my idea of the girliest drawing I could imagine - something that would have been on some 4th grade girl's Trapper Keeper.

I couldn't fit in the group hug between the teddy bear, kitten and puppy, but maybe next time. I'm kinda proud of the dolphin's splash and the sparkles. The grass was purple at first, to push the insane "Barbie - isle - at - Walmart - feel" that I was going for, but the green really helped the wee cutsie primary-colored citizens of my Happy Place stand out better.

I've realized that its so much easier for me to get my shading completely worked out on the sketch beforehand than to do it later on the computer, which I use primarily for color and emphasizing the shading I've already done. The flexibility of digital colors has really allowed me to experiment while letting me retain the sculptural quality that I like in drawings.  

Some things I wanna work on are 
-Really integrating the pieces that I make separately because initially I am unsure about composition... in my October cover, I made all the figures together in one drawing and its one of my favorites... can get back to that approach.
-Seamless use of imported textures.  I really try to use textures that I find in my everyday life, and stay away from internet finds, even if I alter them beyond all recognition.  The ingredients matter in voodoo spells.  Regardless of where they originate, tho, I want them to blend better. Upcoming personal projects demand this. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November Hyogo Times Cover-The nail that sticks up...

I think of this month's cover image as more of a question than a statement.  I heard about Japanese education before I came here and have since seen many varied examples of teachers, their styles of teaching, and the seeming effects on students.  Teaching styles differ between higher and lower level schools, between older and younger students.  I don't know when I heard the phrase "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down," but it lead to this image.  I know it certainly doesn't apply only to Japanese schools, if even then.  

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Quick pic of my costume from last night's Halloween.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Murals "big" in Bulgaria, apparently

So I'm going to be in a Bulgarian textbook on mural painting. How random is that?

I received a surprising letter a few weeks ago from one Prof. Oleg Gochev, an artist, muralist, and professor at the National Art Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria. He, thru his amazingly polite assistant Milena Kardaleva, was asking for permission to use images of some murals I completed at North Drive Middle School in Hopkinsville, TN during 2001.

As I had not featured these images on my site or focused on my murals for a few years, this was a surprising, if flattering, message to receive.

Cool, huh?

Here's a preview of some of the murals from that project:

Library Murals
One of my faves, outside of the library, they had these in-set doors that lead to this idea for the book case illusion. All of these books can be found inside on the actual shelves. I think we picked the books most often checked out for these murals. There's another bookshelf mural outside the library's other exit on the opposite side with different books.

Music Mural
Where the school band practiced... I remember the model for this face was a 13-year-old flutist with an attitude.

Math Mural How easy was it to come up with a "fun" idea for a math mural? I'm not sure I did, but the math problem about calculating the circumference of the earth kinda relates to a giant globe I painted down the hallway for the Geography classrooms. That bar over its left side is some cork strip for hanging things in the hallway that the janitors insisted on putting back up... art critics.

Art Room Mural If you look closely, you can see the left hand hands are sketching an in-perspective plan of that hallway itself, including the art mural itself. Get it?...

Flag Corps Mural This is the mural for the Youth Communist League... No, not really - this is for the Flag Corps. Do you have that in other countries? Some girls whipping flags about lethally, throwing them high into the air and catching them at the last second?

Some additional info: North Drive Middle was a school with an incredibly long central hallway running like a spine thru the center of the school. Standing at one end looking at the other was a disorienting optical illusion of geometric perspective. Anywhere in the middle, its was difficult to tell exactly where you were. Thus the murals as a solution to create visual landmarks in this seemlingly endless beige-brick corridor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Featured Artist Profile for Agua Trip: A Visual Songbook

Check out my profile...

You may remember me mentioning my involvement in a great big concert/multimedia art event to benefit CONNECT, an NYC–based non–profit organization dedicated to the prevention and elimination of family and gender violence, all organized around the music of NYC band Agua Trip, who will debuting their long awaited new album Genetics.

For Agua Trip’s Genetics Release Concert and Fundraiser, 20 artists have contributed artwork based on songs from Agua Trip's new Visual Songbook. These companion pieces will be displayed at their concert/art show/multimedia extravaganza in Times Square on Nov. 5, 7pm-10pm. Those lucky enough to be within the NYC vicinity should definitely save the date for what promises to be an amazing night.

As the date approaches, the band is profiling the individual artists, digging into the process and inspirations behind each piece as well as their connections to their companion songs from the album.

I can't ruin the surprise and show you the piece just yet, but soon we'll be able to see all the great work put into this whole project, and I'll be posting it here.

When and Where:
Agua Trip’s Genetics Release Concert and Fundraiser
Wednesday, November 5
7:00pm – 10:00pm
711 7th Ave
Between 47th & 48th
Times Square
New York, NY 10036
Under the Auspices of Paradox Production Inc.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hyogo Times October 2008 Cover

So here's the final version of the cover for the October/Halloween issue of The Hyogo Times. Its the most wonderful time of the year.

I had a lot of fun working on this image. The characters on the left are some of my oldest friends, going back to some library books I checked out week after week in elementary school, each about one specific monster. From Wolf-Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein's Monster to King Kong, Godzilla, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Mad Scientists, Aliens, Zombies - I checked them all out a dozen times each.

But still my biggest influence was Michael Berenstain's Creature Catalog. In a complete stylistic departure from his parent's Berenstain Bears, he use a very intensely detailed pen and ink style that feels more like engraving. At first I thought Durer was his primary influence, but now I see a much more direct link to work by German artist Wilhelm von Kaulbach. Berenstain used this tight, sculptural style to create a survey of dozens of mythological and fantastic creatures from cultures all around the world. Anyway, I guess its the only book I still have from when I was 7, and its a treasure to me. As time goes on, its really my biggest influence, and its a pleasure to find its stylistic ancestors.

As far as my image goes, I'm pretty happy with the way the foreground and background are meshing. Anyhow, let me know what you think!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Potato Boy, for Ben and Becky

I've had this rolling around the sketchbook for about a week, but only posted it now.  All he needs now is some colors...

Inspired by true-life events / vending machines...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

October 08 Hyogo Times Cover, step1

I do not know what the problem is, but I cannot get Potato Boy to upload.  Guess you'll have to wait till Christmas morning, kids.  In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with a bunch'a old Hollywood Monsters having an awkward moment with a bunch'a Japanese monsters:

This is my step 1 sketch for the Hyogo Times October Cover.  The center "o" in "Hyogo Times" will be the moon, and I see a dark blue bg with a dark/black tangle of tree branches across it and the o/moon, but the HYGO TIMES on top of those branches.  This is one of those images that kinda just made itself after the kernel of the initial idea came up while talking to my Granny Dot on the morning of my day off.  Actually, not many images fit that specific description, but you know what I mean - some images kinda make themselves, like I hear some writers say about stories writing themselves, or characters telling their own stories.  

Western audiences will no doubt recognize the classic Universal line cast of characters to the left, but you may not know the Japanese ones.
-Rokurokubi: Long necked, but otherwise normal-looking traditional Japanese woman
-Kitsune: the Japanese word for fox, often seen as magical creatures indicated by growing more than one extra tail.  9 is especially magical.  
-Oni: kind of a general horned demon, usually red or blue
-And my favorite, the Karakasa: an umbrella-monster-thing. A type of Tsukuogami which is an object that has reached its 100th year of existence and developed a spirit.  Also happens with old sandals, apparently.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Aaaaaand I'm spent....

....Next time (or the time after...) on sketchblog: POTATO BOY!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Poster, v2.0

Ok, this color sucks, but its just a tone to start with. The colors are really gonna pop everything and get the text out and visible. Oh Chromatic Diety(s), guide me into an eye-catching yet un-gaudy resolution.

Monday, September 15, 2008

ABC poster project, pt7-Poster Step 1

Thinking things out... I finally got them on stage in an orderly fashion. And I've amended most of their looks. A kind, honest friend of mine unintentionally referred to the Florida Panther as "uh, what is it - a giant rat?", thus some editing. The Wild Pig doesn't seem to be suffering under the weight of his accordion anymore, I hope. And I'm also hoping the colors really pull the figures apart from each other.

Now what was the magic spell for perfect design & type?...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ABC poster project, pt6-That Wild Pig Accordionist

I kinda feel like he's gonna come together in post-production...

ABC poster project, pt5-Gopher Tortoise on Drums

Starting to get a critical mass of animal performers, and the specter of the background is looming... My hope is to finish this poster by Monday night, but am allowing myself until Wednesday night.

Listening to some This American Life episodes that I've let stack up on my iTunes. I love the show and in more than 10 years of listening, have never once been disappointed by it, but more than a few times have been moved to real thought, laughter, and tears. It strikes me as one of the biggest examples of a contemporary urge for sincere sentiment. I was talking with my friend Billy a week or so ago about his artwork. One important element in his work is his exploration of the line you cross from sincere emotional expression into something showy or false. He also contrasts it against "knowing" art, a kind that works from a (real or contrived) jadedness, a kind of defensive, cynical unwillingness to let one's guard down, to be real. The example in my mind is that of a wise-cracking sitcom kid, though I'm sure Billy could say it better. I'm seeing this impulse in different folk's art and media these days, and am really interested in it.

At the moment, I think of two artists from my grad school time at MCAD who's work I think in this same way: Molly Roth and Shepherd Alligood, though for now I have to leave it at that. Gotta get back to drawing a pig playing an accordion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

ABC poster project, pt4 -Florida Panther on Lead Vocals

Mixing the details of the animals with human postures is getting easier and more natural overall, but this panther has really taken some messing with. May take some more yet, feels like somethings not quite right, but it'll need some sit time before I can see it. Still, I'm pretty happy so far.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Allen Broussard Conservancy poster project, pt 2.5/3-Banjo Gator

This little dude is my favorite so far - and subsequently has taken longer. But I think he's happy, so I'm happy. :) Steve Martin said that you just can't be sad playing a banjo. If a cold blooded death-machine like an alligator can still look happy playing one, I guess it's true!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Poster for the Allen Broussard Conservancy's Harvest Music Jam

I'm working on the anthropomorphized and musically inclined animal population of a poster to promote the Harvest Music Jam, taking place in St. Cloud, Florida's Allen Broussard Conservancy.

This is a gee-tar-in Red Tailed Hawk. It took a while to find a Hawk to pose for me, and even longer to find one who could play. I finally had to ask him just to pretend to play the guitar.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

September Hyogo Times cover

Hello again, folks. I've not forgotten the blog, but instead have been putting unusually concentrated effort into the unusually detailed cover for September. Truth is, I hope to use this image for more than this cover, but I'm excited to see how it works as one.

I wonder if it will throw folks, or if having "Hyogo Times Pictures Presents" in the credits will be enough to make it a "cover." I feel its certainly topical to a JET's life in the Hyogo Prefecture, including not only its most famous attraction (is that arguable? I'm not sure...) as well as a popular Japanese food.

For the uninitiated, takoyaki is the squid equivalent of a Chicken McNugget, sorta smallish, greasy, and oishi (delicious). I'm not so big on the texture of squid, but hey, there's no accounting for taste.

Plus there's the issue of dimensions, as this is not the typical height-to-width of a newstand cover. The only excuse I have is that the prefecture has been having a hard time finding money for printing, and most HT issues lately have been distributed only in digital format. In that case, the cover dimensions do not matter, and the conceptual limits of "cover" expand dramatically. Oh well, we'll see.

Btw, been in the US for a week and a day now, and 6 more to go. Its great to recharge, reconnect, and remember. Things are different, but not so much.

-My 6 year old twin cousins are becoming full-fledged human beings with fascinating and and unique personalities.

-More bypasses have been built, allowing those at point A to get to point B faster, and for at point B to do the inverse with A. (I refer you to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for my feelings on bypasses.)

-Going to Wal-Mart is still the most effective form of birth-control I know of.

-And we are all getting older, and we are all slowly, surely, becoming more fully ourselves.

God, Bless America. Please.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back with the August HT Cover!

Its been too long, ladies and gentlemen. This month brought many changes in my life, not the least of which was moving to a new town here in Japan. Between moving, quintupling the amount of biking I do, meeting new JET's and the subsequent/requisite/enjoyable socialization that includes, I was drawing but a little.

But I did slip in a new cover for August's Hyogo Times (I know it's over-photoshopped, thank you) and am planning on whipping out Himeji Joe for September's. Slight change on his intended adversary, tho: I'm feeling like Ultra-Ganguro will have to wait, but Ultra-Takoyaki (like Saturday Night) is "alright fo' fightin'." For the non-nihongo-learning crowd, takoyaki is a popular fried Japanese comestible made from squid. Ya dig? I like drawing tentacles, but you'll have to wait to see those. However, here's Joe's final pose, which I sorta like in all his bold black and white glory.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Website Pre-Preview

The new website, beta version, is uploaded and viewable!  After some kind folks explained some glitches to me, the page should be looking solid.  My goal is to have a portfolio site that is itself a portfolio piece, so feedback is welcome and appreciated!  

Btw, on my Friends page you'll see how I am hoping to exchange links with folks.  Its a two-for-one deal, as I'll be putting my Friends' links on two websites (homepage and sketchblog) in exchange for only one on that Friend's website.  That's good for everyone, since more links to your site equals higher search engine rankings.

In local news, mid-Southern Japan is at the peak of its summer heat.  At least I hope this is the peak.  The humidity is astounding and stifling, and I'm from Tennessee where the air is so wet that we are practically amphibious.  
Teaching English in Japan requires getting used to instructing in rooms with no A/C of any kind, summer or winter.  After you resign yourself to the sweating, it's easier.  Students have it hardest, never once entering a cool place the entire day (this doesn't exactly motivate them to learn), where as the teachers get to sit in the A/C'ed Staff Room with all the other teachers.  Not complaining, just observing.  

Monday, July 7, 2008

First Steps

Today I made my first real efforts toward entering the Japanese publishing scene. The opportunity for this came in the form of a Creator's Lunch being held at a local graphic design office.

The challenges, pt.1: Of course it was raining for the 10 minutes I was on my bike, promptly clearing up as soon as I entered their office, visible through the huge picture windows with their incredible view of Himeji Castle. On top of this, it is the summer rainy season and so extremely hot and humid (mushi-atsui desu, I love it that one of their words for "humid" is "mushi," cause thats how it feels). So I was completely soaked in either rain or sweat, and spent the first 20 minutes trying not to drip on my own drawings. I'm sure I looked like a freak, but folks seemed nice about it.

The challenges, pt.2: Most interactions here serve to remind me of how bad my Japanese is, and today was no different. However, I lucked out in that the owner of the design office is passionately interested in learning business English, and was very nice about helping out with conversation beyond my initial introductions and job descriptions.

The good news: I met another illustrator (who coincidentally had drawn a picture of Himeji castle up and walking around, even though his was very cartoony and for a small animation), a few designers, a printer, plus a few others. I wish I had a chance to see more folks' work, though I did see the work of this one dude. Besides being a DJ, he meets with 3 other artists to make a zine. They set themselves a time limit of 2 hours to produce the zine from the first step all the way to the final printed copies. They were rough and spontaneous, and looked like tons of fun. I was happily reminded of SALart, a similar zine (minus the time-limit) that I (co)edited over a few years during my time in undergrad at APSU. Sounds like a great idea for a party...

Anyhow, decent for a first attempt. There will be another lunch next month!

Plus the new website is almost done!!! It'll be up asap, and of course it will posted here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Drawing til my eyes hurt

So, still working on Himeji Joe by doing him in pieces, which will come together to make the big man himself, just like Voltron.  I'm putting off the website for another weekend.  (But I worked on it lots this week!  The image is all done, its just installing the plumbing in Dreamweaver thats got me held up, figuring out the rollovers, etc...)

Had to get out of the house for some hours today, so I spent a few hours at a friendly local (and American in origin) fast food joint.  While there, saw a dude in line at the checkout whose posture and build struck me as interesting.  Luckily, they were busy and he had to stand there for a while.  I only got a few glimpses at his face and never saw his lower half anyway, but got this sketch made. 

The drawing began with the full standing figure, proceeded to exaggerating the few looks I got at his face, and went to the drawing of our new friend on the left.  When I saw the guy in line, I thought of a turtle-like Japanese mythological creature called a kappa that I read a lot about this week.  There's a bowl-ish haircut named after the do they are supposed to have, and the dude in line had it.  He looked like what I would want a kappa to look like, so I dug in while I could, playing with the posture.  Real dude didn't look near as bad as my version of him.  

My kappa has the haircut, and I tried to leave a space for its primary feature, a depression on the top of its head in which water must be for it to retain its dangerous mojo.  If you are a polite person with a habit of bowing, then it will return this bow, lose its precious H2O, and you're in the clear.  So remember kids, don't be rude little bastards or a horrific water-dwelling turtle monster will come up under you in the water and there'll be no more of you, no sir.  

Brought up thoughts of one of my first affinities in drawing that I felt alright at - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I think I was tracing them out of a Nintendo Power magazine I had in the 4th grade, and its one of the first things I can remember actually drawing for other people's requests.  Beginning of a bad attention-seeking habit.  But anyway, knowing that their standard design is still my default for a humanoid-turtle, I tried to get as far away from that as I could, at least in the details.  Hence the rib-y anterior plates and knobby shell.

Also been watching Spaced, a great British comedy series with the folks from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  The main dude plays a comic artist, and occasionally they show his drawings, which are wicked.  Looked it up and found names of two dudes who've worked for 2000 AD, the big-deal long-running British comic magazine.  Anyhow, my fave is Jim Murray, whose work follows.  

 Murray's colors remind me some of Glenn Fabry (of the Preacher covers), but its the drawing underneath these colors that really get me.  He's so expressive!  Jeez, its inspiring and great and kind of depressing all together, which I guess is a compliment to him.  Its so open, loose and dramatic, but still retains a sculptural, rendered power and  quality that I love in illustration.  Ummm... 
I realized that I have some of his stuff in my box of stored comic at home in the U.S., which I bought for the same reasons listed above.  I love seeing this level of work going into telling stories.  This level of stuff almost only makes it to covers, and a whole comic of this is a real treat.  Not to throw judgement on the scripts he works on, but this kind of art can make crappy writing look a million times better, like movie stars can lend believability/credibility to some terrible Hollywood blockbuster.  I guess thats a compliment, too! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Himeji Joe vs. Ultra-Ganguro, pt. 1, Cont.

So I realized that my earlier post might not make any sense without some additional information/images.

I live in Himeji, Japan. Its famous for its castle, widely thought to be the nicest in Japan. In Japanese, its referred to as Himeji-jo.

I was drawing it one day from a nearby park and started to see a face in the castle. Thoughts of what it would look like if it stood up jumped into my head. I found/took some pictures and started playing with ideas. What would its body look like? Arms? Legs? Plus, might as well call him Himeji Joe, you know?

I knew I wanted to show it from the ground, looking up at it, towering over us. And what the hell - might as well make it fighting some other huge creature. After thoughts of the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben facing off against our hero, Jenai suggested I use a girl dressed in a Japanese style we were reading about called ganguro. They are sorta scary, which is a plus, AND they are often interpreted as caricatures of Western women. Awesome, I'm starting to like the layers coming up here...

So develop the pose, examine details...

With the other creature to be worked out later, I got into faking the perspective and exaggerated ground-level view. This was, like, a 3rd attempt. Pretty frustrating at the time.

After a few tries, I got something I was into, the sketch below. In the previous post, you can see how I am developing areas of this basic sketch, one at a time. So fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Himeji Joe vs. Ultra-Ganguro, pt. 1

I've been taking a break from getting the new website ready to work on something thats a lot of fun. I'm making a fake Monster-Movie poster for my idea of "Himeji Joe vs. Ultra-Ganguro". It involves our town's castle standing up like a giant monster and fighting a giant ganguro woman. More to come on that later. But here are my two favorite drawings from this weekend. I'm learning that these architectural details take forever! God knows I'm adapting the actual design to fit my anthropomorphization (jeez, is that a word?), but I still want to get as much in as possible, and I want it to be instantly recognizable, at least to locals.

Having so much fun with this.

Watched Dexter all Sunday, too. Really fun, but makes me feel kinda guilty almost, like being able to understand a character like that makes you morally culpable for... something. I don't know.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Website Update Preview

Been drawing all day, and will be drawing all night.  I like the feverish, focused times like this.
The most immediate goal is finishing the webpage background.  I really poured some effort into figuring out the lighting coming from the fireplace, and feel alright about the results so far.  I'll put off the figuring out those damn rollovers till later.  Anyhow, this is what I did today.  

Looking at it after a break, the frames still need some attention, but its going alright. 

I'm excited about a Hyogo Times cover that will involve Himeji (my town in Japan) Castle standing up and fighting with a giant version of one of those Ganguro girls, in a showdown towering above some downtown Himeji.  Props to Jenai for the idea for the castle's opponent.  I was thinking some other nation's landmark, but I like keeping it domestic...  Let viewers attach meaning...  I'm eager to work on that, eager to employ the references I've gotten, eager to figure out how to show it from a ground-level viewpoint and adapt the castle architectural details to a standing, fighting pose.  Problems to solve, like a carefully prepared meal to slowly enjoy.  

But I digress.  Back to the job at hand.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hyogo Times July 2008 Cover

So I just finished the July cover, my second for the Hyogo Times.  It comes from the Art Director's idea to have Japanese Prime Minister Fukada set in a purikura photo booth.  

For those who don't know, purikura is a Japanese institution (and just to protect my own reputation - I did this "look" with a purpose) with a reputation for over-the-top-super-uber-kawaii-cute-tacky-ness.  Kinda "icch," but hey, no accounting for national taste.  

You go into these booths and pose against a green screen and then choose any of many exotic/cute/tacky/over-photoshopped backgrounds and then add stamp-style any of many shapes, icons, text, characters, etc.  This fast, exciting music is playing the whole time while the seconds count down, so its real easy to screw them up, exponentially increasing the possibilities of hyper-tacky-hood.

For the PM, I found some but created most of the elements you see pasted behind and before Mr. Fukada.  Lots of fun, and it went fast.  I started the drawing today at school around 3:15, worked on the drawing till 4:15, then came home and finished the pencil work.  Then the color work, creation of elements, etc.  

Question: do you like that he's in B&W?  I could color him, but I want him to stand out against the colors, since he's known for being this stolid, stone-faced no-nonsense politician, and was afraid even pale colors in his face might lessen the contrast.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Kappa" sketch

Sketchbook page, 2008

I spent a few hours at a friendly local (and American in origin) fast food joint. While there, saw a dude in line at the checkout whose posture and build struck me as interesting. Luckily, they were busy and he had to stand there for a while. I only got a few glimpses at his face and never saw his lower half anyway, but got this sketch made.

The drawing began with the full standing figure, proceeded to exaggerating the few looks I got at his face, and went to the drawing of our new friend on the left. When I saw the guy in line, I thought of a turtle-like Japanese mythological creature called a kappa that I read a lot about this week. There's a bowl-ish haircut named after the do they are supposed to have, and the dude in line had it. He looked like what I would want a kappa to look like, so I dug in while I could, playing with the posture. Real dude didn't look near as bad as my version of him.

My kappa has the haircut, and I tried to leave a space for its primary feature, a depression on the top of its head in which water must be for it to retain its dangerous mojo. If you are a polite person with a habit of bowing, then it will return this bow, lose its precious H2O, and you're in the clear. So remember kids, don't be rude little bastards or a horrific water-dwelling turtle monster will come up under you in the water and there'll be no more of you - no sir.

Brought up thoughts of one of my first affinities in drawing that I felt alright at - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think I was tracing them out of a Nintendo Power magazine I had in the 4th grade, and its one of the first things I can remember actually drawing for other people's requests. Knowing that their standard design is still my default for a humanoid-turtle, I tried to get as far away from that as I could, at least in the details. Hence the rib-y anterior plates and knobby shell.

Tanuki after a long night of drawin' and colorin'

Added some colors last night to Mr. Tanuki.  Doing hair is so fun.  These are reasonably accurate colors to the real, raccoon-dog-like animal.  I like the view of him up close better, so you can see the hair details.  But still I tried putting him with the Monumental Gambatte, below.
"Gambatte" is Japanese for something like "try your hardest," "keep working hard," and "do your best," all together.  And since I can't let go of a dramatic idea, I wanted to see Mr. Tanuki in front of it.  

However, I'm still working on making them not mess each other up.  Hard to see the tanuki's arm against the shadows on the monument.  

Its just like my problem with dressing - I can pick out an interesting shirt, for example, but matching it with some pants, shoes, etc. - now, that gets challenging.  I make these individual pieces (that tend to figures), but I'm still working on making things that fit together right.


This little guy is both a real Japanese animal as well as a mythical character.  He is most often seen with a bottle of sake in one hand and an unpaid bill in the other. Individuals of the breed can be recognized by their personal trait of being well endowed in the family jewels department with ginormousbigjigglyballs, which he was known for drumming on merrily.

Ever play Super Mario 3?  That's the same thing, minus the primary identifying feature(s).  

I am recruiting him as a symbol of the those who must keep their spirits up and trying hard, like the brave (if impetuous) Tanuki, who perseveres through inane and pointless hardship, to keep beating himself in the nuts, despite the tears.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In Progress: Website Update Background

Crafting a new website format, and I've been working on this for a while.  Figured I'd go literal with the "home" in homepage.  After I get the last things on the mantle colored, shaded, etc., add a few more messy details throughout, I'll start figuring out how to accomplish the rollovers I want in Dreamweaver.  

The idea is to roll over different places in the picture, for those places to brighten, and for the corresponding section-title on the toolbar across the bottom to also highlight.  Make sense?

Also, I'll have "Friends" links from both the new site and this sketchblog, so if you're interested in trading links, you'll get listed on two sites.