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.

So?

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.



Tanuki

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.

Hyogo Times Cover June 08

Lots of work lately, and the biggest has been becoming the cover artist for the Hyogo Times. For this cover, I started with wanting to work with Godzilla in some way, and it just turned into a GQ-like cover with him posing in men's fashion. Like most ideas that come from some absurd arbitrary seed, this prompted me to write (with the help of a Godzilla-savvy pop culture afficianado) an interview with the big green himself. You can view the issue, with the "interview," here.

In other news, life in Japan is alright. Teaching has been slow lately, but have laptop, will travel. Thusly, I have been taking advantage of my time and drawin' stuff, like the big green above.

All for now, kiddos.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Trying to decide about the hole.  Water?  Someone's reflection(s)?  I tend toward the literal, and have to throw in some conceptual messiness to find the spontaneous.  

Anyhow, its just a step in the process.