Jumbled Inks

Here are a couple quick ones from my sketchbook.

First was a page full of random critters I penciled in, but upon inking I felt that I had left too much empty space, so I added a bunch. Repeat that process several times, and voila!

In a similar vein, I decided to fill a page with dwarves, just sticking them in however would best fit the page. Didn’t intend to give them so much individuality at first, but I’m pleasantly surprised with the results. I think there is a good bit of subconcious Hobbit enthusiasm leaking out in this.

Both were done with some basic finepoint pens, and I made a distinct effort to try to keep my line widths uniform, and just build depth with hatching. Worked out alright, I think.

Pen Reviews pt 1

If you are tired of hearing me swoon about my wonderful library job and babble on about different types of pens, you might want to just skip this post.

Fair warning.

As part of our summer programming at the public library, I have been allowed to run a four part drawing seminar in conjunction with the Teen Program. Each week (with the exception of the one my Dad guest-lectured on) I am covering different core drawing concepts, such as Structures Being Composed of Shapes or the ever thrilling One and Two Point Perspective. It’s a great opportunity to encourage young artists, and it’s a good way for them to network and meet other teens enthusiatic about drawing.

To add a little incentive I have been offering door prizes, and a good deal of these are coming from my favorite pen site, Jetpens. The good folks at Jetpens were kind enough to send me a pack of products to review on the blog, and then give out to the kids each week. So, without further rambling, here is the first installment of my pen reviews.

 

Staedtler Pigment Liner Marker Pen 0.1 mm

This is a great fine-line sketching pen. It lays a very even line, with no noticable bleed or smudging on heavy paper. It’s the type of pen that makes me want to do a massive hatching and cross hatching piece, and draw in every little rivet and rivulet as I go. The ink is just a shade lighter than absolute black, but this is good for allowing you to stack lines for depth. The pen body itself is a little slender, so if you’re someone with a really fierce pen grip style, you might get some finger cramps, but I had no real issues. I also enjoyed the sleek look of the pen, and the matte gray body prevents any slickness in the hand.

All around, I highly recommend this pen, and would love to play around with using different widths of this.

Pilot V-Pen Disposable Fountain Pen

I was excited to get this one to review, as I’ve been on a big fountain pen kick lately (even though I might not know as much as I should). I’ve not yet gotten my “problem” upgraded to the $50 pens, instead sticking with many along the line of disposables. This Pilot V-Pen is a pretty standard example of such. It has a nice feel in the hand, not too bulky or too skinny. The solid plastic body and cap does give it a slightly cheap appearance, but that’s sort of the point, so no complaints. Speaking of points (ba-dun-chhh) the nib seems to be of nice quality. When I got done spinning the thing in my hands and finally started dropping lines, it let out a very consistent one, if a little heavy for my tastes. The ink is a good darkness, unless I was just racing the pen across the page it left a pretty heavily opaque black line. I did have a little fuzzy bleeding when using this on thick drawing paper, which is not a problem I normally have with my pens. This leads me to believe it must have a pretty heavy ink flow, which could be good or bad, depending on your intentions.

Overall, while I feel this is a perfectly serviceable writing instrument, I don’t think I would recommend the V-Pen for drawing purposes. The Platinum Preppy’s do the job much better, with more variety in pen size, and the option to refill with cartridges.

Zebra Disposable Brush Pen -Super Fine-

This pen is an old friend of mine, and one I am excited to extol the virtues of. Several years ago I went on an Art Quest to find the best brush pen or pens for my needs, and this is one of the few that I brought back from the pen-filled wilds. I have a romantic vision of my interaction with such pens, where I would use a splendidly long-brushed delicate pen to whorl and swirl my way across the page, leaving delightfully smooth ever-changing curves in my wake. The reality is that when I cram such an instrument into my ham-fisted paws all I can accomplish is a jagged and hideous ink mess.

Not so with this Zebra Pen! The firmer tip helps prevent my indelicate lines from smushing and shrinking as I work across the page. It lets me keep a consistent width for the bulk of the stroke, but it is still easy to put a light taper on the tips. And if I really want to bulk up a curve, a little intentional pressure will do just that. The pens come in a few different sizes, but I find the Super Fine to be good for my purposes, mainly comics and such at a fairly small scale. The ink has a nice rich darkness, looks great on it’s own and holds up well to light erasing. The body is a simple plastic one, as expected on a disposable pen, but the nice color and gold flecking help to keep it from looking cheap. The pen is just single use, with no intended refill mechanism. I have seen them disassembled with pliers to add ink, and this seemed to work well, but I don’t know how many times you would want to do so, since the nibs are only intended for a certain amount of use.

I heartily recommend the Zebra Brush Pen. Since finding it, whenever it comes time to replace, I usually just order 3, and make sure there is always one in my art box.

 

 

Free Comic Book Day Sketches

Well, FCBD was a rollicking success. We had a crowd of folks come out to Mountain Top, and the line for sketches was encouraging. I was in the company of good artists, with great comic lovers all around, and it was an entirely pleasant way to spend a day, drawing until your hand nearly stops working:]

I did my best to snap some quick phone pictures of drawings as I did them, apologies for odd glares or blurs. I did these with a quick red pencil frame, and filled them out with some sharpie-esque Tul pens and a set of delightful Crayola Super Tip markers (a lot of fun to color with!) These were all quick sketches, none longer than 15 minutes I think, and some as few as 5 minutes. Thusly, rough edges abound:]

Missile Mouse, first sketch of the day!

Captain America

Spidey

Ted Robo (first request for an original character!)

Moon Knight

Smurfette

Lego BatmanSuperman, choking Captain Marvel and slamming him into a wall. 

Newman Xeno playing chess against Cobra Commander

M.O.D.O.K.

The Shadow

Wile E. Coyote as a hopeful Blue Lantern, with Flash Roadrunner

Classic Ironman

Hal Jordan with a Tuba

Cap

Elmo and Four Duckies

Thor

MagnetoRocketeerDerpy Hooves

Daredevil

Megaman

 

These were a blast to draw, can’t wait until next year!

FCBD and My New Book!

Hi guys! I’ve got all sorts of exciting announcements for you today.

Right off the bat, I want to pass along a bit of good press received for myself and my art in the local newspaper. It was a great article written by the talented Megan Trotter, and I really appreciate it.

Even though it is mentioned in the article, here is another reminder to schedule in some time for Free Comic Book Day tomorrow. It’s an amazing worldwide event, entirely free, and is a great way to support comics, get yourself reaquainted with current stories, find all new favorite books, and to introduce someone new to the medium. Every year there is a book I add to my list purely because of its FCBD sample, and I would never have found these gems otherwise. Do yourself a favor, find a shop near you.

And if you are in the Upper Cumberland area, why not come on out to Mountain Top Comics in Cookeville? There will be an all day event, with all the usual free comic wonderfulness, as well as several local artists (including myself!) doing free sketches for those who come by. I will also have free copies of my new mini-comic, “Frolic Not The Mount.” It’s a good’un! And since the shop is located just a few minutes from the movie theater, you can drop by on your way to see The Avengers (which was so good I have not the words to properly express myself:)

Now, my Big News is the formal announcement of my new book, “Sadbot: A Lackluster Love Story.”

Here’s the official back-cover-blurb: Ted Robo isn’t naïve about love, he’s just rather inexperienced.  A brutal breakup leaves him crestfallen, dour and discouraged from ever romancing again.  But even a sad robot can be pulled from the bitter depths of heartbreak.  With the help of his farcically benevolent buddies, a few wayward blind dates, and one tiny but true aquatic friend, Ted reluctantly embarks upon a quest for happiness.  And who knows, if he keeps his antenna up, he might even find it.

It is an 84 page large format (8.5″x11″) black and white paperback collecting a variety of the Sadbot comics I have posted online over the past five years. Included are the “Origin,” “Barbot,” and “These Three Dates” stories, previously only published at Inanimate Shorts. There is also a brand new 11 page Sadbot story, “Monstrorigin,” detailing how Ted came to meet his fishy friend. And there is an Author’s Note, by me, the Author, detailing the history of Sadbot and including, for the first time seen publicly, the original notebook doodle that gave birth to Ted. This is a professionally printed book, which I am self-publishing through Lulu.com, and I am quite excited about it!

On that note, this Saturday at the Mountain Top event, I will be pre-selling Artist Editions of A Lackluster Love Story, to be received at my upcoming book signing on May 19, also at Mountain Top (more details to follow). These Artist Editions are $25, which will include a signed copy of the book, an exclusive Sadbot mini-print, and an original ink drawing of our hero, Ted, or the cast member of your choosing. There are only 20 of these editions currently available, and they will be reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis at the FCBD event (Where I will also have a proof copy of the book to show off!) If any are still available afterwards, I may try to offer them online somehow, but no guarantees!

And since this Is an art blog, here is a small excerpt from the “These Three Dates” story. As far as set-up goes, Ted Robo has just been shang-haied into an online dating service by his “dear” friends:

 

 Have a comic-tacular weekend!

 

Comics Comics Comics!

I’ve got a trifecta of comic updates for you lot!

First off, I have just relaunched Inanimate Shorts as newer, much more streamlined, comic blog. This will be the place to go for any new comics projects from me, so please keep an eye on it. I’ve gotten it primed with several of my classic journal comics, hourlies, and an array of pages created for The Oracle. In addition, I’ve posted the revised “Voyage of the Clementide,” previously only available to those who grabbed the mini-comic version a few years back.

Which segways nicely into: this coming Satuday, May 5th, is Free Comic Book Day! Wherever you may live, track down a participating store and go get some free goodies. If you happen to live in the Upper Cumberland area, might I suggest Mountain Top Comics? I, along with several fellow artists, will be setting up shop from 10-6, giving out free sketches to anyone who would like one. Plus, Mike will have a slew of great free books out there. Including, of course, a new free mini-comic from me.

And, lastly, I just thought I’d share a quick snap shot of something I got in the mail today:

More details soon:]

Photo Smorgasbord

I’ve had these bits and pieces from assorted projects  bouncing around my hard drive, thought I would post a bunch of them together. Enjoy!

A set of owl plaques drawn as a gift. Ink and watercolor on stained pine.

I promised my sister a trio of drawings for Christmas, entirely her pick. What did she go with? A list of six animals, to be combined however I saw fit into three new creatures. Slothkey, Hippoplatypus, and Sea Giraffe. She knows my strengths! Ink and watercolor on paper.Mass Effect commissions. Had a lot of fun playing with some colors. Marker on Bristol.

Kitty Ballerina for a friend. Cute x10. Ink and watercolor on paper.

Pinocchio plaque commission. Ink on stained pine.

Wicket E. Warwick commission, to accompany a Boba Fett and Vader I made earlier. Ink and colored pencil on brown paper.

A Christmas present for my gaming group, The Nerdhouse. I caricatured us all as some of our favorite characters, doing single watercolor paintings to give to each of them. Then I scanned them all in and collected them for a digital print.

Omnicon Aftermath: “A Hero’s Journey”

My entry for the Omnicon Art Contest this year was a large story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey.” For some time I’ve been aware of Joseph Campbell and his Monomyth theory, but have never done any real research into it. I recently found time to watch his “Power of Myth” interviews, which I found fascinating. And so my piece is an incredibly boiled down version of his Hero’s Journey. It is composed of seven story panels, laid out vertically to be read from bottom to top, each depicting a step in the journey. The seven stages I chose/combined are The Call to Adventure, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold, Trials and Tests, Descent into Darkness, The Final Confrontation, and Salvation.
I wanted to use very stylized and minimalist characters and layout, to show the generic and all-encompassing nature of the story, though I was certainly influenced by outside forces. When I decided to color-code the three main characters, that of the Hero, the Villain, and the Princess, I went with a green/red/blue pattern as a tribute to the Legend of Zelda series (which is also very obviously influenced by the Monomyth). To further iconicize them, I attached a basic shape to each of the big three, respectively a triangle, square, and circle. I used these shapes as central features, as well as a guiding force in the physical design and layout for each character’s form. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to make the Hero both green and a triangle, since I was regaled all weekend with “That’s a cool Zelda piece!” and “Neat, but you got the Link and Ganon wrong.” Oh well:]
Another symbolic choice was using the same brown color for both the scenery and the Mentor figure, to imply that he was of the earth, and something of a primal force (I wanted a solid Old Ben Kenobi vibe about him). Furthermore, once he bestows the Mystic Power on the Hero, it creates an immediate change in him, which we see stays with him even once he has let go of it, and is also passed on to his love.
 
As far as art technique goes, I started with a six foot long and one foot wide pine plank, which I sanded thoroughly and stained liberally. I used a gloss polyurethane coat to make sure my ink would not bleed, which, unfortunately, also made it quite difficult to photograph. My apologies.
 
Once the stain had dried, I went in and measured out my panels and borders, and then penciled in each of my scenes.  A lot of my technique here has been refined on the smaller drawings I do on wooden plaques. If I’m careful and keep my pencil lines fairly light, they’ll usually erase right off.
 
After everything was penciled, I mixed up copious amounts of each ink (terrified that I would not mix enough, and have to try a color match at the very end) and went in to ink each figure. I used a dip pen with a basic drawing nib, first outlining each shape and then going through to fill it. For some reason a brush does not get good coverage on top of the stain, instead making little beads everywhere, so I actually had to go through and scribble each solid shape full.
 
This took For-ev-er.
 
Once all of the figures were filled in, I then went back and added the horizon and foundation lines. And when these had dried, I tediously painted in the borders with gold acrylic paint. Once that was all finished, I was fortunate enough to retain assistance from The Gentleman Philip Fox, who went back and quite carefully erased all my pencil lines and smudges.
 
Then, it was finished! All told, I believe this took a little over a week to complete, and that was with some Very sleepless nights.
Whenever I work on a major piece like this, especially one in which I’ve invested so much thought, it is important for me to surround myself in inspiration the entire time. Normally I do this through thematically and emotionally appropriate music, but for this I ransacked my DVD collection for some of my favorite epic hero stories. Imbued within the ink are equal parts A New Hope, Never-Ending Story, The Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Mask of Zorro, Hellboy, Conan the Barbarian, and more I can’t currently remember. As I worked, I noticed just how many this basic outline could fit over. Certainly Star Wars, as Lucas is a long-time supporter of Campbell’s. But also most of the others, perhaps with some slight rearranging of the steps’ order. And videogames equally well, when you think on it. The Super Mario series is basically a starter course in Monomyth.
All said and done, this was certainly a labor of love, and I am quite happy with my results.

Omnicon Aftermath: Con Report

Recent blog silence has been due to the frantic workload leading up to my hometown con, Omnicon!
In preparation, I produced a run of Dungeon Monster prints, a brand new sketchbook collection, and a massive wooden story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey” for the art contest (that one gets its own post later:). After a several week haze of sleepless nights and coffee-addled days, the con was upon me!

 I had a variety of wares on display at my table, including many of the prints I showcased at the Art Prowl, as well as a new one featuring my art from the official Omnicon 2012 poster, entitled “Cockroaches and Nerds” (also soon to receive a dedicated post). There was a selection of larger sketchcards I had produced, with themes including Marvel Heroes, Disney Pixar, and Hogwart’s Faculty. Also, a series of small watercolor paintings, inspired by my Tiny Link drawings. To further the videogame theme, I offered some brownpaper drawings of Mario, Mega-Man, and Zelda characters.

My favorite item, however, was the Dungeon Monsters print series, available exclusively to those willing to brave the DIE OF DESTINY! Although only a handful had the guts required, we saw both a Critical Hit and a Critical Failure, both accompanied by the appropriate whoops and lamentations.

By far my most popular items were the mini-sketchcards, both pre-drawn and custom made. I had a sampling of characters from Adventure Time, Star Wars, Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, as well as many original doodles. And I was also asked to draw several unique characters (including a couple Derpy’s:) but easily my favorite commission of the day was a pairing of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla, complete with Electric Pigeon Soulmate (fascinating backstory here).

All in all, it was a delightful weekend. I can hardly wait for next year! And if any of these pieces catch your fancy, let me know, they might still be available, even if they haven’t shown up in The Shop.

 

Valentine Bookmarks

One of my favorite side duties as a children’s librarian is the creation of goofy themed bookmarks. Like so:

I have to say, normally I despise the Pun, and all it stands for, but when it comes to cheesy Valentine’s cards, well…I’m a sap:]

 

Mario Sketchcards

I recently started building up my sketch card reserve (in preparation for Omnicon, more on that some other time) with some quickie pencil sketches that I later use as inking warmups.

Most are just random monsters and whats-its, but somewhere along the way I got on a kick of doing Mario bad guys. What made it extra fun was doing them very impulsively, in my own personal style, and completely as I remembered them, without reference material (well, except on the Lakitu, I just couldn’t get a resemblance on his face without checking how those glasses looked:)

I think they turned out pretty cool. If any catch your eye, well, you might want to mark your calendar for Omnicon, March 17th &18th …