Sketch-A-Day on Tumblr!

Hi, Internet!

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I’ve been inconsistent on posting to this blog, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drawing! For the New Year I gave myself a Sketch A Day challenge in 2014. I’ve done this in years past, with varying degrees of success, but it’s one of those things that I really think is more about the effort than the goal.

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Anyways, I’ve actually done pretty good so far, and haven’t missed a day in my first couple months. I owe a lot of this to my decision to not overthink it this time around. Anything that is drawing can count, be it quick doodle or comic page or full fledged solo illustration. I’ve started a Tumblr to document this effort, in addition to being a quick post blog. So if you’re wanting to get an art fix or check in on what I’ve been up to, that might be a good place to start!

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Aqua Vastum

2013-05-04 11.39.14

For my FCBD mini-comic this year I had been planning one of my typical whimsy-laden picture books, complete with broken verse and adorable protagonists. However, a couple weeks before the event I attended a local Community Cinema showing of “The Island President.” The film illuminated many facets of our modern environmental situation that I have somehow managed to ignore, or at least kept at arm’s length. When it was all shown to me at such a personal and immediate scale, they leapt into focus. It became important that I somehow capture my feelings on the matter, so as to remind me later when it all seemed less pressing, and that night I went home and click-clacked a manic e-mail to myself. The next day I refined those ramblings into the script for “Aqua Vastum,” which I hope can convey unto you some of the intensity I felt that evening.

If you haven’t checked into Community Cinema programs in your area, I highly recommend it, I have yet to attend a showing that didn’t spark conversations for weeks to come. And I especially appreciate WCTE for putting on our local showings here in Cookeville.

If you would like to print copies of “Aqua Vastum” for educational purposes, please contact me and I will be glad to get you a pdf. I’ve also set up a quick link for this post, at bit.ly/aquavastum , if you’d like a fast way to share the comic.

Thanks for reading!

 

“We The People” mini-comic

Here is a mini-comic I created in an attempt to condense my concerns over our current political climate. While the comic itself was initiated by my train of thought after Obama’s DNC speech (and yes, I am a bit slow getting this out:) it truly is a Party neutral editorial, dealing more with the concern and civic responsibility we voters should have when approaching this election. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if it resounds with you at all, please pass it along.

 

Pen Reviews Pt 2

Here is the long awaited conclusion to my Jet Pens Pen Reviews. To recap, all of these pens were generously sent to me by JetPens for the purpose of reviewing and then donating to the Putnam County Library to be used as door prizes at our summer art programs. The summer program went so well that we are actually starting up a monthly drawing club, the PCL Teen Sketch Club, the first meeting of which will be tomorrow. If you know any arty teenagers in the Cookeville, TN area, send them by!

Uni-ball Signo Gel Ink Pen

I am not normally one for ball-point pens, feeling, quite haughtily, that they are the tool of the plebian worker types, not meant for lofty and discerning artisans such as myself. (please read with a thoroughly sarcastic and snooty voice, on par with any Downton resident.) Ignoring for the moment how blatantly idiotic such an opinion is, the Uni-ball Signo does a great job of bridging the gap between Mundane and Artsy pens. It has a nice feel in the hand, with a comfortable rubber grip and a suitable amount of weight. The .38 tip on this was thoroughly fine, allowing me to drop some very delicate lines. And the ink flow was wonderful, no noticeable globbing or skipping. The ink itself is a very nice black, and while I did not test it myself, claims to be water-proof.

 

All in all, if an Ink Artist should ever have to demean himself so much as to use a Writing utensil for Drawing, he could hope for no better than the Uni-ball Signo.

 

Sakura Pigma Micron Marker Pens

Sakura Microns were some of the first art pens I ever chose for myself. I greatly enjoyed how they have such uniform width on lines, but also come in such a wide variety of sizes. They can be a great tool for an artist just learning to play with line widths.

This set was an entirely different experience, with 6 pens in a variety of colors, at the same width. I am a creature of habit, almost exclusively inking in the jettest jet black inks I can find, so it was out of the box for me to play around with drawing, and not coloring, in reds and greens and blues. The pens themselves hold up well, as they always have. I know from experience that the nice felt tips will slowly wear to a bit of a point over time, and the labeling on the barrel will most likely rub off a bit, but this just shows your touch on the pen. These are made to be disposable pens, which they certainly are, but at $2-3 for singles, that’s not such a bad thing. The inks are consistent in color, and have a really steady flow, with no noticeable bleed, and the different colors are nice and vibrant.

While these would be poorly served as a coloring tool, I think they would work splendidly for anyone wanting to play around with sketching and doodling in a variety of hues.

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

 

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 …

Hourlies and Dailies

 It’s nearly upon us! The Day draws ever nearer! Put your affairs in order and ready yourself for The Event!

No, no, not the Apocalypse. Much better. Hourly Comics Day!
For those unaware, HCD is an annual web event, created by artist John Campbell, where individuals all over the world (artful and non alike) chronicle every hour of their own February 1st with a very quick and and simple comic.  More details can be found here. In edition, be sure to check out archives of the last several years on the forum, which is also where this year’s comics will be submitted (thread forthcoming.)
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a cartoonist or you are bashful to post a play by play of your life to the entire internet, I highly recommend doing these. Even if just as a personal log. I’ve participated for the past three years, and these comics have become some of my most valued creations, capturing both an entire day of my life and the mindset of myself whilst chronicling it. It is like a multi-layered journal entry, a mental landmark if you will, to which I can look back now and judge just how far I have traveled and grown. Yes, that is a bit deep and sentimental, but truly, these things are pretty cool.
In addition, after I finished last year’s Hourlies, I so enjoyed the journaling effect that I decide to go on with it for the rest of the month. I find the idea of day to day Hourlies to be quite daunting, so instead I decided to jot down one moment from each day throughout February. As you can see below, I didn’t quite make it, somehow dropping the ball just three days short (whether from inability or apathy, I cannot remember) but I’m steeling myself to try to meet the goal this year.
Last Year’s Dailies for February
(click for a larger image, and previous and next from that page to navigate)
Wow, my handwriting really doesn’t hold up to that much magnification. Toddler scratchings!
Anyway, I hope you’ll consider doing some Hourlies yourself this year, and let me know if you do!

Pens and Potter

As a follow up to my earlier review of the Pilot Parallel Pen,  I thought I’d tell you about a few other fountain pens I’ve been using and enjoying lately.
 A new standout for me has been the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen line. They make several different nib sizes, but the two I’ve been using are the 03 and the 05. The 03 gives a nice, slim line, and has quickly become my first pick for most inking tasks. The 05 is obviously a touch wider, and that little bit makes a big difference on line fineness, so I usually only grab it for bolder outlines or larger projects. The pens themselves seem very well constructed, especially considering the absurdly low $3 price tag (at least at Jetpens, where I do must of my pen shopping, really a very wonderful and useful site, and not one with which I have any formal affiliation:). And what’s most amazing is that these aren’t disposable pens, instead using a proprietary Platinum refill cartridge. To be fair, I have not actually tried the included ink. Instead, I followed these instructions found on Jetpens’ site and converted mine into eyedroppers. (the instructions are spot on, it’s a really simple and highly recommended mod) Now, I can just pour the ink of my choice straight into the barrel, no fuss with syringe filling cartridges or finagling around a pen not meant for refilling. The Black Star Hicarb I’ve mentioned before would most likely work wonderfully, but out of stubbornness and loyalty to an inanimate substance, I first tried my standby Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Black. It actually flows much better than in other pens, leaving a good, consistent, super black line. There is a little work required to get it flowing again after any extended pause, and if I let it set for a day or two I might have to do a minute’s worth of wiping and scribbling, but overall it is a good experience. I may play with combining the two as a future experiment.
The third pen I’ve been toying with is the Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen. This one has a super-fine nib, and is great for small details and intricate hatching. A bit more expensive than the Preppy, coming in at $8, this one is also a value since it is designed for refills. I actually tried the cartridge that was included, though to little enjoyment. It would be fine for everyday writing or doodles, I suppose, but it was a bit grayish for my taste, and not at all waterproof. After burning through about half of it on busy work, I finally emptied the cartridge and used a syringe to refill with the Black Star. Now it draws like a dream!
I wanted to do a few sample drawings to show off the line quality on all of these, and since I’ve been listening to a lot of Potter books lately (the Jim Dale readings are Absurdly good, and it’s a fun way to re-live the books without spending all the page time) I went with a Chamber of Secrets theme.
(The majority of these were done with the 03, but I used the 05 for Myrtle and the Penmanship for Ginny. All my gray tones were added with this wonderful little marker)

Man, I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the second book. Now, off to Azkaban!

Edit:

So, it’s been a few days, and I went back to use my trusty Preppy 03 full of Bombay and…nothing. Not even dust. Just etching my paper. Apparently I let the ink be for too long, and it dried up good and solid. So, I disassembled and drained, cleaned all the obvious bits and blew some water through the works (also, I’ve found ammoniated glass cleaner makes India Ink run for the hills, great to clean pens) let it all dry, put it back together and refilled with a Bombay/Black Star half and half mix and…still nothing. Cursed a tad, grabbed some pliers, pulled the metal nib off the end, scrubbed it real good and ran a pin through the ink trough on the pen itself (which was just Filthy with dried gunk) reassembled again and…I’ve got ink. Looks to be working again as well as before, I’ll check back in regarding the ink mix after some experiments.

Further Edit:

Yeah, that whole “Half and Half” ink mix was not the best idea. When everyone on the internet says “Don’t use India Ink with fountain pens”…listen to them. The pens dried within the week, and I couldn’t get anything through them. After another thorough cleaning (getting pretty good at that part!) I have refilled them with just the Black Star ink. It is just a touch lighter than the pure black of the regular Bombay, but it doesn’t much trouble with the fountain pens. The 05 Preppy, really none at all. Might take a couple seconds of practice strokes when I first pick it up to get everything flowing, but fine after that. The 03 is still a bit finicky, sometimes requiring a bit of flexing and shaking after it has been in the pen box too long, but it will start flowing eventually. I am also using this ink in my Pilot Parallel pens, and it flows immediately, nice and smooth. Black Star it is!