Monday, January 23, 2017

Bluejay, Charlie Harper, Exploring the Ruins

     My latest illustration in Adobe Illustrator CS2, inspired by master illustrator Charley Harper.  I found his book, "An Illustrated Life" by Todd Oldham, at a local Half-Price Book Store.  A several page interview, then chock full of minimalistic, basic shape happiness. :)
"Charley Harper, an Illustrated Life" by Todd Oldham
     I started with a photograph I'd taken with my trusty Canon Rebel xTi.  The challenge came from wanting to stay true to the original photo, preserving shapes, colors and details, while rendering everything in basic shapes.
Bluejay, Canon Rebel xTI
     The bold, simplistic shapes and coloring of the bluejay's head/face lent themselves to rendering in straight lines and simple curves.
     The colorful pattern on the bluejay's back went through a few iterations before I finally achieved the simplified balanced symmetry.
At one point, still trying to simplify
     A vertical center line runs from the left edge of the tail and through the middle of the body.  I centered the pattern--evenly-spaced triangles and arches--on the vertical center line.
     All the up-and-down lines comprising the tail taper to the center line at the top middle of the arch of the pattern.
     The tree limbs consist of repeating arches and "V"s.  The blue triangles and rectangle represent sky.
     I kept the colors to a somewhat limited palette.

----Exploring the Ruins----
     While I seem to have lost the original Illustrator file, I found this rendering of an illustration I thought I'd totally lost.  I can redo it by tracing it in Illustrator, but I know the work I put in to that wall on the right.  Gonna prove a real challenge.  Worth it once it's done though. :)
Exploring the Ruins

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Recent Art

     I need to start paying more attention to my poor, neglected blog. :P

     I've posted some either new or revamped art I've done since I last posted.  Still attempting to capture a solid "retro" feel for some of my pieces.  The mid-century illustration style has inspired me for many years now, since right before it made a big comeback somewhere in the late 90's or early Y2K.  Speaking of which, I just bought a big book about Charlie Harper and his art.  Some of the retro look I'm shooting for hearkens back to his amazing work back in the day.

     "Red Bird"Adobe Illustrator CS2.  Attempted to keep my shapes as minimal and simple as possible while still retaining the character of the bird and the proper shapes of everything.  Experimented with adding some "airbrush" texture, the sort of gritty spattering seen in the transitions between light and shadow, to add some interest and create a more painterly, hand done feel.
Red Bird

     "Kirby-Inspired".  Still mining the depths of all things Jack Kirby.  For the face on this I used blocky shapes and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.  I'm going to have to try this on something else in the future.
 Lure Allure

     "Seahorse".  Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop CS2.  This came to life as the partner piece to the "Blue Whales" illustration.

     "Lovers".  Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop CS2.  A slightly altered green/blue version of this colorful texture lies underneath the clipping mask of the seahorse illustration above.


Video Game Screen

Monday, June 15, 2015

An interesting freelance project subcontracted from a designer friend of mine.  Basically it's an inside joke the customer wanted to get printed onto t-shirts.
While sitting in a dentist's lobby waiting for a friend, I sketched out the rats on the back of a form that didn't print out properly.  I scanned them into Photoshop and inked away. :)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Blue Whales and Neoplasticism

 Inspired by printing out and hanging my bird illustrations, I started thinking about what I should do next.  I've never really illustrated any underwater life, which I had plenty of reference for from years of going to the zoo.  So, voila!  Blue whales to start.

Looking into some Piet Mondrian and Neoplasticism for some ideas on painting a bookcase, I created this bottom illustration to use as my desktop.

Adobe Illustrator CS2

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Couple New Illustrations

 A caricature of some friends we visited for Christmas.

A stylized mourning dove.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Something I decided to ink for #inktober on facebook.  Inspired after looking at a lot of Jack Kirby art, I decided to depict a character from a little story I'm messing with, and employ some Kirby dynamics.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Anniversary Illustration

Eva and Shadow
     For an anniversary present for his wife, my friend commissioned me to illustrate a picture of his wife and their recently deceased kitty.  For reference he sent me a phone cam pic he just happened to catch when the moment happened.
     I opened the jpg in Adobe Photoshop, and YIKES!  Very small and pixelated! (He warned me of the pic quality ahead of time).  Pretty much a small, dark, fuzzy 72 ppi jpg.  I forget the original dimensions, but my friend had asked for an 8.5" x 11" illustration.  Using Photoshop's Image Size functions (Alt-Ctrl-i) I increased the dimensions as far as I could without losing too much detail so I could work on top of the photo.  I could only increase it to about 8" x 10".
     Since I would print the final result, I set the Image Mode to CMYK (Alt-i-m-c).
     Dark rooms and phone cam pics without a flash don't mix, and so the photo had muddy colors and hard-to-see detailsAdding new Adjustment Layers (Alt-l-a) I adjusted the Levels and Hue/Saturation until I had a brighter, clearer photo.
     I created four layers:
--a background layer which I filled with white (Alt-Delete fills the layer with the foreground color, Ctrl-Delete  fills the layer with the background color),
--the photo layer,
--a color layer I would use to paint under the inks,
--and the inks layer.
     The inks layer: switching between my Wacom Intuos 4 and the mouse, I went for a kind of pen and ink graphic design stylization that kind of comes naturally to me, .  Using lines, dots, simplified shapes, and some Franklin Booth-inspired hatching, I drew over the photo.  I made some of the contours more geometric, and worked to capture the essence of the details with minimal shapes and strokes.  With the white background layer I could make the photo layer invisible (clicking the eye graphic next to the photo layer in the Layer Window) to see just the ink layer and check my work.

Inks Layer
     Painting in the color layer underneath the inks layer, I used the Eyedropper tool to pick colors from the photo layer.  I continued rendering with geometric shapes.  I kept the curtains, pillow, and shirt colors flat to keep the focus on the cat and woman's face.
 Color Layer

     I printed the illustration at the local Fedex/Kinko's and sent it off so it would get to my friend in time for their anniversary.  Afterward they both told me they like it and will get it framed and hung as soon as possible. :)
Adobe Photoshop CS2

House Sparrow

     I captured a rather handsome house sparrow with my trusty dusty Canon Rebel XTi.  Opening the photo in Adobe Illustrator I originally aimed for a much more simplistic, cartoony bird to match other bird illustrations I've done...
...however, this illustration grew into a contemporary retro piece.
     Sticking with simple shapes (circles, squares, lines, triangles) I decided to stay faithful to my feathered fellow's anatomy while rendering with minimal descriptionGeometric, but finessed, and daintily detailed just enough to make my sparrow recognizable and interesting. :)
Adobe Illustrator CS2

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jimmy Freckles, the Asteroid Boy--Character Design meme

Line art: drawn and inked in my trusty dusty sketchbook, scanned into Photoshop, cleaned up and detailed.
Background turned into a layer and turned to Multiply.  Created another layer and placed underneath to add color.  Created the title in Illustrator and copied/pasted into Photoshop.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

CMI Promotional Video Art

Content Marketing Institute commissioned me to do some Star Wars-esque art for a promotional video for CEO Joe Pulizzi's new book. Here's the link to the video:
youtube CMI promotional vid
Here's CMI's website:

 The effects of bad content marketing

Jedi Joe to the rescue!

Jedi Joe confronts bad content marketing

Jedi Joe defeats bad content marketing
Is this the end of bad content marketing???


 Group reading

Sound advice

Adobe Illustrator CS2

Monday, August 12, 2013

Freelance Art for CMI

The Creative Director for Content Marketing Institute contacted me to do a number of customized illustrations to use for an e-book, their blog, and a book written by their CEO.  I'll post the art for the book after I receive payment for the art.  Until then...
The art direction for these four e-book illustrations had me imitating the art style of this video  --a sort of slick cartoony marker rendering.  They also asked for a sort of "everyman" to appear in various circumstances, to which we now refer to as "The Dude".
I submitted freehand sketches first for approval, then opened the sketches in Illustrator and traced/streamlined them.  These illustrations will go into an e-book.

These next illustrations went into a number of CMI's blogs.  The first batch they considered too "stock"...
These next illustrations they asked to do in "The Dude" style, so back to the cartoony style--
The direction for this suggested something like a dragon with "Lead Gen" on it somewhere, and someone with a sword.  I thought a biker beast with "Lead Gen" graffitied on a leather jacket versus a sci-fi ninja chick with an energy sword would be less generic
They asked me to do a color version of this toolbox to go with a presentation--