Thursday, March 30, 2017

X-men Rogue


This one's another of my superhero character portraits, depicting "Rogue," who has since the early 80s been an off-and-on member of the mutant team "X-Men." Rogue's power is that she can absorb and use other people's powers, memories, and emotions, if she touches them skin-to-skin. This power has turned her into a superhero but has made her life completely miserable. Her costume, unlike most female superhero costumes, covers up everything except her head, so she won't trigger the absorbing powers. I did this for the same fanzine that featured "Rachel, the young Phoenix."

A big part of my comic fan life is comic book and superhero costume and fashion. I love designing and drawing costumes. Here Rogue is wearing a simple outfit derived from casual dance workout attire, taken from one of her early appearances. The character herself is kind of a fashion lover too so she appears in lots of different outfits, usually in colors of green, black and gold. The high heeled boots are standard superwoman's wear though it makes no sense for a fighting character who has to stand on the ground. I designed this portrait inspired by the long tall proportions characteristic of fashion drawing art, a nearly-forgotten type of illustration that is still practiced in the rarefied world of "high fashion." I also designed the typefaces.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", October 1985.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Geometrikon Domes of Spring


Domes and bubbles are the spheres that shine and emit visionary inspiration, as in the posting just previous to this. This geometrikon or Photoshop doodle is again a hybrid experiment layering digital over a marker drawing. The original line work is blue markers and the colors are Photoshopped in, including the pink petals of the cherry trees, which are blooming now in a somewhat weather-reduced state. The design has some "Googie" elements, inspired by the wonderful geometric-curvilinear space style of Tomorrowland.

Markers on sketchbook page, colored in Photoshop, 7 1/2" x 2 1/2", March 28-29, 2017.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Harmonies of the Spheres line work


The author of the visionary text I am setting to image here is a composer of avant-garde music, so some of the ideas he uses are musical ideas. In this panel, number 6, I incorporate not only stylized musical staffs with whole notes, but an actual sample from his hand-written music manuscript, which was sent through the mighty Internet and processed in the equally mighty Photoshop. One of the Seven Creatures, the golden wildcat, is at lower right. The text will go where the ringed planet is, just above the music writing.

These days I feel that I want to concentrate on sequential art (the poorly named "comic books") when I am not doing commercial commissions. That has always been a prime goal for me, to do graphic novel and sequential work. This has never been respectable "art" in the USA but in the last decades has gained ground as "serious" work. In Europe the "bande designee" or comic frames has always been considered fine art, since in places like France and Belgium and Italy words and pictures and frames have always been a part of their art environment on the walls and stained glass windows of churches and in illuminated manuscripts. 

I also am working on a physically smaller scale, or digitally. The experience of caring for and storing my mother's large, heavy paintings, and giving them away for free to relatives and collectors, has shown me what the future of such a "fine art" production is. That is, lost to everyone except a few private viewers and collectors. I believe that art is communication and that art deserves to be seen and shared, not stashed away for decades in a garage as my mother's work was. With the help of the better functions of the Internet as well as digital storage options (even if they might not last and become obsolete) my art can communicate without being hidden away in a dusty parlor or an obscure attic.

Drawing is in marker and Photoshop, 7 3/4" x 4 1/2", March 27-28, 2017. Colors soon.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Rachel, the Young Phoenix


The Marvel superhero team the "X-Men" has been through countless changes of character and plot, and terabytes worth of storyline. The first X-Men appeared in the early 60s, a group of super-powered mutants consisting of five guys and one girl, Jean Grey, who had enhanced telekinetic and telepathic powers, and of course, flame-red hair, the standard sign for power in fiction. Her character was re-modeled later on and re-named "Phoenix," with a "resurrection" storyline and upgraded superpowers. With this power she saved the Universe at least once. Later she was involved in a kinky scenario with an evil mutant illusionist and she went over to the black lingerie Dark Side. This induced Jean Grey to be possessed by a consuming entity known as the "Phoenix Force" which caused her to destroy and consume a star and its planet with sentient civilized beings living on it. This was the "Dark Phoenix" who was very bad and had to be destroyed in an apocalyptic battle.

OK with this so far? Jean Grey had been cloned a few times and shows up as her clone in some X-men stories. Every so often there was a storyline resurrecting Jean Grey but she never came back as a permanent character that I remember. But in one line, Scott her mutant teammate and lover and Jean (or her clone) went forward in time and produced a daughter, Rachel, who grew up in a time warp and had similar powers to Jean's. Rachel returned to her own time period and attempted to be a teenage superhero without the dark side. I'm not sure what happened to Rachel the young Phoenix and I haven't explored the endless complications of the X-Men in many years. But she had a good red and gold costume and was able to manifest the fiery bird sign of the Phoenix Force. Whew I think I'm done now. 

This fan art character piece was commissioned for a fanzine run by one of my mutant friends who loved Marvel Comics. I sometimes wonder what ever happened to her. So far the Almighty Intervub has yielded little or no information about her. I am paying more attention to comics and sequential art these days. 

Original art is ink on illustration board, 8" x 11", December 1985.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Terra Nebulo


The weather was dim and grey for "Wine Saturday" but it is always a good thing to visit a winery. This one is "Terra Nebulo Vineyards" in Waterford, Virginia. It is a fairly new winery and their building is fresh and bright. The woodwork is splendid, crafted by a team of Amish builders. The name "Terra Nebulo" sounds like "Cloudy Earth" in fractured Latin but "nebulo" (not "nebula") means bad guy or shady (cloudy) character. The Terra Nebulo logo is an old-fashioned bandit's black domino mask as their area was once known for its bandits. Not raccoons though the creatures wear a similar mask. The wine was nice especially the Traminette (white) and Chambourcin (red). They don't have mature vineyards yet at Terra Nebulo but in a few years, if they can keep the voracious deer away, they will. Here in early Spring there's a hint of green in the grass but no leaves on trees or vines.

Brown sepia tech pen ink and colored pencils, 7" x 7 1/2", March 25, 2017.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I Saw


The title is "Three and a Half" if you get my reasoning. After 9 years blogging at the By-Product I am introducing a new feature which will appear now and then - no more often than once a month I think. I got the idea and the "What I Saw" from another blogger on Facebook, a retired advertising artist and editorial cartoonist who takes pictures of the urban environment with his iPhone. The idea being that the urban world is full of fascinating abstract (or unusual) images as long as you just look as you wander around. The ubiquity of smartphones makes it easy to gather these images in. Then you turn, crop, do some photomanipulation if necessary and there you are, art by-product by iPhone. There is sometimes a caption but very brief, not like my rambling bloggy entries. "Three and a Half" was taken behind a favorite coffee shop. 

iPhone photo, 12" x 8", March 24, 2017.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Barnard frame 5


I finished Frame 5 of my sequential art rendering of composer Keith Barnard's "Passing of the Soul." In this one, our main character, lying "helpless on (her) bed," is surrounded by the Seven Creatures. She doesn't know if they are hostile or friendly. The lava and dark clouds symbolize her "hellish existence." But things will change for our soul traveler very soon. 

Many layers of color collapsed into this image. Most of the time I was using flat color fill-ins which are characteristic of sequential art. But with the psychedelic magic of Photoshop I can do anything I want with color and texture without messing up the original ink drawing.

Ink on illustration board, colored in Photoshop, 8" x 6", March 24, 2017. Please click on the  image for a closer look but no hellish existence. 

March month marks the beginning of this Blog back in 2008. "Art By-Products" has endured (with some breaks) for nine years! Can I keep it going and supplied with suitable images? The future is not even known to the Seven Creatures of Light.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Making a FanZine


In those ancient days of paper media, young people and a few older veterans published "fanzines," i.e. homemade fan magazines. You would put the art and graphics and writing together and publish it by using the wonderful invention of the day, the copy machine. Since there are magazines about everything and every interest, there were zines about zines - making, publishing, promoting. This is an image from one of those, an article about creating a fanzine. There is just a bit of satire in it. The original copy, on the left, looks like crap, grubby and taped together. The fan artist next one over (looked like me) was trying to find something that would work for the issue. The publisher is faced with a big box of copied material to sort out, and the editor at right does not realize that his zine has been mistakenly stapled together on the wrong side. I used to edit a fanzine so I know all of this has happened at one time or another.

Original drawing black ink on illustration board, 7 1/2" x 2 1/2", spring 1981.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Gargoyle


This is the way I feel after reading the news or social comment or other media verbiage and the endless flow of stock photos and memes. Could I just grab a harpoon and soar into the sky ready to stab something? Have a gargoyle. Enjoyle your gargoyle. The world seems full of monsters right now, monsters in suits and ties and the occasional red sheath dress. This friendly critter was adapted from a book of medieval ornaments and characters.

Original drawing is ink on illustration board, 5" x 4", August 1988. Click for a larger view.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2-Color Wine Logo


Most of the time when someone buys one of my wine books and I am there to see it, I draw a little drawing like this on the blank front end page as a thank-you to the buyer. This is my latest effort for one that I'm about to send off. I was thrilled to hear (from a winery employee) that someone brought my EARTHLY PARADISE into her winery and she loved it. Some people use my book as a guide to wineries and they get it signed like a passport. This one has a date too so my buyers can have a year memory. This one is in only two colors; I've never done a full-color drawing on a book.

I am running out of EARTHLYs. I think I have about 25 left out of my edition of 200. It's time to start working on Book 2: "VIRGINIA UNDER VINE." Right now it's still too cold to draw outdoors.

Sepia brown tech pen ink on book page, colored in Photoshop, 4" x 5", March 19, 2017.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Passing of the Soul Barnard Frame 5

The Seven Creatures of Light surround the visionary in her bed, and she doesn't know whether they are hostile or friendly. Barnard's text describes her experience as "hellish." This is the inked linework for Frame 5 of the sequential piece and I will add the colors next, using Photoshop. I am learning more about doing sequential art as well as working with Photoshop to color ink work. I also found that some of my inks had dried up and the caps had broken. I am using the time-honored tools of a dip pen and a bottle of ink for the foundation of the work, and digital for the color finish and text.

Brown and black ink and markers on illustration board, 8" x 6", March 18-19, 2017.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thief Boss game characters


Here's another image from the game series I illustrated, "Thieves' Guild." The game was set in a Renaissance-like civilization and the players played thieves, gangsters, wicked women, and other shady characters. In this strip, a thief boss (inspired by Dickens' "Fagin") orders his youthful footpads and pickpockets into a party in a big, well-lit room, to do their business and plunder the crowd.

Black ink on illustration board, about 10 1/2" x 4", 1984.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fan Vignettes


A psychic power station on Darkover, with an operative manifesting power on the ramparts.


A mountain town of Darkover, with travelers on the road.

I did countless tiny pieces for fanzines and program books, to be added in where they had an empty space and the text didn't fill it. This kind of thing used to be common in collector's item books and I imitated the "turn-of-the-century" (20th century that is) style.

Both are black ink on illustration board. Top one, 3" x 3 1/2", fall 1988. Lower one, 3" x 5 1/2", fall 1984. The village scene was previously published here back in 2008.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Roman Terrace with Flowerpots



There are few cities more picturesque than Rome. Even the view out an ordinary window shows a complexity of levels and enjoyable details. The buildings of Rome, at least the older ones, feature small balconies and decks as well as an interior courtyard. It's a multiple space you can move through, eat lunch, tend a garden of containers and flowerpots. This is the view out the window of one of many different bed-and-breakfasts or "pensiones" I stayed in. Rome's color scheme is a wonderful bright orange stucco or a golden ocher with white trim. When the sky is clear and cloudless, the high contrast of sky blue and building orange is as glorious as a flying flag. I tried constantly to portray this with a solid blue watercolor but I kept losing the solid color with watercolor drips. Finally I used gouache, opaque watercolor, to paint over the sky in a non-drippy way.

I have just liberated the cache of artwork I did while in Rome and other places, during 1969, 1970-71, and 1975-76. As I scan them I will post them for your enjoyment. I had my art stuff with me wherever I went so there are a lot of paintings. It sure is a nicer view than the office buildings of Tysonia. 

Watercolor and gouache on watercolor paper, 7" x 10", fall 1976. Please click on the image for a larger view.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kaddish for Darkover


As the modern human Terrans re-colonized Darkover, there would inevitably be conflict, which would turn violent and even into full-scale wars. In this fan story, which you have seen before, Henry Levich the orthodox Jewish diplomat and detective tries his best to prevent a war from breaking out between the new settlers and those already there. Unfortunately, he cannot stop it and weapons of both psionic magic and Terran technology are unleashed. Whole cities are destroyed, including this one you see in ruins. 

Levich can do no more than pray for the dead, invoking God's praise in the famous Jewish prayer for the dead, the "Kaddish." This sacred poem has no mention of death or dead people; it is purely the praise of God. In this illustration Levich stands on a hill above the smoking ruins, reciting the Kaddish for those who were destroyed there. He wears the Jewish prayer shawl, the tallit, and his head cap, the yarmulke, symbols of prayer. His assistants and liaison officers from the old settlements look on quietly.

I like the idea of a Jewish main character on Darkover. The author wasn't even Jewish but she did her best to portray him authentically. She only got one thing wrong, as I remember the story: she has Levich chanting the Kaddish rather than speaking it. I am not sure you are supposed to chant the Kaddish. As usual with Jewish theory and practice, there are multiple opinions on the matter.

Ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", December 1984.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Geometrikon "Different Skies"


Some years ago a group of my ambient and prog rock fan friends held an annual meeting at a fabulous futuristic resort place in Arizona called "Arcosanti." They would schlep as much sound gear as they could and jam for a week as well as socialize and get a bit rowdy. At the end of the week they would put on a concert for themselves and for the people staying at the resort. The name of the festival was "Different Skies" and most of their concerts have been preserved in digital files as fond memories of their favorite times playing in the band. I don't think they hold this event any more.This geometrikon is called "Different Skies" because each cell of the geometrikon depicts another manifestation of the sky, from bright daylight blue and clouds to red and pink sunsets to dark night. Sharp eyes might pick up the shape of my recent "Ruby Towers" with a bit added to it and re-colored.

Markers and colored pencil on sketchbook page, March 14, 2017.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rome Restored




















Most of my Roman photos from 1971 have deteriorated severely and this one was the most faded. Only the murky purple of dead Kodachrome is visible. But here is Photoshop to the rescue, resurrecting old colors and bright contrast. Then what do you do when Photoshop is not enough? The details on the big  archway, as you can see from photo 1, are faded out almost completely, and there is nothing left to show from the sky, which as I remember was clear and blue that day. What do you do? You improvise and digitally paint in what you  remember, since I was there at the time of the shot. Photoshop offers many options in transparent color which I used like watercolors. I re-painted the tree green and edited out the ugly purple with a "color replacement" feature that turned it a more natural cool grey. And since the original detail on the arch was gone, I painted in not only the sunlit brick colors but all the details of the brick and stone archway, on my Cintiq's stylus screen. Remember that ancient Romans used tablets and styli to write with, just like my Cintiq, except that there was more stuff inside the modern computer tablet.

So is this a painting or is it a photograph? It's both I guess. I wonder whether my digital file will last as long as these buildings and the relics of Rome found by antiquarians and archaeologists. When I was a young kid living in Rome I wanted to  be an archaeologist when I grew up. Well I'm not digging in Roman dirt but at least I can restore the ancient images.

Photoshop on 1971 digitized image, March 14, 2017.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Amber Coronation


I sure did a lot of fan art during the 1980s. This one is part of a set that I did for a fanzine devoted to the "Amber" stories and characters by Roger Zelazny. The story is about a large group of brothers and sisters, all sired by the same King but with different mothers. They can travel between dimensions and they all fight for the right to rule the universe through their dimensional powers. It's more Renaissance intrigue and swashbuckling than medieval "Game of Thrones" style storytelling. In this fan-written story, one of the Amber siblings (here, in black) invites a mundane friend of his (man in suit and tie on left) to be his guest in the world of Amber, where they witness the coronation of the new King.

Black ink on illustration board, 8" x 5", spring 1983. Click for larger view of characters.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Catman's Tail


Here we are again with one of my title pages for a Darkover zine. As I have pointed out, Darkover planet had a number of indigenous humanoid species which human colonizers had to contend with. The "cat-men" were one of them, a felinoid species which was intent on  retaining its territory despite being well-outnumbered and out-weaponed by the human colonists. I used 17th-century Renaissance engravings as an inspiration for this story which I have mostly forgotten.

Ink on illustration board, 8" x 10", October 1986.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Geometrikon "Ruby Towers"


Here's a Photoshop doodle with a Geometrikon. I'm experimenting with color layers, "cutting out" the red image from its background, and using the smooshy-pixel "Smudge" tool. There are lots of colors to play with, as in chartreuse clouds and red spires. Soon it will be time to do more cloud studies. But wintry days are not over just yet. 

Black tech pen ink, colored in Photoshop, 5" x 9", March 11, 2017.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Big Picker


I found this in the Whole Foods parking lot, where some sort of service was being done. This is a very new and modern "cherry-picker," designed to do work at treetop level in urban environments. An interesting feature of this is that the operator will stand in the "gondola" cage at the end of the lever, but there is no second operator down below in the engine capsule area. I had not noticed that feature of a cherry-picker. The controls for the whole thing are in the cage.

This was done in the parking lot while I was sitting on the tailgate of my car, my usual place for urban on-site art. But it is still only March despite the unusually warm weather, and it got too cold and dark for me to draw more details on this craft.

Black technical pen on sketchbook page, 4 1/2" x 5 1/2",  March 8, 2017.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Before and After in the Eternal City


I continue to transcribe and restore my images of Rome and other places, taken from 1969 through 1976. These are from a photo shoot I did in Rome on July 16, 1971. I am able to date it so accurately because it was documented in my journal which I have kept every day since 1968. The buildings here are on the quiet and un-crowded area known from ancient times as the Caelian Hill, one of the original Seven Hills of Rome. The place is "Saint Andrew's Oratory," and nearby is the church and old monastery of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, one of Rome's leaders during the "dark ages" of the barbarian invasions.

This photo took a lot of restoration, including colorization where the original color had completely faded away. To me it almost looks like a painting, perhaps in watercolor. At that time I was indeed painting watercolors on site in the city. You can read about my experience in this place at this entry from last year. I wish there were such a quiet, sunlit, and reverent place nearer to me. I'll be posting more restorations (in other online venues) as I work on the photo archive.

Restored from half-35 mm color slide, probably Kodachrome.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Observatory Geometrikon re-colored


This is a Geometrikon from February which I re-colored in markers and colored pencil, then added on the starry background in Photoshop. With digital/hybrid art, there is no one "original" which poses a problem for both artists and collectors.  Do you want to sell these creations? If so, which version? And in what medium? The colored version on paper may not look like the version from digital, and the only way to get a collectible item out of the digital version is to print it. Commercial users are fine with buying a computer file, but collectors want a more  personal, hand done piece which is unique. It isn't solved yet. Probably in the future this question will be irrelevant.

Inks, colored pencils, markers, and Photoshop, about 3" x 3", February 2017.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Passing of the Soul" frame 4 Seven Creatures


This manifestation of the Seven Creatures of Light took somewhat longer than I expected. I am working on a hybrid process uniting hand-done ink drawing with digital coloring. This is what comic book (sequential art) producers use now and I need to gain skill with it before I do more professional quality sequential art. The original text is divided up in the frame with different typefaces and sizes. Barnard, the author, has a way of making up non-existent words made from conventional syllables, or sometimes rare or regional items such as "piquettish" which I think means something in Irish. I'm using the bright yellow as a theme here, as it is mentioned in the palette sun circle. The purplish grey is clouds which swirl to reveal the Seven Creatures, energy beings with stylized animal heads. That's not in Barnard's text but I threw them in to make the story work. We will learn more about why the Creatures are here and what the golden mountain lion is carrying.

Black and brown marker ink and brown dip pen ink, colored and lettered in Photoshop, 6" x 8", March 7, 2017. Click for a larger view.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Wonder Woman winding down


It's from my comic book fandom years: I illustrated a moderately humorous article about Wonder Woman. What does the Amazon Princess do when work is over for the day? A little TV watching, 1980 style, a soda, and a book on the floor. What would Wonder Woman read for pleasure? Romance novels starring supeheroes? Would she watch the evening news, or game shows, or soap operas? Back then TV wasn't horrifying the way it is now, and you could get a giggle out of a show even if you were a glamorous super hero gal.

Original drawing was ink on illustration board, 7" x 4", fall 1980. Click for a larger view.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Seven Creatures of Light in progress


I'm working on a sequential project based on the mystical writings of a composer friend. It's called "Passage of the Soul." You have seen the beginning and early panels where a young person is confronted with an invasion from the world of spirits and magical colors. Seven creatures, each based on something from the natural world, visit the visionary and eventually are the agents of an initiation. This is an excerpt from panel 4, showing the Seven Creatures: from left to right, mountain lion, iris flower, fox, marine reptile, mantis, crystal, and horse. You'll see the whole manifestation of Panel 4 when I'm done.

Ink drawing on illustration board, colored in Photoshop, 7 1/2" x 2", March5, 2017.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

DarkoverCon 1986 program cover


I used to do the cover for the DarkoverCon program book every year. In 1986 a major fantasy author, the Dragon Lady herself Anne McCaffrey was guest of honor so I did a cover in which flying dragons and riders were converging on a Darkovan castle lit by the great red sun. I have added the red color with Photoshop. We didn't have the resources to do a two-color cover, just black and white. Over the years I have done many renderings of the red sun of Darkover. Author M.Z. Bradley never specified just what kind of star this was although it was most probably a red giant. Red giants are unstable, so Darkovans are lucky that the planet wasn't fried before sentient life evolved.

The notes in my catalog for this picture say that it was created during the disastrous Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, when the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Mets. That says a lot and brings up many painful memories. It would take eighteen years until the Sox would finally win in 2004. 

Ink on illustration board, 6" x 10", October 1986.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Geometrikon flipped and re-colored


The last time you saw this, it was a crustacean of some kind. I flipped the image horizontally and colored it in spring landscape colors and here it is again. This time I colored it with water-based markers, colored pencils, and some acrylic pen color so it is now fixed in the sketchbook. I have kept digital files of the original ink drawing without color, if I get the unlikely notion to return to this piece.

Black marker ink on sketchbook page, colored with markers and colored pencil, 8" x 2 ", February-March 2017.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Darkover Free Amazons


Back in Bradleystan, the re-colonization of Darkover continues. Terrans now circulate among the "natives" (who are themselves earlier colonists). In this story, a sophisticated Terran woman envoy must mediate a dispute among members of the "Free Amazons," a society of women who defy the usual customs and live unmarried as a sisterhood. The Terran is a chic Frenchwoman who wears her Terran uniform like a fashion plate, while the country-dwelling Amazons wear rustic garb suitable for their work in wilderness and countryside.

Black ink on illustration board, about 8" x 10, November 1986.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Dreadful Doctor Fu Manchu


This is from a series of illustrations I did for an article on the villain character "Fu Manchu," who had been an evil mastermind in film, radio, and drama since the early 20th century. The silhouette of Fu can be seen behind an elaborate incense burner, smoking something nefarious in his little pipe. You can see the famous stringy mustache on the profile. Fu Manchu has from the beginning been a controversial figure. His authors, including his inventor Sax Rohmer were accused of a racist portrayal of an Asian. The author replied that Fu was based on actual Chinese gangsters (see the interesting Wikipedia article about him). He never intended to generalize the "Yellow Peril" to all Chinese. It's an attitude that's still prevalent today.

If I may say so myself, and I will, this is a nice little drawing. And it was done in 1980! It's as good as anything I could do now. 

Black ink on illustration board, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2", November 1980.