Wednesday, October 31, 2012

After Sandy

On my way back to my home in Northern Virginia, I was delayed by the catastrophic storm of "Hurricane Sandy." My disaster plan was to hole up in my usual stop-off hotel until the storm was gone, and that is what I did. I have spent two days cooped up in a hotel room in southern New Jersey, the "ground zero" of the storm, including 17 hours without power on the night of the worst of it. During the storm there was not much to see. But on Tuesday, October 30, around 5 PM, I did this iPad sketch from my large hotel window of the remaining clouds from the storm, trailing behind looking threatening but not producing any more rain. Some of the fall foliage, as you can see, remained on the trees despite the high winds. The hotel is full of people from the area who have no power, have had their neighborhoods and houses flooded, or even worse. I am going to try to get home on Wednesday, October 31. 

ArtStudio on iPad, October 30, 2012.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Random iPaddery from Massachusetts

Sitting in my parents' dingy living room with an iPad in my hand, I will draw anything I see. Here is a study of the door at night time, and the orange folds of my jacket draped over a couch. I'm trying to learn not only the "straight-line mode" for drawing architectural elements, but also to render fabric. I need to know how to depict fabric to clothe my fantasy characters in. Next picture I did somewhat better in the fabric depiction.
As winter closes in I will be doing more fabric and interior studies on the iPad. These are done in ArtStudio, which remains my favorite art app. I'm also pleased that my laptop running Photoshop is doing well with my portable Wacom "Bamboo" tablet.

I am almost done here in Massachusetts and will now drive into the storm, hoping to weather it out in New Jersey using a hotel as a refuge.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Can't get enough autumn leaves

On my work break in back of the neighboring library, I had a good time with "Art Studio's" leaf texture brushes and the gold-green shades of autumn. But here it is getting toward late October and it got kind of cold. Indoor iPaddery is coming up. 

I will be going up to the Boston area this week to visit my aged parents, a trip I am not looking forward to. I might be able to post some iPad work to the By-Product while I am up there, but I can't promise anything. So there may be some interruptions in service. Please stand by.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Wine Village

I returned to the "Village Winery" on "Wine Saturday" and again partook of their unusual and delicious fruit and berry wines. I took a glass of their apple/raspberry/elderberry wine, nicknamed "Triple Threat," out into the sunlight and did some iPaddery. The windowless building is an air-conditioned wine barrel room, where the fermentation and aging take place. There is autumn gold at the Village, and fresh green grassy meadows where families played and ate, and in an enclosure were Blossom the cow and a number of goats. Cats played around the old barn and out back in the coop were a flock of chickens, from whom the Village gets eggs to sell. It was a rural paradise, almost unreal in its brilliance. 

The management of the Village is trying a recent trend in wine packaging: they are selling their wines now in 3-liter boxes. The wine is in an airtight plastic sac inside the cardboard box, and it is poured through a spigot. According to the winemaker, the wine will not spoil even over weeks or even a month or so, because the air is kept out of the sac assembly. And with the cheaper packaging, you get more wine for less money. I bought a box of their apple wine and I will see just how well it is preserved as I consume it.

Village Winery scene is done on ArtStudio for iPad, with some work done on Photoshop in the studio. October 20, 2012.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mykonos Signs

Paco's Tacos was not the only place I worked for that winter in Harvard Square. "Mykonos" was a gift shop specializing in Greek arts and crafts. I did these two signs for them, advertising later hours. Each week, usually on Thursday, the shops of Harvard Square stayed open late and kept a mildly festive atmosphere. I used the icon image of St. George slaying the dragon for this one, including metallic gold marker for the background.

This one depicts the famous Vlacherna Monastery on the island of Corfu, Greece. It is situated on a tiny island just offshore. 
I don't remember how much I got paid for these signs, but one thing I received for my efforts was a Greek fisherman's hat which I wore for quite some time, before switching to a more artistic beret.

Markers on posterboard, 13" x 10", winter 1980. Much work done in Photoshop to restore these images.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Graphic novel panel finished

My loyal handful of followers may remember my posting of an ink drawing on September 15. That was from page 43 of my ongoing graphic novel about the wizard and the volcano. Now I have finally finished this page and here's how that ink drawing turned out. I painted in watercolor directly on the ink drawing, and glued in printouts of the type. Page 43 has its problems, but at least it is finally done and I can go on to page 44. I estimate that Chapter 2 will go to about page 50 (not counting title pages and dividers) and then I will start working on publishing it.

Ink, watercolor, and printed paper collage on Fabriano illustration board, about 5" x 4", summer-fall 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn Storm iPad

Autumn rains moved in as I sat with the Universal Sketchbook (the iPad) on the work break bench. I tried to match the purple of heavy rain clouds at twilight. The screen is so reflective that you have to consider it when you are matching colors. I ended up making it a bit lighter and greyer in Photoshop in the studio. I love the combination of purple skies and autumn foliage, here just a burst of red at the roadside. Autumn colors seem so garish. The rains came a few minutes later.

"Art Studio" for iPad, October 2012.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate

It's hot chocolate time here in the northern parts of the USA, and Trader Joe's is once again offering its super-rich "sipping chocolate" mix. Once upon a time, Starbucks offered a sipping chocolate called "Chantico," which I adored but it was discontinued because people were too damn "healthy" to indulge in such a chocolate dream. Back in Paco's era winter was warmed by this concoction, which I remember being pretty good, though I preferred the sweet Mexican coffee with cinnamon. My Mesoamerican image collection gave me lots of amusing figures to fill my ads. They were both grotesque and charming and I could easily put a cup of hot chocolate in their hands. I also enjoyed using old Art Nouveau typefaces. 

Markers on posterboard, about 12" x 10", winter 1980.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gruntle, a sea creature

A chilly autumn evening, dark rain clouds rolling in, and another iPad creature on my work break. I started with random squiggles and they suggested the form of the creature to me. It evolved into a compact, but well-decorated sea creature, probably a nudibranch. I drew the black and white version on the iPad, and then exported it to my main system for colorization. Its "face" seemed rather disgruntled to me. But rather than being disgruntled, I decided to be gruntled instead, so this little guy is named "Gruntle."

Here he is colorized in Photoshop, but without any seascape or coral reef in the background. Gruntle probably isn't very large, maybe about a foot long. He doesn't have much of an intellectual life, but that's OK.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on the iPad, colorized in Photoshop, October 15, 2012.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Intergalactic Chicken Wings

I mentioned before that the people who started Paco's Tacos were from Buffalo, NY and that they were the first restaurateurs to introduce "Buffalo Chicken Wings" to Boston. I was asked to do some posters advertising this now-familiar snack. This one had the fancy graphics and my marker interpretation of galaxies: chicken wings in space. The "Intergalactic" bit is astro-culinary hype. If you were really consuming your chicken in intergalactic space, there would be no light except for a few pale smudges where the other galaxies were. You'd be floating in the middle of a huge, dark expanse with nothing but your snack to remind you of Earth back home. Endless darkness, cold, icy void...Boston in winter!

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Pin-up Babe

Yes, I never give up. I will continue to draw pin-up babes and fantasy women till I get it right. I have lots of "fotomodella" books full of pictures of models from times past, when boobs were real and lingerie was tacky and women were not fitness-freaky, muscular and wire-thin. I like working in ordinary pencil a lot more than digital with the Wacom tablet. Many digital artists start with a real pencil drawing, and they scan it in just as I have here and then color it in. I will try that soon.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 4" x 7", October 14, 2012.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hot Chocolate Kitten and Angel

At Paco's Tacos, kittens and angels serve you hot chocolate. Would you like it any other way? What is more comforting than kittens, angels, and hot chocolate? I wish I had some right now. 

Markers on posterboard, about 12" x 10", winter 1979-80. Lots of work in Photoshop.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Winter Hours

I did more than menu boards for Paco's Tacos. If there was something that needed explanation or information, I would make a sign to convey that message. You can see here that I was interested in cloudscapes even back then. Note my signature monogram star to the lower right. I still sign my art with that graphic. Well, the winter hours are coming next month, Sunday brunch and all. Some things don't change.

Markers on posterboard, about 12" x 10", winter 1980.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Roof Lines Autumn

Here's another iPad work break drawing, this time of the roof lines of houses behind my workplace building. You can see a bit of orange autumn color on some of the trees, though we don't have much seasonal color yet. The clouds were especially lovely that day, in early evening. 

iPad Art Studio app with some touching up in Photoshop, October 10, 2012.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mexican Menu Quetzalcoatl

I took another image from my collection of Mesoamerican art for this late-series Mexican menu. Quetzalcoatl, the "Feathered Serpent," was also supposed (in now-discredited sources) to be a white, bearded divinity who would be the Savior of the Aztecs. I depicted this figure, therefore, with pink arms and legs and a monstrous pink and white face. If I were doing this series of commercial illustrations nowadays, I'd have to be much more careful where I got my cultural material from. 

Anyway, Tristan, here's another of my Mesoamerican-inspired images that you like so much. Maybe, if I have the time, I'll do a "modern" one and bring it to Darkovercon. I'm still deciding what art I will bring to the annual show there. 

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", spring 1980.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spiced Cider

Autumn is an imaginary season, created by humans eager to stave off the horrors of winter with images of abundant harvests, feasts, singing and drinking and celebrating the equinox. Any sign I make about fall foods will support this illusion. Red apples, orange and yellow leaves, and the aroma of spices in the cider are there for your comfort. But I know the darkness and the ice are coming, ushered in by the ghosts of Halloween. 

Trader Joe's endcap sign, acrylic markers on black-painted Masonite, 30" x 20", October 8, 2012.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Work Break Figure Study

The weather was cold and rainy so I didn't take my iPad outside on my work break. Instead I worked on this figure study using a printout from the Art Models 6 collection as my model. I wanted to work on light, shadow, and color. My work break is a half an hour so this is as much as I can do in that time. I also transferred the image from the iPad to my main system and did some work on it on Photoshop when I got home. Ideally I would be able to work this figure up into a highly "realistic" rendering, similar to academic realism, but I would need more than half an hour. 

This model is a fine arts model. She is not a pin-up. But once I have a realistic, solid-looking technique, I will import those skills into the more exaggerated pin-up style. I am not giving up my quest to digitally paint people, especially beautiful girls and fantasy ladies. I'll just keep charging up my iPad. The  nice thing about digital painting is that you do not clutter up your studio with dusty drawings and sticky painted panels.

"Art Studio" app on iPad, 1/2 hour, some work done later in Photoshop.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mexican Menu Flowery Brunch

Sunday Brunch is a ladylike time where you can sit with the other ladies and have tea and breakfast dishes. Here's another menu sign I did for Paco's Sunday Brunch. I wanted a frilly, flower-filled design for a foofy meal. I also copied out a handwritten calligraphy font for the text. In these menu boards I had something for everyone. This is quite different from my space and galaxy designs, let alone all those Mayan gods.

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter-spring 1980. Very much restored in Photoshop.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Digital Figure Study more

I drew this figure from one of the many views offered in "Art Models 4." This series of books is a boon to artists who want to draw figures but who cannot afford models or don't have access to them. "Art Models 4" contains many classic poses, some of them imitations of famous statues and characters. All the poses are fine-arts type which means that they are sedate, quiet, demure (despite being nude) and traditionally posed. Other "Art Models" books, especially the recently published number 7, have more action-oriented poses, since the publishers know that many fantasy or comics artists are using these books. The CD that comes with the book contains pictures of each model pose from many different angles. That way you get perspective and foreshortening to work with. Since it's on a CD, you see the image on the screen and can place it next to the drawing area in Photoshop or another drawing program. If you want to work on paper, you can print out the model images.

I'm trying to work with all-digital drawing and painting. This figure was drawn with Wacom stylus and tablet in Photoshop. I've done this type of digital drawing before, but have never been satisfied with my results. I kept the shading to a minimum because I was afraid of messing it up. It took me much longer to draw this (more than an hour) than it would if I were drawing in pencil. This means that I need to do many, many more digital drawings to get good at it. I have books on digital inking which will help me along. 

Pin-up girls are not part of the "Art Models" series. Pin-ups are by their nature not "fine art" productions and so I find my pin-up girls elsewhere. In a pin-up, the girl looks out at you, the viewer, inviting you to have fun with her. She interacts with you, even if she's only an image. The "Art Models" in the formal books never look out at the viewer. This is obviously a choice the publishers made. I just have to keep drawing. I will be drawing figures on the iPad too (using a printout, perhaps) since it will soon be too cold to draw outside during my work break. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mexican Menu Stained Glass

Paco's Tacos had a Sunday brunch which featured Mexican style breakfast dishes, each ordered separately, such as "huevos rancheros" or fried eggs with tomato and chile stuff all over them. Chilaquiles was some sort of mix of tortilla slices with cheese, eggs, and salsa. I never ate the Sunday brunch because I can't stand eggs. I designed signs for it though including this "stained glass" style board in eggy, tomato red colors. Even with all those menus and working in the restaurant, I never quite got to like Mexican food as much as other cuisines. My favorite ethnic cuisine in the whole world is Italian.

Meanwhile on the pin-up front, I have resumed doing pencil sketches of girls from posed photomodels. None of my friends need fear that I will turn her (or him!) into a pin-up. I have ordered this book, privately printed from Dutch artist Frans Mensink, which addresses my needs directly. I typed "how to do digital pin-ups" into the Almighty (Google). I loves the internets.

"Sunday Brunch" is markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Pin-up Attempt

I really shouldn't be posting this, but I promised a friend that I'd try another pin-up girl on the By-Product. I know you handful of viewers are used to a certain level of quality even from by-products. But even when I am following a photo-model I am in a sorry state when attempting to make a pin-up out of her. I'm drawing it all on my Wacom tablet, which often escapes my control with its slippery plastic. Couldn't they figure out a way to give the stylus more resistance, so it resembles a pencil on paper more? Also, I am uncomfortably leaning on my left arm while working on my computer, and my left hand hovers over the keyboard to tap key commands. But my fingers under pressure often type unwanted commands (especially the letter "d" which turns any color I'm using to black). This little mini Mac keyboard is also annoying as it often repeats letters in response to my clumsy typing.


I'm gonna have to work on my digital figure painting of pin-up girls and of people in general. Right now any Korean high school kid can paint digital people and characters better than I can. I'm gonna find some online tutorial resources or DVD-based workshops that might give me some pin-up and digital figure skills. Until then I will not embarrass myself again by posting rubbish attempts on the By-Product.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mexican Menu Reggae

I paid homage to all kinds of music in my Paco's Tacos menu boards. I admit to having missed some important genres, such as classical orchestral and chamber music, or Broadway musicals, or jazz, or even country music. Country just wasn't that popular in Boston, anyway. I also ignored the music of the rest of the world, mostly, except for this foray into Jamaica and the very popular sound of reggae. Here I depicted a Rastafarian vocalist doing his thing along with a drummer and an invisible band. Note the many "herbal leaves" in the background. In the lower right is my bad interpretation of the Ethiopian Lion of Judah, along with the tricolor of the (proposed) "African-American flag." I tried to make the typeface look like Ethiopic writing, about which I knew nothing.

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

City in the Desert

This was my work break doodle for Monday afternoon. I was experimenting with a square digital "brush" which is convenient for architectural drawing. It was a wet, grey day at the beginning of fall but I came up with a city in evening sunlight in the warm desert. I suppose it could be Tucson, Arizona but it is more likely a place in my imaginary world of Noantri. You can see some water in the center of this oasis town, as well as a highway that leads into the city. I'd like to visit Arizona someday. I can visit Noantriworld anytime I want.

"Art Studio" on the iPad, October 1, 2012.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mexican Menu Acapulco High Dive

This was one theme I simply had to do to keep the Mexican theme going. The cliff divers of Acapulco are a big attraction there so I saved them for the Sunday brunch sign. Weekends were always big at Paco's Tacos and I worked the counter all Saturday afternoon. I am especially fond of this sign because I was able to make a blue sky fade to gold at the horizon using only markers which don't blend. If you look closely you can see that I colored the sky line by line using the sky blue marker and then blended it by superimposing into the lighter blue and then pale gold. The lettering wasn't superimposed, I colored around each letter. I used a spiffy Art Nouveau font. You can see the diver in the upper right corner. 

This sign contains a spelling mistake, something I would never allow nowadays. The dessert  was these deep-fried dough bits dusted in powdered sugar. They are called "sopapillas" or "sopaipillas" but I added an extra P. At the restaurant we called them "soapy pillows." No one but you and I will ever know that I misspelled a word on a sign.

Markers on posterboard, 21" x 13", winter 1980.