2017 Projects Recap

Navigating the dark and cold of Maine winters can be a challenge. Most of the time I try to “power through” my seasonal impulse to wind down, usually with mixed results at best, and almost always resulting in a case of “the sads” along the way. But this winter I decided to work with my restful impulse, and I found that the months of shadow offered special opportunities for not just reading and enjoying other media, but reflection, and even celebration about accomplishments from the previous year.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share an overview of what I was up to creatively in 2017, in roughly chronological order. And, keep an eye out for 2018 updates; I’ve been working away on a larger project, and I look forward to sharing early products of that work in the coming months. Continue reading

Influences: comics part 4

Below is the final of four installments on my favorite print-based visual storytelling work, where I provide choice images and cleaned-up notes on why I love these works so much. Read the first installment along with the story of how I did this, the second installment, or the third one. I encourage you to consider where you come from creatively by revisiting and reflecting on your favorite and most foundational influences.

Note: The rights of these works belong to the creators and their publishers; blemishes in the image quality of the shots below are meant to acknowledge and respect that. If you want a better look at any of these works, go out and buy them! ;-)


Bone

Jeff Smith

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Influences: comics, part 3

Below is the third of four installments on my favorite print-based visual storytelling work, where I provide choice images and cleaned-up notes on why I love these works so much. Read the first installment along with the story of how I did this, or read the second installment. I encourage you to consider where you come from creatively by revisiting and reflecting on your favorite and most foundational influences.

Note: The rights of these works belong to the creators and their publishers; blemishes in the image quality of the shots below are meant to acknowledge and respect that. If you want a better look at any of these works, go out and buy them! ;-)


1980’s-Era Legend of Zelda

Various (Uncredited?) Artists

I tried searching for the names of the artists responsible for this work, but it appears to have been for-hire and simply became property of Nintendo. :-( Continue reading

Influences: comics, part 2

Below is the second of four installments on my favorite print-based visual storytelling work, where I provide choice images and cleaned-up notes on why I love these works so much. Read the first installment along with the story of how I did this. I encourage you to consider where you come from creatively by revisiting and reflecting on your favorite and most foundational influences.

Note: The rights of these works belong to the creators and their publishers; blemishes in the image quality of the shots below are meant to acknowledge and respect that. If you want a better look at any of these works, go out and buy them! ;-)


Moonshadow

Jon J. Muth (Art) | Marc DeMatteis (Story)

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Influences: comics, top 3… +1

In a strange moment of creative darkness and confusion this past December, I became convinced that I couldn’t continue making comics or illustrations without first developing My Visual Style—that is, the distinctive and unique means of visual communication that I would employ for the rest of my life, thereby ensuring the world could identify and cherish my unparallelled work.

In a curious lapse into childhood problem-solving, I decided that, like a videogame, I would simply grind my way toward a solution. I simply had to figure out the work to be done and then bang it out. A couple of solid workdays seemed like enough time. Continue reading

wattersmith part 2: reflections on drawing jeff smith

Next in my reflections on drawing environments in the working style of some of my favorite cartoonists: Jeff Smith and his classic Bone. (Read my Bill Watterson reflections in case you missed them.)

JEFF SMITH, BONE

Tools and Process (gleaned from an interview of Jeff Smith by Sardinian Connection)

  1. Really loose or sparse penciling, more for laying out composition of the ink-based drawings
  2. #1 “horse hair” brush and India ink; couldn’t find exactly what this translated to in standard brush-speak, but I assumed it meant red sable
  3. Not stated but seems to be the case in Bone: pen nib for occasional cross-hatching / blending work — but, I could be wrong!

Reflections
My drawing process here felt extremely tight and tense. Smith’s style is clearly cartoon, full of fluid lines, rounded shapes, and simplified forms. But it can get dense with tiny tic marks and carefully overlapping shapes. For some drawings I got the same sensation as when typing up quotes from a book — looking incessantly back and forth between my drawing and the original, tracking all the little visual details in an attempt to get my translation as accurate as possible.

Smith: Gulp.
Smith: Gulp.

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wattersmith part 1: reflections on drawing bill watterson

Starting back in December of 2013, I began a daily drawing practice focused on environments by some of my favorite comic artists. By now I’ve accumulated a sketchbook on Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) and Jeff Smith (Bone). Taking on the tools, working processes, and styles of two other artists has been a challenge, but it’s also taught me some things. Here I’ll begin sharing my notes on the experience.

BILL WATTERSON, CALVIN & HOBBES

Tools and Process (gleaned from The Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book):

  1. Little to no penciling save for more complex compositions or items (mechanical equipment, for example)
  2. Red sable brush and India ink; I went with a “standard” #6
  3. Pen nib for a handful of small details (Calvin’s shirt stripes, for example)

Reflections:
There’s incredible vivacity and animation possible with the red sable brush. It can be hard to contain at times, but what life! Up until drawing Watterson I had only used synthetic, and I never imagined how much of a difference there could be between the two!

Despite leaving Calvin and Hobbes out of these drawings, there’s still an amazing amount of movement and energy to Watterson’s environments—especially ones from wagon-race strips.

Watterson: Decision Hill
Watterson: Decision Hill

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