Archive for September, 2009


Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I was taking photos for ebay, and thought this was compelling, borderline artwork.

Skull Face and Slobulus of the '86 Madballs.

Skull Face and Slobulus of the '86 Madballs.

Josh Keyes

Monday, September 21st, 2009

My good friend Jane Ryder just directed me to brilliant painter Josh Keyes‘ website.  Keyes creates incredibly rendered animals that inhabit little floating cross-sections of urban wilderness.  The images give a sense of the apocalypse, a world filled with human detritus but inhabited only by a motley selection of animals.  Other times the animals have a more supernatural presence, causing flora or flames to sprout from their antlers or fins.  His work is beautiful, and simultaneously heart-warming and quietly chilling.

Check out his work!

24"x18", acrylic on panel, 2008

"Totem II" (Raven Steals the Light) 24"x18", acrylic on panel, 2008

Hornet Commission

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

My friend commissioned me to design a shirt for the Hinsdale South High School drum line.  The school’s mascot is a hornet, with black and gold colors.  My first step in a commission is to do super basic brainstorm to get a sense of what the client wants.  His basic idea was to have a group of hornets each playing a different percussion instrument, smashing ‘em all up.  In his mind’s eye he envisioned the hornets being super muscular.  My own instincts were to make them lanky and insectoid, since that’s how wasps and hornets roll.

So, a few ideas were sketched.


Initial character sketches

The little dudes at the bottom were the thick limbed buff hornets I thought he wanted.  Upon looking it over, my client liked the lanky drummer in the middle, but more so he liked the actual hornet up in the left corner, which was just a quick study from a photo.

So we agreed that we’d go for a spooky, more realistic set of anthropomorphic hornets. I did a rough sketch to figure out composition.

The first rough pencil sketch

The first rough pencil sketch

He liked it! Though I personally wasn’t thrilled that we wouldn’t really see any stingers, I was pleased with how much I crammed into the small space. With his okay, I proceeded to finalize the pencil lines, and then dove into inking.

Finalized pencils and inking begun

Finalized pencils and inking begun

At this point, 2.5 hours into the project, I realized a few potential problems.

1) The lanky multi-limbed hornets were going to be a big tangle of lines.  I was hoping that color would help differentiate them from their wings and instruments. This triggered another realization.

2) What were the shirt printers’ methods? Would a sheet of paper with a tangle of lines be helpful to the printer? Did he use some sort of photo process, or was it all done digitally with vector software?

I contacted Creative Apparel and found out that if they were given drawn art, they would just do an automated digital conversion to vector.  That would severely mess up the delicate lines, and they’d charge a bit more for the extra work.

The obvious answer was to digitally ink it myself with the trusty ol’ WACOM Intuos2 and Illustrator.  Sadly for my client, this delayed everything… I was a little rusty with Illustrator and had to refamiliarize myself with it.  Plus it just takes longer… having a brush pen on paper you can easily rotate to get the best arc is far more ideal than the static Illustrator format.

Digitally Inked Hornets

Digitally Inked Hornets

Ack! So many lines!  What a tangle.  You get the basic gist of what’s happening, but its a lot of thin line work.  And the marimba took an hour by itself, and I’m still not pleased with it, but I was running out of the agreed upon work time (as I bill by the hour).  Still, overall it looked pretty cool.

Lastly, as it was going to be printed onto clothing, I knew it could be three colors only.  It was to be printed on black, with gold and white as the other colors.  So after the painful process of Live Coloring in Illustrator, I finished up the image.

Ready to send to the shirt printer

Ready to send to the shirt printer

I would LOVE more colors so that I could better differentiate which chitinous bits belong to which hornet, but these are the limitations of the colors I was assigned!

Overall, I’m quite pleased.  I’m awaiting on the final look-over, and will be ready to make any last little alterations. I’ll letcha know how it looks as soon as I have a shirt!