June 23, 2012

Akashiya Natural Bamboo Brush Pen

So.

Quite a while back, Mike Rohde hooked me up with JetPens. I'd never heard of the company...but now that I had, whoa.

So, JetPens primarily makes available to the US the awesome pens available in Japan. Since I prefer rollerballs at a REALLY fine point, this looked like a good fit to me.

It's been a while and in the spirit of full disclosure, I've placed multiple orders with JetPens since that first introduction. They're a relatively small and niche company, but don't let that fool you. For the pen connaisseur, the artist or just an aficionado of good pens or pencils, JetPens is a site to be aware of.

A week or two ago, I was contacted by one of the JetPens folk. They asked if I would be willing to review a product here. I had no idea what they would send, and wound up getting a piece that I have little experience with — a brush pen.

Now, to be honest, I use technical pens most of the time. I don't have the steadiest hand. I prefer to pencil first and then, when it's "perfect," I go back over my pencils with Copic Multiliners or Pigma Micron markers. The thought that JetPens wanted me to review a fancier brush pen than anything I'd ever touched before was a little intimidating. But I figured if I couldn't get the hang of the pen, one of my friends would.

When I opened the mail, I saw this:

Unboxing
Unboxing

I am a sucker for a good box and I'm totally in love with this product's looks at any rate. Besides the nice little balsa box/case, the presentation here is really well done. I like that it ships with the cap off so you can see the brush right away and that they took the added precaution of the plastic sleeve to help protect the brush as well.

Unboxing

I popped the cartridge in and tried to snap a shot of the brush filling up.

Brush tip

Then it was time to do pen-only doodles and evaluate how it handled. First up were these little guys. Not good doodles, but they did give me a feel for the pen and just how unsteady my hand is on long strokes.

Weird Doodles with Akashiya brush pen

Which then led to this guy as my hand got somewhat steadier:

Can't Reach the Balloon - Akashiya brush pen sketch
Don't Eat the Flowers - Akashiya brush pen sketch

Then, I waited a week. I wanted to know just how the pen would respond to being left capped but unused for a while. The bit on the left is another pen-only doodle, but the one on the right was a little guy I'd been playing around with for a while. This one I penciled first and then inked. I was curious to see if I could manage the thin lines I wanted with the brush pen and I was truly startled at how fine a line I could coax out of it.

Wanna Play - Akashiya brush pen sketch

You can see the pencils underneath the little guy on the right. Here it is after cleaning up the pencils:

Can't Reach the Balloon - Akashiya brush pen sketch

I had a tiny bit of smearing around his hand and the foot on the left, but otherwise, worked just fine.

The pen itself is awesome. It's definitely been a great introduction for me into brushwork. I am not overly fond of the ink it comes with and I've seen others with the same complaint. Since I have a somewhat slow hand, I had issues with bleeding sometimes, even on my good bristol. The ink also sometimes dried oddly so that areas looked only partially covered. (You can see this in the thicker lines near the bottom of the little guy on the left above.)

I've seen other folks claim that the Winsor & Newton ink cartridges will fit well in here and they seem to be a more universally appreciated ink. I'll have to try that next.

All in all, I have nothing but praise for the pen itself. The ink flowing off the brush was smooth, it didn't dry out in a week (even though I live in a desert) and it felt good in the hand. I obviously still have a lot of practice to do, but that's not the fault of the pen.

I also brought it up to work to let one of my co-workers try it out. She uses a lot of brush pens herself and was intrigued by a cartridge-fed brush. I'm pretty sure she actually fell in love with it. She handed it back to me somewhat regretfully and said "It makes me want to draw. I mean, I would just sit here all day and draw!" In the interest of work productivity, I took it back. Her only concern was she prefers multiple size brushes and while the tips are replaceable, there's just the one size.

So, looks like JetPens has another hit on their hands. I wasn't sure that I was going to keep it since I'm not great with brushes, but playing with it for a week has convinced me to keep trying!

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:09 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 8, 2012

I was teaching first-year writing at the University of Notre Dame. The room was lit only by the snatches of dull, grey light from the two small windows and the glow of my students' monitors. They were working on their papers in class. I was there to help them when they had questions. How to address comments I'd written on earlier drafts, how to cite something, how to prove their point sufficiently or transition from one thing to the next.

If I'm working on something, I don't do interruptions well. So, I had nothing to work on. My job was to be available to them the instant they needed something. So, I perused my favourite toys website: RTM. There, in full colour, glorious in a way I'd never seen any other toy:

Where the Wild Things Are

Sketch of Max - Where the Wild Things Are

I gasped. A student walked up for help, saw my expression and was puzzled.

"What's that?" he asked.

"Where the Wild Things Are action figures."

Blank stare.

I was appalled. How could anyone not know this book? Not know Maurice Sendak's work?

The day before Spring Break, I brought the figures and the book in to class. I ended class early and told my students, "you are free to go if you want. But if you've never seen this book before, I hope you'll stay."

We sat down on the floor in the front of the classroom, for all the world like an overgrown kindergarten class, and I read to them about Max and about the wild things. We roared terrible roars and gnashed terrible teeth. We rolled terrible eyes and showed terrible claws.

We sailed back over a year

and in and out of weeks

and through a day

and into the night of our very own rooms

where we found our supper waiting

and it was still hot.

And some of my students rolled their eyes, a few left, but a bigger chunk of them than I had expected at a school where the students prided themselves on being above anything "childish," a lot of them stayed and enjoyed the book. Some for the first time, some quite obviously for the millionth time as they mouthed most of the words along with me.

A brilliant, dark light has gone out of the universe and we are the poorer for it.

Sketch of Max waving goodbye

Sorry, blog software still uninstalled, so no comments. You can hit me up through the contact form at the top if you want to let me know what you think. I'll manually publish comments if you indicate you want me to do so.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:35 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 27, 2011

Major Tool

Sometimes you try and try and it just doesn't work out the way you'd hoped. That was what happened with this illustration, unfortunately. The penciled sketch turned out pretty well, but when I went to ink it ... well, it just didn't come out right. And when you add in my abysmal lettering ... ah well. I want to throw this out there anyway, while it's still topical. (That's the problem with being a slow illustrator, still. Getting the idea out there fast enough and well.)

If you've never seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, this won't mean anything at all to you ... but if you have, I posit that Dr. Horrible needs a new foe/hero now that Captain Hammer has tasted pain. I mean, Captain Hammer is just a wuss compared to ...

MAJOR HAMMER

Major Hammer, Major Tool - Charlie Sheen

Not sure what I'll do with this - if I had an Etsy store set up, I'd offer it for $15. Meh. If anyone's interested, leave a comment.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:23 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 4, 2010

The Box Lid

All right ... here are some picture of the now-finished box lid for the Plants Vs. Zombies game. Click the images for a larger version.

Box Lid for Plants V Zombies game
Box Lid for Plants V Zombies game
Box Lid for Plants V Zombies game

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:34 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 28, 2010

A Little Overboard

I get these wild hairs from time to time. Something just strikes my fancy, and on a whim, I have suddenly committed myself to a huge project. Last year, it was making a Sculpey piece for everyone in our department. This year it was another Sculpey project ... but a little bit different.

I watched a few friends on Twitter conversing with someone who sounded intriguing. So I followed her. She was having a rough year. Her body was attacking several organs and things were looking serious. After several surgeries and more tests than you could shake a stick at, she finally had a diagnosis of Lupus, something I've rather feared for most of my life. (I've been tested for it from time to time and had doctors bandy the word around since I was in high school.) Through it all, her kids seemed so sweet and loving.

So one day, she's tweeting about the kids playing their made up game of Plants Vs. Zombies in the backyard and she's just basking in their imagination, ingenuity and sense of fun. I mean, Plants Vs. Zombies is an iPhone game. Kind of a strategy game somewhere between board game and video game. And they are making up their own version to play in the backyard. Later on, she tweets that her two kids had asked Santa for Plants Vs. Zombies toys. I'm sure that PopCap is planning on making some at some point, given how wildly popular the game is ... but as of mid October when she tweeted that, there was nothing.

This sounded like an excellent Sculpey project to me. Two sweet kids. Imaginative. Hard year. Yep, just the kind of project I like.

I looked around the web for some screen shots, since I'd never played the game. Found out what their favourite characters were ... and went to work.

And ... umm ... I went a little bit overboard.

I kinda built them a board game version (they'll have to make up their own rules, though).

The full project isn't quite done - I'm waiting to get something back from the printer, but you'll get the general idea from these pictures:

An overview of the whole - the box is just a mockup, printed in tiles (that's the piece I'm waiting to get back from the printer):

Picture of sculpted characters from Plants vs Zombies

And then there are the watermelon-catapult things - these are apparently the kids' favourite plants:

Picture of sculpted watermelon catapults from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's an angry "Wallnut" and a pair of zombies that are only loosely based on the game. As much as I love working in Sculpey the stuff is amazingly soft once you start working with it. Which means every time you touch it the slightest bit, you affect the sculpture. And if I've mixed colours to get a specific hue, I can guarantee the stuff is so soft, I'll never be able to get my finger prints off of it completely:

Picture of sculpted Wallnut and Zombies from Plants vs Zombies

Then a couple more zombies which are more directly based on the game:

Picture of sculpted Zombies from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's the peashooters:

Picture of sculpted pea shooter from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's the snowpea shooter and a trio of mushrooms:

Picture of sculpted snowpea and mushrooms from Plants vs Zombies

And finally, a quartet of sunflowers to round everything off:

Picture of sculpted sunflower from Plants vs Zombies
Picture of sculpted sunflower from Plants vs Zombies

And because I can't leave well enough alone, I ordered some custom cut foam and built a box for the whole thing. Sculpey is fairly sturdy if you don't drop it on a hard surface, but why not stress that this is a little fragile?

Picture of the custom box interior with pieces

And then a final image - this will wrap the box lid and make it look like a board game:

Game box lid

I should say a few things:
One, I respect copyright. This is a one-off art piece made specifically for these kids and I made it clear on the box that Plants Vs. Zombies is PopCap's baby.
Two, I won't make another one.
Three, I've accepted no money for it. I did this on a whim for some kids who needed an extra-bright spot in their lives this holiday season. That's it.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:25 PM | Design | Sketches | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 10, 2010

Doodle (?) Dude ... of sorts

Well, this is not exactly a Doodle Dude, really. It's more a week-long theme ...

At any rate ... here's a kind of a doodle ...

More of a Post-It Note ™ scribble, really ...

Theme - Trapped

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:19 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 2, 2010

Doodle Dudes ...

Ridiculously quiet here, I know.

There's more going on than I can write about ... instead I show you a couple of recent Doodle Dudes ... first up is James ... not sure what he's contemplating, but he's thinking hard:

James

And then there's poor Sue.

Sue was disconcerted to discover what her mother had always said was true:

Sue

The fish had, indeed, shot her eye out.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:15 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 10, 2010

hOily Whale - desktops

By popular request, I have two sizes of computer desktop version of the poor beleaguered Fail Whale for those who are interested.

Some have asked, and there are various discussions about t-shirts as well. If you are interested in a t-shirt, please leave a comment below.

BP killed the Twitter Fail Whale!

1680x1050 Desktop
1280x1024 Desktop

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:34 PM | Design | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 9, 2010

hOily Whale!

I have a lot of "internet friends," people I've never met face-to-face. A good many of them happen to live in the New Orleans area. I've got a friend who used to live up here who used to work on the oil rigs out there in the Gulf of Mexico. So when the Gulf exploded, I was following the goings-on closely. Getting unbelievable details from those in the area, friends with family who fished for a living.

It's gotten so that I expect every other tweet or email to contain oil. It's permeating everything down there - from the smell of the ocean turning to the stench of crude oil to the feel of it in the air. So when NOLAnotes tweeted that seeing the Twitter FailWhale yesterday was a little startling because there wasn't any oil on him ... I had a little brainstorm.

BP killed the Twitter Fail Whale!

Originally, I'd wanted to do the green, green/yellow, yellow pattern inside the birds, but they're just too small for that to work (unless I wanted to do another huge illustration!). I chose to keep it very, very simple, hinting at the oil on the birds (in their eyes and wings - those black areas are usually white) and a nice, happy sun on poor Mr. FailWhale. I wanted to match Twitter's clean simplicity, so I didn't go for the amount of oil that really ought to be coating everything ... the key to parody, of course, is changing just enough to get your point across without beating your audience over the head with your point. In that respect, I think this turned out pretty well.

What I didn't expect was the attention this got - even landing on the Maddow Blog where it was called "instant folk art."

The world is a strange place sometimes - for some reason, I expected more response from the Adobe/Apple illustration which took weeks (and therefore, really wasn't as topical by the time it was done, I know), and this little parody was just something I whipped out when I couldn't sleep Tuesday night.

I'm not complaining ... just noting that the world is a strange, strange place.

Which, of course, is evidenced by the fact that oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for over a month while BP tries to polish their image and protest that their safety records are perfectly fine.

All that just smells a little fishy to me.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:39 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 5, 2010

The Zax Stopped in Their Tracks

Finally.

I've been drawing semi-seriously and now seriously for just five years. It started when I first saw Mike Rhode's sketchtoons. I owe a lot to Mike for his early encouragement.

Recently there's been a very public kerfuffle between Adobe - the leading software in design - and Apple Computers. Adobe wants the Flash software they purchased from Macromedia some time ago to be ubiquitous on the web. Actually, I think they want Flash to be synonymous with the web. I'm no Flash hater myself - it's good in small doses for some things on the web. Whole sites? Uh, no. It's buggy, it's unreliable, it's a resource hog. But I enjoy using it to do animations ... it has its place.

The standoff between Apple insisting on HTML5's ability to do everything Flash can do, only better, and Adobe's insistence that Flash is the supreme gift to the web is a bit ludicrous. There are always shades of grey.

And this battle reminded me of a favourite Dr. Seuss story: The Zax. You see, there were South-Going Zax and North-Going Zax and one day one of each met up. Neither one would move a step to the east or a step to the west to allow them to continue on their way. No, each insisted that the other must move. And so the world just continued on around them, eventually building a bypass over the two stubborn creatures.

Please click through for the full version where you can see other references to the Sneetches and the Lorax as well.

Sneak peek of Adobe and Apple as Zax from Dr Seuss

So glad to finally have this piece done. If it'll stop raining around here, I'll take it in to get matted and possibly framed to go above my desk here at home. The final piece is about 29"x30" and is the first major piece I've ever done and is only my second foray into India inks.

Process:
Sketched on copy paper, scanned, cleaned up a little in Photoshop. Then I reprinted a neater copy, traced it onto medium-weight cold-press illustration board and sketched a few more details. Then I went over that with Speedball India ink. Once that was dry, I used Copic sketch markers for the colour details. I chose a palette very similar to the one Dr. Seuss used on his Zax bypass drawing. I was nervous about the india ink bleeding, but since it had dried for about four days before I got time to do the colours, the ink had dried and set well and I had very little issue with bleeds (although I tried not to go over too many of the lines just in case).
Both the Apple logo and the Adobe logo on the Zax' t-shirt have been painted white with a Marvy DecoColor extra-fine paint pen.

Update - 1:40 PM -
I should add, that I'm not really bashing Apple or Adobe at this point. I think the standoff is the ridiculous part. (I also think Flash is buggy as hell, but it's not evil.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:03 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 2, 2010

Eep!

Sorry, for some reason I always underestimate how long something will take me. I've pretty much done nothing but some fast client updating and working on this illustration. Had a large catastrophe Friday night which necessitated a trip to the art store for more illustration board and starting over. Had another minor set back Monday which meant more wasted time Monday, Tuesday evening and this morning, but looks like things are back on track now.

Not the world's best picture, but it's still in progress anyway. I've got to add colour to the vehicles and then decide if I'm going to leave the rest b/w or mimic the Dr. Seuss page further with colour on the overpass columns and the background. I'm definitely leaning toward b/w.

Zax stopped in their tracks

Hope you enjoy! Remember, if you want to leave a comment, the "Captcha" I use is actually a bit different and easier than most. All you have to do is put the first LETTER of the word, not the whole word.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:03 AM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Odd little Floppy Hat Character

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:30 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 25, 2010

Too Many Daves

So I'm a huge Dr. Seuss fan ... always have been. I still have the copy of Horton Hears a Who that my aunt got me when I was just a bitty li'l red monkey. At any rate, this is the second drawing done for a Twitter bud's daughters, from the story "Too Many Daves" in the Sneetches book.

drawing based on Too Many Daves from Dr Seuss

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:11 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 10, 2010

Are You My Mother?

I needed a couple of sketching projects for practice ... and someone's little ones were enjoying twittering with Mommy & Daddy ... so I volunteered to draw them each a little drawing from their favourite Dr. Seuss book. First up is actually a PD Eastman book called Are You My Mother?

drawing based on PD Eastman's book

This weekend I'm hoping to get 'round to the second piece - from The Sneetches and Other Stories.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:08 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 9, 2010

My First Munny

So, there are these things called Munnys which are just vinyl "shapes" that you can buy and decorate yourself. Or, if you're more into collecting than doing it yourself, you can collect various artists' renditions of Munnys. (Or Dunnys or any of the other critters they make.)

There's a huge Flickr group of customized Munnys if you want to click through. But here is a regular white Munny ready for customizing:

Munny at Kid Robot

So I decided it was time to try my first foray into the fine art of Munny-making. My first one is quite simple, but something that was quite meaningful to me. I still have a larger white one to decorate as well as a large glow-in-the-dark one. I'll get more creative with those, I'm sure. I'd like to do some sculpting on one of them, at the very least.

This one is based on a Sunface Kachina doll. We lived in Albuquerque for all of three months when I was three years old, but I was fascinated by the culture then and remain so. The face is a typical Sunface - eagle feathers bordering and the red and yellow quarters. The face is sometimes white, sometimes turquoise. On this Munny, the eagle feathers are white leather. A leather loincloth and belt have also been glued on. I've contemplated doing a kind of "sandpainting" design on the back of the head ... that seems to be a Munny tradition of sorts to do an elaborate paint job on the head ... but in the end, I think I prefer the simplicity of this design as it is. Maybe I'll do another Pueblo/Hopi/Navajo-area-inspired design later on.

Sun Kachina Munny

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:15 AM | Design | Sketches | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 24, 2009

A Very Sculpey Christmas

So I have this issue with giving presents. I want to give them on my time, not necessarily when the calendar says it's time. This does not work out really well as sometimes I forget to get presents ... I'm not always on time with them ... and I often don't give presents one year, but then go overboard the next year. This tends to confuse others.

This year, I decided on a whim after completing Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey, that I would do a Sculpey project for each of my co-workers. My boss was relatively easy - she collects snowmen. (Click for a bigger image - new window)

snowman

Then there is the co-worker who likes Hello Kitty. Of course, I had to tough-up Miss Kitty ...

Hello Kitty Harley Davidson

And then there's our supervisor who is about as diverse as me. She told me about a nickname of her husband ... so I decided I'll make him a panda later on ... and her a bear for now. (The pattern for this sculpt comes out of one of my books on Sculpey - it's not an original design.)

Teddy Bear

Another one comes from the Sculpey website:

Little Santa

If you've never seen the Monkeehub animated video of Radiohead's acoustic version of "Creep," you have to go see it. Seriously. It's incredible. I decided to make that character for another co-worker.

Creep

And then another co-worker does some really nice vector illustrations ... I decided to do his sculpt as one of his own characters. Check out the wallpaper here.

My Rust and Worries I've Left Behind

They were surprised, I think. And it was fun. Now just watch ... next year I'll probably freaking forget to do anything.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:20 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 7, 2009

Timmy Plays in the Snow

So of course, the day after I take some snaps of Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey, it snows here which is pretty much the perfect backdrop for a reindeer monkey. I snagged Timmy, set him up, told my dogs to shut it, I would be back inside momentarily and then had to dodge a neighborhood kid who wanted to talk to the doggies in the window. (And of course, the dogs wanted to talk back. Loudly. Not letting in a word edgewise.)

But I did manage a good snap of Timmy in his natural environs:

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey - in the snow!

I think you can see the full effect of his glowing nose a little bit better here maybe. Certainly better than last night's too-dark and orange shot.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:05 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 6, 2009

Voila! Timmy The Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey

Sometimes I see something and it just clicks. As I've said, thinkgeek.com is one of my favourite places in the universe. They have a website with real humour, beautiful and innovative design work and products that appeal to me (and generally make me giggle). So, it was unsurprising when I went to their site the other day and saw their holiday header image and it made me giggle beyond the telling of it.

First, ThinkGeek's mascot is Timmy the Monkey. Being a Red Monkey myself, of course I like any site with a good monkey mascot. Being a pixel monkey myself, I appreciate the site's look and aesthetic. (What's not to like about that gorgeous robots to zombies background fade?)

Second, any site that uses nice renditions of my favourite puppet or claymation characters also has my full attention.

So to see Timmy the Monkey done up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from the 1964 Rankin-Bass movie just delighted me and I knew I had to have a Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey of my very own. Preferably one with a light-up nose.

Also, after being sick as all get-out for a week with this damn sinus infection from hell, I needed a project I could immerse myself in and yet remain quiet and still and restful. So, I grabbed some bricks of Sculpey and Fimo and cleared off the glass drawing table and began kneading the polymer clay. The light colours on Timmy are just plain tan Sculpey. The darker area is tan mixed with chocolate and the antler nubs are chocolate Sculpey mixed with black Fimo. The black eyes and red nose are also Fimo.

The problem with working in Sculpey is the stuff is ridiculously soft. That makes it exceedingly difficult to get it completely smooth and exceedingly easy to get small flecks of other colours embedded into each other. The head construction was fairly easy, but smoothing out the seam of the ears was difficult without leaving further marks in the soft clay. It went pretty well, though, including the inlay of the tan into the ears.

Then I started the body. I toyed with the thought of using aluminum foil to take up some of the bulk, but to be honest, I've never had success using that method - I just never seem to get the clay smooth again over the crumpled foil. So, his body is a massive chunk of Sculpey. Then I cut a diagonal line to create the joint for one leg - just to see if this method would make a better joint for the legs. It did. I was pretty happy with that ... and then it was time for the damn arms. Really, the arms weren't so bad, but trying to do the hands in the incredibly soft Sculpey was an exercise in masochism. Eventually I got it. Unfortunately, during the baking, both arms sagged downward more than I'd anticipated.

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey - unlit

So he turned out pretty well, but that wasn't quite enough for me. I wanted a light-up nose, too. So, I carved into the back of Timmy's little head. I needed a slot big enough to slide a 3V 2032 button battery (often found in watches or super-slim remotes). I also needed a hole to insert the LED. Wiring him up was far easier than I thought at first - the area was small enough that all I really needed to do was slide the battery in between the wires in the LED - no additional wiring really needed. I could just take the battery out to turn it off. Far simpler than trying to embed both wiring and a switch inside the Sculpey head - particularly since I didn't want to bake the wiring along with the Sculpey.

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey - lit

There ya have it! Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:39 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 5, 2009

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey

It's no secret that I enjoy being a massive geek, so it's no real surprise that I adore thinkgeek.com. I logged in over there the other day, only to discover their holiday theme is up ... and it's based on the old clay-mation Christmas specials like Rudolph. In fact, one of their designers has mocked up a Timmy (their mascot monkey - hello, I am the Red Monkey, you KNOW I love thinkgeek!) as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The header with that image is not on every page, it's in a random rotation at the moment, but play around a bit on their site and you'll see it.

I LOVE it! Of course. So, since I've finished the last of my major projects (other than cleaning the house), I decided that the perfect sick-time activity this weekend is making a Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey. I am going to try to hit Radio Shack tonight and pick up a red LED to put inside him as well.

So, this is the head, pre-baking. It's primarily Sculpey with a bit of Fimo in the nose and mixed into the antler nubs.

Timmy the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monkey

Building the body's going to be very interesting ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:07 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 29, 2009

Dear Santa

Oddly enough, I was working on a project and saw this tweet:

Dear Santa: I would like a Kitchen Aid Mixer for Christmas: WalMart has them for $198. Thank you xoxox ~ Rachel

Well, I had to give Southern Fairy Tale what she asked for!

KitchenAid Mixer sketch

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:51 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 26, 2009

Doodle Dude: Hank

I haven't posted a Doodle Dude in a while, but Hank here won my heart.

Hank the Doodle Dude and his hairy eyeball

Other half rolled her eyes at Hank, but I rather enjoyed working on this one.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:09 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 21, 2009

Doodle Dude: Damon

Just another little doodle dude. I think he's a seadragon - apparently there's something a bit scary around the corner from him.

Doodle Dude: Damon

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:28 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 13, 2009

Doodle Dude: Tennyson

Just another little doodle.

Doodle Dude: Tennyson

Me and Tennyson are apparently waiting for something.

(And dammit, I see where I changed the light source as I was doodling and didn't correct it. Grrr)

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:32 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 7, 2009

Doodle Dude: Droopy

It's just been this kinda week. Err, month. Err, umm, it's been a while.

Doodle Dude: Droopy

Poor Droopy just can't seem to catch a break. Just playing a bit with a piece of lead and my new Tombow Mono Zero erasers a bit. Not sure I like the squared one, but I do love that 2.3 round!

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:44 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 30, 2009

Doodle Dude: Larry

I started Larry yesterday, but sadly, the post-it note got all messed up before I could finish it or scan it. Poor Larry took a decidedly different turn today. It loks like someone whacked the heck out of his head or maybe he's just got the mother of all pimples, I'm not sure which.

Duddle Dood, Larry

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:18 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 27, 2009

Doodle Dude: Leonard

So, I haven't gotten around to the vampire ghost yet ... it's percolating back there. Right now I'm still trying to unfreeze my creativity and trying to draw without any references ... get the mojo rolling like it used to roll. So today's doodle dude came from a wonderful designer, Stefan Mumaw of Reign. He frequently posts PlayBreaks on Twitter ... and this one was to drop your pen on a piece of paper 9 times. Connect the dots in any way you like to create a something or another.

Well, I'm still addicted to my pencil, but here's the latest doodle dude who is, apparently, a nine dot bee-thing: Leonard.

Duddle Dood, Leonard

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:46 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 24, 2009

Doodle Dude: Fiona

Oops, missed yesterday - tried to do a Sharpie sketch and well ... hated it. Tore it to shreds just like you're not supposed to do. Trust me, it deserved it.

So today I went back to pencil. And, since I normally only draw male characters, in honour of Blogher, I drew a girl ... (not that you can tell if a Doodle Dude is male or female just from looking).

Duddle Dood, Fiona

What emotion or character should I try next? I have one suggestion for a vampire ghost - what else?

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:11 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 22, 2009

Doodle Dude: Trouble

Well, well, well. I think we know who did the duck-taping yesterday, don't we? I do believe this little guy is in some serious trouble ....

Duddle Dood, Trouble

What emotion or character should I try next? I have one suggestion for a vampire ghost - what else?

Trouble here was born from the tiles in the bathroom - I often see shapes in the swirls of the tiles or otherwise abstract or "image-less" things. Like carpet. At my last job I loved one particular tile in the floor because I could see a perfect horse's head. (What? It's better than seeing the other end!)

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:20 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 21, 2009

Doodle Dude: Autumn

At the request of one lone reader, I give you poor little Autumn. She, I'm afraid, has narrated the world around her one too many times and finally made someone snap and duct tape her mouth closed. *sigh* Don't worry, the authorities have been called and poor li'l Autumn here has been sorted out.


Duddle Dood, Autumn

What emotion or character should I try next?

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:02 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 20, 2009

Doodle Dude

One of the best exercises for an artist is to just make a few lines ... and then turn it into something. Of course, it would be better for me if I would force myself to do these things in ink, but I'm still playing with shading in pencils. That's my excuse. That and I love the smell of erasers. Which is a damn good thing cuz I have a lot of eraser dust around here.

Anyhow, the first of what I hope is a series of little Doodle Dudes ... I think little Ansel here is either very scared or just got busted ... you decide.

Duddle Dood, Ansel

What emotion or character should I try next?

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:51 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 2, 2009

You Can Too So

Okay, so in the last post, I ran out of time but wanted to talk to those of you who tell me "I can't even draw a stick figure."

As I said, I drew some, but not a lot. I grew up watching my mom draw, paint, use pastels, study tons of art books.

But I was completely intimidated by anyone who could draw, including my mother. The one summer enrichment class I took pretty much sealed the deal for me. As much as I loved drawing technical pictures (I drew a slew of guns for a history project and discovered planes and boats and guns were things I could draw quite well), I thought that any type of artist could "just draw." So, during that summer enrichment class, I worked diligently, but was rather disappointed that there didn't seem to be much "here's how you do this" kind of teaching, which is what I really respond to. I did one landscape where I never did like the perspective, so I kept re-working it. I added more details ... and then something else, a fence post, a no trespassing sign.

But the last straw was the last assignment for that class - a simple still life: draw a realistic apple. But I really didn't understand anything about chiaroscuro (shading - light and dark) and the more I tried, the more frustrated I got. I finally got pissed and stopped.

And that's when my mom got involved and drawing stopped being fun.

She took one look at the twelve-year-old's mess I'd made of that apple drawing and began being "helpful." Look, it's been not quite thirty years since then and with an adult's perspective, I know that she thought she was being helpful. But her method of helping was to tell me to sit down and do it "right." Once again, I didn't get any real instruction on how to actually accomplish this. So, an otherwise fun activity became a terrible homework assignment and a Saturday of summer vacation turned into a freaking nightmare. Even after Mom was satisfied, I still wasn't. I didn't like the way it looked and I didn't like that I'd wasted a ton of time on it and still it wasn't "right."

That was the last time I tried to draw for about twenty-five years or so.

Then, I was surrounded by creative people - artists.

I had just lost my job with that stupid university that I try not to even utter its name anymore and took a job as a copy writer at a major e-commerce company. I had been hired originally because along with my writing experience, I'd been doing web design for the university since 1997. I had been doing more and more "digital art," which I didn't think was really art at the time. So when we hired a graphic designer, I spent a ton of time looking over his incredibly patient shoulder and he was quite happy to show off his serious skillz.

And I slowly learned that I knew more than I thought I did about design and art. That gave me confidence.

The other thing that happened at the same time was the graphic designer told me he couldn't "do" a certain type of art/drawing.

Suddenly something clicked for me.

When I taught freshman writing, I often wrote a Hemingway quote up on the board the first day of class: The first draft of anything is shit.

Being rather sheltered 18 year olds, it took them quite a while to get over the shock of seeing the word "shit" up on the board. One student even asked if he could tell his mom that I wrote a, and I quote, "naughty word" up on the board. The point I made to my students repeatedly was this: No writer EVER went up to their little writing studio and churned out a perfect first draft which became some literature masterpiece. No poet, no dramatist, no novelist, no short-story writer.

The first draft of anything is shit.

Well, hell. How often had I read Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev and read about Asher doing practice sketches and practice sketches and practice pieces. Didn't the same thing apply to painting/drawing/sculpting as it did to writing?

I also knew from my writing that you develop a style ... and that it's difficult to force yourself into a particular style. You either "feel" a style and it's an authentic extension of you ... or it's a bit flat.

I began drawing again. The guys encouraged me and while I don't link to the quasi-comic book I did any more, I did leave the site up still. (It's a survivor's comic ... not for children or the squeamish) I began to develop a style ... sort of ... or at least explore what types of drawing I enjoyed and was good at.

And then I bought Chris Hart's Cartoon Cool, which I credit with really getting me back into the game. That book encapsulated a lot of the stuff I like - cartoon, animation, design. There's a focus on character design rather than background - which quite rightfully is an art in and of itself. I discovered Mike Rohde's "sketchtoons" and studied what he'd done, drew it for myself. There were definitely differences and I didn't like some of what I'd done ... but I suddenly found that I had more confidence than I'd had before.

And the guys in the office encouraged me. They took my thoughts on site design seriously and I was able to take on junior designer duties and eventually more than just "junior." They managed to critique my sketches without slicing me to ribbons - they let me do that part - and they encouraged me to keep going.

What I learned through all of this is that you can draw ... and you can write ... it's a matter of a couple of small things:

  • remind yourself that the first draft of anything is shit
  • it takes time and many pieces of paper
  • mimicry is the way most artists/writers learn
  • you don't improve if you give up
  • you have to finish the drawing to learn from it
  • those "here's how you draw" pages in kids' books? they're not dumbed down directions for kids. You really DO need to draw those shapes and guidelines and then erase them - it's not cheating!

I can't tell you how many times I thought something I was working on sucked and I forced myself to finish it "as an exercise - I'll never show it to anyone" ... only to have it turn out pretty damn well and I was proud of it after all.

Drawing, writing ... like so many things in life, these are about how much time we're willing to put into the end product. My high school creative writing teacher, whom I thought wrote some damn good pieces, claimed he was not, in fact, a good writer. He was a good re-writer. He put his work through a minimum of 10-12 drafts. And, he was primarily a novelist, not a short story writer.

For me, I happened to hit on the style I prefer at a time when there are a fair amount of people doing that style. It gave me the confidence to continue. I still have to FORCE myself to not abandon drawings. I still get that petulant 12 year old insisting "I can't do this!" I still compare myself to folks like those in my sidebar - I am nowhere near their level - any of them. But I get enjoyment at it. And I continue to get better.

And after years and years of saying "I can't even draw stick figures" ... I've learned that I was simply too scared to work at drawing. My stick figures do suck ... but that's because I'm not invested in them and don't want to take any time on them.

Yes, I am incredibly jealous of people like Craig McCracken, Ben Balistreri, David Lapham and a slew of others, who as best I can tell, just draw these things like other people breathe air - easily and naturally. I'm jealous that they can turn out more stuff more quickly than I - but I no longer say I can't draw.

So for those of you who say "I can't do it" - I challenge you to find something like Chris Hart's Cartoon Cool - something simple and work on sketching out things from the book. Look at the shapes. Don't be afraid to erase - and erase a LOT! Erasing doesn't always mean mistakes - it means you're careful enough to draw the necessary guidelines so that you can get it right.

Make first drafts. Learn from them. Take small things from them and ditch what's not working without recrimination.

And when you're not having fun with it, when you're not relaxed with it ... take a break. Remind yourself it's an exercise and come back to it later.

Hey, if I can draw, anyone can.

early character sketches, most of which are utter poo

Floppy Hat Guy

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:52 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 1, 2009

Bullish

While I have a great deal of fun designing characters, backgrounds are a whole different story. The background in this banner is actually from Elisanth_ at iStockPhoto. Personally, I've always had a tendency to go completely overboard with backgrounds, so I generally do a very, very minimal background now (or buy one at iStock!). That's the next subject I'll have to really study - a proper background.

At any rate, here's a snippet of a recent project - just a corner of a blog banner:

Shocked Bull

Now, a note to all of you who tell me "I can't even draw a stick figure":
I drew a fair amount as a child. Not a ton, but probably more than some kids. My mom had art supplies galore in the house. She did pastels, some oils, more acrylics. She took classes, she was forced to branch out into cardboard 3D stuff. I can recall my love/hate relationship with her Prismacolor markers (which is probably why I adore Copic markers so very, very much now).

All that said, I did not grow up loving art. I took one summer art class as part of an enrichment program and it mostly involved letting us doodle and get out of the house for a few hours so Mom wouldn't go nuts. I grew up loving cartoons and being completely intimidated by anyone who could draw.

Crap. I have about ten minutes and about an hour's worth of things to write. But I want to get this post up before work, so I'll let it go with just this snippet and image. But expect a lecture on drawing tomorrow ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:54 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 29, 2009

Wander Over Yonder

Anyone who has talked to me for very long knows one thing for sure: I love cartoons and animation far more than your average kindergartener. Talk to me a little longer and you'll know that one of my all-time favourite cartoons is Craig McCracken's Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. So when I heard that McCracken had a sketchbook entitled Wander Over Yonder, I had to go have a look-see.

And, of course, I had to purchase as well. It's a cute little booklet - in the fiction or poetry world it would be called a chapbook. There's no linear story per se, it's just this little guy wandering around the countryside. Black and white, simple backgrounds, loads of facial expression and character. It reminds me quite a bit of Walt Kelly's Pogo stuff, actually.

So, whilst at a church "game night" Saturday, I decided to have a go at drawing one of the pages from Wander Over Yonder. Sketching in pencil has become somewhat comfortable for me now (somewhat - I absolute HATED the pencil sketch of a beach scene I started before I switched to working on this drawing that night), so I decided to force myself to draw this little McCracken guy in ink only. Naturally the first stroke I made was not exactly absolutely the same as what I saw on the page before me ... and I was instantly forced to draw more and sketch-mimic-erase less.

Some examples from the sketchbook posted on his wife's site, Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls, are here.

sketch based on Craig McCracken's Wander Over Yonder character

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:32 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 8, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

So, what have I been so busy with that I had to give short shrift to my Hugo Awards logo entry?

Well, back in January a dear relative of mine announced his wedding intentions and I instantly volunteered to do the invitations. Click the image to see the invitation itself:

Wedding Invitation

Oh, and it's actually not a Star Trek themed invitation ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:10 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 6, 2009

Rocketship Hugo

When we moved from Austin to Arlington, I was bored. The teachers apparently didn't believe my old school, my mom or me that I was far ahead of their students and so they put me in the second high groups in reading and math. Cuz you know, that's what you do with an advanced kid - bore the crap out of them.

I quickly realized that my new school's library sucked. I was going through books at a ridiculous pace and my teachers were already getting tired of letting me go to the library after I finished my schoolwork and homework before class was over.

Space Cadet CoverSo I searched until I found the thickest book in the library. It was called Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein.

I had found a new obsession. I read every Heinlein book in our library, devoured Asimov with abandon and dabbled in Andre Norton and then Katherine Kurtz. As our selection began to expand, I eventually discovered Tolkien as well.

But I always went back to Heinlein, who was for me then, the end-all be-all of science fiction. Eventually I branched out into other authors ... but the one time I wrote a paid-academic piece, it was about Heinlein's novella Waldo.

So when I heard that the Hugo Award was looking for an actual logo to use - something the organization could use in print and use on stickers for the winning books and materials, I knew I wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

Unfortunately, I was rather swamped with two other projects at the same time and really didn't get much beyond the sketch stage. Here's the first two rough sketch ideas that I did not submit to the contest:

Hugo Logo concept with critter
Hugo Logo concept with critter

I wasn't fully sure that I wanted to let go of my little creature there ... so I did not even attempt to vectorize those sketches and turn them in to the contest.

Instead, I did work up the second concept I came up with. Unfortunately, I really didn't have time to do the concept the justice it deserved, but here's the image I finally turned in:

Hugo Logo concept with rocket-sword

I thought for the printed pieces, the rocket portion of the logo should be a silver foil, preferably embossed. I wish I'd had time to work up a font closer to the one I sketched in the other concept, but ... *sigh* you do what you have time for, right?

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:04 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 18, 2009

More Hand Sketched Cards

Last week, I decided to send out a slew of little cards to some folks I know - just a hey, how are you - kinda deal. Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to add a more personal touch (and also because I'm bad with such small talk) - I thought I'd sketch something on the front of the cards. It's a great idea and it was fun. But I am still so critical of the doodles I create out of my own head, this turned into a much longer process than it should have been. To help simplify matters and to speed things up, I decided I would use one character that I doodled during a meeting and change what he was holding for each card - the object being held would somehow reflect the character of the person to whom I was writing the card.

One musician, a couple of sports fanatics, and a rather sweet couple. Here's the results on some blank cards in one of my favourite colours - bright spring green:

Character holding flowers, football

 

Character holding basketball, cowbell - More Cowbell text

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:47 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 13, 2009

Aww, Shucks

Just a quick sketch on the blank front of a card.

Dude waving with flowers behind his back

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:16 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 5, 2009

Max the Wild Thing

Just a fast sketch of Max leaving the island of the Wild Things and returning home. I still can't believe the movie is not going to be animated ... but now that I've seen a couple of production stills, maybe it will be okay.

Max returning to his supper - fast sketch

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:04 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 1, 2009

Moving Day

Fast sketch ... more of an idea that isn't fully realized yet. The interesting thing that I'm finally hammering through my thick skull is that sometimes I have to draw the thing that isn't what I want to draw in order to figure out what it is I do want to draw.

In this case, I needed to draw a very literal piece before I could realize that I want to draw a concept instead.

Moving Day - fast sketch

I used to do that kind of writing all the time - character sketches, family histories, story pieces ... and then trash it all and write the story I needed to write. For some reason, it's harder for me to remember that sometimes I need to work myself into a drawing as much as I used to work myself into a story.

At any rate, this is the preliminary work. I've got a couple of projects that will probably take precedence over the finished piece, so it'll be a while before I post that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:28 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 24, 2009

Great Glern - Inked

Yesterday I showed the pencil sketch of the critter from page 86 of Little Monster's You-Can-Make-It Book, The Great Glern of the Sea. Today is the ink:

Mercer Mayer's Sea Dragon - my sketch

I may get around to doing a digital colouring of him later on, but not any time soon. I had a massive freaking allergy attack Sunday and have been mostly off-line since as my eyes are swollen and the computer is really hurting them.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:52 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 21, 2009

Fixer-Upper

I have promised myself to sketch every day at lunch. This was a rough pencil idea - punchline wasn't well delivered, but hey, I like the concept and the little characters. Kind of going back to my beloved Mercer Mayer roots here.

Click to bigify in a new window/tab - makes the text more readable. I just don't have the patience to draw my letters & my handwriting sucks.

Aliens viewing a promising purchase

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:08 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 14, 2009

Keep Medicated

So, one of my favourite Twitterers the other day said something I not only found highly amusing, but I instantly knew I wanted to draw it as well. Mooshinindy said: "Keep medicated for best results."

I really did laugh out loud when I first saw that tweet. As much as when Felicia Day said "Cutting back to bare min on sxsw posts A) most ppl aren't here and don't care B) I just walked face first into a street sign while tweeting"

So, the hand-sketch and inked version is below. I may do a version in spot colour in Illustrator as well if there seems to be any interest in it.

Keep Medicated for Best Results

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:04 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 18, 2009

Creature in Andrew Bell's Head

My preferred form of furthering my ability to draw is to find a great drawing or sketch that I like and then mimicking it. It's a common exercise in a lot of fields to mimic "the greats" and learn both your own style - what you'd have done differently - and how to finesse your style as well. So, in the process of cruising through some really nice new art blogs, I discovered Andrew Bell's The Creatures in my Head. He's got loads of wonderful work ... great desktop vectors, resin and vinyl toys ... and my favourite - some great creature sketches in pencil.

I saw this little guy and knew that I needed to practice shading with this sketch.

At the same time, I have a tendency to try too hard to make my sketches look exactly like what I'm mimicking. So I decided I wanted to focus on the shading practice ... and practice adding some of my own style rather than getting it as close as possible to the original. I'm fairly happy with how it turned out - I dislike my drool puddle, but then I didn't spend much time on it either, so I got what I put into it. I'll have to try that again another time.

Practice sketch - based on art by Andrew Bell

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:56 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 8, 2009

Illustrated MP3 Player

Last time, I posted the rough sketch of the MP3 player for a client. After talking with the client, she indicated the car was cool, but she preferred motorcycles. I'm still in the process of adapting the various buttons to work on a motorcycle, but here's the current update:

MP3 sketch

Hopefully I'll have this completed and working by the end of next weekend.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:22 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 4, 2009

Fast Sketch

Rough concept sketch here. This is to be an MP3 player for a client - the artwork is loosely based on the artwork for one of her CDs. The headlights have the forward and back button and the front fender is the volume slide.

Sketch based on Sherry K's Westbound CD

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:19 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 1, 2009

More Seuss-ian Sketching

This one is for my cousin ... it's a long story, but I am now required by law to tease him about moose. So, in a search for Seuss images, I found Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose ... and to be honest, this fits Cuz #1 just perfectly for a multitude of reasons. After I was 3/4 done with the penciling on this particular piece, I decided that the style of shading Seuss used was not going to translate as well as I wanted in ink, so I left it pencils. I used my trusty Ohto Promecha .3 pencil from Jetpens.com because I love the precision of a mechanical pencil when I first start a sketch. The strokes can get wide later after I've got the piece sketched out better. I also used a General's Layout extra black pencil in some of the darker areas and a Kimberly 3B for the lighter shading.

The bits of colour were added to better match the original 1948 cover. I used my Faber Castell Art Grip Aquarelle pencils. Yes, they're watercolour pencils and no I didn't use any of the watercolour features in this drawing - I just like the way the colour lays down with these.

Thidwick sketch in frame

I've really been enjoying these Seuss-ian sketches and as usual, I'm learning a great deal from mimicking a master.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:32 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 27, 2008

Ice & Creativity

So, I had hoped to work through lunch Friday and then take off for Ohio to see my aunt. At 6 a.m., I peeked out the window because there were some flashing lights. A city pickup was behind a city bus in front of our driveway. Spreading bags of salt. Bags and bags of salt.

The bus was diagonal in the street.

We had been turned overnight into a beautiful city of solid, polished-glass looking ice.

I went ahead and started my morning getting ready rituals and then proceeded to wait for a while in hopes that the roads would clear up soon. Not too long after that I heard the splishing of a couple of cars driving up the street. Great, I thought, I'll head out to work now.

I took one step out the door.

Next thing I knew I was sitting on our tiny little porch's steps, my beautiful art pop-up book popped up on the sidewalk and The Mascot laying next to it. If I recall correctly, the leg I broke in June was under me, with the ankle in point position.

Salt dump truck follows bulldozer into ditchNaturally, when I realized I was sitting down on the porch I said aloud, "No, not again." The difference was that I didn't black out this time. I'm not sure how I wound up in that particular position, mind, but I wasn't passing out from pain either. Maybe it was better this time. I looked at the porch more carefully and that was when I saw that everything outside - absolutely EVERYTHING - was polished glass ice. No wonder I couldn't even take one step. I scooted backwards into the house and called in. At the very least the ankle was sprained and there was no way to leave the house on crutches - later in the day the county was declared a road emergency - everyone STAY HOME. Besides, I needed to ice the ankle and take some pain pills and anti-inflammatories in hopes that it would get better fast. After I did that, I went back to the doorway with one of the damn grabber claw things I'd needed when I first broke my leg and was immobile. I hung out the doorway, hanging onto the doorway to keep from sliding down the steps and tried to rescue my books which were being sleeted on. Eventually I was able to grab them both.

The ankle is stretched out and kinda sprained, but all in all it's okay I think. I've been using the crutches around the house and it feels much better today.

Since plans changed and I couldn't go visit my aunt ... and had a very limited mobility yet again ... I decided to work on a sketch for my aunt. When I was small, she gave me a book for Christmas every year and I loved it. Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox one year ... but the first one I remember ... dated 1973, so I was five ... was Horton Hears a Who. So, I decided to draw the frontispiece from the copy of Horton that she'd given me way back then.

Sketch based on frontispiece of Horton Hears a Who

Hopefully the roads and weather will cooperate and I'll deliver it next weekend. :)

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:13 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 6, 2008

Character Sketch

A character sketch for an idea that's been building for a while ...

character sketch

Odd little critter - not positive about the character's name or the plotlines yet.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:33 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 5, 2008

Staying Inside the Lines (or not)

So, if you've been around here very long, you know well that I very much enjoy cartoons and comics.

I don't recall what I was looking for at Amazon one day, but I discovered this:

Book cover for Hi-Fi Color

Hi-Fi Color for comics by Miller and Miller.

The book is simply put - amazing. Included is a CD of Photoshop scripts and a myriad of different comic art for you to follow along with in the book - or colour your own way. The book makes it very clear that Terry Moore and others donated their comic art to the book and that you do NOT have permission to post your colourings online anywhere (except for the very nice HueDoo forum), so unlike some of my other experiments in art, you won't see me posting anything from the book here or at Oppositional Design.

Wait,

before you run off! The stuff in this book is excellent - so much so that you do not have to be some Photoshop wizard or even consider yourself an artist to enjoy this book. If you don't have Photoshop, a good portion of the stuff in the book can be done with Photoshop Elements (comes with many digital cameras) or even the open source GIMP. Yes, the scripts and brushes are specific to Photoshop itself, but you can benefit from the book without those extras - particularly since Amazon's selling the book for a bit over $16 instead of $25. The first script, which "processes" art for you, is something you can recreate with the instructions in the book. The second script is an fx script which looks like is pretty Photoshop specific and perhaps not explained in the book. (But I bet someone on the HueDoo forum has probably explained it by now.) I haven't gotten to what the third script is yet.

Even if you simply enjoy art or comics, you'll get a deeper appreciation as you read through the book and look at the art on the CD. The instructions are clear and step by step - and leave plenty of room for your own creativity. It's the nicest blend of "how-to" which still leaves you to your own creativity I've seen in a long while.

I talk to people all the time who insist they can't draw or they are not artistic and it infuriates me, largely because I was one of those people just three years ago. I drew a lot as a kid - I wanted to go into cartooning way back then, but the only books that I could lay my hands on were simplistic cartooning for kids things that really weren't too helpful. I did enjoy my Mercer Mayer's Little Monster activity book which showed you how to draw all the major characters in the book ... but because I couldn't get the hang of grid drawing (which was supposed to simplify things) ... I got frustrated and quit trying.

As far as I was concerned, my mom was the artist and my sister was the musician ... and I guessed I was a writer. It wasn't until I was fairly deep into web design before I started also trying to draw again. A lot of it was crap ... but then I discovered the Cartoon Cool by Chris Hart and started noodling around again. And, the words that I used to tell my students in first-year writing came back to haunt me: professional writers DO have to work at writing. They don't get it magically right the first time and come downstairs with some finished masterpiece.

Oh.

Yeah.

Umm, gee, I guess the same thing goes for artists, huh? That would be why there are pages of sketches done before an artist tackles a big painting. That's why a comic book artist might do pages and pages of sketches blocking the story out before drawing a comic "for real."

It's simply work that an artist or a writer either enjoys doing or feels compelled to do.

It also helped that I worked with a very talented artist who said he often gets frustrated because what comes out on paper (or canvas or whatever) often doesn't look like what he had in his head.

Oh. So it's not just me, then?

Huh. Who knew?

The trick, really, is turning off that internal editor, that internal critic - or at least muting that voice as much as possible - and enjoying the process of making something turn out better than you thought you could do. In my opinion, both Cartoon Cool and Hi-Fi Color for comics are books which encourage our inner artists, however talented we might be.

You, personally, may not have the patience to draw exactly what you see on the page or in your head ... you might not be great at seeing the geometry of every day objects and converting them into a drawing. That's okay. But a little creativity is good for you. Keeps the brain limber and trying to see things in new ways.

If you're at all interested in drawing or art, I really recommend you give at least one of these books a try - just for a little relaxing fun. You might just surprise yourself. I know I have.

.

(And no, this is not a paid ad for this book. I've never met nor spoken with the Millers. I'm not signed up at Amazon to do referrals. I get nothing monetary or in kind from this post. I simply want to spread the word about something I enjoy and I think more people ought to try.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:23 AM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 22, 2008

Los Interwebz, dos

So, whilst wasting time on Twitter one day, someone said, "I wish I could draw comic strips" ... and thus GeekMom's swell concept became the next Los Interwebz strip. (The first was the troll strip.)

This one is called "Twitterverse." Click the preview to bigify. (It's 1000 px wide ....)

Twitterverse Preview

(P.S. Happy birthday, sis!!)

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:19 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 25, 2008

Artistic or Autistic (or all of the above)

I have been around acrylic paints, oil paints, pastels, Sakura Pigma Microns, Prismacolor markers, X-Acto knives and the like all my life - and that was just Mom's kit. With Dad it was Testor paints and train kits and loads of balsa wood. He scavenged little chains and wires to make realistic details to a train rig that was laid out for perhaps four years. He worked on it from the time my grandmother gave he and I a starter set for Christmas when I was five until I was about 17 when he finally decided to start selling it off. He'd buy a kit, take it out to his toolbench in the garage and work on assembling it, painting it, and then adding clever little touches to make it more realistic. When he was done, he'd carefully box it up so it didn't break and add it to the stack of like boxes on the shelves in the garage.

Mom bought books on art and when we lived in Austin, it seemed like she painted all the time. She did a lot of tole painting at that time as well as working in pastels and doing some portraits. Because she was overly critical of her own work, she often used others' drawings as her "template" and mimicked them onto the wooden object she was decorating. They were fun, whimsical paintings ... and now that I think about it, they shared a fair amount in common with comic strip or cartoon art. I kept a couple of her pieces for years, but alas, too many moves finally took their toll and I'm not sure that I have any of them now.

Suffice it to say it was not unusual for our home to reek of art supplies which covered even the smell of my parents' chain smoking.

My sister and I were surrounded by music and artistic endeavors during our childhood. Besides their different artistic pursuits, they both played piano. My mother became self-conscious about it eventually, but when we were very small, we would beg her to play us to sleep in the evenings. Dad played by ear, Mom played by the rules. In other words, Mom always played sheet music ... Dad made up his own song and occasionally played other songs by ear - but that song generally became "his" song. I couldn't tell you what genre of song it was ... perhaps honky-tonk comes closest (but not in that country-western way, not really). It was a rocking, rollicking series of licks up and down the keyboard.

My sister picked up the bulk of the musical interest and talent in the family - she was in training to begin international competitions as a pianist when she decided that wasn't what she wanted and pulled back some. I hit my own wall a little sooner.

I was, to be perfectly honest, overly sensitive to any criticism from my mother from a very early age. So when I bragged about how wonderfully I was colouring a page in my colouring book and was met with a critique - I was sure already that I was not artistically inclined. The truth of the matter is that I was colouring like a kid. Mom was colouring with me - like an artistic adult. As I remember the look on her face as she coloured with me, she was quite obviously lost in the art of what she was doing. I was happy to stay in between the lines for once. What she perceived as a helpful comment - sharing with me what she'd learned about making the colour as consistent as possible, I perceived as "you're doing it wrong."

I was also a child who did not foncorm to much of anything at all. If I had an arts & crafts project with a suggested pattern or suggested paint scheme, you could pretty much guarantee that I would be oppositional and refuse to use that guide. Sometimes this meant some pretty chaotic projects - but a lot of times it meant something pretty cool to me.

I can remember getting a cartooning book one summer at my grandmother's house and spending days practicing that book ... and for some reason feeling like it was not a form of art that Mom would approve of, so it didn't last past that summer. Then there was the art enrichment class I took a summer or several later. I had loads of fun with that class until we were assigned a still-life drawing.

I couldn't get it to work right and I was ready to throw that damned apple right through the kitchen window. I wanted to do a black & white chiaroscuro drawing, but I really didn't understand how to do this and had never had anyone try to explain it. Finally, frustrated and pissy, I slammed everything down on the table and pronounced it done.

Mom threw a fit and began the "I know you can do better than that" over-achiever line at me.

I was marched back into the kitchen, forced back into the chair and I eventually did produce something better. Something that I actually kept for years.

What we didn't know back then was that I have some mild learning disabilities. I've not been officially tested for dyscalculia and dyslexia, but there definitely seems to be some similarities. I was diagnosed with ADHD about 7 years ago, but frankly, I distrust the psychologist who did the testing, so I'm unsure of that diagnosis as well.

I can say that I have a series of symptoms or issues which do tend to correspond to learning disabilities. One of those is a kind of frustration and rigidity of thought which occurs during a math or math-pattern based activity which can really escalate into a shutdown for me. An example is this: I play guitar - I'm no great shakes, but I can play several songs well enough to be recognized. My difficulty is in changing them up. A few guitarists at my church got together to play a song - and at the "last minute" (to me that's what it felt like) they wanted to change the rhythms that we strummed. This takes some time to practice, but it's really not that hard to do.

I could not do it. My brain totally shut down and I refused to play. I tried to be reasonable about it - I told them to play the song without me - not as a threat, but because I just couldn't get it in the few days left before the performance and I knew it. I can remember learning Boston's "More Than a Feeling" - and my guitar teacher trying to get me to add a grace note after I'd learned the bulk of the song. I could NOT fit that damn note in there no matter how hard I tried. I had the pattern in my head and that was it.

What does that have to do with art? Well, in many types of art, you layer shadings or colours on top of each other until you get the look you want. That appears to be the equivalent of adding a grace note to a song I already know ... my brain begins a weird shutdown pattern and tries to freeze.

I noticed this a few months ago when I was attempting some sketches of some mesas and canyons. I wanted to get the outline right and then begin the shading. And what would happen time and time and time again was I would get halfway through the outline, the rough sketch, and get seriously pissed and frustrated and go to a clean page. Finally, in the van on the way to New Mexico, I was able to force myself through the entire process and wow ... the drawing actually came out half-decent. The problem is that I can only see what's on the page at the moment - I can't always hold that drawing in my mind, the piece that I'm sketching from and the unfinished bit on my page - and blend them into a finished project. The brain winds up focusing on the unfinished so much that I can't actually complete the sketch.

Luckily for me this only happens in realistic drawings requiring subtle shadings. I suppose this is one of the many reasons I prefer drawing cartoons or comic strips.

It has taken years of my playing in Photoshop, web design and even action figure customizing to realize that I do have an eye for design and an eye for art, but that I have my own style which is very different from that of my mother's or of my father's. Or, for that matter, my sister's.

Today, I suspect the brain melt-downs over attempting to change patterns is either a function of ADHD or, I lean a bit more now to thinking it may be a function of Asperger's. After all, it's quite odd when a normally very logical person suddenly has a meltdown over something essentially stupid and inconsequential.

But the bigger realization for me has been just how artistic my family has always been. And that I'm not so far outside the mold as I may have once thought.

Or maybe I've just sniffed too many art supplies over the years.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:27 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 29, 2008

Baby Book Complete

So, I've been working on a baby book for my baby sister's baby for the last ... well, let's not go there. Finally, the book is done and ready to be shipped out to mi sobrino in the morning.

Interior of the baby book

Click through to thumb through the whole book.

And, if you're interested in having a custom baby book made for you, use the contact link here on the blog. I'd be happy to discuss your needs with you.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:44 PM | Design | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 26, 2008

Sketchiness

Just a wee li'l preview of a particularly overdue project.

Clownfish and Sea Turtle Sketches

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:10 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 15, 2008

Done Right

When I was born in 1968, my mother thought she was getting a nice, docile Shirley Temple child. A daughter she could bond with, could dress up, teach to dance and sew and sing and be a delicate flower of baby-woman-hood.

Instead, she got a wild li'l red monkey baby, whose first words were practically, "I can do it myself."

In short, we were at odds from day one.

We fought about the length of my hair - my scalp is sensitive and I had very fine, very straight, very fly-away hair. My mom insisted on combing my hair with a very very fine tooth plastic comb. This meant screaming, crying rebellion every day.

We fought about appropriate toys. I wanted airplanes and cars and trucks and six-shooters and drums. And a banjo, but that's something of a digression.
Mom wanted me to have pretty dollies and Barbies and play dress-up princess.

We fought about clothes. I preferred to live in jeans and t-shirts. Mom wanted me in if not frilly dresses, at least cute li'l jumpers. I came home in tears on more than one occasion in kindergarten because some little boy tried to look up my jumper whilst we were on the jungle gym or slide or swings or what have you. Mom's solution was to not do those things in a jumper - my solution was not to wear jumpers.

The problem was more in the time period than anything else. Parents at that time had been led to believe that children could be told this is how things will be, and so mote it be. At the same time, however, it was the time of "Free to Be You and Me" - where kids were encouraged to be themselves.

I also grew up with two very creative parents. My father played honky tonk piano for hours, completely losing himself in the music he generated. I never heard him play anything other than "his" song, but it was an endlessly mutating and developing creation.

Mom also played piano, although she played less frequently and always played from sheet music - not because of any lack of skill or desire, but, I think, because she feared doing it "wrong." And, in addition to her piano playing, my first memories of her are of her painting and drawing and sketching. Whether it was Toll painting some wooden box or serving tray or actually doing a pastel portrait or acrylics on canvas, Mom was always creating something new.

But like with her piano playing, Mom seemed scared of somehow "doing it wrong." She laboured over every detail, often stressing herself beyond belief to get every detail exactly "right." And, she was far too hard on herself when a shadow wasn't perfect or some tiny detail was out of alignment just the slightest bit. I would watch her scrape paint off, in tears, sure that this was another example of her failure as a human being. And I would watch her, once she was finally done - put herself and her work down. I didn't get it. Her stuff looked easily as good as things I saw in the stores.

I think it was sixth grade when I took a serious interest in drawing myself. I was interested in cartooning, in comic strips, and in technical drawing. I enjoyed drawing fictional maps and would spend days creating new lands. In social studies, we had an assignment which included drawing - and I discovered a latent talent for drawing flintlock rifles ... and then more modern rifles ... swords ... and airplanes. (I have no recollection where that jump came in except I loved F-15 and F-16 planes.)

So that summer, when told I needed to take a summer enrichment class, I picked a class on drawing. I had a blast with it - it was mostly just a scheduled time to draw with the teacher critiquing us gently and there was little actual teaching of technique or theories of perspective or something along those lines. The class went along swimmingly for quite some time.

And then we had to do a still life.

I set up an apple on the kitchen table and scrawled something. Erased, re-drew. I hated it and I couldn't get the chiaroscuro to make the apple look 3d instead of flat. I finally got it "done enough."

Mom looked over my shoulder. I don't remember our exchange, but the gist was "You'll sit here and re-do it until you get it 'right.'" I sat there for what felt like weeks, and I think I switched from pencils to pastels or pastels to pencils. Eventually after much temper tantruming and fussing, I had something that did resemble a decent still life of an apple.

But the shine had gone off of it. I didn't see it as an exercise in improving my drawing eye. I didn't see it as a learning experience in shading or use of colour. Drawing had become just another thing that I didn't do well enough to please my mom ... and so I stopped sharing that with her ... and eventually decided that I simply could not draw since it didn't come easily and perfect the first time I attempted something ....

Instead, I turned to writing stories and novels - and simply didn't share most of those with my mother. The bulk of them involved children in peril from kidnappers or evil parents - not things Mom would actually approve of.

I doodled now and again ... I reveled in Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev - kind of the Jewish Portrait of the Artist as He Develops. But I had stopped drawing "seriously."

Then, in the mid-90s, I discovered this nifty thing called the world wide web. For ten years, I learned digital art in the form of creating website designs with Fireworks and then Photoshop. And I re-gained my interest in art and creating imagery.

But I still insisted that I couldn't draw.

Then, I took a job as a copy writer who was to also help with web design at a large e-commerce company. I worked with a gentleman who'd had his own design company at one point ... and another with a degree in graphic design. And as I observed them working, I realized something. The skills I had honed over the last ten years were comparable to theirs. I didn't have all the techniques nor all the same knowledge and theory - but I had the skills and the instincts. I started reading theory and observing more - asking more questions, learning more programs, growing more confident.

And then I picked up pencils again.

I'm still more confident with my digital art than my sketching, but both have improved dramatically over the years. There is no doubt that web design is more forte, at least for now, but my ability to create brochures, flyers, layout manuals, create signage, all of that has suddenly exploded - because I stopped being afraid about how to do it "right" and began studying theory, studying good design and began trusting my self.

I'm tickled to be in the process of designing a tattoo for a friend over at Cre8Buzz. I started out sketching it by hand until I had the design the way I liked it - and then I transferred the design to the computer to clean it up. I'm beyond flattered that she likes the design so far.

Tomorrow, I'll take a copy or two of the design to the hospital with me so I can continue to tinker with it whilst I wait three freaking hours for them to prep me for surgery on my leg. (Will someone explain to me WHY I need to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. procedure???) Over the last couple of years, I've taken artwork to the hospital to keep me busy whilst my other half had surgery ... it's a wonderful way for me to focus on something other than the stress at hand.

Like my mother, I do still worry about doing my art "right" ... but I think of that a lot less nowadays than I used to. Instead, I'm spending time looking at what other artists do "wrong" which actually gives them their own distinct style - and then working on my own style.

Today, if I sit down to draw a still life, I'm still not going to enjoy it. It's not the type of art that I really enjoy. But today if I sit down to draw an apple, it's because I know that really concentrating on capturing the form and essence of an apple will help hone my eye and my hands and that I'll apply those skills to my own way of doing things.

Meanwhile, I have to laugh at all the times I told my students who were afraid they were not writers simply because the first draft of their essays were not perfect ... no one is perfect on the first draft. There isn't a writer today who completes a short story or novel or academic essay or even speech writing in a single draft. What makes you a writer - or an artist - is a passion for what you do so that you are willing and wanting to do it over until you get it as close to that picture in your mind as you possibly can.

I get that now. There's no way to do it "right." There's just the way you enjoy doing it.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:06 PM | Design | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 14, 2008

JetPens, take a pen

So, yesterday I wrote about the JetPens site - today I'm going to write about five of the pens that they sent me to review. Let me repeat the disclosure from the first post:
They sent me some pens to play with and to review - and in exchange I'm writing two posts about them. One about the site (today's post), and I'll be writing another one going through each of the pens they sent me. Before I can do that one, I have a project I have to finish - hopefully this week. Oh, and also? If I hadn't already liked the site, I'd have turned this "gig" down. They didn't ask for a favorable review - they put no restrictions on this review and did not even ask to see it before I published it. If you've read my blog long, you know this - I ain't gonna sugar-coat it. Happily, there was no need to do so here as I was already a pretty big fan of the site.

They sent me five "standard writing pens," a chalkboard/markerboard marker, a white gel pen and two Pentel Color Brush pens. I'm limiting today's post to the five "standard" pens. The others will have to wait until I get some projects completed and have a chance to use these pens in action.

Five gel pens sample image - complete with my HIDEOUS handwriting

Can you tell they sent me my favourite colour?

Pilot Hi-Tec C in Apple Green .3
This is literally my new favourite pen. I didn't think I would like Apple Green, but it's very similar to a neon green gel pen I discovered many, many moons ago (and haven't been able to find in ages). First, I prefer "wet ink" pens to the sticky ink in most "regular" ball point pens. So gel inks and rollerball inks have always been my preference. The problem is that even the "fine" point like the Sanford Uniball Micros usually aren't fine enough for me. Or, when they are, the tip of the pen actually scratches (and sometimes tears) the paper.

The Hi-Tec C is a little on the scratchy side in terms of feel, but the ink flow is just beautiful and I haven't yet noticed any scoring or scratching of the paper. I'm more than willing to put up with the tiny bit of scratchy feel to the pen in exchange for such a wonderful line. I noticed next to no clumping or blotting of the ink - very consistent application. And the colour is great!

Pilot FriXion .5
Again, very consistent application of ink. I always worry with gel pens that I'll get a "dip" of ink the middle where the ball actually prevents ink from being laid down, but to either side of the ball, you get trails of ink. This was not a problem with any of the pens I'm reviewing. This just blows my mind. If I go to Staples and buy a package of gel pens, I can guarantee you that at least half of them will leave that "clear" area in the center of each line. WHY can't we get good gel pens easily???

Anyhow, this pen has a much more smooth feel to it than the .3 Hi-Tec C and a darker colour green ink. Very pleasant pen and one I'd be more likely to use on more formal paperwork since the green is so dark.

Pilot Choose .7
Nice feel to the pen, nice ink flow, but as with most wider tipped gel pens, there's a bit of splotchy ink at the ends of lines. It's certainly got a better flow than most gel pens I pick up in the U.S., but it's not quite as smooth as the previous two pens.

Zebra Sarasa Clip .4
Another instant hit along with the Hi-Tec C. Less scratchy feel than the Hi-Tec C and I'm curious to see how the clip aspect works out over time. Any writing pen (as opposed to drawing pens) which does not have a cap for me to lose or chew on is a huge bonus for me. I can see this pen being a workhorse for me quite easily.

Sakura Glaze Grey
This is more of a craft or art pen than the previous four and probably should have been reviewed with the white gel pen and the Pentel Colour Brush pens, but ah well.

This is not a pen for everyday use. It's got a very thick line which makes writing small difficult. It's really meant for accent work and the coolest thing about it is what the package says - Writing you can feel. Yep, let the ink dry (it has a longer drying period than a regular writing pen) and then run your fingers over the words - the ink sits on top of the paper and you can feel your letters. They recommend this pen as a decorative art tool to embellish and emboss in scrapbooking, rubber stamping and cardmaking.

I can also see where I would want to try to use these pens (they come in some really nice colours) as accent or highlight pieces in some of my artwork - there's a good chance I'll be using this on the project I'm working on now - IF there's an appropriate area which doesn't require a fine line. The Glaze pens also come in Clear and I can see using that a LOT just to garner a bit of effect on some area of a drawing.

All-in-all, I was really stunned at the quality of these pens. I am used to my Pentel Hybrid Gel Rollers which skip, don't apply ink evenly at all and scratch. Of course, those Hybrid Gel Rollers are old pens, probably nearly 10 years old now (which explains why I can't find them anymore) and they came out early on in the gel pen fad. It seems that the ink process has matured greatly since then - and I've got a LOT of new pens to become obsessed with!

The post continues:
I wrote a paragraph or two with each pen in my Moleskine, talking about hand writing, handwriting and how the pens were working for me. If you want to attempt to slog through a short introduction to my atrocious handwriting - or just look at how the pens performed in a slightly longer test, then click through:

All 3 Pilot Pens

Zebra and Sakura

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:56 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 13, 2008

JetPens, take one

A few weeks ago on Twitter, Mike Rohde made a comment about a great site he'd discovered, JetPens. Always on the lookout for the next sweet pen, pencil or marker, I headed over.

I have been looking for a simple pencil case that I like for about two years now. I've made do with some hard glasses cases (too short), a soft leather roll-up case in which the pockets were not big enough for the pencils and a host of other things. Nada trabajó.

Discovering JetPens led me to a beautiful pencil case that I have actually enjoyed. I also picked up a new white pen which I plan to use this week and a nifty new (okay, new to me) kind of water colours called Aquash.

Then Mike Twittered me again. JetPens was looking for a blogger to review their site and products - would I be interested?

Since, to be honest, I was planning on at least linking to them (if not actually writing about the site) when I finally got around to using my Aquash water colours, naturally I jumped at the chance to review the site and some products in exchange for some pens.
So, full disclosure here: they sent me some pens to play with and to review - and in exchange I'm writing two posts about them. One about the site (today's post), and I'll be writing another one going through each of the pens they sent me. Before I can do that one, I have a project I have to finish - hopefully this week. Oh, and also? If I hadn't already liked the site, I'd have turned this "gig" down. They didn't ask for a favorable review - they put no restrictions on this review and did not even ask to see it before I published it. If you've read my blog long, you know this - I ain't gonna sugar-coat it. Happily, there was no need to do so here as I was already a pretty big fan of the site.

JetPens LogoFirst, I have to say that not only do I love their li'l logo guy, but I adore the site layout. Far too many art supply e-commerce sites are just too darn busy or messy. I enjoy perusing dickblick.com for the breadth of products they offer - but they need a complete site re-design as they are simply not easy to navigate. JetPens, on the other hand is easy to navigate and has a nice, clean look.

NOTE: if you're not interested in web design, click here and you'll drop down the page just a hair so as to skip my gushing over their design.
As a web designer, one of the features that impressed me about their site is the multitude of ways to browse - without being confusing. There's a left hand text navigation which sits below the search feature. That's generally where I start surfing, but JetPens also has a nice photo-browse set-up. Just below the tabs at the top of the site, they have a featured item and below that a Selection Guide in text links.

I love this Selection Guide. They've kept it small, to the point and fun. The first category is "I want..." and below that are 5 text links to popular categories of pens. Next to that is "I am a(n)..." and below that are 5 categories of people who might be looking for specialist pens or sets. The last category is "I want something..." with the choices being cute, elegant, ergonomic, rare, retractable.

Below the Selection Guide text links are small photos of different categories they offer - anything from fountain pens to highlighters to cases.

Okay, so they've got a tight design for their site - but that really only indicates how much thought they've put into their business - where's the follow-through? They've got a great selection of product. AND, unlike a lot of art supply sites I've frequented, JetPens allows you to enter a review of the products you've used - so you have a good idea what it is that you're ordering.

In addition, they've also got a Penpedia - this section of the site has videos and articles demonstrating or talking about various products. You can watch a short video on just how the NeoCritz Transformer pencil case opens up and stand on your desk. (I think the video was perhaps 15 seconds at most.) An article with great photos shows you how to "hack" a particular pen to use a different type of ink refill. One of my favourites is a nice image showing you just what different pencil hardnesses look like on the page. That used to drive me crazy when I was using a .3 technical pencil as the leads I purchased were usually 4H or 2H at best - and my teachers always complained that my work was too light for them to read.

They've got a forum for building some community - in short, this is a solid site selling some really solid products and they know what they're doing online. Too often, I see a specialty site who uses the default Yahoo Store and whose web design skills are back in the mid-90s. JetPens isn't like that. They're smooth and solid.

Their shopping cart applies the same good web and GUI design as the rest of the site. And, always a bonus in my opinion, they take PayPal.

And, they ship their items FAST. I expected my first purchase to take up to 5 days to get here since I did not choose one of the speedy (more expensive) delivery methods. Nope, was here in a couple of days.

The email notifications were easy enough to read and some of them are funny - worth reading instead of skimming quickly and tossing in the appropriate mail folder. I'd like to see them expand their copy writing on those emails a bit more and make all of them worth actually reading instead of verifying the shipment info. (Not long messages, mind you, but a couple of silly and friendly sentences.)

Some of my favourite stuff from JetPens:

  • white pens - they've got a wide variety of these in different widths and consistencies
  • gel pens - I have a distinct weakness for these and they have some really nice ones at reasonable prices - and, impressive to me, in a wide variety of colours and thicknesses
  • good quality stuff - including my very beloved Sakura Micron pens - sadly, they don't carry Copic art markers ... but then they don't carry Prismacolor art markers either.
  • a nice blend of good, writing pens - and some nice art stuff. It's unusual for me to find such a nice blend of product

Seriously, if you like good pens (which does NOT necessarily mean expensive, btw) - you should at least browse their site and decide for yourself.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:13 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 9, 2008

Doodle Daze

So, quiet week, eh? Perhaps on the blog, but certainly not life this week! I had another job interview Monday - my favourite kind, we talked for a bit and then Tuesday, I was emailed an assignment to complete. The catch was I had 48 hours to design, cut, and code a website of approximately four pages. They wanted to see creativity, use of colour, movement and sound. In 48 hours. Design a site look, cut the images apart and optimize them. Build at least one Flash piece - design, code. Put Flash into a page. Code all the pages. Write a rationale for the choices made and insert that on the pages. Cut a small sound byte to use in another Flash piece to demo sound. Forty-eight hours. Not a week of work, but nearly a week's worth of work in two days.

I was busy this week, working feverishly from Tuesday morning straight through until Thursday morning - and then attempting sleep and some finesse work later Thursday.

So, this week is also Doodle Week according to my bud, Claire. She's designated various days with various kinds of doodles, and while Animal Doodle day isn't until tomorrow, that's what I have to show today.

These are all sketch versions of images I'll be using in the baby book I'm painstakingly doing by hand para mi sobrino.

Crocodiles hiding

 

Water critters

 

Land critters

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:23 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 4, 2008

More Drew Moss practicing

After the vampire Batgirl the other day, I decided to practice the rest of Drew Moss' excellent page.

So, here's the center three panels:

No more rats for her. It's strictly bag lunches from now on. Yum.

She doesn't like to fight but happens to excel in it.

The Bat gives her a bracelet that feeds her hunger. He says it will make her normal but she is always hungry.

I think I'll try the rest of the panels later on this week or next ...

However, there's a slew of things bubbling up this week, so I'm not sure whether I'll have time or not.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:48 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 27, 2008

Holy Vampire Bats!

So my favourite way to improve my drawing - particularly drawing people standing in poses that aren't utterly stiff - is to find someone else's work and copy it. It's a time-honoured tradition and it's earned me a few friends along the way. I first practiced some of Mike Rohde's excellent SketchToons back in December of '05. Later it was "RubberyJido" over at deviantArt just this past September as I learned how to use my Copic markers.

Earlier this month, I discovered Drew Moss over at deviantArt. I instantly adored this comic book page he drew introducing a "new" Batgirl. So far as I can tell, this isn't something from DC officially, just a concept that Drew came up with. You should check out the full page he did - the text and design had me thinking this was going to be an actual Batgirl book.

His Batgirl concept is on the left and is inked, so the blacks are quite stark. Mine is on the right and is just a pencil sketch, so the blacks are muted.

Vampire Batgirl . . . Vampire Batgirl

Not too shabby. I can always see plenty of flaws, the most irritating of which are the changes I made to the face. Stare at it long enough and it's quite obviously off-balance. Meh. Still, it was good practice for me and I think I'll probably try to draw the bulk of the remaining panels as well. I need the practice and I enjoy the stark b/w drawings to help me really concentrate on shadows and light.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:33 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 20, 2008

Ninja Mandy

Playing in Illustrator with one of my favourite cartoons: The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. I obviously need to spend some time in Painter and work through some tutorials on background painting as I'm really unhappy with the basic lame background here.

On the other hand, I was really happy with both the freehand sketch of Mandy and the version I did in Illustrator as well. So I give you now, Ninja Mandy:

Ninja Mandy

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:49 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 25, 2008

Sketchy - yet another update

At this point, I'm flitting around the web looking up pictures of rusted junk ... and illustrations of rusted junk. Do I want him realistically rusty? If so, I'm headed in the wrong direction at the moment. Do I want him cartoony-rusty? I may already have made him too busy if that's the goal.

Then I remind myself that this piece is an exercise in learning Painter - sure, I want a nice looking piece when I'm done, and I'd love to be able to use at least a version of him in an online comic. But the real goal - learning Painter and improving my eye and my experience. :)

So, this is the little robot guy in the middle of my learning to use Painter and in the middle of rusting him up and attempting to add some depth. Remember ... he's still in process.

metal Man

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:05 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 21, 2008

Sketchy - the next update

So, I'm continuing to play in Painter and try to get the hang of the program. I've actually only done a little bit with pastels, pencils and markers, but nothing with acrylics or oils. I'd always thought that the Painter program was only going to be useful to people who, well, were used to painting.

So, this is the little robot guy in the middle of my learning to use Painter and in the middle of rusting him up and attempting to add some depth. Remember ... he's still in process.

metal Man

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:55 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 20, 2008

Sketchy

Quiet week, eh? I've been sick for a bit over a week and messing about with various projects a little aimlessly. Last night, however, I got a bit motivated. You see, a friend pointed out a grand "new" website to me a few days ago: Gorillustrator and I immediately became both entranced and frustrated. Dammit, I wanna be able to do THAT. So after going through the Gorillustrator's entire site and a few days of futile whining, I downloaded Corel Painter X last night. Then it took HOURS for stupid Wacom's site to come up today - apparently it was down for at least 3 hours this morning and apparently I didn't have the driver installed on this machine somehow and managed to use the tablet and not notice the missing driver until I started messing about in Painter trying to figure out how the hell to do pressure sensitive brushes. (I have only just downloaded the driver and still haven't figured this out yet. dammit)

So, whilst Wacom.com was down this morning, I decided to play with a sketchy-sketch of Metalman, a character I'm developing for yet another project: Los InterWebz.

Now I just have to figure out how to use Painter like the Gorillustrator. Yeah. That oughta be ... umm, easy. Uh-huh.

metal Man

UPDATE
So I've spent a good chunk of the day experimenting with Painter X and my Wacom tablet. Now that I actually have the silly driver installed, I get some better features out of it that I wondered why I couldn't get to work before (like pressure sensitivity). But I'm also having to re-learn how to draw digitally because a lot of actions work a little differently now.

All of that is lead up to the fact that this is all I've gotten done in the past three hours or so.

metal Man

I'll update again either tonight or throughout the weekend as I attempt to learn how to colour digitally with Painter.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:08 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 14, 2008

Don't Feed the Trolls

My bedroom in high school and the first year of college, was, more often than not, pitch dark. It wasn't for the lack of trying to lighten it up - my mom bought the most sheer curtains she could find. And when I demanded "bed dressing" that matched my personality, Mom made matching curtains out of an extra set of the sheets. (White, with a stripe of rainbow down each long side ... yeah, I know. Early indicator?) Stark white walls, mostly white comforter, sheer curtains which let in the light from the street light at the corner of our front yard. But my favourite way to be was laying on my bedroom floor, all the lights out, just the glow of my "jambox"-stereo's equalizer dancing up and down. And that last year of high school when I scrounged together all of my money to buy my prized Magnavox Videowriter, I would sit at my desk, adding the amber glow of that cheesy word processor to the dim light of my room.

When my creative writing teacher first told us how he would go to an all-night Waffle House to immerse himself in the biomass (to borrow Stephenson's word), I was appalled. How could anyone write with all of the cacophony of activity and light around them? F.J. insisted that it was a valuable way to observe characters, to practice dialogue. Being far too much of an introvert, I could not really wrap my head around this enough to do it. That was about 1986 or 1987.

A few years earlier, my dad brought home a stunning new toy - a Commodore 64. He was amazed and gleeful like a little boy on Christmas morning discovering his new Red Ryder BB gun or Radio Flyer sled. He practically squealed as he opened up the package and pulled out that brick of a keyboard/computer. A whole 64k stored in this sucker! He explained to me, in one of our rare actual conversations, it used to take a machine the size of about half our house to do what this little sucker could do. I remembered one of those rooms - Dad took me to work with him once ... an icy air-conditioned room filled with huge metal cabinet-things. Punch cards. Later, rolls of paper tape.

Mom forbid the acquisition of a modem as efficiently as she'd forbidden cable television - but the boy across the street had a modem and I watched as one letter after another would pop onto the screen from some distant person. Heh, and watch those letters disappear as the person hit backspace to correct a typo.

But it wasn't until I was nearly done with my seven year stint at university before I discovered MUDdog and email and just how fascinating this online Waffle House could be. That was somewhere around 1992-4.

I've been hooked ever since.

This morning, once again, I've turned off all of the lights. I have the band Sick Puppies blaring on the stereo, though not as loudly as I'd like - my neighbors are still sleeping. The glow of my keyboard and laptop screen - and the blue glow of the stereo are all I want. I'm writing against the deadline of sunrise, remembering how easy it was for me to get lost in my introspection as a teenager and 20something in the dark. How much easier it was and is to reflect honestly on myself and my actions as well as the biomass I observe around me.

I recognize that I'm damaged
I sympathize that you are too
But I wanna breathe without feelin' so self-conscious
But it's hard when the world's starin' at you

To me, this is the most interesting thing about the internet. You have all of these people with their foibles and faults and strengths ... you have these intercies, these nodes, of common interest where this diverse mass of individuals pour their thoughts into shared pixel representations.

Why do we do this? Why do we strive to share our experiences and thoughts with everyone else? Why do we strive to get people to understand what we're thinking, feeling, wanting?

It seems to me that no matter how introverted or extroverted an individual is, we all are reaching for some connection beyond just our self - to know that we are not totally alone in our thought or experience or feeling. That someone groks at least a fraction of who and what we are.

What I constantly strive to understand, and I'm not sure I'm capable of really understanding it, is why some people are literally so lost in their own individuality that they cannot hear the experiences and feelings of others.

I can't even begin to recall how many times I have read the pixels of people who define their world by "I'm right" and you're either 100% with me or 100% against me. So when I see one of these people laying their pixels down in a frantic dance of light and dark dots, I'm sucked in by my own curiosity and confused fascination. When I watch as they blithely ignore the community around them and choose to take disagreement as attack; when they insist on reading a helping hand as condemnation.

And, then, of course, all of our shared human foibles come to the fore. The helping hand and the civil disagreement becomes frustration and anger - which does become attack and condemnation. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that leaves the outer edges of the community in confusion and often shock. It's like seeing the "perfect couple" have a real fight finally. You see sides of these people that you never suspected lurked beneath all the letters they've strung together on the internet.

And when the smoke clears and all the participants who are able to do so actually sit back and take a look at what happened and how they contributed to the explosion, they are left with this conundrum:
How do I both "protect" my self, ideas and beliefs ... and balance my emotional reaction ... and walk away from the trolls who only want a fight and to get everyone riled up?

How do we differentiate motive on the net without body language and tone of voice to help us decipher our pixelated world?

In my experience, it becomes about building a context. If one person's response to disagreement is to always either ignore or attack, with no middle ground attempting to bridge differences and create understanding, then that person is probably simply trolling for trouble. It's a subjective thing. And, in online communities, it's a dangerous field to walk across. Newer folk are going to tend to side with the troll when the old hands attempt to slap down the troll out of frustration. The old hands know the history and have often decided to take a stand to defend their community and hunt the troll until they've left the community. New people, not knowing that the troll may be currently presenting the mask of the maligned victim in order to garner support and thus keep the battle going on longer, may openly side with the troll in an effort to defend their new community from bullies.

The term troll is highly subjective. Some readers may characterize a post as trolling, while others may regard the same post as a legitimate contribution to the discussion, even if controversial. The term is often erroneously used to discredit an opposing position, or its proponent, by argument fallacy ad hominem.

Often, calling someone a troll makes assumptions about a writer's motives. Regardless of the circumstances, controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities.

Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore him or her, because responding encourages a true troll to continue disruptive posts -- hence the often-seen warning "Please do not feed the troll".

Frequently, someone who has been labelled a troll by a group may seek to redeem their reputation by discrediting their opponents, for example by claiming that other members of the group are closed-minded, conspirators, or trolls themselves.

No matter how even-handed ... how just ... we try to be, the fact of the matter is, we are not perfect. We snap. We jump to conclusions. We get tired and cranky. And what separates us from the trolls? We are able to step back and re-evaluate our behaviour, to try to learn from our mistakes, to learn when to stop reacting next time and walk away from what we feel is trollish behaviour.

To creatures who seem to intrinsically need to be understood, it's a hard thing to walk away from that chance at communication. But some battles are won only when they aren't fought at all ...

The light is beginning to make the curtains glow ... so now I leave you with this ...

Don't Feed The Trolls

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:26 AM | Blog | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 14, 2008

Cre8ing Some Buzz

Yeah, yeah, hush. I used that 8 on purpose because I'm talking about the site Cre8Buzz today. So there. Hmph.

Anyhow, Cre8Buzz is a pretty cool little site for bloggers. Generally speaking, MySpace, Friendster, Dogster (no, sadly, I'm NOT kidding), FaceBook, blah blah blah, they all bore me. In fact, they remind me of the silly days of GeoCities when everyone pretended to put their websites into little neighborhoods like all those li'l pixelpals were really hanging out kinds of buddies. So when my buddy Jodi said, OH you just HAVE to try this one, I rolled my eyes at first.

Wow. You still get the tons of gratuitous friendings, but most of the people who friend you either stop by your profile and/or your blog on a pretty regular basis. I, of course, suck at keeping up with all of the people on my friends' list, the same as I suck at keeping up with all my pixelpals' blog. (And yet, I'm irritated when they don't keep up with mine. I know. I'm an arrogant jerk sometimes. *sigh*)

Anyhow, I'm really digging the Anthill, as we affectionately call the Buzz (after their logo mascot, Antman). Well, not digging like an anteater or something. I meant to say, I'm enjoying it. Sheesh. Gotta watch the metaphors around you lot, don't I? If you want to check it out, gimme a buzz and I'll send you an invite.

Meanwhile, the Buzz is having a t-shirt contest ... and here's the design I'm entering ... make sure to click to get the larger image to pop up (still a fast load time on it, though) ... squishing it down to 400 px to fit into this template layout killed the detail of the logo. Wish me luck, the winners are announced on Monday.

Groovin' To Ant Tunes

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:27 PM | Blog | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 5, 2008

Safari Sketches

Some fast pencil sketches for a baby book project. Several of them are only in the outline stage, others are a little more fully realized. Kinda going for a cave drawings type feel ... but I'm waiting for feedback from the almost-mom ... so things may change drastically yet. :)

Cat thing

Antelope thing

Bison

Lion

Seahorse

Shark

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:03 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 27, 2008

New Explore T-Shirt

I started out on CafePress quite a while back. Posted some designs, sprang the $60 per annum for a "pro" site that let me put Design A on a baseball shirt ... and Design B, too! (If you don't spring for the pro shop, one style of product = one design ... boooooooooring. At least, that's the way it used to be. Then they pissed me off, took an extra year's $60 from me and I won't have anything to do with them anymore. Bah)

Anyhow, after I left CafePress, I went to GoodStorm. (What is with all of these companies and software packages and such smooshing together two words without a space but still capitalizing both words? Oh, I know cuz then it's easier to make a web address, but still. WordPress, CafePress, GoodStorm. Bah)

GoodStorm had some incredible artists designing stuff. More shirt colours, but fewer shirt types. And no "ancillary" products like bags and pillows and mugs and posters. But, the company was way cool. You made more money than you did with CafePress - and best of all! They didn't charge you $60 a year to put up multiple designs. Awesomeness.

Now, GoodStorm has been bought out by Zazzle. *sigh* It's not that I don't like Zazzle. I do. They offer more products than GoodStorm did. But, now I'm back to the same damn restrictions I had with CafePress. At GoodStorm, I could utilized the entire t-shirt for a design. If I wanted it placed in a particular area, I could contact the good folks at GoodStorm and know they'd place it where I wanted and it would be COOL. Now I'm back to a smallish area placed way up high on the shirt. No wrap-around designing available, either.

I have updated one of my favourite designs for now and have it available at Zazzle. I'm not positive that I'm staying there, however. Zazzle doesn't do white ink on their "light coloured" products which puts a big damper in some of my designs and would mean that I could only offer those designs on white shirts or dark coloured shirts. And since I would have to offer the white shirt and the dark coloured shirts as separate products (in other words, I can't create one product and then pick and choose what colours I want available. I can choose all dark, all light, all, or one of a few subcategories like organic).

I do know that Zazzle has done shops for places like The Disney Store, Build-A-Bear Workshop and others ... they're a good company. I'm just not sure they're right for me yet. Just not enough control over my designs. But, I've played with the site for only a day. Maybe I'll find more details as I get used to their interface and explore some more. Or maybe I want to leave t-shirts behind and move on to posters and cards. I'm not sure. Mostly I'm just sad about the change.

Meanwhile, does anyone know of any other product shops which might offer more control to the designer?

UPDATE: On recommendation from a few people, I've also started a store at RedBubble. I have a little more control over placement and a LOT of control over the shirt colours. Plus, Zazzle does not print white and RedBubble does!

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:42 AM | Blog | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 1, 2008

Cheese Circles

The current project ... a page from Cheese Circles: A Children's Book for Grown-Ups.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:13 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 15, 2007

Miguel Calaveras

Click the image for a 1024x768 wallpaper version.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:01 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 5, 2007

Big Boy

Patrolling teh Intrawebs is his job. Whenever he sees injustice ... whenever he sees a rude dork who needs smacking down ... wherever he sees seriousness in need of lightening up ... MIKSTER is there in his patented Big Boy Pants.

Mikster in his big boy pants

(Hopefully he doesn't kill me for this!)

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:18 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 18, 2007

Blue ... Rubberyjido

This is my following the EXCELLENT tutorial available by RubberyJido at Deviant Art. This is not something I made up on my own, this is just me doing some practicing and trying to learn my Copic markers.

Click for the larger picture.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:20 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 27, 2007

Do You See What I See?

... a star, a star, shining in the east ... blah blah blah. I suddenly forget the rest of the words anyway.

I should start this post by mentioning that I once nearly got thrown out of the Dallas Museum of Art for proclaiming my views on modern art. Well, sort of. See, I was dragged to the art museum by my other half who was an art student at the time. And we made the mistake of going to the modern wing first. Whilst I was really hyper. And there was this canvas that was painted red. Like with a roller. Just ... red. No funky shape. No design in the red. Just a canvas painted red.

This offended me. Any monkey can do that. There is no art in a red canvas. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes the crap the art establishment refers to as art is just crap.

Anyhow, I was in a highly sarcastic (to some people that means annoying ... to me, that means hysterically witty and funny) mood. And I kept up a nice running commentary throughout the modern wing. Now, once we got into the stuff that actually takes some modicum of freaking SKILL to create, I was enjoying the purty pitchers and stuff.

Then we walked into the very cool Egyptian room. Nifty stuff abounding. And as we walked out of the "tomb," we see this HUGE ... TALL ... MONGO wooden statue of a woman sitting in a chair. Yanno what they say about Texas women? The higher the hair, the closer to God? Well, this woman had them all beat. And, without missing a beat myself, I said, perhaps a mite too loudly, "LOOK! IT'S MARGE SIMPSON!"

Every child in the museum turned and laughed in total agreement.

The security guards, for some convoluted reason, took exception to this. Maybe it was because there were about ten different school groups there.

Anyhow, that's all backstory. What I really wanted to talk about is THIS.

To me, and I realize this is a subjective field, to ME, this is paint slop. This is not art. I can get Cubism, although I don't like it personally. But it's art. I can see Impressionism as art. Surrealism. I can see a lot of the Isms as art.

To me, this painting simply looks like the work of a four year old. That's it. Paint smeared around. Random, for the most part. Playing with paint (and there's nothing wrong with that!).

But, museum-worthy, great sums of money worthy, art ... it ain't. It's paint and canvas and no great shakes.

However, the art of the four year old Marla Olmstead of New York is being touted as the work of a child prodigy. They are comparing her work to Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky.

In my opinion, that's crap. She's sold 25 paintings, or rather her crafty parents have, and they've made $40,000. That's an average of $1600 a painting.

OMFG ... there are people honing their craft out there making nothing. This kid is playing with paint and raking it in.

I will never understand the New York "high art" world. Never.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go watch I've Heard the Mermaids Singing and enjoy the visual one liners.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:55 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 25, 2007

Bid on Wooden Iguana

AUCTION ENDS AUGUST 27 ... CURRENT BID IS ONLY $25 ... COME ON FOLKS ...
let's raise some money for a good cause!!

Want your very own copy of the first issue of Wooden Iguana? How about the Sketchbook used to create it?

I have donated the original sketchbook (much as losing it pains me) and a laser-print copy of this issue (a nice, colour laser print ... for those "in the know" about graphics, it's a 300 dpi version ... not just a printout of the webpages) ... anyhow, I've donated the sketchbook and a nice print copy of issue one to iSurvive.org to help them raise some funds. iSurvive is a wonderful resource for people struggling to cope with abuse issues. There are people there from all over the world ... they've got resources for review, various categories in their forum for people to post and discuss their issues and even a chat feature. They're a non-profit organization who has recently changed their software ... and believe me, they help a lot of people. They have to pay for the software, for bandwidth ... a technician to help keep everything running ... and I don't know what all else. I do know that they serve a very valuable function to a lot of people.

And I'd like to do a little bit to help them continue.

So ... while letting that sketchbook go is a really hard thing for me ... that's got some pieces that I'm extraordinarily proud of in it ... it's all going to an excellent, excellent cause.

If you're interested ... you can see some photos of the sketchbook here ... and you can address any questions to me: red DASH monkey AT coyotethunder DOT com.

If you want to bid, you can send your bid to: isurvive_org AT yahoo DOT com . Please, please, put Auction Bid in the subject and please, please please don't spam them. They're a good organization, good people.

Auction ends August 27, 2007.

You can check the current status of bids in the Open Forum section of the iSurvive site ... or you can email me for an update.

Good luck!!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:58 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 22, 2007

Playing with Copics

I'm still debating the baby's head. It looks better in the larger version (click to see it "full size"). Or maybe it looks better in the small size and not the large. ARGH!

I swear, if I ever learn to do the shading of people well, it might just be a miracle.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:40 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 17, 2007

Li'l Muerto Cast

Here's the basic cast ...

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:19 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 15, 2007

Mama Calaveras

Li'l Muerto's madre:

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:52 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 14, 2007

Li'l Muerto Revisited

I've been working a bit more on the Li'l Muerto concept ... re-worked some drawings, added new characters. Here's the base cast:

And then tonight's beginning foray into Li'l Muerto's family brings us his little cousin, Miguel Calaveras.

Next up, the rest of the family ... the home ... the school.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:10 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 12, 2007

AUCTION-Y GOODNESS!!

Want your very own copy of the first issue of Wooden Iguana? How about the Sketchbook used to create it?

I have donated the original sketchbook (much as losing it pains me) and a laser-print copy of this issue (a nice, colour laser print ... for those "in the know" about graphics, it's a 300 dpi version ... not just a printout of the webpages) ... anyhow, I've donated the sketchbook and a nice print copy of issue one to iSurvive.org to help them raise some funds. iSurvive is a wonderful resource for people struggling to cope with abuse issues. There are people there from all over the world ... they've got resources for review, various categories in their forum for people to post and discuss their issues and even a chat feature. They're a non-profit organization who has recently changed their software ... and believe me, they help a lot of people. They have to pay for the software, for bandwidth ... a technician to help keep everything running ... and I don't know what all else. I do know that they serve a very valuable function to a lot of people.

And I'd like to do a little bit to help them continue.

So ... while letting that sketchbook go is a really hard thing for me ... that's got some pieces that I'm extraordinarily proud of in it ... it's all going to an excellent, excellent cause.

If you're interested ... you can see some photos of the sketchbook here ... and you can address any questions to me: red DASH monkey AT coyotethunder DOT com.

If you want to bid, you can send your bid to: isurvive_org AT yahoo DOT com . Please, please, put Auction Bid in the subject and please, please please don't spam them. They're a good organization, good people.

Auction ends August 27, 2007.

You can check the current status of bids in the Open Forum section of the iSurvive site ... or you can email me for an update.

Good luck!!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:24 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 27, 2007

Back to Cartooning

Well, now that I'm on an extended "vacation" until March, I've been hard at work trying to get the house picked up and re-organized. I've got a list of projects a mile long (as usual). But last night, I was a bit at loose ends since the first issue of Wooden Iguana is over and I needed a new "down-time" project. Yeah, yeah, I know. It's not some protestant work ethic, trust me. I was raised Catholic. (But don't talk to me about Pope Rat ... that man ... grrrrr comments/angry.gif ) It's that whole ADHD thing, yanno. If I'm not working on about three or four projects at once, I'm bored out of my gourd. Seriously. My partner cringes every time I finish a project, whether it's a book or a bit of sculpture or finish getting a room organized. Literally the instant I'm done ... "I'm boreded." It just flies out of my mouth. Ooozes from my pores.

What? Oh yeah. So last night, I just was not quite ready for bed. The Night Squirrels were doing laps in my brain and I finally got up so as not to drive my poor partner batty. I mean any battier than I already drive her. So ... I got up, finished re-reading the last Harry Potter book. (What? I had mental indigestion from swallowing that tome in about five hours or so ... I needed to go back and actually carefully read the thing.) Anyhow ... I decided to do a little inking of Li'l Muerto. Which kinda morphed into some character sketching as well.

Click the picture for the larger view

Not exactly sure where I'm going with Paprika's hair. I'm starting to think colour instead of b/w. I'm torn tho, because I was really enjoying the idea of the b/w strip. But ... it's the web ... colour doesn't cost. Maybe I'll leave Li'l Muerto himself solid b/w and colour the others. Hmmm.

And I'm sure Scott's head is going to go thru some more changes. I'm not keen on the top or the bottom just yet.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:23 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 19, 2007

Wooden Iguana

At last ... the last pages are up at Wooden Iguana. If you click the preview image below, you'll be taken to page 30 and you can navigate to page 31 from there. To help keep people from seeing things out of order, the final page will publish on Friday, July 20 (about 3 p.m. or so Eastern time).

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.


If you really really can't wait to see the final page ... find the easter egg in this entry and click there for a view of the jpg.
lock.png

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:16 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 11, 2007

Zuda Is Coming

This October ...

Zuda ....

Coming to a space near you ....

zudacomics.com

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:40 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 10, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:05 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 6, 2007

Preview

UPDATE:
Just posted both new pages this evening. Check it out!

Yep, running behind again, obviously. The page I'm working on, I actually finished 2/3 of several days ago ... and then decided I hated the whole stupid thing. It's taken me this long to get those 2/3 re-done. Soon as I get the last panel finished, there'll be two pages going live. Just a little bonus. Meanwhile, enjoy this preview:

Clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:18 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 2, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:19 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 26, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:32 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 23, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:09 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 19, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:26 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 18, 2007

Shadowland

I have been plugging away dutifully on a project for a friend. I volunteered to make her a music video for one of her songs, "Shadowland." It's a song about her beloved Honda Shadow motorcycle, and I had just seen MonkeeHub's JCB video and thought I could, eventually, put something somewhat similar together for her.

I've created her dog, Kirby. And I've finished her motorcycle. Now, I'm just stuck figuring out how to capture her likeness.

At any rate ... here is the motorcycle ...

Click for the whole cycle. comments/what.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:13 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 14, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:23 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 12, 2007

Wooden Iguana

The Cleavers, eating dinner.

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:38 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 10, 2007

More Craig

As I said yesterday, I discovered an absolutely delightful book. Blankets by Craig Thompson. A 592 page novel ... graphic novel. The black and white drawings are just wonderful and the story kept turning in ways I didn't expect - all in all, a wonderful experience.

So, today's drawing is based on page 121 of Blankets. A bit of much-needed practice on inking.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:40 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 9, 2007

Craig

So, I discovered an absolutely delightful book. Blankets by Craig Thompson. A 592 page novel ... graphic novel. The black and white drawings are just wonderful and the story kept turning in ways I didn't expect - all in all, a wonderful experience.

So, today's drawing is based on page 53 of Blankets. A bit of much-needed practice on inking.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:52 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 7, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Discovering yet more.

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:40 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 5, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Discoveries and confirmations.

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:04 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 31, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Dream weaver ....

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:42 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 29, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Well, this is what happens when you read books ... ya starting thinking and things. (Or imagining things as the case may be.)

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Posted by Red Monkey at 1:48 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 27, 2007

The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo

Check out this work on ComicSpace and then run over to your local comic book shop ... or to Diamond online ... and pre-order this book ... you'll love it.

I just adore the artwork to pieces.

From the writer:

But here's what this solicit doesn't tell you:
1. The graphic novel features "The 8 Lost Pages of Poo." These pages will appear exclusively in the book and will not be available on the webcomic site.
2. "96 Pages" means 96 pages of story. No fillers here, my friends. From the moment you open the front cover, till you contentedly close the rear cover--you will encounter nothing by story!
3. The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo will be a beautiful, over-sized book. The dimensions of this must-have graphic novel will measure in at 10.7 x 8.3 x 0.4 inches--the same format as Image's acclaimed "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Graphic Novel" graphic novel!
Other books may give you a five page preview of the book, but not us. Oh, no! We are offering a FREE 19 PAGE PREVIEW in the form of a webcomic. So bookmark the page and read it at your own leisure. And be sure to check back every Saturday when a brand new page is posted.
READ THE FREE 19-PAGE PREVIEW HERE
To find the nearest comic shop, you can use the SHOP LOCATOR.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:34 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 25, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Well, well, well. I didn't think I'd get Thursday's page done ... and yet ... there it is. Was surprisingly done before 8:30 p.m. last night, which is good. I felt like utter crap all day Wednesday and Thursday and I'm really hoping I'm done with this stomach crap I seem to have gotten ... yet AGAIN.

Clicking the preview will take you to the current page. On the other hand, clicking this link will take you to the main page where you can start from the beginning should you need to do that.

Oh, and ComicSpace is supposed to be back up today. WOOHOO

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:51 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 24, 2007

Introducing ....

... the debut of http://www.mud-walker.com/

Followers of the Wooden Iguana have noticed (all three of you) that ComicSpace has been down for the last week. Not knowing exactly when they'd be back, and after some thinking about where I want the comic book to go (especially after chatting with Augie, I decided that in addition to publishing at ComicSpace, I really wanted my own site for the comic as well.

So ... there's no new page up today. I spent too much time dinking around with getting the site set up. It's still not exactly as I would like it, but those folks who wanted to leave comments over at ComicSpace but who weren't registered users over there, now have their chance to comment.

The Tuesday/Thursday publication schedule should resume next week ... however, my other half is going in Tuesday for surgery, so I don't guarantee that I'll stick tightly to that schedule just yet.

Oh, and ComicSpace? They should be back up in another day or so. Happily, they chose to use the host I use, Dreamhost. As Josh says about the delay ... hey, you try moving some "17,000 user folders and 90,000 comic pages"!!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:59 AM | Blog | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 22, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Since ComicSpace is temporarily down ... and since I intend to spin off a whole series of comics, I bought a new domain. It's a wee bit of a mess right now, but it is navigatable ... so click the pic to go to Mud-Walker.com and see today's page of the Wooden Iguana ... there's navigation in the upper right corner of that site to go back to previous pages ... and a Previous button at the bottom of the page ... whatever version of the nav that floats your boat.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:44 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 20, 2007

Inking Practice


Clicky Clicky for bigger version

I have yet to figure out exactly how I want to do that damn head with just black ink, but I like how I've set up the rest of it. And the head isn't bad ... it's just not where I want it to be yet. Most of all, I'm learning and having fun both.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:38 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 19, 2007

Comic Space

Comic Space is temporarily down. So if you're looking to catch up on The Wooden Iguana, it'll be a couple of days before Comic Space is back ... and if it's not, I'll post the comic book here.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:38 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 17, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:17 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 15, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:20 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 13, 2007

Timeless

I first posted Timeless back in January ...

I went back to Potato Creek last week ... and here's the summer time update:

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:55 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 10, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

In today's page the mysteries deepen and ... there's even a full-colour panel with my beautiful Copic markers. (Can you really be in love with markers? Well, I guess if you're me, you can. Copic markers are DA BOMB ... so smooth ... it's like painting with them instead of colouring. Did you hear that Mr. Happily Anonymous? COPIC MARKERS ARE NOT CRAYONS!!!! These are serious artist's tools, yanno. Hmph.)

Oh yeah ... please ... go read ... enjoy ... comment, fer crying out loud. Comment there ... comment here ... just say something.

Sheesh.

(Yeah, I stayed up too damn late tonight so I could get this page done and uploaded.comments/exciting.gif )

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:05 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 8, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:42 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 3, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

I'm working on another post now, really ... I'm just so mad, I hardly know what to write.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:28 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 1, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:01 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 26, 2007

Hullo Muddah, Hullo Faddah

Well, the next page of Wooden Iguana is postponed until Tuesday ... just couldn't get caught up after being sick last week. But, here's a new character who'll debut then. comments/exciting.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:08 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 24, 2007

7 Yr Old Asks: May I Go to the Principal's Office

Some kids just can't stay outa trouble ... and then there's Devon ...

Click the image to check out today's page of The Wooden Iguana.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:48 PM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 20, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:03 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 17, 2007

Wooden Iguana

As always, click the pic to go to the full page at ComicSpace ... and there's additional navigation there if you're a new reader or just need to catch up.

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:53 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 12, 2007

Wooden Iguana

The plot thicks ....

Okay, okay, that's The Tick, not The Wooden Iguana, but you get the idea. In today's page, you'll meet the Wooden Iguana itself. Here's the preview:

As always, click the preview to check out the whole page.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:04 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 10, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Here's a preview of the next page of The Wooden Iguana comic book.

As always, click the preview to go to ComicSpace for the full page (and if you're a new reader ... there's navigation there to start at the beginning).

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:10 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 9, 2007

Li'l Muerto Concept

So I posted Li'l Muerto a while back ... I'm working up a cartoon concept around him.

I get a comment in my email over the weekend:

just surfing, but...THAT is the least origanal idea ever...there are so many"mini reaper"s it's not even funny
Posted by: duthie at April 8, 2007 01:11 PM

Well, see, here's the deal. Ain't no idea that's the "least original." And certainly it's impossible to tell from one character sketch if the cartoon concept is an original one or not. In fact, I've purposely left the bulk of the concept off of the blog until I have it more fully developed.

What is more interesting to me is why people have the need to offer an opinion without any constructive criticism. I don't mind someone telling me the coloured versions just don't seem to pop off the screen. I would understand if someone would say they didn't like the way the hood covered the head.

But why simply tear an idea down just for the sake of tearing it down? Are people really so thoughtless?

And I don't mean thoughtless about someone's feelings ... but that they just announce an opinion and not think about why they have that opinion?

This set of questions actually is far less about the Li'l Muerto concept ... I'm rather confident that the whole of the idea is just fine ... but about the general thoughtlessness that so many people proudly display at the drop of a hat ... or a pencil ... or whatever. What is it which causes so many people to not just proclaim their own opinion but then act like anyone who disagrees is stupid or simply wrong?

At Mary Lee's funeral this weekend ... one thing that really stuck with me was when our minister said that Mary Lee always taught her kids "there are two sides to every story" and for every time they came home and complained about something at school and how mean their teacher was ... or every time they talked about a friend who did them wrong ... Mary Lee asked them to look at the other person's story.

Why don't more of us learn that?

Because ultimately that's what political correctness was actually about ... thinking before speaking. It was never about the exact word you picked ... but about the effort to see the other side of the story. To see the other person and their culture ... their world.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:56 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 5, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Here's a preview of the next page. comments/exciting.gif

As always, click the preview to go to ComicSpace (and if you're a new reader ... there's navigation there to start at the beginning).

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:53 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

April 3, 2007

Wooden Iguana

A preview of today's page of The Wooden Iguana. Click the picture to go see the whole page for today.

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:25 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 30, 2007

Wooden Iguana

Well, it's been a little quiet around here because I've been drawing so very much lately. Here's the cover to the comic book I've been so diligently working on ... new pages will be posted over in my ComicSpace pages.

Ahhh, back to the days of elementary school and that HUGE rocketship slide and jungle gym thing we used to have ....

Anyhow, the rocketship playground equipment was sketched in pencil first, scanned and then I used Photoshop to colour over the top. The rest was done in Illustrator. Was a very fun project ... but I'm really glad that I'm not using that particular process for the rest of the comic book. It just takes too dang long to do. The rest of the comic will be black and white (a splash of colour now and again). If you're curious, head on over to the ComicSpace pages and read the prologue. It's short and explains the general direction of the comic.

I've got a page and 2/3rds inked already and I should be posting at least once a week a full new page.

Fun times!
comments/exciting.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:14 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 27, 2007

ToonCasting

So, I've decided to "ToonCast" some of my favourite stuff from ComicSpace.com ... I'll be adding a link, probably up in the top nav in the next few days. (Hey, I gotta lotta templates to add the damn thing too. I really gotta PHP this blog.)

For now, I've decided to ToonCast Eekeemoo, a really stunning little "sketchbook comic" which tells the story sans words. Catch up on the previous 13 chapters (or more if you're reading this after March 27, 2007) here. It's clever, it's really well drawn and the plot and characters will suck you in quickly.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:45 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 22, 2007

Welcome Home

My first attempt at ink and marker. I learned a lot by doing this and I can't say I'm exactly thrilled with all of the results ... but I do see nice segments of it that I'm quite proud of. A good exercise, anyway.

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:25 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 18, 2007

The Absence of Me

So, I posted the Goth House/Haunted House sketch the other day ... Jodi from Looking Beyond the Cracked Window was working on putting together another poetry book and as we were chatting, she said something about looking for a Goth House to put on the cover. On a whim, I decided to see if I could sketch one up. I showed it to Jodi, not really expecting it to be what she wanted for the cover of her book ... but apparently I tapped into the inner goth well and she really liked it.

So ... now I give you the finished book cover (click to visit Lulu.com and see her book):

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:14 AM | Sketches | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 7, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Pencil sketch with some extra shading and shadowing in Photoshop.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:31 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 27, 2007

Fast Sketch

Here's a relatively fast sketch for use in a promotion at work. The main promotions guy will take a segment of the character for a promotion he's designing ... the hands will be holding the product ... hence the rather stiff look there as a good section of that will be covered up with product and a bit of glow (cuz, ya know, it's gonna be a great product).

cartoon drawing of a lady

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:09 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 17, 2007

Li'l Muerto

Well, the damn DeadEx delivery was finally made Friday ... about 10 minutes before I got home, so sadly, I didn't get to give the dude a piece of my mind. But ... just for putting up with all the ranting, I'll show you what I've been working on since I got home Friday. A new cartoon character I'm calling Li'l Muerto at the moment. He's a young Grim Reaper trying to pass through "regular" school.

 
The first is the plain sketch outline ... the second is just a silly silly digital colouring.
 

Interesting, but I like the plain sketch better than any of the colourings so far. I'll have to keep playing ... maybe switch from colour pencils to Sharpies and see where that takes me.

At any rate, the lightbox has gotten some very heavy use already and I'm so glad that stupid delivery FINALLY got here a week after it made it to town!

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:11 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 13, 2007

THERE it is!

Cartoon of kid finding a brain in the park

So THERE is where I left my brain!!! Great good gods, I've been looking for that thing since the beginning of the year.

Too damn bad it's been outside so long. Wonder if it still works.

To answer Peety, yes, this is one of my sketches ... it's my first attempt at using colour. I've used watercolour pencils here. Most of the background was smudge sticked first. In addition, I used a barely damp kleenex on the sky and the upper portion of the grass as well to blend those areas just a touch more. I used a dry kleenex on the road and the bottom area of the foreground to blend those areas.
I'm still a bit irritated with the perspective on the road being all screwed up, but ah well. comments/what.gif Such is life.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:13 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 19, 2006

Exit ... Stage Left

I sketched this, this morning after reading that Joseph Barbera died Monday. Co-creator of such time-honoured cartoon classics as Tom and Jerry, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo, he was absolutely instrumental in bringing the art of animation to television.

He will be missed ... we're grateful that he didn't go into banking, but that he shaped so many of our childhoods instead.

Exit ... stage left.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:57 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 26, 2006

22 Inches of Pure Happiness

It's been a busy four day weekend for me, as it has been for a lot of people in the U.S. Luncheon with the not-in-laws on Thursday ... a nice time of playing trivial pursuit ... a quick bite for dinner ... and then home to watch a video or two. I went to bed early as there was ONE thing I wanted to get during the insane shopping period called Black Friday.

Yeah ... I did.

You see, I adore my laptop beyond belief. It's a bit old now, a 2003 model, but it's a 17" PowerBook G4 and I love it. Since it's my only computer and I do a lot of graphics work, I really prefer to have a big screen so I can see my graphics ... and still have a little bit of room for the tools.

But Best Buy was offering a Westinghouse 22" LCD monitor for $200 on Friday morning. It's a $500 monitor there usually. And, well ... I get tech envy easily. All I could think of was ... ooooooooooooo, think how big I can make the artboard in Illustrator!

I set the alarm for 3:30, but just happened to wake up around 2:45 ... I tried to make myself go back to sleep, but no dice. So, I trucked on down to Best Buy, which was due to open at 5 a.m.

No traffic. This is a good sign. I figured I might have a chance at getting my delightful new monitor. I tried not to get my hopes up too high, and sure enough, when I rounded the final corner, I just about drove back home. I was sure I would never get my monitor. Here it was, 3:50 in the morning ... and there was already a line past Best Buy, and past the next TEN freaking strip mall stores. With a heavy heart, I joined the futility of the line anyway.

Long story short ... I got the last of the 22" monitors and I am just beside myself with joy. Now, when I need to run Illustrator, I take the laptop to my home office, plug it in ... suddenly i have a dual screen. 22" of pure happiness on the left side ... 17" of pure laptop happiness on the right side.

And, in honour of the happy new monitor, I finished one character for an animation I'm doing for a friend. Here is Kirby, in all his Westie glory:

Now I just have to finish the motorcycle, the character of my friend and a good background and I can begin actually animating the thing. comments/exciting.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:58 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 9, 2006

Getting Closer

Well, finishing out the basics of the face has gone a long way to establishing his character for me, as has selecting if not "the" colour palette, this colour palette should at least be very close.

Of course, there's still the arms/hands and the legs/feet ... and the all-important tail ... to get to next.

Once I get this "flat" image done, the next step will be to decide how much depth I want to give this cartoon and thus, how much highlighting and shadows to create. I'll then create a walk-around model sheet. For those of you who aren't animation geeks, a walk-around and model sheets are usually the animators' bible for a particular show. They give the basics of what each side and the back will look like, often the walk itself, and of course, common poses and facial expressions. For a produced cartoon, this usually means that the extra-creative folks, the senior animators of the project, do the "key frames" of the cartoon ... and the "tweeners" go in and fill out the frames that are necessary to move the characters between key frame to key frame. So, a good bible for a cartoon is essential as you'll have a slew of people working on the animation and while each person has their own personal style, Bugs Bunny looks a particular way, and the tweeners can't just impose their style on top of the existing design.

It's amazing to me how much adding the basic eyes added to my concept of the design. I've got a really solid idea of what I want to do next, whereas before I was simply playing around.

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:55 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 8, 2006

He's Coming

I've got more than this done in Flash, but this is what I'm prepared to show at the moment.

For all of my writing -- and reading -- I am very character-driven. Once I have a good sense of the character in my head, I can start asking those characters what's going on in their lives and thus begin writing the story.

I have read a few other writers who make the same claim ... the characters, in some sense, take over the story and the best authors often find that the well plotted outline they had for a particular story just doesn't happen as the characters, like children, develop minds of their own.

For me, that's the part about novel-writing that I've always enjoyed the most. Watching the characters grow and surprise me.

Who else will be in the cartoon besides the still nameless monkey? (Yes, I know you can't much tell it's a monkey from the head and this particular style.) Well, I'm also quite fascinated with dia de los muertos and those cartoon-ish depictions of skeletons. So likely, I will resurrect my Li'l Muerto character comments/electric_shock.gif from ages and ages ago and see what he looks like in this style of sketching.

So if I'm a bit quiet lately ... hopefully I'm drawing and beginning to write character sketches and sketching the critters themselves.
comments/exciting.gif

P.S. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, comments/electric_shock.gif is NOT my drawing ... that's one of the Blacy icons, not mine! comments/exciting.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:08 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

October 2, 2006

Ghostbot

I love animation. And the Esurance commercials out in the U.S. right now are absolutely charming. If you've not seen these, there's an example at the bottom of this post. (Hopefully by the time you've finished reading this post, it'll have loaded through youtube.)

The nice thing about these is that they employ a particular style of animating which minimizes some of the movements. This allows them to utilize the creative time to come up with some really nice plots for 30 second commercials and also spend some time creating kick-ass characters. These have been done by the Ghostbot team for Wildbrain. What I love about these is they're beautifully done. The style is distinct, the Flash animation is nicely done for the time and budget constraints of a 30 second commercial. I really love the way the characters flow and the animations flow.

*sigh* I've GOT to finish working up my character sketches and start moving the pieces into Flash if I'm going to make the next Nicktoons and/or Cartoon Network contest. It stinks when you've got a great black and white sketch done ... and really don't know what colour palette is going to best work ... at the moment, I'm ignoring colour palette and going to get the major character into Flash, then experiment with colour in the library.

I have just realized that unless you like Flash animation, I have TOTALLY lost my entire audience with this post. Oops. I'll try to get some scans uploaded in the next day or so so you can at least look at the somewhat budding cartoon. comments/exciting.gif

And now, one of the Esurance commercials:

Oh, for good measure ... check out more drawing goodness at the Drawing Board.

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:34 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 20, 2006

Bits and Pieces

Just a couple of random pieces I've been working on lately.

     

The first one was a relatively simple cut out placed over a background. If I hadn't been so danged preoccupied and short on time the last few days I would have made the "Hate Me" look much more like a tattoo. I will probably continue working on that next week when I have some time (I hope).

The second one was a bit more work. I had already found a nice blue butterfly some time back, but the site I wanted to advertise had a bit of a connection to red, so I wanted to change the moth/butterfly to a red hue to match (even though there's a blue butterfly on her blog comments/what.gif). I worked with the butterfly first since that would be the central piece of this ad block and used the adjust hue function in each colour channel to change the overall colour. Once I had the hues adjusted, I decided I wanted to toy with making this block look a bit more like a painting than just a photo. So, I copied that layer and began experimenting with the sketch filters. (NEVER, EVER apply filters without first making a copy of that layer ... maybe you'll have redundant layers that you can delete later ... but chances are at some point you'll have need for that unaltered layer!) I believe I finally settled on a nice dry brush, but then I faded the filter a bit to bring back some more of the detail to the image.

Next, I highjacked the sunflower from the person's blog and again used adjust hue to colourize the sunflower since the original was in black and white. A much more faded version of the dry brush filter was used here.

The clouds were cut out and inserted ... but depending on which monitor I'm using ... well, on some monitors the clouds work ... on others I'm not so sure that they do. I think they may simply confuse the issue of the flower ... why do the clouds which appear so distant also appear in front of a section of the flower? Ah well ... not bad for about 45 minutes playing. comments/what.gif

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:21 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 12, 2006

T-shirts

I now officially heart.png Goodstorm.com.

I ordered one each of my own t-shirts (I'm just a geek that way) and I love them. The t-shirt quality is great, the print quality is wonderful. If you are looking to sell some shirts, I highly recommend Goodstorm.com over CafePress. While CafePress does do more than just the t-shirts, their products seem to be a bit hit or miss. I wouldn't trust their black t-shirt print process just yet after they messed up a pair of shirts (with one of my designs) sent out to a customer who was prepared to order several more. Unfortunately, after one washing, the shirt's design fell off in the wash.

At Goodstorm.com, though, I'm loving the design freedom in terms of image size and placement. They're a lot more flexible and the products are just wonderful. Now, I just need more than 3 designs! Meanwhile, please peruse the meager offerings ... I've been working on a few more, but my vector art skills are a bit slow still and I've been a little ahhh, obsessed, I suppose, the last week with a new project ... finally have the first character for my own cartoon ... have him sketched out on paper in black and white ... now I've got to get him into vectors and begin playing with colour. (Although I am beginning to toy with the idea of a greyscale cartoon instead ... or really muted colours ... hmmm.)

At any rate, check out the shirts. And if there's a shirt you've always wanted to have, but haven't been able to draw it, let me know and I'll get it set up on Goodstorm.com for you.

Red Monkey IN JEANS!
Aww, Have a Heart
Separate Church and Hate shirt

And, if you like warped beyond all measure, don't forget to check out T-Shirt Hell which has some of the most WARPED shirts I've ever seen. The kind that are a guilty pleasure to laugh at. The kind that'll really tick off the neighbors, your parents, your boss. "Also available in sober" ... "Don't Mess with Texas ... it's not nice to pick on the retards" ... "Canadians are Eh'holes" ... "I Heart Transitive Pictograph Verbalizations" (you'll have to look for the shirt ... the picture will make you laugh) ... nothing is sacred there and everything is either funny, offensive or both! Not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. (Really ... some of that stuff at T-shirt Hell is raunchy ... but most of it's funny.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:12 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 7, 2006

Skeletoons

I have always adored things that some folks consider macabre. Even as a child, I found horror stories fascinating and devoured every Alfred Hitchcock movie and book I could get to and quickly graduated to things like The Amityville Horror. (Although the discovery of the red painted dinky hidey-hole hallway simply made me laugh ... that was in the original 1979 version of the movie.)

As if that weren't enough, I grew up in Texas and learned early about dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead), a latin american holiday celebrated the day(s) after Halloween. And, in Mexico, this is often celebrated with some really whimsical and to some, macabre, art. Sculpture, drawings, paper cuttings ... of skeletons doing normal, everyday things.

And, of course, you know I love cartoons and animation. So, whilst on a journey of random links the other day, I discovered a nifty animation site ... which, of course, had best still be in my browsing history because I forgot to bookmark the darn thing ... which had a link to: the best and most creative artwork I've seen in a looooooooong time. Michael Paulus is my hero.

Enjoy!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:42 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 31, 2006

Tonight

Photoshop fun. Enjoy!

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:45 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 24, 2006

Preview

I've been hard at work on re-thinking and re-designing my larger website. A great number of the pages haven't been re-designed since 2000 or so and since I have so many sections to the site, it's hard to pull all those diverse sections into a main page. But ... here's a sneak peek of the mockup:

Click through for a look at the mockup for the whole page. I'm a bit torn as to how exactly I want to code the page. I'm so incredibly used to design using HTML tables, but CSS is just sooooo much better. I've been beginning to code it in my head in CSS, and I think I'll start it that way. If I run into any nasty glitches (like I have with IE and this template), then I may go back to the table.

Enjoy!

Posted by Red Monkey at 10:00 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

July 31, 2006

Ch .. ch .. ch .. changes

I'm slowly re-working the template to fix a few things that have been bugging me for ages ... like that hideous redline background which is now defunct. The current background will be tweaked again, but this is closer to what I wanted. I'm moving to a three column format - the graphical design has always had the space ... now I need to work out the CSS a wee bit better. If you're a curious kind of person, you can view the test template here.

Meanwhile, buy the Red Monkey from NOT CafePress, but GoodStorm.

Red Monkey shirt

Also coming soon ... ads in which I recommend books and/or products. Not a lot, mind you and not gratuitous. Instead, hand-picked products ... the first things up will most likely be some books by Melissa Scott since I recently talked about her. But I've got to dig into the code of my template and see where all of this will best fit.

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:16 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 10, 2006

Odd Week

It's been an odd kind of week for me. I had a great idea for a post to use on Thursday, but by the time I had some time to sit down and write it, I'd completely forgotten what it was. I mean completely. No clue even the topic, much less the specifics. Knew I should have jotted down a note or two while I was thinking about it. I thought that on Friday, I would write about being interviewed by the local paper, but after the two hour interview was over with Thursday night (nothing so interesting as blogging, of course), I really didn't want to write anything about it until after the article itself comes out ... and that may be weeks, of course.

Instead, I give you another bit of vector drawings from The Incredibles. This comes from the credit roll at the end of the movie ... to the left of the Incredicar, you'll see iconic line drawings of the family ... this is from the same clip during the credits of the movie. And, apparently Brad Bird also had those icons made into a shirt, as he's wearing a black T with those icons in white during one of the interviews on the DVD.

Anyhow, here's the link ... enjoy!

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:53 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

June 7, 2006

Xander

We've been Buffy-festing for the past few days. Just chilling out, ignoring broadcast TV and watching DVDs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In some episode of Season Two, one of the characters made reference to a dark teddy bear, probably Willow talking about the ever-broody Angel.

An idea was born. Hope you enjoy ... the Vampire Bear.

I call him Xander.

(Cuz Angel annoys me, too.)

Posted by Red Monkey at 8:52 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 21, 2006

Vectors

I got this poster quite a while back. I think it was in an Incredibles action figure package. I love the style of the art, but the creases in the poster always irritated me a bit.

Incredibles Poster Original

So ... I decided to recreate the poster in vectors, using Adobe Illustrator. Here's the finished product (click for a larger version).

Incredibles Poster Vectors

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:59 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 26, 2006

Cartoons

So, I adore cartoons and I always have. The summer before seventh grade, The Secret of Nimh came out. I gleefully watched the "defectors" from the Disney studios and begged my mom to take us. One of the first days of classes, one of my friends was complaining that her mom had wanted to take her to The Secret of Nimh that summer and she'd turned up her nose, telling her mom that she was in seventh grade now and far too old for cartoons.

I laughed and gleefully announced that I'd seen it and thought it was one of the best movies I'd seen in quite a while.

I was a bit of a rebel that way.

Today, I love Klasky/Csupo productions, a ton of Nickelodeon shows, and the Cartoon Network! Oh man, I need little else in life besides Nick and Cartoon Network.

So, I got this book a couple of weeks ago, to practice some of the current "retro" styles of cartooning.

Here's a couple of the sketches I've done in the last couple of days ... all based on illustrations in Cool Cartooning.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:27 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 24, 2006

Young Mr. Grayson

Here's a little side project I've been working on. This is young Dick Grayson from Batman: The Animated Series.

Cute kid, no doubt. And, since Robin is my favourite comic book character ever, I loved this episode of the cartoon, Robin's Reckoning.

So, because I make action figures, I put this little guy together (the original figure that I sliced up to make Young Master Grayson is the small blue thing on the right).

I've been playing around with creating vector graphics lately. So, I thought I'd start with this favourite character ... I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:53 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 31, 2005

Tat

So, I have a tattoo on my right arm ... an armband. Here it is, broken into two pictures:


And the artist is Raven at Tattoos by Raven.

So, the intention has always been to add some colour to this tattoo ... the original plan was to make the surrounding area look like sandstone ... but the tattoo artist couldn't figure out a way to do it that she felt comfortable would not turn out muddy. So, we decided to just ink the symbols and decide on the rest later on. Now the fact that it's unfinished is bugging the crap out of me.

NOTE: I have already updated the image ... the traditional turquoise border is gone now ... I agree with several of the comments ... it may be a traditional pattern ... but it looked like caca here.
I've turned this into an extended entry as the animated gif that runs through several options is over 100kb now ... and I didn't want to slow down the load of the main page with that. So ... if you want to take a look at the further ideas... click below! :D

5 seconds of the plain tattoo ... 5 seconds with some colouring ... 5 with an orange/black border ... 5 seconds with a plain black border.

I like the Hopi sunface kachina colouring. I like the green in the gecko. Have yet to decide what to do with that spiral sun ... leaning toward leaving it alone.

Comments? Ideas?

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:45 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 9, 2005

Ghost & Faery

So, big chunks of my non-blogging time are generally spent - to the dismay of my better half - at BlogExplosion. They've run a couple of design contests lately and I've done quite crappily in them ... largely through trying to hurry through a submission to make the deadline. And somehow, I'm usually coming in at the last second.

So, for the Shoutbox Frenzy game, the idea was to make two cards. Today is the last day for entering ... so I decided to work on these this morning. Here's my submission:

If you got here through BE ... voting should be opening soon ... check it out!

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:43 AM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 7, 2005

More Sketching

Here are a few sketches I've done over the last year. The first is the earliest and was done while looking at one of the photographs I had taken of Caelum Moor park. It has some distinct issues, particularly with the sculpture standing up about like the leaning tower of pisa, but it's the first landscape I've done since I was a kid and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out overall. (Click the sketch to see a larger version)

This next sketch is one that I found at a wonderful blog (now in my sidebar) RohDESIGN. Mike Rohde is, in my opinion a wonderful artist. As I was noodling around on the internet one night, I discovered one of his "sketchtoons" and immediately knew this was the type of drawing that I like best and should be practicing myself. Here's Mike's sketchtoon of his cafe-bag:

And then, here's the sketch I completed today at lunch. Again, click on the graphic for a larger rendition of it.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I have had sketching them!

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:46 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 13, 2005

Light Creativity

My creativity goes in spurts. Sometimes it's writing, sometimes it's sketching, sometimes playing guitar. About two years ago it was sculpting things out of polymer clays. Given that we're heading into the holiday season, I thought I'd post a few of them.

Click the thumbnail to see a larger picture.

   

These were both from some idea book about using Sculpey, as is this little nativity.

These last two were sculpted in a more freehand style. The first one was a present for one of my cousins ... if you've ever been to the Homestarrunner website, you'll recognize Trogdor the Burninator right away.
The second one is a blending of colors to mimic stone ... this is a blending of the Navajo and Hopi totem figure of Bear. One of my absolute favourite pieces, it sits by my computer at work.

   

Posted by Red Monkey at 2:45 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

August 30, 2005

Sketches

Okay, so after much ado about little, here are my fun sketches. First, the reference sketch from my Flash animation book, Hollywood 2D Digital Animation.

And here's my freehand sketch of that picture:


And then, I started looking at McNair again. I'd already tried a couple of sketches, cartoon sketches of him but I didn't like my style on it. So, I adated the one from above:

Then, I decided to challenge myself to adapt it a little further and came up with this overweight redneck skateboarding:

And that's all for now!

Posted by Red Monkey at 5:51 PM | Sketches | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble