May 30, 2005

20: Beak Envy

Image Hosted by
The illustrious Illustration Friday’s word of the week is envy.

In the North American bird community, there's a dumpy, small, basking-in-beige group of species categorized as shorebirds, including critters like sandpipers, plovers and what-not. One species that stands out is the American avocet, an elegant wader that thrives on small prairie sloughs. Avocets stand about a foot high on long pale-blue legs with a slender bill turned upwards at the end, brilliant black-and-white patterning and a slim cinnamon-coloured neck.

At work, I occasionally spot them on rides at lunch – usually stilt-walking through shallow water among the blander, smaller sandpipers, who I'm sure would feel envy if they could. They're like supermodels among workaday schmoes.

The avocet in this drawing has been exaggerated some, but not much. It began as a pencil sketch – more of a cartoon – and was brought into Photoshop for the colour work. The background effect was made possible through Photoshop brushes downloaded from the portfolio site of Pennsylvania designer Keith Bowman (check out his kickass site here).

May 25, 2005

19: Rocket Robin Hood

Image Hosted by
A staple of my early childhood TV viewing was the cartoon Rocket Robin Hood, an ultra-cheap Canadian-made program with a futuristic spin on the Robin Hood legend. A three-pronged attack of Rocket Robin Hood, The Mighty Hercules and The Amazing Spider-Man also made for an awesome early morning television kitsch trifecta during my teenage years. An episode typically consisted of razor-thin plotlines mixed with a generous dose of repetitive character vignettes and musical interludes added solely to fill out the half hour. I could go on ad nauseam about the subtleties of the cartoon, but truth be told I already have: check out my IMDb review here (scroll down, there's only five reviews in total).

Resurrected by Teletoon (Canada's answer to the Cartoon Network) last year, I caught it a few times surfing between late-night sportscasts and Simpsons reruns. And I decided then to record an episode and capture this signature Robin Hood pose that appears in one of the vignettes, but by the time I remembered to pop a tape in the VCR, Teletoon abruptly replaced it with Flintstones reruns. When they reinserted RRH back into their schedule this spring, I finally nabbed it.

I spent Tuesday night sketching the face out, and finished it up in FreeHand. It's now my goal to one day make this into a one-off t-shirt design.

May 16, 2005

18: Nourishment By/For Jeope

Image Hosted by
If the adage "you are what you eat" holds true, then a large part of me is a ham-and-cheese sandwich. I make these bad boys so often for lunch that I'm ridiculed at home for my predictability and despised at work for the aroma that comes from the toaster oven most lunch-hours.

To my credit though, my concoctions are no mere ham-and-cheese blandwiches. If I'm not starting with one of Winnipeg's most famous exports – the loaf of rye bread – I'm building my lunchtime masterpiece with big, thick slices of bakery-fresh goodness. Then a thin smear of pesto. Then the ham. The honey maple ham from the supermarket works best for this hombre, but sometimes it's black forest ham or even (gasp!) chicken or turkey.

Next comes slices of tomato. Thin slices. Romas are a personal favourite. Then comes a smattering of red onion slices, shaved off the veggie so thin they're barely visible.

At last, the coup de gras: cheeeeeeeese. Rarely is our fridge without a hunk of jalapeƱo-flecked havarti, customarily found in the 'cheese ends' bin – a dairy-department wasteland for any package of cheese not in a convenient brick format.

Squish contents together, and stuff in a lunch bag. A few minutes in the toaster brings it to life. Et voila! Call it Jeope's nourishment, two to three times a week.

May 09, 2005

Clucking Futz

Recently I've had a spate of tumbler-related clumsiness, which is really beginning to tick me off. To wit, roughly one month ago – in the morning while checking the weather channel – I brush my hand against an empty glass on the coffee table. And in my attempt to steady it, I powerslam it to the table. Many shards involved. A lot of blood. To my credit I only said dammit – though Kerry recalls I did it very loud and angry-like.

Last week I was putting clean glasses away in the kitchen, and for some reason I tried to put one through the bottom of the cupboard instead of the normal-person way. Few pieces this time, but no blood. Curse word: A whispered sssssssssssh*t.

And yesterday morning while aiming for the snooze button, my hand goes through my bedside glass of water. Fortunately this one didn't bust, but there was plenty of water and wires mixing together on the bedroom floor. Curse word: A quiet morning shoot.

So what's going on? I used to have a pretty spotless clutz record. Recently though, my depth perception has been really wacked. I hope it's just a bout of tough luck.

Related side note: As far back as I can remember, I always knew if I was drawing something good if I accidentally drooled on it. It happened with the maps I used to make as a kid. In college I painted an A.M. Cassandre-themed 1930s travel poster in gouache for an assignment, and after many hours – right near the moment of completion – I hung a big gob of drool on it. My brother has it on his living-room wall now, and you can still see the stain (it got an A, so the drool theory stands correct).

May 08, 2005

17: Ookpik

Image Hosted by
I was looking to create a new avatar for my posts on HOW magazine's online forums, and thought I'd go about building one in FreeHand. This is an ookpik (an Inuit-themed owl sculpture) I gave to Kerry, an object that would translate easily into a small, vector-based graphic. I took a photo of it (top left) and plopped the JPEG right into FreeHand as a background layer that I could draw over. I then traced all of the elements needed to build the eyes and beak (top right) and filled them each with contour-based gradients, tinkering with the colour and details to make them at least pseudo-realistic. The body and ear tufts were basic shapes (above left), and a whole slew of circles were added to mimic the ookpik's pock-mark wing patterns. There's a dash of Photoshop at the end (above right) to add some texture and tweak the shadows. It's a bit clunky at full size, but as an avatar I like it.

May 02, 2005

16: White & Black

Image Hosted by
This is my nipplish-looking pilates ball. I don't exercise on it, but it is super-comfortable to sit on while I eat cereal and watch television. The ball's spiral construction combined with sunlight filtering through the blinds make for a cool effect.

Image Hosted by
Kerry at Grand Beach, April 16. Yeah, she looks upset. I can't remember what was going on but trust me, all was well. It was our first day out of the city since the fall. I like that the shoreline looks like a fish-eyed horizon – kind of a trick on the eye. Ice on the lake was just starting to break up, which makes a creepy chandelier-in-a-breeze sort of noise.

Image Hosted by
Same day. Kerry's holding a willow branch like a rat's tail. We was just goofin' around.

Image Hosted by
Stop sign two kilometers from work, April 20
. I took my bike for a ride at lunch that day, to the artesian spring that feeds the marsh. You can see for miles out there, and it was absolutely quiet except for a meadowlark I scared off this sign. A typical prairie scene.

Image Hosted by
Toy robot/graffiti. I got this wind-up robot (left) at a local German butcher shop. It was in their window and I bought it for Kerry along with a metal wind-up penguin. Like the pilates ball, I was just taking advantage of the light. This bit of graffiti (right) is on the wall of a car dealership across from my old high school.

May 01, 2005

Kung Fu Hustle

Image Hosted by
I rarely go to see movies I know very little about. I can't help it. I peruse the Internet Movie Database pretty much daily. Check out Apple's movie trailer site. I pick up Premiere at the bookstore and just generally hear about stuff.

But my buddy Dwight and I checked out Kung Fu Hustle yesterday afternoon. I only knew it was touted as being bizarre, funny and original. I heard comparisons to the Roadrunner and Coyote or The Three Stooges, mixed in with classic kung fu fare. And that it was very, very fun.

Which it was. I cannot remember the last movie that left my mouth open the entire time. This is a movie that Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) could've made. Stellar effects. Consistently outrageous. Silly and fun. The only thing I can compare it to (as I told Dwight) is The Story Of Ricky – a similar, yet unintentionally hilarious, kung fu flick with an Evil Dead budget (although hard to find). I highly recommend both movies for anyone looking to reconnect with their inner six-year-old. Righteous!