June 27, 2005

23: Duncanman!

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It's crunch-time for house preparations. Packing has started in earnest. Details are being attended to. One thing that will get lost in the hubbub, besides my mind, will be this site. So, much like the big TV networks, I may resort to summer reruns. Like this guy, for Illustration Friday's theme-o-the-week: heroes. This is Duncanman: Sadsack Hero (and his robot sidekick, Number Two). Duncanman was spawned at a department meeting some time ago, back when my only creative spark seemed to arise from department meetings (I think it was the nonstop droning that would trigger my sketching bone). Duncanman was originally drawn on grid paper with a black 01 Sakura Pigma Micron pen, scanned, and tweaked in Photoshop to get rid of the blue grid background.

Side note: Duncanman is not based on either of the Duncans I know in real life.

June 21, 2005

22: Socks Make The Man

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Ironically enough, this week's Illustration Friday topic duplicates the theme of the recently completed (and soon to be mailed) HOWieZineblack and white. Fortunately enough, I was then able to create one of the discarded ideas Kerry and I had for the zine, that of a formally dressed individual wearing white socks. Kerry works in the hub of Winnipeg, and on occasion has sighted the faux-pas businessman who dares challenge convention by matching up his three-piece suit with a pair of run-of-the-mill sport socks. These fashion victims are the inspiration behind this piece, built from an original sketch simplified in FreeHand and dressed up in Photoshop with a background of scanned newspaper stock reports.

Side note: In an unrelated matter, I'm stoked. Exactly three weeks from now – and for the first time – I'll be sleeping in my very own house. And I'm looking around and I realize… I've got a lot of sh*t to pack.

June 17, 2005

Squirrel Invasion

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The place where I work – the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre – is situated in a restored prairie wetland surrounded by farm fields and stands of native prairie grass. My work station looks out to the west and a huge expanse of sky. The building itself is low-lying, partially sunken into the landscape so as to not interfere with the natural goings-on of wildlife in the marsh, so my window is right at ground level. As such, it's a real boon to me as a nature buff to see critters literally walk by, ranging from Canada geese with fuzzy yellow goslings in tow, to blackbirds, swallows, turtles and field mice to these fellows: Richardson's ground squirrels (also called "beach rats" by my mom). This past week, a family of these squirrels has set up camp in the berm leading up to the window, including six young and at least one adult. These adorable critters measure about six inches in length right now, and they're tame, precocious and very curious. I was able to get within two feet of them to take this shot with the department digi-cam.

June 14, 2005

Foursquare & Twenty Years Ago

I'm mad. I have this excellent concept in my head to celebrate this week's Illustration Friday theme ("summer"), but I simply can't execute it to paper. So I've taken a break and instead I'm gonna describe the inspiration behind the idea. And someday in the future, I'll tackle the sketch again and eventually post it.

I went to Mulvey School for grades two through six. Come recess at Mulvey, the sports of choice were this rugby-soccer-keepaway hybrid we dubbed hogball – and foursquare. I'm not certain just how common the game of foursquare was back in the day, but at Mulvey – and many other schools around Winnipeg – playgrounds featured at least one foursquare 'court' painted onto the blacktop. Simply put, the game involved a square split into four quadrants, each occupied by a player. There's a ball – one of those pock-marked inflatable playground balls somewhere between the sizes of a volleyball and basketball. The game allowed all sorts of room for personal flair, including moves like stoppers, dribblers, stompers, double-hits and the dreaded 'toilet seat'. Once a kid missed a play, he was demoted to fourth square – or to the lineup, if more than four kids were involved. Foursquare rewarded strong play with eventual advancement to square one. The player in square one dictated the rules of the round, and then it's simply a matter of hitting the ball to one another – a la handball – letting it bounce once per play.

At Mulvey we played foursquare serious – sometimes even at Olympic levels with each kid representing a nation of their choice. When we moved on to Gordon Bell High School, we left the game behind. It was a game for little kids.

Until some downtime between exams in grade nine, when a few of us had the gumption to resurrect our grade school glory-days. We stole some chalk, etched a foursquare on the concrete, nabbed a basketball and started playing again. We continued straight through the end of high school; dazzling, fast-paced games that attracted members of the volleyball and basketball teams and incorporating slick, Globetrotter-esque moves. It became a downtime phenomenon, eating up study periods and defying normal teenage behaviour. It was kickass.

And that's the memory I was attempting to invoke with this sketch, which I'm determined now more than ever to get right. Just not right now.

June 12, 2005

21: Salad Days

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Fellow HOW online forum haunt Tanya Roberts (Ohio) crafted the concept of a recipe book made of submissions from graphic designers across the continent. Operating much in the same way as the HOWieZine, the HOWie CuiZine (title pending, I think) will feature recipes of all varieties from a motley clan of designers representing an equally motley assortment of tastes and backgrounds. As proud Irish descendents, Kerry and I are submitting the keys to building her incredible Vietnamese salad rolls.

This layout was made in QuarkXPress, with illustrations and ingredient symbols constructed in FreeHand – based from photos I took of Kerry making salad rolls a couple of weeks ago.

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Enjoy this sneak peek (click on the inset for a closer view). Submission and rollout dates of the project are still TBA, but hopefully I'll be holding a copy of this and many other HOWie recipes some time later this summer.

June 03, 2005

You've Changed, Anakin

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My inner geek must be growing old. It took me two weeks to see the new Star Wars.

Buddy Maeengan and I checked out the spectacle at our favourite theater last night. Despite naysayers, despite the clichés and despite the calculated suckiness of the previous two entries (each containing sparks, I'll admit, and some fun moments), this latest entry was an inevitable improvement. This is largely, I think, because of built-in caché from its proximity to the original 1977 movie within the Star Wars timeline. But it also helps that the kid-friendliness was toned down to a murmur – this installment is all growned-up business. And George Lucas, for the first time in this run of prequels, was looking out for his hardcore fan base.

Maeengan and I talked afterwards about why this one works, and the consensus was that there was something to care about this time. Characters had stakes. Actions had consequences. The tone wasn't black-and-white. Sh*t mattered.

But holes still persist. The acting is still wooden, but at least it's sanded down to a nice softwood compared to the solid oak delivery of the last two entries. Ian McDiarmid has a blast with his role. Watch out for those Anakin-Padmé scenes, they're torture – with one in particular bordering on after-school-special.