November 28, 2005

41: The HOWieZine Cometh, Part III

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The rollout of the fifth edition HOWieZine is officially upon us – a nice, pre-Christmas turn of events that gets the gift-receiving season off to an early start. This edition, themed lost and found, was especially nice for me as I was fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to volunteer myself for cover duty. And I spent a fair amount of time in the fall mulling over how I was gonna go about doing it all up.

I first thought about the concept of feeling emotionally or creatively lost and/or found – how it happens, what triggers it, etc. But I’ve never been too fond of dealing with heavy topicality and opted instead for a more light-hearted route. And the socks really are a gimme. So much so that I'm predicting now, without having seen the finished book, that there will be other pages featuring them. But the dual scenes – the front cover's lonely singles and the inside cover's happy mismatched pairs (above) – put a spin on the timeworn idea of finding the perfect match. Click here for nice big, fat, close look.

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I filled out the back covers of the zine as well (above) with a pair of stand-alone ideas I had before I started drawing the socks. The inside back cover feature photos of trail markers from a hiking trip in the fall, twisted in a way to lead you on a circuitous route to the centered message. And the back cover I filled with a year-old photo of my niece Cadence, matched with the famous lyrics of Amazing Grace. Not a deep message, but one I thought more than suitable to finish of the end of the book. Clicky here for a closer look.

Let me know what you think. The next HOWieZine (theme: superheroes – this one's gonna be off the charts!) will get into gear in January.

November 24, 2005

When It Snows It Pours

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The view on Garfield Street, Winnipeg (Nov. 15, 2005).

Last week's snowstorm afforded me my first opportunity ever to 1) borrow a neighbour's shovel, and 2) build a snowman in my front yard – the latter being somewhat more of a personal highlight than the former. Our snowman's lifespan left a little to be desired: built at noon, wilting by three and dead on the ground by the time we came back from Kerry's parents place after dinner. He was a bizarre crossbreed, created from Kerry's desire to go all-natural – using dead foliage from our flowerbeds – and me wanting to use found basement objects, which consisted of a leftover scrap of dryer ventilation duct.

Here's a pic of Kerry and the big snowy papi we built on Sunday. We never even got the chance to name it.

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November 20, 2005

Free Time

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I have to get my butt in gear. Kerry and I are making a top secret Christmas present for a certain special someone, but it involves a bunch of work on my part – of which I've done nada thus far. But today, it begins.

And to keep my blog audience – now numbering in the millions – occupied while I toil away on Project X, I'm posting this nine-year-old piece of rerun action from my college days. I used to draw for The Projector, Red River College's student newspaper, over parts of three years (ten bucks a strip!) – and this submission came directly on the heels of getting dumped by my then-girlfriend. So draw what you know, right?

Anyway, she thought it was in poor taste. I think it was the most cathartic ten dollars I ever earned.

This cartoon also doubles as my Illustration Friday contribution. The site's theme this week is the word free – and this piece is appropriate enough, as it plays decoy while my free time is filled with work on Project X. Click here for a closer look.

Side note: My strip, The Crobolog, was named after a failed attempt at a Scrabble word by a friend during a mid-1990s weekend cottage bender.

Side side note: I will post Project X following Christmas. Keep pants on.

November 14, 2005

40: Squirrel Carrying Giant Nut

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A rundown on how this Illustration Friday submission came to be:

Friday was a holiday here in Manitoba. Remembrance Day. So while at Vimy Ridge Park, keeping warm, waiting for the local Remembrance Day ceremony to begin, I asked Kerry what I might do to illustrate strength. Surely, given the surroundings and circumstances, I could come up with something inspiring, something of a tribute...

So how about a play on the famous sculpture of Atlas, with the weight of the world on his shoulders? And instead of Atlas, it’s a squirrel carrying a giant nut?

And that's my thought process. As Forrest Gump would put it: "That's all I got to say about that".

I penciled it out in my sketchbook Friday afternoon. I'm not a very fluid cartoonist or caricature artist, so stuff like this gets drawn out quite carefully. Plenty of eraser action as I get body parts down just so. I pose, pretending to be the squirrel, to see how the hands and fingers should be positioned. Never drawn an acorn before, so I do an image search on Google. The acorn isn't working. I'm frustrated that I can't seem to draw an acorn. I begin to go over the squirrel's pencil-work in pen, doing my thicks and thins. There's mistakes that will have to be erased in Photoshop, so I mark them. After I finish the squirrel, I take a thin pen and sketch over the linework so it doesn't look totally rigid; it is a cartoon after all. I ink the basic outline of the acorn, but the perspective on the 'stem' is all screwed up. I draw a new stem on a separate piece of paper, scan it and add it to the finished linework digitally. I thought I might then post the line-art as is, a nice black-and-white piece of work. But I'm a sucker for the polish that digital colour provides, so...voila.

I call it Squirrel Carrying Giant Nut. Click here for a closer look. Hope you enjoy it. Have a great week, all.

November 13, 2005

39: Body & Spirit

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Regardless of the reason why you've come here – be it from Illustration Friday, random exploring or to cop my image of Rocket Robin Hood – I urge you to make your next mouse click here, to my online friend Jeff Andrews' blog concoction, Design Inspiration. This is a simple site built to give designers, illustrators, photographers – heck, anyone with a creative bone in their body – an opportunity to introduce themselves to the planet, and in particular, other creative types. The site's great angle lies in its indiscrimination; it's an equally high platform for both the established design rock star and the startup looking to make a name. I did it. See for yourself.

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I'm also posting this second shout-out to PhotoFortnight, the online photography contest I occasionally enter (and even won once, with my photo of the rubber duckies I posted here a couple of months ago). The theme of the moment is body, which fits perfectly with my recent experiments at home with the new camera. I'm having a hard time choosing a submission between the image above, which has a whole body-mind-knowledge-fire thing goin' on...

...and this one, which is more subtle. Harder to gather in with a quick look, but dark and somewhat creepy. And it tackles the theme from an 'out-of-body' direction. They both do. Go and vote when the submissions are posted after November 15. Especially for mine.

November 08, 2005

38: Photomiscellanea II

I've been tinkering with a number of photos I took or had developed recently. I got a new Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT for my birthday, which I'm very excited about. If anything – and anyone with a digital camera will tell you this – it gives me the opportunity to now make hundreds upon hundreds of mistakes without the guilt of wasting film. And by default, hopefully learn.

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Above: One of the first things I did with it was take it to work to see the ground squirrels, who are more than tame and tolerant enough of people to sit dumb and still while they get their picture taken. This fat fella (left) was one of the last remaining above-ground critters around when I walked past their colony a few weeks ago. This other timid creature (right) was caught in a self-portrait, reflected off the front of his G4.

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Playing with the camera's 'time-value' mode, I took a series of these ghostly shots using the timer function. These were 25-second exposures. That's me and me, and me, contemplating putting new sheets on the bed.

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Kerry reading her book on the couch we bought a couple of weeks ago. It's called Wendy. It’s red and cushy. Really ties the room together.

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These two photos of thick morning fog were taken at work almost a month ago with the department's Nikon D70. This happens a few times each fall at the marsh, and it's absolutely magical when it happens. The geese didn't even know I was there.

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I finally sifted through the roll of black-and-white film I took on our holiday in the Rockies. I popped it in the camera when the weather turned lousy to take some mood shots, but most of them didn't turn out that well. This dead tree (right) on Sun Point in Montana's Glacier National Park was a find. Kerry posed for me between two giant cedars (left) on a trail near Fernie, B.C.

November 03, 2005

Mike Wazowski!

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So, since perhaps the dawn of time no one has ever fingered me as Mr. Craftsmanship. Got a project that involves sculpting, mounting, cutting or outright delicacy? Keep it away from Jeope. I could design or illustrate decent work in college, but unfortunately part marks were always reserved for how well the piece was mounted. Blast.

But despite all my craftsmanship foibles, this past weekend I sucked it up and carved me a pumpkin. And to the best of my abilities, I made this fine specimen (above), intended to be Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. I hadn't made a jack-o-lantern in about 15 years, so carving memories from pumpkins past all came racing back, ranging from "phew, this thing reeks" and "eww, this feels disgusting" to "I absolutely love stabbing things".

Doling out candy to kids on Halloween for the first time was a sweet experience. And when one asked me if my pumpkin was "that guy from Monsters, Inc.", it felt doubly good. An extra Kit-Kat for that sucka!

November 01, 2005

37: Talking Heads

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These two disembodied, broken heads equally represent Illustration Friday's theme-o-the-week – broken – and a so-simple-it's-brilliant project by Oregon creative everything Von Glitschka: the Doodle Archive. Mr. Glitschka's always-thinking head is in the process of creating a website that will archive doodles submitted by folks from all ages, skills and walks of life.

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For the record, my doodle (above) was inspired by one of my department's multi-hour, mind-numbing and rarely relevant meetings which, until the day I started Jeopopolis, was my sole outlet for anything remotely off-the-cusp creative. These sessions are frequently dominated by talking heads, such as these two blokes. So in honour of the art of doodling, I managed to pry the black Pigma Micron 01 pen from my cold, undead hand in exchange for a more doodle-friendly Bic ballpoint (shudder!). And it took all of five minutes to do.

Then to incorporate the doodle with the broken theme, I crafted this Photoshop montage, which takes the concept of these talking-head types and merges it with an indisputable fact of life for the vast majority of graphic designers: these people are a major obstacle between cool, quality work and the means to have it shown to the world. They represent the finicky client, the micromanager, the board of directors, the boss's wife. Here they're literally chewing it up, leaving in their wake a big ol' void of bluh. Click here for a slightly larger view of the montage.

Side note: If you're wondering how to get yourself some of this sweet Doodle Archive action, head over to its under-construction homepage and follow the instructions to request a card like the one in the photo above. And if it's inspiration you seek, check out Mr. Glitschka himself and get lost in his one, two, three amazing websites.