November 29, 2006

Immature/Invention II

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A dual post: Photo Friday's current theme of immature got me to thinking of this photo, taken the last time I had a roll of black-and-white film in a camera. That's Kerry at Grand Beach in the spring of 2005, caught in a rare moment of immaturity with a large, washed-up reed as a rat-tail. Some post-development Photoshop action was applied as I was also intending to add this shot to Flickr denizen Mick "Damned Thing" O'Dwyer's Detail Is Everything photo-group, a cool spot in the Flickrverse for all photos textured, dirtied and distressed. Click here for a better look at this shot.

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And Illustration Friday's theme of invention reminded me of this Swiss Army knife design I created for my sister's dental practice business card way, way back in the fall of 2000. One of my first genuine post-college stabs at using FreeHand, I've learned a few more of the program's intricacies since then. It's too bad the program was just swallowed up by the good folks at Adobe.

November 27, 2006

94: The Mother Of Invention

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I've never had a concept in mind so quickly for Illustration Friday then I did this week; their current theme of invention brought a vision to my head in a matter of seconds. Stuck at work though, I made a quick doodle of it in a notepad (below left) so I wouldn't forget it on the weekend when I had more time. This old lady is my interpretation of the Mother of Invention (as in "Necessity Is..."). And though my original vision was of a cartoony, Far Side-esque comic strip panel, I ended up with something much more complex. I usually intend to do something simple; I just can't seem to help it.

I found some source material through a few Google image searches: a few turn-of-the-century photo portraits for the pose and fashion sense (below right), and obviously the objects in the wall-mounted frames, which I left photographic because they kind of look neater that way. I sketched on Sunday – all in all about two hours or so – and used photos of various textures to fill in the background, like wallpaper and carpet samples and some wood-grain for the baseboard. Be sure to click here for a better look at the whole deal (the web just doesn't do some illustrations justice).

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November 22, 2006

93: Thanksgiving Is Sooo Like, Last Month

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Illustration Friday's current Yankee-leaning theme of Thanksgiving gave me
little inspiration until I figured I could perhaps Canadianize it. This, the Holiday of Holidays south of the border, is seen by some for its crass commercialism, special Thursday NFL matchups, bacon wrapped, chicken-stuffed, duck-stuffed turkeys ... and for millions of other turkeys, straight-up instant death. Now I love me a turkey as much as the next guy, but in Canada we get a drumstick up on the southern competition by celebrating Thanksgiving a month and a half earlier. So for any turkeys currently on the lam from the proverbial chopping block, I know some primo spots to cross the border without tipping off the fuzz. All you've got to worry about here is the snow.

Sketched in pen with reference material for the bird, and coloured in Photoshop. Click here for a closer look at the final artwork.

November 15, 2006

92: NonComputerStuff

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A couple of weeks ago I ponied up and spent a day with industry chums celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC). The Manitoba chapter's efforts included spending a day largely getting acquainted ­ and reacquainted ­ with old/new school art techniques on a 'creativity circuit', including printmaking, cutting graffiti stencils, creating Polaroid-esque photo transfers and (eep!) life drawing. The day was capped off with peeks at the Graphex '06 and GDC Fellows poster exhibits, and an inspiring discussion with GDC co-founder/designer/illustrator Frank Newfeld (most notably of Alligator Pie and Garbage Delight fame).

The group I was in was taken straight into the studio for a morning life-drawing session with the U of M's Derek Brueckner. Like most of the designers in attendance, I hadn't drawn the human figure from direct observation in years, so I was a bit nervous. Behold my output though (above right): I say not bad for my first model sketch since the end of the Grunge era!

From there we headed to a photographer Ian McCausland's chemically-induced session of photo-collaging and trying our hand at a photo transfer technique using a nasty bit o' business called Xylene. Which was fun, in a return-to-kindergarten craft table kind of way. Only with Xylene. Check it (above left, ­ images lovably supplied by Ian).

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My attempt at mastering the art of creating a stencil at the Graffiti Gallery was thwarted by my foolishness in creating one that was too complex for the time involved (I tried to make the head of Rocket Robin Hood that I showed here last year), so I played photographer and instead documented the others' fine work. And lastly we spent some time with the Manitoba Printmakers Association, getting our hands, and clothes, supa-dirty with some basic printmaking techniques. Shown above is my roughshod, busy attempt at using
just about every tool they had there to play with.

November 13, 2006

91: The Plants Are Taking Over!

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Top row (left to right): a blooming, yellow mum-like flower – possibly a mum; bonsai tree limb (background made black in Photoshop); middle row (left to right): palm bark abstract; flowerball (background darkened, blurred in Photoshop); spiral trunk abstract (background made black in Photoshop); bottom row (left to right): bonsai detail; a whack of daisies.

Last weekend I went out on my bike in the fast-melting snow to get myself dirty on the trails in Assiniboine Park. But by the time I got there – after all of five kilometres – I was feeling tired, and instead popped into the Conservatory to warm up and dry off. I ended up staying there with my camera for almost an hour, scoping the place out for plant abstracts like the ones above. I ought to go back again sometime. It's a great place to escape when it's frigid outside, and a tripod would be handy in the dimly-lit areas.

This is a low-resolution grid of photos, some cropped. For the real, close-up deal on any of these, click here and peruse at your heart's content.

November 08, 2006

90: Where There's Fire

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I almost skipped the week's Illustration Friday theme of smoke. Over the weekend I had grand ambitions to challenge myself further by combining it with Sugar Frosted Goodness's current theme of orange, and set out to draw the General Lee (from The Dukes Of Hazzard), laid waste and smoking from one of the show's signature killer gulch jumps. It got too complicated for my liking and I halted it yesterday. But on the commute home – appropriately enough – I had visions in my head of a phoenix rising from the flames – only in the simple, graphic and geometric way I've done here. The illustration was done near exclusively digital; I only drew a rough pencil outline of the shapes to help guide me when I built individual vector forms in FreeHand. In Photoshop I then filled the shapes with portions of two texture photos I took; one a closup of a fire, the other of creek-bottom sand and sludge.

November 01, 2006

89: Winding Down

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I drew this somewhat quick sketch for Illustration Friday's current theme of wind. I liked the sneakiness of the chosen theme; I'm certain that a good majority of contributors took the theme in a wind-as-in-skinned direction. For some reason, I read the word and first recognized it as wind (as in "kind").

I've been feeling groggy lately, hopefully not battling something harmful. It kind of makes me feel a bit like this sagging chap, in need of a good wind-up to get the energy flow going again. And if I could just reach out and nab that yummy, healthy carrot I think I'd be set. But for the time being, you get a little vignette of this rundown fellow. Special thanks to Kerry, modeling for me to get that right hand (it was a too-tough angle to use my own). I inked it while on the lookout for Halloween kids coming up the front steps. Click here for a closer look at the detail.