The Process Projects

I am very excited to announce that Carlos R Gomez (of Robots-n-Aliens) and I have teamed up to create The Process Projects, a web series that documents the creative process.  Each season we will chose one project (a book, a game, board game, animates short, etc) and record the entire process, beginning to end so everyone can follow along, learn, engage, and watch it evolve from initial concept to product in hand.

If you have ever had an interest in creating an illustrated children’s book, illustration in general, writing a story or just learning what the creative process looks like, join us at www.theprocessprojects.net and follow along.

 

Doodlers Anonymous Coloring Book

After whittling down from more than 600 entries, I have been featured in the Doodlers Anonymous Vol 3 coloring book. They are taking pre-orders at a reduced rate if you are interested in having great, pen and ink, hand drawn, one of a kind, drawings by an eclectic collection of great artists.

doodlers annonymous coloring book vol 3 page illustration preview

Happy Pi Day Albert Einstein!

Albert Einstein Cartoon Illustration iPad wallpaper black and white science mathHow awesome is that?  Albert Einstein’s birthday (March, 14th, 1879) and Pi Day (3.14) are on the same day? The only thing that would be better would be if his birthday was on 299,792,458 (speed of light) day, but I don’t think that occurs, ever. I think we should celebrate by cracking the code to marrying relativity and quantum theory together. Well, let’s just start with having a piece of pie; that seems more manageable for today.  So, for all you math and science fans out there here are two wallpapers for you.  Just click to get the full resolution and then you can save it to your device.

Albert Einstein Cartoon Illustration iPad wallpaper black and white science math

optimized for iPhone 5

Albert Einstein Cartoon Illustration iPad wallpaper black and white science math

Optimized for Ipad (landscape and portrait)

Whale of a tale

salvador whale ship sailing boat tugboat floating saddle illustration humor funny cartoon black and white character design

In the story for “Salvador,” the down on his luck Captain and his ship mate, Skip have a turn of fortune when they befriend a colossal baleen blue whale.  After being ridiculed by the local villagers, and unable to bring in a decent catch, the Captain and Skip are washed out to sea.  They realize the whale wants to help them.  They fashion an grand mast from nearby pine and stitch together what they can for sails in order to create an enormous saddle for the whale. The creaky, run down, tugboat instantly becomes the helm of the fastest, best fishing ship that ever sailed, err swam, the seas.

Tommy “Buttface” Jones : Process

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Here is a sneak peek into the process behind one of The Daily Mobster characters and a quick tutorial/explanation of how I work and how to design a character.

1. I, of course, start with a sketch which are usually smaller thumbnails on a scrap paper until I find an acceptable shape and basic look.  Because of the nature of mobster characters this often revolves around exaggerated features or an interesting shape.  This rule works pretty well for non mobsters as well.  If you can create a silhouette or a shape that is instantly recognizable to that character you are already on our way to great design.

2. Then I do the light  sketch with all the details fleshed out; this allows me to give a little extra focus to certain areas like hands, belts, buttons, or others that need extra attention. This is also the step where you can focus on contrast, as it is the first thing the human eye notices, it is important to decide where heavy blocks of color/black will be and where dense detail will be.  A general rule of thumb, when certain areas are very large in area (such as a belly or a chin) give them less detail as their size will attract attention, and when they are smaller or require extra focus fill in the detail (faces, hands, accessories of interest).   Use the lines and shapes to help direct attention as well, notice the tie points to the chin and continues the crevasse in his chin.

3. Then I simply start inking over the pencil.  Sometimes I ink over the entire drawing with a single width then fill the blacks and weight the lines afterwards and other times I do the complete process little chunks at a time (as seen here) moving across the drawing.  The contrast between full black, white with hatching/textures, and full white is very important in a black and white illustration; luckily suits play a big part in the mobster world.  If the background is dark, realize that a heavy black suit will act as a subtle part of the character and his face will stand out.  If the character has dark skin, often you want to put him in lighter color costumes, unless his environment will be mostly light.   I usually try to balance out the black and the white to create a focal points.

4.  Once completed, I erase the pencil lines that poke out.

5.  The final step is to bring the scan into the computer.  Since the original ink is fairly clean there isn’t really any digital treatment of the character itself other than to overlay it on one of my backgrounds and apply some simple shadowing/lighting effects behind him.  I hand draw the background designs as well (I may post a tutorial about how to make repeating wallpapers from drawings like this) in line format, then scan them in, convert them to white and overlay them on grey repeatedly.  Tommy will be posted on Thursday, so be sure to check out The Daily Mobster and read his story.

Dear Crazy Illustrator

Normally, when I check my stats page in the morning the usual search terms that bring people to my page have been “Django Reinhardt”, “Django Reinhardt Cartoon”, “Book Layout”, and “Black and white characters.”  Today, however, I am delighted to say that I come up under “crazy illustrator.”  I am not sure what this means.  Am I crazy creative, crazy good, crazy bad, crazy crazy?  Anyway, thank you for making my day fellow searcher.

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This also begs the question why “Jack Benny’s Suit” leads people here.  “Magneto’s Helmet” seems to quite popular as well.  Regardless of all this, thank you all for each and every visit, no matter how you get here, really! Thank you!

Finishing One and Starting Another

The Island and the Plough book page preview mockup layout design

While I sort out the ISBN registries for “The Island and the Plough”, and navigate the intricacies of publishing a picture heavy book to the many eBook formats that are out there, I am busily working on writing and roughing the designs for my next project which I will begin to post about very soon.   I am super excited about my next book, as the story is really getting to me.   Everything is falling together pretty well.  Interestingly, it certainly has, unintentionally, some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough” but in a very different way.  I have a pretty strong outline completed, promising concept sketches, and a few ideas for page spreads that I think will look really great.    I have yet to find a title that suits it but I am sure that will come along in time, but for posting purposes I will refer to it as “Salvador.”

The basic concept is a story of a fishing boat captain and his young ship mate, Skip.  The two are amidst a sleepy fishing village perched at the rocky cliff’s edge where the land meets the ocean. Their ship is but a small, single sail boat that barely seats two, not to speak of nets full of fish.  The captain also has an old tugboat, in severe disrepair, that he wishes to fix up and use because it is larger and could get them to deeper waters and carry more fish.  The naysayer villagers laugh at his inability to catch fish as well as his dream of using the tugboat for fishing.  Whilst readying themselves to push out one morning, a very unlikely new friend washes ashore.  The story unravels into three parts as the Captain and Skip adventure out to include high sea sailing, wrangling/wrestling with nature, and a hunt for an unusual treasure which can only be had with the help of their newly found friend, all while the cynical villagers laugh from afar.

Until then, I leave you with this book page layout-mock up of “The Island and the Plough” until I bring more news of a release date.

Bruce Mitchel : Private Eye

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My only worldly escape, sleep, came clamoring to a bitter end by the clanging, chattering telephone across the room. Like some sugared up kid, it was attempting to free itself from the clutches of the hook. The covers, over my forehead protecting my eyes from the piercing morning light, defensively crumpled up against the wall as I gave them a few angered shoves. After slumping off the bed and shuffling across the floor, spears of sunlight pierced through the slated blinds, amplified by the hundreds of beaming cars driven by incompetent, impatient workers and the puddles in the consistent water that loitered on the streets below.

Clang Clang.

There are only three seasons around here, raining, rained, and looks like it will rain. It does actually rain, but more often than not it has just rained, like it waits until you have turned your back. The streets bleed rain or something.

Clang Clang.

Sure is an insistent, sugared up kid, that phone. I switched the alarm clock off which was due to execute its daily abuse in just twelve minutes. Of course the telephone couldn’t have waited another twelve minutes. Who was I kidding; it was just like any other day. The sirens blaring, horns and engines fighting each other as peeved drivers insist right of way with a curse word or three, often punctuated with the help of the tallest finger on the hand. I don’t know where the hell it is, that everyone feels they need to be immediately at every instant of the day.

Clang Clang.

“Alright, alright already, shut your head,” I thought while scratching my well matted hair. It seems people make an extra special effort to avoid eye contact and conversations with everyone on the street, and yet practically pray for phone calls. Every effort is made to create quicker, more efficient communication with others all while making it more and more impersonal with each step. No one puts up with another person yelling for attention and surely doesn’t put up with children poking and pulling for attention, so why anyone allows some box on the wall to rattle its damn brains out for your attention is beyond me. And yet, despite my observation, my own feet still shuffled towards it.

Clang Cla-

“Yeah?” I muttered.

“Erm, no ma’am.”

“No, there is no one by that name here.”

“Yes’m, I’m sure.”

“That is the number, yes.”

“No, no one by that name.” I reassured.

“I have had this number for some time now.”

“Yes’m. This is an apartment, but…”

“No ma’am, I know everyone else in the building. There are only six flats and none by that name.” I insisted.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

There seems to be a divine belief that technology does not make mistakes, baffling to say the least. Normally this would have been the surrender point, or at least for one to become embarrassed over her multiple accusations that I don\u2019t know my own number. But instead, the woman on the other line went soft.

“I’m very sorry ma’am.”

“Please, uh, pl-please don’t.” I hesitated, not knowing how to react.

“Cry…” I sighed.

In any situation which ultimately leads to a woman crying is a situation with which I don’t want to be involved. Other than children, crying women put me in an awkward sort of place. My natural instinct then, was to just try and make it go away.

“Look, why don’t you give the operator a ring, and ask her to help you out, maybe the number got redirected.”

“Yes, I know you said this is the number.” I flustered.

Just as the lady on the other line began to respond, I clenched my teeth and held my breath to say the words.

“I’m sorry ma’am, this is simply the wrong number.” I winced and paused for a moment, and then hung up.

After only a brief thought, I trudged along the usual morning path to the far half of the room, or what the landlord like to refer to as the kitchen. The landlord, Frank Melchings, stood no taller than a parking meter, and took money just the same. As the first of the month encroached, a mass of spotty greased leather as an excuse for skin, a handful of coarse oily hair crawling along the scalp, and a neck that was eating itself, would assemble itself at your door earlier than the birds wake. And certainly more incessant than the clang of that morning’s telephone. What were supposed to be words, dripped from his crooked lip which offset his uneven mustache as he glared through his smudged glasses that slipped to the tip of his greasy, potato nose. No noises from him were necessary, as the only reason for his presence was either someone owing him money, or his excuse for why he shouldn\u2019t pay for a repair. Most have since stopped making such repair requests, so be it now, only one reason for his presence.

Leaning over what Melchings called the stove, I emptied the contents of the tarnished pot into a, probably unwashed, mug. The ebony substance oozed from the spigot in what felt like a near solid piece. I agitated it with a spoon, in hopes of giving it life, but the cold, bitter brew was good enough, as always, to survive the day. Surely, despite the early interrupted awakening, I could still be my usual ten minutes late for work. With my back turned on the world, I closed the door reading 3A, while scuffling with the keys on my ring in search of one that would fit the lock.

The morning sun forced its way through the gaunt windows that lined the street end of the hall. Winding rectangular stairs repeated down the five floor rental building. Melchings lived in 1A; being the first, he was probably staring out the peephole of his door waiting for late payers to pass. Melchings received his from me check the night before, so I should get a free pass on the troll bridge. As the key twisted to my apartment, I half listened for the clack of the tumblers clenching the door frame, usually only done so to avoid another necessary payment to Melchings for careless “non protection of the rental unit security fee” otherwise what do I have that anyone would want to steal? I turned away towards the oblong stairs of the main hall. Apparently more alert than my usual mornings, probably due to the molestation by said telephone, something seemed insidiously wrong. I smelled it, and saw it from the corner of my eye. Peering over my shoulder, the room spun to a halt, centering on the neighboring remains of the door 3B.

The lock was jimmied, wood splintered, and the door frame was smashed. The door slumped into the unit, held only by a warped lower hinge. Bitterly, the first thought that came to mind, was that he didn’t pay his rent and Melchings got the best of him, though doubtful he would impose any such damage to his property, regardless of the cash involved. Snapping from a deer-in-headlights state, I took a step forward, careful to not disturb the perfect chaos before me. Upon entering the unit, the scene unraveled its horrible explosion of events. Furniture lay dismembered, the sofa gutted, lamps decapitated, and the icebox left bleeding out, yet the bulb still burning its last bit of life.

Pictures hung crookedly noosed from the walls, signs of dirty footprints crawled to the back room, and a smell stained the air I breathed. In the back room, newspapers were scattered about, the telephone off the hook, and thick dust particulates, like witness bystanders, hovered in the air aroused from the scuffle and filtered the dim light bleeding from the slats of the single window. Shuffling my way through the back hall, I felt the depth begin to close in, narrower, and narrower still.

There, in the center of the frozen moment in time was a bloody, battered, body strewn over the solid oak desk. The arms laid straight off either edge, wrists limp, as did the head.

Miniature

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“Mush, Mush! Forward! Forward!”

We have a little mouse that lives in the bush outside.  If you look carefully between the branches and leaves, there is a whole little maze world he has built.  In one respect it looks totally alien to everything we know but also strangely familiar.  He seems to have gathered every bit of twig, leaf, fur, hair, paper and discard to assemble an elaborate labyrinth.  It runs eight or nine feet across and doubles back and down, wrapping on itself.  Scale is a funny thing.

I’ve always found miniature things very intriguing.  Things follow all the same rules and laws as we do on our scale of life, but there is something very alien and eye opening about thinking about the world on a smaller scale.  The construction of objects from our everyday are viewed in a completely different light just by changing scale.  Thread becomes rope and needles are large dangerous objects much likes swords.  The miniature world has been much played in the story telling world, mice especially, but simply thinking about the many little objects on your desk or table, or the many components that make up many of our more complex objects reveals a whole additional dimension when thinking about it at scale.  Creating scenarios of small characters using out of scale objects is always a fun exercise, and though much played out, offers an unlimited array of stories and characters.

Imagine what a creature one hundred times our size would think of the way we utilize the many things in our lives.  What objects around you would be wonderfully utilized to advance you forward on a smaller scale?

Illustration Friday : “forward”

The Angler Boys

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Lament the story of the Angler Boys.  Surprise and joy befell the Angles household when Mabelle and Hank Angles announced she was expecting.  The excitement grew further when Mabelle learned it would be twin boys.  But, at birth, something was revealed as strange.  The doctors called it “Acute Lophii-deformes” and it would seem the bouncing baby boys shared undisputed features of the Anglerfish.  The Angles were advised to shut them away, home school them, and to investigate special therapies and operations to remove them of these “features.”  Mabelle and Hank didn’t feel right about shutting them off from the world, so they decided to go on as if nothing was the matter.

Things were rocky, here and there, but the two boys lived together in a happy, loving home.  It then came time to enroll them in school.  Little Luke Angles did quite well; the other children thought his “lightning ball” was cool.  He was the best to have sleepovers with because he could keep the blanket fort lit nicely.  The girls thought it was cute too and they would sigh and dreamily stare, saying, “To be with Little Luke Angles was like being under the twinkling stars.”

All was not so well for Young Leopold Angles, who inherited the unfortunate features of an anglerfish teeth and tail.  The girls were all scared of him, and the boys called him snaggletooth, jaws, and walrus.  He was a favorite target for the bullies and often found himself escaping to the far end of the playground to be alone.  Luke would try to stick up for him and include him in their games, but no matter his efforts, the other children would shove him away.

One day, Mabelle Angles came to wake them for school, but Young Leopold was gone.  Hank, Mabelle and Luke looked all over town and asked everyone around, most of whom just laughed.  Days passed, weeks passed.  Leopold was nowhere to be found.  Luke would search through the night with the help of his lightning ball.  And thus, began “The Riveting Adventures of Angler Boy.”  (A follow up to “Flashback: Angler Boy“)

¡Lucha!

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Lucha Libre character designs

 

Who doesn’t like Luchadores? The always look so schnazzy in their pressed suits and fancy masks. I had started a series of Lucha Libre wrestlers a while back that took it one step further and got some goofy characters and costumes out of it. I started to make retro style advertisement posters for each character. I found the few that I did and decided I could come up with a few more, so here is the series as it stands now. I am not exactly sure what I might do with these, but I think retro/circus/advertisement style posters might be kind of fun to do, each with its own theme.  From top-left on: “El Dios”, “Gaucho Marx”, “El Cactus”, “Chupacabra”, “Oso”, “El Rey”, “Toro Toro”, “Mini Mono”, “El Capitan”, “Sr. Muerto” and “El Bandito.”

Bah Humbug

scrooge ghost jacob marley dickens sketchbookjack

The cantankerous old grump hobbled his way home through the blustering snow and dangerous ice, completely unaware his life was following in his wake.  A young weak flame, his past, hovered right behind him.  A giant lumbering man, his present, walks careful aside him as not to fall out of step.  Ahead of him, creeps the shadows of his future and into them he ventures.   A lingering cry haunts the alleys and the streets, chains clank and rattle of warnings to a ruined man as he bitterly  scoffs off the world, heading home to sulk.

    Here is this year’s rendition of Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge along with all four ghosts.  I stayed with the traditional flame character for the Ghost of Christmas Past.  I had to do three or four thumbnails, and a nearly full render of another drawing to get a composition that I liked since I wanted them stacked, using the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come as the backdrop.   I haven’t really seen Scrooge done with a beard, sometimes Victorian chops, but usually clean shaven.  I thought it might be fun to give him a cranky old beard and make him stout rather than long and lanky.  I had a lot of fun doing this one, hope you enjoy.

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

A Word of the Wolf

wolf sketchbookjack dapper

    Say it a villain, but I like the wolf; I think he is rather dapper.  Fables, rhymes and fairy tales unanimously agree that the wolf (or fox) is a mean, shrewd, cunning, coy, heartless villain, a thief, a robber, and a murderer.  There, of course, are a few humorous attempts in looking at the wolf’s side of the story such as “The True Story of The Three Little Pigs,” but I declare justice is not served.  I do applaud Roald Dahl for allowing us into the life of Mr. Fox; however, he is still hunted and villainized by the farmers of the land despite being the hero of the story.  Certainly stories of the natives include heroic, god like wolves but American culture would much rather idolize the lion over the wolf.

    We have a lot to learn from the wolf, and not just about how to dress.  We see ourselves in him which perhaps gives reason to villainize him.  By some social mythology structure, the goat, or the pig has inherently done no wrong and even in mistake can be forgiven, actually idolized for learning a profound lesson.  The wolf, however, gains no such glory.  His very presence is greeted by hiss and boo.  Perhaps the sharp teeth, or sleek eyes have gained him no ground.  The story could equally be rewritten to warn of tattle tale little girls, men with guns, forgetting to look in the clock, and snarky construction working pigs.  Just look how regal, how clean and cunning, dapper and dashing, steady and stark, alert and acute is the wolf.  If he were human, he would be a knight, or a Robin Hood at least.

    Certainly there is an elephant in the room.  I may be carefully avoiding the fact that the wolf is, indeed, a predator and the goats and pigs certainly should be afraid of him.  He is their villain, I cannot argue that.  Yet, the wolf has a villain as well, as do we all, and despite the long held cultural structure of an innocent goat, perhaps we should write a story about The Three Grass Brothers, or The Daisy and the Tulip.  We will see how cute and innocent that goat remains.

Flashback : Jacob Marley

Now that it is officially December, I thought I would post a flashback illustration in a Christmas theme.  This is one I did several years back of Jacob Marley appearing before Ebenezer Scrooge to warn him of his impending future.  Although, in life, Marley was probably a normal sized person, I felt he should probably be larger than life in his ghostly form.  Instead of wailing from afar, he certainly would be in Scrooge’s face, shaking him up as to make sure he gets the message.  I sold several prints of it at a Silver Lake, California show last year and is available on Etsy around Christmas time.

Sketchbookjack Jacob Marley Appears Before Scrooge

Jacob Marley Appears Before Scrooge