Whale of a tale

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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.

Swanky Skins

Cool man daddio, how about some swanky skins for the old iPhone?  I thought it about time for poppin’ some swell wallpapers of the most popular mobsters.  Show them around, or just have a little smile every time you turn on your phone at the goofball looking back at you.  If anyone has a special request, just shoot me an email via the contact page and I can try to get to it.  Hope you all enjoy and don’t forget to stop by, and have your friends stop by, The Daily Mobster once in a while.

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Download them now, here!

Another Dead Soldier

I have killed another soldier, a faithful old pen.  He was but a commoner yet filled a many jacket, blackened a many hat, and darkened a many tie.  Yes, I use a Sharpie, sometimes, for inking.  I know it is not preferred and you may already be furling your brow at the low manner in which I behave but I have come to like the Sharpie.  It is simple and consistent and widely available.  I can carry them in a bag and are great for travel or quick works.  I know my dirty, low class pen will never survive the test of time without any “archival quality” ink.  It will wither and fade in the brash sunlight of west Los Angeles, but I don’t care, for it is a impotent artist who requires special tools.  It is a sad artist who blames his tools.  I too, once brandished a fancy Moleskine notebook of which holds glorious, legendary powers in hopes to harness the same genius that bled from Hemingway’s veins, hoping it would make my work magical.  I too, once carried the famed Micron pen and the Staedler pencils, because no actual artist would dare carry (dare not say use) an unbranded, hideously yellow, #2 pencil of which is not even worthy of using the HB insider lingo.  Alas, I still use India Ink, metal tip pens, and brushes but for most everyday workings I have squandered such dreams of Hemingway and draw many of my characters on the forbidden copy paper of which a common, gasp, digital printer might use.  Sure, judgments are passed, scoffs and tisks are handed by those in the supply store.  But I have work to do, dear critic; I have not time to wander the supply store in search of the lesser user of commoner tools I feel may need a lecture.  Unfurl your brow, fellow inker, embrace your unorthodox use of illegitimate tools.

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!

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“)

The Daily Mobster Process : “Prepare”

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   Several have asked to see and learn more about the way I work and how I prepare for drawings;  I hope to post additional drawing processes in the future.  Here is an example from The Daily Mobster in which I prepare a concept which is usually a character name or an exaggerated feature I want to focus on and begin generating the look.  I can usually come up with a name, but I also wrote a little script that will generate random names and nicknames for me if I get stumped.  Some occasions produce the drawing first and the name afterward, but that is usually an exception.

   I begin with a flurry of rough shapes and mood arc lines; in this case the mood line was straight as this guy is pretty somber and straight-edged.  When dealing with exaggerated characters, especially ones that will only be seen in black and white and have no obvious color to define them from the others, shape is very important.  It is the second thing our eyes process after contrasts.  I play around, drawing and sketching various shapes, silhouettes and sizes until I find one that captures the personality and allows for the details I want to include.

   Once I choose a sketch concept that seems fitting, I may do a quick study of a specific spot or detail that needs further revision or attention.  In this case it was the hand holding the scissors.  Then I draw the to-scale underlining sketch.  I will ink directly on my sketch, so this is drawn very lightly and somewhat loose as I already have the thumbnail to guide me.  The first line of ink goes on, directly over the pencil, which defines all the major lines and I do the small detail accent lines with a different weight ink pen. Then I block in the blacks with a heavy pen or ink brush (if I am at work or traveling, ink brush is a little too messy).  After all the blacks are filled, then I do the line weighting and the line shading/hatching.  I prefer to control the line weight by simply inking in more lines next to the originals rather than using a brush pen with pressure or a heavier pen, which would be faster, but I feel I need more control over the exact thickness.  Finally I fill in the hatching for the fine details or denote key shadows that help to give depth or define shape.

   The last step is to do a quick composite on the official mobster background and paint in some shadows on the wall.  Preparation in any project is important.  Sure there have been several drawings that are really just sketches and turn out great, but as soon as something expands to more than that or has an ultimate goal preparation helps a lot, thumbs and rough ideas are always the way to go.

Linked to Illustration Friday’s “Prepare”

¡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

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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.

The Miraculous Marvelous Marvin


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Come witness, the amazing, brilliant, shocking, stunning Miraculous Marvelous Marvin!  For one night only watch this one man show; no assistants needed!  You won’t believe your eyes and you won’t believe the astounding, wonderful, thrilling, mind bending, brain boggling tricks, illusions and feats of disaster!  Watch a single man appear, disappear, eat fire, blow fire, jump through fire, juggle knives, dazzle with costume changes, practical illusions and perform his most incredible illusion of sawing himself apart!

(For Illustration Friday : “Separated” )

A Word of the Wolf

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    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.