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.

 

Inktober: The Headless Horseman

This year for #Inktober I decided to try and tell a story over the course the month, one day at a time. This is the Real story behind the Headless Horseman. Follow along on SketchbookJack’s Instagram.

Good evening, dear readers, I am your storyteller. Follow along this #inktober for the revealing of the real story of the headless horseman. Each day one panel of the story will be revealed.

SketchbookJack Books Kickstarter

For those who have been following me for a while you have seen post after post of this book, that book, this app, and that sample page. But now, they have all come together in one single chance to make it all

Two books, “The Island and the Plough” and “Captain and Crow’s ABCs” (plus “The Island and the Plough” interactive iPad ebook app) are becoming real with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. Think of this a pre-order, not as a risk to invest in a project. The work is already done, we just need to get them printed!
Please, check it out and share with your friends. If you can’t fund, remember that just sharing the link and getting the word out means more than you might think.
http://kck.st/1kDaMZ6
TWEET IT
 

The Island and the Plough: Teaser Trailer 1

If you have been wondering where I have been, I have been busy busy busy, toiling away to bring “The Island and the Plough” to interactive ebook iPad app form.  It will have originally composed music created by the professional concert pianist, Stephen Pikarsky and will be narrated by the incredibly talented (and soon to be published, himself) Bill Townley.  This is not to mention that the illustrations from the book will come to life with interactive physics, graphical words that react to touch, and additional animations that will bring the characters to life.   Once we launch this and get it off the ground, I will be going to Kickstarter to ask for some additional funds to get the physical book printed.  This will be a somewhat different take on the kickstarter platform, as the work is already done, and there will already be a product to buy (the App) if you aren’t terribly interested in funding Kickstarter.  However, if you are interested in supporting my future work, or just want to get your hands on the physical book, you can kick in (essentially pre-order) the book.  If we reach the goal, it will allow us to get the large quantity of books printed at a price reasonable for you!

So stay tuned, the App will be released in the coming weeks and the Kickstarter to get “The Island and the Plough” prints will follow immediately after.  In the meantime, chew on this trailer for a bit!

iPad App is Coming!

 

 

There is big news for SketchbookJack.  An interactive iPad ebook app is currently in the works.  The first app will be “The Island and the Plough.”  All the bold, black and white illustrations will come to life with animations, a narrator, and even an apple-catching mini-game.  I don’t want to spoil too much, so stay tuned and I’ll post a few more screenshots.
ebook childrens book iPad epub black and white bold typography interactive style cartoon illustration art design layout mockup screenshot tree apple words reading design app

ebook childrens book iPad epub black and white bold typography interactive style cartoon illustration art design layout mockup screenshot tree apple words reading design  app

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.

“Salvador” Character Concepts

salvador_character_design_cartoon_illustration_boat_ship_captain_skipper_admiral_beard_concept
salvador_character_design_cartoon_illustration_boat_ship_captain_skipper_admiral_beard

salvador_character_Design_concept_illustration_cartoon_ship_boat_captain

This is the very early part of the process where I begin designing the characters based off the rough outline I have for the story.  I usually write the story in conjunction with the design/illustration phase because they feed off each other so well.  The raw idea sometimes comes from an image or a drawing of a single character or it can come from a single sentence, or verbal conceptual idea.  The writing then instructs the drawing and the drawing feeds back and instructs the writing.  I suppose this is the benefit of being the writer and the illustrator as usually the writing is completed and illustrations are filled in after the fact; however, this can pose a challenge as well being that the writing is not in stone and allows for much variation and meandering.  I think the visual aspect of illustrated stories (hence being illustrated and not novels or short stories) plays a stronger role than many give it credit and needs to inform the very construction of the story.

Here are the first few pages of the Captain character.  Like I said in my previous post, this story has some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough.”  The main characters are going through a similar sort of learning, exploring the world around them, but yet have a bit more wisdom than the naysayer villagers.  That said, he needs to be reminiscent of a boat captain, but not too stereotyped.  He also needs to seem wise, but eager to learn anew as well.  He is not hardened by the bitter landscape or the cynical villagers so his face needs to be somewhat kind.  I fear already that he begins to look much like the character from “The Island and the Plough” so it may be that the beard needs to go.  This is one of the most fun parts of the design phase, but can also be fairly frustrating.  These are just four of the twenty plus character pages I have done for him.  If the “what I think I want” phase does not work, then I often go in a radically different direction, maybe tall and thin, or short and beardless, perhaps younger even and begin to veer far away from what I had originally envisioned.  That type of process usually helps to refocus what is working, what is not, to bring a vision of it I may have yet thought of but also help show me from what to stay away.

I will post some concepts of the village and landscape next.

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

sketchbook_mitchel_office_detective_apartment_shades_desk_chairs_layout_set_drawing

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.

The Angler Boys

sketchbookjack_angler_boys_character_design_cartoon_illustration

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 Island and the Plough : Final Drawings

I have almost reached the end of the tunnel; who knew I could actually complete a project.  I am in the middle of the second to last illustration and only have a handful of pages to do typography.  The illustrations have certainly been the most time consuming part of this process, but they were also the most fun.  I will still have to give some extra attention to the typography as I want a very graphic style to match the look of the illustrations.

Here is a single page preview of “The Island and the Plough.”  I don’t want to post too many internal illustrations as to ruin the surprise of the hero’s journey which is also why I have chosen an image from early on in the story.  I will post a more detailed synopsis when I begin to actually market and sell the book but for now this is just a tease:

Sketchbookjack The Island and the Plough page preview

In "The Island and the Plough," Papa warns the children to stay away from the fence and the edge of the island for fear of being swept into the great white sea.

The Island and the Plough : Cover Art Redux

I have reworked the cover art for “The Island and the Plough” a bit to include the house as to bring in a bit more of the human element considering the story so heavily revolves around a man and nature theme.  It seems to have lost some of its perfect symmetry, hopefully for the better in an asymmetric sort of way.  It might still need a little more attention to keep the balance right.   I am nearly finished with the internal illustrations and hope to post some here; however, not too many as to ruin the story. ;)

SketchbookJack The Island And The Plough Cover Art Image

Sketchbookjack Island and the Plough Book Mockup

Oh yes, I am a geek. I mocked up what the book might look like ;p