Friday, April 13, 2012

Gimmie all those hats!

Most definitely, I have the greatest friends in the world. I know, I know, EVERYONE has the greatest friends in the world, but... well.... So do I, is the point. Here's an example of why:

I was talking to my friend Ren about when we should get together and paint something because our schedules were kind of misaligned. When it turned out that she had Saturday available, I said "Yeah, I can do Saturday. I just have to meet this wedding planner and work some stuff out with her."

This was the point at which Ren lost her shit in the most glorious of ways.

"WEDDING PLANNER?!??! OH MY GOSH, DID BILLY PROPOSE?!?!? YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!! I'VE BEEN PLANNING YOUR BACHELORETTE PARTY FOREVER!!!!! IT'S GOING TO BE AT THE REN FAIRE!!!! COMPLETE WITH STRIPPER KNIGHTS!!!! I WANT TO KNOW IF IT'S EVEN POSSIBLE TO STRIP OUT OF SHINING ARMOR!!!!!! OH EM GEEEEEE" At which point I think she started foaming at the mouth, and I could not stop myself from laughing. I mean, really? Stripper knights? I must admit, once she brought up the physical complications of gettin' your groove on while in full plate armor I, too, became morbidly curious as to its doability.... But gettin' assaulted by somebody else's junk just ain't my style. Still, absolutely HILARIOUS.

Apparently, though, I had forgotten to mention that I'd started working with a wedding planner as her graphic designer/assistant. Whoopsies. Here's a sample of what I've been doing for Terri over at Wedding Fairytales:

Very suddenly, I have become the go-to gal for event invitations... Which I'm totally cool with, actually. ESPECIALLY wedding ones, because I jump at any chance to sneak hearts into my work.

In other news! I've decided to take on a lottttttt of different projects. On top of working on The Many Faces of Mister Bubb, I've started a cooking blog called Biscuits-n-Crazy, and begun work on a card game! (The concept of which I'll share once I've sorted out enough images. I've already got almost a hundred ready! Whoo!)

As always, dear reader, I hope you're having an amazing day. However! If you find yourself feeling a bit down, here's a clip of the Jim Henson puppet stage show (Called Stuffed and Unstrung) that... if it comes to your town, you should IMMEDIATELY buy tickets for. I promise you, you'll love it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's rainin' cats, hallelujah!

This month has seen some interesting changes, not least of which is my sudden overflow of cat-related artwork! Most people who know me, know that I have two true, sickening obsessions... My boyfriend Billy, and my cat Bubba (whose proper name is Prince but which has been obliterated due to overuse of nicknames). I've been itching to make a children's book for a while, now, but couldn't seem to get any of my ideas to work once I started tinkering with them. It almost felt like my brain and my hand were more occupied with getting into some sort of epic slap-fight with one another than doing my bidding, which really didn't sit well with me. Frustrated by my sudden art block, I complained to my flu-ridden boyfriend that I couldn't seem to do anything I really wanted to. Now I'm not sure if this was a stroke of brilliance or a stroke of fever talking, but he said "Why don't you write a book about Bubba?"

From there on out it was like DUH, WHY DID I NEVER THINK OF THIS BEFORE?!?!? The tentative title is set to be "The many faces of Mr. Bubba," which is a book about all the things my cat does that we decide are him pretending to be something else... like a doctor when we're sick, or a mountaineer when he climbs on top of us while we're sleeping. I was super excited by this concept and immediately got to work planning the character designs and laying out a couple of pages... including the cover, for which I've decided to use a different style than my norm. Here's a preview of the in-progress work for it!

I tried about a billion zillion different cat designs before I settled on making him absurdly cute, with eyes almost as big as his whole head! Interestingly, the process I've been using is super different from what I've been doing all year, which I think is actually one thing I was craving. I was getting bored with being comfortable and wanted to branch out and experiment again, so.... Voila! Not a single drop of ink was used in this piece, and in fact... the bits of red you see are the remnants of the roughly 1"x1" pencil sketch I used as my guide for this. I haven't done enough purely digital stuff, and so far... this has been a lot of fun!

Now of course, like some sort of act of fate... The derby was announced yesterday as being kitties! How crazy is that?!?!? In the middle of me drawing cats, I'm actually encouraged to draw MORE cats?! Well obviously, I decided this was an awesome idea and produced the following t-shirt design, which I'm hoping does well this week! You can vote for my design at the derby, which I would very, very much appreciate. But, if you'd just like to see the design, here it is!

I did not appreciate just how 80's Lion-o's hair is until I got to draw it... Man... That mane is glorious.

Well, that's all for now, folks! And rememmber....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A sacrifice to the porcelain throne.

As I mentioned in my previous post, a number of the gifts I gave away this Giftmas were given new homes without being documented (I originally had a really weird section here where I went crazy comparing the prezzies to illegal aliens and it got suuuuuper out of hand. It was kind of funny, but kind of weird. Kind of... really weird. So it's gone, now. Poof!). Luckily! Brandi so graciously has provided us all with photographs of the portraits she and her husband received from me this year! Yay!!!!

About a year ago, when they moved into their house, Jimmy and Brandi started getting fun with decorating all their rooms with paint and pictures and curtains and all sorts of stuff that has made their place seriously gorgeous... But for the life of her, Brandi was unable to find any wall-art that would match the color scheme in their bathroom.

(This one's Brandi! She thinks I drew her low on the page because I often draw people looking terrifying, but actually it's because she's a munchkin and I originally was going to draw her and Jimmy on the same page together and have it so neither of them was fully captured on the page because I think extreme height differences are hilaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarious and deserve to be celebrated.)

Their bathroom has a super-rich red that's a couple of shades darker than what most people would look at and involuntarily shout "RED!!!!" as well as a very nice soft, light brown, and white. She'd pitched to me a good long while ago the idea of commissioning some portraits of her, and her husband, and their super fabulous dogs.

(This one's Aulbee, he's such a sweetheart! And a proper gentleman, to boot. Possibly one of the best groomsmen at their wedding, although that's a hard title to claim given the sheer awesomeness of that lot.)

Our plans got a little out of hand, and I decided that I wanted to make the pictures SO SUPER FABULOUSLY SPECIAL and was going to hand-make paper with her out of some of the leftover cotton from their southern belle/Irish as all hell wedding [which we should still do!!!!!!!] and use it for the portraits to make it sort of a secret specialness that was super cool.

(Here's Jimmy!!! He is both super Irish, and super tall. You may think that sash is a little too much, but I promise you... This is based on real-life. He was pretty much dubbed little Mr. Irish king of the universe in a pageant or something, as far as I have decided based on photographs and a wild imagination. I hope that he rules his subjects wisely.)

We kind of got carried away with the idea, but never got an actual chance to do it so the paper has, sadly, continued to go unmade. However, that doesn't mean the portraits should suffer for my laziness and short attention span!!!! Which is why I made them these anyway, despite it being somewhat divergent from the plan.

(Meet Bama! She's kind of a derpsauce pooch, and as sweet as she can be... well... I am cruel and imagine her looking like this in my head. This is, almost certainly, my favorite of the portraits for how ridiculous it is, and how seeing that tongue flopped out never fails to make me giggle.)

Now despite the fact that these are goofy pictures, and just ink on watercolor paper mounted on some random heavy-weight red paper I found and guestimated being a good match for the bathroom that I completely intended them to be displayed in... They immediately went and had them mounted, framed, and displayed in a place of honor in their hallway.

You walk into their house, and these are basically one of the first things you're going to see. I am kind of stunned, and incredibly flattered! ...The downside is, though, that there's still nothing hanging in their bathroom, and I'm not sure what to make to fix that problem for fear that it will be too fancy again and and be put in another place of honor. Oh, woe is me with my terrible, horrible problem of being appreciated. =>.<=

Seriously though, I'm super flattered and super glad they like them!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!!!

'Allo blokes and blokettes! It's been a refreshing sort of holiday-time for me, given that I took a full and total week off from work and life and ran away to the strange and mystical country of "New Jersey" to learn the secrets of Christmas! Oh, what a glorious time was had by all.... except for the bit towards the end where I got the flu and then had to go back to work and life and reality and long for the days of freedom. Ah, freedom. Anywho! I finished the comic the week before Christmas and sent it off to the publisher, so I'll keep you lot updated on when that'll be available for public consumption. In the meantime, here's something I couldn't share with you before because it was a gift for someone!

Sadly, the other things I made either weren't photographed [the Cut the Rope-based ornament I made for Billy and the series of portraits I made for Brandi and Jimmy], or haven't been given to their owners AND haven't been photographed [the painting I made for my youngest sister, Nanners.] So hopefully, some day, I'll have photos of those and be able to share them with you lot.

In other news, I've been watching a lottttttttttttttt of Doctor Who lately and have officially decided that David Tennant is like, totally, like, the cooooooooolest doctor of them all. The companion he's currently got as far as my viewing goes is Donna, and to date I think that his best pairing was with Rose. Now, Rose was RUBBISH when Christopher Eccleston was The Doctor, but she hit her stride once Tennant came on the scene and their on-screen chemistry was amazing! The companions he's had since Rose [Martha Jones and Donna Knoble] have been great characters with great attributes and quite a lot of spunk, but they haven't really felt as genuine to me as the connection he and Rose ended up having. Then again, I'm only on the Agatha Cristie episode with Donna, and I'm fast beginning to like her... enthusiasm and cleverness. Also her no-nonsense attitude towards some of the things they come up against, and her confidence. I like to see daring and confidence in the companions.

Anywho! I've been playing around with the idea of doing some Doctor Who art, as well as some fairytale-based art and have sketches of the latter already prepared and ready to go... But I may decide to give that all up and go ahead writing about fire trucks. This story's been a long time coming, and I never really thought about telling it but now I've thought of it I can't really help but want to see if I can let it grow. There's a whole lot of future out there and I'm looking forward to seeing it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bubba's got it in the bag.

My cat, whom I affectionately refer to as Bubba quite often, is... well, he's a dumb butt. He is the sweetest, most lovable cat I think I've ever owned and I love him more than I know how to express but gosh can he be pretty derpy sometimes. As such, The Bubbs will often... Well... Play with his poop. He'll just scoop it right on up out of his litter box and swat it around the house like he's some sort of 3rd world kitty who doesn't have plenty of toys to play with and so has to improvise. This being one of his favorite activities, I've gotten accustomed to watching my step in the mornings in order to prevent the possibility of a very unpleasant squish... Which is why this morning, when I walked out of my room, I was a little bit irritated at the round lump near the bathroom door... Until I looked closer and saw this:

Now, I have been a vegetarian for forever. I feel completely awful whenever I see a dog getting abused or a crab getting boiled or any other number of things that involve pain and suffering being bestowed upon all animals but... seeing this poor mouse horrifyingly mutilated to the point that it was darn near unrecognizable aside from the single remaining leg, bizarrely pin-straight tail, and tiny red spot where I'm assuming the head and neck were... Well... I couldn't help but be proud. Mama's little dumb-head is all growed up and huntin' mice? D'awwww. It's good to see that even in this tough economy, my cat has managed to find work. :D

Annnnnyway! It's the holidays, guys! Are you pumped?! Because I am! I'd say the only downside of the holidays is that I have to wait for FOREVER before I can share with you some of the things I'm giving out this year since that would ruin the surprise. I love giving out presents, and I'm super psyched for Christmas! I never knew what the fuss was all about until I got to celebrate my first real one last year but man... Christmas is magical. The love that permeates the atmosphere is completely palpable, and so very, very wonderful. I hope you all have an amazing holiday and get to spend plenty of time with your loved ones. I know I sure will. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

The quest for the perfect brush.

Normally when I ink, I use a nib pen for the whole thing, and only consider touching a brush if there's a particularly large area that needs some ink slapped on it. I've been going on like this for years, not really considering the brush to be a primary tool so much as a convenient afterthought! However, when I inked one page in particular of Little Red Men, I realized that I'd need HUGE lines from the getgo, and decided to ink the whole thing with a brush on a whim.

This just so happens to be that very page! I'm permitted to share up to 25% of the comic before it's published, and given how sparingly I've teased you, I feel like this is permissible. ANYWAY, the only brushes I had available to me at the time were some pretty worn down, beat up, and desperately depressing white nylon brushes that did the trick, but were less than desirable. Even still, I noticed that my inking time had been virtually cut in half with each stroke! And while I did sacrifice quite a bit of stability and control by giving up my pen, I suddenly had an extremely varied number of line weights that I could make in a single stroke. So, I decided it was time to experiment with brush work.

Once I got it in my head that this was a viable method, it became pretty much obvious that I'd need to upgrade my materials... So I fired up the ol' Googletron 9000 and asked it what brushes were best for inking. The internet seems to unanimously praise the Windsor and Newton series 7 [in particular, sizes 2 or 3] brush and claim it to be the one brush to rule them all. Then then in their next sentence speak of how there truly is only ONE brush to rule them all as the company has gone downhill and serviceable-much less actually perfect-brushes from W&N can no longer be found. Besides, it's roughly $20 or $30 per brush, apparently, and I don't really have that kind of scratch lying around for one single brush that may or may not work.

Enter Rosemary and Co. The internet has mixed feelings about the company, and just a few years ago they were praised as being phenomenal brushes at outrageously affordable prices... But something has clearly happened to the company. Perhaps they have become exceedingly popular and can not keep up with demand? I decided to take my chances and looked into their brushes. Not really knowing what to get, I decided to e-mail Rosemary and ask her for some advice on which brushes to purchase based on how I like my brushes to feel, and that I was planning on working with ink. She got back to me nearly immediately and was extremely helpful!!! So I ordered my brushes that night and despite them being shipped from Europe, received them within three days! Holy crap!!! Not only that, but a free catalog that has EVERY SINGLE BRUSH THEY MAKE photographed at real-size?!?!? Wow. The customer service at Rosemary & Co. is certainly not lacking, that's for sure. However...

See that blurry phone photo? [Sorry, but my digital camera is broken and this is the only thing I've got that takes pictures right now.] See how the left side looks kind of... lumpy? Perhaps even... separate? This is one of the four Rosemary brushes that I ordered, which after shipping, only cost $30. Two are Kolinski sable, and two are Red sable which means that at basically $20 before shipping, this is a pretty pimp deal. Well, in theory it is.

You see, pretty much all four of my Rosemary brushes have problems, this one in particular had the most drastic problems because the bristles were caught in that stupid protective plastic sleeve thing and bent backwards over the handle. I trimmed the super-deformed bristles as close to the ferrule as I possibly could so I would be able to jump right in and try them without having to wait a couple more days for a replacement... Which would have been free, but which actually... I don't even want any more. This photo was taken AFTER I trimmed the brush, and after I used it for the first time. The darned thing went completely coo coo! Hairs were just splaying out everywhere depending on what they wanted to do at any given stroke! And it wasn't the only one! Essentially every single brush I ordered from Rosemary is absurdly frustrating and discouraging to use because of how poorly it functions! Not only is the belly pretty thin, making the ink-reservoir in the brush pretty minimal, but every single one of them has this curiously specific point. I gather that it is good when a brush comes to a point that is essentially one hair, but the lengths to which Rosemary & co. went to ensure that was the case is just ridiculous! There was one single hair at the tip that seemed to be ever so slightly longer than all the rest, causing it to actually be more of a pain in the butt than an advantage! That particular hair would always go off on its own adventures and come back later to tell everyone else they were doing it wrong and attempt to garner more support for the rebel army! I inked a verrrrrrrrrry simple piece with those brushes that I'll share with you all in the near future and I could not WAIT for it to be over just so I could put them away and NEVER USE THEM AGAIN.

The brushes on the right are the ones that are from Rosemary, and the one that is to the far left is basically the only one that's even remotely usable... And I do mean remotely.

Because of how awful my experience with these brushes was, I decided that it would be wrong to tell you all about them and not offer an alternative, so last night I went to Blick with my friend Mike and rummaged through their brushes. I found this GREAT brush that I think was made by a company named Isabey or something along those lines, but nearly had a heart attack when I saw that it was $75 for just the one brush. I shit you not. It seemed like an actually really good brush due to the springyness of the bristles [which were, of course, sable], the verrrrry full belly, the tight crimping of the ferrule, and the fact that it came to a splendid point and had no flyaways or clipped bristles anywhere. When I sulked back to the spot where the expensive dream brush was supposed to live until some more fortunate artist that I hope knows how to show a brush a good time comes along to claim it... I noticed that Blick has their own line of brushes. The three brushes on the top of that photograph are the ones from Blick's line and I've got to say... They're pretty darn good.

That is NOT to say that they are AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING, but they are good enough that I'm actually really excited to keep playing with them, and I am super grateful that I didn't want to gouge my own eyes out with them. If you can see well enough from the picture, the bellies are quite a bit fuller in the Blick brushes than the Rosemary ones, which was super duper nice of them. Not only that, but I have not yet had to deal with a flyaway!

The springness of these brushes is great, and even though I had that tiny little size four brush, I actually ended up using the ten for the bulk of the piece, only really going to the four for the eyes and suuuuper tiny fiddly bits. The 16 that I got was superb for filling in huge spaces and actually also came to an impressively fine point! They were also great for little bits of dry-brushing, and did not even for a moment complain about being abused so early in their life-springing back to a perfect point the instant I dipped them in some good ol' water. Did I also mention that together, these three brushes only cost me $25? Yeah. I'd say I got more than what I paid for in this case. These brushes were a joy to work with and for that price, there's really no reason NOT to stock up on a couple and at least try them out!

I know that I've still got a long way to go before I've mastered the brush, and I really think that my only obstacle is learning to let go of my incessant need to tightly control each line, but I definitely believe that having actually found some decent brushes is the best favor I could have done for myself.

So, to recap, Rosemary & co. = no go. Generic Blick-brand brushes? Get 'em. Also, my Totoro inkwell continues to be the coolest darned thing ever. I've been abusing that thing and shaking it around like crazy and spinning it and all sorts of crap and it not only takes the beating, but doesn't spill a single drop of ink. I friggin' love this thing.

Here's the finished image that I used to test the brushes. Thank goodness these ones weren't duds, because this piece is for Billy! Our anniversary is next week, and it's about time I gave him another art. Two years in, and loving him is still the most magical adventure I've ever been taken on.

... I might change the coloring, though.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A helpful tutorial, I hope!

Well, I was checking the now completely addictive Comic Tools blog and saw that included this week was a method for colorizing lineart. Sort of. I thought it was super interesting the way that Elanor Davis chose to layer two copies of the same image, changed to different colors, in order to achieve a sort of duochrome look. Well, I decided that it may very well end up being helpful if I also shared a method for colorizing lineart in Photoshop that varies wildly from her approach. Hope it helps someone because it pretty much blew my mind when I learned it!

Click here for the video! I definitely recommend doing fullscreen, since the program I used to record the video recorded it in its native size. Whoopsies!