Category Archives: Illustration

Stitches in Story

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It has been a many years since I began crafting this story, much because I was on a learning curve when it comes to story development. I didn’t want it to become drivel that exposes nothing. And so I would consume information from everywhere on how best to write a story, and allow that story to evolve out of the protagonist, Stitches, and the decisions he would make given his nature. I had to take into account that much of his personality is initially not his, and he has to do a lot of back peddling against the inclinations that he inherited.

Now that I have a completed script that gels, the journey begins to convert it into visual form. I do have an abundance of scratches that resemble the various characters that appear throughout this first book, but I will have to do a lot more figuring to bring some of the other untouched characters to life.

For me it’s an unknown process, finding the time and motivation to push this project forward even though the market is very vague when it comes to graphic novels. There are a few books at large that have done relatively well, but there are far more that collect more dust than accolades.

Progressing Along

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I feel that the I’m finally rounding the corner on script development for “State of Mind.” After a friend, a writer, reviewed the script. I went back and expanded a few scenes, and did thorough edits throughout. I have a few pages towards the end of the story I have yet to scrutinize, but I feel that the characters and plot are coming together, merging into a complete whole.

As well, after many approaches in attempting to nail down Elizabeth, I believe I’m close to a style and presentation that best represents her nature and age. Just another drawing, and another and another, and it inches towards something that works for me, and the reader public at large.

I have a swarm of other projects on the go, of the variety that pays bills, so those get done first. But I suspect that within a month or two, I can begin the staging process, drafting the composition of pages and creating various poses for the primary characters in the story.

Diversity in practice

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Along with a the variant of creative pursuits, I have work that keeps the business side fluid. It usually involves the assembly of e-Learning type resources, and the building of websites from multiple streams of the economy. And adding on fairly extensive design a layout projects, which is in line with my personal historic experience and education. I’m hands on, I manage at times, but I much prefer to stick my fingers into all facets of production. My brain swings from creative to technology, when programming, css or jquery is required.

When settled and I have time, I always come back to writing, illustrating or building something in 3D. I did some reworking of a cow illustration I did some time back, and made some adjustments that made the cow more presentable. I wanted to minimize the presentation of the udder so that it wasn’t overly out there, but was still apparent. This image evolved out of a story that revolved around a cow that moves to the city during the early 1950’s to work as a short order cook. Alice the cow… It was a time of change, when urbanization took hold in this country, and masses of people left their rural life , to chip out a place for themselves in the big city. For me, I’m thinking that it would be a great experience to take this cow and build a 3D model out of it. To be rigged so that the cow could transition from a typical quadrupedal to a bipedal stance.

Perhaps, rebrand the title to “Urban Cow”, and package it as a 13 x 22 minute CG animated series.

Gorillaz study

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Exploring styles is typical for a creative, and fashioning an approach for a graphic novel is an ongoing process for me until I hit upon something that just works. As well, working on drawing skills is essential for keeping pencils sharp.

I like styles that are counter to culture, not mainstream or fall into the typical scifi realm or fantasy. So I come back to the illustrative type work done by creatives such as Jamie Hewlett, and do my own rendition of his infamous characters developed as fictional front-members of the Gorillaz. Then I can take something from that approach and glue it onto the catalogue of approaches that reside in my head.

What I find that is unique about the Gorillaz is that the visuals are very much a part of the entire experience. The music and the characters blend to create a seamless idea that works as a unified brand. This symbiotic blend carries the music much farther than if the music was to exist for itself. It’s unique personality could be lost in the wide scope of the industry, but with a visual brand it stands out. The Gorillaz extend themselves as true artists, and the experience becomes a performance art.

It’s this counter-culture theme I’m hoping to hit upon, when I get past the script and move into illustration.

Stitch in Time

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The rewrite of the State of Mind graphic novel continues. As well, a new image I created for the shifted theme to Dark Matters Chronicles is done. Dark Matters Chronicles will be the name of a proposed series, if I can get the first book out and it is received well. Even now, as I work on the rewrite, threads are bursting forth that I am adding to the story that will lead to the next book. My estimate is that it will be a series of three books, with an ongoing plot that begins in book one, evolves and takes shape in book two, then drives for the finish in book three.

Face value

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illustration of Elly

More exploration on style with Elly. I pulled these sketches together as a start to flushing out a standard approach for drawing Ellie’s face. It’s a process of defining position – front view, side view etc … and expressions.

Other Work – HTML5 and Me

We’re entering our full business cycle, and usually with that I shift to work at hand for Critical Fusion. Which involves website development, print design and e-learning application development. Changing hats and focusing on the whole equation rather than just creative. Major part of Critical Fusion is technology deployment.

One of the more contraversial development tools is html5. We get requests to deploy using html5, thinking that it may solve some of the cross-device issues in delivering content on traditional PC, tablets and mobile. Much of our e-Learning type apps are developed in flash which is compatible on all browsers, but does not run from the internet on tablets and smartphones. Although, if properly assembled, flash can be packaged and deployed as an app on iOS and Android platforms.

Whereas, html5, in a compilation of tools urged to work together to create a solution. General consensus is that there is no consensus of where html5 fits, and what purpose it is meant to serve. At this point, it is largely experimental, allowing some capacity to develop rich media from the internet. The critical issue is that it is unpredictable, and the development time can be dramatically longer than Flash, because you have to build specifically for each browser. So, for me – I will wade in carefully, but wait another day before I get serious about html5.

Graphical Elly

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Elly Frankenstein In the ongoing development of style for Elly Frankenstein, I’m slowly coming closer to what may be final. The more I evaluate how I plan to deliver the graphic novel, the more I believe a graphical black and white version makes a lot of sense. The cost of printing is much cheaper, and without having to colour and paint the pages saves a whole lot of time. So in conspiring an idea and releasing it into the market, efficiency is the best practice.

This is the graphical version of Elly, and with a few more tweaks, I’m feeling quite comfortable with the results. This image was inked and had tones applied in Manga Studio EX, which offers a bevy of utilities to organize and create the graphic novel. I still have to create turn arounds of the character and explore various expressions, how they would be conveyed. Then I would have to build some test pages.

Jerome the Unicorn

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This is one of the personal projects that I have been plugging away at when I have spare time. A children book that uses a unicorn as a foil for promoting personal individualism and value. Also, it’s an opportunity for me to explore an approach to visualizing an idea, and constructing a simple an effective story. I have written the story, and I have done several review edits throughout. To flush out the story, I estimate that it will require another 32 illustrations. Definitely, NOT going to happen overnight. The hope is that it will be picked up by a publisher, providing me the support to invest at least 6 months of time to complete the other illustrations.

This is the image I did for the cover of the book, Jerome the Unicorn, Another Ordinary Day. I wanted to take the unicorn idea outside the typical presentation style, as a immaculate horned horse, and present it as a stuffed doll. This softens the presentation, and gives it a friendlier face. I did the illustration in Painter 12 on a Cintiq 24HD tablet (all digital). This illustration is at an initial “close to completion” state, and I may adjust it further so that it works with an added title. The style was influenced by a number of sources, but overall it is a revision of the William Morris tapestries featuring unicorns. Then I added elements to the foreground, creating the stage like sensibility.

Building Animals in 3D

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Sometime ago I was contracted to develop a series of models that I then converted into interactive rotational VR objects. Providing full 3D versions of animal species offered a far better reference for identification than 2D. Initially it was fish, and then it extended out to birds and mammals.

The challenge was creating an efficient process for building the animals, because I had limited time allocated for creation of each model. After doing some testing, going through trials, I determined that best approach for me was to use Lightwave for modeling, export the models as Obj, and import them into Bodypaint where can I set up the UV’s, and paint and texture the models.

First up was fish. Much of the initial work was research and drawing, having to identify traits that are specific to each species. Most fish have the same physical body parts so focusing on; fin placement, head ratio, and other unique traits would help in clearly depicting the species. I also had a content expert on hand to provide secondary feedback. I penciled out a side and top profile for each fish to use as as templates for modeling. After constructing a few fish, I was able to narrowed the time to create each fish down to about 3 days. Bodypaint was a big help with reducing time to paint and texture, because it allowed me to paint directly onto the 3D object, and add bump, colour, diffusion and transparency in a single stroke. This helped with simulating/creating fish scales, because I could create scale brushes in Bodypaint that allowed me to apply multiple effects in one sweep. Another benefit is that Bodypaint is very similar to Photoshop, so it was easy to pick up and apply it.

Birds and animals were another challenge because they are far more complex and introduce other details that are not as easy to replicate in 3D. With the birds, it was the introduction of feathers, and with animals, it’s hair.

For hair, I had this plugin for Lightwave that I used previously, Sasquatch. I did try using the application native hair module, fiber effects, but at the time, it was unstable and could produce the results I wanted. Sasquatch it was to be.

In all it worked reasonably well, and turn over was respectable. The benefit for me with this project, was discovering an approach that had good results for the final product, and the opportunity to do some extensive 3D modeling.


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