Washington Post illustration

The previous dentist chair sketch was ink work for this illustration, an assignment from the Washington Post for an illustration to accompany an editorial about defunding the United States Institute of Peace.

Below are the thumbnails. This was a quick deadline, one day for sketches, two days for art. I started out with a peace symbol but moved to a dove/olive branch. The biting and scissors represent pruning, cutting; the defunding part.

Below is the rough sketch sent to the client, a dove dropping an olive branch that is being cut by a pair of scissors.

Here are a couple of scissors sketches (done in the dentist waiting room).

Here are olive branch sketches (done in the dentist chair, waiting for the novocaine to kick in).

Here is the final ink work (done just before the drill).

Later, I scanned and rearranged the above ink work to create the following composition. Also added a worry brow for the dove.

For the background, I painted an area of gouache using magenta and white. I only have magenta, blue, and white gouache at the moment. I tend to use these gouache elements as value only and either grayscale it or adjust the hue after scanning.

The illustration was grayscale so I converted the goauche into a light gray.

And here again is the final illustration.

Mr. Ted

I created this piece for the University of Minnesota's Alumni magazine's summer issue for a short story about the manager of a fast-food restaurant, Mr. Ted.

I started out thumbnailing quick concepts about grease and the deep-fryer and grill, and since the story was also about two of Mr. Ted's workers, I worked up some ideas about them. My first thoughts were about the environment, the grease and heat, along with character studies of the workers and Mr. Ted. The story was a mix of humor and melancholy; Mr. Ted was trapped in his career choice and his two young workers at first saw Mr. Ted's life as humorous and made light of it but eventually gained respect for him.

The client wanted the image to focus on Mr. Ted rather than the two workers so I sketched some variations of him at the grill with drops and flames (top two rows of thumbnails). The drops pattern serves as a symbol of the environment and the mood; grease, rain, tears, sweat.

The final direction was to combine the background of drops with patty shapes at the bottom, no smoke or flames, so a combination of the third and fourth sketches in the top row. Another request was to change the "RB" (the name of the restaurant) to Mr. Ted.

When I begin to work on the final art in Photoshop, my first step is to combine the sketch with a ground color along with a second color and texture. This gives me an initial impression of the value design, how the figure elements and ground elements relate, and how the texture is working with the design.

I cleaned up the rough sketch with some simple pencil line. I then used this pencil line as a reference for the final line work.

I used two methods for the final line work; the first was with a Pentel Brush Pen (top) and the second was with a Wacom tablet using the Blob Brush tool in Illustrator (bottom). I preferred the cleaner quality of the digital line in some areas and the thicker rougher quality of the brush pen line in other areas, sometimes combining the two styles of line and then adding and subtracting with the Pencil and Eraser tools.

I knew the hand was a mess so I took some quick reference photos and used them to correct it and then made the additional line work with my brush pen (I redrew this later for one of my sketchbook exchange images).

On a top layer, I make a white frame that I use for cropping. This white frame layer allows me to see the image against white rather than against the window edges and allows me to include bleed if needed.

I had initially set the darkest value as the background with the drops pattern being one of two middle values, but I decided to make the background a middle value so that the drops could be both lighter (the lighter middle value) and darker (the darkest value) than the background to create a back-and-forth visual movement. I also varied the sizes of the drops to further emphasize this effect.

Sketching with students at Nina's

Today, I was sketching with my students at Nina's Coffee Cafe, actually spent most of my time grading but got in a quick couple of sketches, one here with some notes from my friend Zak Sally's presentation to my other class. In addition, a couple of sketches from September, sketchbook catching-up day. The top sketch is of a man who was sitting with his wife and little bean newborn. They spoke with an Eastern European accent. Another man sat with them who spoke without an accent or with a less noticeable one and resembled this man, maybe brothers?

This second sketch was drawn at The Bulldog in September, the bartender that particular day. He wore a PBR knit cap and served me a few Maredsous Blondes. The red drawing with him is a man from Nina's from today, two views, with some chairs and a cup.

This third drawing is from September, at the Irish Feis. This man didn't look as David Lynchian as he does here. I was also drawing some of the dancers' outfits, colorful, with shiny rhinestones and decorative stitching.

Food sketches

This week, I took my digital illustration classes outside of the computer lab to sketch food. For my sketches, I decided to start with candy, found out that pretzels aren't the easiest thing to draw. Then I tried a cupcake from Starbucks followed by a pig's foot, a fish, and some vegetables from an Asian market.