Trouble’s a’comin’

Posted in Illustration on July 25, 2013 by spudaug

This is an homage to old pulp magazines and movie posters. This is digital coloring on top of a drawing I scanned in.  I was going for the feel of a sensational film noir.

Bang! Bang!

I’m not entirely satisfied with it.  I seems ham-fisted to me.  It’s the first of a series, and I’m determined to follow this up with much better work.

The inspiration was from an issue of Guy True Adventure magazine from 1959.  The original cover was actually from a WWII adventure story.  I swiped the poses, but aside from that everything is different.


Why haven’t I Posted This?

Posted in colors, Comics, Digital, Illustration on May 28, 2013 by spudaug

I finished this up with colors:

There he is!

You can find the pencils for this if you scroll down.  It sat unfinished in my sketchbook for over a year.  I finally got around to doing the coloring process just last month.  I already shared it, but I quickly moved on to other projects before I put it up on my blog.

Dino Mural

Posted in Children's, Digital, Dinosaurs, Illustration on April 25, 2013 by spudaug


This is the mural I created for the revamped dino dig pit at the Children’s Museum of Richmond.  It’s slightly over 40 feet long. You can’t tell from this web-sized version, but the finished mural is HUGE.  It’s installed on two walls as the environment for a dinosaur exhibit that involves, among other things, a dig pit where kids can uncover life-sized fossils.

Every creature in the mural is roughly life-sized.  The tyrannosaurus and lambeosaurus are on the small side, but maybe these aren’t fully mature dinosaurs. It’s a children’s museum; dinosaurs have children, too.

The dinosaurs are reasonably accurate, but not at all realistic.  I mean, come on, the audience here are kids under the age of eight.  We want them to see dinosaurs that are physiologically correct (as far as we know), but there’s no need not to make them cute, too.  Hence the coloring.  The color palette is restricted (ha!) to official colors of the museum.  There are large voids left open because the walls are not exactly square, plus there’s a window above the stegosaurus’s head.  The installed mural will have small “fun fact” panels with information for each critter in the mural.  There will also be rulers for kids to compare themselves.  I’ll post a photo of the completed installation when it’s done.

Found the tiny eomaia and epidexipterix?  They’re on the cycad tree that divides the two walls.  I was worried about that corner/column area, but I was happy to see that it looks great installed.

sneak peek

Posted in Children's, Dinosaurs, Illustration on March 18, 2013 by spudaug

"dawn mother"
These are details from a mural project that I’m in the middle of. I don’t want to show the whole thing yet, but I’m comfortable showing the first two finished bits.  The mural is a prehistoric scene of mostly dinosaurs, plus one mammal thrown in for good measure.  It’s very cartoony, which is exactly what the client needs.  It’s meant to be a piece that stands on it’s own, but rather as a backdrop for something else that is much more attention-getting.

As if dinosaurs could be background decoration.  Ha! 

Yaolong's Dragon

These are actual size, by the way.  Admittedly, the coloring and line work is rather free.  It’s suited for the installation space.  If you want hyper-detailed dinosaurs you’re just going to have to look at some of my other posts.

I’ve always felt that the smallest details were the most enticing part of large, environmental design.  As a child, whenever I saw a truly large art installation it was always the small focal points that had me enraptured.  The details are where the good bits are.  The nooks and crannies are where all the best stories are waiting.  You can’t always see them when you stand back to get the wide view.

When the mural is installed I’ll be sure to share the whole thing.  I know for a fact that some of the people reading this will stumble across it in the next month or so, anyway.  Can you guys guess what it’s for?


Posted in Drawing, graphite, Sketchdump on February 13, 2013 by spudaug

These are a few pages from my tiny sketchbook.  Nothing finished.

Dream (Daniel)
This sketchbook is for warmups or just exercising my lazy art muscles when I’ve had a day spent with dull design. Sometimes I have days that require LOTS of entries. I try to pick a theme on those days. This was from one of those days not too long ago. Catch the theme?
The first two might be tricky, but the last two are giveaways, if you’re familiar with the source material.
I’ve also got some long-form theme entries. Those are fun. Sketch-a-day type stuff. I think I’ll be posting most of what’s in this particular sketchbook, so you’ll get to see them.

New Studio

Posted in Shop Talk on February 5, 2013 by spudaug

This isn’t much to look at yet, but I thought I’d share.  Since we’ve moved into our new house (!) we’ve set up one of the bedrooms as our studio and office.

Mayline tables!

behold the new digs

We’ve got two Mayline drafting tables, and each has a pair of dual-bulb lamps (florescent and incandescent). The larger table is about 5 feet wide and is equipped with a wire-guided rule and a large flat drawer.  Between the desks is the cabinet with most of our supplies (brushes, inks, pencils, paints, that kind of thing.  On top of that are the drawers for out watercolor paint cups.  We keep the colors pre-mixed and just wet them when we need them.  Every drawer is organized by color group.

The light in this room is wonderful.  The window on the right is facing southwest, and the the whole room is bright all day long.

You can also see out matte cutter, paper cutter, and the boxes for things like my wife’s airbrush stuff.  There also a box of frames under the big desk.I could show you our computer workstations, but the room is kind of a mess.  Still a few boxes from moving, even though that was months ago.

Maybe next week.

Hibernation is Over

Posted in Acrylic, Painting on January 20, 2012 by spudaug

Well, artistically speaking.  I still have the urge to crawl into my cozy cave and stay there until…  well, just stay there, really.  It’s warm and soft in there.  And it has cable.

Peacock Brook Farm in NH

Here is a quick acrylic landscape I did of my father’s farm in New Hampshire.  It was a few weeks after a late Autumn snowfall, and there were still some leaves clinging to the trees.  I spent about an hour painting this from a photo.  It’s a passable sketch, but I don’t think I’ll ever turn it into a full-on landscape.  I was happy with the varieties of white that I achieved, but that’s about it.  There are so many things wrong with this.  It is only a sketch, though, and I was exploring possibilities, but that’s as far as this particular piece is going to go.

Not everything I post is something I’m proud of.  It doesn’t need to be great.  What I’m trying to show is how I’m actually working.  By explaining what I’m doing and how I’m working to you fine folks I get more out of the process of making art.  With that in mind, I think I’ll be posting a lot more unfinished pieces for you to see.

Happy Turkey Day

Posted in Illustration on November 23, 2011 by spudaug

What are you thankful for?

What are you thankful for?

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, and hope that you spend the holiday content, fat, and possibly asleep on the couch while the game is on.

Go Dawgs!

Perspective Tutorial

Posted in Comics, Design, Drawing, Illustration, Masters, Painting, Shop Talk on November 5, 2011 by spudaug

Someone asked me to put this down in writing for them, so here it is.  It’s the perspective trick that Brian Stelfreeze taught me back when I was 15 and organizing the Gaijin Studios library in exchange for drawing lessons.  I could go on and on about how amazing the Gaijin crew are and what a tremendous summer it was, but I think I kind of do that regularly here. 

– – – – –

So let’s say you want to draw a house, and you want it to be realistic, so you find a real house to draw.

Here's one

Need a house to draw in perspective? Here's one.

And when you draw it you don’t want it to look like this:

not like this!

Not like this!

…because houses DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT.

The essential flaw with the perspective system that everyone knows is that it is limited by the medium.  It forces the object you are drawing to be highly distorted.  While this can be okay sometimes, there are other times when you want to keep things as realistic as possible.  If you want a large object to really fill up the page then you’re going to need to change the way you are working.

We should define the problem before we move on.

The perspective system we have all been taught relies on fixed vanishing points.  We all know how this works.  It is a simple system.  Things disappear into the distance.  Very basic.

The problem occurs when one wishes to depict an object that is NOT disappearing rapidly into the distance.  Perhaps, like this house, it is pretty much right in front of you.  It still has perspective, of course, but the angles are not severe.  By simply putting the vanishing point on the page, you’ve already made a mistake.

Take another look

Take another look

This is the entire page.  The vanishing points are on the very edge of the paper, and yet they are still much too close to allow the house to appear naturalistic.  The artist wants to be accurate with the lines according to the rules of perspective, but this results in a drawing that, while technically correct, just does not look REAL.

The solution? Move the vanishing points farther apart.  Off the edge of the paper.

extended off the edge of the paper

This is what we are trying to do

It gets to be kinda crazy, because all you are attempting to do, as the artist, is draw something that looks realistic, natural, and yet still accurate.

When I was young I would do this by taping another piece of paper to the end of the paper I was drawing on.  Then I would place the distant vanishing point on the far edge of the extra page.  Sometimes I found myself adding two or three pieces.

extra pages

Adding pages to extend the vanishing point?

I ended up quickly running out of paper or, just as often, running out of flat space on which to draw.  Sometimes I wanted to draw something large enough to fill the entire page, oh, 11” x 17” or so.  For that to happen the vanishing point had to be so far away that the dining room table wasn’t long enough. I could move to the hallway floor, or possibly use a long wall (not that I ever would have).  Even that would have been a temporary solution.  At some point every artist will draw or paint something that is large and need to use lines of perspective. Wasting paper and ruining walls is not the answer.

This is a ridiculous problem.  There is a simple, straightforward solution.  The artist can simulate a distant vanishing point.

By creating a tapered grid the artist can project a “phantom” vanishing point as far off the page as is needed.  This can be done with a pencil & ruler, or, if you’re smart, a TYPE GAUGE.  A what, you ask?  Sorry, but if you’re younger than 35 you’ve probably never used one. You see, before computers…  ah, skip it.  A type gauge is a fancy ruler that is really about 20 rulers all mashed together.

Haberule Type Gauge

Haberule Type Gauge

Pretty cool, huh? You can see how the different rules measure different sizes, which correspond to point sizes in type.  6 point, 7 point, up to 15 point.  Really, a basic ruler could work, but what you really want is a type gauge.  It gives you options that are proportional to one another, which is key to making the grid work.

Every grid has two directions.  We start by setting up the first direction with the type gauge.

Draw two parallel lines on opposite sides of the paper.  Make these lines perpendicular to the horizon. (later on you can break away from the horizon, but we’re starting small)

Now we measure out a different scale on each of the lines.  The illustration below will show you what I mean.  The point where these lines cross the horizon is always mark zero.  Start measuring from that mark, making new marks as you measure, and the lines will be in sync.

syncing the gauge

10 point & 15 point next to each other. One is bigger.

For this example I’ve chosen a 10 point gauge for one line and a 15 point gauge for the other. I’ve also placed the lines right next to each other so you can see how the different measurements relate (but your lines should still be on opposite sides of the paper).  It will probably help if you number the marks while you’re learning.

Now we just connect the dots. Draw a line between the corresponding marks.  Mark 1 on the left connects to mark 1 on the right.  Mark 2 on the left connects to mark 2 on the right, and so on.  Connect them all!  Yay!  When you finish, it should look something like this:

first grid

Try to avoid running into your fingers on the ruler, but you get the idea

With these lines are in proportion to each other you are ready to use them as your perspective reference.  With a similar grid I recreated the original drawing of the house we began with.  The results are pretty dramatic.

A more natualistic perspective drawing

A more naturalistic perspective drawing

Not convinced?  Check out these overlays of the two drawings on top of the photograph.  They both have their problems, but the newer one is vastly superior, if what you are after is something that appears natural.

drawings overlayed on the original phot

You be the judge

You can still buy type gauges in the really good art supply stores.  Try Pearl Art or Plaza or whoever you have that’s better than an arts & craft shop.  They cost about as much as an expensive ruler.

– – – – –

Longest. Post. Ever. 

Bigfoot Revised

Posted in Books, Children's, graphite, Illustration on October 14, 2011 by spudaug

Here is a new look at the bigfoot design.  Less cartoony, more detailed, and, to my eyes, very similar in style to the ducks I’ve posted here.  The process I’m using for this project is identical to the ducks, so that probably contributes to the look.  The girl character is shown so you can get in idea of size – he’s big, but not a giant.  I left the notes I made to the editor where I put on them on the concept.  (We went with the bushy eyebrows)  I know I always enjoy getting to see the process of other artist’s at work.  It’s kind of like getting to peek inside their heads for a while to watch the gears turning.

I think Bigfoot reminds me of my buddy Nick Hollomon now.  Less furry (but not by much). 

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