Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy Funeral - Quick Sketch

It was on TV in HD. Used the freeze frame function and did some quick, spur-of-the-moment portraits.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


My take on "Caution" for -- Just got it in under the wire.

I had two ideas for this piece. (Actually, three ideas if you include the quickly dismissed “semi-naked chick in caution tape” concept.) The first idea had to do with a runner bursting through a repeating black & yellow caution-tape finish line. The line marked the edge of a cliff and the runner continued past the edge, lunging into the sky. Was he flying or falling? Who knows? Maybe I’ll do this picture sometime. It seems like a strong concept.

The second idea was some sort of smiling swindler trying to take advantage of a person. The key to this piece would be the use of the black and orange-yellow color “caution sign” palette. It hit me that the swindler’s tie would make for a perfect pathway for the repeating black & yellow caution pattern. Several days later, the picture was complete.

Sketched on 9”x12” Strathmore Sketch paper. Finalized and painted in Photoshop CS 3.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mushroom Princess - Leisure

Rough sketch with colors

Inspiration for colors

More art soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reverse Engineering a Peach

A couple of days ago, I was seized with the irrational desire to do a Princess Peach fanart picture. I wanted to do something cheesecakey, like a Gil Elvgren picture, but mixed with a James Jean-like surrealistic thread.

As preliminary work for the picture, I compiled a bunch of Princess Peach character art from around the web. When working on a picture based on a famous design I'll look over the official art and draw a couple of takes on the character. Working style into someone else's design is largely an unconscious process. However, to gain a more complete understanding of the character, I decided to formally break down the design and rebuild it.

I found two different full body renders of Princess Peach. The first is from the New Super Mario Bros. DS game(left), and the second is from Smash Brothers Brawl for the Wii (right). At a glance the characters look the same, but resize the images so that their heads are the same size and then it's immediately obvious that the Smash Bros. Peach is taller than the New SMB Peach. I decided to toss the shorter Peach and work with the more modern Smash Bros. design.

To understand the character's build, I first need to determine her body proportions. To help with this process, I placed the art on and use the size of the character's head to figure out the height of the body. While I can't be sure of exactly where Peach's legs end underneath her gown, I can safely approximate Peach's height at around 5 heads tall, typical for a cartoon mascot character.

Typical adult proportions are around 7 1/2 heads. That would mean Peach, at about 5 heads high, has roughly the same body proportions as a 6 year old. Now, I'm sure the designers never intended to pair her up against a real human, but when you do, it illustrates how weird she looks. It seems that Princess Peach has an adult figure with a child's proportions.

Next, I figured out her anatomy by establishing some basic landmarks for her body. How long is her torso compared to her legs? Does she have a long midsection or a compact one? Where is her navel, and where does her torso end? Because Peach rarely struts around in anything skimpier than a ballroom gown, it's hard to be certain of her body lines. Doing my best with the clues in the visable anatomy and clothing, I created a model for her body.

To double-check my model, I compared the length of her legs against the upper torso and head. For most people, the legs (starting at the hip joint and running to the foot) are about the same length as the torso and head combined. It appears my take on Peach confroms to these proportions.

With the body lines established, I've acomplished the goal of deconstructing Princess Peach. Now that I know how she works, I can use the grid to translate her design to a side, back, or 2/3s view and create my own character design sheet.

For my rendition of Peach, I don't want her to look quite so young. Using the teen photo as a proportion guide, I cut up and stretch my sketch of Peach's body until her body matches the target proportions. This is the design I will use to create my illustration.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Art created for the weekly illustration challenge site, This is my take on the subject “Wrapped”.

“Wrapped” started with the octopus. I liked the idea of using its out-jutting tentacles as a framing device for the picture. I considered using a modern day diver, or an unfortunate swimmer as his victim, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was making the picture more mundane than required. Since there were no restrictions (and I’m already using a monster octopus) why not delve completely into the realm of fantasy, and make its victim into a mermaid?

There you have it. She’s wrapped.

The final image with a more restricted color palette.

I consciously limited the palette and degree of brushwork in this piece, modifying my painting style to match up with the sort of quick-turnaround work seen in magazine spot illustrations. I was shooting for two days, but the work took a little longer than expected – maybe 2.5 days in total.

The final sketch, drawn on a half sheet of 9”x12” Strathmore Sketch paper.

Basic color tones, plus “paper bark parchment” texture from I was glad to see that a little texture could bring the Octopus to life. Almost no shading or painting required. A nice trick when you can pull it off.

Color + dramatic shading.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Work-in-progress of a new picture for Mermaid meets Octopus. Flesh meets beak.

I'm going to cut back on the detail for this picture. I'll also be more restrained with my coloring. More spot illo, less Hildebrandt. Hoping for a two day turnaround.

Here's the work up.

Concept sketch (red/blue) with revised lines (black).

Rough sketch - Details on the mermaid character.

Rough sketch - Composed with the crop and ready for the final sketch pass.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Someone just can’t wait to be king. ;)

Art created for the weekly illustration submission site, This is my devious take on the subject, “Impatience”, for the week of August 9th, 2009. Similarities to any royal family, or member of any royal family, either living or dead, are purely coincidental.


Sketched on 9”x12” Strathmore Sketch Paper. Image finalized and painted in Photoshop CS 3. About 5 days from concept to completion.

This is the earlier, incomplete version that I posted on Thursday night. Lots of painting and palette alterations have happened since then.