It's been a while since I've written here but I figured Christmas Eve was as good a time to restart the blog as any. We'll see if I can get back on a regular writing schedule as the new year starts.
My trip to Maine went well. It was good to see my family and the island and the ocean again. Every time I go it makes me miss my Mom and Dad even more and it's especially hard for me being this far away from them at this time of year. I call them every week but it's not the same as taking a walk on the beach with my Mom or sitting down and watching a movie with my Dad. I wish I lived closer or could get back more often.
I got back to Colorado and got OilCan Drive back on track and have been doing pretty well on getting new pages posted every week. I am in the home stretch and only have about three or four more pages to pencil before the third book is close to being done.
I have some plans once the new book is done including recording the new album (the demos are done and I've been writing lyrics for the song) and doing a short five page comic about Ryan and Lily for the booklet insert of the album. I figure that not only will it be fun to do a short story about the history of their relationship but it will give me a little time to write and layout the fourth book in the OilCan Drive adventure.
Work has been okay. Sports Illustrated has been really great this year with my regular monthly gig (I'll be showing off more of that artwork soon) but, other than them, it has been my worst year yet. Luckily I'm doing okay and have saved enough not to have to go back to a job-type-job yet but it still worries me from time to time. I've been updating my portfolio sites and slowly building an update to my personal website so we'll see if that helps. And I have been making contact with old clients to see if there might be some work to do for them in the coming year.
Maybe it's just the universe's way of telling me to keep going on OilCan Drive and really push it this next year. Luckily I have that project to keep me busy. So, while it feels like it's been the busiest year I've ever had it's been the least amount I've been able to bill out to clients.
But, I'm happy, healthy, have some savings, and I'm really loving working on OilCan Drive. I just hope I won't have to sell a kidney (or a guitar from my collection) anytime soon.
I hope you're all doing well, spending the holidays with loved ones, and are doing well in your life. I'll see you all soon!
I spent the day today watching a few movies and tackling the watercolor piece of Vincent from OilCan Drive. The definite highlight of the movies was the 1984 Kevin Bacon flick, Quicksiler, where he's a former stock broker who now rides bikes for a living. It made for some great background noise while I worked on this piece.
I painted Vincent in a very similar way to the techniques I used while working for Marvel Comics in the early 90s. Back before everything went digital they used to send me watercolor boards with the image printed on it in non-repo blue along with a transparent acetate overlay with the same image printed in black. You'd rip off the black line overlay and paint and airbrush on the watercolor board until you were done. Then you'd line up the transparent black overlay and, ta-dum, finished piece!
The only difference in this piece is that I didn't pull out the airbrush to paint and simply used ink washes, watercolor overlays, and colored pencils to paint the piece. When I was done I scanned the colored board into the computer, placed the original black and white line art over the piece, touched it up a bit, and, once again, ta-dum, finished piece!
Here is a photo I took in the middle of the process once the ink wash and watercolor part was done. I still hadn't used the colored pencils or touched it up yet but it should give you a good idea what the piece looks like without the black ink line overlay.
I really love doing pieces like this and I really should find the time to do them more than once or twice a year. It's different from painting digitally in that I am never quite sure where I am going with the piece and I don't have the luxury of having an undo button if something goes wrong. But, I always love the way these pieces come out. They have a life to them that digital always seems to be lacking.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new piece as much as I do. Question now is, who should I paint like this next?
Lately I've been getting the itch to try another blue-line watercolor painting like I did with the Brick piece last year. This is, of course, kind of like the technique I used to paint with back in my Marvel Comics days before computers came along and almost everything went digital.
So, I penciled out this quick piece of Vincent last night and inked it this afternoon. I've scanned it into the computer and prepped it to print both as a non-repo blue line on the art board and as a black and white transparency for the overlay. I think I'll be able to print it out Monday and, if have enough time next week, start painting.
I made this piece of Vince a bit more cartoony than usual, really warping his skull and making the whole piece look a bit more fluid and animated. I don't know what I was thinking and I know it's not technically correct but I still dig it.
I can't wait to start painting it and I'll definitely let you know how it goes.
As I geared up today to pencil another round of Sports Illustrated Kids "What's The Call" illustrations for the December issue I realized I haven't shown off any of the magazine's images in quite a while.
So, what say we fix that right now?
As always, there is a play on the field that is questionable and you, as the official, need to make the correct call. So, it's up to you. What's The Call?
1. Basketball- During a basketball game against the Montana Mountaineers, Arkansas Avengers center Josephine Jackson grabs a rebound from under her team's basket. As she comes down, Jackson swings her elbows excessively to ward off the Mountaineer defenders, but does not make contact with them. The Mountaineers coach says that a foul should be assessed for her play. You're the referee. Does Jackson deserve to be penalized?
1. Baseball- In a baseball against the Oswego Otters, Springfield Springers first baseman Kareem Parker hits a long ball to left field. Otters outfielder Marshall Pinto jumps up to catch it. The ball brushes the top of Pinto's glove before hitting the foul pole and landing over the fence. As Parker starts to round second base, the Otters manager argues that it is not a home run, rather it is a ground rule double. You're the umpire. What's the call?
3. Golf- Aaron Hill hits a shot off the green in a golf tournament. The ball stops a foot from the hole before a squirrel scurries onto the green and past the ball, moving it two feet away from the hole. You're the official. Where should Hill play his next shot from?
Good luck! I'll have more of these to show off soon enough. Thanks again to all the great folks up at Sports Illustrated Kids! These pieces are always a blast to do and I usually even learn something!
Well, this year's 24 Hour Comic Day has come and gone and, overall, I'm not happy with how I performed. I did a lot of things wrong from the start and they just seemed to snowball out of control from there.
First off, after doing the full 24 pages last year to prove to myself I could do it I thought I'd give myself a break this year and do, at most, 12 pages. After coming up with a story and laying out the pages I had a total of 22 pages and two covers to draw. Instead of stepping back and rethinking the story or ditching it entirely, I jumped in and never looked back.
I felt like I'd been exhausted for weeks and I should have gotten more rest before Saturday. I should have gotten more sleep Friday night before the even but, no matter how tired I was, I couldn't sleep. If I was in bed I just laid there with my eyes closed and my mind racing. If I did actually get any sleep it couldn't have been more than two hours. Only two hours of sleep really isn't the way you should start a 24 hour marathon of doing anything. But, I showed up at 10am anyway and started drawing.
I penciled out the whole story by 5pm and started inking. And that's when I hit the wall. My head was aching and my back hurt. I could barely focus and I even had trouble making simple conversation with people. I was actually forgetting words as I talked. It wasn't good.
Finally, at 2am, I called it and stopped working. Monika tried to get me to keep going but I just couldn't. She actually badgered me to stay but nothing worked. I was done. I was the first artist to leave the event while everyone else kept working. In the end I had 24 pages penciled and 7 inked.
As tired as I was and as much as I understand why I stopped I still feel like a failure.
Part of me really doesn't know why. It's not like there was money involved or a job at stake or the chance of me being fired from anything if I failed. And, if I succeeded it didn't really matter either. It's not like there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or really any recognition if I pulled it off again.
Still, not making it this year is weighing heavily on me.
I had planned on trying to finish the pages in the coming weeks. I liked the way the story had come out and I really liked the way I had told the story. It really has promise. And I know I have some time to finish it before they put the call out for the finished art for the anthology. But now I don't know.
As you know, I spent the week prior to the event getting a cover done for the anthology book cover contest. I penciled, inked, colored, and laid out a cover because I thought more people would participate. But, as the day began, I was the only one who had printed a cover. One of the other artists actually called me a "brown noser" for doing a cover before the event. Later at least my friend Liam had a cover up in the voting next to mine and, by the end of the day, the guy who made the snide remark to me also had a cover up in the running (he had penciled it while another artist inked it.) On Sunday I found out I hadn't gotten the cover and the snide remarker had won. On his Facebook post where they announced the winner he actually wrote, "your reign of terror is over Mr. Tiffany!"
I'm sure he meant the remark in good humor but, with the way I am feeling now, it is cutting deeper than it probably should. It might have been because I was tired but I really felt like an outcast there this year, like I just didn't belong. So, now I am not so sure about finishing up this story...or finishing up much of anything personal right now. I inked one page today at lunch and then came home and cleaned the house because it was something to do that seemed more productive than any piece of art on my table. I'll complete the client jobs I have in front of me, of course, but, after that, I don't know. And I really don't know if I would attend the next 24 Hour Comic Day. If anyone has any advice on which way to go I'd love to hear it. We'll see what happens over the next few days. Right now I just hope tomorrow is better than the last few days have been.
Here is my finished cover submission for the 2015 24 Hour Comic Challenge Anthology bookas well as the digitally revised black and white version.
If you're anywhere near Boulder, Colorado tomorrow (Saturday to me) come on over to Time Warp Comics and say hi. Bring me some coffee while you're at it. I have a feeling I'm going to need it!
I don't think I am as ready for this year as I was last year so I have no idea how this is all going to go. I know I can quit any time I want but I have a feeling I'll be just stubborn enough to make it through another one of these things. We'll see what happens.
For now, I am off to bed. I have a long day tomorrow.
I finished up my cover for the 24 Hour Comic Day tonight but I've decided to hold off until tomorrow to post it. I think it came out okay but I am still a little too close to the final piece to really know. You can decide for yourself soon enough.
So, while I have a break from the more recent things, I've decided to show off a few things I did this past summer.
I was contacted earlier this summer by a website called Zooppa. They seem to run various ad campaigns for big name clients but run them as contests. Now, I know as a professional artist I'm supposed to frown on this sort of thing but it seemed like stupid fun so I decided to give it a try. But, I also decided to take as little time on it as possible.
The campaign I joined was for a new Mike's Hard line of drinks called Tiger's Blood. The first thing that sprung into my mind was, of course, Charlie Sheen. I also figured that more than enough people would simply draw tigers. So, I came up with the weird idea of a Charlie Sheen kid wearing a Calvin and Hobbes type tiger costume with a little Adventure Time flair thrown in.
I figured, if nothing else, there would probably not be one other person who contributed to the campaign who would have a Tiger Boy on the can. If Mike's Hard liked the Tiger Boy I would have the market cornered.
I actually drew all of these pieces while at lunch with friends, brought them home, scanned them into the computer, and quickly colored them. I think I was done before dinner.
Of course I didn't win. The winners' cans all had beautiful tigers painted on them in elegant ways. But, in my opinion, none of them were as fun as the Tiger Boy.
Looking back, maybe I shouldn't have entered a contest meant merely to find a cheap way to get some art on a product at a discounted cost. At the time I didn't think it would do any harm. But, now, I am thinking stuff like this may be one of the reasons I haven't had too many new clients this past year. "Contests" like these definitely cheapen the art and the people who create for a living and make it harder for people to do this as a career. So, I don't see myself doing anything like this again anytime soon.
I keep going back to an old mantra I took away from my years of trying to work on other people's comic books. "If there is a project that I may or may not get paid for I'd rather work on my own project. At least that way if I don't get paid I still had fun doing the work and much more control." (not to mention I'd own the project.)
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the lessons we've taught ourselves over the years.
But I still like the Tiger Boy. I may need to use him again sometime!
Here is the inked cover I am working on for this Saturday's 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge.
I thought I was done with the piece but, once I scanned it into the computer and started working on the color, I realized I really wasn't happy with the way Ryan came out. So, tonight, I did a new image of Ryan and digitally put him into the cover. I think it is working out so far but I have had my moments of doubt.
In keeping with my 24 Hour Comic Day tradition I inked both of these pieces using only Sharpie Markers and Micron Pens. They don't have the detail I usually get from a brush and ink but they are a lot faster and with 24 Hour Comic Day fast is what it's all about. Hopefully this technique will serve me well yet again when I sit down to do my comic on Saturday.
I haven't even started the actual comic yet and I already feel exhausted. I am definitely having one of those nights where I feel everything I do is pointless and useless and maybe I should hang up this art thing once and for all. But, I just keep on working no matter how bad I feel about it.
I'm sure I am just tired and things will look better in the morning over a bowl of cereal.
Today I got a bit further along on the new cover for the 24 Hour Comic Day anthology book. I spent most of today inking the piece but I thought I'd show off the pencil sketch first.
In order to streamline the process for the 24 Hour Comic Day and, because I wanted to create the cover in the same way I'll be tackling the event this Saturday, I penciled the cover in non-repo blue pencil. The idea is that, once I am done inking the page, there will be no need to erase any pencil marks before I finish and scan the piece to the computer for touch ups and lettering.
The problem with the non-repo blue pencil is it is a bit harder to capture with a photo than if I had penciled it my usual way. But, hopefully you get the idea.
I spent most of the day today working on music with Lou. I thought we were going to work on a song we had previously recorded but we ended up recording something new and playing around with how many instruments and sounds we could get out of the midi player. I wouldn't say we came away with an actual song but more of a pattern with different instruments coming in and out of the mix. If nothing else, it was a great way to get myself more acquainted working with midi files and I did find a really beautiful sounding violin patch.
I just wish I could spend as much time on my own music as I do on Lou's. But, I am finding it's sometimes easier to help someone out with their own dream than working on your own all by yourself. And, if nothing else, it is fun hanging out on a Saturday afternoon with a friend, having a few drinks, and making a bit of noise.
I also finally found some time tonight to make a quick video and upload both the raw files I received and the mix I came up with for my friend Adam's new music track, "Little White Sermon." Since Adam is being super sneaky about this project and in the past few years has done his best to erase all traces of himself from the internet I am only sharing these mixes here on my blog.
The first half of the video is the raw recordings of the session I got from Adam and, from about 5:10 on, it's the mix I came up with. I hope it's fun to listen to the differences side by side and I really hope I did a somewhat decent job.
Saturdays have definitely become music days here around the studio!
Most nights I have free I'll wind the day down by taking a bike ride around town. I used to take my old heavy cruiser bike out for a loop but, since I've gotten a new and lighter road bike, I've been taking longer rides that total around fourteen miles. I basically ride from one end of town to the other and loop back taking a different route that takes me close to the foothills and back to my house.
Last night I was on this run and I thought I was either tired or getting old because peddling seemed a bit harder than normal. But, I kept chugging along, listening to a podcast and letting my mind wander. Around the ten mile mark, when I was going down a hill, I tried to change my front gears from the usual mid-gear I cruise along in to the harder gear. It was then I realized I had done most of my route in the harder gear. So, I wasn't too tired or too old, I had just forgotten to check the gear under my left hand.
I didn't think it wore me out too much as I got home but my aching legs and sleeping in until 1:30 this afternoon say different. Still, I got back on the bike tonight, made sure I was in the right gear, and gave myself a break by doing my old eight mile route.
I got the newest page for OilCan Drive finished and posted tonight. You can check it out HERE. This will probably be the last new one for Track Three for a bit as I get ready for the 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge. But, I am sure I'll get back to it as soon as I can. I am pretty much at the half way point of this chapter and I can't wait to keep going and tell more of the story in my head.
Also, the pin-up piece I did for The Specialists Kickstarter campaign was featured today. The guys gave me a really nice little write up and featured both my piece and the cover of OilCan Drive Track One. I really hope they are successful with their campaign. I would love to have one of those hardcover books on my shelf. You can check out both the write up and the campaign HERE.
I listened to the Avs again tonight as I worked but they couldn't pull it out this time. They lost 1-0. Ah well, pre-season is where you're supposed to work all the bugs out of the system. But, it was fun to listen to the game again on the radio. I am looking forward to watching them again on TV but there is really something nice and nostalgic about simply listening to a game while you work. It somehow makes me feel like a kid again.
And, finally, the piece above is the character of another artist who I met at Denver Comic Con. He asked me if I would do some sketches of her and I liked her so much I had to say yes. The little black and white piece I did as a warm-up to start the day a while ago while the pencil sketch was my first attempt at figuring the character out. I don't think I've quite got her yet and I haven't heard from him lately so I really don't know what will happen with this project. Still, she is fun to draw so I am hoping we can do something together with her soon.
As I shift my focus from the OilCan Drive weekly comic pages to the upcoming 24 Hour Comic Challenge I realized, with time running out, that I better get a bunch of stuff figured out quickly.
Not only would I like to get some idea of the story fleshed out a bit more before I sit down for twenty four hours to draw a comic but there is also the matter of getting a cover done for the upcoming collected anthology of those comics. Every year my local comic shop, Time Warp Comics, hosts the 24HCD event and, after everyone is done with their stories, collects the comics into one big printed book to sell in the store. Last year it was the store's thirtieth anniversary so everyone was asked to have the store's mascot, Tommy Time Warp, featured on the cover. That made it a bit easier. But, this year, there hasn't been any directives so I've had to come up with something entirely on my own.
So, I figured, when in doubt, tie it into something I am doing with the story rattling around in my head.
During lunch I grabbed the nearest piece of paper I could find (it just happened to be a fuschia colored piece of paper) and quickly sketched out this idea. Since most of the OilCan Drive pieces I do fit into an album inspired
square format it was nice to do something different and go back to the
regular vertical comic book format in this new design. Honestly, it felt
kind of like doing an OCD movie poster so I did my best to find my
inner Drew Struzan.
We'll see if this idea pans out as I start putting pencil to paper later this week.
I got the November round of illustrations done for Sports Illustrated Kids this afternoon and sent them off. That gave me enough time to run out, grab some sandwiches for dinner, and get back in time to listen to the first pre-season game of Colorado Avalanche hockey!
The great part is that hockey season has (almost) begun but the bad news is that, because hockey isn't nearly as popular as something like football, none of the pre-season games are televised. So, I have to revert to listening to them on the radio.
But, it's not all bad. It reminds me of being a kid and the radio isn't nearly as distracting as the TV so I got the newest OilCan Drive page inked while I listened to the game.
This newest page may be my last page of this newest OilCan Drive chapter for a few weeks. In less than two weeks I'll be participating in the annual 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge and I need some time to prep for the event. Not only do I like having some idea of what I 'm going to be drawing in that twenty four hour period but the organizer of the event has asked that everyone submit a cover design for the anthology of stories they'll be publishing later this year. So, I've decided to give myself a break, change my focus a bit, and get this stuff out of the way while putting the next few weeks of OilCan Drive on the back burner.
But, fear not, if all goes well I'll have a new twenty four page OilCan Drive story I can show off later this year.
Still, I'm glad I got this newest page almost all done and ready for Friday's update. It felt good to ink a page while listening to a hockey game.
Oh, and the Avalanche won the game in what sounded like a very fun three-on-three overtime after coming back from a 4-2 deficit! I am so glad hockey is back. Between that and the weather cooling off a bit I can finally think and create again!
On Thursday night I headed down to Denver to attend an art show that Josh Thorne, who I mentored while he was in high school, was a part of. He has teamed up with a couple of other guys and formed a company called All Day Ind. and together they are doing some really great art. Josh and his partner do the illustration and their third member makes beautifully crafted custom made wooden frames. Of all the other artists I saw at the gallery that night they definitely had the most impressive set-up. We got their a little late but the atmosphere was great and it really felt like what a hip and trendy rock and roll art show would look like if you saw it in a movie.
On Friday I finally had a chance to jot down some initial ideas for my OilCan Drive 24 Hour Comic that I'll be attempting in a little under two weeks. I like to get some idea of what I am going to do during that twenty four hours instead of going in cold so it felt nice that some of my ideas are finally gelling. Hopefully I can get something more set in stone as I get closer to drawing day.
And, it must have been a long week because I ended Friday with a nice long nap before dinner.
I also finished up my mix of my friend Adam's song so hopefully I can get that up here soon. I want to put the music to at least some sort of simple video so I can showcase not just the music but some images as well. Plus I want to make sure it's okay with Adam if I show it off before I just post it online.
Saturday found me recording a new Lou song that, at first, sounded to me like some sore of theme song for a new Law and Order series...Law and Order, The Lost Years maybe. But, once we but it through the paces and added some orchestration to it the whole song changed. I sent Lou off with an initial mix of the track which I'm sure he'll be adding some lyrics to.
Saturday night I spent catching up on Doctor Who's last season and inking my illustrations for the next round of Sports Illustrated Kids, "What's The Call." Everything flowed really nicely and I actually got ahead of my self appointed schedule. So, today, instead of inking the pieces, I actually got two of them completely scanned, colored, and finished. One more to go and I'll be done with this round.
And, somewhere in the middle of all of that I also put the finishing touches on my steady-cam rig and got a few bike rides in.
And, tonight's bike ride bear count? Three bears...two cubs and one Momma black bear. I gotta be careful out there at night but they all seemed to be doing okay and I hope as long as I don't bother them they don't bother me.
Today I blocked in all of the figures for the newest round of Sports Illustrated Kids, "What's The Call", illustrations. Meaning I sketched everyone out in non-repo blue pencil so I could get all the gestures and proportions ready before I go to detail and final pencil sketches tomorrow.
I also completed the first rough mix of my friend Adam's song. There are a few little things to tweak but I am pretty happy with how it is turning out so far.
All in all, it was a pretty productive day considering I wasn't feeling too well when I woke up this morning.
Today's piece of art is a pin-up I did for The Specialists, a web comic about super heroes and villains set during World War 2. Over the last few years of doing conventions around Denver I became friendly with both creators Shawn Gustafson and Al Fukalek. During this year's Denver Comic Con I, along with a few other very talented creators, were approached by Shawn to do a pin-up as an incentive for their upcoming Kickstarter campaign to fund a Specialists hard cover omnibus book.
I love the book both Al and Shawn produce and I love the characters so, of course, I said yes.
The character I was assigned to portray was The Bombardier. The design is very reminiscent of Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer so I had a blast coming up with the idea of this piece and putting it all together. I did feature the patches that are on The Bombardier's jacket in my final illustration but, after going back and forth with Shawn, it was decided to keep them off the final print. I figure you can see the final print over on the Kickstarter site so I thought I'd show you the alternate, what might have been, version here.
You can check out The Specialists Kicsktarter campaign HERE. I really hope this project funds because I think it would be really cool to have a giant hardcover book of this comic. I've already pledged so I hope you do too. And, if you pledge enough you can get a nice print of my piece.
To wind down tonight I watched the first half of Robert Rodriguez's Desperado. Man, I miss movies like this. They were super inspiring back in the day and it's nice to see that they still hold up. Hopefully I can watch the end tomorrow night. For now, I am off to sleep!
Last Friday Monika and I headed up to Fort Collins to attend their first ever Comic Con. It was only a one day event on Saturday but we were asked if we could set up our booth the night before so we headed up north and spent the night with one of Monika's friends.
We were both pretty tired as we drove up to Fort Collins but we found the event center okay and headed in to set up. The whole event was held in a big gymnasium with one of those indoor tracks running around the top of it. I had a bit of a high school gym class flash back but I managed to keep it to myself. The table we were assigned was right next to a runway and PA loudspeaker set-up. I didn't think anything of it at the time but I wish I had. I might have asked to move right then and there.
We did a pretty quick set up of the table and backdrop and called it a night. We had a late dinner and headed over to Monika's friend Anne's house to spend the night.
I always have a hard time sleeping anywhere new so I don't think I fell asleep until around 3am or so. I guess that is normal for me but I was hoping with how tired I was it might have been easier to sleep. The alarm came all too soon at 6:30am and we were up and ready to go.
Because the convention was only a one day event the coordinator's scheduled it from 8am until 8pm. That is one looooong day to be sitting behind a table trying to hock your wears. And, it didn't help that I hadn't slept well the previous two nights.
Things started slow and I didn't even have my first sale until 11am. There were a lot of people in costumes walking around and, because we were right next to the stage, I had a good view of all the costume contests. In fact, once people got off the stage they all gathered right in front of my booth. That was alright but what quickly drove me nuts was how loud they had this PA cranked up to talk to the crowd through out the day. And we were right next to the speaker! It felt like some sort of torture every time this one certain guy with a booming voice jumped on the microphone. We asked if they could turn it down or if he could not yell into the mic but that didn't help. By the end of the day both Monika and I were a bit shell shocked and twitched every time anyone got on the PA.
Other than that things went well. We met some new people and got to catch up with some old friends and I even sold a few books here and there. It was a long long day and I'm not sure if I am in a rush to do it again. The business side of me thinks it might have been too much work to earn how much money we brought in. But the people we met and talked to made it fun so I guess I should turn off my business head sometimes.
I also got to do a bunch of sketches for people and here are a few photos I took of them before I gave them to their new owners.
Oh, and my favorite costume out of all the people I saw there? It had to be the Latino man who reminded me of Guillermo from The Jimmy Kimmel show wearing an orange and blue Denver Broncos Iron Man suit. Seeing that guy made my day and definitely made the trip worth while.
We got back home safely Saturday night and had some ice cream before passing out while watching the beginning of Kill Bill Part One. Tonight I get to see how the first part ends!
Phew, it's been another long day and I once again find myself writing this just a bit before 3am. One of these days this schedule is going to catch up with me.
I finished up the newest OilCan Drive page this afternoon and posted it tonight. You can check it out HERE.
I also did a few thumbnail ideas for a client that I hope to hear back from soon so I can get rolling on their next project. It's fun to bat around new ideas but also a little scary. I always hope I am giving a client what they want and the thumbnail stage is at least a good way to make sure we're both on the same page.
I also received a nice surprise from my friend Adam in Nashville. He sent me over the raw files for his newest song so I could open them up in ProTools and play with them. So, as a way to take a break from the drawing board tonight, I sat for a few hours and started mixing his song. I finally had to tear myself away from the fun and get back to work but I am hoping I can get back to it soon. Add this music mix to working on Lou's video and I doubt I'll have time to get bored anytime soon.
I'll also be up in Fort Collins this weekend for their first comic convention so I'm not sure if I'll be able to write tomorrow night. We'll see. I'll be spreading the good word of OilCan Drive and I'll have the usual books, music, trading cards, and stickers to sell and hand out. I'll also be bringing some original sketches that I'll be selling as well as doing commissions at the show. If you're near Fort Collins, come on by and say hello. It would be great to meet you. You can find more info about the convention HERE.
And finally, Craig Finn, a musician and writer who I've come to really admire, put out his second solo album today. About a month ago Craig asked for quick video submissions to go along with a song from the album, "Faith in the Future." I had already pre-ordered the new album and loved the EP of five songs I received for ordering so early. So, of course, I had to submit something.
I sat at lunch one afternoon and, as I drew a little cartoon of Craig with a word balloon singing the title of the track, "Maggie, I'm Still Searching For Our Son," I took photos of my progress. I sent both the photos and the time lapse video to Craig.
And now the video has been officially released and the first place you can see it is over at Rolling Stone. Among a bunch of other great fan submitted content, there are a few pieces of my art. It's really cool and I totally love the song!
Here are a few of the photos I sent in to Craig. Enjoy the video and enjoy the song. It reminds me of a bit of Bruce Springsteen mixed with a little punk rock and something else I can't quite put my finger on but I really like. If you'd like more info about getting Craig's album you can check it out HERE.
Now, it's time for me to get some rest! Too much rocking and rolling for one day!
Since Friday is coming fast I spent most of the day wrapping up the inks on the newest OilCan Drive page.
I got enough of it done tonight that tomorrow will simply be a matter of graying in the page, writing the script, lettering, and putting it up online. I don't see anything going wrong so there shouldn't be any problems keeping my OilCan Drive Friday schedule going this week.
It has been both scary and fun putting myself behind the right ball again by having to get a page done a week. Sometimes I think a page a week isn't all that much to ask of myself. I was taught and trained that a "real" comic book artist can get a page done a day. But, I figure that "page a day" thing usually refers to a penciler who is simply penciling a page a day. I have to remind myself that I am writing, penciling, inking, scanning, cleaning up, graying, and lettering a page each week. Plus, add that to my usual client schedule and trying to find time to do all the other creative ideas I have in my head and I should probably give myself a break.
A page a week may not seem like much but it's gotten me half way into a third book and that's not nothing. I know plenty of people who still talk about doing a comic book someday and have yet to draw panel one of page one. So, go me!
Oh, and I also learned a bit more about editing Lou's video today and did a few tests. It's all coming together. Maybe slowly...but it's all coming together!
I wound down tonight watching "Machete Kills" on Netflix. It was fun watching a movie like that after thinking about film and video stuff all day. And I am slowly figuring out how I can do a lot of that stuff here in the studio. It's an exciting time, boys and girls, a very exciting time!
Woo...it's been a long day but I finally made some head way with Lou's video. I think I figured out how to get around all the weird frame jumps and glitches that the first video had but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to cut the new footage together to see if it works.
The good news is that, by doing that first broken video, it gave me a good template to cut the new one to so I can make quicker decisions and, hopefully, get the new video done sooner than later. Right now I am just trying to look on the positive side of things.
I was hoping to show off the video tonight but it looks like it will have to wait a few more days. I hope it's worth the wait. If nothing else, this has been a really good learning experience. For now, I am exhausted and off to bed!
I tried again today to figure out why the render I did of Lou's video yesterday had all kinds of weird flashing and skipping frames in it. I thought I had it figured out but I guess not. I started to cut the video together again today but Adobe Premiere kept freaking out and shutting down so I finally gave up and started inking the next page of the OilCan Drive story. This video has almost driven me nuts but I am not giving up yet.
And, at least the comic book page is coming along nicely so it's good to know I can still do that without the brush and ink bottle crashing on me.
Here are a few photos of the cheap steady-cam rig I built last week and that I used to film Lou singing his song. It really worked out well and allowed me not only to move the camera around him as he sang a few takes but I also followed him over the shoulder as he walked into my building downstairs, took the elevator up, and walked down the hall to my condo. It really worked well. The only time it really didn't work was when I hit the counter weight on the bottom of the rig with my leg as I was walking.
But, other than that it was easy to use and the raw footage I got with it looked pretty decent.
I finished off the night by going on a bike ride around Boulder. Lately I've been going on these big 14 mile bike rides at night to clear my head a bit and listen to a podcast or two. I end my ride with a long stretch along 4th street, a path that takes me right next to the base of the mountains. And on my ride back down the hill tonight I looked to my right and saw what I think was a little bear running right alongside me. I think it was a cub since it didn't look too big. All I saw was a black shape that was too big to be a racoon hauling ass down the road. I kept peddling since, if it was a cub, I didn't want to be around when the mama bear came running out to see who was chasing her kid. Yikes!
But, I got away safe and sound and am now back home. Time for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little TV to finish out the night!
My friend Lou came over today and we did a quick video shoot of one of the recent songs he and I recorded to test some of the cinematic ideas I've had over the past week.
We used one of his songs called "Undiscovered" that we recorded last June. He started with a simple piano riff and, while I recorded and engineered, he came up with this song. He hadn't shot a video for it yet so I thought it was a perfect candidate to do some tests on.
Using my old GoPro Hero2 mounted to the cheap steady cam I built last week I shot Lou singing the song in the front of my living room. We taped at a few different frame speeds so I could test out some slow and fast motion effects to see what both the GoPro and Adobe Premiere could do. I've only used Premiere once and that was a while ago so it took me a bit to reacquaint myself with the system.
I had some trouble syncing up the different video speeds to the original audio because Premiere had trouble processing the video so, when I tried to make sure the lips were singing the right part of the song, the video simply jumped and skipped around so I had no idea how close I was. I got the best I could and then rendered the video.
I thought the video output would be the same parameters as the project parameters but apparently you have to tell the program how you plan to output it. So, after and hour spent on that first rendering, I had to start the whole process over again. Ugh. It took a few tries but I finally got something rendered that wasn't half bad.
It's been a long day but I'll upload the video tomorrow so you can check it out. It's by no means perfect but it was an interesting test. And, I think I may have even learned a few things.
The last part of this summer has been an interesting ride. Somewhere in the middle of July I felt like I lost any sort of creative mojo I had. No matter what I did nothing seemed to be flowing. Oh, I did work and tried things. The technical aspect of what I do was still there and I was able to work but nothing felt quite right at all.
Then, all of a sudden, once the weather cooled off a bit, my creativity returned with a vengeance. My head started spinning at a million miles an hour and I felt like I wanted to do EVERYTHING! I could barely contain it and I've been doing my best to focus it in some sort of useful direction.
Illustration is still my first priority but my head has been filled with so much more. I am writing more music, from the rock songs with OilCan Drive to actually trying to figure out how to compose for a symphony. I've been working with my friend Lou on his songs as well and honing my skills as a producer and recording engineer. I've started looking into film again and I built a steady-cam rig this week and have plans to do some test filming tomorrow. I've been doing my client work but also trying to keep the page-a-week schedule I set up for myself with OilCan Drive as well as do some more fun illustration for a few t-shirt companies here and there.
It's been crazy and I am just trying to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.
For now, here is a piece I did for a t-shirt company of the ghost with the most, Beetlejuice. If you're interested in a t-shirt or print of the afterlife exterminator you can check out my t-shirt shop HERE.
And, because both losing your mojo for a while and then having it almost drive you crazy both seem to keep me away from the blog, here are a bunch of process shots as I was working on this piece. I hope you enjoy and I'll see you all soon! There are so many places to go from here!