Jan 29, 2010

Practice practice

Trying out some more ways of digitally coloring my ink drawings. Some things are working well, some things are not. I'm going to be doing a lot more over the weekend before getting back into Hobbit stuff come Monday. Coincidentally, Monday is when the curtains pull back on this whole project, so I'll link you folks to that when the time comes. From what I've seen so far (just the tip of the iceberg), the work is going to be mind blowing.

Jan 26, 2010

Is Indie Dead?

Late last month I had the pleasure of working with Josh Baker over at Paste Magazine on a feature article about the death of indie music. I won't get into it here, because the article is an interesting read on its own, but the gist of it is that, like "punk" and "alternative" before it, the moniker of "indie" no longer means what it used to.

Josh asked for some spots poking fun at some of the inconsistencies of "indie" culture as it has come to be known. He asked for work reminiscent of what I've been working on in my sketchbook over the last few months, which of course I was thrilled to do.

The Miracle Whip spot is of course referencing this.

And of course take some time to read the article and see the pieces in context over on Paste's Website.

Stone Giants 4

Moving along with this design has been fun and I'm pleased with how they've developed, but I'm psyched to get to the next set. I'll probably start that on Monday, which is also the day this whole shebang gets revealed. My final for this project comes a week after that. I suppose I should get started, huh?

I don't respond to comments all that often, but thanks to everyone who has let me know that they enjoy what I'm doing here with this project. You'll understand the breadth of what's happening with it in a little while, but suffice it to say that this is an enormous and stressful undertaking and I'm happy to get so much positive feedback. Taking something that I love dearly and developing it over a long period of time has been and will continue to be an extremely daunting task. In a lot of ways, this is an absolute dream project. In others, it's the last thing I'd ever want to do for fear that I won't do the material its deserved justice. I am still terrified to take the next step, but I'm going to try as best I've can to live up to any expectations these prelims have cultivated. Thank you.

Jan 21, 2010


Some of you know that I do some amount of comic book coloring for my day job while I'm between freelance assignments. I flat the pages before the final colors are chosen and rendered by Jose Villarrubia, who I work for. Whenever I start, I just choose a more or less random color and build off of that as I separate out shapes. A lot of times it turns out to be a big mess; things get out of control and it's all I can do to make sure each shape reads against the rest. Sometimes, though, I like how the pallets turn out in the end. I can't show you the actual flats, so I'm going through the hundreds of pages I've done and pulling out swatches.

I've been meaning to do this for awhile now, since I end up agonizing over color about as much as I agonize over drawing. Maybe it'll help me avoid tinkering with those little color sliders for as long as I do now. Just from these few pages, you can probably tell my preferences are for earth tones and desaturated colors punctuated by a brighter red or yellow.

These ought to be helpful in the coming weeks as I'm beginning to think about the color for the Hobbit.

Jan 20, 2010

Stone Giants 2

These are so far from right it's silly. I needed to purge this design train from my mind before I could begin on a new one. That's not to say that I don't like these -- I do. I'll have to keep them in mind for a project down the line.

I'm not quite sure where to go from here, but that's alright. Again, these are not going to be showing up in the finals, so this is just me brainstorming.

The only thing the giants do in the book is throw boulders to each other and laugh. It's implied that the giants are largely mean, but not always. The things that I want to happen with the characters, or the things that I want to draw in this case are way off the mark. I'm trying too hard to reconcile what I want to draw with what I ought to draw and it's leading me to some very misguided results.

It's a good thing this isn't happening with any of the important aspects of the story.

Jan 19, 2010

Stone Giants 1

Wow. So, there's an 85%+ chance that the stone giants won't show up in any of the finals for this project, seeing as they're mentioned once? Twice? Tiny little thing. So I'm not really concerned about getting a great design out of them. That said, I like some of these, but they don't belong in this world yet. There's too much robot and too much Nausicaa and maybe too much or not enough kaiju. We'll see how they develop as the week goes on.

There is absolutely no design guideline for the stone giants in the text. They're described as being off in the distance during a thunderstorm, throwing rocks around. There's a temptation to just make them giant people just doing their thing, but I don't think that adds anything to the world creatively. They'd be just like trolls then, but bigger. That's boring. I'm bored now! I need to hook into something that expands the mythology.

Who knows, though? Maybe I find something I need to put into the finals.

Jan 17, 2010

Elves 4

These are some of my most successful elf pages so far, I think, even if the drawings aren't the best I've done. I don't know, there was something that happened while I was drawing these that sort of cleared things up for me. Tomorrow's elves ought to be better. I should've known that I would like shorter ears on elves, owing to my preference for Batman's cowl.

I got some great ideas (probably) about eagles and goblins today, too.

I could've sword Goblins were next week, but I keep forgetting the stone giants. The giants exist in one scene with very brief mention, but it's one of the more fantastic passages and really makes you realize that the Hobbit is a totally different beast than LOTR. Tolkien wrote it with a lot less realism in mind and the charmingly colloquial tone makes it so much easier to breeze through. LOTR is surely the greater literary achievement, but I have to say that I prefer my choice.

Although on some days I wish I had chosen one of Howard's Conan stories for this project...

Jan 13, 2010

Elves 3

Not a lot of time to sketch today, so not a lot of really wild experimentation. I'm sort of narrowing down by feel how I want these elves to come together, so the drawings are getting easier and easier. I'm really leaning towards leaving the elves rather traditional, as some of the upcoming things are going to be sort of weird (goblins, eagles, spiders), and there ought to be a few things to ground the nonsense a bit.

Tomorrow is pretty packed for me, so hold tight if I'm a little late with the posting.

I'll be able to talk about this project in early February.

Jan 12, 2010

Elves 2

Yeah, so I dunno. Elves. Hmm.

I guess three of those elf dudes and two of those elf ladies (top right, bottom left) are alright. I always liked the ethereal quality of the elves. I sort of picture them glowing a little and their hair and clothes flowing about them on their own accord. In my head, they live in perpetual June. I dunno. I'm still trying to get my head around them.

They're beautiful yeah, but not intimidating or vain (which is why the other two elf ladies don't work). I imagine them with a certainly androgynous aspect to them, as if they as a species are approaching some sort of single ideal person. If I had to compare them to any other people, I'd say maybe the ancient Athenians, or at least the Athenians as I know them from their marble sculptures.

I don't know if I want to make the elves less human than this. Here they're pretty much just people with pointy ears and long necks. I think that, for there to be half-elves (like Elrond), they still need to be largely humanoid.

I might spend a week dealing with weaponry and armor, since I think that would help me flesh out the different races a little bit (Man, Dwarf, Elf, and Goblin, really). Hobbits, of course, just smoke all day.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of stuff.

Jan 11, 2010

Elves 1

Here's a bunch of bad to mediocre-bad elves. These are Rivendell elves; wood-elves will have their own week down the line.

These are starting to find a direction, but are a long way from good. There's a balance that I need to find between staying true to the traditional "elf" look while still adding some little thing to it. These are all very traditional, but there are things I like. I'm going with very simple robes and very little ornamentation for the elves.

Jan 2, 2010

Trolls 4

I imagine trolls as doing a lot of grabbing and wrestling.