Dec 31, 2009

Trolls 3

Removed the "shirt" part of the dhoti, since I couldn't figure out how to fasten it. I might try that again tomorrow, but I sort of like them in these little things. They're also getting filthier and stupider and more craggy as I go.

Trolls are simple creatures. They come down from the mountains to kill and steal livestock from human encampments. Sometimes they kill and steal the humans. They don't make anything or do anything beneficial to the world. They kill and steal and break and complain all night and curl up in caves at dawn. They live in caves and under bridges and beneath the roots of great old trees. Sunlight turns them to stone.

Their voices are deep and gravelly and their words are always slurred. They are more simple than they are stupid, and lack much manual dexterity. Troll hands are more suited to digging and punching than they are to operating tools. Their elephantine skin deflects most blades and arrows handily, though they are vulnerable in the eyes, throat, groin, and underarm.

Dec 30, 2009

Trolls 2

Trying out a sort of modified dhoti on the trolls, owing to the fact that trolls don't make anything, they only steal. I figure it's probably easier to steal a bolt of cloth than already tailored troll-clothes. I don't think anybody makes troll clothes. I need to modify it further, but I think it's starting to work on a conceptual level.

Trolls are a lot of fun to draw.

Dec 29, 2009

Trolls 1

Couldn't find my sketchbook yesterday, so I'll have a post on Saturday to make up for it.

Trolls. Hmm. Well, if you've read The Hobbit, you'll know the three trolls are a lot different than that cool cave troll in the first LOTR movie. For starters, these guys can speak and count and have Christian names all. Also, Bilbo originally mistakes them for huge men. Could you mistake that cave troll for a guy? Probably not.

So, I'm working with sort of an Oni motif with the trolls, giving them somewhat wolfish features and kabuki mullets and Hellboy/lion tails. At least for now, obviously. They are definitely more human than what P. Jackson showed us. We'll see where they go as the week goes on. I haven't really thought much about their clothing yet, so that'll get refined later on. They aren't exactly smart, but they're sentient and cruel.

I'm still considering adding some stone or rock elements to them, though that's a huge design shift. It's mentioned that they're originally made of stone, which is why they return to that state under sunlight. Maybe it's just giving them a little more of a blocky or carved look to their features and a textural treatment.

Ho hum.

Dec 19, 2009

Wizards 5

Okay, I feel pretty comfortable that I know what I'm doing with old Gandalf here.

Now, Gandalf doesn't really have a home, hence the 'Wandering Wizard' title, so I don't expect he has many changes of clothes. Plus, the wandering? It's been going on for a long, long time. Thousands of years. Wizards don't really seem the type to pick every little burr out of their robes or mend every little snag, hence all the little things caught in his clothes.

Fingerless gloves because they are cool and allow maximum dexterity for spells and pipe-lighting. He is also described in the book as having a silver scarf (way cool) and gigantic black boots (also cool).

Number two up there is number one in my heart. The final Gandalf is going to have a lot of his attributes.

What's next week? I'm on vacation, but I'm going to try and keep on track. I'm postponing Goblins for another couple of weeks, but there's fun stuff coming. Hint: TROLLS.

Also, Kali and I are watching the Fifth Element RIGHT NOW and that movie is amazing. It's aging like wine. Plus, designs by Moebius and Jean Paul Gautier? Too great.

Dec 18, 2009

Wizards 4.5

This is starting to make a little more sense. Dropped the hunch, upped the shaman. Still needs work, obviously, but at least we have a direction.

Wizards 4

Expect a rare Saturday post, as I'm a long way from figuring out Gandalf. These are hilarious to me, though.

Dec 16, 2009

Wizards 3

I had intended to start with Gandalf's costuming today, but I was hit with a slew of work that took up most of my day, and I couldn't devote the required time to it. Hopefully I can get to it tomorrow.

So instead, I played around with face shapes a bit. Nothing groundbreaking, but just the act of drawing him over and over is giving me more of an idea of what sort of things I can do that make the face more or less "Gandalfy." Gandalf is a strange balance of genial old man (which he is) and ancient and fierce demigod (which he also is). There's a tempestuousness to him that is a constant challenge to corner.

Dec 15, 2009

Wizards 2

Hmm. Slight variations on a single idea. Not much to say about this batch, just grinding away.

You guys are going to die when you hear who all are involved in this project. It's not just me doing The Hobbit. Should be around fifteen people involved. You'll hear about it in a couple of weeks, it's going to be ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

Thank you for your beautiful comments. They hit my ears like the sweet music of the spheres.

Dec 14, 2009

Wizards 1

Gandalf, the wandering wizard. What a great character. I'm going to spend a couple of days working on his face before I get into costuming.

God, finally a character with a giant beard to draw.

That last one is definitely the direction I'm taking him.

It's been an interesting mental exercise trying to fill in the rest of Tolkien's universe just using the information given in the Hobbit and not checking any of the gigantic LOTR wikis I'm sure exist out there. I've been having fun taking his descriptions of these characters and what they do in this relatively small story and imagining the rest, even though it's all written somewhere.

I read the Hobbit long before I could sit down and muscle my way through Fellowship and beyond. It just moves so much faster, especially when you consider that Fellowship starts with what, two hundred pages of wandering? That's tough to handle when you're ten, even if the scene in the barrow downs is rad. There's a lot more singing in The Hobbit, also. Bonus.

Dec 11, 2009

Hobbits 5

The last batch of hobbits. Definitely not as many winners as with the dwarves, but again, it's not so important. There's only one! It's not called The Hobbits.

I had planned on doing Goblins next week, but I think designing Gandalf is probably more important, so...I might have to do that first. Man, what a life. I have to draw wizards all week. FML, right?

Dec 10, 2009

Hobbits 4

Today I got to the part in the book where Bilbo and the dwarves are stuck in trees and the goblins and wargs are dancing around the trees and lighting them on fire and singing. That part is great. I cannot wait to draw the eagles.

Hobbits wear velvet, wool, linen, and corduroy with brass fasteners. It's all about comfort. Layers of green, mustard yellow, and cerulean. They carry with them tobacco, a pipe, and probably cookies or scones on them at all times. They smell like grass and dry sandy dirt.

Dec 9, 2009

Hobbits 3

Oooh ooh getting better. Proportions are getting smoothed out and I'm getting a better handle on the different types of Hobbit clothing. Third here is my favorite, I think. He seems Tookish. I do like the poncho-like traveling cloak, though.

In rereading the book, I'm really quite surprised at how little description of things there is. I guess all of this imagery from John Howe and Alan Lee and the LOTR films has leaked into my subconscious and I just kind of assumed it all came from the book. I know there's quite a bit in Lord of the Rings. Hmm. Can't wait to get to the goblins. I have some hilarious ideas for those guys.

Drawing is just the best.

Dec 8, 2009

Hobbits 2

Much more successful this time. They still need a lot of work, but I think I'm getting closer to the heart of what I want.

If you're not doing a lot of bad drawings, you're not exploring all possibilities. It's especially important in concept development.

If it were socially acceptable I would absolutely wearing a soft waistcoat and no shoes all day long every day. Also if I didn't live in Baltimore where the streets are paved with glass.

Dec 7, 2009

Hobbits 1

It's definitely taking me quite a lot longer to wrap my head around what I want these hobbits to be. Lucky for me that there's only one main hobbit in the story as opposed to the dozen dwarves.

I have a feeling these guys are going to require a lot more effort before they get anywhere good. I'd say 95% of these pages are straight lousy. The only thing I do like are the knickers that go into the footless socks.

Hobbits, I think, are a lot harder to design than the dwarves are, mostly because there isn't a lot of wiggle room to break free from the Peter Jackson depictions unless you really ignore parts of the text. Although I don't always love the design of those films, I can't argue that Jackson's hobbits probably look exactly as Tolkien imagined them.

Maybe in the future I should number these so I can make reference to them more easily.

Dec 4, 2009

Dwarves 5

The last batch of preparatory dwarf drawings. I'm pretty sure I have a handle on how I generally want them to look, which was the whole goal of the week. Great! Next week is probably Hobbits, and goblins the following week. Or maybe wizards, because Gandalf comes in earlier than the goblins.

I think that top one is close to what Thorin will look like. Grim, kingly, authoritative.

Dwarf fashion is furs, heavy knits, canvas, rough leather, mail, and miscellaneous armors. Blues, browns, oranges and greys, I'm betting.

Have a good weekend!

Dec 3, 2009

Dwarves 4

Of course, not all dwarves are battle-ready warriors.

Hobbits next week? Goblins?

Dec 2, 2009

Dwarves 3

These are certainly getting closer to what I want. I like the idea of these dwarves being run down and pretty shabby looking after getting rousted from the Lonely Mountain, and only at the end getting their awesome mithril armor and weapons and all that from Smaug's hoard.

As far as physical design goes, I'm focusing on ears and noses and downplaying the eyes, owing to the untold years living underground and mucking about in the mines. Thick but nimble hands are a no brainer, but big mouths and big fat teeth are less obvious additions.

I'd probably say the top dwarf is my favorite so far.

Nov 30, 2009

Dwarves 2, New Yorker

Some more exploratory Dwarves for The Hobbit project. Still not quite there, but definitely getting closer!

I decided in maybe the second drawing I did that the majority of dwarves would have unibrows. It just seemed obvious.

A couple weeks ago I got a call from Max Bode from the New Yorker to do a small portrait of Michael Bennett for the upcoming issue. Bennett was the original director of the first Broadway run of Dreamgirls back in 1981.

This posed a couple of challenges. First, I've never really done any portraits, and they are difficult. Second, this was the tiniest drawing ever: the final prints at 2 inches by 1.5 inches, so there was really no room to play around.

Here is the final and a few other color options I sent in.

Dwarves 1

I'm considering doing a bunch of illustrations for The Hobbit as a long term project next year, so here are a bunch of exploratory dwarves. None of these are what I want, so expect a bunch more as the week progresses. As I'm working out the designs, I'm also working out why I want to do this and how I can rationalize putting even more Tolkien illustrations into an already flooded marketplace.

Starting point: The Hobbit was originally marketed to children 5-7.

The little drawing of the Lonely Mountain is the best thing in here for sure.

Fun fact: I remember 90% of the dwarves' poem (some of which is written here) and all of their names by heart.

Nov 23, 2009


Devourer of worlds.

Going home for vacation this week, and I will be without a scanner, so back to regular posting on Monday. Thanks for all the great comments on that last post.

Happy Marvel Monday!

Nov 16, 2009

Sub Rosa

My submission for the Secret Service group show held by Rotopol Press next week in Germany. Here's the lovely poster by Michael Meier.

If you happen to be in Germany while it's up, definitely check it out. Some of my buddies will have work in there as well (like Jeremy and Dustin), so you know it'll be good.

Also, I got my copy of Spectrum 16 the other day. It looks awesome! As always, the quality of talent on display is higher than you could possibly imagine. I don't know how I snuck in. Flipping through the book is ultimately humbling.

Nov 12, 2009

House texture

I thought it looked pretty cool. Another part of what I'm working on. Graphite and tape.

Nov 11, 2009

Birds on log

Another part of that drawing I'm working on (a part that's getting thrown out).

Nov 10, 2009

Cellar door

Part of what I'm working on this week. I was pretty into 'Cellar Door' by John Vanderslice when I was in high school.

Nov 9, 2009


Hahaha....oh boy. What an awful drawing.

Happy Marvel Monday!

Nov 2, 2009

Drawings from this weekend

I did a lot of drawing this weekend, trying to flesh out a couple of ideas for an upcoming show (more about that later) before finally settling on something.

I'm getting more comfortable with drawing directly into photoshop in the sketch phase. It's something I find really helpful when drawing more intensive environments by hand, as I'm able to draw my figures roughly digitally and move them around more easily.

The top drawing is a set of environments as I went back and forth between ideas. The second is my first run once I hit on my concept, while the third is what I'm going with. These are all about trading card size.

I'm trying to get better at drawing complex environments. One of the ways I'm trying to get better is to not care too much about perspective.

Here's a scary monster:

Here's the first trial run of coloring one of those ink drawings digitally. Some success, some failure. Something to play with in the future.

I think Marvel Monday will be back next week.