Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beaks 'n' Cheeks

Anthropomorphizing birds is tricky.
A bird face looks very different than a human one. Our eyes are right next to each other. Many birds have eyes on opposite sides of their heads. Think about it. A then there's the beak- sharp and stiff. A human face is flexible. A bird face is masklike. They can't smile, frown, sneer, etc... Maybe that's why people like them. They're so pretty, yet so weird... so unlike us.

I probably learned how to draw cartoon birds from the Preston Blair books.
To cartoonize a bird, the eyes get bigger, the face gets squishier and the bird gets eyebrows and cheeks- both vital to facial expressions.
Here's two ways to do the cheeks:

You can implant the cheek in the bird's bill. I call this the "beak cheek".
It's the more birdlike of the two.

The second method gives the bird the cheek that a cartoon rabbit, mouse or chipmunk has. I call it the "chip cheek." It's less realistic, but more versatile.
Now that I've written this I'm thinking three drawings about bird cheeks? Who the hell wants to read about bird cheeks!?

Monday, October 27, 2008

San Diego Comic Con

"This week's topic is Comic Con Geeks," our drawing board leader said. "I'll be expecting lots of self portraits."
The San Diego C0mic con is a big time comics/animation/sci-fi/fantasy convention*. Thus, many drawing board folks attend.
Some fans dress up as their favorite characters. One friend goes there to photograph all the crazy costumes. Superheros/villains are particularly popular. This year, they tell me, the place was awash with Jokers.
I've never been. Geek among Geeks. I'm hoping to go next year.

*where else would someone find Bob Clampett and Grim Natwick under the same roof as Ray Bradbury , Matt Groening and Douglass Adams? It happened in 1983!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Come Together

The Beatles' Come Together came on the radio so I sketched this.
The song had a cold abandoned warehouse feel. You know broken windows and scorched walls are nearby. And a lonely, angry kid scrawls nonsense on the walls...

Creepy Ironic Trivia: The "Shhh-" drowned out by the base in the song is John Lennon saying "shoot me."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicken of the Sea

"Chicken of the Sea" is this week's drawing board topic.
Below is the rough version (posted earlier). I wanted to add a ring buoy to the deck rails that said "R.M.S. McNugget" but I ran out of time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Stir Fried Cricket Switcharoo

There's three kinds of people who eat bugs.
  1. People who actually like them.
  2. Snobs who want to look open minded and sophisticated.
  3. Curious screwballs (like myself ) who want to see what the big deal is.
Some friends roped me into to lunch at Wazooo, a trendy eatery that serves beef, chicken, pork, fish, tofu... ...and bugs. I'd never been there before.
"If I order the stir fried crickets," said Joe, "will anyone try 'em?"
"Sure," I said. "I'll taste a cricket."
How bad could it be? I thought. Was a bug that different than a shrimp or a crayfish? And even if it tastes bad, I'll have a funny story to tell.
Joe ordered. The waiter talked him out of the crickets and into Fried Sea Worms.
This was too far down the food chain.
My old job at the tropical fish shop had introduced me to many kinds of worms. These weren't things you wanted anywhere near your mouth.

"Whoa wait," I said. "I said I'd taste a cricket. I never said anything about worms!"
"Aw," said Joe. "You said!"
"I said I'd try bugs. Not worms."
"But they're on the insect menu! The waiter says they're real good."
"Okay," I grumbled.
The worms arrived wrapped in lettuce leaves. They looked like canned fried onions. At least they're tiny I thought, extracting one.
"Hey you can't eat 'em like that, Everyone gets their own wrap!" Somebody plopped one on my plate.
I looked closely. They weren't worms! They were thin, tiny fish. Tropical fish stores sell frozen and freeze dried ones as pet food. (They also sell crickets. Does the chef swings by Petco each morning for "groceries?" A bait shop?)
I bit into my wrap. The "worms" had a fried onion texture. A salty fishy taste. Not horrible, not delicious. Memories of the fish shop ruined them: You feed this to fish! You feed this to fish!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicken Sketches

These are some practice sketches I did for an upcoming Drawing Board post. The theme will be "Chicken of the Sea."
I do most of my concept sketches on cheap lined notebook paper. I think the gee, I could post these on my blog factor made these a bit stiff. Still, I had fun making them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Golden Age of Cartoons

"Golden Age of Cartoons" is the next Drawing Board topic.
I relied heavily on the Preston Blair book(s) to get the look.
A few years ago I was delighted to read that, according to someone who knows animation well, that any chump could become a good artist/animator if they drew and redrew the drawings from Blair's books to the point where they could reproduce them spot on*.
Hot dog! I thought. I can learn to really draw! I can be a real animator!
Then he threw in a warning that the advice was meant for people under 24. After that you'd be wasting your time, you'd be "creatively crippled", it was too late to train your brain, he'd seen it over and over.
Nuts, I thought. I'm in my mid thirties.
Is he right? Am I doomed?

*more specifically, reproducing the work correctly would help one absorb important animation and character design concepts, organic forms, solid construction, perspective, etc...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Scary Puppets

The puppets at my preschool didn't terrifyme, but I didn't trust them. I'd pass their rack the way a kid passes a spooky dilapidated house, nervously, stepping faster.
No teacher or kid played with them. Most were ratty hand me downs that nobody wanted to stick their hand in. They guarded a doorway, hanging inert, like bodies on a gibbet.
The white one freaked me the most. He was a crude home-made thing with a flat, spoon shaped head and a crooked red smile. He'd stare at me with tiny eyes. I could see part of the back of his head- he had blue green fabric for hair. That creeped me too. No one, I thought No puppet or person should have hair like that.
I wonder who made the thing? Who was it supposed to be? Did it have a name? Did any kid ever like it as much as I hated it?

Weird coincidence : decades later I ended up working at the same preschool. The puppet rack (and many of the toys, and one teacher) was still there, but the scary puppets were gone.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Appaloosa in the Sky with Diamonds

Click picture for larger image.

This week's Drawing Board topic is "Unicorns in Space".
Type "unicorn" into Google Image Search and you'll get white Arabians. I considered making mine a Clydesdale but settled for an Appaloosa. I thought I was clever. Later I typed "Unicorn Appaloosa" into Google. Someone beat me to it.
Speaking of lack of originality, my setting was ripped off inspired by panels from this Little Nemo
in Slumberland comic.
Can you believe this beauty is 103 years old?*
(click image for larger view)

*This was the first Little Nemo comic. I don't know if these were the actual colors used when it appeared in the paper, but I like how space is tinted green, red and blue.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Surly Martian

Here's an experimental head turning animation. It was done using shape tweens (four or five per shape). Each "part" (pupil, eye outline etc) originally had its own layer.
Below is an older version, before I tweaked the timing, removed extra lines and added color. Those touches were done frame by frame and took much longer than the animation.
The gradient fills are like ceiling glitter. Cool? Tacky? It's a matter of opinion.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Big Snooze

I'd hoped to have some post-worthy flashwork to show, but computer glitches, time stealers, and lackluster results are slowing me down. So here's someone else's work:
I'm no 'toon expert, but I do know that a lot them directed by Bob Clampet go off the rails with manic craziness. I love the surrealistic silliness.
I especially like the coy look on Elmer's face when he's doing the Russian dance.