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Using CGI in Vector Artwork

I’ve been making some vector icons for a client and one of them involved a slide carousel… not exactly something easy to draw in SVG! However, I took a quick shortcut through 3D which I’m now going to share with you. Take a look:

  1. I started by modeling a simple slide carousel in Blender, which took only a few minutes. I only needed the shapes, not the lighting, so I rendered it with some shadeless materials, thusly:CGI basis for slide carousel
  2. I then used Illustrator’s auto-tracing function to get the shapes from the render. Since the source image was very high-contrast, the tracer did a great job for once. At this stage I also drew in many of the simpler shapes, primarily circles.
  3. Finally, I imported the Illustrator file into Inkscape to apply gradient fills, because Illustrator’s gradient tools are a leading cause of brain cancer in graphic designers. (It’s true!) The slide dividers benefit nicely from some clever banded circular gradients, to give this final result:Final vector artwork, slide carousel

Not bad! Had I tried to draw this from scratch in Illustrator, I’d probably still be working… instead it took less than half an hour, and is about as photoreal as vector graphics can be.

Ten Years of Zarks!

Zirconius: Allies and Enemies

This is a fateful date. You are probably already aware that it is Pi Day (especially so at 1:59) but it is also, coincidentally, the day that the Zarks were born. For it was on Pi Day in 2002 that I happened to create, almost absent-mindedly, a creature called a Zark to serve as a bit enemy in the embarrassingly-titled comic Space Kid. I’ve related this story a million times before, so I’ll just give the synopsis:

  1. Zarks turn out to be cooler than Space Kid
  2. Zarks gradually take over comic
  3. Zarks go on to star in video games and stuff

And so, to celebrate the first ten years of Zarkdom, I present the following show of rare and/or unseen images from their storied lineage. And if that’s not enough, I also offer you a digital copy of the complete Zirconius comics, a guide to the Easter Eggs of Into the Titan, and some old backstory: Maz’s journal. (Links are below the fold.) Share and enjoy.

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Flattening Out

Perspective is always somewhat of a struggle for me, so I’m doing some experiments to see if I can come up with an elegant drawing style that might allow me to bypass the vanishing point entirely. These two drawings represent my first foray along these lines, so expect more as this develops. These are just based on some photographs I had on my hard drive; both depict the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association in Willimantic, CT. Fellow artists, please do weigh in on these.

Tabernacle

Campground cottages

Tock the Watchdog

Tock

I’ve been rereading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, one of my favorite books as a kid. Naturally I can’t top the original Jules Feiffer illustrations, but I thought I’d try drawing some anyway. Here’s my take on Tock the Watchdog, who I’ve decided is a Doberman. More illustrations to come, maybe.

My Ostensible Pony

Pony drawing

I’ve been experimenting with powdered graphite. The white is Conte crayon. The paper is simple brown butcher paper, which (I discovered) clings to graphite powder and will not let go of it even with rather vicious erasing.

The “pony” I found by the side of the road some months back.

Illustration: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Media: Sumi ink brush drawing with digital color. See original linework here.

New studio arrangements

New drafting table

I’ve finally taken it upon myself to upgrade my workspace in some fashion, and yesterday I assembled and set up my new drafting table. It’s bigger than the old one, and has a glass surface instead of cardboard (it originally had a wooden surface, but it was too scratched-up to use). The lamp underneath the table allows it to double as a light box, which is something I rarely use, but it will be nice to have the ability now. I also bit the bullet and ordered some more bristol board, which I will now use for Sunrise as well as Realm. That’s a new page of Sunrise you can see on the table. In summation, good improvements all around… hopefully they’ll have a positive effect on the work!

Sunrise: Three Years!

Well, it’s been another year. Sunrise officially began on February 12th, 2008, when this horrible-looking page was posted to the then-very-rough website I’d set up at the time. (The cover of Issue 1 appears to have been posted the day before, but was actually posted somewhat later, with the date adjusted to ensure correct position in the archive.) Now, some 230 pages later, it seems like a good time to look back and see what I’ve learned from this little experiment.

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Illustration: The Crying of Lot 49

Technically I read this last year. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a much, much different book than King Lear, so a different kind of illustration presented itself. This one’s a bit more like a book cover, too. I dunno. It was hard to think of something appropriate for this book. On a side note, hands are too hard to draw.

The Crying of Lot 49

Media: Pigment liners with digital color

Illustration: King Lear

For purposes of practice and portfolio-expanding (and my interest in projects like Picture Book Report), I have challenged myself to create an illustration for every book I read this year. The first book I finished was my re-read of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Thus:

King Lear

Ink and watercolor with minor digital modification.

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