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July 26, 2008

French Endpapers and a Naked Mole Rat

Well, tomorrow I am moving to White River Junction, Vermont to be one of the 2008-2009 fellows at The Center For Cartoon Studies. All of my watercolor supplies are packed away, so instead of the next theme, I thought I would share some other illustrations I have been working on recently.

First is the design I developed for the endpapers of my upcoming collection of comics, which is being published in Belgium by L'employé du Moi.

First, I drew one object from each of the stories in the collection (a pair of glasses frames, a cracked bowl, a worm, a firefly, a turtle, a spray can, the big dipper and a skateboard. Then I chose a blue that had a middle value, with the idea that the black would stand out just as much as the white. Lucy Knisley was nice enough to explain a tricky method for creating a repeating wallpaper pattern (as seen on her LiveJournal background image) but for the life of me, I couldn't figure it out! So instead, I just copied the objects over and over and placed them "by hand" one at a time. I think it has a nice non-repeating balance.

The other piece I finished recently, was an acrylic painting of a Naked Mole Rat. I made this as a going away present for Rachel (who made ME a Dragon Coat!). Back in December, when I finished the Animal Alphabet paintings, I had two extra "canvases" which were already primed and ready to go. So I just used my same exact process from that project. The Naked Mole Rat is Rachel's favorite animal and let me tell you, it was a real challenge trying to make this repulsive (yet fascinating) creature look even moderately cute! Here's my attempt:

Alright, well it's time to finish up my packing and then hit the road. I'll be posting next week from the Green Mountain state!

July 20, 2008

100 Watercolors #2: Love

It seems like I have a lot of friends who really love cheese. So naturally this image came to mind, when trying to come up with an illustration for the theme "Love." :)

I will most likely take a break from the themes next week, as I will be moving from Brooklyn, NY to White River Junction, VT on Sunday. But fear not! I will have some other cool things to share, which I have been working on. Until then!

July 13, 2008

100 Watercolors #1: Introduction

The first watercolor is away! I'm trying a new process for this series and so far it is working pretty well. It goes something like this:

First I pencil out the illustration at size, in my sketchbook. Then I scan in the pencils and use Photoshop to darken them enough so that they can be seen when I print them out. Then I place the printed-out pencils under a piece of watercolor paper (and both on top of my lightbox) and then ink the drawing directly onto the paper. Lastly I go in with the watercolors.

I already learned a lot just by doing this first one, so hopefully I'll learn A TON by doing another 99!

July 5, 2008

100 Watercolors + National Geographic Kids!

Okay, it is finally time to announce my next illustration challenge (though I am not actually going to START it until next week). Yes, I too am going to attempt the popular 100 themes challenge! If you haven't heard of this, it is a list of 100 words (or short phrases) which are used as a source of inspiration for drawings or comics. I guess it all started as a manga challenge.

Over the past few years, I have seen the 100 themes challenge employed a number of different ways. The first set I saw was by Maris Wicks, who used the challenge for one-panel illustrations using her little black and white characters. Next Greg Means and MK Reed did the challenge together, each featuring a couple in 100 one-panel gags. Then Liz Prince started using the list to make short 3 or 4 panel comics.

So my idea is to do 100 Watercolors. Each will be a small, 4" x 6" watercolor illustration about the specific theme. They can be funny or serious or wacky, or whatever I choose. Mostly I just want an excuse to do a small watercolor painting each week, to try and improve my technique, and explore some new ways of working in that medium.

I'm going to be posting the illustrations weekly on this blog, and also over in my Flickr account. Greg conveniently put the 100 themes into a single image which can be printed out, if anyone wants to join in the fun!

Lastly, I wanted to tell everyone that I have a full page of gags in this month's National Geographic KIDS Magazine. It should be on newsstands now, so check it out!