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November 28, 2012

2012 Blog Archive Image

Every year I try to sum up my plans and goals in one illustration for the archive page of my personal blog.  It is a fun challenge, and when seen in order, these illustrations kind of tell the story of my life these past few years:
  • 2004 - Moving to New York.
  • 2005 - Working 40 hours a week as an office temp.
  • 2006 - Going back to school at Pratt Institute.
  • 2007 - Graduating from Pratt, mentally preparing to begin freelancing.
  • 2008 - Working 100 hours a week as a freelancer in Brooklyn.  
  • 2009 - Moving to Vermont, to focus on my comics.
  • 2010 - Getting really into pinball, taking a chance on love.
  • 2011 - The gamble pays off!  Claire moves to Vermont (drawn with Claire!)
Which brings us to 2012, in which Claire and I moved to California together.  I forced myself to quickly draw this in my sketchbook last weekend, even though I am super busy these days, because the year is almost over and I still didn't have an image for the archive!

I wonder what I'll draw next year...

November 21, 2012

Bravest Warriors Issue 5 Cover!

This week over at Comics Alliance they released the variant cover I did for fifth issue of Bravest Warriors, published by BOOM Studios.  This is the new series created by Pendelton Ward (the guy who created Adventure Time) so, as you can see here, this was pretty fun to work on!

The series had yet to be released when I worked on this, so all I had to go on was the pilot and some updated character turnarounds.  It seemed to me like the core of the show was the Bravest Warriors zipping from one planet to the next, helping the various distressed aliens they meet.  So I chose to depict them jumping through their portal, having just helped one thankful planet, and heading straight into another adventure.

A few weeks ago the first episode went up, and I guess it's being released exclusively on the internet (?!) so you can go watch the whole thing.  Happy Thanksgiving this week, everybody!

November 14, 2012

Animation: Part 2

As I mentioned last week I have been slowly working my way through Richard Williams's excellent book The Animator's Survival Kit and doing some of the exercises.  This week I did a coin bouncing four times: in 20 frames, then 16 frames, then 13 frames, then 10 frames.  This time, the number of frames and where the coin hits are the timing, and the spacing is further apart as the coin nears the ground (speeding up) and tighter together towards the apex (slowing down). 

This animated GIF is 4.5 MB, so might take a few moments to load!

The result is not that great.  You can see where my spacing is off - especially on the first bounce (when the coin almost comes to a complete stop because the spacing is too tight) and the end of the third bounce (which is too quick) - but I learned a lot by doing this, and had a bit of fun as well.

I took this cell phone photo of my camera set up, if anyone is interested:

The next exercise will actually involve some drawing, so we'll just have to see when I will have enough time to get around to that.  It may be back to the 100 Watercolor challenge next week!

November 7, 2012

Animation: Part 1

I was out of town this week, so I didn't have a chance to whip up the next painting for my 100 Watercolors series.  Instead, I thought I would talk about a side-project I have been slowly working on: animation.

My favorite cartoonist is Carl Barks and my favorite children's book illustrator is Bill Peet.  At some point it occurred to me that both of these guys started as inbetweeners at the Disney studio, working on old Donald Duck cartoons.  I thought about the countless hours they spent drawing the same characters over and over again, and the foundation of drawing skills that it provided.  Then when they both moved up to the story department, they developed their storytelling skills, which helped both of them create giant bodies of work that are still enjoyed by millions of readers today.

Let me be perfectly clear: I do not want to be an animator.  Illustration is easy compared to the amount of work that goes into creating comics, and creating comics is easy compared to the massive amount of work that goes into creating hand-drawn animation.  I'd rather work for a year and get 100 pages of comics, which takes about an hour to read, than work for a year and end up with ten minutes of animation.  But I do think I could learn a lot from doing a few simple animation assignments!  With this idea in mind, I asked for a copy of Richard Williams's incredible book The Animator's Survival Kit for my birthday, back in October, and I was thrilled when it arrived in the mail (Thanks Ruth and Steve!).  The book starts with the most basic animation concepts and works its way up to some very sophisticated techniques.

Claire has a video camera, so after some experimenting, I figured out a workable set up using a tripod and a little remote control that lets me snap a single photo without having to touch the camera (which is good, because you don't want the frame to jiggle around).  So far I have only done two of the most simple assignments, using coins.

The first one uses (approximately) one second of film for a coin to go across the screen - that's the timing.  Then the spacing is evenly spaced, so that the coin moves at a consistent rate:

The second one uses the same timing (about one second) but has different spacing.  The coin eases in, with many tightly spaced frames in the beginning, then has huge gaps in the middle, and then eases out at the end with another series of tightly spaced frames.  It takes the same amount of time, but the movement has a different quality:

Even this very simple concept is kind of blowing my mind!  I am excited to try out some more exercises, and I will share them with all of you, as I go along.