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December 4, 2015

Happy Holidays From Molly Weasley!

Okay, okay, I know I said I wasn't going to take on any more illustration work this year, but when my friends over at The Harry Potter Alliance asked me to draw a holiday eCard for them this year, I couldn't say no!  I ended up drawing one of the unused ideas that I had pitched them for last year's holiday card.  This concept was originally pitched for a printed card that would open, so it has two parts.

The first part is Molly Weasley, sitting comfortably in The Burrow, doing some knitting:

The second part shows the fruits of her labor, as displayed on the members of her family, and some of their friends:

Since this was going to be an eCard, however, we had to figure out how these two images would work together online.  Since this would all be digital, I thought it might be cool to post the first image as an animated .GIF file, instead of just a static image.

The first variant that I animated had a secret "Alohomora" message that appears in the bottom corner, allowing the user to "unlock" the image by clicking on it, thus revealing the second image.  I animated this by drawing six frames on paper and then bringing them into Photoshop.

This was the option that the HPA eventually chose.  You can see how it all came together (with music!) on their holiday fundraising page.

For the second variant that I animated, I got a bit carried away...  I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if everything in the scene was animated?!"  Really, it was an excuse to experiment with Anime Studio, a 2D animation tool I recently bought to help me with another project.  I tried out a bunch of different techniques and came up with the crazy scene below.  (WARNING! Big file: 2.7 MB)

At the size the HPA was going to use this on their site, the file was actually 5 MB, so it was a no-go.  Still, I had a lot of fun building this, and I learned a bunch of new techniques which will serve me well in the future.  Since it's kind of small here, I thought I'd do some "zoom-ins" on each of the elements.

Here is the garden gnome that Fred and George put a tutu on, painted gold and tied to the top of the Christmas tree:

The snow falling outside the window of The Burrow was probably the most complicated aspect of this animation.  It was only a 4 second loop, so I couldn't get a whole double-window's worth of snow to fall through in that amount of time - too fast!  Instead I took a tiny loop of snow falling past a single window and duplicated it.  Because they are identical, it appears that the top window snow falls into the bottom window snow (if that makes sense).

I wish I had spent a bit more time on the knitting hand poses, but as it was, I had already spent too much time on this animation.  Instead of drawing them on paper, I drew them directly into Photoshop to save time.  It's a pretty clunky 6 frame loop.  If nothing else, at least the needles cross over in different directions each cycle!

It wouldn't be the holidays at the Weasley's without some Celestina Warbeck on the wizarding wireless!  For this one I utilized a visibility "fade in / fade out" preset that was built into Anime Studio.

I was very excited to have an excuse to design and draw Mrs. Weasley's family clock! I used some "ease in / ease out" tweening on the pendulum and then had Arthur and Charlie Weasley's hands snapping back and forth between "traveling" and "work."  Everyone else was either safely at home, or at Hogwarts!

The fire was super fun.  It's just a quick 4-frame loop that I drew directly in Photoshop.

For whatever reason, my favorite part of this whole piece is Errol, perched up on the mantelpiece.  I think this drawing of the Weasley family owl is very funny, and it was fun having him breathe very, subtly and slowly.   Every time I look at this it cracks me up!

Thanks again to the Harry Potter Alliance for giving me a chance to work on this.  Please donate to their great organization if you are able to!

October 27, 2015

Harry Potter at 1, 6, 11 & 16

While digging through my illustration folder recently, I came across these Harry Potter drawings that I did for the Harry Potter Alliance back in 2009, for a project that never really went anywhere.  I never posted them on here, so I figure better late than never!  They depict Harry Potter at ages 1, 6, 11 and 16.

With this post, I'm all caught up on posting old illustration work.  I'm not currently taking on any new projects, so I'm going to take a break for a few months, while I focus on Isle of Elsi, Phase 7 and my first born child, who will be here soon!

October 22, 2015

2015 Highlights Gags

At the end of last year, I did a few gags for a new Highlights Magazine called Pullzemania.  The idea was pretty cool - each gag's punchline had to be in a speech balloon and they would be printed separately, as stickers.  So the reader has to look at a bunch of detached speech balloons and figure out which punchline goes with which gag.  I was proud in the first one that I snuck in a Metamorphosis reference...

It felt good to draw some gags again - like the good old days at Nickelodeon Magazine!  Too bad these were work for hire.  At least this magazine did not switch over to a spec work model, like the picture finds I was doing, so I may consider doing this kind of work again in the future.

October 20, 2015

Last Highlights Picture Finds

Here are my last two picture-find assignments that I drew for Highlights Magazine last year, and which were printed in the Eagle-Eye Hidden Picture series this year.  First up is the Henry Ford Museum, which I drew for issue #38.

And my very last picture-find was of a paddle boat on the Mississippi River.  In the text on the adjoining page, the characters said they couldn't see into the water because it was brown, and then said "Now we know why the Mississippi is also called the Big Muddy."  I looked up some reference and colored the illustration as you see it below, which was approved by my editor.  When the magazine arrived in the mail, Highlights had recolored the water green (!?!)

Sadly, after this assignment, Highlights changed the way these illustrations are commissioned.  Instead of hiring a talented illustrator and agreeing to pay them a fair fee through a contract, they are now requesting that illustrators send them fully formed ideas and then they may select them, or they may not.  For me, that qualifies as spec work, so I will not be working for Highlights any more.  

It was already a work-for-hire assignment, which is a very low priority me these days, but it was fun being in this historic publication that I used to enjoy when I was a kid.  Perhaps someday they'll revert to a more fair contract and I will do some work for them again.

September 4, 2015

My Weezer Pinball T-Shirt is now PLAYABLE!

Back when I designed my EWBAITE Pinball T-Shirt for Weezer I got an email from a game designer named Frederic over at who was also a big Weezer fan.  He pitched the idea of turning my T-Shirt design into a playable virtual pinball machine.  I said YES PLEASE.

For years now, Frederic and his team have been working on Weezle Jump, which is a web-based, Weezer-themed video game, with one mini game per album.  They decided to add my pinball design as the level for Everything Will Be Alright in the End!  It's done and it's pretty amazing:

They made some of the elements 3-D like the flippers, the drop targets, the slingshots, the pop bumpers and the ramps, plus they added some lighting effects on the inlanes, outlanes and lanes at the top.  They let me play an early version to give them feedback, so it's got a pretty solid ruleset at this point.  The player is rewarded for completing tasks like hitting all the drop targets or completing all the lanes.  There are multiballs and everything!

To play the game you need to install Unity 3-D. Then head over to, create a username and then select "Pinball" from the "Games" menu on the home screen.  Have fun and I'll see you on the high score board!

August 27, 2015

Cartozia Tales #7 cover

Okay! Claire and I are pretty well settled in Santa Fe, so it's time to start posting some illustration work again.  Thanks to everyone who bought an original watercolor and for their patience while I got all my shipping stuff set up again.  Those have all been sent out at this point, so everyone should have received them by now.  If not, shoot me an email!

Back when I was running the Basewood Kickstarter, a bunch of my comics friends were also using Kickstarter to launch a cool, new, collaborative, fantasy, all-ages comic series called Cartozia Tales.  We each helped plug each other's projects during our campaigns and I agreed to contribute something to their project at some point in the future.

That future point ended up being at the beginning of this year, when I drew the cover for Cartozia Tales #7, which is now available for ordering.  It was fun to read through the issue and to pick out an exciting moment to turn into the cover image.

If you have not been reading Cartozia Tales, this is a great time to get into the series!  They've got a "New Reader" sale going on now where you can get digital copies of the first three issues (over 125 pages of comics!) for only $2.50.  This deal ends tomorrow (8/28), so jump on it!  There are so many wonderful, talented contributors in this project.

Okay, well, I'm going to keep digging through my file of 2015 illustration work and find a few other things to post in the coming weeks!

July 30, 2015

Original Watercolors for sale!

Now that the 100 Watercolors book and eBook are available, I am selling off 77 of the original paintings.  This is only the second time I have ever sold any of my original art, so if you've ever wanted to own a piece by me, this is a great chance!

To handle the sales, I set up a custom StoreEnvy shop, which lists each of the watercolors along with their price - all are between $50-$100, depending on their complexity.  You can use the search bar on the left, if there is a certain one you are looking for, or click through the various pages to check them out.  The paintings are all 4"x6" on heavy watercolor paper, inked with India ink and painted with watercolor paint.  Suitable for framing!

PLEASE NOTE: This blog entry is auto-posting!  My computer is currently packed up in the back of a moving truck along with the rest of my worldly possessions.  Tomorrow morning I am driving to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  All watercolor orders will be shipped by mid-August, after I get settled in Santa Fe!

Since these are originals, there is only one of each painting and it is first come, first served! Also, I gave 23 of the paintings away to close friends and family members, so not all of the paintings are available.  If you are not able to get the painting you want, I'll remind you that you can get all 100 Watercolors for the price of a single painting by buying the book.

Thanks so much to everyone for your support of this project!  After I get caught up on everything post-move, I'm going to get back to posting some regular illustration work on here!

July 28, 2015

100 Watercolors Book and eBook!

Last week I finished my 100 Watercolors challenge, which is now available as an eBook and as a print-on-demand physical book!

Both editions include an introduction that explains the origin of the "100 Themes" challenge and how that lead to me painting these 100 Watercolors from 2008-2015.

In the back of the book there is also a 16-page appendix which shows all of the tools that I used to make these paintings as well as a step-by-step walkthrough of my entire process, from idea to finished painting, for watercolor #100.

You can get the eBook version for only 99 cents over on Gumroad!

That's less than a penny per painting.  If you have enjoyed checking out these paintings over the last seven years, please consider picking up the eBook!  It's a nice easy way to check them out all in one place, and to learn about their creation.

For those of you who would rather have this project as a physical book on your shelf, it is now available from as a 226-page, full color, 8.5" x 8.5", perfect-bound book.  It's got a cover price of $75 (full color printing is expensive!) but it's 25% off if you order it from

Below you can see what it looks like - I'm really happy with how it turned out!

On Thursday (7/30/15) I will be putting up a link to an online store where I will be selling off many of these original paintings.  They will ship out by mid-August from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I am moving at the end of this week!

July 23, 2015

100 Watercolors #100 - Relaxation

Well, here it is... the final theme!  As I hope you can tell here, it has been a lot of fun making all of these little paintings.  It was very relaxing sitting in my kitchen, taking some time each week to paint for an hour or two.  I definitely learned a lot along the way. Thanks to everyone who took some time to check out this series!

In case you were curious, here's what the 100 Watercolors look like all together (click to see it bigger):

Over the last few months I have gathered all of these paintings into a book, which will be available in print and digitally next Tuesday (7/28/15), and then I will be selling off the majority of the original paintings starting next Thursday (7/30/15).  More information about all of that will be posted here next week!

July 21, 2015

100 Watercolors #99 - Solitude

The theme of "solitude" made me think about the times in my life when I felt most alone.  Ironically, these were usually when I was living in major cities, surrounded by millions of people.  Painting this one was kind of a bummer.  I would not go back to my twenties for a million bucks!

The last theme: Relaxation!!!

July 16, 2015

100 Watercolors #98 - Puzzle

I always find it interesting when scientists readjust their theories based on new information.  For instance, how paleontologists previously thought that T-Rexes used to stand upright like a kangaroo, but they now believe their tail counterbalanced their heads, for a more horizontal stance.  Using this idea as a spring board, I came up with this illustration of an old-timey scientist giving a dinosaur skeleton puzzle his best shot!

The next theme: Solitude!

July 14, 2015

100 Watercolors #97 - Safety First

My dad is a neurologist, so when my sisters and I were growing up, we were not allowed to even look at our bikes without putting on our helmets.  I am always nagging my friends to wear helmets who don't (because I care about them! and their beautiful brains!) so I thought I could take that idea and push it to a comical extreme with this one.

The next theme: Puzzle!

July 9, 2015

100 Watercolors #96 - In the Storm

I don't have much to say about this one, except that it was a lot of fun to paint and that that squirrel really cracks me up.

The next theme: Safety First!

July 7, 2015

100 Watercolors #95 - Advertisement

I learned a lot by doing this one.  I had knocked in the bright colors of the advertisement, the dark wall and sidewalk, and the rings of shadows in the lower left and felt pretty good about the way it was looking.  I then decided to add similar rings of shadow to the right of the advertisement and at that point I crossed an invisible line and the piece felt overworked.  I had to keep going, to keep things consistent, but with each new shadow layer I liked the piece less and less.

It's a special skill (one that I'm obviously still working on!) to know when a piece is done and to just put down your brush.  Watercolors are so unforgiving.  It's very difficult to make corrections or go back a step.  You always have to keep moving forward, or start over from scratch - something I was not willing to do after spending many hours on this piece.  I might not be totally satisfied with the end result, but I am very grateful for the lesson it taught me.

The next theme: In the Storm!

July 2, 2015

100 Watercolors #94 - Last Hope

With only six more themes to go, I was able to sneak in one more beaver gag!  Thank goodness.

The next theme: Advertisement!

June 30, 2015

100 Watercolors #93 - Give Up

Sometimes the odds are just stacked against you!  It was hard for me to come up with an illustration for this theme.  I'm more of a "Never Give Up" kind of guy...

The next theme: Last Hope!

June 25, 2015

100 Watercolors #92 - All That I Have

This seems like as good a time as any to officially announce that my wife Claire and I are going to be moving (yet again) at the end of July.  This time we are moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Claire grew up and where both of her parents still live.  The long and short of it is that the Bay Area has become too expensive for us!  We will miss all of our great friends who live here.

Anyway, this decision was definitely weighing on my mind when I came up with the illustration for this week's theme.

The next theme: Give Up!

June 23, 2015

100 Watercolors #91 - Drowning

I felt pretty good about the inversion of this theme.

The next theme: All That I Have!

June 18, 2015

100 Watercolors #90 - Triangle

I wanted to do a love triangle for this one and the first setting that popped into my mind was a coffee shop.  This is probably due to the influence of the classic zine, Coffee Shop Crushes which was co-edited by my old pal Nicole Georges!

The next theme: Drowning!

June 16, 2015

100 Watercolors #89 - Through the Fire

This one is kind of dark, but it really makes me laugh.  Sorry marshmallows!

The next theme: Triangle!

June 11, 2015

100 Watercolors #88 - Pain

Ironically, the day after I sketched out the idea for this theme, I visited my new dentist for the first time and had a completely pain-free experience.  It was the first time that had ever happened in my entire life however, so I felt no guilt in following through with the inking and painting of this piece!

The next theme: Through the Fire!

June 9, 2015

100 Watercolors #87 - Food

This was another one where I had a lot of fun playing with multiple meanings of the theme.  It was also really fun to paint with some very dark areas, all the way up to some controlled use of white.

The next theme: Pain!

June 4, 2015

100 Watercolors #86 - Seeing Red

I was glad with this one, that I was able to get at both the figurative and literal meaning of the theme. :)

The next theme: Food!

June 2, 2015

100 Watercolors #85 - Spiral

For this one, I reused the idea I had developed for the cover of Ramen Music #8.  This one was has a simple composition, but it took a really long time to paint because I had to layer that very light blue on the keys over and over again.  Watercolors definitely take a lot of patience!

The next theme: Seeing Red!

May 28, 2015

100 Watercolors #84 - Out Cold

This painting provides a quick visual explanation of why I did not follow my father into medicine.  Needles?  Not my thing!

It took a lot of willpower for me to not put any paint on those white jackets, but I'm glad I didn't.  I want to start using the white of the page more in these non-comics illustrations.

The next theme: Spiral!