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February 26, 2015

2014 Recap: Highlights Magazine - Part 2

This week I'm continuing to post some of my work that was published in Highlights Magazine during 2014.  The following hidden picture drawings were published in the Eagle-Eye Hidden Picture series.

First up was a page and a half illustration of the Taj Mahal that ran in issue 25 (the fold was right between the main building and that right-most tower).  I was able to sneak my wife Claire and I into the left side of the illustration as a pair of tourists, even though we have never been to India.  Maybe someday!  (click to see it bigger).

Then, in issue 26 I drew another illustration for the Gabby's Journal feature, which follows a little girl as she travels around the United States of America with her family.  In this issue they visited the Walk of Fame is Hollywood, California.  I made sure to cram in as many cars as possible into this scene, to make it feel realistic.  Also you can see that I tried to feature the star of cartoonist Charles Schulz, which seemed appropriate, since I am a cartoonist too.

Next week we'll continue the tour of American landmarks that I drew for Highlights in 2014!

February 24, 2015

100 Watercolors #62 - Magic

When I color comics, I am very careful to not use any white in the panels, so that the white of the speech balloons provide the greatest contrast (ideally next to a character with some area of spot black).  Since there are no speech balloons in my illustrations, I have been trying to use more white, as an area of high contrast to pull the viewer's focus.

If I could have added a little speech balloon to this one, I would have had the fly saying "Ta da!!

Next week's theme: Do Not Disturb!

February 19, 2015

2014 Recap: Highlights Magazine - Part 1

Okay, last week I showed some of my work that was published in Highlights Magazine during 2013.  This week we have finally made it up to 2014.  The following hidden picture drawings were made for the Gabby's Journal feature in the Eagle-Eye Hidden Picture series, which follows a little girl as she travels around the United States of America with her family.

In issue 21 Gabby stopped by the Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts.  Well, when I think of Boston, I think of my cartoonist pal Liz Prince who has lived in the Boston area as long as I've known her.  I decided to sneak her into my drawing, walking a dog.  In reality, it would be more likely that Liz would be hanging out with her cats Dracula and Wolfman, but I couldn't figure out a way to get them outside with her in this park!

In issue 24 Gabby and her family visited Arches National Park in Utah.  Both of these were a lot of fun to color because of the bright orange of the rocks and autumn leaves respectively.  

Next week we'll continue the tour of American landmarks that I drew for Highlights in 2014!

February 17, 2015

100 Watercolors #61 - Fairy Tale

Back when I grew my beard out for three and a half years, I had the idea to do a gender-swapped version of Rapunzel called "Beardpunzel."  I don't think I'll ever really get around to this idea, so for now, here's this image, which pretty much sums up the concept:

Next week's theme: Magic!

February 12, 2015

2013 (?!) Recap: Highlights Magazine

Yikes! The next illustrations I was going to post from my "2014 Recap" were from Highlights Magazine, but when I checked to see which ones I hadn't posted, I realized I still had some left over from 2013!  So this week we're turing the clock waaay back to look at some hidden picture assignments I did for this magazine.

This one was actually the first one I ever did for Highlights!  It was a page and and a half illustration of some kids making little faces with rice cakes.  It's hard to describe how much fun this was to work on.  Besides the obvious enjoyment of hiding objects inside a big complicated drawing, it was also a thrill to work for a magazine that I used to enjoy as a kid (though usually in the waiting room at the dentist's office...)

This one also had a spot illustration of the little girl working on her rice cake face.  I don't know which issue these illustrations ended up in, because I never received a copy, but they're out there somewhere!

My next assignment for Highlights was for their Eagle-Eye Hidden Pictures series, which are jam-packed, cover-to-cover with nothing but hidden pictures!  I began drawing famous landmarks around the USA for the reoccurring "Gabby's Journal" feature, in which a little girl, Gabby, travels the country with her family seeing the sights.

Here's one I did for issue six, of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was especially fun to draw because I had recently relocated to the Bay Area when I drew this!  I was able to go check it out in person to do some sketches.

I've posted before about my process for getting these scenes to look realistic, but one of the things that I figured out when I made this one, is that sometimes you can break the normal rules of illustration to help hide items in your drawing.  For example, usually you are trying to use lots of contrast between foreground and background objects so that it is easy to visually separate them.  But here, by making the sky a darker shade than I normally would, I could more easily hide objects in the negative space between the foreground and background (for instance the fork to the left of the first tower) or in the dark clouds.  The same goes for tangents, which you usually try to avoid as an illustrator, but when hiding an object, they can create a nice visual distraction or point of confusion that can help you hide an object.

For issue eight, I was assigned the French Quarter.  Although I have never been to New Orleans, this is the second time I have done a detailed illustration of its famous iron balconies, and in college I designed a set for A Streetcar Named Desire.  I'll have to get down there someday to experience its charm firsthand.  

Okay, next week I'll actually start posting some of the illustrations I did for Highlights in 2014, as originally planned! 

February 10, 2015

100 Watercolors #60 - Rejection

When I saw the theme "Rejection" the idea that first popped into my head was that move in basketball where someone is trying to take a shot, but the other player swats it down.  So I took that idea and ran with it...

Basically all of my friends who are into basketball root for the Portland Trailblazers, so I asked for their input about who they should be beating.  I was told it should be the Lakers.  I don't really care about basketball one way or another, so I apologize if this ruffles anyone's feathers!

Next week's theme: Fairy Tale!

February 5, 2015

2014 Recap: Slate Book Review - Part 2

Last week I posted the banner and first three illustrations that I did for the Slate Book Review in October 2014.  Below are the final pieces that I created for this assignment.

Please note that all of the illustrations in this post were first published in Slate™ Magazine (I'm required to say that!)  Also, while I'm at it, if you click on any of the pictures below, you'll be able to see them a bit bigger.

The fourth piece I did was all about vaccines, which involve needles, which I am terrified of!  This illustration has two inside-jokes: 1) the doctor looks like my dad, who is a doctor! 2) one of the things that really helped me meet this tight deadline was the release of Weezer's new album Everything Will Be Alright In The End.  As I was working on these, it was released on iTunes as a sneak peak, and I was pretty much streaming it non-stop while working on these illustrations... How is your eyesight?  :)

The fifth piece was about this new book of poetry by Claudia Rankine which she wrote in the second person.  It's all about racist interactions, but because it uses the pronoun "you," the reader experiences the racism first hand, even if they are not a person of color.  I tried to get this across by having the word "YOU" changing the head of a white guy to that of a black lady, Rankine herself!

Blackness Visible by Jonathan Farmer

The sixth piece was about a series of murder mystery books that take place in Dublin, Ireland. The article referenced a lot of different locations around Dublin, so I found some photos for each of them and drew them inside some "house" icons and laid it over the Irish flag.  Ta-da!  Conceptual.

The seventh piece was about a new novel that filmmaker David Cronenberg wrote.  I have never seen a David Cronenberg movie (too scary/gory for my taste) so I was having a hard time with this one.  The final idea was flat-out handed to me by my awesome art director at Slate, Dan Kois.  He said, "find a screenshot of this scene from this movie, but make the TV screen a book."  I had no frame of reference for what this image meant, but I was working on it behind my table at the Alternative Press Expo when my pal Liz Prince looked over my shoulder and said, "Wow, that's a really clever idea." I wish I could take credit for it!  Thanks, Dan.

So just to review, thus far the themes of my Slate illustration had been: suicide, the great depression, the holocaust, disease, racism, murder and horror movies.  As I mentioned last week, this is not the neighborhood of illustration that I normally hang out in - serious stuff!  Also, something about having to do all of these in a single ten-day stretch was putting me in a dark mind space.

So it was a great relief when the last piece turned out to be about the pleasure of reading plays.  As an undergrad theatre major, I agreed whole-heartedly with the article, and I had a lot of fun looking up reference photos for the lighting instruments and the cover design of those ubiquitous Samuel French manuscripts.     

All in all, this assignment was a lot of fun.  It was a pleasure working with a great art director, and I definitely got to stretch my illustration muscles a bit, exploring some new territory.  All that being said, it was also nice to come back to some simple, happy work for children after this series of dark illustrations!

Next week I'm going to start posting some of the work I did for Highlights in 2014.

February 3, 2015

100 Watercolors #59 - No Way Out

This is why I no longer fly in window seats.  I'm an aisle guy, all the way!

I was pretty proud with the way this one turned out.  I think it is my most successful attempt thus far to paint a layer of another color (in this case the deep blue) over a scene.  I even had to put in a second layer on the old man, because it didn't quite go dark enough on him the first time.  I like how you can still kind of see the colors underneath.

Next week's theme: Rejection!