Thursday, August 27, 2009

Have Some Sympathy

As you're no doubt tired of hearing, last week I vowed I would attempt to post an illustration every day for the foreseeable future. Today's illustration makes seven in a row. I think one week's enough. It's tough finding the time to draw something that I think is worth posting every day. I don't want to post a bunch of poo just to be posting. In fact I see about a million things I'd like to change on several of the past week's illustrations. So it's back to the irregular posting schedule. It was a fun experiment though.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the original sketch of Lucifer. For some reason I sketched him staring at some kind of one-eyed bird thing. As I was drawing the final image it seemed to make more sense for it to be a little demon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mordechai J. Coilberg

Last Friday I announced that I was going to attempt to post an illustration every day "for the foreseeable future". So far I've posting a new drawing for six days in a row. Unfortunately I will probably go back to my normal output level after tomorrow, making it an even week. It's tough trying to pump out a decent illustration every day.

Anyway, here's today's drawing. As usual, he was drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch. Nothing much changed, other than refining the lines and proportions a bit.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Angus The Prober

Angus secretly dreamed of being a haberdasher, but he went into the probing business to please nine of his fathers.

I think I need to rework his probe a bit. It's looking a little too much like a sword rather than a rounded rod. Maybe if I got rid of that hilt-looking part.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Angus. Obviously his probe was an afterthought.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Business Monster

He's just a successful business monster waiting for the train, on his way to the office.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch for the business monster. Unlike most of my sketches that are drawn on paper, this one was drawn right on the screen with the graphic tablet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fregan T. Moonkarma

Look at that dirty hippy!

I was a kid when hippies first began to appear in our society. For some reason the sight of any male with hair more than two inches long would cause my dad to fly into a seething, white hot rage. I honestly believe that if he was walking down the street and saw Hitler killing a puppy on one side and a hippy minding his own business on the other, he'd say, "Look at that filthy long-haired hippy! Have you ever seen such a sight in your life?"

Dad seems to have calmed down some since then. Maybe because you don't see a lot of hippies anymore.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch for the hippy. I made his hair fuller and more luxurious in the final drawing.

This Gives New Meaning To The Phrase "Trick This House."

This tastefully decorated home is located here in town a mile or two from my place.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the owner of this house is not married...

I wonder if the idea behind this is similar to using wooden decoys when duck hunting? Throw a couple of decoys in the water, real ducks fly over, see them, land next to them, and BOOM! Perhaps the home owner is hoping that a decoy female displayed on his roof will attract any flocks of supermodels that happen to be strolling by.

It's interesting to note that this is not an ordinary mannequin. It appears to have been specially sculpted into a "Slave Princess Leia lying in submission at Jabba's feet" pose. I had no idea they made such things.

If you look closely you can also see what appears to be silver duct tape around the mannequin's ankles, which is presumably holding her fast to the roof. Unfortunately the tape looks a little too much like shackles.

I drove past it last December and the owner had put a scarf and wool cap on her for winter.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Codwallander J. Suavington Goes For A Swim

Yesterday I said I was going to try and draw something worth posting every day, and true to my word, I've done it two days in a row now. That's two days longer than I thought I'd be able to do it.

Note to aspiring artists: If you add fake dirt and aging to your drawing, it'll cover up a lot of mistakes!

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the original sketch of Codwallander. Pretty much the same, except for adjusting some proportions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Alex Creatchmeyer

I've decided that I want to attempt to draw something worth posting every day for a the foreseeable future. It won't happen of course, but it's worth a try.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

In Search Of: A Business Card Design

Nothing makes you feel like a prize doofus more than when you tell someone you're an illustrator and they ask you for your card... and you realize you don't have one.

With that in mind, the past several months I've been on a quest to design an appropriate business card for myself.

It's been a long and painful process (OK, more like an off and on process whenever I would remember I was supposed to be coming up with one), but I think I've finally found one I can live with.

At first I was going to just have one large image of Biff (the little guy in the upper left corner) on the card, as he's unintentionally become my face on the web. But then I wished I could feature more of my art on the card somehow.

Just for the heck of it I laid out a card full of characters I've drawn, in a grid of tiny squares. I figured they'd be so small you wouldn't be able to tell what you were looking at, but was pleasantly surprised when I printed out a sample and saw that the faces were perfectly legible. Small, but definitely recognizable.

But if I used this design then I had no idea where I would put my contact info. Thankfully I discovered that most print shops will now print on both sides of a business card. So I just stuck my logo and all my contact info on the reverse side. Finally, a business card I'm reasonably happy with.

Now I need to get to the print shop, stat!

The various tiny faces were all drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet. The card was laid out in InDesign.

Here are the runners-up in my quest for a personal business card.

I didn't really plan it, but Biff, the surly little bald guy, has sort of become the face of my online presence (no, he does not resemble me, thank you very much), so I felt like he should be featured on the card for consistency's sake.

I like the bottom one a lot, but I wanted to somehow feature more than just one illustration, so I had to go with the grid of faces. Better luck next time, Biff.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jimmy Gnashington's Third Grade School Photo

A very quick little drawing-- about half an hour. Usually when I draw something I sketch it out first and have it all planned in my mind. Tonight I decided not to do any of that and to just draw. I sat down at the computer and started doodling onscreen and after a few minutes this came out.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Rare And Elusive Red Unicorn Demon

I hadn't done a "painting" in Photoshop for a while, so I figure it was about time to try one again. Now I remember why it's been so long since I did one. Line drawings are much easier!

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of the demon. The final drawing didn't change much at all.

My Trip To The Wookkiee Planet

A few years ago I went to see "Star Wars: Return of the Sith" (mercifully the last of the prequels) and while watching it I had a thought. No, not "Boy, do I wish I was in a different theater," although I'm sure I probably said that before it was over.

It happened during the big battle between the Wookiees and the Trade Federation droid army. Something about the Wookiee home world of Kashyyk seemed awfully familiar.

It finally came to me after I got home. Kashyyk bears more than a striking resemblance to the Chinese city of Guilin!

At the top is a scene of Chewbacca and a Wookiee General planning their strategy on Kashyyk, with a view of some unusual mountains in the background.

At the bottom is a photo I took of the city of Guilin, with a view of some unusual mountains in the background. Notice anything familiar?

In another example, at the top we have the Wookiee army rushing toward a river with the strange mountain formations in the background.

At the bottom is a photo I took of the river Li, which winds through the strange mountain formations in the background.

At the top we see a Wookiee flying some sort of dragonfly-copter over the river with the strange mountains in the background.

At the bottom we see me sailing the river Li in Guilin with the strange mountains in the background.

I've been to the Wookiee planet!

Apparently when the folks at Lucasfilm needed an alien landscape for the Kashyyk, they realized they'd already used ice planets, swamp worlds and cities in the clouds, so they turned to China. Guilin, with its beautiful and unusual mountain formations, has some of the most alien-looking landscapes on earth. Guilin's not exactly the most well known place on the planet, especially in America, so they probably thought no one would notice if they co-opted it to stand in for Kashyyk. Sorry, guys, but I gotta call you on this one. Next time try coming up with a truly alien landscape instead of copying one from the Chinese.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Henri, The World's Least Convincing Mime!

Looks like Henri's doing "trapped in a box." Or is it "Walking against the wind?" "Flower growing toward sunlight?" "Ducking discovers its mother felled by a hunter?" Honestly it's kind of hard to tell.

Don't quit your day job, Henri.

By the way, unlike most of the world, I don't hate mimes. I appreciate it as an art form, and I recognize that it takes talent, skill and stamina to perform. That said, mimes should always be confined to the television. They have no business out in public squares, accosting innocent passers-by. Remember that, mimes of the world. Don't approach me in public and act like I stink, or mimic my walk. Stay on the TV where you belong.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch for Henri. The final drawing changed quite a bit, most notably in the position of his hands, and the lengthening of his legs. If you're a regular reader of this blog (as I know you are) you'll notice that that leg lengthening thing is a common occurrence around here.

For some reason whenever I start making a final drawing from a sketch, I feel the need to make the character's legs about 40% longer. If I'm drawing a tall & skinny character, they always seem to look better to me if their legs are extra long.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I was doodling in my sketchbook the other day, and for no apparent reason I drew a roadrunner. So I decided to turn the sketch into a full blown drawing.

Call it my interpretation of the Warner Bros. version. I wasn't trying to recreate him exactly, but rather filter him through my own style.

The Roadrunner has got to be one of the most annoying characters in animation history. I think everyone who's ever seen even one of the cartoons rooted for the Coyote and wished that once, just once, he'd catch the stupid Roadrunner and eat him.

In fact, years ago I read that the U.S. Army commissioned a special cartoon from Warner Bros., in which the Coyote finally caught and ate the Roadrunner. According to the legend it would be shown to the troops right before they went into battle; I guess to pump them up?

Alas, it was just an urban legend and no such cartoon exists.

No matter how many times the Coyote's Roadrunner-catching plans failed, he never stopped trying. Maybe there's a lesson about perseverance or something in them.

When I was a kid there was a Roadrunner comic book, and he was even more annoying in it! The comic version could talk (!) instead of make "meep meep" sounds, and he always spoke in rhyme. And like all funny animal comic book characters, he had 3 identical triplet nephews who followed him around. If I remember right the Coyote wasn't in the comic; it just showed the Roadrunner's family life. I remember not liking that comic.

By the way, Google "roadrunner" some day when you have time. Not surprisingly, a real one looks nothing at all like a large skinny ostrich. It's just a small speckled bird with a short neck and a slightly longer than normal tail. Most of the other Warner characters are fairly accurately drawn; it makes me wonder if whoever designed the Roadrunner had ever seen one before.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the sketch for the Roadrunner. I lengthened his legs a bit in the final drawing and cleaned up some lines, but otherwise not a lot changed.

It Came From The Cineplex: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, Drag Me To Hell, The Hangover, Land Of The Lost, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

Believe it or not, summer's almost over, and with it the big summer movie blockbuster season.

Due to production schedules, we're just now feeling the effects of last year's Hollywood writer's strike. Many, if not all of the movies at the cineplex this summer suffered from the strike, as films were rushed into production with weak and hurriedly finished scripts. It's even been rumored that a certain quiet little film about robots that turn into vehicles started filming without a finished script (based on the final result, I have absolutely no trouble believing that).

Anyway, for good or ill, I thought I'd run through the movies I've seen this summer, and let you know how I think they stack up, because I know how much the rest of the world is interested in my opinion. I'll try to keep my reviews as brief and to the point as possible.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Dear Hollywood:

Please stop making prequels.

the World

The Summer Blockbuster Season was kicked off this year with the premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The movie made quite a splash in the news, not because of its storyline, but because a near-complete print of it was leaked to the internet some months before it was released. Fox bigwigs stood wringing their hands in anguish, fearful the leak would affect box office returns. It in fact did no such thing, and the movie went on to gross as much or more as it probably would have without the leak.

But on to the movie itself. Wolverine is OK at best, a bit below par with the rest of the X-Men movies. This is the fourth time Hugh Jackman has donned the claws, and honestly there's nothing much new to see here.

The main problem with Wolverine is that it suffers from what I call prequelitis. What does a studio do when its profitable film franchise runs out of steam and can no longer move forward? Why, it moves backward of course, toward the beginning. If you've no more new stories to tell about your hero, then tell an old one. Go back to the beginning and tell how he came to be.

The problem with prequels though is nothing of any consequence can happen. The screen writers can throw all the peril they can imagine at the hero, but none of it can ever stick. Since Wolverine is set before the X-Men trilogy, we know that no matter what happens, no matter how great the danger Wolverine may be in, he's going to survive. OK, so obviously nothing is ever going to happen him anyway; he's the main character. But there's a tiny part of your brain that's never quite sure about that. That's why we watch movies and read stories. But when you know going in that nothing can happen to your hero, there's no real point in watching. It's about one step up from the old "It was all a dream" trope.

Since the movie can't offer any plot points of consequence, it offers up a plateload of answers to questions no one asked: How old is Wolverine? What was his family life like? How'd he get his claws (OK, that one might have been worth asking). Did he ever date? Why's his memory faulty? And most importantly of all, where did he get that cool leather jacket (I wish I was kidding about that last one, but sadly I'm not). Like all prequels I've seen, one can almost imagine the director marking items off of a checklist. "Claws? Check! Love life? Check! Reason for memory loss? Check! Acquistion of stylish jacket? BIG check!"

Like the first three X-Men movies, this one tries to see how many other mutant characters it can trowel onto the script; most come and go in seconds, and precious few are ever identified by name. It would be a challenge for even the most hard core comic geek to recognize and identify the majority of them.

Most puzzling is the decision to take the popular character "Deadpool," who has a very cool costume and distinctive wise guy personality, and change him into a bland, shirtless hamburger-faced killer whose mouth is inexplicably sewn shut. He's set up here for a return; hopefully if that comes to pass, he'll look and act more like his comic book inspiration.

An aside: There's supposedly some controversy among geekdom (what else is new?) about when exactly this movie takes place. Some have apparently done the math and say it takes place some 30 years prior to the first X-Men film, which would put it in the 1970s. But, they cry, the production design and costumes don't reflect the 70s, and in fact look quite contemporary. Honestly none of that entered my mind for a second while watching it. It takes place sometime before the previous movies, and that's all I need to know. If you want to get really nitpicky about it, the first X-Men movie starts out with a caption that says, "In the not too distant future," so technically they haven't happened yet, and Wolverine could indeed be a contemporary piece. Confused? I don't blame you. Don't worry about it and skip to the next paragraph.

Not a horrible movie, and definitely not a great one, it resides squarely in the vast plain of "Meh."

I give it an apathetic and half-hearted C.

Star Trek
The best movie I've seen all summer, which in a summer littered with this much mediocrity seems like damning with faint praise.

Writer/director J.J. Abrams took the wheezing and ailing Trek franchise off of life support and rejuvenated it by starting over from the beginning. Forget everything you know, this is a brand new Star Trek, set in an fresh and alternate time line.

Personally I think jettisoning all that history and baggage was a great idea. The franchise was collapsing under the weight of 40+ years worth of continuity. To date there've been FIVE different series set in the Trek universe (six if you count the animated series) giving us well over 700 episodes. And you can bet your captain's log that every fan demanded that any new material jibe with what's gone before in all those episodes. Mistakes will not be tolerated. It made coming up with new material and moving forward nearly impossible. Starting over was the only answer, and the perfect solution, giving the franchise a fresh start.

I wasn't sure how I would feel seeing new actors playing the old familiar characters, but after a few minutes I didn't even think about it-- I totally accepted them in the roles. I guess that shouldn't have come as a surprise; look at how many different actors have played classic characters like Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes throughout the years. I thought the new cast all did a great job-- the new Dr. McCoy was excellent!

Some hard core fans may say the new movie's long on action and short on traditional Star Trek substance, but that's fine with me-- I'm a little weary of getting hit over the head by thinly veiled messages. I already know racism is bad, I don't need a "white on one side, black on the other side alien" to tell me so.

There will no doubt be sequels, and I hope the producers don't blow their opportunity. They've got a brand new universe to play in, and they need to take advantage of it. Give us new stories, no remakes please. We don't need Antonio Banderas as Khan.

Full of action and a lot of fun. When was the last time you could say that about a Star Trek movie? Too bad we'll have to wait two or three years for the next installment, instead of tuning in next week.

Highly recommended, I give it a solid A.

Terminator: Salvation
Again with the prequels! Only in Hollywood could we get a movie that takes place in the future, but is actually set in the past of the Terminator universe!

Ever since the first Terminator movie came out in 1984, we've been hearing bits and pieces about the Future War, the battle between Skynet and humanity. For over 20 years fans have been dreaming, "Boy I sure wish I could see what the Future War was/is like! If only they'd make a movie set in that time." Well, be careful what you wish for. Now we've got our Future War movie, and it ain't all that great.

Once again we have a movie that has all the symptoms of the rapidly spreading plague of sequelitis. The screen writers valiantly try to whip up some danger for our heroes, but since we've already seen their futures, we know nothing of consequence can possibly happen to them.

Terminator:Salvation features John Connor, leader of the human rebels, risking life and limb to save ordinary grunt Kyle Reese from the clutches of the evil Skynet. If you've seen even one of the previous movies, you'll know that through the magic of time travel, even though Kyle is younger than John, he's actually his dad. So they can place Kyle in as much danger as they want, but we know he's not going to die. If he was to be killed in this movie, then the first three wouldn't be able to happen. All that makes watching this movie an exercise in pointlessness.

The film also suffers greatly from the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The fact that the movie picks up considerably after a fully computer animated version of the T-800 appears is testament to this. Maybe if Arnold wasn't busy running California into the ground, he could have appeared in Salvation and elevated it a bit.

Also, based on the amount of ordnance and deadly robots that Skynet has at its disposal, it strains credulity that the poorly-organized and outfitted humans would survive for long, much less be able to defeat it. Skynet has riderless motorcycles with robotic brains and reflexes, unstoppable killer cyborgs and even giant, 100 foot tall Gundam-like robots. The humans have standard issue helicopters and machine guns. There's no doubt in my mind who would really win this conflict.

It's full of cool robots and lots of noisy explosions, but since it's yet another prequel and we know nothing can happen, it's ultimately pointless.

I give it a C.

Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi wrote and directed this back-to-basics horror movie that turned out to be one of the best things in the theater this summer. Too bad nobody saw it. Drag Me was unfortunately crushed by a poor release date and the "Transformers" juggernaut.

A simple story about young woman, and old lady and a gypsy curse, Drag Me to Hell is smart, violent, gory, funny, and believe it or not, genuinely scary. What more could you ask for in a horror film?

I was worried when I found out that it's rated PG-13, and expected yet another watered-down horror flick in the mold of "The Ring" and countless other toothless, scare-less movies that have littered the cineplex in the past decade. But Raimi manages to squeeze the rating until it cries "uncle," resulting in one of the best horror films I've seen in years.

Do yourself a favor: Skip Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and go see Drag Me To Hell.

I give it a solid A.

The Hangover
A buddy comedy about four guys who travel to Vegas for one last fling before one of their number is married. The Hangover is probably the best comedy I've seen so far this year, but honestly that's not saying a lot. It was nice to see a movie about actual adults for a change, instead of yet another movie about horny teens looking for sex.

It has some laughs, but IMO they were surprisingly sparse and the middle of the film slows down considerably. Zack Gallifinackas steals the show, and will no doubt get a lot more film work soon (and deservedly so).

Ed Helms plays virtually the same "spineless guy marrying a bitter harpy" character as he does on The Office; in fact it's hard not to think of his Andy character while watching this movie. If Helms wants a career in films, he's eventually going to have to start playing a different character (are you listening, Michael Cera?).

Warner Brothers is proudly trumpeting that this is the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time. I hate these kinds of statistics. Of course it's the highest grossing ever, ticket prices are no doubt higher than they were last year, or at any time in history. Next year there'll be a movie that sells fewer tickets but will still make more money. Studios need to stop counting cash and start counting actual tickets sold. Then we'll see who's really the highest grossing whatever. Butts in the seats, that's what counts.

An OK comedy that just didn't grab me the way it apparently did the other 99% of the population.

I give it a B.

Land of the Lost
Universal and Will Farrell take a beloved and surprisingly grown up kid's show and turn it into an unfunny fart comedy.

Not the worst movie I've ever seen, but far from the best. I was (and still am) a big fan of the 1970s TV show, so I figured I would be incensed by the treatment it received at the hands of the new movie. Actually I found myself oddly indifferent to the new film. It's so far removed from the TV show that it scarcely affects it at all.

I'm wondering exactly who this movie is for. The fans who fondly recall the original will be unimpressed at best. Moviegoers who've never heard of the original will most likely shrug and say, "So what?"

The main problem with the movie is that it's just not funny. They'd have got more laughs if they'd made it a straight up action movie with a few comic relief moments. Will Farrell seems particularly lackluster and unenthused, as if even he's tiring of his own antics.

The movie has an odd, almost cartoony look. I've heard speculation that this was intentional, as an homage or sorts to the primitive effects of the original show. I'm not buying that. That would be a bit too subtle for a movie like this.

What's genuinely puzzling about the whole thing is that it was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft, so the whole thing must be sanctioned by them. I guess everyone needs to eat, and make their yacht payments.

I give it a hearty and resounding D.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge is dumb. Big, noisy, stupid and dumb. The first movie was somewhat watchable, but this one is just a big giant mess. The plot, if you can call it that, makes absolutely no sense. It's almost as if director Michael Bay watched a child playing with some Transformers toys, stole his ideas and incorporated them into a script. In fact we would probably have gotten a better movie if that were the case.

According to internet rumor, which we all know is always 100% accurate, last year's writer's strike disrupted production and they started filming without a completed script. I see nothing in the movie that would disprove that rumor.

The movie sets up a world with ill-conceived and illogical rules, and then blissfully ignores said rules when it's convenient to the plot, or when it will get a so-called laugh. Defenders of the movie will tell you to chill, it's a film about giant robots that turn into cars. They'll tell you it's just a big dumb summer movie that's supposed to be fun, not make sense. I would remind those people that one of the best summer movies of last year concerned a man who dressed as a bat and fought a green-haired clown. Summer movies can be smart as well as fun.

Megabytes of server space have already been written about the movie's many flaws, so there's no need for me to cover the same well-worn ground. I will, however, offer a few items that especially bothered me about the film.

• Lack of "The Sound." You know what I'm talking about. On the cartoon series, whenever a TF would change from a car to a robot and back again, there'd be this unmistakable grinding metallic sound cue. Every kid who ever owned a TF toy made a reasonable facsimile of this noise with his mouth while playing with them. They used a distorted version of the noise a couple of times in the first movie, but it was totally absent this time.

Why? Why would you make a TF movie and leave out that sound? It's like making a Six Million Dollar Man movie and not using the "nanananana" noise when he does something bionic.

Not using it is downright criminal, and it's too bad there's no law on the books against it.

• Whenever two or more Transformers are fighting, it looks like someone shook a box of scrap metal and filmed it. I honestly can't tell what I'm looking at. It's all a blur of hyper-detailed cgi models.

The "design" of all the Transformers is just plain too complicated. I already believe that they're robots who can turn into cars, you don't have to show me where every single part of the vehicle goes when they're in robot mode.

The TF designs in the cartoon were fairly simple in order to facilitate animation, but that worked to their advantage. Look at the images above. Which robot looks like it's made from the parts of a semi truck, and which one looks like a loose collection of jagged red and blue parts, hot-glued together into the rough outline of a bipedal shape? There's no reason that the cartoon designs couldn't have been used in the movie. Just add a bit of texture and they would have been fine.

When I was a kid and I saw a movie that particularly excited me, I couldn't wait to get home so I could start drawing the characters. I'd fill page after page full of Disney characters and Star Wars ships. If I was a kid today and had just seen Transformers, there's no way I would even attempt to draw one of those scrap metal monstrosities. I couldn't! If I'd seen this movie as a kid I probably would have given up drawing for good and never have become an artist.

• Why did the old Decepticon who decided to switch sides have what sounded like a Scottish accent? And if he was supposed to be so old that he was falling apart, why was he disguised as a Blackbird? That's a relatively recent invention. Wouldn't it have made more sense if he was a biplane or some such older model?

• For me, the stupidest and most irritating moment comes during Sam's first day of college, Sam is attacked by a Decepticon that is disguised as a super hot co-ed. Once her cover is blown, she turns into a robotic puma or something, attacks Sam and then promptly disappears from the movie (or maybe she was blown up, I honestly can't remember). This opens up an ENORMOUS can of worms, roughly the size of the Queen Mary. Is this some new ability the Decepticons have developed? It had better be, because if they've had the ability to disguise themselves as perfect replicas of people all along, then why the frak have they been bothering to look like cars and trucks all this time? This little incident causes a hee-yuge problem in the TF universe, and it's brought up for no apparent reason other than "because it looks kewl." And once it's brought up, it's promptly forgotten and never mentioned again.

• When Sam and company need to go to Egypt, instead of the Scottish Transformer flying them all there, he decides to teleport them. Can all Transformers do this? If so, then this opens yet another can of worms. If they can teleport, then why do they waste time disguising themselves as vehicles and driving or flying?

• Mikeila (Megan Fox) must have earned all sorts of badges in first aid when she was a girl scout. After the cast teleports into the desert, Sam's hand is burnt and smoking, apparently injured from the violent teleportation process. Not only does Mikeila whip out a roll of gauze, she wraps Sam's hand up so expertly that it appears he even has splints and a cast under the bangages.

The reason for this of course, was Shia LeBouf's real life hand injury, sustained in a drunk-driving accident. Much was made in the media about how this injury shut down production for a week or two, and how the injury would be written into the script. Apparently "writing it into the script" is Michael Bay code for "saying nothing about it and having Shia wave his injured hand about as much as possible."

There's no excuse for this; if they can animate a cgi robot with 40,000 moving parts, then they can add an uninjured cgi hand to the end of Shia LeBouf's wrist.

• After Optimus Prime is killed, Sam is told that the only way he can be brought back to life is to use sort sort of ancient key. After much searching and hundreds of explosions, Sam finds the key and sticks it in Prime's chest. He is immediately recharged and comes back to life. About 30 seconds later, one of the Decepticons flies down and yanks the doohickey from Prime's chest and flies off with it. Optimus Prime seems none the worse for wear. So he did he need the key or didn't he? In essence Sam stuck a new heart into Prime's chest, and then it was ripped back out.

I could go on, but I'll spare you. It doesn't matter what I think anyway-- at the time of this post, the movie has somehow grossed over 800 MILLION DOLLARS worldwide, and it would not be a surprise if it passed the BILLION dollar mark before it's over with.

The world just isn't fair. Michael Bay makes a movie without a script and as a result no doubt lives in solid gold house with hot and cold running champagne. Meanwhile the rest of us sit in our dingy kitchens eating store brand macaroni and cheese. There's a lesson in there somewhere, kids, and I don't think I like the sound of it.

If you've not yet seen it, please, by all means skip it and go see something worthwhile.

I give it big dumb D.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

M.S.S.E.S.D. (Make Something Shark Every Shark Day)

Over on Flickr, Jublin (aka Justin White, a Flickerite of fame and reknown) challenged everyone to draw a shark a day for his ongoing "Make Something Shark Every Shark Day" group. I'm not going to be able to draw one every day, but I thought I'd try a couple.
This is Mel Sharkelton. As you can see, Mel is a ticking time bomb of hate and anger, and is easily agitated.

Mel was drawn in about an hour, in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the sketch I did for Mel. Most of my sketches and doodles are done on paper, but this was a rare electronic sketch done in Photoshop. I like the way the sketch came out, and for a minute considered just using it as is, without cleaning up the lines.
Mel is based on a drawing I did way back in 1994. It's odd that I know where to find a specific piece of paper I scribbled on 15 years ago, but I have to search the house for my car keys every morning.

The drawing's stiff and lacks energy and there's absolutely no variation in the thickness of the line. I was also deeply entrenched in my cross-hatching phase back them. Still, there's something in it that appeals to me and made me want to take another shot at it. I'm hopeful that I've improved a bit as an artist in the past 15 years.

He was drawn with an ordinary ball point pen, which would make my art professors' hair shoot off their heads like cartoon porcupine quills if they ever found out. I know there are better drawing implements out there, but I could never get the hang of inking with a brush or a nib pen, so I've pretty much always used ball points. I say use the tools you're comfortable with. And end as many sentences as you can with prepositions.
This is Abe Finnstein. Now that Abe's retired, he's migrating south to Floridian waters with his wife Muriel, where they'll swim 15 miles an hour in the fast lane and enjoy the Early Surf Special.

As usual, Abe was drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the sketch for Abe. Again, this was a Photoshop sketch, instead of the usual pen and paper kind.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Futureboy Backgrounds

A while back I posted an entry about Futureboy, a character I created about ten years ago while working at a small animation company. You can read all about him here.

I made a couple of very short (2 minutes or so) Futureboy animations in Flash. They turned out OK, so with those projects under my belt, I decided to hatch an even bigger plan: I was going to create a series of Warner Brothers-esque short cartoons that would play in movie theaters before the main feature, just like in the old days.

The fact that you've never sat down in a theater and watched a Futureboy cartoon should tell you what happened. It was a cool idea, but one that was far too ambitious for both me and the company. It would have taken months, maybe even years to single handedly write, animate, voice and direct an entire 7 minute cartoon totally by myself. Futureboy's big screen debut died before it ever got off the drawing board.

I did get far enough into the project to create some Photoshop backgrounds for an animation test.

OK, this one's techically not a background, but I included it anyway. This is an alien ship that lands in the spaceport. Drawn in Photoshop on a ton of layers. All these backgrounds were drawn with the mouse too-- I didn't have a graphic tablet back then, so I should get extra points for difficulty.

In my story outline, a brand new alien species comes to the Spaceport where Futureboy worked. His nervous boss, Mr. Feeny, foolishly put Futureboy in charge of greeting this previously unseen race, and escorting the alien ambassador to the auditorium where it was to give a speech.

As the ship lands, a small green blob slithers out of the ship. Futureboy assumes this is the Ambassador and grabs it and attempts to usher it to the auditorium, running into all sorts of complications along the way. Eventually he delivers the blob to the podium, only to discover it's not an alien at all, but a glob of sewage that plopped out of the ship's waste chute.

Charming, eh? Looking back, maybe it's just as well it never got made after all.

Here's an interior shot of the spaceport, looking out at the alien ship landing on the platform. Note the Jetsons-like flying cars. Somebody's really been waxing that floor!

Just for the heck of it, here's the same view of the spaceport interior sans alien ship.

Here's the exterior view of the council chamber where Futureboy was to deliver the alien ambassador. That's one futuristic looking door!

The most impressive thing about these backgrounds (if I do say so myself) is that they were drawn sans graphic tablet. Every pixel was drawn with the mouse. Don't ask me how.

Who knows, maybe somewhere in a parallel universe people are sitting in a theater watching the finished version of this cartoon before the movie starts. I'm also rich, powerful, 14 feet tall and coated with gold in that universe as well.
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