Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eddie McLavaberg

I turned on my lava lamp the other day for the first time in ages. As I sat staring at it, mesmerized by the floating blobs within, I had a vision...

Since the bulb in a lava lamp is in the base, I tried to make it look like the globules were being lit from below. I'm reasonably happy with the way that came out.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original very rough sketch of Eddie.

It's Roy, The Gym Teacher With Rabid Poodles For Hands!

I first drew Roy back around 1995. I was sitting at work, bored out of my skull, and started doodling. A few minutes later, this came out. I have no idea where it came from; it's probably best if none of us ever know.

Don't ask Roy how he goes to the bathroom. He will begin sobbing quietly and walk away.

I've sketched Roy a few times over the years, but this is the first time I've ever rendered him in color. I never had to think about how the transition from human to poodle should look until now.

There's a couple things I need to fine tune. For example, I think the poodles need to be foaming at the mouth more.

If you had a couple of poodle hand puppets, a gym teacher uniform and a whistle, you could dress as Roy for Halloween!

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the digital sketch of Roy.

And here's the original sketch I did of him some 10 or 12 years ago. Not sure why it took me so long to get around to drawing him up proper.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bjørn J. Ursmeyer

Just a quick little drawing of a bear out for a stroll.

Doesn't he look happy and contented? Maybe he's on his way to a date with a lovely lady bear. Or maybe he just woke up refreshed from a long winter's hibernation. Or perhaps he just fatally mauled and ate alive a group of unfortunate campers. We'll never know.

Bonus points if you know why I named him "Bjørn."

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Bjorn. Nothing much changed, other than cleaning up the lines a bit.

I was trying to instill some fluid motion into this drawing. Technically I drew him wrong; when you walk your arms and legs aren't in sync on each side. When you step forward with your right leg, your right arm swings back as a counterbalance. I know all this, but sometimes it just works better to draw characters walking the "wrong" way though, so you don't get an arm blocking their midsection.

Progress Means "Move Forward," People

If you're a regular reader of my blog (as millions are) you're probably tired of hearing about the ongoing saga of my life after I cut the cable TV cord. I can't say I blame you. I promise that this will be the last update about my TV. Until the next time I write about it.

To catch you up on what's been happening, I'll give you a quick review: In June, I'd had enough of the cable bill, so I canceled it. I then found out that my TV is too old to receive the kewl new digital broadcasts. I bought a digital converter box and plugged it in, only to find that I live in a no-man's land that can't get any TV signals without an antenna. So I had no live TV whatsoever for about 3 months. Strangely enough, I didn't miss it a bit and my life went on just fine.

Then a few weeks ago my dad gave me a small indoor antenna. No offense to my dad, but it looked and felt like a cheap piece of junk. It looked like it would be about as effective at picking up signals as a coat hanger.

However, when I plugged it in, I found that it somehow picked up 15 channels in the area. Color me shocked and stunned.

So now I have some form of live TV again. 99% of the time there still isn't anything on worth watching. I continue to leave the TV off most of the time I'm home.

I did notice some things about our brave new digital world. For months, make that years, the government has been telling us how great everything would be when we finally made the switch from analog TV to digital. We'd have more channels, the picture would be clearer and sharper, the sky would be bluer, food would taste fresher, and unicorns would tuck us in at night and kiss us on the forehead.

It was all a lie. A dirty, filthy lie.

Yes, now that digital is finally here, I do have more over the air channels than I used to. I can't prove it, but it appears that they accomplished this by simply compressing the signals so that they can wedge more info into the same amount of bandwidth.

Periodically the picture degrades and appears to be made up of hundreds of blocky square video "artifacts." That never happened with analog.

Also, in the analog days, you only had to point your TV antenna in the general direction of the station and you'd still get a picture. It may not have been a perfect image, but it was acceptable. With digital, your antenna must be pointed precisely at the transmitter. Even a deviation of one or two degrees will cause the picture to freeze and the screen to display an explosion of kaleidoscopic colors. With digital, it's all or nothing; you either get the picture or you don't. Once again, that never happened with analog.

In fact, on the rare occasions I've sat down and actually tried to watch something on live TV, I've been presented with a picture that freezes, skips, chokes and stutters until I finally give up in disgust and go sit in my studio and draw.

From where I'm sitting, digital is inferior to analog in every measurable sense. So why did we switch?

What happened to progress? Why has every so-called "advancement" in the past few years been worse than the thing it replaced? Digital TV has more problems than analog ever did. MP3s are more compressed and don't sound as good as the CDs they replaced. Cell phones are convenient, but you never had to wander around the house with your land line phone, trying desperately to get four bars, nor worry about its battery running out. By some estimates the XBox 360 console has a failure rate around 70%, even though I still have a 15 year old Playstation 1 that works just fine.

Why is this happening?

I'm starting to wonder if we reached the end of technological advance, so science has introduced a wave of patently inferior products so that they can "improve" them (read "raise them back to normal levels) at some point in the future.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Marvin Ogrefeld, Retired Monster

I was doodling this week and this image popped into my head. I like the idea of a retired monster, reminiscing about the good old days.

For once I'm reasonably happy with the way a drawing came out.

I didn't really have much of a plan here; other than the monster and the word balloon everything was sort of ad libbed. I've been doing that a lot lately. It seems like things work out better when I throw them together at the last second instead of meticulously plan them for hours. There's probably a lesson there somewhere.

Once I drew the monster and the word balloon it just didn't look finished, so I added the colored background. Everything was on separate layers, so I adjusted the colors of each element in Photoshop until I thought it all looked right. It still felt like something was missing, so I added a layer of dirt and aging, and was finally happy with it.

The text was hand-lettered. I've been working on my lettering skills lately instead of always relying on fonts. Despite the fact that there are several million fonts out there, sometimes you just can't find one that's right.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Marvin. Note that he's wearing glasses (glass?) here. Sometimes things that work in a sketch don't work out so well when you do the final drawing. I tried to make the glasses work, but they just got in the way of his eye, so I ended up dropping them.

His pose was a little too static (even for a retired guy), so I changed his arm so he's gesturing to bring his point home.


Another drawing based on a doodle in my sketchbook. For the background I wanted to play around with negative space and draw the moon without drawing it, if that makes any sense.

If Moonman was an animated character, it would be cool if he had a round shadow that constantly moved across his face, like the phases of the moon.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

After looking at the finished Moonman drawing for a while, I noticed that it's mostly two colors, yellow and blue, and wondered if I should have drawn it with a more limited palette. So I used Photoshop to turn it into a duotone. It's interesting and I like it, but I think I like the full color version better. I like the blue atmospheric haze in the color version.

Here's the original sketch of Moonman. This is all there is; all the background stuff was added on the fly.


This was a character I first started doodling about 10 or 12 years ago. I decided it was time to dust him off and draw him up proper.

I'm not exactly sure why, but this was a tough one! It took forever to draw. I think it was to do with the robotic suit. Normally my characters are fairly loose and organic, but this one had lots of mechanical parts that I felt needed to be more precise.

It took a lot longer than usual to color as well, on a ton of different layers. Most likely because there are so many different materials and textures involved, such as rusty iron, shiny aluminum, transparent glass, translucent water and fishy scales.

I'll never find the time, but some day I'd like to make an action figure of this character. I bet I could find the clear bell jar and the bottom cast iron basin shapes at the hobby store. Not sure how I'd go about making the legs and tentacles though. Or how I'd make the whole thing watertight. It would look cool on a shelf though. Maybe I'll just stick with an illustration.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Gillborg. It's pretty much the same as the final drawing, other than changing some of the proportions a bit.

I found the very first sketch I ever drew of Gillborg, ten years or so ago. For some reason I drew two alien looking fish in the tank.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jakob Spinebaum

Nothing much to say about this one. He's just a little blowfish-looking guy I doodled in my sketchbook, and turned into an illustration.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch. If you'll note, his body is not a perfect circle; it's more of an oval shape. For some reason this bothered me greatly as I was drawing the final illustration, so I rounded out his body. It looked awful! So awful that I erased it and went back to the original proportions. I guess I sketched him like I did for a reason.

Summer Blockbuster Roundup Part 2

Well, Summer Blockbuster 2009 season is officially over. All I have to say is it's about time. So how did things stack up? Not so well. Thanks to the 2008 writer's strike, there were very few bright spots in the movie landscape this past summer.

Well, these reviews ain't gonna read themselves, so you'd better get started!

Year One

A shockingly unfunny comedy, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera.

Jack Black is uncharacteristically subdued throughout the entire affair. In a movie with precious few opportunities for laughs, he should have been trying to wring every possible drop of humor from the script.

Michael Cera plays the same awkward teen character that he's played in every movie he's ever been in. That's fine; many actors have made handsome livings playing the same role over and over. But someday he's going to have to branch out; he can't keep playing a befuddled 17 year old forever. I suppose he can always move on to playing awkward twenty-somethings.

Ringo Starr did this better 30 years ago with Caveman, and even then it wasn't exactly great cinema. Avoid at all costs. I give it a D.

Public Enemies

Johnny Depp is fine as John Dillinger, but the movie as a whole was a disappointment, IMO. For a movie about bank robbers, there's precious little bank robbing in it. It also had an odd video look to it, that didn't really mesh with a period piece.

The real John Dillinger allegedly had some creative ways to go about bank robbing. Reportedly he would sometimes pretend to be an alarm salesman in order to gain access to the vault, and even posed as a movie producer scouting locations for a film about bank robbers! Sadly, the movie ignores such interesting situations in favor of far more mundane robberies.

Uncomfortably similar to "Bonnie & Clyde," which given the subject matter, was probably hard to avoid. Worth a look on video. I give it a C.


There's no way to talk about Bruno without comparing it to Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen is a talented chameleon-like performer, but unfortunately Bruno is a weak follow-up. It just doesn't have as many laughs, IMO.

Maybe it's the character? Borat was a likable and somewhat innocent rube, while Bruno is more sophisticated and shallow. There didn't seem to be as much depth or humor to the Bruno character.

But don't take my word for it, just look at the box office. I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed. Borat was a surprise hit and grossed over $128 million. Bruno barely managed $60 million.

It could also be that the whole "Candid Camera" premise is wearing a bit thin. Whatever the reason, it's just not as fun to watch as the previous film. Skip it and watch Borat again. I give it a C.

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

Believe it or not, this is the sixth outing for Harry and crew. Seems like the first movie just came out a year or two ago!

It's fun to see how the cast has grown into their roles and inhabits them so easily. The script is both satisfying and yet frustrating. It manages to successfully condense the overlong book, but the parts it decides to leave out are puzzling to say the least. About five full seconds of screen time are devoted to revealing the identity of the title character (the Prince, not Harry), and then the matter is immediately dropped, offering no further explanation whatsoever.

It also changes the staging and dynamics of the climactic battle and criminally leaves out any and all material pertaining to the funeral of another major character (I'm trying to be spoiler sensitive here).

Still and all, one of the better films I've seen this summer. Worth a trip to the theater. I give it a B.

The Collector

This movie has a pretty cool premise: A burglar breaks into a house and discovers someone far worse is already inside, torturing the unfortunate family that lives there. He then finds he's trapped in the house as well and decides to save himself and the family from a sadistic serial killer.

Somewhere between the concept and the execution though, something went terribly wrong. It seems like a made for TV SyFy Channel movie that was somehow delivered to the theater by mistake.

The killer, called "The Collector," even though it's not quite evident what exactly it is that he collects, rigs the house with traps that rival Wile E. Coyote. Some of the traps are believable, like stringing razor wire in front of windows or hammering nails into steps. But other traps involve objects that when picked up somehow yank the victim all through the house, up and down staircases and finally into spiked walls, just like in a cartoon. How such traps are powered, as well as how the Collector could have possibly rigged them in a couple of hours, rather than the months it should have taken, is left to our imaginations.

As I was watching it struck me that many of the traps seemed familiar, and I finally realized they were very reminiscent of the ones rigged up by young Kevin McCallister in the Home Alone movies. It made me wonder if the movie is set in the same universe, and the Collector is actually Kevin grown to adulthood and serial killer-dom.

Supposedly this movie started out as a prequel to the Saw franchise, but was eventually retooled into this standalone film. As I've not seen any of the Saw films, I couldn't say whether that's true or not. I do know that it felt as if the filmmakers were desperately trying to start up a new horror franchise; they tried so hard to create a new horror icon like Freddy or Jason that they practically sprained themselves.

It deserves an F, but I'll be generous and bump it up a grade for the interesting (but botched) concept. I give it a D.

A Perfect Getaway

An effective thriller that pulls off a very difficult plot twist. I can't really say any more about it without giving anything away.

It got killed by the other blockbusters out there, but it's worth a watch when it comes out on video. I give it a B.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

It's big, loud and silly, but I liked it about a hundred times better than the execrable Transformers 2.

Maybe it's to do with the fact that I was always more partial to the Joe cartoon series. I never liked the Transformers series as much; it was always a bit impenetrable to me.

Dennis Quaid is fine as Colonel Hawk, and Sienna Miller shines as the Baroness. Christopher Eccleston seems confused by the whole thing and while he may have been OK as Doctor Who, he's no Destro. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hoot as Cobra Commander and seems to be having fun playing an over the top villain. And any movie that can feature Marlan Wayans without making me want to gouge my eyes out is OK in my book.

Channing Tatum, however, can still be out-acted by a sack of potatoes, but I suppose his role as Duke doesn't require a lot of depth.

It was fun seeing Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow brought to life on the screen, but strangely the flashback battle between the young versions of them was far better than the adult fight. The two kid actors in the flashback fight scene put in one of the best martial art battles I've ever seen!

Short on plot, long on overblown effects, but it's still a fun ride. Worth a look. I give it a B.

District 9

Wow, an original movie that's not a remake or based on a TV show. What a novel idea.

An impressive achievement, especially when you find out the budget was a mere $30 million. Heck, even romantic comedies cost more than that these days. Of course it was filmed in South Africa, where a dollar probably goes a lot farther than in Hollywood. One of these days Hollywood is going to price themselves right out of business.

The allegory got a bit thick at times (Space aliens who are treated as second class citizens and discriminated against? And they landed in South Africa? What could the filmakers be trying to say?) but fortunately the movie doesn't dwell too long on the political aspect.

The Prawns (human's slang term for the aliens) looked totally real to me, and after a while I forgot that they were a special effect. I just accepted them as real.

Supposedly the Nigerian government took offense at the portrayal of Nigerian gangsters in the movie and is demanding Sony pull it from theaters and publicly apologize. That's fine, Nigeria, just as soon as you apologize for all those "Send your bank account number to the Nigerian prince" emails.

Amazingly, this appears to be star Sharlto Copley's first acting job. He puts in quite a performance, from Michael Scott-like office manager to... well, you'll have to go see it. He deserves an Oscar nomination for sure. Highly recommended. I give it an A.

Inglourious Basterds

A movie that takes its sweet time and demands your patience, but it's never dull, and you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen.

The original "Inglorious BastArds" was a straightforward action war epic, right out of the "Dirty Dozen" mold. Moviegoers expecting something similar here should look elsewhere. The most surprising thing about IB is that it barely features the Basterds at all. Despite what the early trailer implies, the movie is not about the recruitment and exploits of the Basterds, but more about various ancillary characters and their stories.

Brad Pitt is a hoot as Lt. Aldo Raine and seems to be having fun growling out lines in a Southern drawl. Melanie Laurent as Shoshanna is also a joy to watch.

The real star of the film though is Christoph Waltz. He's absolutely mesmerizing as Col. Hans Landa, the friendliest, most polite and yet most coldly evil villain ever to grace the screen. He's fascinating to watch. He's been in a ton of movies in Europe, but is virtually unknown in America. That will probably change soon.

Only Quentin Tarantino could make a WWII movie with narration by Samuel L. Jackson, and include David Bowie singing the theme song from Cat People.

Some may squawk about the revisionist history at the end, but it didn't bother me and frankly after what had gone before, it felt right. Highly recommended. I give it an A.

Well, that's it for Summer Blockbuster Season 2009. You can read about Part 1 here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frankenstein 004: Frankenstride

Part of my 100 Frankensteins Project.

I drew the figure in Photoshop and then added color to a layer below. Then I added a digital image of a piece of brown paper below that. I adjusted the transparency of the color layer to 70%, so that some of the paper would show through the color.

It looked like something was missing, so I added the scratchy white outline on yet another layer. Then it still seemed like something was missing so I added a greenish box on a layer right above the background. I was finally happy with it after that.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original rough sketch I did for Frankenstride. It was a little too rough, so I did a second sketch.

I did this second sketch to smooth out the pose and get the proportions right before I started on the final drawing. Normally I don't do two sketches, but sometimes it's necessary to get everything hammered out.


Seen the new bing search engine, have you? The one that Microsoft hopes will soon rival and surpass Google?

It works OK, as search engines go. In fact, I just used it to look up what "bing" means in Mandarin. Turns out it means "ailment" or "illness."

Interesting. And it only took me 5 seconds to find that out. Kind of makes you wonder if they tested out their new search engine before they named it.

Now every day a billion people are using Microsoft's new "Illness Search Engine."

Keep up the good work, Microsoft.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Myron Peaksblatt

This was a fairly quick little drawing; about an hour and a half.

Coloring tip: I've noticed that if I add some faint red coloring to a character's face, usually on the nose (or sometimes cheeks) that it helps to add some life to them. Even if it's a character with green or blue skin, it's kind of like they look a little more real when they have a little bit of blush on their face.

I apologize in advance for his stained drawers.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch for Myron. Note that this is a digital sketch, instead of the usual paper ones.

World's Greatest Police Sketch

Last week police in Victoria, British Columbia released this actual police sketch of a suspect. I swear I did not make this up.

Honestly, I've never seen any police sketch that seemed like it would be of much help IDing a perp. Due to the nature of the compartmentalized way they're drawn (What kind of eyes did he have? Now what kind of ears?) they never look anything like the suspect whatsoever.

And then there's this one.

If you live in or are planning to visit the Victoria area, be on the lookout for a man who is half owl, have grey alien.

Wouldn't it be cool if they catch the guy, and it turns out he looks exactly like this sketch?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Alien Lincoln

Something I doodled a while back and finally got around to illustrating.

As usual, a simple little drawing mushroomed into something much more complicated. While I was drawing Alien Abe, the idea to turn it into a pseudo 1970s-style movie poster popped into my head, complete with folds and aging effects.

I'm not sure about that tag line, but it was the best I could come up with. It's tough to turn a Lincoln quote into a violent movie catchphrase.

I haven't quite decided on an origin for Alien Lincoln. Maybe he came to Earth in the 1860s and was so impressed with the real Lincoln that he shape shifted to resemble him and tries to live by his example (but doesn't quite measure up to the philosophies of the Great Emancipator). Or maybe not.

I need to work on the red stripe some more. I think it needs to look more like splashed blood. Not entirely happy with the Lincoln logo either, so I may tweak that as well. I'm happy with the way the steampunk raygun turned out though.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the sketch of Alien Abe. I bet I looked like an idiot posing in front of the mirror while holding a toy raygun so I could see how to draw the hands properly.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Larry Squiddman

While I was drawing Larry, I thought about having his tentacles holding stuff, like his Starbuck's cup and cell phone, but then I remembered I already did that shtick earlier, and decided to skip it.

Drawing Tip: If you want an object to look moist and slimy, all you have to do is draw a solid white highlight on the side facing the light source. Works every time.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Larry. Mostly the same, except for the final drawing I evened out the size of his hands.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Frankenstein 003: Frankenstone

Part of my 100 Frankensteins Project.

I was never a big fan of the Flinstones. I always much preferred the futuristic gadgets of the Jetsons to the Flinstones and their prehistoric animals with the corny lines. So since I never watched it much, I have no idea if they ever used a character like this on the show or not. It seems too obvious for them to have passed up. If they did do a Frankenstein joke, I swear I didn't know about it beforehand.

If you click on the image to embiggen it, you can see I tried giving it an animated cel look, as if it's printed on clear acetate and painted on the opposite side. I took the layer with the drawing on it, then selected "layer styles" in Photoshop. I added a drop shadow and set the distance to 0. That made the drop shadow spread out from all directions, instead of going off to one side. I adjusted the size of the shadow until the black lines had that cel animation look.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the rough sketch I used to draw Frankenstone.

And here's the even rougher sketch that I started out with. I decided to add a little bit of action to the proceedings, instead of having him just stand there like he's waiting on a bus.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Frankenstein 002: Frankenbaby

Part of my 100 Frankensteins Project.

Would a baby Frankenstein monster grow up normally, or would you have to keep replacing his parts with larger ones?

Here's the original sketch of baby Frank. At the last minute I decided to dump the rattle and go with a bottle. Then at the even laster minute, while I was drawing it, the image of the iron riveted bottle full of blood juice popped into my head. I changed the proportions of his body a bit as well.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter