Thursday, December 30, 2010

Denouement December

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for December. Sadly, this will be the last of the calendar sketch page posts. I bought a new journal (it's not a diary!) this week, and it doesn't have calendar pages in it.

There's Broccoli Head on the 4th, and Furious the Snowman on the 8th. The kid on the 14th is sporting a patented Beiber Hair Helmet®. There's King Vitamin on the 16th next to Psychotic Kermit on the 17th.

That's Cyclops Rooster on the 22nd next to Spider Head on the 23rd. That's Homeless Santa on the 29th, and me on the 31st.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Doctor Who Team-Up Guide

I know, it seems to be Doctor Who month here on my blog, eh? Since I like organizing info, I decided to take some of my vector drawings of all the Doctors and make a chart listing the various team-up episodes that have aired over the years. You'll definitely have to click on the image and magnify to read it.

Every now and then the Doctor faces a situation that even he can't tackle alone. That's when he uses his TARDIS to go back in time and recruit his past selves for help. Think of it as your 30 year old self using a time machine to get your 20 year old self to help you move the furniture into your new house.

The first two team-up stories were not without their problems. The first was The Three Doctors. Unfortunately by the time this episode was shot, William Hartnell, the First Doctor, was in poor health and only appeared via the TARDIS viewscreen, so it was pretty much just the Second and Third Doctors running around.

The next team-up story was The Five Doctors. This one was a fun romp, but not as fun as it could have been. Sadly, by now William Hartnell had passed away, so he was played by a different actor, Richard Hurndall. He did a fine job, but it just wasn't quite the same as having the original there. Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, declined to appear in the episode, saying he didn't want "his" Doctor sharing the screen with the others, so he only makes a cameo appearance through unused footage from an old episode (Baker has recently admitted that he regrets this decision). So really out of the original five Doctors we only got to see three interacting.

Finally with The Two Doctors and Time Crash, we got episodes starring the original actors, with no substitutes.

Since the first three Doctors have passed away and the fourth, fifth and sixth have aged significantly, I wonder if fans would accept lookalike actors in the roles for an Eleven Doctors team-up episode?

The Seventh through Tenth Doctors still look enough like themselves to team up for a new Five Doctors episode, if the BBC ever decided to do one.

I laid out my chart all in InDesign.

Jumpin' January!

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for January. I don't know why I'm posting them out of order like this. I started with August, then started working backwards. Who needs order?

Apparently I was cold a lot in January, if the 3rd and the 10th are any indication. I was also tired a lot, according to the 5th and 20th. Looks like payday was on the 8th and 22nd.

That's Jay Leno on the 7th, sweating over all the drama about his failed prime time show. Is that an Elvis sighting on the 14th? Und dat's not AH-Nuld on the 23rd!

My Nephew, The Hipster

Last Christmas I ran a post about my nephew, the 10 Year Old Senior Citizen. I suspected he was really an old man in a kid's body because as gifts he received a golf hat, golf clubs and a metal detector.

This year he's apparently some sort of hipster or Bing Crosby-type crooner, because he's now sporting a fedora. Note that he actually calls it a fedora and not just "hat."

I have to admit he wears it pretty well. Where he even saw such a hat or ever heard the word "fedora," or why he suddenly had to have one, I have no idea.

I'm not complaining or denouncing him, mind you. I think it's cool that he has his own style and doesn't seem interested in following the latest trends (yet). I'd rather see him wearing a fedora any day than a Justin Beiber hair-helmet.

By the way, note the charming "meh" shirt he's wearing. That's a word he says about 67 times a day, which never gets old. Ow, I just hurt my eyes rolling them.

Here's a terrifying shot of me wearing the fedora. This is what happens when you don't eat your vegetables, kids!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Eleven Doctors

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, and now that I finally finished my individual drawings of the eleven Doctors, I thought I'd combine them all into one image. One incredibly long image.

I've only seen bits and pieces of the first three Doctors, so I have to admit I don't really have much of an attachment to them. Like most Americans, my "first" Doctor was Tom Baker-- he defined the role for me and was my favorite for many years. I liked Peter Davison, Doctor #5 a lot as well. I've only seen one episode each of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, which isn't really enough to judge them fairly. I thought the Eighth Doctor was OK; too bad he only got to appear one time. I enjoyed Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor, and was sorry to see him go after only one season. David Tennant's Tenth Doctor quickly became my all time favorite. Matt Smith is no slouch as the Eleventh Doctor though. He won me over by the end of his first episode.

I really like the new series (or NuWho, as some fans call it) that started up in 2005. Although the old series had its charm, what with the cardboard sets and paper mache aliens, it's nice to finally see the show done with a larger budget and modern production values. 

I tweaked a couple of the drawings for this group portrait, fixing some little things that were bugging me. I think the blue background might be a little intense. I may have to desaturate it a bit. When you've got eleven characters it's tough to find a color that goes with them all.

You can get a better eye full of the Eleven Doctors over here.

All eleven Doctors are vector drawings, done entirely in InDesign.

While I was messing around with the main image, I accidentally changed all the drawings to solid black. I kind of liked the way they looked and decided to post it. I was amazed that you can still tell which Doctor is which even in silhouette.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Eleventh Doctor

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, so I thought I'd start a series of vector drawings of the eleven (!) different Doctors (so far).

At long last, it's the Eleventh Doctor! When I first started drawing the various Doctors, I really didn't expect it to take me five months to finish them. But stuff happens, eh?

Matt Smith began portraying the Doctor in 2010, and at age 27 is the youngest actor to ever play the role.

My, oh my, the Doctor seems to be getting younger with every regeneration, doesn't he? The First Doctor looked like an old man, and each successive incarnation has appeared younger than the next (more or less). I'm assuming this is because the Doctor is a physically demanding role, what with all that running up and down corridors, and it might be a strain on an older actor (as turned out to be the case with the First Doctor).

When David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, first announced he was leaving the show, I was honestly depressed for at least a week. Doctor Who is one of the very few shows I still watch on TV, and Tennant was hands down my all time favorite Doctor. I couldn't imagine how anyone could possibly replace him, and his announcement caused me to lose my enthusiasm for the show.

But if you don't like change, then Doctor Who is not the show for you. Every few years it reinvents itself and changes pretty much everything, including the Doctor himself. I can't think of any other TV show that's had eleven different actors play the title role.

I needn't have worried though. By the end of Matt Smith's first episode I'd totally accepted him as the Doctor and barely missed Tennant at all.

The Eleventh Doctor wears a tweed jacket, bowtie and suspenders, rolled up trousers and boots, appearing somewhat like a hipster college professor. According to an interview with Matt Smith, the original costume concept was a pirate-like monstrosity, similar to something Captain Jack Sparrow would wear in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Yikes.

So far Doctor #11 seems a bit more of a comedian than past incarnations, and hasn't plunged into the melancholy funks so often indulged in by the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. I hope that's a trend that lasts.

The Doctor also gained a new companion in Amy Pond. Amy's a fun new companion, and I hope she sticks around for a few more seasons. The Doctor first meets her moments after his regeneration, when Amy is a young girl. He jumps back into his TARDIS for a quick errand and when he returns, he finds that while only a few minutes have passed for him, years have passed for Amy, who's now an adult.

Amy's fiance, Rory Williams, accompanies her and the Doctor on a couple of adventures and eventually becomes a full-fledged companion. Poor Rory really got put through the ringer in his first season. He's killed by a Silurian warrior and wiped out of existence, he's reborn as an Auton (a robotic lifeform), he accidentally kills Amy and then spends a thousand years guarding her body until it heals inside the Pandorica. Eventually Rory's restored to normal when the Doctor sacrifices himself to reset the timeline, and Amy and Rory are married at last.

I do like that the Doctor and Rory appear to have become pals. Past incarnations of the Doctor have been dismissive or downright hostile to the male friends of his female companions (Mickey Smith, for example), so it's nice to see his "bromance" with Rory.

River Song also makes a return appearance to complicate the Doctor's life. She's sort of a futuristic cat burglar from the Doctor's future. She claims that she and the Doctor were once married, something that hasn't yet happened from his point of view. River's true nature and agenda remain a mystery. Alex Kingston plays River, and adds a bit of sultriness to the show.

Not only did the Doctor regenerate at the beginning of the season, but so did the TARDIS, inside and out. It changes its outside appearance slightly, and radically reconfigures its control room. Once it's done, the Eleventh Doctor stands before it and says, "What have you got for me this time?" This confirms the notion that the TARDIS is alive and not just a machine and has a measure of sentience, something fans have suspected for years. It also explains why the Doctor seems to always show up at crucial moments in various planet's histories.

In the old series, the Doctor was rarely able to control where the TARDIS was going, traveling randomly through time and space. In the new series, however, the Doctor seemed to have nearly complete control. The Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS-flying skills seems to be slipping a bit, as several times in the series he takes trips that seem like minutes to him, but years to the people he left behind.

As mentioned earlier, the Eleventh Doctor is fond of bowties, telling anyone within earshot that, "Bowties are cool." He also briefly wears large red fez, declaring, "I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool." Unfortunately the fez doesn't survive long, as Amy and River savagely destroy it.

In addition to a new Doctor, new companions and new TARDIS, there were more changes this season: the Doctor got a newly redesigned sonic screwdriver, there were new Dalek designs and even a new opening theme song (well, same song, different arrangement).

I really liked the TARDIS interior during the Ninth and Tenth Doctors' tenure. It was a large, dome-like alien-Victorian looking cavern. I can't say I'm a fan of this new interior though. It's a neon and sheet metal monstrosity that seems to be a random collection of shapes and angles. No matter how long I stare at photos of the new interior, my eyes just can't make any sense out of it. Maybe it'll grow on me in time.

I also wasn't a fan of the new Dalek design either at first. Then I bought some of the action figures and once I had a chance to hold them and look at the design from all angles, I've come to accept them.

Please forgive the ugly watermark on the illustration. I swore I would never add one to my art, because I know that 99.99% of my readers would never even think of stealing it. But earlier this year I had a run-in with an art thief who was not only stealing my work, but selling it as her own! Hence the watermarks. This is why we can't have nice things.

Here's the digital sketch I did of the Eleventh Doctor. Matt Smith has a very unusual looking face, and it was tough to capture it in this cartoony style I'd laid out for this project. Hopefully he's recognizable.

Doctor #11 is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.

Creepy Christmas Classics #3: Santa Baby

Hey, it's Christmas Carol time again! Everywhere you go this month, you'll hear all those beloved carols you've heard ten thousand times before, whether you want to or not. Oftentimes I wonder how some of these songs ever became classics. My theory is that the public has heard them so many times that the lyrics have been rendered meaningless. If anyone actually sat down and listened to them, half of these so-called "classics" would be stricken from the list.

Case in point: Santa Baby. Can someone please explain why this is a beloved holiday classic? It's an admittedly catchy tune, but with a wildly inappropriate undercurrent. It's nothing more than a song about a shallow gold-digger asking Santa for an appalling array of big ticket items, which she expects to receive because she's been "good." And of course, "good" in this context means, "managed to keep this year's number of sexual partners in the single digits."

Let's examine the lyrics, shall we?

Santa baby, just slip a Sable under the tree for me;
Been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a '54 convertible too, light blue;
I'll wait up for you, dear; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed;
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed;
Next year I could be just as good... 
if you check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, I want a yacht and really that's not a lot;
Been an angel all year; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, one little thing that I really do need...
The deed... to a platinum mine, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with the duplex and checks;
Sign your 'X' on the line, Santa cutie,
and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree 
with some decorations bought at Tiffany's;
I really do believe in you;
Let's see if you believe in me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing... A ring...
I don't mean on the phone; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight!

What a horrible song for the holidays. It would be bad enough if the avaricious broad in the song asked Santa for jewelry and furs, but she goes way off the deep end and asks for cars, yachts and even real estate.

If that wasn't enough, Santa Baby is always sung in a "cutesy" Betty Boop type of voice (there's even a "boo doo bee doo" line!), which registers pretty high on the Creep-O-Meter. It's also sometimes sung in a sultry, breathy Marilyn Monroe tone. A Christmas carol sung by a pouty woman-child or a voluptuous sexpot just seems wrong.

Oh, but we're not done! Our high-maintenance heroine doesn't just recite her shallow list of high-priced gifts to Santa. The whole song heavily implies that she'll be waiting for Santa in her boudoir, ready to offer him a fleshy reward if he comes through with the loot. What a lovely message for the holidays.

The song was originally record by Eartha Kitt in 1953, and was a huge hit for her. Other singers who've covered the tune: Madonna, RuPaul (!), Everclear (!!) and Mae West. Yes, when Madonna and RuPaul want to record your song, how can it be anything but an appropriate Christmas carol?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ferkakta February

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for February. I don't know why I'm posting them out of order like this. I started with August, then started working backwards. Who needs order?

The guy on the 6th has something inappropriate growing out of his forehead. That's George Jetson's first wife Estelle on the 8th. Something stinks on the 11th. Happy Valentine's Day on the 14th! The guy on the 21st looks like his mustache is doing bicep curls. The gentleman on the 24th doesn't care for our feathered friends. That's Davros, creator of the Dalek race (from Doctor Who) on the 22nd. Yes, I'm a nerd.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Lego Star Wars Stormtrooper Alarm Clock

A couple of weeks ago I was wracking my brain trying to think of a suitable Christmas gift for a friend who's a big Star Wars fan. I happened to visit the website and saw the perfect gift: a Lego Stormtrooper Alarm Clock!

In fact, I thought it was so cool that I couldn't resist it and ordered two; one for my friend and one for myself.

As you are no doubt aware, Lego has been making Star Wars sets and figures for quite a few years now, and this is a large sized replica of one of their Stormtrooper figures, but with a digital clock in its chest. As near as I can tell it's an exact duplicate of the smaller figure, scaled up to around 9".

The clock appears much darker (almost black) in the photo above. It's a standard LCD clock screen and is nowhere near that dark in real life.

When you push on the head, the clock in the chest lights up for a few seconds, allowing you to see the time in the dark.

It has a battery compartment on the back, as well as time setting and alarm buttons, which look somewhat complicated here but are actually pretty simple to operate.

Best of all, it's not just a solid lump of plastic--it's articulated just like a small Lego figure, so you can pose your clock in various positions. Here you can see my clock participating in a sit in, and then recreating his catalog model pose.

I was surprised at the size of the figure when it arrived, as I was expecting it to be a lot smaller. Here it is next to a can of coconut juice (from the Chinese grocery) for scale. By the way, I think that coconut juice has been in my refrigerator for a year or two. I'm quite busy, you know, and have no time for cleaning out the fridge.

All in all, this is one of the coolest gifts I've bought for myself in a long while, and I highly recommend it.

Think Geek also has a Darth Vader Lego Alarm Clock available. It looked pretty cool too, but I just liked the Stormtrooper better. I've never seen one in any brick and mortar store, so if you want one, your best bet is to order one here.

By the way, the ThinkGeek website has a feature that sent me an email that notified me the instant my package was delivered to my doorstep. I buy a lot of stuff online and this is the first time I've encountered this. I think it's a really good idea, and one that every online store (I'm lookin' at you, Amazon) should offer.

It's a fully articulated giant Lego Stormtrooper Alarm Clock! What decor wouldn't be enhanced by one?

Although it's the epitome of cool, as an alarm clock it's virtually useless. First of all, the clock display is LCD, so it's invisible in the dark. They should have gone with an LED display. You can illuminate the clock face by pressing on the Stormtrooper's head, but if you're like me, you put your alarm clock on the other side of the room to force yourself to get up and shut it off, so a momentarily lit display is no help.

Second, when the alarm goes off, it emits a barely audible "teep teep" sound that wouldn't rouse me from even the lightest of sleeps. It's best used as a desk clock and conversation piece, rather than as a functioning alarm.

Mopey March

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for March. I don't know why I'm posting them out of order like this. I started with August, then started working backwards. Who needs order?

Some weird baby snuck onto the calendar before the month even started! Is that a sparkly teen vampire there on the 5th? That guy on the 6th is a real blockhead.

The guy on the 17th needs some Proactiv, while the one on the 22nd is a big star. Despite the fact that they're of completely different species, the 19th and 24th look related somehow. The guy on the 30th looks a little "tired." And I believe that's a member of avant-garde rock band The Residents there on the 31st.

Unfortunate Yogi Bear Movie Poster

The live action/cgi Yogi Bear movie opened this weekend. This is one of the actual promo posters for the film.

Oh dear...

Must... resist... urge... to make... comment... about... character placement... and... tag line...

Once again, Hollywood, I sincerely offer my services to you. Since I have the relative emotional maturity of the average 14 year old boy, for a small fee I will examine your promotional images and ad copy and determine whether they're easily mockable or not. This will save you millions in costly reprints and lawsuits, not to mention loads of public embarrassment. Call me today!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

SantaTaur Little Moldin' Book Step By Step

Hey, it's another SantaTaur post, if you can stand it. Now that my 2010 Christmas Card/Book is finally finished, I thought I'd post a step by step look at how I work, for the two or three people out there who may be interested.

As always, I started out with a rough sketch, just to get an idea of the layout and proportions of the characters. I drew this sketch in pencil, then scanned it and imported it into Photoshop, where I put it on its own layer.

I then added the actual text. For this project I let the amount of text determine how much room there would be for the image. I then added the rough-edged background to the page. Note that the background and the text are each on their own Photoshop layers. I use a ton of layers in my illustrations. Using lots of layers makes it easy to make changes and edits later.

Next, using the pencil sketch as a guide, I used my graphic tablet to draw tighter versions of Santa and the elf. Yep, this new drawing is on another layer.

Then I blocked in the basic background shapes and colors on a background layer. It might seem odd to start with the background, but it helps me better place the characters in their environment.

Once that was done, I used the tight sketch as a guide and started blocking out Santa's basic shape and colors on another layer. Once that was done I added shading to him.

Normally when I illustrate something, I draw the outline first and then color it in, much like in a comic book. But most Little Golden Book art was painted. Since I was trying to evoke that style, I had to give my book a painted look as well. This was the exact opposite of the way I way I usually work, and was tough to get used to.

Once I had Santa's shape painted in, I added all the details to his face, hair and clothing, again on a separate layer. As I said, backwards from the way I usually work. Note that his details are all drawn in black.

Once the details were drawn in, I locked that layer and painted over them to change their colors (for more on that process, see this post. I usually make the lines a darker color of the area they're covering, so if Santa's beard is light gray, then the detail lines are a darker shade of that same gray.

Coloring the details like this helps give the page that storybook look.

Then I added some red to Santa's nose and cheeks (on another layer) to help give the character some life. I added a shadow under his feet as well. The red and shadow were pretty dark, so I adjusted the transparency of the layer to around 20%, so that they'd lighten up and be less opaque.

Once I finished Santa, I put all his various layers into a folder in the Photoshop layers palette. Once everything was contained inside that folder, I could move it or change its size and all the layers inside it would follow suit, making adjustments much easier.

Next it was time to tackle the elf. Using the tight sketch as a guide, I blocked in his colors on a new layer.

Then added details in black on a detail layer.

Then changed the colors of his detail lines.

Then I added the red nose, rosy cheeks and shadows to the elf as well. And like I did with Santa, I placed all the elf's layers inside a folder for easier editing.

Next I made yet another new layer and added details to the molding on the background walls.

Next I added floor boards to the floor on a floorboard layer.

Then came wood grain on another layer. I drew the wood grain a very dark brown, then adjusted the transparency of the layer until I thought it looked right.  

Next I added details to the walls, such as the calendar and the world population chart. I drew slight shadows underneath each object so they wouldn't look like they were pasted perfectly flat to the walls. As always, these were on their own layer.

Next I added details to the population chart, on another layer.

I stepped back and looked at the page and was fairly satisfied with it. Then I noticed that the characters seemed to be blending into the background. They weren't popping off the page. So I made a new layer and drew a white outline around each one to help separate them from the background a bit.

I thought the background was still a bit too intense, so I placed a new layer between the characters and the background and colored it solid white. Then I adjusted the transparency of this white layer until I thought the background was knocked back sufficiently.

See, I told you all those layers would come in handy. When each element is on its own layer, then it's easy to isolate that particular part and alter it without affecting the others. 

The last step was to add yellowing and aging effects to the page, as if it were thirty or forty years old. Needless to say, these aging effects were on their own layers.

And voila! Only 20 simple steps from start to finish. Actually there were many more steps to drawing this page than I've shown here; these are just the major ones! Then I repeated the process eleven more times and before I knew it I had a book!

Creepy Christmas Classics #2: Baby, It's Cold Outside

Hey, it's Christmas Carol time again! Everywhere you go this month, you'll hear all the classic carols you've heard ten thousand times before, whether you want to or not. I often wonder how some of these songs ever became classics in the first place. My theory is that the public hears them so much that they don't listen to the lyrics anymore, rendering them meaningless. If they did actually sit down and listen, half of these so-called "classics" would be stricken from the list.

Another case in point: Baby, It's Cold Outside. This seemingly innocent duet is an admittedly catchy song, but can someone please explain to me how it became a beloved holiday classic? Scratch the surface even slightly and you'll reveal a dark, sordid current flowing underneath.

Anyone who thinks this song is an acceptable Christmas carol has obviously never listened to the lyrics. It's pretty much a heartwarming Yuletide ode to date rape. Seriously.

Don't believe me? Let's examine the lyrics, shall we? As I mentioned earlier, it's a duet, so I'll put the woman's lyrics in black, the guy's in blue. My comments are below in bright rape whistle red.

I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
OK, these three lines seem innocent enough. Stay tuned though, it's about to get worse.

So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
OK, that one registered a little on the Creep-O-Meter.

My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
The woman just realized she didn't tell her family where she was going, and there's not another living soul on Earth who knows where she is right now. The guy totally blows off her justified concerns and starts pouring on the sleazy charm.

Well Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour
Ack! What the hell is wrong with her? She just begged the dude to put a roofie in her drink! Notice that he wants her distracted while he "pours" her drink.

The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there
What'd I tell you? Roofie in the drink. She can taste it. Any minute now she'll start slurring her speech, saying, "Something... in... drink. Can't... think... straight." The guy might as well be saying, "Go ahead and scream, we're miles from where anyone can hear! Bwah ha hah ha ha!"

I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
Yeah, she's starting to get drowsy now. The guy deflects her protests with empty compliments, and even starts hiding her belongings so that she can't easily leave.

I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer
Shields up! Red alert!

At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
Well now here she's apparently given up and accepted the inevitable.

I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
She's beginning to repeat herself in her delirium. The guy can't seem to fathom why she might find his greasy advances repugnant.

Ahh, but it's cold outside
Baby, it's cold outside

I simply must go - Baby, it's cold outside
The answer is no - Ooh baby, it's cold outside
He's hoping that if he repeats the weather report enough times that she'll eventually believe it. And no means yes, right?

This welcome has been - I'm lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm - Look out the window at that storm
Yeah, the kind of warmth that envelopes you after you fall through the ice.

My sister will be suspicious - Man, your lips look so delicious
My brother will be there at the door - Waves upon a tropical shore
My maiden aunt's mind is vicious - Gosh your lips look delicious
She remembers that no one in her family knows where she is, and visions of police tape and chalk body outlines fill her thoughts. She tries some weak and vague threats, but the guy just keeps up with the phony compliments, even running out of material and repeating himself.

Well maybe just a half a drink more - Never such a blizzard before
OK, even I have to admit she's asking for it here.

I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Hey, she's lucid again! Maybe she'll get away after all. Seeing that the shallow compliments didn't seem to work, he's bringing up the grisly image of her freezing to death if she tries to leave.

Say, lend me your comb - It's up to your knees out there
I...wait, what? OK, she's delirious for sure here.

You've really been grand - Your eyes are like starlight now
But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me
There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my life long sorrow
Bound to be talk tomorrow? Yeah, on the police band radio. The guy's starting to get a little whiny here.

At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
Oh, now she's worried about her "reputation." The guy seems to be showing a bit of genuine concern here. Is he feeling guilt? Or just not wanting a messy police investigation?

I really can't stay - Get over that old out
Nope, he's not guilty. Just impatient for the "festivities" to begin.

Ahh, but it's cold outside
Baby, it's cold outside

And as the song ends, she echoes his statement, and it's heavily implied that the guy had his way with her. What a lovely way to end a Christmas song.

Amazingly it was originally written in 1944 (!) by Frank Loesser, who sang it with his wife at a housewarming party. So it wasn't written for the holiday season after all, which again raises the question, how the frak did this ever become a Christmas song?

Anguished April

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for April. I don't know why I'm posting them out of order like this. I started with August, then started working backwards. Who needs order?

I guess that's the Easter Bunny there on the 4th. That's a very suave dog there on the 12th. And is that Joan Rivers next to him on the 13th? I don't know what that's supposed to be on the 20th. Some kind of half man, half robot thing. Hey, I do these in pen, so I only get one chance to draw them, and if they don't come out right, I'm stuck with them.

The guy on the 21st is upset that "Secretary's Day" is now apparently known as "Administrative Professional's Day." I don't blame him. There's RoboCop on the 24th, inaccurately drawn from memory. The guy on the 26th has appears to have had too much fat injected into his lips. There's Angry Gumby on the 30th. And the guy who snuck in on the non-existent April 31st has been censored.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SantaTaur Little Moldin' Book: Behind The Scenes

Now that my 2010 SantaTaur Christmas Card/Book is finally finished, I thought I'd post a behind the scenes look at how I made it, for the two or three people out there who may be interested.

As you'll recall, last year I drew and posted a SantaTaur book cover and posted it here on my blog. I decided to expand the cover into a full blown book for this year's Christmas card. I was able to reuse last year's cover (seen on the left) for this year's book (on the right). Unfortunately the old cover had totally different proportions, and it took a surprising amount of reconfiguring to make it work for the new book. I hated the simplistic town on the original cover, so it went through a lot of modifications.

I was able to reuse the endpapers and back cover from last year's Gronkorr book with no changes.

On the left is the original sketch for the title page. As you can see it went through a lot of changes by the time I got to the finished product. I wasn’t happy with last year’s SantaTaur logo, so I redrew it (in vector in InDesign) for the book. Sharp eyed readers will note that the two logos are virtually identical, but I cleaned up some lines and angles and things that were bothering me about the original.

This was the first page I worked on, and it taught me a lot about how to draw the rest of the pages. The final version is fairly close to the sketch.

I did a couple of sketches of the elves, but I didn't have time to think about their color scheme until I started on this page, so I just sort of came up with it on the fly. I thought elves that dressed in red & green were too much of a cliche, so mine are dressed in blue. They're Jewish elves, don't you know.

Note that in the sketch the calendar read December 20th, but after I thought about it that seemed a bit late in the month for Santa to start conducting all his experiments and building his equipment, so I changed it to the 1st. Yeah, I really put that much obsessive thought into this thing.

I knew this was going to be a tough page, what with all the elves working down on the factory floor. I drew two armless elves (facing different directions), then used Photoshop to clone them over and over until I had an assembly line. Then I drew arms on each one, handling various toys. It’s hard to see, but each elf really is working on a different toy; dolls, robots, balls, rockets, etc. I had to keep making the elves and factory floor lighter and lighter so that it looked like they were off in the distance.

There's also a whole landscape there outside the windows.

Here's a peek at a "lost page" from the book. I really, really wanted to include a page where Santa gazes at his reindeer and suddenly gets the idea to combine himself with them, much to their dismay. He turns into a half-reindeer centaur after all, so it seems like there should be at least one reindeer somewhere in the book. I wanted him to shout the idea out loud and have one of the reindeer overhear him and have a horrified look on its face.

Unfortunately there just wasn’t room to include this page. Because of the way books are made, to add this one page I’d also have had to add three more, and that just wasn’t practical. Plus, if I had him disclose his plan here, then he'd be saying pretty much the same thing on two pages and it would kind of ruin the big reveal on page five. So I had to settle for the line about the “reindeer grinding and sifting process.”

I think this may be my favorite page in the book. I tried very hard to make the elves look like they were “acting” on each page. I wanted each one to be doing a "bit" rather than just standing around.
I wanted Mrs. Claus to look like a severe and humorless old harridan. She went through a couple of versions before I was satisfied with her. I’d like to redo her boots though. It’s supposed to look like her boots have large “cuffs” at the top, but it looks more like she’s wearing black capri pants under her dress. There just wasn't time to correct everything.

I spent a lot of time on that door, too. As you can see from the sketch, I wanted it to look like light was streaming through from inside the lab, to imply that Santa was inside conducting dangerous experiments. I tried drawing the streaming light a hundred different ways, but I just couldn’t get it to work. I’ve learned by now that that’s the signal that you should just drop an idea. The reindeer motif at the top was a last minute addition.

Of course when Santa writes a note, he writes it in a Christmas-y Old English script font.

I had fun with this page. The chalkboard drawing went through a lot of revisions (it wasn't even a chalkboard in the sketch!). At first it was a Santa shape + a reindeer shape = a SantaTaur shape, but I couldn’t get that to fit no matter what I did. I decided that revealing SantaTaur here lessened his impact when he finally appeared, so I deleted him and added the two DNA strands.

If you look closely, you can see that Santa is holding a blueprint of the Magic Gift Bazooka. There’s also a drawing of the Transmorphicatation Chamber on the wall above him as well.

I like the elf in the foreground that doesn’t understand what the hell Santa’s going on about.

This page went through a lot of revisions. Many times something that works in a sketch just doesn't work when you draw it for real. I kept adjusting the size of the Transmorphicatation Chamber and the elves until I found a happy balance. All the characters were on multiple layers inside separate folders, so it was easy to alter their sizes. Good ol' Photoshop! What would I do without you? Remember that, gang: Photoshop layers and folders are your friends!

I drew all four elves and then hated them, so I scrapped them and drew them all over again.

The elf throwing the switch gave me a lot of trouble. The elf with the clipboard kept obscuring the Switch Elf. But if I took out Clipboard Elf then there was an unsightly blank space in the corner. I finally hit on the idea of putting the Switch Elf up on a box so he'd be visible.

The Transmorphicatation Chamber is an homage to the teleport pods in the Jeff Goldblum version of The Fly. I didn't want an exact copy, but something reminiscent. The elves' white protective suits are a shout-out to the ones worn in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, still one of my all time favorite movies.

Once everything was laid out, the page seemed kind of meh. It just didn't have any energy. I stared at it for a long time and then tilted the Chamber like it was an out of balance washing machine, to give the impression it was churning and working. That did the trick (well, for me anyway). The swirls of energy and atoms were a last minute addition.

This was a very troublesome page, but it turned out to be my second favorite. In the original sketch, SantaTaur stood there in the center of the page, arms akimbo, as the elves looked on in astonishment. The trouble was, SantaTaur was standing directly in front of the Chamber, making it nearly impossible to see it. It wasn't clear that he'd just emerged from it and looked like he'd suddenly just appeared in the center of the room.

I tried moving the Chamber over to one side, but that just made it look like I didn't know how to lay out a page. So I scrapped the whole page and did some more sketches.

Finally I got the idea that instead of showing him already out of the Chamber, I'd show him in the act of emerging from it. That was the answer! I like the smoke and steam pouring out of the doorway of the Chamber, as if dangerous fumes were involved.

As you can see from the sketch, this page went through a lot of changes too.

At first I drew the building on the left and then flopped it for the building on the right. It looked a little too obvious, so I scrapped the right-side building and drew a new two story one. I drew one Christmas tree and was able to clone it and reuse it to make a small forest. I cloned and reused one elf, but the rest of the crowd are tiny individual drawings. Even though she's in pretty much the same pose as she was on page three, that's an all new Mrs. Claus, not a copy.

Originally SantaTaur was taking off and flying to the left, but when I put the book together I saw that there would be two very similar "flying to the left" pages placed side by side. To help change things up a bit I flopped this page so that he was flying off to the right. I then had to reverse the "Naughty" & "Nice" text on the bazooka to read right.

I knew this page would be a major headache, and I was right. The sketch seemed a little claustrophobic to me, what with the houses packed so closely together. I wanted to open up the page to show a vast environment. But that meant I'd be drawing hundreds of buildings. Oy.

I did everything I could to keep from having to draw a couple hundred individual houses. I even tried modeling a 3D neighborhood in Google SketchUp. That didn't turn out so well-- trying to combine precisely rendered 3D houses with a painterly background and character just didn't work.

So, I gritted my teeth, sat down and started drawing houses. I was able to take advantage of technology somewhat to make my life a little easier-- because it was center point perspective, I drew the houses on the left side of the page, then flopped them to fill in the right side. I then added random cars and shrubs to the neighborhood.

At first I had four images of SantaTaur flying over the houses and firing his Gift Bazooka, but that was a little confusing. I was afraid it would look like there were four SantaTaurs instead of one. Plus it made the layout way too crowded. So I deleted the extra Santas and just kept the Bazooka zaps. Hopefully it still reads that you're seeing a kind of time-lapse image of the path he's taken through the sky as he fires gifts at various houses.

The green zaps mean the resident of that house was Nice and got a good gift; and of course a red zap means they were Naughty and received coal.

You'll notice that SantaTaur's sporting a wreath tattoo on each arm. Did he have those before he transformed, or did the Chamber add them? I'll let the viewer decide.

Once I got everything laid out it seemed like something was missing. Then it hit me-- it's Christmas! Houses have Christmas decorations! So I added Christmas lights to most of the houses (and if you look closely, a few lit trees visible in some windows).

This page started out predominantly blue, but the color scheme looked way too much like the previous page, so at the last minute I altered the color to a bluish green to help it look a little different. That's one of the greatest things about drawing on the computer. If I'd have actually painted this page and decided to change the color scheme I'd have had no choice but to start over. On the computer, changing the color is as simple as moving a few slider controls. How did we ever get any work done before computers?

This page also went through a lot of changes. In the sketch the kids are in their bedroom when the gifts come crashing through the ceiling, but later I thought it would make more sense to show the living room instead. That's where your presents are placed, right? The living room started out yellowish orange, but I changed it to green to give the book some variety.

Note that in the sketch, the boy got a sack of coal. Did he get one in the finished version as well? I'll leave that to the reader's imagination.

Once I had it all drawn, the room seemed a little bare, so I added the torn Christmas decorations near the ceiling.

This was another problem page, and the one I saved for the very last. It went through a lot of revisions, mostly onscreen. As you can see from the sketch, it was originally going to be pretty much the same as page nine. I decided that was a bad idea, and changed the perspective a bit.

In my mind I pictured homes in the foreground and a city in the distance, to give the impression that SantaTaur's reign of destruction was worldwide. That was harder to draw than I thought it would be. Luckily if you add enough trees and obscuring flames you can get away with a lot!

Have you ever seen a photo of a jet breaking the sound barrier? When it does, a white disk made of superheated air or something forms around the plane. I drew such a sonic boom disk around the tiny SantaTaur in the sky to imply that he was breaking the sound barrier as he sped off, but it just looked dumb (plus I was afraid readers wouldn't understand what it was supposed to be), so I dropped it.

The sky on this page was also dark blue, which made three dark blue sky pages in a row (well, almost in a row). Boring! So I changed the overall color scheme of this page to red, which made a lot more sense since the world is burning.

I changed a lot of color schemes on various pages once I assembled the book and saw all the pages together. You don't realize that you've got too many pages of one color until you seem them all side by side.

This page came out pretty much like the sketch; there weren't any major changes other than flopping the image. It was a little tough drawing SantaTaur's foreshortened finger though, and that went through a few versions before it looked right.

The "Merry Christmas Everyone" text was hand drawn in InDesign.
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