Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Room Painted Sixteen Colours

    (Click image to see in non-anti-aliased glory!)

Still working ever so slowly on my AGS adventure game! This is the second room I've done so far. I think I'm getting better and faster at creating these the more practice I get. I gotta say, I majorly love doing these, I think I'll do a bedroom next! Here's a link to the first room I did.

Here are those classic sixteen EGA colours:

I wonder if this interest is in any way related to my passion for LEGO -- blocky bright colours that approximate/abstract real life. Speaking if which, I got sent this amazing link to a beta site LEGO has put online that allows people to design and post sets that anyone can vote on and support; if LEGO sees that the set has enough votes (10,000) they consider making it! How cool is that? There is a killer "Shaun of the Dead"-themed set that is getting quite a bit of attention, to the point that Simon Pegg (one of the brains behind the movie) mentioned it on his most recent Conan appearance! 

I'm starting to do the concept work for my next "A Circus Mind" illustration and I'm going to try my darnedest to somehow incorporate my love of pixelly art into it. The piece is for a poem about Andy Warhol so the digital art concept totally works. There's a video on YouTube that shows him digi-painting a portrait of Debbie Harry using an Amiga with Debbie Harry actually there, and they televised it! I'm also hoping the illustration ends up looking good on a t-shirt so I can put it up for sale on my Society6 store -- I think Warhol would've approved :P.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Recycled Fears for the Weekly Alibi

Here's an editorial illustration I did to accompany an article for the Weekly Alibi about the wariness a neighbourhood is experiencing over a new recycling service moving into town. Because this magazine is in New Mexico I try to ensure my illustrations look like they are set in that locale; details like roofing, colours, vegetation... Some types of cacti don't grow in New Mexico and the art director has had to correct me on two occasions! 

This illustration was a cover for the Weekly Alibi a few years back. It was also an American Illustration chosen image! The cacti on the left were ones I'd had to change. Sadly, I can't remember the other occasion I bungled my fauna :P. 

Sketch! This was for the 12th issue so I made the house number 12. 

Even sketchier!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Appa and Momo-Dido

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a towering achievement in animated television. Don't think of the live-action movie or even the James Cameron 3D 3-hour hardware demo -- Grab the animated tv series now! It's available on Netflix (even the emaciated version of Netflix we get up here in Canada) so if you have to, try Netflix for its free trial period and watch all the episodes and then cancel Netflix. The show is just that good.

Sure, you may think it looks like a typical kiddie cartoon; one of those anime that doesn't quite look like anime with horrendous voice acting and worse writing. Give it a chance! The fact that a kids' show that is this complex and nuanced yet accessible got made is simply incredible. 

A sequel series is coming this April and I can hardly wait. The Legend of Korra! Here's a link to the trailer on YouTube, although I must say I didn't watch it because I already know I'm going to watch the heck out of this show. I did the same thing with the Harry Potter movies. I knew I was going to see them in the theatre, so why bother with trailers that'll show the coolest scenes? Save it!  

This is a card I made for my boyfriend, with a mini-Appa (the larger horned thing), Dido-as-Momo (cat + flying lemur) and a turtle duck to round it all out. Because turtle ducks are the cutest hybrid animals ever.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Iraq Dream for the Weekly Alibi

An American soldier dreams of an Iraqi war exercise where a battleship poorly constructed from styrofoam and lumber sits partially afloat in shallow water. He is a sniper and there to kill them, but watching them run their futile scenario makes him smile at the absurdity of it all. He realizes he's no longer able to do his country's bidding. 

That's my retelling of an American soldier's article on the war in Iraq for the Weekly Alibi. It's the part that really struck me and I wanted to capture that scene. I wanted it to look dreamy and calm, which is how I imagine the soldier felt in his dream. We've all had dreams like that, I think. The ones where you wake up and a bit of that tranquil feeling carries over into waking life. 

You can see how much work the colour is doing by looking at the black and white version: 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy First Birthday to My Nephew!

January to March is a busy time for cat-card-painting. My mom's birthday, my dad's birthday, Matthew's (the aforementioned nephew's) birthday, Valentine's, and my first-date anniversary with my boyfriend. Lots of cards and lots of Dido (the kitty who features in these things)!

Hard to believe Matthew is already a year old and walking. Happy Birthday, Matty!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing Pains for the Weekly Alibi

A slightly surreal illustration for the Weekly Alibi that has to do with left-wing and right-wing city councillors in Albuquerque squaring off over proposals to rezone voting districts due to the city's rapid expansion. Some of the rezoning proposals would benefit the lefties and some the righties so I thought it would be a fun idea to  have both sides messily splashing paint over the lovely, flourishing tree that is Albuquerque. The city has a bird on its flag so as an added detail I made it flying off in top left corner to sort of indicate that these two sides are causing a major disruptions!

I'm not big on politics so when I initially drew the animal heads on the city councillors I'd put the heads on the wrong sides (donkey is supposed to be democrats, etc.). /Facepalm. Hey, in my defense I'm a Canadian! I did a magazine cover based on Canadian politics and that was wonderfully specific and not at all incorrect :P.  

Originally the people had real human, Albuquerque city councillor faces. The art director requested animal heads instead which definitely ups the weirdness factor -- I approve!

Semi-tight sketch.

Exceedingly loosey-goosey sketch. They were never actually going to be naked, never fear! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Month Ahead: March 2012

Click images to enlarge

Here's the finished "The Month Ahead" illustration I did for the cover of the National Post's Arts & Life section published March 1. March is an exciting time for birdwatchers in Canada -- Flocks of migratory birds return from their summer vacations, including the ducks featured in my illustration! 

From top to bottom we have: A mallard with its arse in the air (taken from photo reference I obtained while tagging along with my parents on one of their birding expeditions), a green-winged teal, a hooded merganser, a ruddy duck, another mallard (right-side up), a horned grebe, and a wood duck. Wood ducks are the beauty queen of the common Canadian ducks. Absolutely gorgeous. King eiders are pretty too, but not quite so common in these parts.

 This duck's arse pic was taken with my lousy iPhone 3GS camera and then filtered through Instagram. I love how Instagram really makes up for the crap-factor of my iPhone camera and gives me something decent to look at

My dad's birthday was last Saturday, so I made him a card that has pretty much the same ducks on it. I figured I already had gotten some good practice drawing those ones, why not?

It's a family tradition for the Minamata clan to conclude an afternoon of birding with a hot beverage and a tasty treat. To give the illustration an added Canadian touch I included a certain donut-and-coffee franchise's famous annual contest that involves unfurling the tops of paper cups in hopes of winning prizes (technically this contest started in February but it's a common sight for the next few months).

And here's how the illustration appeared in the paper. You can be sure I scampered all around town and picked up as many issues as I could find!

The leftmost pic is the initial sketch. You can see that while the basic idea is there, I did a LOT of redrawing on this one! Although unlike the first "The Month Ahead" illustration I did, where I had an intermediate step of a super-tight pencil sketch, I did all of the redrawing on my Wacom tablet (middle pic). This was the base for the inked version, which was done with a brush and india ink.

Because the illustration was published so big I worked larger than usual. The inked version (rightmost pic) was spread out over three 8.5x11" pieces of paper and composited together with the magic of Photoshop. I scanned it in at 600dpi and the file was half a gig. Eek. 

Finally, here are the other sketches I submitted. This one focuses on a March event called Canadian Catwalk, which showcases the 2012 Fall collections of Canadian fashion designers. The idea was to have the models stomping the wetlands boardwalk/catwalk wearing designs inspired by the plumage of the migratory ducks.

 The end of February and beginning of March is traditionally when sugarbushes in Canada start producing sap to make into our famous maple syrup. This sketch celebrates that tradition and has crocuses (the first flowers of Spring) pushing up though the snow. 

This sketch is another one that celebrates the maple syrup harvest, except this one is all about maple taffy. Do you remember maple taffy? It's when hot maple syrup is poured onto fresh snow and forms a delicious sticky treat. In the background I put a shamrock shape (because St. Patrick's Day is coming 'round!) as well as the crocuses and the snow. I think Spring is a pretty big deal for Canadians because we know the worst of the winter is over!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad (2012)!

Looks like I have ducks on the brain! Here's the birthday card I made for my dad. It just so happens to use some of the same kinds of ducks as the National Post piece I recently illustrated (here's a link to the sketches, on Monday I'll post the final). Left to right: Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe, and Mallard.

My parents have become enthusiastic birders these past couple of years, so I know that March and April are major birdwatching months. A lot of migratory birds return to Canada in the Spring so it's an exciting time to be out with binoculars and a scope!