I started out sketching a red ghost, then a yellow Eugene Levy-looking ghost, then aliens?
And then Halloween ghost aliens.
Makes perfect sense...
Okay. Last one...
Instead of replicating and/or color correcting popular picture book art using vector graphics, I wanted to try and merge two of my favorite characters, Gerald McGrew and Little Elliott, from two of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss and Mike Curato!
It's hard to tell the difference from a distance, although when you zoom in there are plenty of discrepancies in line weight, color and even shapes. But the overall effect is pretty good, I think!
Okay. I think it might be time to admit defeat.
For the last few weeks I've been working on my Inkscape vector art skills by taking the original artwork of my favorite children's illustrators and trying to recreate them in a digital medium. And while most of the time things work out great, for heavily hand-drawn or hand-painted works like the one from my friend Ludwig Bemelmans here... it's a challenge.
I usually set an informal timeline of no longer than a couple of days to complete any particular work but this one has taken weeks to just get this far. And while I know I can definitely get it to a state of "pretty good" I'm also an incompetent enough artist to know when I am simply out of my league.
I'll never get anywhere near as good as the original, and that's fine. That's what makes Bemelman's work so iconic. If it was easy to replicate there would be lots of other books out there illustrated in the same way.
So while I may be admitting defeat for this particular challenge I learned a LOT while trying to figure out how to digitally recreate a beautiful painting. So in a way, maybe I'm a little more competent (or at least a little less incompetent) than I was before.
And that's really the point of the whole exercise. To practice, to learn, to improve, and to try again.
My favorite children's book author and illustrator of all time is James Marshall.
He wrote dozens of his own works and illustrated over seventy books but my favorite out of everything he has done are his "George and Martha" stories.
His use of words and lines are deceptively minimal but they convey an amazing amount of story and movement.
I thought it would be fun to try and figure out how he was able to do this by recreating some of his artwork using more modern vector graphics.
And since I was re-doing the line work, why not change up the color palette slightly as well?
James Marshall's early books often contained only three or four primary colors due to limitations of cost-effective book printing at that time. So while there are hatching lines to indicate shade and depth, often the colors in the original books are muddled and blotchy. So I thought it would be great to try and add depth, shadow and a slightly greater color palette to the same artwork.
This is my first attempt but I've had so much fun I'll definitely be adding more soon!
I've been drawing a lot of robots lately and I think it's because, in addition to being a lot of fun, they also provide a lot of freedom. No one can call you out for drawing something poorly if that thing doesn't really exist. That probably explains why I draw a lot of monsters, aliens, people in helmets and anthropomorphized animals. But one of the side effects of drawing robots is wondering what it would be like if there were Robot Fairy Tales. Not fairly tales featuring robots necessarily, but fairly tales FOR robots. And how short they would be.
Think about it! Robots are generally much more logical than people so they don't get duped (Jackbot and the Beanstalk), they have lots of cool gadgets like GPS so they don't get lost (Hansebot and Gretelbot), and they are made of metal so they don't have to worry about getting eaten (Little Red Riding Bot).
Some more ideas include:
Guessing Rumpelstiltskin's name would be pretty easy to guess if his make and model and serial number were literally stamped into his metal!
The Little MatchBot wouldn't freeze to death. She'd just thaw out in the Spring. Or perhaps her arm is a flamethrower and she doesn't even need matches!
The kinds of stories that would be written by Hans Christian Andersenbot.
Or the Bots Grimm...
One of my favorite things is to work on illustrations that have the same characters and scenery as a story I'm working on, but that has nothing to do with the story itself. The challenge I give myself is to tell a story in one picture using no words. There is such an intimate collaboration between text and illustrations in picture books that it helps to reinforce that even if there were no words, the story should still be understandable, relatable, and impactful.
So I started with the premise of Millie giving out free dolls in the likenesses of her friends, which they eagerly accept. But then it turns out she is only really interested in learning more about voodoo. I didn't dive deeper than that. Does the voodoo work? Do her friends feel pinches or fall down if Millie drops their doll? Do her friends decide to make a Millie doll of their own?
Who knows? That's not the point. The point is that my art inevitably gets better, my story-telling abilities get more well-rounded, and I've told a funny anecdote that helps fill out the personalities of my characters.
I'm not sure if I will ever write a full-length story based on the idea voodoo, but it's fun to play with for a while!
I really love to doodle but going from doodle to art can be difficult. If you spend enough time watching "How to Draw" videos on YouTube like I have one thing becomes pretty clear pretty quickly. Those artists are amazing. Obviously, That's why they're making videos.
But what I've noticed is that what they are really demonstrating is less about which lines should go where and more about the thousands of hours they've put into their ability, actively learning the techniques that make amazing art.
Think about it. You don't see a lot of first-graders fumbling with crayons making a video showing you how its done.
But wouldn't it be great if they did? I'd watch those videos all day long.
Because that's where every great artist starts. By putting lines and colors on paper and trying to make something look like anything. And over time your anythings will look less like somethings and more like real things. Or at least real-ish things.
Like robots or aliens or whatever.
These are mine.
I hope you like them.
I am a HUGE fan of movies in general, and sci fi movies in specific. Not so much the current ones, but the classic movies from the 1950's back before anyone knew how space travel worked, what planets would really look like, and what kind of creatures we would find if we ever made it there.
The only limit to those movies was imagination... and budget... and rudimentary special effects.
But the BEST part of those movies was that when you saw an alien, you immediately knew it was up to no good!
My artistic process almost always involves drawing a circle, then adding a rectangle (usually the body) and then trying to draw something great that goes horribly wrong, and then trying to make the best of the bad lines I've drawn.
That's what led to this picture.
But in my version, instead of a handsome, stalwart astronaut and an evil, menacing monster I switched it up. What if the astronaut was suspect and the aliens were actually really loving and kind and just wanted to make a new friend?
And much like those 50's sci fi movies that I loved so much, I had to include an antenna on the space suit, a rocket ship with impossibly sharp fins that are totally impractical for landing on alien landscapes, and an alien with tentacles.
I hope you like it!
I have been attempting to create a construction paper cutout look and feel for this story, so here's my latest attempt.
Interestingly, the more I played with the images the more Philip came out looking worse and worse, which I actually liked more and more.
So now my idea is to have the princess and everyone else in the story even less attractive, so Philip still maintains the look of what he will ultimately become... a dashing prince.
Synopsis: When a girl kisses a frog who turns into a prince, she wonders what other animals will turn into if she kisses THEM!
So off she goes to the park and the zoo and the aquarium, smooching each animal, fish, bird and reptile she comes across.
It's fine when dogs turn into doctors.
It's great when cats turn into artists.
But what happens when things get out of hand. And how will she turn everyone back into their animal forms if they don't want to go?
This is an idea that I've been working on for a while now.
The most difficult problem I've had with the story is trying to settle on which occupations would be best suited to each animal.
I'm good with dogs become doctors and cats being artistic. But is it insulting to turn wolves into lawyers?
I have also played with the opposite of this story, where a frog kisses a human and she turns into a beautiful frog. So then the frog starts kissing other humans who then turn into the various animals based on their professions. But that wound up being a bit to "highs concept".
More to come on this one, as soon as I figure out what a lizard turning into a librarian will look like!
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