Continuing what started last month, here’s a quick recap of some of the books, film, and music I’ve absorbed this month!
THE LEGO MOVIE (2014) I only saw one film this month and that’s because my little sister finally caved to my pleading to accompany me. You’ve already heard how great it is and I couldn’t agree more. After learning it was the same writing team who created another of my favourites, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I wasn’t surprised by how immediately I connected with the humour.
Lume Lume by The Lemon Bucket Orchestra (2012) Another BFF recommendation, this is my first foray into Balkan, Gypsy, Klezmer music (heck, the only reason I can categorize this album with those genres is due to Wikipedia). Listening to this makes me feel like it’s summer on a patio. Plus they’re out of Toronto so here’s to Canadian music!
Chrono Trigger Symphony Volumes 1, 2, & 3 by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra (2013, 2013, & 2014) I bought each volume as it was released and now that the third disc is out I highly recommend picking it up (cheaper as a bundle and every bit as great as the original soundtrack). I really love this game.
Cyborg 009 Volume 3 by Shotaro Ishinomori (Complete) I’ve been slowly reading through the series (volumes 1 & 2 were completed before I started these posts) but I’ve been really enjoying it! It’s both of its time and completely current all at once. I mean the villains in this volume are either jet pack baby thieves or nazis disguised as penguins so you should probably get into it.
Dune by Frank Herbert (Complete) Now that I’ve completed the book I’m confident to say it delivers from start to finish. I so vividly imagined a different ending that I still feel weird thinking about it. With that said it stuck with me and now I’m even more excited to see the documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune!
I occasionally get asked what inspires me and heck if I can answer that. As an alternative I’m going to start sharing some of the stuff I’m watching/hearing/reading on a monthly basis. Hopefully this can better illustrate what goes into my head blender before spewing out the fruit smoothies that are my images.
If you have any suggestions for me based on what you see here, let me know! And if you want to chat further about something, also feel free to write. Okay let’s do this.
Brick (2005) This was recommended to me by one of my besties and I couldn’t have been happier for it! The blend of film noir and high school drama was super great. I feel it rewards multiple viewings so that’s cool.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986) I missed this in my youth and never really knew what it was all about. I kinda just thought it was Kurt Russell being a better martial artist than everyone else with guns thrown into the mix. Little did I know there are demons and magic and Samantha from Sex in the City. I was blind but now I see.
Uzu by Yamantaka //Sonic Titan (2013) I love their first album to death and was super stoked that this was recently released! I’m still getting acquainted with it but it’s already one I can put on and know I’ll be relaxed/in a good mood by the end of it.
Night Time My Time by Sky Ferreira (2013) I’ll be the first to admit that I have a clear bias for female vocals and synthesizers. No joke. Fortunately this was in Pitchfork’s top 50 albums of 2013 so I know people much cooler than me also think it’s great.
Dune by Frank Herbert (page 195/501) This may be a generally agreed upon opinion, but I really love this book so far. There’s a chapter focused on a dinner party and I thought it was going to be hella dull but it was inteeeeeeeeeeeense. So so good.
Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together by Brian Lee O’Malley (Complete) I’m rereading this as the colour editions are released as I never had to wait for each volume to come out (I picked up the black & white collection after seeing the movie). I still love the humour and pacing plus the introduction of colour feels completely natural.
I’m really not one for resolutions/making changes due to a calendar but the timing on all this works out so LET’S DO THIS.
I’m making an effort to be more social (both online and off…but you may not notice the offline bit unless you live in southern Ontario). If you live in southern Ontario then we can totally hang out but don’t be weird about it.
DRIBBBLE I fell off this bandwagon a while ago but I have to respect any social network that doesn’t have blue as their dominant colour (team…there’s a lot of blue). I’ll start uploading snippets of my work here again.
FACEBOOK There’s a lot of overlap between my Facebook page and the blog. I basically maintain it so that my mum and sister have some idea of what I’m doing with my life. If you want to see my mother comment on my work, check it out.
FLICKR All of the work with none of the rambles. Some process work appears here but it’s mostly the finished imagery.
INSTAGRAM The newest addition to my social life. I’m not much for taking photos but now that I’ve learned I don’t have to be IN the photos/be of what I eat, it’s all good. Thus far it’s mostly process shots of stuff on my computer so maybe that’ll be a thing.
PINTEREST While all my work is pinned to a few boards, I mainly use Pinterest for organising the illustration work of others. Seriously, I love documenting images based on different illustrative elements and themes.
TUMBLR My main blog. My one true love. My sun and stars.
TWITTER I kinda go feast or famine on here. If I haven’t tweeted in a few days, be prepared for 20 in a row I AM THE BEST SALESMAN.
Happy 2014. Hopefully your resolution is to read unnecessarily long blog posts.
I’ve written about my process in the past, but I think it’s important to regularly update as there are always tweaks to be made in an effort to grow.
With that in mind, let’s explore the process behind my card design for Light Grey Art Lab’s RoleModels show!
I had a pretty clear vision of the general character design from the beginning, so I worked through a few sketches (mostly involving some sort of magical glitter).
The glitter was becoming too much of a distraction so I decided to pare it down to a concentrated light of enthusiasm emanating from my fingertip (though that was added after the rough sketch below).
From here I started working in a setting and getting a feel for how these elements would work within the formatting of the card (the yellow bands were the areas meant for player stats and so on).
I was really liking the character work but the overall composition was feeling too flat. I went back to the sketchbook and attempted to create something a little more dimensional.
Notice the really tiny thumbnails at the top? I should’ve been doing that from the start. I was too focused on designing the character that I wasn’t thinking about the entire image. Those small sketches then helped me sort out that I needed to crop the figure to create something a little more intimate. From there I went to the sketch in the middle of that page and placed it in my file!
With a general composition that I was happy with, I moved on to work with colour.
I’ve been asked about this in the past, and generally haven’t given much attention to my colour process.
So I wanted the focus to be on the dazzling distraction in front of Brother Kolb’s face. Because of this I knew I wanted the light to emanate from the mysterious gem and this informed the shadows and such. Aside from that, I really had a heck of a time blocking out colour. I tried to keep to a really limited palette at first (at this point I also introduced the basic setting.)
It wasn’t quite working so I explored changing the colour of some elements to introduce more variety.
I even tried a full-on Samus Aran Varia Suit.
That actually got me on track and I explored more purples (from Samus’s Gravity Suit) and pushed forward to the below image (and lost the Bowie mask in the process).
I scraped the random light in favour of a glow worm and introduced a stealth-attack momma bug to add a small narrative to the image.
One thing I try to always do before committing to a colour scheme is check it in grayscale. For many this isn’t new, but for those who are interested, I’m checking the distribution of values.
Since the contrast was working in favour of the focal point, and there weren’t any major clashes with the values of each element, it was time to proceed to the final artwork!
With the rough colour blocked out, it was time to get up to my usual tricks. First I drew the shapes on separate Photoshop layers.
Those giant eyes are vacant and terrifying, thus I moved on to the shading/textural work.
I’ve explained this in the past, but for newcomers I’ll go over it again. With the shapes on separate layers, I lock the transparent pixels so that I can focus on one element at a time. The separation also allows me to ensure the defining lines are kept crisp and it’s a far less painterly approach. Below is a GIF going through the basic stages of me building the image.
I know it looks like a big leap, but really it was all planned out during the previous stage. At this point it’s simply a case of using the rough colour reference and introducing a bit more detail.
Hi Andrew! You've probably already answered this before but what do you teach in your classes? And what was the process like getting a teaching job in art? ~Adam
Hello good sir.
I don’t believe I have answered this in a public forum. So I teach the illustrative component of the graphic design program at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario.
In first year we focus on the fundamentals of image-building. We gradually integrate the role of technology (computers and software and such) as we move into second year and by the time the class is in third year they’re knee-deep in looking at styles and the influences with the intent of connecting to certain target audiences.
If I were to boil it down, first year would be the WHY of illustration, second year focuses on the HOW, and third year gets into the WHO.
As for the process of becoming a teacher, I don’t think it’s much different from any other type of job: apply, interview as many times as is required, and present why you’re a good fit for the role.
I’m sure I’m simplifying this waaaaaaaaay too much so feel free to ask anything specific.
Hey, Andrew! I was wondering why you go through the coloring process before breaking your drawing into shapes in "PROCESS POST: STHENO." And, any tablet you recommend? By the way, I REALLY enjoy your work! I think it's witty and neat!
I suppose I do the rough colour blocking first so that I know what shapes to draw in the next stage. If I tried to work through the colour while drawing the individual elements, I’d surely get bogged down with unnecessary details.
So in short, I separate the colour and shape-building stages so that I can more closely focus on them individually. Apparently I’m a terrible multitasker.
As for tablets, I’m currently using a large Intuos 4. I like it well enough but I never use the buttons on the side so I feel like I’m not using it to its fullest.
I’m also looking into transitioning to a tablet monitor and I’m so thoroughly torn between the different brands that I can’t decide. I’ve just been told about a Monoprice option that looks pretty rad.
Anyway, I’ll be sure to follow up if and when I get a monitor. Until then, I really can’t complain about my Intuos.