After completing the "Sneaky" pinup from the previous post, I decided to keep sketching in that style to see what I'd come up with. Before I knew it, there was a swingin' big band on the page.

Considering that I'm pretty calculated when it comes to my sketches, it was kinda cool to come up with "Don Chi Chi and The Upbeat Orchestra" out of the blue. Maybe it's all the noir films I've been watching lately. Or maybe the sketch was a result of a recent conversation I had with a friend about Bernard Hermann's cameo in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Honestly, I have no clue. But I thought they came out pretty cool so I inked them up. Here's the result:

After cleaning the picture in Photoshop, I rearranged the musicians, referenced big band flyers and ads from that era to come up with design ideas (gotta love Google's image search!), threw in some colors, and came up with this:




The more I find out about guys like Maurice Noble, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, and Chuck Jones, the more their accomplishments in illustration and animation blow my mind.

Sidenote: If you're not reading Cartoon Modern by Amid Amidi, you need to get on the bandwagon. This has become one of the sacred inspirational books of my library (along with the Art of The Incredibles, Batman Animated, and The Art of Hellboy). In addition to the well-researched chapters on the various animation studios of the 50s era, Amidi has compiled an extraordinary amount of artwork that will blow your mind.

Like most kids (well maybe not today’s kids) I grew up watching Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. But it wasn’t until recently that I was able to appreciate all of the innovative design work that their cartoons showcased, particularly the use of modern abstract backgrounds.

Here's a piece from an interview with Maurice Noble that explains how that style evolved in his work:

I'd always had in the back of my mind that super-realism in the backgrounds behind flat animation was not the right approach. So when I got the opportunity, I started to place more emphasis on shapes. I started to leave off the airbrush and create the spaces by shapes instead of a lot of fussy shadows and so forth. I tried to create each frame to support the action, and not clutter up anything or interfere with a gag or bit of action.

So in an attempt to learn something from Mr. Noble, I took a stab at creating a drawing with his comments in mind.

I started with this basic figure; my rendition of a Snidely Whiplash-like baddie:

Then I sketched out a quick background:

I cleaned up the character in Photoshop......And after fleshing out the background (also in Photoshop), I dropped in the finished Snidely Whiplash wanna-be into the picture and came up with this:



Turtle cop

Over the last few days, I've been making some updates to the Element X website. And while most of the work is complete, of of the loose ends I have to tackle is to shoring up the Art section.

Under the Art section, visitors to the site have the option of checking out finished artwork from Marcus Muller and yours truly. For my gallery, I choose good ole Surly Sergio as my pic.

So when it came time to plug in Marcus' pic, he sent me one of his crazy creations, reptile flatfoot extraordinare - Turtle Cop.

Here are Marcus' pencils:And here are my colors:Thanks for looking.



The Tick

I've been watching my new copy of The Tick vs. Season One over the last few days, using it as a getaway from my seemingly endless writing chores. The show also helps give me some perspective and balance since the main project I'm presently writing is very epic.

Anyway, the episodes inspired me to take a break from my keyboard and do a quick sketch of the Tick and Arthur. I drew them in a Samurai Jack art style and took some liberties with their designs, simplifying them even further. As for Arthur's exposed belly, that's just for plain, good-old-fashioned comic relief.

Here's the initial sketch:
And here are the colors:
Thanks for looking.



Chinese Brush Painting

Figured I'd get out of my comfort zone and try something completely different.

I've never really used a brush before and I don't think I'm "free" enough as an artist to loosen up and create those awesome, powerful strokes you see in Chinese brush paintings. But it was fun nonetheless. Big thanks to my buddy and old pal Brandon for the brush set.

And yes, I know the signature/stamps are totally faked but I wanted to add them 'cause they just look so cool.