Thursday, February 25, 2010

book project - inking

I know what you are thinking. You think I forgot all about promising to come back and tell you about the next step of my book project. After all, that was a month ago. You think I am off hiking the Appalachian Trail in Argentina or something... WRONG! The fact is I have three of these books to illustrate and I have been working furiously to get the other two penciled in. I finally did, and now I am able to get to the inking phase of this book.

Here is my editor approved, 100% full size sketch with revisions and extra cheese. I put a sheet of Clearprint Design Vellum over it to do my inking on. In olden days of yesteryear, I used to trace the sketch onto watercolor paper with a lightbox so I could ink it and color it with watercolor. Now I can skip one whole time consuming step by going right to the inking stage on the vellum. At this point I can still make slight adjustments in the placement of things by just moving the vellum a bit to put the object in a slightly different position. The tweaking never ends...

Here are my archaic tools. I found this old ink bottle holder many years ago. It keeps my ink bottle from sliding off my drawing board. I don't like the narrow openings on most ink bottles so I found this little bottle with a wide mouth that I fit into the holder. A few rounds of duct tape helped it to fit in the hole better. Duct tape just makes everything better doesn't it? I have tried different pen points, but seem to just like the basic #102 crowquill available at any art store. And there is the little piece of paper where I test the ink to make sure it is flowing before I put the point on the REAL thing.

Here I am pretending to be inking, but I'm really just holding my pen while I fumble around with my camera in my left hand and try to take a picture. I have spent a large part of my life influenced by and imitating comic strips and editorial cartoons. I love the line work of many artists from Ronald Searle to Walt Kelly to Jeff MacNelly to Bill Watterson to Charles Schulz... the list goes on and on. I seem to be addicted to the black line. And I like the feel of drawing on real paper and inking with a real dip pen. I may end up doing all this digitally someday... SOMEday... but not today. Today I will get actual ink on my actual fingers. And it ain't easy to get that stuff off, believe me!

OK, now I have to get the linework into my computer and my Epson scanner does this for me. 80% of all the illustration I do fits on the basic 8.5 x 11 inch vellum and I can scan it. About 20% of the time I have a larger illustration and have to scan it in sections and stitch it together in Photoshop. Once I have scanned in the inked drawing, I can clean it up in Photoshop with the eraser. I usually end up dragging my finger through the wet ink somewhere and Photoshop has saved me thousands of dollars that I would have spent buying white out paint.

Oh, if you happened to miss out on the first installments of this project, just click on "book project" over on the side bar and you will be up to speed in no time. chop chop

Well, now we are all ready to color this piece. I will post something about that soon. But first... I need to go to Argentina and do some hiking.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


SocMo likes to propagate dandelions in the spring.

I woke up early today and as I was lying in bed this idea came to me for the Illustration Friday word. I didn't have much time to spend on the illustration, so once again I dashed out a quick image and slapped it up here. Gotta get busy now with the rest of my day...

Thursday, February 18, 2010


After an unfortunate accident while lighting a gas grill,
SocMo found himself ADRIFT in space.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


SocMo is getting psyched up for the Winter Olympics!

Sunday, February 07, 2010


The record snowfall melted away leaving a MUDDY mess, but SocMo quickly adapted by making a mudman.

We had snow on the ground for a whole week! That hasn't happened here for many years. It finally melted and we got 4 inches of rain to wash it away. We now have extreme sogginess.

After I penciled up this idea and scanned it, my problem became "How do you make something look like mud?" My only plan was to make it brownish and shiny. I played around with it for a while in Photoshop and at some point decided the mud needed more color. So I introduced a bit of color which made the mud a bit more interesting. As usual, at some point I get tired of messing with it all and pull the plug. And post it. So there you go.

Friday, February 05, 2010

What I'm reading

I went to the library and came back with a STACK of books! Heavy reading, no?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

flip chart

I did 100 animal spots for this flip chart a loooong time ago. I finally got a copy of it, so I thought I would post a picture.

Here is one of the inside pages. Nice bright colors! I like it!

Monday, February 01, 2010


When SocMo is FOCUSED on texting, bad things always happen to him.

I heard some science guys explain how multi-tasking is an illusion. We think we can do many things at once, but our brain can only focus on one thing at a time. It has to jump back and forth. This is very obvious to me when I try to read something in the paper while watching TV. When I read a headline, I totally miss what is being said on TV. And when I am listening to what is said on TV, I can't read the paper. Duh. The little old brain can't do both at the same time.

Just about every time I am annoyed by someone's driving... they sit at a green light too long, or drive reeeeeally slowly, I notice that they are using a phone. I know everyone thinks they can talk and drive at the same time, but I think we should really be FOCUSED on guiding that mass of steel we are propelling along the highway. Drive now... talk later.

OK... I'll get down from my soapbox now... I gotta pull a friend out of a manhole...