Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of…uhh…paper.

12 Dec

Chanukah is officially over halfway over, which means that I really need to start maximizing my dreidel-playing time. There is a lot of unclaimed gelt in our house, and that simply will not stand. To my dismay, however, I found our house completely bereft of dreidels. To help us deal with our little “problem”, I put together a little papercraft dreidel:

Gelt (sadly) not included.

(Click on it to see the full-sized image.) I know I said I’d stick to the same palette all week, but I left this blank so that you can color it in however you want. I recommend printing it on cardstock or some other sort of thick paper so that it stands up to being spun. It’ll look something like this when you’re done:

This is my best Vanna White impression.

That’s the prototype dreidel in the above picture, so the letters are all hand-drawn and, as such, a bit messier. With the template above, everything should be nice and neat. If you make one, please let me know–or, even better, post a picture! I’d love to see how yours turn out.

Light the candle; everything’s all right.

11 Dec

I did a lot of running around today and wore myself out (hey, those holiday gifts aren’t gonna wrap themselves!), so I don’t have a whole lot to talk about tonight. In lieu of my normal sparkling conversation, please enjoy this image of a kid lighting a menorah:

Careful with the shamash, please!

I draw girls way more often than I draw boys, so this was a nice change. He came out looking like a chubbier Irving Fleischman (of Paul’s The Magnificent Mockingbird), but that’s okay. Irving could stand to eat a little more, anyway. I tried to capture the intense look some kids get when they really concentrate on something, but he ended up looking a bit on the pouty side. His hand is awfully close to those flames, though, so I guess that’s fair.

I had been planning to get all fancy with the lighting effects in this one, but I kind of like the simplicity of the color scheme as it is. Maybe I’ll give it a shot and post another version in the next few days. Would you guys be interested in seeing that? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. :)

Getcher Chanukah blog posts here!

10 Dec

A few weeks back, Paul was teaching a weekend class about early Jewish immigrants to the United States, focusing on their experiences as peddlers in the mid-19th century. As part of his lesson, he designed an activity in which his students pretended to be peddlers in order to better understand the challenges that many new immigrants faced. Each student playing a peddler was assigned a particular product to sell–engine oil, medicine, rat poison, or makeup, for example–and had to convince their customers to purchase it without using a common language. As an added layer of difficulty, the students’ products all looked the same, so they had to communicate that difference as well (to prevent their customers conflating rat poison with medicine, or some other tragedy). Paul was pretty busy prepping the other facets of the lesson that weekend, so I threw together a little illustration of the peddlers’ products to help him out.

Long story short: Paul designed a cool history lesson, and I designed a (hopefully) cool bottle:


This was a fun image to make because it’s not something I’d normally work on–my sketches, as you can probably tell, tend to be of human figures. I don’t usually draw inanimate objects unless I’m purposely challenging myself to draw something that’s in front of me. It was also a way for me to test my Illustrator skills. I had to do it pretty quickly (since I had other projects I had to work on), and I tried to do it without a reference. I had the most fun making the cork–there’s just something profoundly satisfying about using the compound shape tools to punch holes out of other shapes. It’s not the flashiest drawing, but it got the job done! All in all, I feel pretty good about it.

(Also, in case you were wondering, the Yiddish on the label says “Swartz’s”.)

Latke love!

9 Dec

Paul and I went to the City Congregation’s Chanukah party this afternoon, which was pretty exciting. Not only did I get to meet some fun new people, but we also got sent home with about two pounds of leftover latkes (in multiple flavors–be still, my heart!). I have some very strong feelings about latkes that can only be truly expressed through interpretive dance, but I tried to capture the essence in the drawing below:

Tell us how you really feel.

I’m having fun with this Chanukah palette! I think I’m going to stick with it for the rest of the holiday posts. I just love me some thematic colors!

It’s a Chanukah miracle!

8 Dec

Happy Chanukah, everybody! I hope you’re all having a good holiday. While I don’t have any gelt for you, my Chanukah celebrations will include updating this blog every day! That’s right: every single day of Chanukah. It’ll be difficult to simultaneously draw content and stuff my face with latkes, but I suppose I shall have to learn.

Speaking of latkes, are you guys going to the Latke Festival this year? I want to go with pretty much every fiber of my being (um, hi, endless tables of latkes!), but the estimable Mr. Mike O’Malley has a show that night that absolutely takes precedence. He’ll be rockin’ The Way Station‘s open mic night on Monday, so those of you in the NYC area that are not eating mounds of delicious latkes should come hang out, have a drink, and listen to his musical stylings with us.

In other news, I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I’ve been on a super-girly kick lately. I can’t stop painting my nails! (I blame blogs like The Beauty Department and their insane collection of how-to posts.) So, I figured, what better way to kick off my Chanukah celebrations than with a ridiculous manicure? Check this bad boy out:

Chanukah Hands

(Please excuse the messy bits around the edges–I’m pretty unskilled at painting with my left hand.) Overall, I think it came out kind of cool, though. Want one of your very own? Here are some instructions.

It's not a man-icure. It's a mensch-icure.

I don’t have any particular brand loyalty when it comes to polishes, but in case you were wondering, here are the ones I used:

*OPI Alpine Snow

*NYC Matte Me Crazy

*NYC Taxi Yellow Creme

*Sally Hansen Nail Art Pen in Bright Blue

If you try this out, please send me a picture! I’m nosy I’d like to see how it looks in other people’s capable hands (and brushes).

Pop goes the sonnet!

13 Nov

I post an awful lot of drawing to this blog (perhaps because, I dunno, it’s called a sketchblog?), but today I have some news about a writing project I’ve been working on! Check this out:

Pop Sonnets: First Folio Cover

I’m part of a writing group called Dilettantes’ Ball, whose other members include Paul Swartz, Mike O’Malley, Zachary Garrett, Tim Becker, Emily Curran, Christine Elliot, and Rhett duPont. This is the cover design for Pop Sonnets: First Folio, our debut zine. Pop sonnets are today’s songs in yesterday’s words, combining Shakespearean rhythm and vocabulary with the delightful inanity of top 40 hits. They’re fun to write and (we hope) fun to read!

If you’re interested in reading some of these pop sonnets, you’re in luck! We’re launching our tumblr tonight, so you should go check it out. If you’re interested in hearing some pop sonnets, you’re in even more luck! We’re hosting a reading/release party this very week! Come by the Brooklyn Launchpad at 8:30 pm on Saturday, November 17th to hear us read some sonnets, see our lovely new book in person, and taste some drinks and snacks! Admission is $3, and it’ll go towards supporting the Launchpad (which is a fantastic new event space in our very own Crown Heights) and towards printing more books. You should definitely come check it out! I’d love to see y’all.

Don’t forget to vote!

3 Nov

Hey, guess what I did this week?

…No, go ahead and guess. I’ll wait.

If you guessed “played video games”, “made comics”, or “drank too much coffee”, you are correct! However, if you guessed “voted”, you are also correct!


I would’ve taken a picture with the actual ballot, not just the stub, but I was in a big hurry to get it to the post office.

Anyway, I really hope y’all are planning to exercise your right to vote this Tuesday! Here are a few reasons why:

1) It’s the responsible thing to do.

2) No matter what party you’re voting for, there are a lot of important issues on the table this year. You’re not only picking a president, you’re choosing local and state politicians and laws, too. (Especially if you’re from California–what I got in the mail was more like a short choose-your-own-adventure story than a ballot!)

3) Lots of businesses will give you free things on Election Day if you show them your “I Voted” sticker. I don’t know if a voting stub like mine will do the trick as well, but I’m sure as hell gonna try.

And if all that isn’t enough incentive, here’s something to help remind you:

Please don't forget to vote!

If you have a ballot like the letter E up there, remember not to follow my example and fill your ovals completely. And if you have a ballot like the letter O, you may want to (at least temporarily) move out of Florida. This election is important, after all.

(By the way, I used paper texture #89 from S3PTIC-STOCK‘s lovely set of paper textures for the background.)

It’s raining, it’s pouring…

30 Oct

Just a quick post today, due to a little storm called Hurricane Sandy. While lots of people we know are experiencing crazy weather, Paul and I are pretty lucky in that we still have electricity and water (inside our pipes, not inside our house). All the storm has really meant for us today is that we don’t have to go to work and that occasionally the internet stops working for a few minutes.

Also, this happened:

Is there a "no wind" option? No....?

In all seriousness, though, I hope y’all are holding up okay. My thoughts are with you guys.

Fanart Friday: Anya’s Ghost!

27 Oct

Halloween is next week, you guys! I am super excited about costumes, candy, cryptozoological creatures, and (less alliteratively) books/movies that are kind-of-scary-but-not-really-because-I’m-a-huge-wimp! So, what better way to celebrate than with some ghostly fanart?

Anya’s Ghost is Vera Brosgol’s first graphic novel, and it is basically one of my favorite comics ever. (You may remember it from the post 2 years ago where I Photoshopped it into my hands.) It’s the story of Anya Borzakovskaya, a disaffected high schooler who falls down a hole one day and finds the ghost of a girl named Emily Reilly. Emily wants to be Anya’s friend; Anya, though she’s not exactly knee-deep in friends, isn’t sure she wants to be Emily’s. She begins to change her mind as Emily helps her navigate her school and social life…but Emily’s idea of friendship might be more than Anya bargained for. I won’t go into specifics, so you’ll just have to read it yourself! Vera Brosgol’s art is expressive and fluid–the series of panels where Emily tries to ‘grow out’ her ghostly hair is one of my favorite scenes–and her writing is natural, relatable, and (best of all) funny. You should definitely pick up a copy of your own from your local library or bookstore!

So, without further ado, here’s Anya and Emily:

Shit, I think this cigarette is haunted!

…I have only just now noticed that Anya’s holding her cigarette backwards. That’s what I get for not having more friends who smoke! I feel like I’m failing some sort of hipster test, here.

Anyway, I’ve been really enjoying these monochromatic drawings lately. As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes have trouble limiting my palette, so working in just one color has been a great exercise for me. Coloring this one was pretty simple, since this is pretty much the way the whole book looks (although I think the book’s tones are a little grayer), but I still really like the result. It was also fun to play around with the colors of my lineart. I don’t often do that–usually I’m black-lineart-only–but lately I’ve been trying it out here and there. There are times when black lineart just seems too blunt, especially if you’re working with lots of light tones or textures. When done right, colored lineart forms a cohesive link between the color palette of a page or panel and the lineart itself. I’ve gotten the best results in monochromatic drawings like the one above, but I’d like to try it out with more complex color palettes as well.

Purrin’ on the Ritz!

22 Oct

Last week (or the week before) I asked you guys what kind of art you’d like to see on the blog. The response was clear: I need to draw more cats. Fancy cats, even. Perhaps located in a specific borough of New York City. (You have very discerning taste, dear readers.)

So, without further ado: dancing cats, decked out in formal wear, in Brooklyn.

Insert your own "Wall Street Fat Cats" joke here.

Street sign aside, you can tell they’re in Brooklyn because they’re doing all this ironically.

This was a bit of a challenge–how exactly do cats dance, anyway? I’ve never seen the movie, so I found myself at a loss. Nevertheless, I had fun drawing the little cummerbund and furry high-fives. I’m also pleased with the color scheme. I haven’t done anything monochromatic in a while, and it turned out to be a fun and easy way to color this drawing. Things fell into place fairly neatly, which was a nice surprise; sometimes I end up having to really fuss with a drawing in order to make sure I don’t have too many overlapping segments of the same color, but the colors in this came together pretty intuitively.

I had a lot of fun working on this, so let’s keep it going! Please feel free to leave a comment telling me something you’d like to see a drawing of. :)

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