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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:

kidschool_bottles

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!

Happy Diwali!

27 Oct

Today is Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights! It celebrates the return of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu and hero of the epic poem Ramayana, from his fourteen-year exile. (If you want to find out more about the Ramayana, I’d recommend reading Sanjay Patel‘s graphic novel adaptation or watching Nina Paley’s film, Sita Sings the Blues.) Celebrating Diwali generally involves setting off lots of fireworks and eating lots of sweets, so naturally it’s one of my favorite holidays. Here’s a little picture to celebrate:

Happy Diwali!

The Hindi on the image is pronounced “Deepavali ki shubhkamnaiyen” (roughly), which is a traditional Diwali greeting. I haven’t written in Hindi in a long time, so my handwriting could probably use some work…whoops! I’ll have to practice some more.

Now let’s go eat some gulab jamen!

Press Start!

25 Oct

The excellent Mr. Mike O’Malley came to visit this weekend. (Have you checked out his album yet? If not, you should!) One thing led to another, and of course we ended up talking about what our stats would be if we were characters in a fighting game.

…well, what do you talk about when you’re on the subway?

Fighting Game LenaI think the watercolors work like a poison attack: they do a small amount of damage, but the effect lasts for a long time and can really add up. I don’t know that this is a very good caricature of myself, but I like how the paint blobs and the pose turned out. I’d like to say it’s the pose that I usually paint in, but I can only hold it for a few hours before my back starts to go out.

Fighting Game PaulPaul’s cougar impression is pretty fantastic to hear, but I’ll admit it’s hard to draw. I think I got his hair right, though.

Fighting Game MikeThis was my first attempt both at drawing Mike and at drawing a bouzouki. I think both of them came out pretty well, considering.

Overall, I like this set. If I have the time this week, I think I might add some color to them and see where they go. :)

Something’s a little sketchy here.

20 Oct

Lately, it always seem to rain the most on days when I have to run a bunch of errands. I’ve had some umbrella-related technical difficulties lately, though, and I had to upgrade to a newer model–namely, one that works.

Old Umbrella, New Umbrella

I know, I know: I live a glamorous life.

While scouring the archives of Natasha Allegri’s blog, I found a link to Stumpy Pencil, which is a fantastic resource for Photoshop brushes. I’ve been fooling around with their pencil brushes, and it’s been really fun! I used it for just about everything in the above drawing.

I also tried a little life drawing. Here’s Paul during one of our late-night drawing sessions/Home Movies marathons:

PaulIt’s funny, but I find it way easier to draw on a tablet with a brush that mimics pencil texture like this. Something about the way it handles makes sketching feels much more natural, and I’m able to relax and focus on the actual drawing instead of the brush. I’m probably going to use it a lot in the future. If you have some spare time, I’d definitely recommend downloading the brush and giving it a try!

As far as the color scheme goes, I was inspired by Julie Delporte‘s work. She’s one of the CCS fellows this year, and I met her for the first time at ICAF earlier in the month. She does some fantastic color work–mostly in crayon, I think. I used a more muted palette in the above drawing, but it was a fun aesthetic to keep in mind. Maybe I’ll try something a little brighter for the next update…

It’s not quite “Ebony and Ivory,” but it’ll do.

17 Oct

For our last Drawn Out Storytelling show, Paul and I collaborated on illustrating a story told by Aaron Wolfe and Naomi Azar. Check it out!

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 1Their car breaks down outside Falls Creek, PA, a small town near Punxatawney.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 2Aaron and Naomi outside their motel.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 3A previous stop on their road trip: Katz’s Deli, a raw foodist’s delight.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 4Their destination: the Azar household.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 5Naomi’s mom gives them a very special gift.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 6Aaron and Naomi reminisce about their Falls Creek morning routine. First stop, the local diner.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 7Next, the courthouse.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 8Finally, the mechanic.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 9Aaron and Naomi have different ideas about post-coital meals.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 10Aaron engages in a high-stakes game of chess with Naomi’s dad.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 11A really, really high-stakes game of chess.

Aaron & Naomi's story, part 12But in the end, it all works out okay.

The story centers on Naomi and Aaron’s inherent differences and their attempts at compromising. To emphasize this, Paul and I drew the pair in very different styles with very different palettes. Paul always draws Aaron in purple, without any outlines, and I always draw Naomi in orange with a black brush pen outline. The locations they visit–specifically, Katz’s Deli and Naomi’s parents’ house–also take on these characteristics. However, in places where they are able to reach a compromise, the styles and palettes blend a little bit. It was challenging to do (especially since I don’t often use a monochrome palette), but ultimately I’m very happy with the result.

If you missed hearing (and seeing) this story live, don’t worry! We’ll include it in a later episode of our podcast. In the meantime, if you’d like to hear more about this story, you can check out what Paul has to say about it on his blog. :)

Long time, no see!

16 Sep

Hi, guys! I missed you! The reason I’ve been MIA lately is that I’ve been hard at work (along with Paul and Nisse) on Drawn Out Storytelling.

…What’s that, you say? There’s a link there? Why, yes there is! We launched our brand-new website just a couple days ago! It’s already got a few videos up for your viewing pleasure. We’ll be adding one episode of our video podcast at the end of every month, each of which will feature two brand-new stories (paired with, of course, custom artwork and music) plus some commentary and bonus artwork from myself, Paul, and Nisse. The site also features artwork from previous shows, producer bios, and information about our upcoming shows. LIKE THIS ONE:

Drawn Out Storytelling: Experimenting with Exploration (version 1)This poster actually comes in two different color schemes. I wanted to experiment with using non-literal color (e.g., not always coloring the sky blue and the grass green), and I couldn’t decide which version I liked better, so I printed them both! Here’s the other:

Drawn Out Storytelling: Experimenting with Exploration (version 2)Yeah, I know the grass still turned out green in this one, but I tried, okay? :P I’d be interested in hearing which poster you guys like best. If you have a strong preference, feel free to let me know in the comments.

If you like what you see, you should definitely come to the show! Paul and I will be collaborating on Naomi Azar and Aaron Wolfe’s story, plus I’ll be doing some artwork for Mimsy’s excellent experimental segments of the evening. It’s gonna be a really great show, so I hope you guys can make it! If you can’t (or, heck, even if you can!), you can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. That’s almost as good. :)

Two very different species.

25 Aug

This week has been a delightful balancing act between long stints of job hunting/city exploring and marathoning Mad Men while we draw. I’m still pushing myself to experiment with more all-digital work–plus watching all this Mad Men and seeing all these hip Brooklyn girls has gotten me all fashion-inspired–so I dusted off my copy of Illustrator and gave it a whirl. Here’s the result:

Mad Men and Brooklyn Girls

This was actually a lot of fun! I’m proud of the end result–particularly the back foot of each girl. I think this was ultimately a lot more efficient than my all-Photoshop extravaganza last week. It took a lot of time, but I think I made bigger strides in what I’m able to do with Illustrator and without outlining or sketching the figures first. I’d like to do a couple more like this, I think. Maybe some fan art is in order?

Rain, rain, come and stay…

25 Jul

Finally, a little bit of relief from the heat! White River and the surrounding areas had lovely overcast weather all day today, plus a little bit of rain in the afternoon. It feels absolutely heavenly after last week’s fire and brimstone! It was a nice treat for the first day of my second comics camp at the VAULT Gallery. I have nine great students this week, and I can’t wait to see the characters and comics they’ll create!

Anyway, considering today’s weather, I figured it’d be appropriate to post this today:

Rainy Day

Overall, I like how this one turned out–especially her outfit. Drawing fashionable (or even semi-fashionable) clothes is really difficult for me, and I rarely try to add patterns to the stuff I do draw, so this was a tough image to finish. I feel like I succeeded on both counts there, but I kind of wish I’d used a different method to color the rain. It turned out a little too uneven for my tastes; if the streaks were just a little neater or if I’d colored it digitally I think I’d be much more satisfied with it. The weather forecast’s calling for rain most of this week, though, so I should have a lot of time to practice!

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