Micron 05 fine point pen and Sharpie Pro King Size marker
Micron 08 fine-point pen and Sharpie marker
While looking for a poem in our archives this week, we recalled a scan of a bee that we never got around to using as a photo reference. The poem received an edit and the bee enjoyed an evening in the spotlight after all this time.
The business coach we’ve worked for the past seven years often reminds us to take time to celebrate our successes. This carries a special importance when you work independently. After all, a sole proprietor works without any sort of company hierarchy to hand out employee-of-the-month awards, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. Artists working independently face the same challenge.
Plus, you can easily focus on all the things that haven’t yet worked out the way you hoped. If you try ten different things and one succeeds wildly, you might be too caught up in your nine other failures to really appreciate it. It takes a certain mental fortitude to keep moving forward, and celebrating your successes plays an important role in that.
Last week, we had a wonderful chat with a local business owner referred to us to discuss some potential ways we could work together. We mentioned, somewhat dejectedly, that we had only sold about five pieces of artwork since we began seriously attempting it last fall. She said it was funny we viewed it negatively, since she found that number quite impressive.
That made us pause and remember to celebrate our successes. So, we hope you don’t mind if we take a moment to review what pieces have sold in the last nine months. On a side note, our little poetry book has been selling a couple of copies each month, mostly overseas. Though that isn’t a phenomenal sales figure, it certainly does make us happy that the collection is getting out there.
Let’s have a look at what we’ve sold so far.
Behold the Awesomizer sold in February 2014 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.
Diving Frog sold in June 2014 through eBay to an overseas buyer.
Instead of sketching this week, we devoted our sketch time to framing and listing several of our favorite pieces from the past year. It turns out to be quite a process: selecting and ordering frames, photographing each piece, and coming up with something compelling to say about them for the listing. Add to that unpacking, assembling, packing, and uploading, and you’ve suddenly got a pretty big project on your hands.
But, at the end, the final framed piece of art gives you a major feeling of satisfaction. You’ve taken an idea and made it real. In today’s world of goods and services performed virtually and delivered by email, we sometimes lose an important reward: that day you can step back, take a look at what you accomplished, and know it as a tangible thing.
Ellie the Studio Cat advised us that it was entirely too nice a day to be drawing inside, so the two of us chilled at the little picnic table outside sketching prehistoric animals. We’re doing some very rough studies to get a feel for rendering these ancient critters with a combination of Sharpie and fine-point pens.
And yes, Ellie does look like she’s scowling in this photo, but she is just relaxing, contentedly hanging out for sunshine and sketching.
Anyway! Trilobites seemed like they would be simple, but their unique anatomy presents some conceptual challenges. Since this sketch we found some more photo references from the Burgess Shale that depict a few different types of trilobites with anatomical variations. We will master the trilobite yet!
Rod Ruth has a pencil drawing in Album of Prehistoric Animals that makes a great reference for Diatryma feathers and anatomy. This was the easiest one of the bunch to pin down where we would want fine lines versus bold chisel-tip inking.
Smilodon smiles on, with Rod Ruth’s cover of the same book giving a perfect snarly pose to work from.
The skull of Dunkleosteus appears in one of our favorite books, Extinction. The interesting plate structure of this placoderm’s head easily lent itself to bold black lines.
An Archaeocyathid from the same book was rendered in ink by one of the contributing artists, so we studied the way light and shadow define the curves.
Here is our first rough pencil study of a panel by Bob Powell with a whacky sci-fi wasp from another planet who comes to earth in a globe of pure force. The sketch isn’t so great, but this is how we get to know our subjects.
Our previous posting of Somewhere Between Mars and Earth got some encouraging response. We returned to it and filled in the lower right corner with more mega-doodle madness. Framed, it looks pretty darn trippy.
Our first Sharpie study of And One of Them Was Destroyed felt good enough that we want to do a more finished version on some high-quality artist paper. While we get materials together for that endeavor, our two-page sketch can enjoy this 12×18 frame!
Last but not least, we framed our little frog from our book of watercolor paper postcards. It will list on eBay soon, and we will be picking up another book of those blank postcards. In the next round, though, we will take care to leave a border around the edges. Frog looks great, but another one of our cards really needs to be matted to a 5×7 frame to preserve the details at the edges. Live and learn! UPDATE: Diving Frog sold on eBay to an overseas buyer. Rock on!
Somewhere Between Mars and Earth
Micron fine-point pen and Sharpie marker
We began this 8.5 x 11 mega-doodle as a study of Ian Miller’s line work in the illustrated edition of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.
It soon took on a life of its own! Peter Deligdisch advises “keep calm and draw lines” in his collection Line of Thought, a work that Amazon groups with “zentangle.” We hadn’t heard of zentangle before, but that’s exactly what our art teacher called it when we started making textures with tons of lines. It may be a hot new art thing, but dig the way Ian Miller zentangled us on the road to Mars decades ago.
We like the energy effects and dynamic lightning bolts in the heart that Miller drew for the chapter called May 2003: The Wilderness. By drawing lines in one direction or the other, Miller creates distinct spaces and shapes. The lines serve as texture to give the area form or identity. Miller uses stippling and tiny circles to achieve a tasty variation of our favorite thing in the universe: Kirby Krackle. And, because so much of the page is “textured” or rendered, his empty white spaces also become solid objects. We have long admired this artwork, and approaching it analytically with the right tools for the job turned out to be fun and educational.
The Ian Miller edition of the book includes this quote from the Bradbury text as a preface: And somewhere between Mars and Earth everything of the message was lost… and his voice came through saying only one word: “Love.”
Here it is framed:
And here is an early version where we almost stopped and left negative space in the lower right corner. But, something told us to press on.
Sharpie Marker study of a comic book panel from The Eternals by Jack Kirby (Marvel, 1976.) I don’t recall exactly which issue, since this page is lacquered onto my table top. Here is our digital restoration of the original splash panel (two page spread) from a scan. So much Kirby Krackle!
Sharpie Marker study of a panel from X-Men #5. Original panel penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams. Dialogue by John Byrne & Jim Lee.
sharpie marker on cardboard (24×8)
An art magazine arrived in the Martian Mailbox with this full page ad (below) featuring paintings by Michael Reafsnyder. Since we don’t yet have the space to produce large-scale abstract expressionist canvases like this, we just drew one. Thus, imaginary studio. Besides gigantic canvases full of splashy splattery modern art, our imaginary studio also contains Ellie the studio cat, random sculptures, and a giant work-in-progress of the Silver Surfer zooming in front of a sun.
Ellie the studio cat cares less about what goes on the canvases than about how fun it is to make cat forts out of them.
Aardvark’s The Puma Blues from 1986 features the artwork of Michael Zulli. Zulli drew some of our favorite Ninja Turtles pages in the story Soul’s Winter, taking those silly cartoon characters and imbuing them with a totally different, darker spirit. Here, however, Zulli portrays wilderness and the animals that live there, and the borders where they contact the human world.
Last November, we posted some pages from a zine produced collaboratively by the Ballard Sketch Team in the Seattle, Washington area. Not long after, Seth Goodkind mailed us crisp new copies of the three collaborations so far.
Thank you, Seth! We really dig these. We have some highlights of the artwork, below. Not included is a very cool mini-zine Goodkind produced, called Plagues. You can buy Plagues for $3.50 delivered, while supplies last. We keep it at our drawing station here at Martian Central Command, to provide inspiration. Consider us the virtual member of the Sketch Team, participating in spirit!
Creative types in the Seattle area may want to seek out the Ballard Sketch Team. According to Cabinet of Curiosities, they meet second and fourth Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. at Hattie’s Hat.
We dig this approach to educational comics a lot. Besides her intricate pen and ink work, Megan Noël also works in color. We recommend you visit Megan’s Etsy shop.
In this eight-page article from the May 2012 issue of National Geographic, Carl Zimmer and illustrator Bryan Christie detail the structural anatomy of the human hand, comparing it to similar appendages in other mammals. While we may not immediately think of a flipper, wing, or paw as a hand, these illustrations make you see them in a different light. We keep this article in our drawing instructions and art lessons file now, having seriously botched one too many hands! Perhaps it will help you, too.
Let’s have just one more look inside in How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way for some helpful figure drawing lessons.
In an earlier chapter, John Buscema addressed basic anatomy and proportions: the breakdowns of the human figure into formal shapes: cylinders, spheres, and so on. That chapter is quite detailed and well worth reading. This shorter chapter compares that approach to a much more loose and relaxed – even sloppy – method: scribbling.
The following pages from How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way demonstrate all the essentials of drawing the human head. These breakdowns resemble the ones we looked at in yesterday’s Bad Girls figure drawing lesson. But, they go more in depth: more poses, more character types, and more comparisons of the highly idealized male and female faces.
In just four pages, Brian Pulido and Steven Hughes of Lady Death hit all the highlights of basic figure and face drawing. Does it use an exaggerated, idealized, slick comic book version of the female figure? Yes! But, the basics of facial features and the essential building blocks of the body apply to all physical types.
This lesson appeared in Wizard – Bad Girls Special. Get your pencil sharpened and learn How to Draw Bad Girls!