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.