Monday, December 15, 2008


I've read quite a bit about the arctic region when I tried to syndicate my own Arctic Circle comic strip. Obviously I did not make it after three attempts. Although the Arctic Circle title did with Alex Hallatt's strip, which was originally titled Polar Circle. Sour grapes on my part? Obviously some, but that's another post. You can check out some of my submissions here on my website.

My point on this post is that I read somewhere that arctic wolves don't like arctic foxes too much and will sometime throw one in the den for the cubs to "play" with. My memory may be faulty on the facts, but it made for a fun idea of a fox babysitting a group of rambunctious cubs. Since I'm still on business in Mexico, I went with my gut reaction and stuck to what I know.

On a side note for some reason the extremely nice babysitters my sister and I had brought out the most obnoxious behavior in us. To those nice sitters I apologize.

FYI - this was a pencil sketch on recycled paper, inked with a Pigma brush pen (hate 'em, but they do in pinch like this), photographed with a digital camera and white highlights added in GIMP.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Similar Triangles

A little geometry rule we use everyday with our computers and may not realize it is the property of similar triangles. A common definition taken from this site is, "Triangles are similar if their corresponding (matching) angles are equal and the ratio of their corresponding sides are in proportion." Every time we scale an image or window we can thank this rule for making it work.

For my engineering work I often make use of similar triangles and simple trigonometry (remember sines, cosines and tangents anyone?) to calculate distances and positions. As long as you stick with right triangles (one of the three angles must be 90 degrees), know the length of one or more sides and know one or more angles, you can determine the remaining lengths and angles. Maybe I'll post something more on this in the future.

I tried to doctor up a poor photo of several of my triangles. The 30/60/90 triangles are ll similar, but alas poor 45/45/90 is not. Not many people use drafting triangles anymore but were once an indispensable tool for draftsmen, architects, graphic designers and illustrators until computers took their place.

Here is another link providing fun and probably forgotten definitions of triangles. Acute and obtuse - who can deny those aren't fun words to say?

By the way I am here in Mexico for work and this Friday is Saint Juan Diego's feast day, a national holiday. Adios!

P.S. The digital photo was altered and scribbled on using GIMP and a Wacom tablet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A tale of two Chris's: "Ottoline and the Yellow Cat" and "The Acme Novelty Library"

I discovered this gem of a book while browsing an independent bookseller's store in northern Michigan and had to have it - I mean for my niece. Of course I had to assure the quality by reading it.

I thought Chris Riddell did a marvelous job blending the text and illustrations. Some pages the text is more dominant and the illustration in others. It keeps you wondering what the next page will bring. The whimsical shapes and vivid red spot colors were reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, while the cross hatching and formal sounding language brought in hints of Edward Gorey. I loved the caricatures of the women with their lap dogs and the dogs themselves.

I'm not sure if Chris Riddell inspired Chris Ware's book cover from "The Acme Novelty Library", or if it's the other way around. I like the variety of styles both in line and color in this book.  My favorite is the astronaut finding just the right remote location on another planet to paint some graffiti.  I think it's because it's a nice break from all the angst, satire and dark humor found in the other pages.

Paper Bag Wrapping Paper

Out of wrapping paper? Tired of ink smudged fingers from using the Sunday newspaper comics? Try a grocery bag!

Belated Happy Thanksgiving

Another doodle from the desk calendar. Orange highlighter and black fine point pen were used. Hope you had a nice holiday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sketches November 18, 2008

Here are a few sketches of personal projects in the works.

Mechanical pencil with watercolor and white colored pencil highlights.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pow Wow Dancers

On a whim ML and I attended a mini pow wow at the Southfield Civic Center. It was hosted by various Michigan Indian tribes. It was an interesting experience, and we received a sampling of native American culture and history. Unfortunately there were a lot of cheap trinkets and kitsch to weed through. I don't take the time to do too much sketching of the world around me, but it was fun to try and capture the essence of the dancers. I really had to focus on the movements of their bodies and not be distracted by the adornments. I added the color references later with colored pencil, and not paying attention, smeared the sketch of the girl dancer slightly. I'm sure the dances and outfits are more impressive with the right lighting and atmosphere. Halogen lighting in a civic center doesn't induce the most spiritual experience. The fry bread was delicious by the way!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Taming of a Maverick

I like John McCain. I wish he could have won the Republican nomination for president back in 2000. He really showed his true colors during his concession speech.

Between the two campaigns Obama seemed to have a clear vision of his campaign and how it should be run. That clarity of vision helped rally the Democratic party to him after winning the nomination. Whereas the Republican party wanted to shape McCain, forcing him to continually change to meet the requirements of the moment. He couldn't be himself. It would have been nice to have seen him run the kind of campaign that he wanted to run rather than what his party wanted. He probably would have still lost, but it would have been a more interesting race.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barackas Obamanous, Giftedous Oratorous

Congratulations to Barack Obama! The man is a gifted orator. He is someone I actulally look forward to hearing speek. I am anxious to see how his speeches are received by Congress and the UN.

The following sketches were made while waiting in the polling line for forty-five minutes, which wasn't too bad compared to many places. Obviously nothing too serious was on my mind.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Anchors Away! Devil Girl!

I've had to travel for my job quite a bit this year with launching a new product. So this summer I purchased a re-furbished Wacom Intuos 3 4"x6" digital tablet at DGR so I could putz with it in my free time, which on my business trips is not very much. It's small enough to carry in my laptop case and actually comes in handy for marking up engineering drawings with GIMP. People still comment on it. I don't think Wacom's products are as well known outside the digital arts community. I now carry it into work every day.

I also purchased a Nikon 8.1 megapixal Coolpix S51c camera, which also has come in handy for work. Too bad I don't get re-imbursed for either of these tools. However I was able to nearly pay for both of these items by doing a T-shirt design for a client while in Mexico over the 4th of July (so much for one holiday). I had one week to turn it around, which may sound like a lot of time to most people, but working 10 to 12 hours a day, including weekends, at the plant and dealing with a bout of Montezuma's revenge, it wasn't much. Enough whining.

The client emailed me his ideas for a devil girl T-shirt design for his boating team. He included scans from a rock poster book for reference. I came up with a few rough sketches, which I photographed and emailed to the client.

He liked the anchor idea.

This was the first time where I did a project away from my home, so aside from the initial sketch, everything had to be done digitally. I used ArtRage 2.5 to create more finished looking roughs and Inkscape 0.46 to create the text comps. Then I layered them into ArtRage again to export the final rough.

Once approved at this level I sketched, inked and colored the final drawing in ArtRage. For sketching I used the pastel tool and the marker tool for inking and coloring, each color on a different layer.

I exported each layer as an image and converted them to vector art using the trace tool in Inkscape. I wanted to do the final vector art in Inkscape, but for reasons I can't recall, I couldn't get it to work quite right, so I defaulted to an older version of Illustrator I had luckily loaded onto my laptop.

I wanted to use open source software for the whole project to prove to myself it could be done. Maybe next time. Also, to reduce guilt over using the company laptop, all the files were kept on a 2 Gb flash drive while working.

I made due with the fonts I had, used some jitter effects and cut out text flames in Illustrator. I also added the red circle in back, and after and few back and forths on the wording with the client, ended up with this. I delivered it as a jpg, eps and pdf file. I used PDF Creator for the generating the, you guessed it, pdf.

It was a good learning experience to use some new tools. Aside from her strangely angled legs I was pretty happy with it and so was the client.

That was the back of the T-shirt. He also wanted a drunken voodoo doll for the front pocket area.

By the way, it is Devil's Night here in southeast Michigan, so stay out of trouble and have a safe and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Desktop Doodles Prevent Dementia

I'm an engineer by trade, and a very busy one lately. I've also been struggling to get more organized with my time management. I've tried the Franklin planner thing; too bulky. An early Palm Pilot; too small and difficult to use(luckily paid for by work and now obsolete and dead). The Groupwise calendar. Good for looking at meetings but too time consuming to write in tasks.

Finally I cleared off my desk and went back to a method I used in college, the classic desk pad calendar. I bought the Staples version, which is very functional and cheap. I keep it under my keyboard for handy reference, which forces me to keep a cleaner desktop.

Being a visual person I like seeing the whole month laid out in front of me. I can scribble in my meetings (way too many!) and to do list for each day. I use Sunday to lay out the major goals for the week. It has also given me space to doodle during long phone conferences. Media: standard office tools - black pilot pen, red, blue and green colored pencil and highlighters.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fun Phrases

When my manager of 8 years retired I sent him off with my take on some of his favorite phrases.

1) 1-900-SEX-ME
2) Hey, crabby woman!
3) Finger on the sphincter (don't ask me to explain!)
4) Someone had their pee-pee slammed in a drawer!
5) Rode hard and put away wet.
6) Have you seen the latest deal on Travel Zoo?
7) X(He or She) is working without adult supervision.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Newt in the Suit

newt in suit black & white
newt in suit color

There was a neat orange newt
Who went about in a lavender suit.
He ate a light meal
Off a plate colored teal
Of turnip and horseradish root.

I wrote a series of nonsense limericks after being inspired by Edward Gorey, who led me to Edward Lear a few years ago and finally decided to start illustrating them, but did not get very far. The heavily flawed black and white version came first, followed by the less flawed, hastily colored version.