JAMES - another show i'm looking forward too - Blitzen Trapper at the Orange Peel. here's the last of the latest series of three new screen prints, also printed by the Half and Half, and all completed in January '09. again, one main goal was to avoid using black. a unique goal in this one was to utilize halftone to get the most variety out of one color (in this case blue). the final goal was to continue to feel less 'guilty' using photoshop in the actual composition, instead of just a final step to completion.
most of all the sketches i came up with were done straight in photoshop, to mold the poster out of the colors, then compose with that. after getting frustrated, i buckled down with some research: blitzen means 'lightning' in German (and the reindeer Donner's name means 'thunder'). i applied that to a quick pencil sketch of a forest scene, and the rest just fell into place. the final sketch is straight up photoshop.
the actual snowy forest scene was done as an ink wash on watercolor paper. the texture of the paper and the variations created by the wash were essential to get the halftone just the way i wanted on the final print.
i scanned in the illustration and the rest is all photoshop. the lightning bolt is vector, the gin trap was drawn in with the wacom, the lettering was done with me liberally tracing a font - also with the wacom. the lightning splatter was done on paper with a toothbrush and then scanned into the computer.
once again, Nick and the guys at Half and Half did such an amazing job. i actually sent the files to them as greyscale, and they outputted the halftones there (55lpi at 720dpi). that really made the forest look amazing on the finished print, i'm so happy with it. they'll be for sale at the show - see you there!
JAMES - this is gonna be a great show, i can't wait. again, with this one, i knew it was gonna end up screen printed (again by the Half and Half), so i wanted to compose something that takes advantage of that format. i came up with a couple of ideas, and after going over it with Tom thru email, i realized which one i should work with.
i settled on colors (somewhat similar to the Trail of Dead poster, though darker), and i wanted the overlapped colors to make a third, darker color. close to black. as i was developing the final piece, one main issue was making it look like a frikkin sea splitting. do i make it split from the top, or do i make it splash from the bottom? i went and read some old comics, then sat and drew the waves on vellum, with black ink and brush. the other main issue was i wanted to make it clear that it was some nefarious character that was splitting the sea, not moses or something.
i figured a way to show the devil's horns, i made the arms bigger, and i wanted to give them a long shadow that would really place them far above the waves. i coulda drawn it, but i thought it'd be cooler to made a 3-D cutout of the devil and photograph it and it's shadow. so then in photoshop i combined the drawing of the sea splitting, the photo of the devil and his shadow, and i drew the letters and lots of little special effects directly in photoshop.
right before it went to the printers, i turned everything into halftone, so that i could print all the blends and shadows convincingly. the Half and Half did the printing, and after the two colors were done we decided that the overlapped colors just didn't create a dark enough color for the devil and the crown/sunglasses. so we decided to put one more screen ontop - black. like i said in the last post, i wanted to avoid using black, just a personal test. but i think it really brought this home. thanks Nick!
This one goes out to James. Last month when he came up to visit, i asked him to sit for me so I could sketch a portrait of him. In addition to some of the sketches I drew up, I also took some photo reference. I finally got a chance recently to whip out those photos and tackle this portrait for real. I've been doing more painting lately, so I took this as an opportunity to practice using my acrylics. This one is of Stephanie that I did using colored inks, black ink and acrylic. This combination is something I want to continue experimenting with.
JAMES - a great band, i wanted to do something really cool for this show. also, by overwhelming recommendation, i was planning on getting these screen printed by the Half and Half - so i had to knock it out of the park.
for the sake of budget, and also to challenge myself, i decided first to keep this to two colors only. and if i only have two, i wanted to avoid black altogether - which is definitely a nice challenge for me. i did a set of sketches in my sketchbook, and after hitting paydirt on a cool image, i went straight to Photoshop to do some color studies. using photoshop was an easier way to 'sketch' the color usage - i wanted to 'fake' a third color by having the two main colors overlap, and also utilize the white of the paper as an actual fourth color. i had many themes that i wanted to hit with this one, all revolving around an actual "trail of death". the skeleton, the snakes (rattle of death), the cross, and the smoke which represents the life leaving this person. the key is a narrative component to give the skeleton some sort of backstory. what that story is, is up to you.
once i had the composition set, i went to the drawing table and drew the skeleton and also the gothic lettering for the band name. both ink on vellum - the skeleton was witha brush, the letters with a nib.
frankly, i've been struggling for awhile with the guilt i feel when i use too much digital in my illustrations. with this one (and the proceeding ones, to be posted next), i decided to toss those feelings aside and see how digital can actually benefit me incredibly. so this time i used the illustrations of the skeleton and the band-name lettering, but the rest was all digital. the cross was drawn in photoshop, the blue "smoke" is all vector shapes i created, and the lettering at the very bottom (date, venue, etc) is a font that i traced with my Wacom tablet to slightly customize it. the results were extremely gratifying and did a great job of erasing some of that digital 'guilt'.
I got a request from Brian Bonz to illustrate a coloring book type image of him and and Obama just chillin'. This is the idea I came up with. These will be passed out at his show this thursday @ Mercury Lounge. If you're in the NYC area, go check it out and don't forget to bring crayons!