Monday, August 30, 2010

How I Make A Weekly Comic

TOM- I can't believe I haven't blogged about this yet...Since the beginning of the summer, I've been working on a weekly comic project entitles, 'My Intentional Life' for Grist, an environmental website. The comic is written by Jennifer Prediger and based the life of Gabriel Willow and his experiences living in an 'urban collective' in Brooklyn. It's a house that he shares with 15 other people, they raise their own chickens, harvest their own vegetable, and have a beehive on the roof for honey. It's a very unique living set up, especially to be located in Brooklyn. I had the pleasure of visiting this house for a dinner a few months back and I got to meet his roommates who have become supporting characters in the strip.
Artistically, this has been a much welcomed challenge. Since we have all these interesting stories to tell, but only one page a week to tell them, the challenge has been to make the visual storytelling as clear as possible, without cramming the page. I decided to share with you my step by step process of how I break down the page and take it all the way to final. Above are the first two weekly episodes. It's pretty self explanatory, but I'll just point out a couple things:
The first step is the rough, where I'm just trying to make the the story flow in an interesting way that keeps the eye moving easily from left to right. During this stage, I'm very aware of leaving room for where the speech bubbles will eventually go, I even rough them in so that I'm sure it's all going to work out before I take it any further. Then, I blow up the roughs to full size and work on top of them, creating the pencils(which I didn't scan along the way, so they're not show here), from there, I go to inks, my favorite part! During this stage, I'm trying to 'spot' blacks to help move the eye where I want it to go and also give the page a sense of balance. After that, it's coloring time. I try to make the colors as simple as possible, not to take away from the line art or distract the reader from the story. The point of the colors is to enhance what's already there and if anything add mood and a sense of atmosphere. I had fun muting the palette for the flash back sequence on page two. As always, there's last minute changes along the way, so if you look close enough, you can see where some of those revisions happened.
Anyway, we are already coming up on our sixth weekly instalment of this project, so it's very exciting to see it evolve and take shape, it's also been a great learning lesson for me along the way.
Thanks so much for reading and be sure to check Grist every Tuesday for a new instalment!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Deam Wareham plays Galaxie 500 (x2)

(Now That Enough Time Has Passed) It's Safe To Go Back Again

Hello Again / Goodbye Again

JAMES - I'm psyched to finally show off these two new posters. I've been a fan of Dean Wareham's music for as long as I can remember - Luna, Dean & Britta, and of course, the band that started it all, Galaxie 500. Dean's now doing some shows playing the old Galaxie 500 stuff, as he's backed by the Dean & Britta band. I had the privelege of doing the posters for last weekend's NYC and Philly shows (not to mention the opening band, Crystal Stilts!). These two posters are now available on my site - www.jamesflames.com/store.html - $20 each.

As usual, here's some words about my processes:
The ideas for these came about pretty naturally. For the NYC poster, I actually came up with the title first, and the image just kinda appeared on the page after a quick sketch. For the Philly show, I had just finished a sketchbook piece (which I've posted before here), and I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring it to life as a screen print.

finished inked lettering

I worked on both posters simultaneously - drawing, printing, the whole thing. But the styles for each one are totally different, especially in how I created them. The NYC poster was done pretty traditionally - I drew all the elements on paper with a brush, scanned them into the computer, and assembled everything together using photoshop. The lettering (pictured above) took a few tries to get it just right.


drawing directly on films

But for the Philly poster, I drew 95% of everything directly onto the films. My intention was for the final print to resemble a painting, so that the strokes look like they were painted with a brush rather than screen printed. The slight roughness of drawing onto the films directly helped to get that effect, as well as alot of overprinting (printing one color on top of another).

Printing the second color (green over red).

I also used a different type of paper than usual. French Paper makes some high quality stuff, and this time I used "Sweet Tooth" in their Poptone line. It's got a more pronounced texture that really adds another dimension to the prints.

detail shot

detail shot

4-color screenprint, 19"x25", on 100lb SweetTooth Poptone French paper, edition of 100, signed and numbered

6-color screenprint, 19"x25", on 100lb SweetTooth Poptone French paper, edition of 100, signed and numbered

Now available at my website - www.jamesflames.com/store.html - $20 each. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alotta Nerve...


TOM- Ever since we changed the layout for the 'My First Time' section on Nerve.com, it has given me the opportunity to play around with composition and storytelling and in the process I've tried to push myself to try and create a really strong image week after week. I've been finding some really great inspiration in some of these amazing illustrations. That whole wonderful era of illustration is fascinating to me and truly inspiring. I've been trying to somehow tap into those guys genius and slowly try and figure out how to come up with new and interesting ways to jazz up a story with exciting visuals. I haven't even come close to what those artists have accomplished, but just studying them has been a real learning lesson all it's own. Most importantly, I've been having fun too! Here are some of my latest illustrations for the 'My First Time' section from the last few weeks. I've included the black and white versions as well.













On a side note, I just added more of my illustrated tote bags to my Etsy shop, so be sure to get 'em while they're hot! Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the weekend!




Monday, August 16, 2010

So Much To Say


JAMES - These guys still kill it.
So I got to do a Mission of Burma poster, and I damn well made the best of it. The show was amazing - they just tore through every song with absolute fire. The crowd was diggin' it, and I had a hell of a time. Oh, and the posters...they flew off the table.
The remaining posters are now available in my store, 20 bucks each. www.jamesflames.com/store.html


A quick bit about the process on this one:


I knew I wanted some kind of skeleton. And I knew the style I wanted to draw it in. And I knew how I wanted to position the skeleton on the page, at that diagonal angle. But the rest was still a mystery. So I sketched what I knew, which is basically what you see above, and then hunkered down for some experimentation.

About ten different design options were thrown out before I came to the final image idea. Then the final drawings were done - the skeleton with a brush, the baloons and lettering with a marker. And then the final composition and colors, which you see in the detail shot below, was all done in photoshop. It's pretty simple, but it feels really big when it's staring right at you. And as a few folks remarked at the show, that black is deep as outer space. Awesome.

detail shot

3-color screenprint, 19"x25", on 110lb Smart White French paper, edition of 100, signed and numbered


Now available to purchase from my website, 20 clams each: www.jamesflames.com/store.html
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Philadelphia City Paper Cover!

TOM - You know you've seen these people. The ones that flag you down with a big smile and stop you in the middle of the street asking you to donate to their cause. I totally respect what they do and I think it's a great way to get attention to a good cause, but I know I'm not alone when I say I've pretended to be on my phone or told them I was in a rush when I really wasn't. I know, it's messed up. As much as I would love to give to all of them, when you live in a big city, you're bound to see several of these folks a day, it could get a bit overwhelming sometimes...Anyway, that's kinda what the inspiration behind this cover was. I always have fun doing work for Philly City Paper and this was no exception.
Like a couple of previous covers, I did this one in several pieces, the girl, the background and the bubble. Here was the mock up that I sent them.

They put it all together, added the type and above is what the finished cover looks like. Thanks to my friends over at Philadelphia City Paper! If you're in Philly, it hit's the stands today so be sure to pick one up!


Friday, August 6, 2010

'The Stranger' Illustration

TOM - This week, I got the opportunity to create an illustration for The Stranger, an awesome newspaper based in Seattle. The article is about a summer camp for non-traditional families, in this particular case, poly families, a family where the mom and dad have multiple partners. The AD, Aaron asked if I could illustrate a typical, happy summer camp image, except for the fact that the canoes are stuffed full of these multiple-parent families.
Here is the sketch that Aaron chose, it was the one I felt the most strongly about also, so I was glad he picked it.

As far as the inked drawing went, it was inked with a synthetic Princeton #1 brush and black indian ink on bristol. I kept the drawing very open with little to no shading at all because I wanted to expeiriment with color, adding light, shading and mood.


I'm happy with how the final page came out and I had a fun time working on this, thanks, Aaron! Read the full article here.
***Reminder***
On a side note, the show I'm in in Philadelphia, 'Wired and Hazy' is still up until the end of the month, be sure to check it out at SALT Gallery if you're in Philly!