Art night: four pages of heads

Last night, I spent about two hours further beating my face against the wall that is the build issue I’ve been having in Xcode, as I try to learn this whole computer programming thing. After a point, I quit and started drawing.

I kicked out about four pages of heads, working on positioning and proportions. Burne Hogarth’s “Dynamic Anatomy” book is going to be good, but the text material and the illustrations don’t match up well; when there’s a wall of text that describes the proportions of everything and how x bisects at y muscle, there’s no accompanying image that specifically shows this. That’s a struggle for me. But, I was able to work out some basic heads last night and I’m happy with the progress (if not the final result). I’m really going to have my work cut out for me when I start trying to draw anything that isn’t straight-on from the front, 3/4 perspective or a direct side view. And it’ll be difficult for me to make the leap to “draw some random person” from “draw this generic head.” But I did get some good work in last night; I’ll get pics of the pages put up somewhere and post ’em here later. Looking forward to more practice.

Don’t know what my plan is for tonight; will either draw some more, or just skip past this compiler roadblock and continue with programming. Probably the latter. We’ll see.

Art night

I was planning for tonight to be another computer programming night at home; read some stuff, write some code, try to get some more things working. But I need to take a day off from that after spending hours yesterday trying to solve a compiler linking issue that should be trivial. My brain still hurts. My first contribution to the programming community is likely going to be a visual guide to solving this issue, since my browsing of a variety of forums yesterday showed a large pile of beginning programmers having exactly the same problem, but no good solutions.

And, today has been a typical Monday filled with Super-Fun Meetings (TM), and I am just not in the mood for anything requiring concentration. Maybe I’ll feel differently later.

So, art night. More reading Hogarth’s book, I think, and maybe kicking out 2-4 pages of sketched stuff depending on what I get into with the book.


Trapjaw, originally uploaded by AndyBartlett.

I added four pictures of recent drawings to Flickr; this is a goofy zombie variant of “Trap-Jaw” from He-Man. It’s pretty average, but is indicative to me of why I need to work more on my drawing. The ability is there, I just need to refine the technical stuff and practice a *lot* more.

Anyway. Check out the sidebar, over there –> or go to In addition to Trap-Jaw, I posted pictures of a two-page spread of just random sketches I did last night before bed and three pages of really genuinely dreadful sketches of Dr. Horrible I drew after I finished watching the “Sing-Along Blog” for the first time on April 10th.

More iPad stuff

I want to keep track of some iPad-related things I’ve run across today, so I’m going to dump them in here.

iPad Magazine Art Direction, from Vimeo:

AutoWeek’s iPad app demo:

InCase convertible iPad book jacket

Optimus Prime sketches: 3/3/2010

This is the two-page sketchbook spread I did at lunch today; I’m continuing to work on Optimus Prime from IDW’s ongoing Transformers comic series. The one on the left was done first and is pretty bad. The head is huge, the arms are too short and since I drew everything else so big I ran out of room for the legs. I gave up on it pretty quickly. The second one is better; head proportions are better, the chest and lower torso seem to work better, too. The arms aren’t good (too short, again), and the legs feel a little stumpy. But it’s a marked improvement over the first attempt, I think.

As I was about halfway through the second sketch, the parallels between the character designs in this book and Gundam became more blatantly clear to me. The basic skeleton and the elbow and knee joints have so many similarities to Gundam mecha that my next step in working on these should’ve been obvious to me a few days ago – drawing the posed, armor-free skeleton of my Master Grade Nu-Gundam model kit. That should provide the perfect base, from a structural perspective, for continuing to learn how to draw these damn things. I just have to dig that mother out of the basement tonight…

This makes me wish like hell that I still had my Perfect Grade RX-178 MkII

Drawing Transformers

I spent some time at lunch today goofing around with my sketchbook in between bites of leftover chick pea and tomato stew doing terrible little sketches of Optimus Prime out of the first issue of IDW’s ongoing “Transformers” series. The story is set a few years after the events of the “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” movie and the design is a nice combination of the classic Generation 1 look and the movie external aesthetic. The skeletal frames of the Transformers are tighter and more solid, similar to “Gundam,” actually, but the way individual parts of the vehicles separate and rotate to provide more depth and geometry to the exterior definitely owes itself to the film designs. Overall, I really like the style; it’s a nice balance between the simplicity of Generation 1 and the overwhelming complexity of the films.

There are several excellent drawings of Prime in the book; I have the second printing, so he’s featured solo on the cover, and there’s a full-page, full-body panel (albeit from a low ground perspective) as the issue’s last page. Several other good shots are scattered throughout the book as well.

In trying to work out the shapes today, I immediately noticed that he’s drawn with four entirely different shoulders in the book. On the cover they’re boxy and square without a lot of detail on the front face other than Autobot logos. Inside the front cover they’re similar in shape, altough a hexagonal inset detail has moved from the top to the bottom. On the two-page spread on pages 3 and 4, the shape is similar but the left-shoulder logo is gone and the inset detail is now on the outside; I wrote this off to the panel being a flashback. When he appears “for good” about midway through the issue, his shoulders are radically different – they’re six-sided instead of square and have two significant “panel line” details running through the front face. They remain with this design throughout the rest of the issue, including the last-page full-panel splash.

The differences in the design are going to make working this guy out to be a little more difficult; I’ll need to make sure things are consistent if I’m using one drawing as a reference to a hidden part of another.

I wish I was as good at drawing this stuff as I am about finding nit-picky little differences in the drawings like this… Even the four or five sketches I’ve done is a reminder of how insanely talented the original artist is. Practice, practice, practice.

March 1 update

I haven’t updated for awhile; I haven’t done much to update about, so there hasn’t been much to race over here and talk about.

Some things:

I’m trying to get back into drawing. I’ve picked up some more source material and have been scouring them there Internets for things to inspire me. There are a couple of books I’d like to check out, also – although it may be closer to my birthday in April before I actually buy any of them. So far, I’m running into the same sorts of things that I knew about me and drawing in college. I’m a respectable mimic – I can see something that another person has produced and I can make a reasonable copy of it (like the Boba Fett drawing I’ve been posting in-progress shots of on Facebook). But I haven’t done the work to develop the “artist’s memory” needed to conjure up much of anything on my own. I need some back-to-basics work on perspective, etc., and I want to put some more work into figure drawing and anatomy, starting probably with a crapton of stick-figure poses to work out relative size of body parts, etc. Lots to do; I just need to start making the time to do it.

I went into a comic book store yesterday and actually emerged with comics, which is probably the first time that’s happened since I was at a convention in Philadelphia about five years ago. I picked up the special Tomax and Xamot issue of “G.I. Joe: Cobra,” which is an OK story saved by a brilliant layout gimmick, and the first four issues of IDW’s “Transformers” series. I loved the character design and art in the Transformers books, and since they’re early issues there are a lot of full-body “hey, we’re introducing this character” drawings of the major Transformers like Optimus Prime, Jazz, etc. At first glance (I haven’t spent much time with the books), the design is a combination of the old-school Generation 1 stuff and the more modern and realistic Transformers from Michael Bay’s movies without being that over-the-top and ridiculous. I’ll spend more time with those this week.

I was also tempted by some “Aliens” and “Predator” books from Dark Horse, but thought I was spending enough on the G.I. Joe and Transformers stuff as it was without going completely insane in there.

Buying comics again was fun; I even had a little chat about comics in general with the wife of the guy who runs the comic store while she was ringing up my order. I was big-time into collecting comics in high school and college until the secondary market blew up like the Hindenburg around 1995. At one point, I probably had in the neighborhood of 5,000 books, although the vast majority of those were sold off almost 15 years ago. I brought the 150 or so that I didn’t part with home with me out of my parents’ basement and have had fun looking through them, and my resurgent interest in drawing has brought back my appreciation for the talent of the people who provide the art for those books; some of them do really amazing work. It also made me want to dump a bunch of money into the Batman trade paperbacks and graphic novels at Book World downtown, just because of the art. I held out — for now. I’ll probably try to hunt them down for cheap on eBay.

I saw a couple of movies with Mel this weekend – we rented “Inglourious Basterds” and “Black Dynamite” (well, I rented Dynamite; Mel had nothing whatsoever to do with that). “Basterds” was an OK movie that could’ve been amazing, suffering greatly from Quentin Tarantino’s excessive need to hear his characters talk about absolutely nothing that serves to move the film along. It was similar to “Death Proof” in many respects; when Brad Pitt’s character was on screen, “Basterds” was fantastic and, often, absolutely brilliant. When he wasn’t on the screen, the film was a nearly-insufferable bore fest that caused me to question the necessity of entire scenes. Death Proof was similar with its presentation of Kurt Russell’s character; when he was on screen, it was amazing. When he wasn’t, it was mind-numbingly boring.

“Black Dynamite” is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It was an absolutely perfect sendup of 1970s Blaxploitation films, and I laughed like an idiot through most of it. It was at the same time a detailed and meticulous tribute to an era that brought the world films like “Blacula” while at the same time being a straight satirical sendup of those same films. There’s a hilarious scene with an intentionally-visible boom mic and, later, a fabulous missed flim edit during a fight scene that reflect just how carefully this movie’s creators worked to replicate some of the absurdities of 1970s-era low-budget action movies. Those two scenes alone are worth the time spent to watch the movie; they’re amazing. “Black Dynamite” also features impossible trans-oceanic helicopter travel; teleporting heroes during kung-fu scenes; fantasic one-liners; and a closing fight scene with the film’s ultimate villain that you really just have to see to believe. I absolutely loved this movie.

Katie Can Draw

So, thanks to Twitter, today I discovered the existence of Katie Cook:

The site name isn’t hyperbole; she really can draw. Her work is fantastic, and she has a *lot* of it available for people like me to check out. Her subjects run the gamut of geekdom: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Battlestar Galactica, comic books, G.I. Joe, the works.

I really enjoy the opportunity to run across people like Katie, and be inspired and *completely* humbled by their amazing work. It makes me want to be better.