Sunday, July 29, 2007

July = Tee design month?

I'm really glad to have my new site up and running. Updating the site is a lot easier when I'm happy with how it looks (not to mention that it functions perfectly, which is always a plus).

I had planned to do another video blog, but I got two great contracts a few days after my last update. I was invited to do a Threadless Select shirt and I had an offer to do a shirt for Oddica. Both of these were cool in that I got to dictate the subject matter and do my own thing. Oddica offered some poignant art direction and made the whole thing much better, too. I love when the people I'm working with get my concept and I'm happier when they have input that makes it better.

If you haven't been to Oddica, go. Just the other day, as I got a vegan hummus wrap from my daily lunch stop, the employee behind the counter offered me a free sandwich, 'cause, "You always come in with the coolest shirts. You can have my daily sandwich." He broke his jaw not long before and couldn't eat it anyway. Protein shakes and soup, for him, I guess. Ouch.

However, Oddica = free lunch. You can't beat that with a stick.

I'm usually a black pocket-tee sorta guy, but one of the advantages of doing a lot of tee designs this past year has been the freebies. I haven't bought a shirt in about six months. Well, except for a few Herbivore items, but I'm doing work for them now, too. The magazine/shop is for a cause I believe in, and I offered to do some stuff pro bono, but they insisted I at least take store credit. That's fine with me. They have a bunch of awesome vegan cookbooks and gear. I'm eying my recycled bicycle inner-tube belt as I type this. Really rad.

Anyhow, I wanted to post some progress shots for the Threadless Select shirt, which was the first thing on my daunting list of freelance.


Tee in Progress

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's him. It's DINGUS!

That is the name.

From Monkey Popsicle To Dust

Found this the other day and had to share. I scraped together a pile of stuff for future viewing on the ol youtube, I was surprised at how many full length movies are actually on there. You can see my collected favorites here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Pit

Here's an in progress very small area of my Lovecraft triptych that's near complete. A foggy hole in the ground that reveals an abyss of monsters. There's a horror movie monster that I dropped in there as an easter egg but I might take it out. Can you guess which of the beasts is from a movie?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Retro halftones & you. The musical.

My new site,, is up. Let me know what you think!

Retro Halftone Detail
Detail of Metalman Project submission. Full image here.

While compiling a few prominent pieces for inclusion in my portfolio (I've only got about half the eventual work I want to be displayed up at the moment), it became pretty obvious that I have a penchant for super-saturated, retina searing hues layered with volumetric lines as halftones (the stuff that conjures images of Charles Burns - I swear, I hadn't seen his stuff before a friend sent a copy of Black Hole to me).

Volumetric Lines as Halftones Example

That being said, I still want to dry and distance myself, a bit, or at least get a few more tools under my belt, so I'm not a one trick pony (or labeled derivative, not that there haven't been tons of examples of this sort of shading in the halls of history, 'cause there are). I've done some digital painting and, while it doesn't turn out bad, linework is still my first love, so it was natural to try some hatching instead of some mixing.

The first attempts at something like this come in the forms of a colored version of the Metalman piece in my portfolio (see above) and a cheesy, joke "seal" I slap on friend request approvals on the popular social networking sites (see below).

In the former, rather than stack patches of halftoned colors, I used solids inside of the linework and then applied a Photoshop filter to achieve the old, newsprint comic look. In the latter, I used a basket-weave-like hatch that I've seen used elsewhere but can't place the name of and the most common forms of crosshatching and feathering.

The Official Ray Frenden Seal of Quality
That's the giant, cheesy self-portrait ripe for use on social networking sites. I've got an account with most the usual suspects: Virb, MySpace, Livejournal, Flickr.

While I like the outcome, it feels a little more sterile than my other work. What do y'all think? This'll definitely require more tinkering.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Writing process, character design, art direction...

I'm in the middle of writing a webisodicly distributed graphic novel. It's not meant to be good or to publishable, even, but rather to work some story telling kinks out for myself. If I have to switch narrators or narrative perspective halfway through, so be it, etc. I just want the practice and I may as well share the process and the product of the labor with everyone.

I've got an outline and the seeds of the scifi story pretty firmly planted. It seems that character based stories do better than plot based ones, (and those with a nice mix of both doing even better than that) so that's where I've tried to focus.

From a visual design standpoint, I'm looking back to old comics from Gold Key and EC and adding a bit of Wes Anderson on top of that. It's the quirky character designs that seemed to dictate their personality, motivation and, ultimately, story for me.

Character Sketches

Sometimes I find it's easier to start a drawing and let the visual aspects of the character conjur some traits as a bit of a brain storm. Lots of pages of my sketchbook are filled with a quickie sketch and a possible backstory, general personality type, or the motivation for the type of character represented visually.

The drawings don't have to be "good" and the character directions don't have to stick. They just need to get my mind going.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm barbecuing up some steak, listening to Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (the kind of immigrant i'm rather fond of) & posting this show flier i knocked off, featuring Lemmy of Motorhead as a Chaos Thug.
We come from the land of the ice & snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow. The hammer of the gods, Will drive our ships to new lands, To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tone Of Extreme Phantasy

Here's the first night's work of my digital Lovecraft piece. The concept from the Commonplace book is "man transformed to island or mountain." You can't see it yet but the center will have a pyramid/mountain structure that I'll be building up motifs of bones, internal organs, distorted faces, etc to showcase man becoming mountain. I'm a sucker for detail so I'll have a lot more going on around that, labyrinthine passages, wild arrays of creatures flying, crawling, oozing and drifting. My digital process starts off with just throwing a pile of found photos and art that reflects the direction I want to go in across a loose composition that will be tightened with each following layer. This is around 60 layers and with 3 - 4,000 more layers to go everything seen here will be covered up. It will be interesting to see the difference in the final version and this opening sketch. This will be a triptych stretching 18 x 36 inches so this is the biggest I've gone with digital imagery. It's gonna be a mother fucker to get done in the next 2 months.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Finally a monster, and even a real Geat Old One! According to wikipedia, "Shudde M'ell is the supreme regent of the chthonians, a horrifying race of burrowing creatures, and is probably the largest and most malignant member of his kind. "

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mr. Bickle

I'm definitely mildly obsessed with Taxi Driver. The imagery of the film is a constant source of inspiration for me as evidenced by the three or so pieces a year that have come like clockwork.

I decided to approach this piece as a tee design. I've had a few people comment on previous Bickle efforts, asking for shirts, and I thought doing an illustration with a limited color approach would do me good. I've been writing a lot more than drawing lately, and I could use the practice.

Travis Bickle


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Multi Necken

Sketch of a reptilian beast with twisting turning heads that resemble masks.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Professor and the Bum

Two more illustrations... sorry, no monsters yet.