Jun 26, 2011

Derby Tattoo Design

Got asked a while back to design a a zombie roller derby tattoo. Here's some process. We discussed the design at the bar and thumbnailed it on a menu. Stole the menu. No big deal.

Let's have a roller derby zombie, and she's just cut the head off another derby girl zombie. Ok, I said, how about if she has the same pose as the statue of Perseus with the Gorgon's head? Yeah. Good, I like referencing classical mythology. Even when the new illustration is so very different from classical sculpture. This is about 1.5 inches tall:

Agree on the idea. Scan the thumbnail. Quickly refine the pose in Illustrator, make sure the design will fit on the arm, make sure the proportions are correct, make sure the composition has a nice flow, then run it by my friend again:

So far so good. She approves. I grab a slice of marker paper. It works as a good tracing paper, though nowhere near as transparent. It's also able to withstand erasing, and maintain a really bright, smooth surface. Avoid bond (or photocopy) paper. I then go over my Illustrator sketch in pencil:

Going back to pencil really allows you to add depth and life to the illustration. Check out how her hips get nice and curvy. Little bit of sexy chub on there. And speaking of sexy, when I showed this to her her my friend was happy, except she said that the face needed to be cute and not be quite so gross and dead. I agree.

Printed it out super-light (just add a photoshop layer of pure white over the art and set the opacity to 70% or so, that way you don't have to eff around with your actual art in photoshop), and then I redrew the head on top of that print. On this one, I made sure that I used a real helmet for reference. Always get the equipment correct, even when it's a cartoon. It matters.

The new face drops perfectly into place:
Rescanned that and went over it again in Illustrator. I kept the color palette simple (red, baby blue, pukey green and a dark blue to estimate the ink) and dropped it on top of an estimate of her skin color. The white highlights on the greenish skin are actually just clear, with no color. Use lots of solid black, and keep the lined areas clean and thin, so that the tattoo artist can decide how thick they should be. 

That's something to remember when you're asked to design a tattoo: the guy (or gal) who is actually doing the tattoo is also an artist. Don't be afraid to just send a rough sketch, or in some way allow him to have as much freedom as possible. If he gets pissed off because you treated him like a photocopier, the final product can reflect that. 

I would have been ok to just let the loose pencil sketch go to the tattoo artist, and tell him to take any liberties he wants, but In this case I was asked to go tighter. So I did:

Might be some more changes, but probably not much. I think this is pretty close to done.


Ok, so I didn't keep up the blog for the whole week I was away. Sorry. The hours were crazy. We were up until 2am (at the earliest) every night in the studio and then back up at 7 for breakfast. I had a migraine that lasted a couple of days straight, until I realized that it matched up with the food allergy that I used to get. Once I isolated that it was something at the salad bar (spinach is my only consistent foodstuff) that cleared up pretty quick and I was 100% for the rest of the week.

Anyhoo. It was an amazing week and I really was just amazed at the instructors as well as the students. The highest caliber, all around. I didn't finish my piece that I started there, in fact I brought it home with about 5 different painting styles on it. Learned so much solid technique. Can't say enough and I am already socking away money for next years' class.

Jun 14, 2011

IMC Day 3

Sorry, true-believers, no visual update today. What I can say is that I am thoroughly impressed by Mo Willems' design of art and text and the mental comprehension of each. My achievements include: I got my sketch mounted onto masonite board. Sure, I expected that it would be done by 10am, and it was actually done by 9pm, but it got done by plenty of sweat and effort and desperate please-please-work-so-I-can-move-on-with-this. I also drew in my gritty city background this evening and am ready to paint-paint tomorrow morning. I have preemptively requested lots of hand-holding as I embark on the painting aspect of this course. Will post my progress tomorrow night.

It's 3 am, and many people know my pet peeve of birds waking joyfully as I attempt to go to bed; it goes without saying that I'd like, LOVE to punch that bird in the face.

While I did enjoy whiskeys with a bunch of great artists this evening, I do miss all my dickhead friends. Yeah I'm looking at you.

Jun 12, 2011

IMC Day 2

Wait...it's only day 2? Holy shit. Had more great seminars today, some about designing concept art for films, evolution of personal artistic styles, nature vs nurture on the subject of talent (spoiler alert: I was right, it is about working hard and not about having a magic wand hit your head at birth). Made some more progress on my image. Starting to feel unsure about it, but this is where I always get shaky --when it comes to putting the brush on the canvas, or masonite. Had some good suggestions that affected some of my color decisions. Here's a color study, incomplete. Finish it tomorrow. Need some sleep.
Looks like I'm skipping my run again tomorrow morning.

Jun 11, 2011

IMC Day 1

Just finished the first day here at the IMC. Had a critique of my sketch by Scott Allie, Donato Giancola, Scott Fischer and Jeff Mack. Yes, those guys are all instructors. They generally had good things to say about my sketch and I definitely feel better about it. I didn't have much time to get my idea together this week. This afternoon I pushed forward with the image, adding detail and trying to figure out what to do with that pesky front arm and tailpipes. Of the five assignments, I went with the one that was most outside my comfort zone and then promptly knocked that fucker right back into my comfort zone, haha. Actually, people seem to be into the idea that this dragon is a departure from fantasy.

I intend to have a finished piece by weeks end. We learned how to properly mount drawings to masonite this evening and am planning to mount this one and finish it that way. A little bit surreal at times. At one point today I was working, rocking out with Wolfmother in my headphones, and I noticed Boris Vallejo had been looking over my shoulder.

The faculty is incredible, and great at teaching as well as masters in their respective fields. 

My rough sketch, 18x24":

Moving forward:

More to say tomorrow.

Jun 10, 2011

Illustration Master Class

Sorry. I've neglected this blog for quite some time. The story is that I've been busting ass day and night to clear my workload so I can effectively disappear for a week. Today I'm leaving for Amherst to attend the Illustration Master Class. Basically, I'll be learning technique from some of the masters of fantasy art. We arrive at class with sketches and ideas of a piece we'd like to accomplish during the week. I had to choose from three categories, and the very first category I ruled out was Dragons. I like sci-fi, man! But the more I thought about it, the more I warmed to the category and the liberties I could take within it.

Here's my thumbnail of my idea. Apparently I really dig girls riding cyborgs. Tightening this up right now for the initial crit.

I'll try and blog every day.