Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gators and Tikis

A fun project came my way last spring. I was hired to help a local entrepreneur with a logo for a restaurant with a tropical theme. The project took several twists and turns with many name changes along the way —due mostly to the frenzied timeline the project was under.

I'm happy to say that I did take the logo to it's finished form, and it came out fine —although far less kitschy. I hope to post it at a later date. In the meantime, I'll share some of my favorite critters I've met along the way.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Carol!

This is a relative quickie that I did for my daughter's birthday. She requested a hamster and unicorn. My first impulse was to to explain to her that unicorns and hamsters don't go together.
I was forgetting the cardinal rule of artists and children.
With children, everything goes together. It's the artist's job to deal with it, until the kid is proven correct.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mammoth Cave

This is a t-shirt design I created last month for my cousin's Boy Scout outing to Mammoth Cave. I had some fun creating it, and I'm waiting to post some commercial work, so I'll add some background info. about the process.

First comes the brainstorming and the sketches. I knew before I started that I was going to print a light color on a dark shirt, and that flashlights would be involved. I also knew that Mammoth Cave has nothing to do with the woolly creatures, but I've never been one to pass down the chance to draw a weird extinct animal, so I started with this:

This sketch was the first idea that entered into my head, and it was quickly obvious to me that it was too wordy and complex to make an effective design. I thought it was funny, so I sketched it up anyway, quickly hashing in some copy.

I then tried a simpler mammoth sketch. This was probably my favorite concept, and compositionally, I think it's the strongest. Even though the sketch is really rough, I felt it had a great deal of potential.

the sketch below was the one the scouts picked. —and in retrospect, a great choice.

I sometimes worry that my humor will be seen as trivializing the target audience, and let's face it —I am. Luckily, teenage boys have a sense of humor about themselves, so this concept moved on.

Once the basic idea was established, The first thing I had to do was get used to seeing the art as it would be printed: light-on-dark. A few minutes on Photoshop got me this:

Finally satisfied with the sketch, I started rendering the final art.
Some details were changed when I rendered the figures: I pushed the lankier kid behind the pudgy one and tilted him a bit toward the center.

Then I scanned in the new art and turned my focus to the text, attempting to replicate the type on the cave ceiling.

I played around with several creepy fonts, and applied a 3-D rotating filter to the type until I felt I had something appropriate. I was happy to arrive at a configuration that improved upon the sketch, even though that meant re-drawing some of the image to get it to work.

I also used the computer to add the goofy shadows to the kids' faces. I was a bit apprehensive about killing the kids' facial expressions, but I felt that the shadows added a lot to the humor, so I went ahead.

With the artwork 90% complete, I tried some color variations, exploring some trendier color combos before deciding that an acid yellow-green on plain black served the artwork best.

Before releasing the art, I added shadows to the stalactites in the foreground, re-drew the beams from the flashlights, and made some subtle changes to the bat.

That's about it —the final image is at the top of the post.
In parting, I'd like to give a plug to The T-shirt Company in Cincinnati who did a fantastic job with the printing. Thanks, Tim!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I was stranded in a waiting room at a service station for two hours yesterday. I brought a book and my favorite quad-pad and spent the whole time doodling.

I can't say every one of these sketches is a gem, but I like several of them , and the page as a whole has a lot to say about my personal approach to sketchbook-keeping —I don't keep one. I do keep a click-pencil handy though, and prefer to draw on whatever substrate is at hand. Ironically, the best ideas tend to show up on the most unlikely scraps. When something strikes me as interesting, I cut it out and pin it to a board in my studio. (These very pages will be sliced and edited in a day or two.)