Tuesday, October 12, 2010

to every kid who ever got picked last in art class

I got some new Ronin Dojo Community College DX artwork finished up. Hum some Pokemon music and watch this one evolve. Dum dum dum dum. . .

Did some experimenting with a lot of elements in these. I really wanted the characters to pop off their surroundings, but I didn't want to paint everything by hand. Since I had drawn the characters and the background on separate layers in Photoshop, I decided I would just make the background lines lighter.

When coloring, I selected each background object using the magic wand, expanded the selection at least 3 or 4 pixels into the line, and filled it with the paint bucket on it's own layer. This really bit deep into my line, and made each layer essentially over lap one another.

I stacked the layers in the order they actually be on each other. Then I dropped the line layer down to 30% opacity. This left the line slightly gray, and because I had 'over filled' each object, no uncolored white space showed through.



I also added in shadows and highlights with a textured brush, and made a layer with the blending mode set to "overlay" and lightly brushed some flat areas to give them a faux, painted feel. Again, an attempt to make the characters stand out from the background.


For a final touch, I tried putting a slight airbrushed vignette around the edges. To help keep the focus. Just brushed some black on a layer with the blending mode set to "overlay".

I'm still experimenting with diff ways to color and paint backgrounds, if anyone has suggestions I'd love to hear them. I'd really like to try some with no lines at all, but that might involve just straight up painting in Photoshop. That is not my forté. Also, these three drawings will have text on them, if you're wondering why there's so much extra space on the top and bottom.

Side note: messy rooms are a pain to draw. Lots of details, lots of colors to pick out. But it pays to push yourself extra mile, otherwise it just feels empty and flat. If you can't push yourself to do it, just find someone to yell at you about it. I had Ms. Jordie Bellaire on my case this time around.

I need to get better with my background details I think, more photo reference or something. There is an awesome example of a fully fleshed out, messy room over at Meaghan Carters blog. Great specifics. It's the little things. . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rough Drawings from a Person Who Does What Is Roughly Considered Drawing

Here are some rough pieces of Ronin Dojo Community College DX artwork I've been working on. Thought I'd share them with the interwebs.

These first couple might be used for posters. I was attempting to work in some interesting angles; trying to emulate the classic epic, anime ensemble pose. I had to keep pushing myself to make the gestures feel kinetic and alive. Still don't think I pushed it far enough.

More fun with perspective and faking a fish eye lens type effect. In this one, you can see an unmasked version of David, the mysterious third nerd from IM IN UR MANGER KILLING UR SAVIOR.

A more standard use of perspective with this one. Unlike photography and live action, cartoons don't have that inherent sense of depth. You have to go out of your way to build up that sense of space and reality. If someone had battered me over the head with the rules of perspective starting when I was like five- maybe I'd have mastered it by now.

While working on these, I was paging through Rad Sechrist's blog, along with the Art Center blog he contributes to. Lot of great tips and inspiration up there. Definitely check it out if you're an animator, illustrator or if you like ducks in steam punk looking suits.

I'll try to be a little Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance here, and say that it's a good thing that I'm 27 and still learning about drawing and animation. Embarrassing, but good.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Going Digital Saves You The Pain of Trashing Stuff

Phew, it feels good to be back on the ol' internet. For a couple months I was on a little work hiatus. As in a hiatus from being on the internet because of work. Not to be confused with a hiatus from working, or the 1954 B-Movie Hiatus From The Black Lagoon.

So now that I have nothing going, what better to do than blog.

I took a little break and went back home to Maryland. My parents requested I clear out some of the mess I've accumulated in the basement storage room, or they'd call whoever cleans up the houses on Hoarders. During my digging and crying, I ran across a couple boxes worth of animation.

This represents only a fraction of For Tax Reasons' work. I think some of IM IN UR MANGER is in there, the heads from the G.O.P. P.S.A.'s, and part of my Got My Number music video.

It's almost as tall as Marley! And would be even taller if Matt and I didn't cut so many corners when we animate. Of course, if we didn't cut any corners, we'd probably only have two shorts online.

I kept a few of the drawings, but threw most of them into the recycling bin. They're all scanned and saved on various hard drives; pretty pointless to keep around. Even if I became ridiculously famous in some bizarre twist of fate, nobody would ever want the majority of these drawings. Since Matt and I work with so many layers and libraries, they're mostly bodies without heads and random arms:


The only way someone would EVER want those drawings is if I become a crazy eccentric billionaire- and after I die Sotheby's auctions off my state and includes them in some 2 for 1 deal with a real live genetically engineered Centaur. Only then would somebody MAYBE want those drawings. Fancy auctions do 2 for 1 deals, right?

As you can see, I work hard to validate my decisions to toss anything.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Last post with a weather theme

My lasts two posts referenced the snow, and this one again is about the weather. I know, very mundane. But I was super pysched about it getting a tiny bit warm in New York. So I drew this.

Initially, I couldn't decide which warm weather outfit to put her in- so I made outfits for each season. I was pretty much playing dress up with my drawings. Whatever, I'm comfortable with that. I may break up each figure and make a separate season surrounding for them. I dunno.

Everyone in New York gets excited when it's a tad bit warmer. We're so brutally demoralized by walking in the winter, that any warmth feels like the Keys or something. Ok, enough weather talk.

In other news, I've almost finished updating the Ronin Dojo Community College DX heads. Last up, Mark. If you can't tell the difference between the old and the new- JUST LOOK AT HOW CROOKED THOSE EYES ARE. Man, so glad I have guides in Photoshop.

I also gave a little update to the For Tax Reasons website banner and logo. Following the nice pixel art tutorial on Derek Yu's site. I took our old logo:

And made this!
Whoops, that ear should be self-lined. Whatever, this won't probably stay as is for long. I am totally losing my hair, so eventually this will have to be updated to reflect Bald Ben. Comparing the two logos you can see I receded my hair line a little bit to keep it true to life.

Anyways, thanks to Derek Yu. That tutorial is super helpful. Also, thanks to Andrew WK. I just came back from his NYC show, and oh man it was awesome! I partied so hard I got diarrhea. Shwarma is not the thing to eat before you're gonna go jump up and down for an hour. I can't stop telling people about this.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Stopping Me Part II: Bad Boy. Can't Stop. Snown't Stop.

Last time I updated, it was totally snowing. And now I'm updating again- and it's totally snowing again! What are the odds of that. . . in the month of February.

Well, it's fitting because this post is kind of a sequel to the last post. I'm still fixing up the head library for Ronin Dojo Community College DX. Right now I'm on Barry. Watch him evolve:


Eh the skull was kinda just for fun. I don't know why I drew everyone with such flat pointy heads, and hair stuck straight to them. It just goes to show how much your skills can progress even within a few years. Or if you want to see it half empty- it just goes to show that you never know how much you suck until it's too late.

And in continuing with the sequel-ity of this update. Here are the t-shirt designs I finished for the band The Heat Machine.

And here's the other one I posted the other week that the band didn't end up using.

I hope they turn out good on the shirts.

I was gonna draw another snowy girl drawing, but I already did a lot of drawing today and I'm all drawed out. So next time, another girly drawing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

There Snow Stopping Me From Updating

Yeah, that was the best snow pun I could come up with. It's snowing all across the Mid Atlantic and Upper Atlantic of these United States, so I'll start off with a little drawing I whipped up in honor of all the snow days.

Kinda boring I know. Not as fun as Ian's snow sketch.

Now for the news. Mr. Matt Burnett (the other half of For Tax Reasons) and I had a fun radio interview last Friday. We called in to the Popmedia Primecast, to have a chat with Dom and Dusty. The show was originally broadcast on KANE Radio AM 1240 but you can listen to the whole episode in mp3 format here. We kinda rambled a lot, so if you get bored with hearing our voices, check out the other episodes they've got posted. There are some sweet guests talking about fun nerdy pop culture stuff.

In other For Tax Reasons news, I've started updating all the head files for the Ronin Dojo Community College DX characters.
They were originally drawn on paper and scanned in. So I'm redrawing them straight into the Photoshop using my Cintiq. Making them hi res enough for HD, and doing some slight redesigns along the way. And by that I mean, fixing my shitty drawings.

I've also been working on some sketches for this band The Heat Machine. They're an awesome ska band from Nebraska, or NebraSKA as I say. I definitely urge any third wave fans to go to their myspace and check 'em out. One of my favorite new bands out there for sure. Or at least, new to me. They just released a "No Coast Dance Party" on Asbestos Records. BUY IT. It is good.


Not sure which of these we're gonna use, but I thought I'd post the roughs here anyways.

That's all for nows, I'll post the final stuff when it's done.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Sites!

So after spending a couple weeks wrapped in code, I've finished redesigning the websites for both For Tax Reasons and Ben Levin Dot Net. They're a bit easier to maneuver and link around, and no more ancient iframes.

I also drew some new banner artwork for my site. I call it A Circle Pit Landscape. Here it is in stages- as I like to present things.




Also, the Teenage Bottlerocket video is up on Youtube. Now you can watch it in sharp HD quality. Thanks goodness, I didn't sit around for months drawing in 5806 x 4158 pixel Photoshop canvas' for so everyone could watch a small chunky compressed version. I sat around for months drawing in
5806 x 4158 pixel Photoshop canvas' for so everyone could watch a sharply compressed version. Oh yeah. So sharp you could cut Gouda on it. Go ahead and put a hunk up to your screen and (as Bravo says) watch what happens.




Monday, January 18, 2010

New Stuff For 2010!

Finally, some new stuff coming out. Firstly, you might have noticed I've got a new blog header. Thank goodness, that other one was old and had not aged well. If you want to see a bigger version, you can check it out on my Flickr photostream.

In a year, I'll probably be sick of this header too. Maybe even a couple months. Hell, I may not like this drawing tomorrow. Man, you know what? This drawing is crappy. I'm scrapping the blog altogether.

Ah, I can't do that. Not while you were halfway through reading this post. Or if you're a bot, skipping straight to the bottom so you can make nonsensical comments about iPhones. So time for the second bit of news.

I finished my Teenage Bottlerocket music video for the song "Bigger Than Kiss"!



It's premiering today on Myspace in the videos section right up there with Three Six Mafia and JD from Le Tigre. What a motley crew.

Really glad to have it done and out for the public to see. Hope people like it. If not, well screw you, I drew it all by myself.

If you still haven't bought the new album, They Came From The Shadows, I highly suggest you do. Got onto a lot of Top of 2009 lists on Punknews.org, and if bearded Lawrence Arms fans like it, it's gotta be good.

I believe that's the last of the leftover projects from 2009, so I'm ready to tackle 2010. Matt and I have some new For Tax Reasons projects planned, most importantly a new Ronin Dojo Community College DX series. So stay tuned to your internet tubes.