Sunday, March 28, 2010

SeaWorld, San Diego

I know, I know, it's been a while since I've posted, especially since for a couple months I was actually posting a couple times a week. I've been pretty busy. A week or two ago I got hired to draw caricatures for Kaman's Art Shoppes at SeaWorld, San Diego! I'll be starting sometime probably in mid-May.

I had been considering my options for the summer for a few months, and after getting turned down for my private caricature stand proposal by my local amusement park, Canobie Lake, and not necessarily wanting to return to Six Flags, New England for a 4th season with so few friends returning, I imagined the impossibly ideal: drawing in San Diego with the Beastheads: Brian Oakes, Nate Kapnicky, Andy Urzua, Beau Hufford, Aaron Philby, Francesca Nunez and more whose work I have yet to be graced with. If you haven't already checked out their blog (or even if you have, check it out again), bask in the amazingness:

Of course, living here currently in New Hampshire made this idea seem like quite a leap of faith (and a leap of location), and that was besides the fact that I wasn't sure whether I would even make it past the interview and be considered for the job, provided that Kaman's was even looking for new hires in the first place.

Aaron recommended I speak to Brian, and a week or so later after a few email exchanges I was talking live via Skype video chat to Brian and Beau who were 3 hours behind my time over there in San Diego. Ever since hearing back from Brian a few days later with the go-ahead, I've been so excited about moving out there and working with those guys that I've actually been having trouble sleeping.

I've started to put in some practice time into using the markettes and art stix they use, which are really quite different from pencil and airbrush (as I'm sure you can imagine), as I'm accustomed to using. If you can't imagine it, or you simply prefer differences being presented as useless and rather stupid mathemillumustrations, then feast your eyes:

I'll be spending the next few weeks putting more practice into that and into getting used to drawing cartoon bodies, the classic SeaWorld animals (sharks, dolphins and whales) and the less popular animals (walruses, turtles, seals, polar bears, fish, etc.). I know I'll get used to drawing those animals pretty quickly once I get out there, but I'd like to be at least a little prepared for the job as well. We didn't draw too many themes or backgrounds at Six Flags, but that kind of stuff is their specialty (along with the obligatory beasting of innocent faces), so I'm eager for the challenge now that I'm a bit more comfortable with drawing caricatures in general. Three years of practice will do that for ya.

Alright, enough blogging; back to practicing!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Flight of the Conchords

Here are Bret and Jemaine from the great show "Flight of the Conchords" on HBO. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing it, there's a plethora of deliciously dry, British-type sitcom/mockumentary humor mixed with unpredictable, funny song parodies of music from a range of different genres. A very different, fun and catchy show if you've got an offbeat sense of humor and a love for the brilliantly stupid. You can find pretty much all their songs on youtube, for starters.

I decided to use nero lead with watercolor for the first time on watercolor paper. I think I prefer the contrast of those dark and thick lines to the rest of the page compared to the more subtle contrast of 4B graphite. It really makes the figures POP! all that much more. I'm a big fan of contrast. Some pieces don't need as much contrast, but with everything going on in the piece, I found it necessary.

For a while I wasn't sure how I would go about drawing the city scape, which is featured on their official poster and on DVD menu screens and made for a great solution of what to occupy the background with. The lines are fairly consistent in width and are also about as thin as you can draw with nero. That being said, as nero is a type of lead, it needs to be sharpened by rubbing it onto a piece of paper until it comes to a chiseled point, and for extremely thin lines, this needs to be done every few seconds.

An obvious solution came to me after finishing with the linework of the figures. I had several black gel-ink pens which smudge easily but were the perfect width for the linework and had a great fluidity that allowed me to nearly perfectly duplicate the look of that cityscape. I first tried one out on a scrap piece of watercolor paper, and without really even trying was able to duplicate the look of the poorly drawn but perfect-for-the-show skyline drawing. I figured out basic placements and compositions of buildings with light pencil and then went in with the pen, really not spending much time on it, and intending to do that so as to really capture the look of the original.

The next dilemma came from how to go about painting the sky around the figures in a single watercolor wash. Luckily for me, when I checked out a dvd menu screen for reference of the cityscape, there were swirly clouds in the sky, which not only added the whimsical and fun quality of the show but also broke up the blue of the sky so that I could paint that blue in 5 washes instead of 1. Much easier.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this (the negative space of this piece is something I really worked and focused on this time), and it's probably one of the best caricature illustrations I've done if not the very best. Ahhh, progress!!