Thursday, October 31, 2013

Action Figures!

Action Figures. 2013.
Photoshop,  5 x 7 original.

While I haven't produced many eerie illustrations for Halloween, I have been busy on some big projects! First up, this accompaniment for an editorial article for "Cool and Collected" magazine, a Kickstarter funded publication about vintage toys and other elements of collectable pop culture. The project still has a week to go at the time of this posting. Read more about it here!

The article itself is about repeat buying and variant collecting. Basically how collectors can get into the habit of purchasing toys based on all the alternative versions of a single character.


In order to give the client an idea of the kind of vision I was shooting for in the finished piece, I created a collage of images that showcased a single character's diverse appearances over time.


My first idea involved a collector picking up a toy, only to discover that he is surrounded and overwhelmed my this action figure's relatives and predecessors. While this notion presented the sense of pressure with all the potential purchases weighing on his shoulders and some fun personality possibilities with each toy interacting with the buyer. However, both the client and myself were wary of putting a face to the toy collecting market so it was mutually decided to nix this one. 

The second sketch reversed the original scenario. Turning the front figure around so that he is still confronted and burdened by all the different types of toys. This ended up being the design chosen by my client. 

I put forth a third sketch of a high angle shot with the original doll mint-in-box surrounded by the successor toys, eliminating the collector character altogether. 


Originally this was just going to be black and white with some basic color thrown over top. But then I ran into trouble trying to depict different types of textures, both cloth and plastic, in such a graphical representation. Since I had a full two weeks to put this together (and was doing the piece pro-bono) it presented the opportunity to play with some Photoshop tools I had been wanting to tinker with but may not have had the time otherwise. I figure "I've got all this time, I may as well experiment and perhaps have a little bit of fun along the way." 

Working in multiple layers with varying opacity was great for rendering this translucent clip-on armor

Working this way was something very new and different for me. I'm certain that it could get better and would be very interested in any comments on how I could build on this coloring crossroads for future pieces!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

LOEB: Sketch Studies - Jason Vorhees

It seems that the Halloween season has snuck up on me once more and I've been so busy getting my act together that I've gotten behind in my horror movie watching and monster drawing. Not only have I failed to hold up the holiday, but I've also forsaken my country in its time of need. Woe is me!

I never have this problem around Christmastime. Maybe its because I know I'll lose my soul if I don't watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "How the Grinch stole Christmas".

At least I can say I've kept with the spirit of the season by listening to all sorts of spooky tunes like the best of Bernard Hermann, Roy Webb's scores for the Val Lewton features, classical pieces such as Toccata and Fugue in D Minor or breakaway pop hits like "Ghostbusters" or "Thriller". Though most of these are already first in my audio quiver so I don't know if that really counts as anything special. 

Something I had been putting together in anticipation of All Hallow's Eve is some rough sketches that I hoped might develop or inspire full fledged illustrations.


Its times like this when I'm grateful for my Waccom tablet, which can capture the spontaneity of a quick pencil sketch by simply scanning it in and tracing over it, adding and subtracting details as necessary without the hassle of needing to start from scratch to try something new.

Looking at it again, the original Jason sketch on the upper left seems to have been inspired by the loose geometrics, broad torso and skinny legs of another monster; Killer Croc as seen on Batman: The Animated Series.

Speaking of aquatic monster men; Achivements in Gaming pays tribute to the Golden Age Gillman!
Other Monsters from the League:
* Brian recollects The Monster Times!
* Batfan goes old school!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Summer Bummer Colors

This is a piece I did this past August called "Summer Bummer". You can read about the process behind it here.

Lately, I've been looking to reorganize my portfolio and figured that the changing leaves shouldn't be the only color we get around here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Eeek! Johnson Thriller-strator

I've gotten hooked on Twitter in the past month and have noticed a number of my contemporaries making Halloween themed alternations to their names. For example Michael May is now Homichaelical Maynaic, Evan "Doc" Shaner is now Doc Frankenshaner, and more. Since I've been a bit behind on creating something for Halloween I figured I would make some similar alterations to my profile and portrait.

For the remainder of the month I will be operating as Eeek! Johnson (@IllustratorErik). Mind you, that's Eeek! with a K.

Theres a full moon tonight. Things are going to get hairy. 

I was inspired to do something in the vein of the publicity photos of Lon Chaney Jr. for his role as The Wolf Man and with my facial hair, it was an easy look to emulate. You can imagine my surprise when I finished the picture this morning only to discover that there is indeed a full moon this weekend. Talk about timing!

Because I love to share the things that inspire my work, here are are some of the photos I was looking at while drawing this new self portrait. Also, I accidentally took a screencap of myself posing to match the monster which is just too amusing not to share as well. 

Have a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Penguin Project

Here's a project that I was working on around the time I was also working on the Harley Quinn page. It was a collaborative effort with a client looking to create a webcomic about the domestic life of penguins. Here we have Frank, a stay at home dad and his wife Margie, the corporate breadwinner. (We didn't have a name for this series going in, but I would have campaigned for a pun name like "Ice Pop".)

Unfortunately its been weeks since I last heard from my collaborator so I think this comic may be effectively sunk. However I thought I might share some sketches and talk about my thoughts to perhaps serve as an example to future clients as to how I work through my projects.

My earliest ideas weren't much more than actual penguins in human clothes, albeit very boxy. They got a little rounder and more anthropomorphized in later drawings.

This is Frank. I thought it would good to establish his character by showing him taking on a typical "Dad" activity. I choose grilling because it was the last thing you would expect to see a penguin do. 

I also tried to distance these drawing from being animals just wearing clothes by juxtaposing components from one part of their character into another. In this case, I shaped the orange patterning on the back of a penguin's head to try and resemble the kind of crown you would see on a middle aged balding man. The coloring on his chest was also meant to emulate manly chest hair.

This is Margie. Since she was supposed to appear very professional I looked to photos of classy actresses like Meryl Strep and Glenn Close for inspiration. This was helpful when it came to designing hair without resorting to just putting a penguin in a wig. Plus it was another great opportunity to blend two aspects of the character together, by flowing the black and white patterning from a penguin directly into her business suit.

My sketch of her on the left came off as looking too snobby especially with all the upward lines in her hair. For my second sketch I shortened her beak and made her hair bigger, but also simpler.
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