Category Archives: Sketch of the Day
Just some mindless doodling while watching a movie the other night. It’s nothing special, just started with a fire hydrant and ended up drawing video-game references. No Wacom this time… good old-fashioned 8×11.5, 6B pencil on 100% post-consumer paper.
After reading Animal Farm, I was interested in the pictures Orwell painted to the two pig leaders, Napoleon and Snowball. I thought they would be perfect for a couple of crazy character sketches. I learned, though, that there’s just not that much brought out visually, especially with the limitation that snowball can’t use clothing or anything. I definitely pictured him as a rambo-type guerrilla.
For some reason, this single sketch comes back to me more often than any other Sesame Street bit. Funny, I still don’t eat enough vegetables.
Another artist I would love to be like is Scott McCloud (whose home online is at ScottMcCloud.com). He’s probably given more thought to his art than any other artist I’ve encountered; Scott strives to understand and to share his understanding of the comic. He has carefully analyzed the place comics hold within the worlds of art and communication, studying concepts of abstraction, representation, meaning, space, time and language. And like the best minds in software (*cough* Knuth *cough*) he documents the medium from within itself, producing meta-comics that use a visual vocabulary to describe that vocabulary to us. The result is some of the most clear and intentional work you will ever see. Scott exemplifies the idea that comics can be an extremely clear mode of communication, so much so that he was hired to write the documentation for Google Chrome. Go read it. Now.
Scott is also pushing the boundaries of how technology (specifically the internet) can and will change cartoons, comics, and the visual arts. His TED talk is an entertaining look at his work in this area in under 20 minutes. Scott, thanks for blazing trails and then helping the rest of us to follow!
Here’s another sketch tribute to one of my earliest art heroes: Mark Kistler, television drawing teacher! He’s got a site over at Draw3D.com. I still have never seen Mark on TV, but as a young boy I was given the Imagination Station book and tore through its pages, learning important concepts such as foreshortening, perspective, and shading. Just as important, Mark has a way with making everything bigger, better, more more more! He loves to add fantastic details that make his cartoons more cartoony than just about any I have ever seen. He taught me that “Drool is cool!”, that if a three-story castle is good, a thirty-story castle must be even better, and when in doubt, cram as many windows, doors, ladders, waterfalls, banners, propeller hats, people and pencils as possible into your drawing. And shade everything! The clutter may not always be tasteful, but it was the best drawing practice a kid could possibly get. Mark was such a good teacher through his book that in sixth grade I used it to teach a drawing lesson to my class. If you know an aspiring young cartoonist, I can’t recommend any book more than Mark’s.
Mark, you’re one of my art heroes! Thank you!
I thought that while I’m getting back into sketching I should say thank you to some artists that I really admire and would like to imitate. First up is Scott Johnson over at MyExtraLife.com. Scott’s artwork has always struck me as sort of Muppet-ish, and coming from me that’s a compliment. Not only is his drawing fantastic and distinctive, his sense of humor is terrific. If you dig through his enormous comic archive you will find comics that are witty, droll, or just plain weird. To seal the deal, he frequently makes fun of Mario. Scott, your work is awesome and you are one of my art heroes!
While drawing this picture I figured out how to assign GIMP‘s eraser tool to the eraser on my tablet. I had been wondering why it didn’t work. Now I know you can assign any tool to each end of the pen, which is pretty amazing. I’ll have to experiment with using smudge or blur for the eraser.