Friday, 30 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 5: The End!

At last, I've reached the end of my art save project...well, there's one more but that's a whole illustration rather than just a figure and I can't figure out why it's so bad so that's for sometime down the road, as are two characters I want to draw again so less restoration and more of completely new versions.

Anyway, these are the last of them for now, so from the top:

After fiddling with resizing and tweaks, the previously saved version still felt wrong proportion wise so I just gave in and drew a whole new upper body. Think this works a lot better now and glad I can finally lay this Frankenstein's monster to rest...

Next the middle pic. I actually had nothing against the original version except it was done as a request for somebody and the face looked a bit generic and not really like the subject (I had no reference to work from) so I just did a new head to divorce it from the person it was supposed to be...

Finally, Daphne of Scooby Doo. The original version is OK but I wanted a cleaner polish. Already there were two versions of the original, the second being a slightly altered one extending the legs. I used this as the starting point for the new version, altering the position of the shoulders significantly. I liked the cleaner version but the skirt went wrong so I did it again and finally got it right. I realised the figure would look better with complete legs rather than just tapering off so I drew the legs separately (due to running out of space on the page), resized the upper body to match in Photoshop and voila, finis. Ironically, my original idea was to draw a realistic version of a cartoon character but by eliminating most of the detail, I've returned to an almost cartoon-like version but still like it...

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Recent Reads

In between drawing here and there, I've still been managing to whittle down my Sisyphean pile of reading material. (I'm currently reading a good biography of Joe Kubert and have over 18 books/graphic novels to wade through, though thankfully some of them are artbooks so will take less time to digest).

One of the best books I've read recently is Supergods by Grant Morrison. I've mentioned it previously but it's a cultural history of the superhero, intertwined with a semi-autobiography of Morrison. It's one of the most infectious, illuminating and fascinating reads I've had in a long time so would urge anyone to have a read, even if they're not fans of Morrison's work.

Modern comics, I've been enjoying JH Williams' stuff on Batwoman and James Robinson's return to Opal City in the pages of The Shade. I picked up the Must Have collection of Ultimate New Spider-Man #1-3, mainly as the preview art looked gorgeous and indeed it is, Sara Pichelli jettisoning the cartoony/manga inspired style she used in Runaways for a more natural one, excellently served by some of the best computer colouring seen in comics by Justin Ponsnor.

Again, my gripe with Bendis is his pacing: great dialogue but he sacrifices the plot in favour of it. Three issues in (much like the original Ult Spidey), Miles still hasn't donned his costume. I don't mind that but in three issues, essentially he gets but, manifests powers, moves to a coveted school with his best friend and learns his uncle is a bit dodgy. It's like a McDonald's burger, OK when you're taking a bit but once you're done, you wonder where the real heft was.
Incidentally, I hate the Ultimate Spider-man costume as it looks like you could only comfortably draw it using layers or fiddling with the select tool on photoshop. The whole think looks awkward so I took a shot at revising the costume, this pic being the second after the first (which just eliminated the webbing and played with the emblem really) pretty much sucked.
I've been continuing to sample vintage and Euro comics, turning up some obscure stuff by accident. Blazing Combat is a collection of the 4-issue series from the 60s, featuring short EC-influenced war stories set anywhere from ancient Greece, the Revolutionary War, the World Wars and Vietnam. With art by Wally Wood, John Severin and Alex Toth among others, this was a great collection with terrific art: Russ Heath's sole strip featured perhps some of the finest comic art I've ever seen.
I've never read too much 200AD but the art attracted me to their new collection of Cradlegrave. Great storytelling and art help make the council-estate set tale of a neighbour with something wrong feel totally real, bringing to mind TV shows like The Fades or Misfits: this could easily make a decent telemovie.I stumbled across an edition of Sam Pezzo, PI, an Italian detective comic that I'd never heard of but fell in love with the art: must find more stuff by artist Vittorio Giardino. Legend of the Scarlet Blades is a sumptuous collection of a fully painted European series set in feudal Japan but with touches of fantasy, another pleasant discovery.
My real find is Milo Manara. I've always wanted to try his work but was put off by the sexual nature of a lot of it. I read X-Women, which was pretty but not a great read but then I found Pandora's Eyes and the first edition of Dark Horse's Manara Library. I was blown away by the latter: each line looks effortlessly graceful and the storytelling is beautiful: despite the nasty events, the opening pages are totally silent and really draw you in. Looking at this makes you realise again just how crude most comic art is in comparison to those true artists working in the field. I can't wait for the second (of 9) volumes and may even be tempted by Dark Horse's 3-volume collection of Manara's erotica. Nevertheless, I'd highly recommend the Manara Library...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 4 (of 4 but now 5)

I thought I'd pulled out the last remaining bits of old art I felt able to save (BTW, I saw Kevin Nowlan doing this recently on his blog, which made me feel a lot less pickety :) ) but I've done a fair few commissions this month so while making scans of them for myself, I looked into my folder of commission work (ranging from cartoony, semi cartoony and realistic) and felt I could tweak a few and reclaim them as pieces of my work rather than for others (drawings of strangers don't feel like I own them for some reason...)

Anyway, from the top:

Quite like this one: just had to erase the over sized head (it was a caricature), some stuff from the right hand, specific text from the books and a few other bits and I think this is pretty spiffy now.

This was originally part of a group picture so I dropped the two guys, erased the original head, shaved the shoulders off a bit and added a new head and bingo, another save.

This was actually a cleaner reinked version of an old pic, the outfit based on one somebody I worked with wore: the geometric designs reminded me of a comic/sci fi costume design so thought I'd commit it to paper. This isn't a likeness of the person though (though similar hairstyles)...

Boy, this one was work. Originally a slightly exaggerated A3 caricature of 9/10 year old, I looked at it after and thought I could save that. I had to reproportion the whole thing by shortening the legs, reducing the size of the upper body, repositioning the arms and dropping in a new head (which annoyingly looks to me like Erica Durance, who I can't seem to get right even when I want to I attempt to draw her!!Rrrr!! I coloured this blonde just to break the similarity) and removing an X-factor logo from the microphone. Still slightly odd proportions but not a bad Frankenstein's monster...

Finally, another figure I'd already saved from a group shot. I just went back and slightly reduced the head to more standard proportions and removed details from the face and repositioned some features slightly.

Now there WILL be only one more Art Restoration post to follow (with two other subjects already in mind).

Well, it's 24 December so Happy Easter!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Dr Who Christmas Woddafug?

Not sure how to link to videos (did it so long ago, I've forgotten) but have a look at posibly the most bonkers Dr Who ever...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Card Conundrum

Ah, the Christmas card...there are those who begrudge them, feeling you should stay in contact or express goodwill to those you know more than once a year. I can understand that...but annoying and ephemeral as they are, who doesn't really feel a little twinge of pleasure upon receiving a Xmas card?

Friends and family, no problem...but the workplace? Oh, that's an entirely different species of reindeer. Much as you can't choose your family, you generally can't choose your workmates. Some will be great company, others intolerable monsters and other still just..there. So when it comes to card giving, things can get a bit awkward.

There are people in my office I genuinely want to give a card to, a handful of others I really don't and most others floating somewhere amongst my indifference. Thing do you give cards to some and not the others without causing offense or recriminations? If you cave and give cards to all, then what's the value of the cards you genuinely want to give? This is the Christmas card conundrum.

I need C-3PO as honestly, what is the protocol here?

I think I'm just gonna bite the bullet and give cards to the few people at work I really want to...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 3 (of 4!)

Thank God for time off over Christmas as I've been drawing my arse off lately. As well as 6 commissions of varying size and difficulty, I've managed to squeeze in a few other bits here and there. Originally sparked off when sorting out my art files recently, I've had a small number of old pieces I really liked but that could do with a slight tweak. I've been light boxing and re inking these in a cleaner style or adjusting proportions, errors and so on.

As a result of two different stages, the Carol Danvers Ms Marvel above doesn't actually exist in the physical world, as it's composed of a reproportioned drawing from the emblem up with the original body below. The dolphin isn't technically what I'm calling an art save as it's a completely different version of a commission originally let down by a poor likeness but it shows some of the commission stuff I've been doing. The Sharon Ventura Ms Marvel and Saturn Girl are streamlined re-inkings of old pics and technically the angel qualifies as a save as I've added a different backdrop to replace the original done over at the Weekly Themed Art Blog.

Only a handful of stuff left to do then 3 pages for Too Much Sex and Violence to ink and then I'm nearer to pondering my own two projects...

Friday, 16 December 2011

Hugo There!

It has to be said, I'm not a Scorcese fan. That's not to say I don't like his work- he's undoubtedly a master - just that the subject matters for his films (sports, crime, period pieces, etc) usually hold no interest for me. I've only seen the first two Godfathers (both OK but overlong, despite numerous great scenes), Taxi Driver's OK but overrated and I've never watched Goodfellas, raging Bull or many other careers highs.

So last night we went to see Hugo: I've read nothing and heard nothing about it so went expecting nothing...and found myself sucked into a film that feels like a fairytale but is actually totally non-fantastical but becomes a very meta thing. It's hard to talk much about the film much without giving away spoilers but about halfway through, you realise we've been watching a movie about movies, commenting on cinema's earliest days and echoing its effects in the literal world.

There are some great performances: Chloe Moritz's warm and charming turn with a pitch-perfect English accent, Sasha Baron Cohen being brilliantly odd but not extreme (I dread to think how Carrey would have hammed that role up), a stern but soft Christopher Lee and touching support from Emily Mortimer and whoever plays the wife of Ben Kingsley, who also puts in a typically solid performance.

This won't be every body's cup of tea, a critic's dream but a mainstream audience's anathema. It's not a worthy movie in the hand wringing sense...but it's well worth a look if you fancy something charming and intelligent, topped off with some probably the best 3D seen since Avatar...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Art Restoration Project Part 2

Been busy with tons of art recently. As well as pencilling three pages for Too Much Sex and Violence #3, I've ghosted a page for #2 (panels above), continued performing art "restorations"(i.e., either applying patches to save previous work or light boxing them in a cleaner line style) (with varying degrees, turns out I still prefer my decade-old versions of Saturn Girl and Ms Marvel than the clean line versions I did today), tried doing a male figure in clean line (dunno why Adam Warlock sprang to mind but he did) and am currently nearly halfway through a commission while pottering about an another art save.

Time to sit back and relax with some good reading before Misfits tonight, so pix above should hopefully speak for themselves but may be interestingly confusing...