Thursday, December 24, 2009

Illustration Friday - Undone

A quick IF this week. This was drawn partially on the airplane going to St. Louis (during which there was a ton of turbulence), but I had a nice conversation with the lady sitting next to me about tablets.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My First Picture Book!!

Well...sort of. I was commissioned via Etsy to turn a poem that a grandmother had written for her grandson into a set of two hard bound picture books. I did all the illustrations in Photoshop. I had never actually done any bookbinding before the project, but I was confident in my abilities to follow directions. I bought two "Bookbinding for Beginners" kits that I found online. Each kit comes with all the supplies you need (plus step-by-step illustrated instructions) to create a 5.5x4.25 book. The one difficultly that I ran into along the way was that the poem was pretty short. Even when I broke it up to basically one page per line, the book ended up having only 10 pages. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough pages to actually bind. I ended up getting the images printed on cardstock, and that added thickness did the trick! The books turned out great and the bookbinding kit was incredibly helpful. I'm now eager to make more and more books! I hope that the woman who commissioned them enjoys them as much as I did.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Illustration Friday - Hatch

I've been meaning to do a quasi-painterly, sci fi illustration for a while now and this week's IF topic, hatch, provided me with a good opportunity. I think of this as a Mysteries of Harris Burdick sort of piece - that it would have a caption to go along with like, "And then he opened the spaceship's hatch..." - but I included the egg in there at the end because I couldn't resist having the illustration include two different interpretations of the word.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

3D Comics Are Pretty Great

This page that I posted last week if finally done! Head on over to Adam's blog to see the final result in 3D! More info about the project is coming in the next few weeks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Farmer and Son

The two main characters of the first issue of the the comic that Adam and I are creating!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A sneak peak at things to come

Remember this post? Well things are in motion and the comic project that Adam and I are working on is well on its way. This is one of the pages that has been finished on my end of things (art, inks, shading, etc), but it has one crucial step left to go. Check back soon - Adam should be posting the completely final version in the next week or so!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Illustration Friday - Crunchy

This week's Illustration Friday theme is "crunchy" and this was the very first thing that popped into my mind when I thought about that word. I used to get these recurring dreams (or nightmares) where all of my teeth would fall out and I would feel them rolling around in my mouth. When I'd wake up I would be left with this very real feeling of my mouth being full of marbles. This is the only instance in which my dreams have left me with such a vivid waking impression and it was never a pleasant experience. It was a very gross feeling, but also very, very crunchy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cat Napping Poses

Cats are very strange creatures. Their ability to make themselves comfortable under pretty much any circumstance constantly amazes me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sophisticate Bust

Just a doodle. I've really been enjoying playing around with this graphic, flatter illustration style recently. Fashion blogs and fashion photography have been a big inspiration in that regard and I keep getting these sorts of images floating around in my head that I just have to draw. Also, it'd be pretty sweet if I could get my hair to do that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Illustration Friday - Entangled

No Illustration Friday entry last week because of Thanksgiving, but I'm back this week with my new illustration! The theme this week is entangled:
I chose to illustrate one of Aesop's Fables, The Fox and the Mosquitoes. The fable is as follows:

A Fox after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and could not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon it and enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail. A hedgehog strolling by took pity upon the Fox and went up to him: "You are in a bad way, neighbour," said the hedgehog; "shall I relieve you by driving off those Mosquitoes who are sucking your blood?"

"Thank you, Master Hedgehog," said the Fox, "but I would rather not."

"Why, how is that?" asked the hedgehog.

"Well, you see," was the answer, "these Mosquitoes have had their fill; if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and bleed me to death."

It's a strange little tale, but upon reading it I could completely envision the composition for the final piece. I wanted to play around with a flatter illustration style this time around (somewhat inspired by illuminated manuscripts).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Wild Things Photos

The CJM sent me some of their photos of the Wild Things from the Gala! These gorgeous photos are © weeksphotography

More to come!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Patch Together Design: Oscar

My first design on Patch Together! It's a pretty interesting site - basically like Threadless for toy designers. Artists submit their designs and if they get enough votes the toy gets made. So if you like Oscar, vote for him! He just wants a little love.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wild Things Gala photos!

Last weekend my Wild Things made their debut at the Contemporary Jewish Museum's First Annual Family Gala! The event was fantastic - from the jungle ambiance to the little cups of chicken soup with rice. My boyfriend and I had a really great time watching the characters interact with the guests.

And I just want to reiterate again - if any of you live in the Bay Area, do go and check out the Sendak exhibition at the CJM! The work on display there is truly inspiring.

Illustration Friday - Unbalanced

My first ever entry for Illustration Friday! I'm going to try and start doing this every week. This week's theme is "unbalanced." My kitty will go to great lengths to get to his toy mouse, so he is the inspiration for this illustration.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art page update!

Some new additions to the art page of my website. Click the thumbnail to view the whole image!

An illustration for custom party invitations. Request sent via etsy:

Disco Zombies

Sample illustrations for dating humor book:

"Sloth Boyfriend"

"Penguin Boyfriend"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More of your Wld Things photos!

Hart just sent me some pictures of her finished Moishe costume (and Max costume too!) that she made using my tutorial. They turned out fabulously and it seems like she had a quite a wild rumpus of an evening as well:

Great job Hart!

Have some Wild Things you want to show off? E-mail me and I'll feature them here!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

First look at the Wild Things!

This photo was taken during the costume fitting this past Friday! I have a few alterations to make and this week and then the Gala is this coming Saturday. More pictures to come very soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Website Redesign and Reader Pictures!

I hope everyone had a great and wild Halloween! I got to see the marionettes that I costumed in action and ate probably too much candy. I also updated my website with a new design, up-to-date artwork on the art page, and a commission information page for those interested in a mask or illustration of their own. Check it out!

Also, reader Patrick sent me pictures of the Carol (or Moishe) mask that he made using my tutorials. He used a hard hat as the base and cut a slit for an eye hole in the nose. It all turned out great! Thanks, Patrick, for sending the pictures!

If you have costume pictures you want me to feature, send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to show off your work!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mask Previews and a call for pictures!

I've been working hard to get these costumes finished. They're almost there, but I've got a lot of small things to be tweaked before I can take some really nice full body shots. But until then, here are some photos of the finished masks! I apologize for the quality - they were taken from my laptop's camera - but they're at least a good preview of things to come.

Also, judging from the e-mails I've received, I know that a number of you have been using my tutorials to make Wild Things of your own. If you have, I'd love to see pictures of the final project! Send me a picture and I'll feature it here. I'd love to see what everyone's come up with.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Making a Wild Thing Part 3: Excavation and Decoration

Finally part three!

Once your mask is dry, you'll want to pull it off the armature and remove the inner newspaper core and the clay. The first part is pretty easy - just lift up from the underside of the mask, and the entire piece should come off the armature - clay and all. It will look a bit like this:

You should be able to grab hold of the newspaper ball and just pull it straight out. Once you've removed the paper, it is time to excavate the clay. Depending on how much clay you used, you might be able to pull back the tinfoil and remove entire sections of the sculpture at once. If not (if the clay is too thick/heavy) go back through with your sculpting tools and dig the clay out bit by bit until you can pull the rest away with the tin foil.

After this step, you're ready to decorate! You can use scissors and an exacto knife to clean up the finished mask (and to cut eye holes), and I usually sand the mask and then gesso the surface before I paint. But from here you can add anything you want - horns, hair, anything - you can even sew into (if you have a strong enough needle)!

As you can see - my masks still require a few finishing touches, but once they're complete I'll post pictures of the final products. Until then - have fun making your own!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Making a Wild Thing Part 2: Papier Mache

On to part two:
Once you have a pretty good shape sculpted for your mask in clay, you’ll want to cover the clay in tinfoil. This allows you to smooth out the surface, refine details, and allows for easier excavation once it comes time to finish the mask. Slightly crumple a large sheet of tin foil and press it down covering the entire surface of your mask. Use your sculpting tools to smooth out the bumps in the foil and to add stronger details. If a few spots of clay show through the foil it won't be the end of the world - just remember that the more you cover the easier it will be to remove the papier mache when it is dry.

Next you need to prepare the papier mache. This step is twofold. First, you'll want to prepare the paper bags. You can also use newspaper, but when making masks I prefer to use brown paper bags because they are stronger, require fewer layers, and generally are faster to apply. To make the bags easier to work with, I crumple them significantly. The point here is to start to break down the fibers of the bags so that they absorb more of the papier mache mixture and to make the bags more flexible so that they are able to fold around the shape of your mask. The image to the right shows three paper bags crumpled to varying degrees. Ideally, you want your bags to look like the last one on the far right - like an old map or a worn piece of fabric.

Now you're going to mix the papier mache glue mixture. I use about two or three large scoops of wheat paste with a few cups of warm water and then add wood glue until the mixture becomes the consistency of runny snot. When your mixture is ready you can start to cover the mask. Make sure that you spray the foil covered surface with cooking spray before adding any of the papier mache - otherwise you will not be able to remove the mask. Allow each piece of bag to soak in the glue mixture for about 30 seconds to one minute and wring out the excess glue before putting it on the sculpted form. I try to use at least three layers of bags, sometimes a few more depending on the mask, before letting the mask dry. As the glue dries I like to refine the details even more (this is especially necessary if your mask has creases because the bags will pull away and flatten out as they dry - try and monitor the mask every few hours). The papier mache should take two to three days to dry completely though the outside should be dry overnight. However, even if the outside is completely dry, it does not mean that the inside will be too. I've had a few occasions when I've removed the mask too soon and it's shape will warp because the inside won't have anything to dry against. It is better to be safe here and wait a little longer.

Next up: Removing the mask and adding finishing touches

Friday, October 2, 2009

Making a Wild Thing Part 1a: Sculpting Video

Here's the video I mentioned earlier. You can see the process of building the newspaper core pretty clearly.

Making a Wild Thing Part 1: Sculpting the Face

The first thing I like to do on a large costume project is to make the mask or in this case, the face. Sculpting and covering the face is the most time consuming part of the process (so I start on it early to make sure I have enough time to fully devote to it) and I'm able to begin to develop the character of the entire costume as I work. I'm going to refer back to the mask making tutorial that I wrote last year since much of that information applies here. But this time I have pictures! Today we're following the process of creating Bernard

Materials Needed:
1 Box of Wheat Paste
1 Bottle of Wood Glue
Warm water
An armature/face-form
Lots of brown paper bags (thinner preferably – like liquor store bags)
Clay (each Wild Thing Mask took one 25lb bag)*
Tin Foil
Cooking Spray
Masking Tape

The armature that I use (pictured above) is a 3/4" piece of pipe, screwed into a floor flange, that is attached to a Lazy Susan. I like working on the Lazy Susan because it allows me to rotate my piece while I work to really make sure that I'm sculpting in three dimensions. But anything will work as long as it provides a good sturdy base for the armature.

Once you have an armature, you can take your newspaper and start building up an inner core for your mask (as shown right). This will enable you to make a large-scale mask without using tremendous amounts of clay (plus, if you use too much clay it will become too heavy and may fall off the armature). Crumple the newspaper, and with the masking tape, tape it tightly around the armature until you build up a ball just a little bit smaller than the size of your intended mask. You want to make sure to reinforce the newspaper the most at the top of the pipe because once you start adding clay, this is the point where your mask is most likely to break through. Because of this I like to add extra layers of newspaper or Styrofoam around the top of the pipe. If your mask is going to have appendages like a long nose or big ears (or this mask has a snout), you’ll want to reinforces these areas with Styrofoam or wooden dowels so that the weight of the clay does not cause them to break off once you start your mask. Wrap every layer tightly with masking tape! The end result will look like a mummy version of your mask. When you’ve finished creating the newspaper core, you’ll want to spray it lightly with a little water and stab it a number of times with a sharp clay tool so that they clay sticks better to the surface.

Next you get to start playing with clay! Treat this like any other sculpting project. Cover the general area of the mask in a layer of clay and then begin to build up the forms. Use whatever sculpting tools you have available to refine the shapes and add details. Here I used the Where The Wild Things Are book and my preliminary sketch as references. Just keep refining the form until you have the look that you want. Keep in mind that if you are creating something with lots of cracks and creases, you may want to make them more exaggerated since you will lose some definition when you add the papier mache.

Here's my finished clay base for Bernard. I started a video of this process as I was making Moishe, and as soon as that is finished I'll post it here as well. Up next: Covering the Mask!

*Note: If you live in the Bay Area and are looking for a place to buy clay, I recommend
Claypeople in Richmond. They were very helpful and I was able to get 75 lbs of sale clay for $15! Hooray!