1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Printed matter versus online comics according to Scott McCloud

Making Comics – Chapter 5 1/2 is a short online extension to the fifth chapter from Making Comics (the latest Scott McCloud book), covering some of the issues associated with creating colour art and panel layouts for screen display. Nine comics pages followed by seven pages of notes. McCloud books, in case you don't know them, are a good introduction to the world of sequential art, with a detailed coverage of the possibilities of digital media and the internet applied to comic creation and publishing.



Click to see a bigger version
This is my take on the theme “Invention” for this week at Illustration Friday. (If you want to see a bigger image, click on the picture.)

And here is the pencil sketch for this illustration:

There are some differences with the final image. At first I envisioned a scientist in a white robe, quietly thinking in his office. I wanted to suggest a kind of university city in the background, as seen through a window, but then I decided to use a plain black background and treat the character in black and white too, so it is the invention what brings colour to the scene.


How do you “paint” this?

Well, you can ask the artist Daniel Eatock. In this example, he used a whole set of Pantone Markers and let them bleed through a whole stack of absorbent paper for a month. The ink got deep down to the 73th sheet.

Eatock is a conceptual artist responsible of a number of funny, imaginative, unpredictable and whimsical creations. Visit his website for a complete survey of his work.

Nick Curtis peregrinates in pulchritudinous penmanship

I have just received a copy of the CD-ROM with the Nick Curtis collection of fonts and clipart, curiously titled Peregrinations in pulchritudinous penmanship. A very nice package, the CD contains a selection of Curtis’ fonts, inspired in old time typefaces and lettering, and a huge number of dingbats, borders, clipart and full-colour vector graphics. All this graphic content is available both in WMF and EPS formats, so you will be able to use those images in almost any desktop publishing, painting or drawing application, and even with your office software.

The graphics are excellent: top quality vector drawings, many of them painstakingly vectorized from original sources tracked down by Curtis in his investigations of the ephemera, posters and miscellaneous designs from decades past. The vector format ensures that you will get crisp printed results at any size.
Nick Curtis’ mastery of vector digital illustration is evident not only browsing the contents of this remarkable CD, but also when you examine the examples of his fonts in use in the My Fonts website (where he currently offers 286 font families, no less!).

You can purchase this great product either on the aforementioned Nick’s Fonts or in My Fonts.
It must be also noted that Curtis has offered the internet community a huge number of his creations for free, always with the highest standard of quality. I cannot recommend them enough. You can see for yourself and download at your heart’s content visiting Moorstation (the current header logo here at Acuarela features one of these fonts.)


Illustration Class

I have talked about Von Glitschka’s Illustration class on a previous post. Now my RSS reader tells me a few tutorials more have been added to the existing ones.
Illustration Class is a website that any illustrator wishing to learn digital techniques shouldn’t miss out. Focused especially on vector illustration techniques, the tutorials offered on this site offer a fascinating glimpse of the creative process, starting with the briefing, the idea-generation phase and sketch-making through the scanning, tracing and colouring which leads to the final art.
It’s interesting to note that Glitschka’s workflow isn’t entirely digital: you will see lots of pencil doodling, rubber erasing, texture creating, vellum tracing, paper-snippet compositing and so on. This way, you can see the existing bridges between traditional and digital media.
In most articles you will find illustrated step-by-step explanations for a variety of projects. A very recommended visit, either if you are starting out with digital illustration or if you already are proficient with it, but you are in search of new inspiration and techniques.



An illustration for the theme of the week at Illustration Friday, clear. A rather abstract concept which admits a great variety of treatments. I have finally decided to use some simple forms suggesting the open space and a head taken from my Capsbats series. This is a digital image made with vectorial shapes (although these heads were originally ink drawings, prior to scanning and tracing.)
If you wish to see a bigger version, just click the picture above.


Vormator challenge

The Vormator project is the ultimate challenge of your creativity. It is a project for a collaborative book. Each artist is given the chance to show his abilities to create a stunning piece with limited means. The contributing artists each get the exact same set of 8 shapes, the Elements. With these shapes they are challenged to create their own unique page for the book, within the limitations provided in the Rulebook. Designers are thus challenged to create a unique piece within a strict set of rules. It all comes down to pure skills and creativity in this competition.
Do you think it’s too limiting? Check out what Vonster has done, as a good example.
Read all about this engaging initiative in the project page.


Urban Forest Project

design by Milton GlaserThe Urban Forest Project gathers 185 banners created by the world’s most celebrated designers, artists, photographers and illustrators. Each banner uses the form of the tree, or a metaphor for the tree, to make a powerful visual statement. Together they create a forest of thought-provoking images at one of the world’s busiest, most energetic, and emphatically urban intersections (New York: Times Square.) Following their display, (September 1–November 30, 2006) the banners will be recycled into tote bags and sold at auction, with proceeds going to scholarship and mentoring programs that benefit students of the visual arts. Some banners embody visceral responses to pressing environmental, political and social issues. Others use the evocative power of nature to develop rich patterns and abstract forms that delight the viewer.
The images can be downloaded as PDF files, and it’s possible to order T-shirts with the design you choose.
(Link seen at swissmiss.)


Biographies and biopics: Pollock, de Kooning, Basquiat

Ed Harris as Jackson PollockI have recently read a number of biography books and seen some biopics about modern and contemporary artists, such as the book de Kooning: an american master and the biopic Pollock (available in DVD). This film, directed by the actor Ed Harris and based upon the book Pollock: an american saga was released in 2000, after nearly a decade of development. Spending years painting and researching the painter, Ed Harris oversaw all aspects of the film, including directing, producing, and starring in the main role. Harris was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for this work.
Those in search of entertainment will find that little seems to happen in the movie, and compared to the story in the book it may seem a rather patchy storyline. Yet it is an engaging picture, tastefully directed and performed with conviction. Ed Harris does a superb interpretation as usual: he really becomes Pollock.

As the great hero of abstract expressionism, Pollock’s antics and his drunken persona are well known. A complex character oscillating between opposites of depression and euphoria, introspection periodes and fun-loving moments. But beyond this public side of the painter, a very complex story waited to be told.

Quite a few things about Jackson Pollock surface in the award-winning de Kooning biography, de Kooning: an american master, by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. You get to know more about the supposed rivarly between the two abstract painters, the pains and pressures of success for an artist who had struggled for years of poverty and hard work. The greatness and the misery of an artist’s life.

There is one interesting moment in the film, when Pollock is walking around in his Long Island retreat and he stops to look the patterns in the shallow waters: pebbles, seashells and seaweed moving with the water flow. Not long after he works out his best known painting style; apparently it is a matter of accident, but you wonder what the artist is looking for in the empty canvas. The accidental dripping of the brush seems to trigger the discovery of what Pollock had been looking for.

This aspect of feeling the nature and letting some glimpses of its essence become part of the painting always fascinates me, and I find it in several other artists that I admire. Of course in de Kooning’s abstract landscapes, but also in Per Kirkeby and Bernd Koberling.

Another remarkable film about a painter is Basquiat, directed by Julian Schnabel, himself one of the most important painters of the eighties and a good friend of the late Basquiat.



This week’s theme at Illustration Friday is smoke. Here’s a quick sketch, made with a few brushtrokes of watercolour. He doesn’t really resemble Groucho but that was the kind of character that I was doodling from memory.


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