1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Rare and out of print books on illustration, animation and comic art

I have run into this website performing a search on illustrated books and there is a lot to see. An excellent starting point to discover (and sometimes get reminded of) books with outstanding illustration.

The huge collection is well documented and ordered alphabetically.

Yet another potential drain to the poor wallet, I'm afraid.


The member drill book

The Veer catalogues ara usually stimulating and packed with good ideas. Even better, from time to time they publish special numbers with activities for their creative audience and clientele. Their summer activity books are becoming a kind of tradition. They are a showcase of their products (type, illustration and photography), but with an excellent and imaginative design.

This december they have added a new and special kind of workbook, their Member drill book (from the Very secret order of creatives understanding, nonetheless.)

It's 76 pages worth of fun and whimsical entertainment for the creative type.


Caroline Havers

Caroline Havers (1959)is a dutch artist who paints colourful, passionate canvases. Many of her works can be seen online on her Flickr page (user name: carolinepaintings), together with sketches, ongoing work and other details of the creative process. These examples below are from a solo exhibition in The Hague:

Her own description is very accurate:

Specific shapes, a striking color combination, or the rhythms in nature can act as a trigger point to start a work. From there on the paints and brushes take over. Still somewhat true to their origins, the shapes, colors, and forms are balanced and re-arranged.

Caroline also has a separate website where you can learn more about her and her art.

Marc Taro

works as concept artist, primarily with digital media. He also posts very nice sketches and travel journals, drawn in watercolour (like this nice example), pencil and pen.
You can visit his website (SketchTaro) or his Flickr page.

I draw fictional creatures and characters for a living! It's a great job - but I also love to draw for my own amusement. These pages are my online sketchbook; where you'll see a pretty much unedited stream of doodles, studies and unfinished ideas.
Recently I'm posting quite a few links to artists who have significant amount of work in Flickr —it's certainly home for very talented folks.


New Secondaries strips!

We have updated the Secondaries strips page with a quite a few new entries.

Secondaries is a comic strip which deals with those anonymous people you probably know and their little daily drama. They are not intended to be openly funny, but rather acid and sometimes whimsical.

These are translations from the original strips, which appeared in catalan in the Diari de Balears every saturday. They are also posted on the blog Secundarios in spanish. The technique used is ink and watercolour.

See you there!

Kyle T. Webster and his daily figures

In mid summer, Kyle T. Webster began a sketching project called The Daily Figure. In it, he
draws “A series of daily figurative doodles from my imagination. Just figures that I will be pulling from my imagination - quickies to keep me limber.
Take a look and you'll say: how humble!, because the sketches are excellent. Obviously the result of a great knowledge of the human figure and an amazing drawing skill.

I just draw with a 'brush' in Painter for this blog. Typically, I do this kind of drawing with a Pentel Pocket Brush - if you have never tried one of those, you absolutely must! It is my favorite drawing tool - simply wonderful.
I agree with this remark—the Pentel brush pens are awesome, and so convenient. But the quality of the digital line in the Daily Figure series is superb, too.

Figure after figure he keeps it interesting and beautiful. I love these fluid and elegant lines, the rhythm of the bodies... it's such a great work.

Once you have explored this nice blog, you might like to see the real works by Webster visiting his website.


Susan Rudat

I find her ink drawings irresistible. I found Susan's sketchbooks on Flickr and there are so many enjoyable things in the differents sets: Close to home, Places, Things... The curvilinear and organic shapes she uses to draw clouds, for example, remind me of the artist Martin Sharp (the psychedelic period artist who designed covers for OZ magazine and the cover for Cream's Wheels of fire album.)

This spread is a good sample of the way she suggests shapes and shadows with a variety of lines and marks.


My Newton tree

One of my illustrations in Flickr, click to visit my account and see all sizes.
I like to sit by this tree. It is like the proverbial Newton's apple tree but this one instead of falling apples that make you think of gravity, lets ideas fall down on you bringing insight, stimuli, images and visions.

I can tell you where you can find a tree like this, but keep in mind it will only grow if your muse is nearby. :-)

The original drawing made in pencil, with the addition of some simple and fast digital colour. I have realised that if you want to colour your illustrations digitally it might be unnecessary to ink them. Just scan a definitive pencil drawing and play a little with the contrast/brightness, or with the image levels, histogram... whatever method you prefer. When you have a well-contrasted image you can use much like you would with an ink drawing. I have to check it out, but I suspect quite a few french comic artists create their comics this way.

Nathan Fowkes

has a day job at DreamWorks working in Photoshop, so he tries to spend as much time as he can outside or at home in the studio sketching with traditional media. He has to projects online, called respectively Land Sketch and Nathan Fowkes Art.

Both sites are full of exciting art, fresh and spontaneous, made with very sure and decided strokes. You will also find that Land Sketch and Nathan Fowkes Art are excellent resources to help you learn painting and drawing: I encourage you to subscribe his feed or bookmark them.

You'll enjoy his classroom demonstrations (from www.laafa.org), his plein air sketches, and marvel with his variations on a same landscape, like the example show below, which is part of a post in october 2006 that shows many more examples of the same location painted at different times of the day, with different weather conditions.

Nathan Fowkes studied traditional painting and entertainment design at the Art Center College of Design where he graduated with honors. He has been a popular teacher of color, design, drawing and painting for the past 8 years. Nathan is currently a visual development artist at DreamWorks with screen credits including The Prince of Egypt, Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron, Shrek, and the forthcoming How to Train Your Dragon.


James Gurney

is a master of naturalist - representative painting, but he also does fantastic art for books like Dinotopia (yes, artwork related to the tv series.) His style in the book is photo-realistic at times, always displaying an incredible skill and sure-handedness. He combines realistic elements to create new and entirely original worlds.

Currently he's on a long painting and sketching trip in the North of Africa, but he keeps us up to date with his daily sketching through his blog, Gurney Journey: a must-visit, because he shares his technique, tips, insights and influences there.

Urban sketchers

...the bees knees of urban sketches in this community blog. This example by Enrique Flores (people sketched in Madrid).

Emmanuel Prost

has quite a bit of urban sketching in his blog.

Joan Centellas

A catalan watercolourist. He has a blog and also a space in Flickr showcasing his work, mostly urban landscape.


The rainiest december

One of my illustrations in Flickr, click to visit my account and see all sizes.

The rainiest december in 30 years. 275 mm in 2 days... if the darkness and chill weren't enough...
A page of my current journal, A4 size, ink. Praying for a little sunshine.
This is a digitally coloured version:


The Alphabet - an A-Z of Bed

I had the idea for this peculiar A-Z in bed (where else?) first thing in the morning, in this magical moment when you've left sleep behind yet you're not totally awake.
Obviously, there are so many things you can do in bed... I admit I had some other options in some of the letters, but I restrained myself :-) ...
(Click the images to see a much bigger version of each picture.)


Rick Tulka's Le Sélect

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Rick Tulka's Flickr page is awesome, full of elegant sketches of people drawn in a parisian café called Le Sélect. Tulka's style reminds me of classic cartoonists in The New Yorker.
“The faces at the Le Sélect are great to draw and there is an endless parade of them. I have been following this parade since 1995. It is pure magic. For this artist, there are no other cafés in Paris!
In November 2007, a book was published that Rick co-authored with Noël Riley Fitch, "Paris Café: The Sélect Crowd." (Soft Skull Press).


The 1000 Heads project

Here's a new daily image project, called 1000 Heads. It's based on human head images in my sketchbooks. They are filled with imaginary heads containing all the stuff one could possible think of.

Either as a warm-up exercise, to develop a new idea, or just to have fun for a while, I find myself making variations on the theme all the time.

A selection of these peculiar heads, after scanning and cleaning up, were vectorised and published at Typephases as a collection of dingbat fonts called Capsbats (a set of 3 fonts) and Entestats (3 more fonts.)

In this project I am going to post one of these heads every day, with some further modifications and usually paired with some quotation (be it related or not to the image.)

This collection of images is part self-entertainment, part concept visualization. I hope they are inspirational for you and make you think, hopefully sparking some new insight.


Will you be like that when you're 99?

I'd give my left hand to draw like this with the right one when I'm 99 (or, to be completely honest, to draw like this right now.) He's the legendary Al Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld died on 2003, the year he was 100 year old, and as you can judge by yourself, having lost none of his skills as a sophisticated cartoonist and illustrator.


The long sleep

One of my illustrations in Flickr, click to visit my account and see all sizes.

When you're slipping into sleep

Now that even here in the warm mediterranean the winter is showing its uglier face with snow and chilly weather, I dream of dreaming in the sun.

Today's pages from my current sketchbook, with a touch of digital colour.

Aquatint proof

This is a print proof made with the sugar-lift aquatint technique.
The figures were painted directly on the zinc plate with the sugar solution.
The image is a bit blurry at the top because the sheet didn't fit in the scanner...
This kind of figure, halfway between silhouettes and dimensional bodies, is very recurrent in my sketchbooks. I love to invent people with the brush, pen or pencil.


Lifes illustrated, an illustrated life

I don't know about you, but as soon as I've heard about this book, An Illustrated Life, I've put it immediately in my shopping list. Danny Gregory compiles a lot of work in sketchbooks from a group of artists worldwide:

I've seen it first in the blog of Enrique Flores, whom I've mentioned here before several times. We must congratulate him because I'm sure his section will be among the best of the book.

By the way, there is another book that shares the same title with the illustrations of the late Charley Harper, an excellent artist who created remarkable artwork with great style in the golden age of editorial illustration.


Making plans for the semester

Thinking on the things I want to do best in the next few months or so...
I just couldn't bring myself to just write down a list, so after a while of fooling around with pencil, markers and some washes, this is the "decorated version" of the list. Now if I only can do some of it.


Childrens' tales illustrated: video archive

Wonderful wonderful: the video archive of the program Una mà de contes from the Catalan National Television (Televisió de Catalunya) is now online, offering childrens' tales illustrated by some of the best catalan and spanish illustrators, including comic artists Gallardo and Max.

In each episode, a tale is told by a voice in off while the artist illustrates the story using a great variety of techniques.

The archive (go to Els contes) is organized by geographic origin of the story, artist, technique, author, name of the character or title of the story.

The website is only in catalan (subtitles and audio are also available in the aranese occitan dialect, which is spoken in the Aran valley in the catalan Northwestern Pyrenees, and some in english.)

The name Una mà de contes is a wordplay with (hand) and mar (sea) which sound exactly the same. In catalan, una mar de contes would mean A sea of tales. "A sea of something" implies a lot of it. Una mà de contes means A hand of tales, because of the special way stories are told in this marvelous series.

The website also includes workshops where you can interactively build your own story book and more.

A site to bookmark and visit thoroughly if you like childrens' tales, creative illustration and imagination.



Reference 2.0

If only I weren't so lazy. Getting reference for any illustration or drawing project has never been easier. With your laptop + internet connection you have instant reference for any theme. Plus, if you use a drawing tablet you can integrate reference images in your digital workspace.
Oops the keyboard is very sloppy & distorted on the right!
This one taken from my current sketchbook / journal.


Opinion (illustration friday)

A quick contribution to this week's topic, Opinion. Click to see a larger version.

As each person occupies a slot in the font file, you can reorder them any way you like because they dwell in the range from t to z. All you have to do is type any combination of the letters t,u,v,w,x,y,z.
You could make (if my math is correct) 5040 possible variations. For example, here's another:
Handy, isn't it?

The people drawings belong to my dingbat Genteta III (from Typephases dingbats and fonts), which in turn came from drawings in my sketchbooks. The original drawings are very diverse and often whimsical, with many invented little people.


Surrealistic interlude

My phone doodles tend to be like this sketchbook page.


Every new day

...should be like this. So many things you can do are like unopened gifts. Visit the Flickr page by clicking the image for a bigger version of this journal sketch. The coloured version is digital, something I usually do to see the effect with scanned drawings.


Finding new paths

Allow me a little personal indulgence. This is a page from my current journal. Trying to stay out of trouble... I draw some kind of visual clues for myself in times of deep personal changes.

As a daily project, I'm drawing some kind of metaphor, symbol or representation (albeit very obliquely in most cases) of my predominant mood during this day.

This is a pen brush drawing with ink on an A4 size journal. The image links to my Flickr page, where you can see bigger versions of my illustrations and drawings.

I have also posted a digitally coloured version of this same image.


Drawing is thinking

Is the title of the new Milton Glaser book. Drawing is Thinking follows (after a long wait) his classic Graphic Design and the more recent Art is work). Here it is a volume completely devoted to illustration and drawing by the veteran master.

For those who already know his work as a graphic designer and illustrator, it comes as no surprise, it is probably his most cherished and personal book.

Based on his view that all art has its origin in the impulse to create--primarily through drawing--he has designed a book that powerfully delineates this idea. In Drawing is Thinking, the drawings depicted are meant to be experienced sequentially, so that the viewer not only follows Glaser through these pages, but comes to inhabit his mind. The drawings in Drawing is Thinking represent a range of subject matter taken from throughout Glaser's career. They illustrate the author's commitment to the fundamental idea that drawing is not simply a way to represent reality, but a way to understand and experience the world.

Other books by Milton Glaser which are still available:


Peeters' Zombieland

Frederik Peeters (Lupus, Koma, Blue Pills, RG...) has a new project on the net, called Portraits as living dead.

Slightly disturbing, but as always with his drawings, well executed and engaging. A gallery of portraits where famous (dead) people are depicted as zombies.

This is Brian Jones. Visit the Portraits as living deads blog to see many more...

Another excellent work from this artist, whose Koma series (written by Pierre Wazem) reaches its end this november with the sixth part.

I find his bold, seemingly effortless, style of drawing irresistible. As a bonus, this particular series of illustrations have a nice touch of watercolour.

Peeters draws his originals on the classic Moleskine notebook (21 x 13 cm.) and the bigger versions presented in the blog are almost this size on screen, so you can study the details of the brushwork or the inking.


Nils Burwitz: new one-man show

Starting on September, 18 (my birthday, by the way), Nils Burwitz has a new one-man show in the gallery Gabriel Vanrell in Palma de Mallorca.
You can see the works exhibited here. Here's my wish for success, Nils!


Summer sketchbook

These are a few pages from one of my recent sketchbooks. This summer I've done quite a few watercolor plein air studies of my surroundings, together with other improvisations and notes, projects and other stuff. I have posted the images on my Flickr account, but you can also click the image above and see the small versions in a slideshow.


Wordle and colour charts

Copying the paint names from a colour chart and pasting in Wordle (see the previous post) you get something like these nice examples. Hmm... Should I tweak the colours to match their names?
There's a lot of things you can do with these typographic compositions. If you print the generated layout on your pdf-printer (such as PDFforge) you get a nice and crisp vector file you can further edit to your heart's content, save copies and and print it at any size.


Who’s afraid of Comic Sans

Our “Secondaries” strip for the second week of July. This one deals with the usual suspect of typographic misuse, Comic Sans. More on the strip blog, Secondaries.


Wordle is great fun

Alas, this is yet another fancy time-waster. But I love the results of this impressive typographic layout generator: Wordle.

You can use either use some text you type or copy out and paste in, any valid blog address or its feed, and even your del.icio.us user name (in this case it fetches your tags.)

These are some quick examples, using the first sonnet by William Shakespeare (top image), and tags from some of my online projects. You can click any of these pictures to see a bigger sample while it is generated on the fly. Guess where does this one come from?

Try it out by yourself with any browser (Java plugin necessary), chez Wordle.


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