Monday, October 22, 2012

Much Like the Tortoise, I Have Started this Race Slowly...

It's taking a bit of time to get my school legs back and I'm not totally pleased with my first few projects. However, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the first assignments for Year 4 Illustration, The good, the bad and the ugly :)

A digital piece for my Corporate/ Cultural Illustration class based on a very interesting article about our man, Bieber. You can read the article here. Tried to go more painterly, less dependant on inked lines. Really enjoyed doing the hand drawn letters, coulda pushed the colour (warm dress), added nicer strokes to her hair and dress, background pattern maybe.

Created Olympic Mascots for Childrens Illustration class. I chose Luxembourg to host the olympics because that is from where my mother hails and I wanted to learn more about it. Learned of a beautiful folktale involving a mermaid and Count Siegfroid. Need to start experimenting with paint and colour because the digital work is lacking something...

...and that is frightfully clear in these two images. My initial ideas for Ness and Capone here were more conceptual and iconic and I wish I had gone with those but I wanted to challenge myself to draw the environment around these characters and use it to tell something about their personalities. The architecture was fun to do but I should have brought the focus tighter on the characters, and the colours in that Ness piece, along with the inking, are pretty bad. Yeesh.

Gotta push the media experimentation. Loosen up.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Busy Summer Inevitably Leads to a Busy Fall

...especially when Fall marks my fourth and final year at ACAD!

Yes, it's ACAD Year 4: The Revenge!

I know the blog was quiet over the summer but as you'll notice, it has been redesigned as a hub of my artistic reinvention and proliferation. I did some client work (most of which cannot be shown yet) and also held a full time job as an intern at ICOM Productions.

And me and the boys of ME THREE finished mastering our first album, set to debut this Fall.

So yes, busy. But here's a look at some illustrations I did for local theatre company, Theatre BSMT. Their season begins next week with Natalie Meisner's PINK SUGAR, an amazing play for which I had the good fortune of providing some poster illustrations and voice work for. I will be playing the role of a singing and dancing liver. Or kidney.

This image is a collage of the all of the illos I quickly did for their upcoming season, details of which can be found here.

This first play will be directed by my good friend, and talented director, Jason Mehmel. Speaking of, my Fight Comics collaborator and I will be speaking at the Lethbridge Word on the Street Festival next weekend. We will be part of a panel discussing web comics and indie publishing so it is sure to be a laugh riot filled with scandal and tearful confessions. Come on down if you are so inclined.

Oh and there are a few new pages in my sketchbook page so feel free to peruse and abuse.

Will keep updating with new projects as the year commences, including some freaking sweet design work on REACTIONARY!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Turnbuckle Justice

From the newly released anthology FIGHT COMICS, written by the incomparable Mr. Jason Mehmel, comes Turnbuckle Justice! This self-published collection was released at last April's Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo where we saw a very positive response.

The entire book will be viewable online and available for download HERE, but until then, here is the 5 page story of frontier justice written by Jason with art and letters by yours truly.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sometimes I Just Want to Draw Pretty Ladies in Nice Clothes...

Drawn from my head, outfit reference from Nylon magazine, a great resource for fashion ref. And pretty ladies. Did you know they have a Nylon for guys?

...Natasha, what have you done to me?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pinups on Parade

A selection of pinups for various clients and friends, all published or soon to be:

For Issue 2 of Ryan Ferrier's TIGER LAWYER, being released this summer.

For the May issue of Stephen Magazine, an article celebrating the Centennial of the Calgary Stampede. The whole issue can be viewed online here.

For this past April's Calgary Expo souvenir book, the theme once again being Dreams and Wishes. I had a couple of good sketches in my sketchbook and with the quick deadline on this one (during an especially hectic school week) I decided to incorporate and finish them up with colour and random floating staircases. And forehead keyholes to bring it all together.

Is a Malaysian dream warden a real thing, or did the writers of Batman Forever just make it up to add a little spice to their ridiculous movie? Regardless, it got to me.

Coming soon: TURNBUCKLE JUSTICE, the full story.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Evolution of Extinction

The Evolution of Extinction
(see below for detail pics)
I know, I know, with a title like that you're probably thinking:

"Ugh, drama queen."

But I had this idea last year as I contemplated the endless pattern/cycle of violence in which man is embroiled: from the first early man who killed his fellow monkey with a rock, to the Greeks vs Persians, the Crusades, World Wars and finally to the men in suits who fight for control of the big red button. I imagined one Atlas-like fellow doing his best to hold back the barrage from consuming the children of future generations, represented by the hologram of the little girl. Is this an act of futility? Can this tidal wave be halted? Whether this is a an optimistic or despondent piece depends on your personal perception, I suppose. And it just happened to sync up with the final project in Figure Illustration, a procession with at least 8 figures.

Well, I definitely met that mission requirement. Actual size of this piece is 16" x 40" which makes it the largest thing I've ever worked on. 

Stuff I like: the costumes, most of the figures are pretty good anatomy-wise, good energy.

Stuff I hate: the composition got away from me. I wish I had kept everyone on the same plane, creating more of a crashing dominoes feel. And this could be way messier, grittier. The colour could use some tweaking, as usual. As could the values.

I broke it up so you could get in close and enjoy the grisly details.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Demons in King Arthur's Court

The final project for Storytelling an Environments was a doozy: 5 illustrations depicting a world of mish-mashed genres. I've been looking into Arthurian mythology lately and my love for horror is definitely no secret, so I decided to blend Arthurian, sword and sorcery with contemporary horror films.  

An Overview of Camelot featuring the origin of the dark portal opened by Merlin over the Round Table of Arthur and his Knights. He wasn't powerful enough to close this portal to the Darker Realms and evil pours through, creeping through the kingdom, tainting all it touches. Salvation lies at the Lake of Avalon: Excalibur!

The big revelation was that of Excalibur's transformation into a chainsaw/sword. Oh. Yes.

The transportation in this world is dragons, a strong presence in Arthurian mythology, but I didn't want to do a cliched dragon design, so I fused a dragon body to a strange, flesh-colored, humanoid top section. Weird.

The headless Green Knight stalks Lady Guinevere through the castles of Camelot, a nod to slasher flicks. The lighting is very Suspiria on this one.

The Final Showdown in King Arthur's throne room; Excalibur in hand, Ancient Evil slithering in through the door.

Speaking of horror: I just saw Cabin in the Woods. Freaking fantastic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Draw Beavers and Vomit Ice Cubes

Today was the last day of school, wrapping up my 3rd year at ACAD and ushering in the final year of impending doom/glory.

So here's the last project submitted for the year:

A bit of a breakthrough as far as media exploration, this piece illustrates a scene from Shane Jones' Light Boxes, a beautiful, melancholic fairy tale for grown ups. It's a beautiful little experiment of a novel filled with beautiful, grisly imagery and it really messes with the craft and theory of storytelling. This scene is fairly self explanatory. Thaddeus has been standing in the middle of his frozen little village as a from of protest, hoping to retrieve his kidnapped daughter from February, and he suddenly vomits ice cubes.

Influence: I looked to German expressionists, Max Beckmann and Francis Bacon, trying for that raw emotional power.

The process: I drew the image in pencil, enlarged then inverted it on a photocopier (where the hell did that idea come from???) and then drew in the highlights with a white china marker (I figured this would really get across the merciless cold), scanned and coloured digitally. 

So here is one of the lengthier projects of the year, and the toughest. Select a company and create spot illustrations for their annual report that describe a metaphor for an aspect of the company. My chosen client was ROOTS. The metaphor was "new strategy for a new market." And somehow, after many sketches and discussions with my instructor, I ended up with beavers.

A cute beaver mascot bursting onto the scene, exploring new lands and being generally EXTREME in every sense of the word. My whole reason for selecting Roots was to work on my fashion illustration so, needless to say, I got a little sidetracked. I really dig the first two, the canoe one just wasn't working at all ever, so screw it.

 Here is the final montage piece we had to do that incorporated the same look and concept but with different aspects of the company (environment, active, Canadian heritage, community support.) All of these pieces were my attempt at escaping the crutch of the line and relying on shape, colour and pattern to create a composition, very much inspired by Charley Harper. Some small victories here.

Now let the summer begin!

(*mumbling to myself*...don't slack off on art don't slack off on art don't slack off on art...)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pride and Prejudice and a little Punk Rock

I'm way behind on the blogging but school is very nearly wrapped. I've been busy with all sorts of cool stuff (from school to... comics! [GASP!]) and I'll be updating lots in the next few weeks for sure.

So let's kick things off classy: 

19th century-Georgian-England classy.

The Environments class was way tough but I learned so goddam much. This project was especially tough:  describe a classic character using artifacts and environment and then reimagine that character in an entirely new setting and genre. I wanted a challenge so I picked something super far removed from my normal taste. But Pride and Prejudice is one of my girlfriend's favourite books. And I had to discover the secrets of wet Colin Firth and his abilities to drive the ladies into a frenzy.

 This first pic is from the view of Elizabeth Bennet's bedroom. The reinterpretation takes us to a London squat in late 1970s London for a tale of young love in the midst of the rising punk scene.

God, I just hate the way that first ballroom picture turned out. Looks like it's something out of Edgar Allan Poe, but that's what I get for throwing in a creepy fireplace portrait of some random moustached creep. The dive on the bottom is where Liz first sees Mr. Darcy in his band, Dapper Darcy and the Bingers. She hates him at first. She thinks he's a total poser.

And finally, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth picnic outside his estate and she spontaneously decides to go for a dip, Mr. Darcy in tow. The lower pic features the spot where Liz and Darcy share their first passionate, post-riot kiss in the warm glow of a burned out car... (*wipes away a tear...)

I'd say the reinterpretations turned out way better than the classical pics but it was nice to try something different, stretch some new muscles.

And maybe Pride and Prejudice isn't the most boring story ever created after all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Phantom Process

Here's part deux of our Pulp Fiction Character assignment in school. I threw some process in there for fun. I dove into the wild n wacky world of crow quill pens and india ink and I am loving it. It's definitely a challenge but it's all worth it when you get that perfect shining line, rich with personality.

More Col. Phantom, comin' at ya:

Here's the first comp we had to do. Type is always a tricky mistress to please but this was just a comp so I wasn't required to push it to completion. I was going for a very iconic look to this one, simple and bad ass, which is nice because I usually end up packing my illustrations with waaay too much visual information. Case in point:

Yep, lots going on. Got a bit carried away with the colors. But I'm making lots of little discoveries along the way. Me and this piece need some time apart, so I'll just move on before I say anything I can't take back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Color of Justice!

Another long awaited project has come and gone: creating a pulp character for Figure Illustration 2, Third Year. I wrote a script for Col. Phantom the summer before I started my schooling at ACAD, determined to create my own radio play featuring the character, thus scratching a long time itch. So when this project finally came around, I was determined to get my ass into the AV studio and record the thing in all its campy, pulp glory.

So without further ado, Nick Johnson proudly presents:

(main characters featured below...)

Col. Phantom!

Dr. Wendigo!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Angels, Thieves and the Power of the Cosmos

Reading Week is here! Unfortunately, there's a To Do list as long as my arm that needs gettin' done and there is rent to pay... 

But enough about that boring sheeyit, let's talk illustration!

Assignment: For Illustration, choose an article and create a metaphor dealing with opposites that describes it. (Clear as mud, right?)

Concept: The underground French artists known as UX (article here, very interesting.) They are sneaky infiltrators made out to be outlaws who actually use their powers for good. So I have depicted a burglar type character who is revealed to be a bit of an angel.

What I Like: colours, character design, tiptoeing burglar pose.

What I'd Fix: increase randomness of moth displacement, make angel less blocky and add more movement and personality to his pose.

Assignment: This is a new intro page for James' upcoming collection My Modern Panic, for which I created the cover last year. It was great to be able to add a little extra to an old story (I re-lettered it and added some values) and it felt great to add some new art to compliment the story.

Concept: James wrote a sweet little poem as read by the Crypt Keeper-ish host Hermes. The characters from the upcoming story are balanced on the Scales of the Cosmos!.... or something.

What I Like: character design, half-tone values.

What I'd Fix: The composition was close to good, then I screwed up and placed it dead centre. Wiht the text all on the left, things are a little left-side-heavy. And the title itself is boring and lame. But I have time to improve it so that's what I'm gonna do!

Look for My Modern Panic at the Calgary Expo this year!

I'll be there.

Waiting for you.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

You'll Be Plenty Warm in Hell, Sam McGee

Phase 2 of my Storytelling and Environments class is proving to be as much of a challenge as the first part. Our first assignment was to create environments based on the poetry of Robert Service. Apparently he is a Canadian legend but I hadn't heard of him till I was assigned the project.

The poem I selected was the Cremation of Sam McGee. It's very atmospheric (all of his work is) and very spooky. Give it a read and you'll see why I chose it.

Inside Sam McGee's tent, as he prepares to head out on his final trek through the Yukon cold.

Dawson's pass, or as I like to call it, The Gates of Hell, Frozen Over.

Sam's final moments are filled with dreams of home, the warm cotton fields of Tennessee.

Filled with dread, our narrator approaches the derelict where Sam's body burns.

There's lots I'd love to fix on these, and the finals printed out quite dark so they looked even worse but you gotta get burned by printing at least once, I say, to learn the lesson right. Tighter pencils, better value control and painting a little less sloppy are my other lessons for this week.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thrown to the Wolves

Year 3, semester 2: We're past all of our first projects now and I've already been doing a lot more media exploration than last semester. With mixed results, to be sure, but the results are interesting.

Conceptual illustration for a found article, rendered in scratchboard and digital. Tell me that new NDAA bill doesn't scare the shit out of you just a little bit...

Character study for Figure Illustration, painted in acrylics then tweaked ( a lot) digitally. Features a character from a short story I wrote last year called Idle Words. Shoulda pushed the gritty on this one...

Character study based on the obituary of Helen (Bobbie Nudie) Cohn. Super interesting lady who, along with her husband, created the memorably sparkly and garish outfits for Roy Rogers, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. Rendered in ink, coloured digitally.