Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Exposing myself, Vol.2

My Photobooth library was getting overcrowded, so obviously it is time to share some reference shots. The majority were spent on a project I still can't fully share, but there are some sneak peaks here, as well as many photos of bed head and neglected shaving.

One project, The Silence of Eggs, had it's own personal collection of weird. Nailing just the right variation of psychotic focus took a bit of work.
Note use of tools on rare occasions when my face is not elastic enough.
And, by the way, I own these pants.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Corporate Dealmakers

Without fail, if I leave my studio for any extended period of time, I will get a commission that I can't turn down.

On this occasion, I went to Altoona, PA with some artist buddies to check out Illuxcon. I have a not-so-secret interest in fantasy art and this convention is the premiere showcase for original genre paintings.  While drooling over idealized yet heavily armored women and every variety of slimey monster, I received a call to do a cover for Larry Gendron at The Deal.  I went from the dude staring at paintings to the dude sitting in the corner sketching. So it goes.

Lacking a scanner I was forced to take pictures of my thumbnails my ipad, send them to my laptop and work them up in photoshop. Not exactly my ideal creative situation, but it worked.

The topic was the top 100 corporate dealmakers. When I first talked to Larry, he was trying to find reference for the top ten, so I could put them on the cover. Considering the idea of doing ten likenesses while basically scrawling on napkins left me very scared. Lucky me, editors couldn't nail down the names and faces, so instead I got to go a bit more abstract (thank Jebus).

The idea was to show these imposing corporate character as getting ready for, or running into, battle. We agreed that a color scheme based off "300" could be a nice touch. My apologies to loincloth enthusiasts for keeping the characters in suits.
running, standing tough, walking
 We settled on the standing and looking threatening option.
Pretty fun going really atmospheric, pulling out white suit highlights and really saturating the reds.
In other news, my long time ebook project wrapped up recently, so I should posting a lot more regularly. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The bedchambers

Here's a peak at another part of the series I've been working on. The whole project is wrapping around Thanksgiving, so I've been sequestered to my drawing table. Hence the lack of posts. Once I get my head above water again, I'll share some more. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 17, 2011

More drawings and Dexter's mug

Apologies for the lack of posts. I'm still up to my elbows in graphite and really should stay there for a while. But, when the blog collects dust, I get progressively antsy. I am quite antsy. So, again, my apologies. At some point in the future, I'll throw a bucketload of drawings at you. Please bear with me till then and enjoy the handful I'm allowed to leak out.

Oh, and I made time a while back to produce a quickie Dexter portrait sample for my rep. Hope ya dig it. 
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My awkward years, immortalized in pencil.

I've been packing up my apartment to move from my current Brooklyn location to the hipster paradise of Williamsburg. My pants aren't nearly tight enough, and eyewear frames far too thin.

In the process, I found a sketchbook from middle school and early high school that somehow I've been hanging onto for.... 18 years? At the time I was taking weekly extracurricular cartooning classes in the backroom of a local Dick Blick. Being a very sedentary and sunlight-shy child/adolescent, my parents were quick to encourage anything that got me out of the house for an afternoon. I requested a bit of homework to add to the weekly comic pages (If I dig those up, I may show them as well) I was making, and this notebook was the result.

My instructor, who will remain nameless because he's since become an upstanding citizen, would make a list of complete ludicrous titles. My job would be to add a gag cartoon of some sort to each one. Here are a handful for your perusal (many were too blatantly vulgar to show. Trust)...
"The fat man with gigantic nipples standing on line for Star Wars on a cold night"

"Jerry and the Dog Sausage"

Top: "King Fatty Dumb Jackass in his castle eating gum" (apologies for the unintentional phallus) Bottom: "The animal kingdom bakes a cake for their friend, the loving manatee"

Top: "Giraff Whiplash" (sic) Bottom: "Morris the Cat arrested for beastiality" (sic)

Top: "Jerry the Gentile Giant" (sic) Bottom: "The Kitten Dog Fight"

"Exploding Robot Kittens"

Top: "The World's Fugliest Man Breaks Wind" Bottom: "Soil Trauser Aromatherapy" (sic)

Top: "Tina Tuna and Tom Terrific" Bottom: "Squirl Bread™" (sic)
Several things are instantly clear:
-my ability to draw animal anatomy was way more advanced than my human anatomy. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much.
-my love of Ren & Stimpy is very clear in the loving care I put into sausage and butt-acne textures
-the lists my instructor gave me were riddled with misspellings. I knew this at the time and thought they were funnier with the screwy spelling. I'm confident I am still right.
-while many are embarrassing, I'm pretty proud of a bunch of them. I will stand by the manatee, "giraff" and "squirl" any day.

And just to save my ego, here's some recent work.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exterrestrial cephalopods and partying shrimp.

My buddy, Irene Gallo at, apparently REALLY likes when I draw tentacles. I've done about 4 or 5 tentacle-based illustrations for her and, honestly, that I don't mind that type-casting one bit.

The latest was a featured article about editing. One part stand alone story, one part tribute to a Tor editor.  Originally, we wanted to do a rollover with the editor's head on the octopus body, switching back and forth to the full on cephalopod head. Because of time constraints, and Irene hiking in Iceland (God bless her), we ended up dropping the rollover likeness. But you can see it here...
The winning thumbnail with some value refinement, staying loose.
The very rough sketch, establishing a mood.
A bit more refinement, plus a layer with the editor's face. All bad tie and plaid pants were specifically requested to match his "style."
After approval, I keep refining to make sure everything works spatially, and try to correct the weight and solidity of the figure and tentacles.
Clean finished drawing printed onto watercolor. 
And the final paint/post production effects.
I attempted to put a couple Easter eggs in there for those who looked closely. You can find three Hugo awards this editor (David Hartwell) won sitting on various shelves. Good luck.

And recently, I was given permission to show some exploratory work I did for Adfero. I was asked to help design a shrimp that looked friendly and healthy to represent the Gulf Coast shrimp industry*.
    Making an insect-like crustacean look cuddly is an art in itself. I purposely didn't let myself look at Peter de Séve's blog knowing he had done something similar and far superior a short while back.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, though.

And one last drawing from my mystery project to hold you over while I got back to my cave...

Thanks for reading- S

*Mardi the Spokeshrimp was created by the Washington, DC public relations firm Adfero Group for an organization that wanted to promote the shrimp industry in the Gulf Coast of the United States.  Playing off of the Canjun flair for creative ways to serve shrimp, Adfero named the character after the world famous Mardi Gras that takes place in New Orleans each year.**

**Sorry about the fine print.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Plant things, Hawaiian Frenchies and an ugly lady.

I've been absent from the blog, but trust me, it's because I've been doodling up a storm for a large project I can't show just yet.

But here is the current state of my desk...
 I promise I'll share more soon.

But it hasn't been all sketching, I did a quickie black and white painting (when does THAT ever happen?) for The Milken Institute. They were goofing on the Obama birth certificate debacle, and made the joke that even though the document is real, it's irrelevant since Hawaii was under French rule when he was born. Hence, the following....
And, in the first job that my rollovers ever directly produced, my old pal Eric Seidman at AARP Bulletin had me try my hand at creating an icon for them. The project ended up going in another direction, but it was a fun gig.

And in Baba Yaga news... she is very ugly.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Baseball, audiobooks, Spectrum and lots of coffee.

A little while back I had the luxury of a nice two week deadline for Library Journal. A fun crowd scene requiring a variety of faces in a theater enjoying audiobooks that was just complex enough to let me flex some rendering muscles and take my time.

With two days left to work up the final, I had to throw my relaxed pace out the window to jump into a overnighter for Wall Street Journal.

WSJ's illustration was on the growing lack of interest in baseball among America's youth. My goal was to show that disinterest through several generations. Having done all my rollovers, this actually came relatively naturally. I love the idea of one part of an image remaining constant while things evolve around it. (Speaking of... I found out that my Ada Lovelace Day rollover was also accepted into Spectrum 18! Pretty much the same idea-> Image below). 
    Having been what some would call "indoorsy" as a child, I had to do a fair amount of research about various sports equipment, uniforms, and heroes that would end up on posters. (Full disclosure: the extent of my baseball experience is signing up for tee ball as a child, going to games, hitting the ball, refusing to run, and sitting back down.)
50s/70's/90's/00's.  None of the above had a part in my own childhood.
Luckily Derick Gonzalez at the Journal was a bit more knowledgable and helped me out. I will take credit for the ever-so-subtle upgrade from old school to new school skateboard in the last two panels.
Again... replace all sports paraphernalia with Batman: The Animated Series/ make the boy chubby and pale.
Lots of fun working this one up.  Looking back, I kinda wish I used hot-press paper to calm the texture down. Still, I'm pretty stoked on how it turned out. Even better, it printed in full color (a gamble at WSJ) and by far the largest piece I've had in their paper.

So, one overnighter follows another now that my time was nearly up for Library Journal. I should say now that I know it's not exactly uncommon for an illustrator to do back to back overnighters, but hey, this was my first.

final approved sketch
Final and in context.
Even though I was dead-man painting at this point, I think it still stands up. Tried a lil something new keeping the headphones and media players unaffected by the darkness of the theater to pop a bit more. 

And here is the Ada Lovelace rollover I mentioned that was also accepted to Spectrum 18.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Qaddafi Duck

The American Interest requested the following...

Who wouldn't jump at this opportunity?

They requested a mix of very goofy with menacing danger. A nice challenge to keep both Daffy and Qaddafi's likenesses intact while bending and stretching the face. I'll let everyone else decide if I was successful. 

The approved sketch. 
And the final art.
Lots of interesting challenges in this one. Mimicking the lettering probably took longer than any other part of the image but putting everything together was a blast. Big thanks to the kind folks at The American Interest for coming up with a ridiculous image and thinking of me to help bring it to light.