Dauthuz

If you follow my work, you know I’ve been working on some album art and another tee design for Dauthuz. There’s not really that much to say except that things have been progressing well but slowly because I was caught up in “exam hell” with little time for drawing. To clarify, I’ve been taking a course in Norwegian at the Bergen University, and it’s something I take very seriously. So, yeah, now you know it all.

dauthuz y.jpg

Well, perhaps there is more to be said there.

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As much as I like my previous and first tee design for Dauthuz — something always felt off about those damned skulls. Specifically, the texture of the skulls wasn’t — isn’t boney enough, so this time around I’m trying to, at least, get that right.

I mean, sure, the nasal bone looks okay enough, but the maxilla and the upper dental arches are pure amateur hour.

Dauthuz: T-Shirt Design

Some of you may have seen the final t-shirt design* already. Some of you who have not seen it should see it, especially if you play in a band. Maybe some who have seen it should see it again.

Dauthuz T-Shirt

It’s been a long time dream come true. Over the years I’ve scratched off a few things of my “bucket list” — I’ve designed logos for some cool bands and I’ve even done some album art… but until now I had never designed a t-shirt. So yeah, it’s been great to work on this one, since it also features in a logo designed by me.

As to the design itself, there’s not much to add. Dauthuz is an old-school Death Metal band. And nothing says “old-school Death Metal” more than a pair of — not really anatomically correct — skulls.

Now, if you’re in a Death Metal band and need some artwork for your album or whatever, feel free to contact me and we will work something out.

*) Soon you can order my t-shirt through their webstore for measly ten euros!

Dauthuz: Sneak Peek

As I noted in one of my previous blog entries, I’m currently working on a T-shirt design for Dauthuz. It’s shaping up nicely, if I say so myself. And, so far, the feedback on social media has been very positive, even more so than usual. So heh… I might’ve just finally found the right niche for myself. No, to be honest, I don’t think there’s a future in Death Metal T-shirt design because the return simply isn’t there. Most of the time you only get paid in “exposure,” if even that. But it’s fun, for a change, to toy around with new, more gritty ideas and (at least to me) unfamiliar styles of drawing and rendering, so that’s just fine with me. But don’t go expecting I’ll be doing freebies and cheapies for all you bands out there!

Dauthuz, tshirt design, deathmetal, gore, horror, zombie, illustration, skull, blackwhite

 

Hollow Be Thy Name

 

So as you may know, I’m taking a course on video game character design, and I get these homework assignments. This week, the assignment was to take an established video game character and make it fit for another game universe.

Well, I’ve playing Dark Souls 2 a lot lately, which got me inspired to do something in that style. Then it got me thinking, What contrasting video game character could I “fit in” in such a grim, unrelenting atmosphere? I decided on Mario. Now I know, it may not be the most original choice, but I just couldn’t think of a better one than the happy go lucky, child friendly plumber we all know and love.

I didn’t want to mess too much with Mario’s original iconic design. But since Dark Souls features densely detailed characters, I had to make his design a bit more dense as well, and so I added some weapons and armory. Also, I muted the colors a bit to make the mood a bit more dark. And of course, how could I not make him look like a Hollow.

Mario, Nintendo, From Software, Dark Souls, Crossover, Popart, Medieval, Dark Ages, Hollow, Undead, Cartoon, Gerrit Rijken, Iosua, Illustration

Bumstein

So, what’s cooking? Well uh, I started doing a course on video game character design. For my first homework assignment, I had to draw some variations of a character design. I chose to do a character I was already working on for a webcomic — which I hope to publish sometime… well, sometime next year.

Cartoon, illustration, characterdesign, character design, video game, Bumstein, webcomic, conceptart, concept art, Gerrit Rijken, Iosua

Also, I’m currently laying out the plans for a collaborative art project together with my sister who, by the way, is well on her way of becoming an airbrush master. I’m really excited about that!

And uh… of course there are still some commissioned pieces I need to finish soon.

 

On Good Bad Art

I read a lot on how to draw human figures and landscapes; I read a lot on what makes a good visual narrative; I read a lot on the history of comics, on what comics artists from various decades and places have been doing, and why; in short, I do a lot of reading on making cartoons and comics — and yes, funnily enough, I end up spending more time reading about it than actualling doing it. There is an upshot to this, however. Sometimes, in this erudition, I stumble upon these little inspirational nuggets. One such nugget for me is what renowned 1970s’ punk manga artist King Terry has said about his philosophy for artists (as quoted in Frederik L. Schodt’s Dreamland Japan).

To him the highest level of achievement for an artist is not the ability to make good art but instead the ability to make heta-uma (which translated means ‘bad-good’) art. By which he means not your it’s-so-bad-it’s-good art but art that is both bad and good at the same time. To illustrate this, I can think of no better example than Dutch absurdist Gummbah, whose work was once ridiculed by editors but eventually got featured in national newspapers and magazines. On first glance, looking at just one figure or cartoon that he created, you may think him possessing no drawing skill or technical ability whatsoever, but his cartooning style oozes soul and authentic personal sensibility — and that’s precisely what makes his cartoons so good … while being bad. I wonder, though,  if anyone would go as far as to proclaim him a master cartoonist. I know I would, but I may be alone in that.

Gummbah

Now, of course you can argue that a cartooning style such as his doesn’t hold up compared to — I don’t know, say the just-plain-good-drawing style of Marten Toonder, arguably the best Dutch comic strip creator to have ever lived. But the point King Terry wants to make is that people, young and aspiring artists especially, tend to value and emphasize technique over style, while, in his view, it should be the other way around. And he’s right. Artists should establish a style of their own first, and only then strive for mastering their drawing skills… or just be content with having a signature style, or any style at all, even it’s bad.
Marten Toonder

Well, ideally, of course, it would be nice if a work of art shows both individual style and technical prowess like — well, for example, the comic strips of Toonder. But it takes a certain talent, an innate gift, to achieve such a level of competence. Not to mention a lifetime of practice and discipline. So, yeah, not everyone gets to be the next Toonder. No, chances are, you will end up like me — inadequate, technically incompetent, lacking knowledge or skills. But don’t get discouraged, there’s a silver lining here. No matter how bad you are at drawing, you can still be an authentic artist and get your work published.

ongeKUNSTeld

It’s been awhile. I went to Norway for a few weeks, where I climbed some peaks and read some books — and nothing much besides. Turns out, I really need a computer to get some drawing done. *self-depracating sigh*

Once home, I immediately got back to drawing, first on another Shape of the Week challenge, then on my first editorial illustration for ongeKUNSTeld, a Dutch art blog.

Ongekunsteld, cartoon, kunst, oriental, middle east, fairy tale, tekening, illustratie, beeld, arabian nights, 1001 nights, sprookje, kinderboek, children's book

 

It is here I want to try something new, something I’ve never really done; say — or rather, write — why I drew what I drew. Now, this isn’t going to be a master class in Character Design and Figure Drawing as I’m still learning and struggling myself, but I do hope it might give those of you who are not cartooning experts yet a taste or understanding for what is on a cartoonist’s mind.

  • Size and Proportions
    A normal realistic human figure has a small head and long legs supporting a medium-sized torso. But that is kinda boring, so what you want to do is mix it up a bit. For example: Give your character a disproportionately large head on a tiny torso, with medium-sized stick legs.
  • Figure Posing
    • Balance
      Balance is all about weight distribution. If you mess that up, your figure — its pose and movement — will feel “off”. A case in point here would be the harem belly dancer who looks like she’s about to stumble. However, her visage gives her an intoxicated look, so I suppose you can explain that away, but that is a lousy excuse.
    • Counterbalance
      As a body moves, its weight distribution shifts. So when setting up a character in motion, you need not only think of the main movement of the body, but also of its countermovement to depict this distribution shift. So an example would be, if your character stretches his or her right leg out in front, his or her left arm stretches up behind the back.
    • Congruency
      It would be easy to just forego drawing figures in dynamic poses. But, not only is that boring, “uncartoony”, it wouldn’t make sense in some situations. Let us look, for example, at my very first editorial cartoon. Untitled-1These two characters are supposed to be surprised, shocked, appalled at what they see, but they just stand there stiff and posed, with their arms drooping, as if they’re indifferent. This creates a sense of incongruence, which is detrimental in cartooning art. Examples of more congruent poses would be the stiff, annoyed posture of woman on the left or the gay strut of the Sultan in the former cartoon.
  • “Soundtrack”
    Let us look again at the latter cartoon. See how it doesn’t convey sound — or any show of emotion? Now compare it to the former. Note, for example, the slight crosshatching on the left woman’s face, the tapping of her foot, and the hand-drawn musical note coming from the mouth of the old astrologer. All these little subtle visual cues make a cartoon come to funny life.

Let me know if you want to read more of these sorts of blog posts.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

It was Thursday yesterday. So it was that day of the week on which we throwback to, well, old shit we’ve already posted. Anyway. I was looking through some old sketches and I came across these cutesy princesses. I didn’t feel like resharing them since I never really liked them in the first place — I do think they had potential, though –, so instead I decided on revamping their design concept.

Princess, cute, cutesy, children's book, illustration, cartoon, drawing, fairytale

In other news, I did another Shape Challenge which spurred my creativity.

Viking, troll, hunter, cartoon, illustration, WhatMalDraws, ShapeoftheWeek

Finally, I’m currently working on — you guessed it! — yet another makeover for portfolio purposes. I know there isn’t much to show yet, but for those who are interested in seeing how I start off my work process…

work in progress, cartoon, illustration, scoot mobile, scooter, elderly, senior, old man

Shape of the Week: Return of the Gnome

I haven’t done much drawing for the past few days since I was bent on finishing reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. It’s a great read with imaginative, inspiring characters in it — like, for instance, industrial remade chimeras, sapient talking birdmen, and human-like women with chitinous heads. But yesterday it came to me that, arguably, the greatest of all characters is New Crobuzon, the city in which the story takes place. I say ‘arguably’ but it seems pretty clear to me that Mieville spent more time fleshing out its background, history, politics, demography, etc., than detailing or explaining the characters — bar one exception, perhaps. So the city becomes more than just a backdrop, it becomes an active agent in the story… Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Well, here’s the thing, I was thinking of ‘cartoonifying’ some of the book’s characters. I thought of how to draw machinery, feathers, and city scapes. And then I went on thinking… and thinking… And during all that time, the (digital) canvas remained empty. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Today I decided to ‘kickstart’ myself, again. But instead of going through my usual routine — participating in a design contest, always against my better judgment — I decided to partake in a challenge set by Mallory Carlson at the Nickelodeon Artist Program. Let me tell you, it has been a fun experience. Not only did it get me drawing again, it’s also been really inspiring to see what fellow-artists came up with!

Gnome, dwarf, concept art, character design, cartoon, illustration, whatmaldraws, nickelodeon artist program

 

The Rush of the Sprint

This week, I participated in a design contest for some marathon event. I was to draw a Viking helmet with a Viking running on top of it. So I came up with this idea… to make the helmet look like a naturescape, a runner’s paradise of sorts, with some running figures on the path. But sadly, the contest holder deemed it “too colorful,” so that was it…

Floating island, viking helmet, cartoon, illustration, trees, mushrooms, scenery, exterior

I say sadly, but in truth it was a “bi-winning” experience nonethelesss. After all, the contest provided me both a deadline and an opportunity to practice drawing scenery — which I have been wanting for months but which I have kept postponing –, and in the end the drawing came out pretty decent. So, uh, the takeaway from all this is, that sometimes it’s good to have a deadline.

Full disclosure: As someone who majored in history, I know damn well that Viking helmets in actuality never had horns attached to them. But, let’s face it, they do look better with horns.