Friday, December 30, 2011

Woman on a Sofa

Here is a quick pen & ink sketch I did the other night.

I am attempting to better learn how to draw in this style, using large areas of black in combination with thin pen lines.

My favourite part of this whole illustration, though, is the woman's hair and the black square behind it. Despite them both being black, the hair is interacting with the background, creating depth in a subtle way.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Carol


There are few better opening lines in all of literature.

I do not grow tired of this book, and feel to this end – at least with myself – Dickens has achieved his purported aim:

"I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blue Tablecloth

Inspired by the George Lucas drawing I did a while back, here is another pen & ink drawing with a checkered background.

Looking at this for a second time, I am realizing that this one may be a bit derivative from The Sandman.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Channeling Miyazaki

I did this drawing quickly the other night when I was tired, and I promptly fell in love with it. I had been drawing for a project using a fine round tip brush and India ink. On a whim I decided to try doing a quick contour drawing the same way I draw using a ballpoint pen.

I have tried translating the same technique using a fountain pen, and it does not work. The key to the ballpoint drawings is the pen's flow. Because of the ball-tip the line is continuous and does not have hard stops. Conversely, the fountain tip makes drawings that are made up almost exclusively of hard stops because you are dragging tips of metal across the page. This means it is great for cross-hatching, but not so great for flowing contours.

Anyway, I tried the contour drawing with the brush and ink and immediately knew that this would work. It flows nearly as well as the ballpoint pen, except when you have to stop to dip the brush back in the ink. However, this is more than made up for by the dynamic line variation and even tonal variation as the brush loses ink.

I am sure that is more than you wanted to know.

Shifting gears, after staring at the drawing for a while, I think I discovered why it appeals to me so much: it looks like a drawing of Lupin or Daisuke Jigen from The Castle of Cagliostro.

If you have not seen this movie, you should. It is one of Miyazaki's early greats.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Home of the Naturalist


I just finished this illustration for a client. I can not say much about the project itself, but I will say that this was really exciting to put together.

This is a larger cross-hatching drawing than I usually do (approximately 11 x 17 inches). This is great, though, because the drawing looks even better when it is scaled down.

I can not tell if I want to poke around in this room or run.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lazy Artist

Last night I decided to do this quick sketch of my father. I was inspired by an illustration portrait I recently saw which used strong blacks for the face and then bright reds for the clothes.

I had drawn my dad's face and arms and was ready to add the red ink. Now, being the procrastinator that I am, I have not replaced my empty paper towel roll out in my studio. As such, I did not have anything to sufficiently wipe off my pen nib with. It was late at night (...early morning that is) and I did not feel like marching into the house to retrieve some more towels.

I resorted to lazy creativity and decided rather than using my pen nib, I would just load my ink dropper and "draw" with it while slightly squeezing the rubber bulb on the opposite end.

Rarely is such laziness rewarded as it was last night. Within about 20 seconds I had roughed in the shirt and immediately realized that the shirt was done. I had expected to do a lot more detail, but now knew that anything more would feel overworked.

"Hi, my name is Landis, and I am a lazy artist."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Child Sketch

Here is another development sketch I did a little while ago for my next book project.

I have actually started the final illustrations for this project which is quite thrilling. To start seeing a story unfolding in front of you is a high like not much else.

Well, except maybe a full bowl of Boo Berry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A George Lucas Picnic

I was in my studio today trying to think of something I felt like drawing. I decided to flip through my morgue files for inspiration and I came upon a black and white photo of a really young George Lucas. Perfect.

I started drawing with my fountain pen (one of my top ten favourite possessions) and was initially pleased with the empty contours I laid down. The further I got with the crosshatching, though, the more frustrated I became.

I could not quite contain my diasppointment and resorted to squirting ink onto the drawing with an eye dropper. Hmm...this was getting interesting.

When I had started the drawing, I had been looking forward to drawing George's checkered shirt (yes, I know its lame that I get excited about such things). However, as a result of my frustration I knew I was not going to mentally survive to the point of actually drawing the shirt. In full knowledge that I had already ruined the drawing, I decided to do the next best thing: use watercolor to lay in George's shirt pattern behind him.

Presto! Instant transformation from young George Lucas to the head of John the Baptist placed on a picnic table.

Dang.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Three new published drawings!



I got a morale boost the other day when I opened my mailbox and had the new issue of Drollhouse magazine sitting inside. I had done three illustrations for them about a month and a half ago and the issue has now been printed and is being distributed.

The article I was asked to illustrate was about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' song "Home." The main illustration for the article (the one I included a larger image of on top) is my visual interpretation of the song. Essentially I set my Ipod on repeat, listened to the song about 84 times straight as I was drawing, and this is what came out.

The print quality of the magazine is superb. I was worried that some of the details would be lost but the translation from the printer to the page came of splendid.

I am extremely grateful to Drollhouse for giving me this opportunity. If you like underground humor, you should definitely check out their blog or pursue some of their future publications.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Character sketch (and a warm sweater)



Here is a sketch I did in my studio last night. I am still working out some style issues, but overall I am pleased with how this one turned out.

Besides, it is really really fun to draw sweaters.

You should try it sometime. Really.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Failed Drawing #3


Here is my next "failed drawing." Once again I was copying a Charles Gibson illustration. I do not think you need me to clarify, but the top drawing is my attempted copy of Gibson's drawing on the bottom. If you are new to my failed drawings, you can read my explanation here.

You will once again immediately notice my proportion inaccuracies. I am considering the possibility of sketching out the drawing first in pencil, but since my primary intent is to try and improve my pen and ink technique I am not sure if I want to labor over the initial drawing. I have to think about it.

Aside from this, I have recently discovered that Gibson's original drawings are much larger than I assumed. This is actually quite comforting, because I was beginning to wonder just how he was able to manage such minute lines and cross-hatching. It would seem most of his drawings are approximately 18 x 22 inches, whereas I have been attempting my drawings at about 8 x 10 inches. I am not trying to excuse myself, or to imply if I were to copy the drawings larger mine would be perfect; far from it.

All I am saying is I think I will need to try increasing my drawings because I am beginning to realize that I can not really learn Gibson's techniques when I am having to translate his cross-hatching into what amounts as short-hand. I can mimic value in a smaller drawing, but not the proper texture and complexity. This is a valuable lesson for me, though, as I work on my own illustration projects: draw bigger. By doing a larger drawing, it will look more masterful as it is scaled down.

Something I absolutely love about the Gibson drawing above is how he manages to give so much life and variety in the background wallpaper. While you can not really make out a pattern, Gibson is able to imply one and give depth to the drawing the would be otherwise absent.

I will be soon attempting some more failed drawings copying other artist's besides Gibson. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Secret Acres

I just discovered Secret Acres this past week and really am loving what they do. They are serious about promoting independent comic projects as well as showcasing a number of great artists.

If you enjoy underground comics at all, you should definitely check out this website. There is a load of free content in addition to the ability to purchase (at reasonable rates) actual comics.

While I have not been browsing the site long enough yet, it appears that they update new comics fairly regularly.

Seriously, check these guys out: Secret Acres.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Child Sketch

Here is another sketch of a child for the project I am developing. I think that the dark green and brown watercolor come together well with the black pen & ink. When you glance at the drawing, you almost do not realize it is colored. This pleases me and is something I will try to remember for the future.

I apologize for my delay in posting new work. It was necessary the past ten days for me to devote my time to a non-art related project. Please look for more updates soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

St. Bernard Sketches




Here are the St. Bernard sketches I mentioned yesterday. These were more sketches for the same potential client.

I believe these turned out better than the Siamese cats. I am not positive, but I think this is because I was looking at St. Bernards more freshly. The last book project I worked on involved a cat. After drawing cats for several months, my head thinks I know more about cats than I do, causing me to look less and fabricate more.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Siamese sketches




Here are some sketches I did this morning for a potential client. He was interested in specifically seeing some drawings of Siamese cats and St. Bernard dogs.

I am not completely happy with these cat drawings, but am pleased with the immediacy with which they present themselves. The style does not lend itself to being completely accurate in depicting the subject, but rather more of a feeling regarding subject.

I will also be posting the St. Bernard sketches sometime soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Charles Gibson Fail #2


This is my failed drawing attempt at copying the right half of Gibson's "Reading the Will" (see my post from a couple days ago to view my first failed drawing).

Gibson was absolutely spectacular at creating convincing dark fabric with his pen lines. If you look at the clothes of the figures in his drawing, you know exactly what kind of material they are made of as well as how they are folded on the figure's bodies. Yet, if you just glance at the drawing, you are convinced the clothes are "just black."

He is able to achieve this "informed black" by not simply making straight repeated strokes of his pen. Every single pen-stroke is an informed directional decision. Each decision by itself bears little value, but when stacked alongside numerous other decisions, suddenly movement and dimensionality is created.

There is so much to learn from Gibson, and I am certain you will see more of my failed drawings, attempting to grasp him.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blue Boy Sketch

Here is another colored sketch loosely based on the book project I am engrossed in.

I am especially fond of his sweater, although I think it might clash with his hair.

I am sure not going to be the one to tell him (the little bully).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Charles Gibson Fail #1


I have decided to start a recurrent series here on my blog. The series will be entitled "Fails" and will essentially document the process of me trying to learn something from the draftsmen I respect the most.

In order to practice and learn, I periodically attempt to copy drawings from artists that impress me. Now, however, I am going to be making this process public by posting both my drawings as well as images of the originals I was copying.

I must be clear, by me posting my own drawings alongside that of these masters, I am in NO WAY equating myself with them. On the contrary, the reason I am calling the series "Fails" is because that is exactly what I do every time I attempt to copy a master drawing. I am actually swallowing my pride extensively in posting my drawings, because I am ashamed after trying such exercises by my lack of proficiency.

So, all this being said, this series will be an act of humility on my part, but I hope at the same time interesting for you. It is am aim to be honest about my lack of abilities, that I might A: be more comfortable with who I am as an illustrator, and B: learn something and improve my deficient abilities.

Enough explaining, onto the first drawing in the series, which you will see posted at the top of the page. One of my absolute favourite pen & ink artists is Charles Dana Gibson who was a true wizard with the nib.

The first image on this post is my attempt at copying a section of Gibson's drawing entitled "Reading the Will" (which is the second image). You will quickly see the lack in quality in my drawing compared to his. Apart from the proportional differences and flaws, my drawing has none of the subtlety that Gibson has in his pen strokes. In his drawing it is almost as though he is painting with the cross-hatched lines, creating a warmth that is lacking in my drawing.

Seeing as this blog post is already longer than I intended, I will stop short with my comparisons this time and simply deem my drawing a resounding FAIL.

Expect more failed drawings soon...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Abraham Lincoln...only different

Okay, so my intent when I started doing this drawing was not to do a portrait of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but fate possesses unique desire.

I experimented with this style a bit back in college, but never went very far with it. I am pleased with the result, but I have a feeling that the style is a "one trick mutt" which quickly would lose its charm with many brothers and sisters.

This being the case, Abe may have to remain a loner for a while. Although, I now have a growing compulsion to do a bloody Lizzy Bennet...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Boy Walking

This is another style of drawing I have been recently experimenting with for an upcoming book project I am starting. The book has black and white illustrations, but I could not help myself from doing some color sketches as well.

I am primarily concerned with figuring out the right proportions and general look of the characters.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy creature

Monsters anyone?

I am not quite sure where in my head this one came from, but I have to say that I am fond of his happy nostril lips.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Publication!



I had something exciting in my mailbox a few days ago: the latest issue of New Escapologist. Inside the magazine, I have three different illustrations (visible above). These illustrations were for an article about a Chicago naturalist named Leonard Dubkin. If you would like to see the illustrations just by themselves, click here (they are the first three illustrations to pop up).

Having not seen a previous issue of New Escapologist, I have to say I was impressed with the quality of the magazine. In actuality, it is small book, with a pleasing glossy cover. I have not finished reading all of the articles yet, but the ones I have read are original and inspired.

I am pleased with how the whole project turned out and I have to thank the people at New Escapologist for given me the opportunity to do this. If you would like to check out more about New Escapologist (which I highly recommend you do), check out their site and blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interior Scene

This is another sketch in which I am trying to find a certain style in which I both feel comfortable and enjoy the aesthetic.

I enjoy how the monotonous browns play off of the stark blacks, but I worry that it ultimately looks a little too much like drawings from a travel sketchbook. This is not a bad thing, simply not what I am looking to accomplish at the moment.

Perhaps, though, the style could work if it were the right story. I will have to think about it. I am actually curious to see how this drawing would look if I were to add comic book text bubbles.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Drawing

Here is a new drawing I did the other day. I am intensely trying to develop a black and white style which I feel best conveys my vision for future book projects. This is a frustrating search, but rewarding when small things go right.

With this drawing in particular, there are elements that please me in different ways, but as a whole, it is not quite there. One thing, though, I feel is working is the the combined use of intense blacks with varying patterns. In a way, this drawing is a gimmick, in that it essentially is testing this idea within the context of a figure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dandelion Invasion

Here is the drawing of dandelions I was referring to a couple days ago. I actually did this drawing to enter an illustration contest being hosted by Bluecanvas. The requirement for the contest was to illustrate "Invasion" in any way you like.

I may actually still do another illustration for this contest, but this idea was the one that most interested me at the moment. I wanted to try and pick a theme that still went along with the idea of "Invasion" but that was atypical. I realized that the way dandelions aggressively take over a lawn or a field might be a perfect example.

After coming up with the idea, my hope was to be able to show dandelions in an ominous fashion. I am not sure if my end drawing really accomplishes this, but it was an enjoyable challenge nonetheless.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mentioned by New Escapologist

The British magazine "New Escapologist" recently asked me to do some illustrations for their latest issue. I will soon be posting pictures of the magazine itself, but a while ago they put one of my illustrations up on their blog. You can take a look here.

If the title of the magazine intrigues you (as it did me) you should read about what they do. They have a unique perspective on life that i find to be more than a little refreshing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Animal Sketches






Here are a couple of animal sketches I did the other day. I had never really worked this way before, and was pleasantly surprised with both the speed at which I was able to work as well as the spontaneity which came through.

I first laid down a layer of watercolour, and after it sufficiently dried, went over it with a fountain pen.

I think the Cheetah is the weakest of the three, but overall, this style is something that I hope to experiment with more in the future.

More sketches soon...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Drollhouse Nod

My pals over at Drollhouse recently put a very kind post about me on their blog. You can check it out here.

If you do not know about Drollhouse yet, you should definitely browse their website and see the new magazine that they are putting out. They asked me to do some illustration work for their first issue, which is coming out this week. I will be posting some images of the illustrations soon.

Welcome

Welcome to my new illustration blog which is concurrent with the launch of my new website. Please click here to find out more about me and the kind of work I do: www.landisblair.com.

I am foraying into the world of free-lance illustration, and this blog will chart the path I am taking. As such, you can expect to see a number of things on this page:

1. Sketches of projects I am working on.
2. Recent work I have completed.
3. Inspiration I am turning to.
4. News of published work.
5. Groups I am involved with.

I hope you will follow along with me to see where things end up.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Here we go...