Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tentacle Monster

A quick monster for Halloween I painted while waiting for a phone call.


Girls of 80's Animation Piece 1----Janine from the Real Ghostbusters!

Considering this is my second work ever in Painter I am incredibly happy with the results.  As I mentioned before I wanted to combine two things that I love, the classy Gil Elvgren style pin-up girls and the animation that I grew up with.  Let me know what you think!


Also, a couple of quick sketches.  A suddenly fearful flamingo, and a scribble of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory (which I will argue is the best sitcom currently on television).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blackwing 2.0 Test Drive Results

I am pretty sure I was one of the first, if not the first, to get in an order of the new Palomino Blackwings.  I shouldn't be proud of this considering it meant I was on their website at 1am hitting refresh every minute or two until they became available at 1:15.  Naturally for all of my eagerness to get a box of them it then took me several days before I had a chance to sit down and give them a decent test drive.

First off, the temporary gift box packaging they are currently shipping with is awfully pretty.  Simple and sleek, it wouldn't jump off the shelf at anyone who didn't know it was a Blackwing without reading the gold band, but for online orders I would keep the pencils in this package.

*the smurfs unload the first pencil under the watchful eyes of their Azure Overlords.*

Upon opening the box, the scent of cedar hit me and I admit to a little nerdish twinge of glee.  I sharpened one of the Blackwings with my old school pencil sharpener and proceeded to create a quick sketch that involved lots of random pencil strokes just to see how smooth the lead was on the paper.  I was surprised at how well the point did glide across the paper, not miraculously so but more than I can remember from any other pencil I have used.  The eraser performed remarkably as well, completely erasing all but the deepest gouge.  Also, as to their claims of no crumbling graphite I found that even when pressing so hard as to worry about breaking my lead (leaving the aforementioned gouge) there were almost no errant flecks of lead to smear my work.  Living up to promises, I am impressed.

Still living off of my Legend of the Guardians high, I drew a grumpy old horned owl as my first Blackwing artwork.

Really, the only cons are stylistic and financial.  $20 for 12 pencils seems a little on the high side.  I am too much of a Missouri boy to see spending $1.66 on a single pencil as a deal.  Of course, that said I just purchased a single original Blackwing from an exceptionally talented writer for the New Yorker  at almost the same price as a box of the new pencils, so perhaps I am a hypocrite.

The stylistic issue could be considered minor if not for being so closely associated with the Blackwing name. I am referring to the motto that used to be stamped onto the side of every Blackwing.  'Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed.'  It just doesn't feel quite like the real deal without it.  The owner of California Cedar posted something about their reasoning having to do with it not being scientifically accurate, you cannot physically get something at twice the speed with half the pressure.  And half the pressure as compared to what?  How would they measure such a thing?  Personally, I think someone messed up in the trademark department and they weren't able to successfully get the old motto and now they are putting out some silly jibber-jabber  explanation as to why.  I hope that future runs of the pencil end up with the golden motto, if for nothing else to ensure the new pencils carry on the long tradition without being a mere 2nd best replacement.

The Boston Globe did a great article on the Blackwing which you can see here. 

Micheal Leddy did a review of his Blackwings as well.

My overall review is a A- with high hopes that a simple change or two could put them at the head of the class.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't you...forget about me....

Rachel and I celebrated our two year anniversary this year the same as we did last year which is the same as how we celebrated surviving the stress that is a wedding day, by going to see a bunch of movies back to back.  The first years movies were almost all terrible.  The 3D misfire Igor is the only one I can even vaguely remember.  Last years movies were almost all awesome, Whip it, ZombieLand and Where the Wild Things Are.  Wild Things was the lemon of the three, I thought it was terrible.  Okay, it was visually intriguing but I felt like I was being doused in Emo the entire time and came out feeling slightly suicidal.

This year we hit two movies,  Easy A and the Legend of the Guardians.  I hadn't really noticed a decline in the number of people attending the movies until that night as both of the theaters were completely empty save for us. True, it was a Monday night but one of those suckers was a 500 seat auditorium.  You would think there would at least be a bored concession worker in there.

Easy_A (1)

 Easy A stars Emma Stone as a girl who lets a lie about loosing her virginity help out a gentleman friends popularity.  However, things get out of hand and she quickly becomes the school harlot via rumor alone.  She handles it as any sassy teen would.  Inspired by the English Lit class reading assignment The Scarlet Letter, she sews a red A onto all of her wardrobe.

Okay, from that description alone it doesn't sound like that incredible of a film.  I can't argue it.  Honestly, the main selling point for me was Emma Stone as I have an undefinable crush on her (see Zombieland the year before).  Look at her, can you blame me?


However, shock of all shocks was when I caught a John Hughes reference...and then another, and another.  Then there was a flat out discussion about how love in real life isn't like a John Hughes movie.  The whole film turned out to be an homage to the 80's brat pack films from John Hughes, right down to the redhead lady in the lead.  Not only that, but it was a good homage!  I'm not kidding.  It had interesting characters, compelling story and the characters grew over the course of the film. The characters had an arc!  I know, wild right?

Seeing this sort of character arc shouldn't be so shocking in its rarity, but it seems that more often than not studios are cutting out character development for more explosions and breasts...although, thankfully, not for exploding breasts.  More often than not in popcorn cinema the character is witness to an event or a 'truth' and either instantly or over the course of a fifteen second montage walks away a changed person.  See the film Knocked Up for an easy example.  However, I am a sucker for a well rendered character and will gladly watch a plotless film for interesting characters.  For instance, I loved the Big Chill.

An added rarity is that the film was made for a mere 8 million even though it had no less than a half dozen above the line actors/actresses in it.  It was also a spec script, meaning someone wrote it simply for the want of writing a good story and then sold it when a studio read it and despite it not being based on a book or a foreign film or having Redemption, Return, Resurrection or even a simple 2 at the end thought it would be a good bet.  It paid off, their 8 million has already brought in 45 million and counting.

So, Easy A gets an A+ in my book.  Need more convincing then check out the trailer below.

Easy A Trailer

Go into the Story has an excellent write up on Easy A and why they believe it has done so well.

As I said, the second film we watched was the Legend of the Guardians.  How cool can a movie be about a bunch of owls?  Pretty flippin cool is the answer. The average 'hey mom, bring your kids to a movie' poster is below.


However, the image they should be promoting is this one.

legend of the guardians-the owls of gahoole-3

The aerial battles in this film were mind blowing!  Also, this is the first 'in 3D' film I have seen where the 3D didn't seem tacked on as an after thought.  You know what I mean, that one shot in these movies where an axe or coin goes flying at the camera in an attempt to make the hour and a half you wore those uncomfortable glasses worth it.  Legends uses 3D as an artistic measure, not a bullet point.  They use the third dimension to make you feel claustrophobic, the thrill of flying through a thunderstorm over a boiling ocean, or the chaos of a hundred owl mid air knife fight.  I would expect nothing less than this sort of artistic forethought from the films director, Zack Snyder who brought us exceptional films in the new Dawn of the Dead, 300 and the Watchmen.

Parents bring your kids to see this flick, but expect to enjoy the movie as much as they do.  My only complaint is that I wanted to go out immediately afterward and buy up some battle owl action figures and there were none to be found.

Check out the Legend trailer below.

Legend of the Guardians Trailer

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I had to share these.  A guy doing the redesign for a new Nickelodeon TMNT posted a design for krang on his blog.  He has several other character designs for TMNT on there, I highly recommend any fellow shell-heads to check them out.