Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another abandoned blog? Not really...

It's been another long absence. Things haven't been great lately, and it's been costing me a lot of time I should have been using to get things done. That's life, though, especially when it's all a self motivated process and it has to compete with a job and a struggle to stay afloat. I won't go into details about what's been blowing my progress out of the water, because this isn't supposed to be a blog about my problems, it's supposed to be about my creations.

I've seen my share of blogs that just abruptly stopped a few years ago, and always wonder what happened. Did the person get swept up into problems like I have? Did they lose interest in it? Are they still around, even? The web's full of aborted sites and blogs by this point. It's a sad indicator that many of us aren't permitted to keep following our interests. When life starts smacking you around you can't always keep up an steady effort on things like funny cartoons and pipe dreams. I still haven't given up on it, but as time goes on I get a little bit more mindful of the fact that very few actually make it, and even then they're usually younger than I am now.

Perhaps with the coming Spring I'll get a fresh wave of determination and make some real progress. It bothers me a little when people are following this or subscribing to my YouTube channel ("finniejr"), only to have nothing added to it for months and months. The things holding me up are at least not major health or well-being issues, just the crap that gets in the way of keeping up a creative flow. It's been nothing to blog about, so it's been mighty quiet here. I just thought I'd take a minute to put up a "place marker" here, just to show I'm still around and trying.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SCTV caricatures

These go back quite a ways. Mostly done in the 80s during my main airbrushing period. The Guy Cabellero and some cleanup on the others was done a year or so ago. I was going after a similar style as Robert Goodman's album covers like Firesign Theater's "Don't Crush That Dwarf". They've just been sitting there since so I thought I'd finally put 'em up here.

Hmm. Sometimes the pictures go to full size when clicked, sometimes they don't. On this post they don't again. I haven't figured out the formula for that yet, it just seems to choose one or the other. I guess they're clear enough at this size. Ah, who's lookin' anyway...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time flies even when you're not having fun

And I thought the last gap was long! I'm amazed it's close to a year since I posted anything. I'd imagine anyone who might have been checking in here gave up long ago.

Not that it isn't common to see long breaks in the postings, especially with artistic types. It can be due to good things happening that take you away from it, or more unfortunate reasons. It's been more of the latter for me, but I've kept some progress up as well. The economic state hasn't been kind to me. Kinder than it's been to everyone who lost their jobs completely, but I was making more in 2008 than I have since then, and the slow leak of income has been snowballing ever since. Nothing like desperate conditions to give you that energy boost to make whimsical cartoons.

After a long bout of spending too much time biting my nails to use my hands to draw (well, figuratively), I've started making progress again. Earlier this year I started playing around with Blender, the free open source 3D software that's impressively robust and able to compete with Pixar stuff. I'm not abandoning 2D cell-style animation by any means, but it's another brush in the paintbox. I'll be using it to create background "sets" for "Money For Cheezums". I've gotten a feel for character modeling, rigging, and animating, but that's for other projects down the road. I wouldn't mind doing something with a "Puppetoons" feel, and I think CG could imitate that fairly well.

Naybob was largely created as a hand drawn "classic cartoon" type character. He's meant to constantly change and deviate from a basic set of defining elements. His specific look from shot to shot changes to reflect his mood swings, as well as giving me the ability to push each pose into unique takes on the design. That might be more difficult to pull off with a CG version. I'd like to see it done, I know it could be, but the work it would take to vary a character drastically for just one shot wouldn't be worth it in most cases.

Of course I tried setting one up anyway, but I did this at the beginning of learning the program, and moved on to other characters as I got better with it. So it's pretty rough here, and not posed at all, and it looks pretty stiff. I'm sure I'll get back to building a better one, but if I use it it might only be for an occasional shot or effect. Since one of my goals is to experiment with multiple animation approaches and styles mixed together, it can only help to have some CG skills. The models are also helpful as a tool to study tricky perspectives before drawing them. Like being able to make a virtual plastic toy version.

Here's the Naybob model as I left it so far:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still Here (although I doubt there were search parties...)

I haven't posted anything since September 9th? Ah, like anybody's been sweating up a storm wondering where the Jimsbo went. I hit one of those little lulls in production that can happen when the day job takes center stage every day while you're laboring over what should take a team to do. Besides the results that come from a group of artist/creators collaborating, a team will also keep up your steam. When your creative juices run a little dry (it happens to most creative types now and then), you still have the feeling of responsibility to the team effort to keep you going. As a solo act, you get less done during those periods. I'll get back in the swing with it soon.

To follow up my last post below about Beatle day '09, I only just this past weekend received my Mono box from Amazon. Thanks to all the middle men merchants that snapped up the first batch to re-sell them at inflated "collector's" prices. It's a nicer set than the stereo for the packaging. The mini LP covers are far better than those stiff, dry, cardboard slots the stereo ones come in. They have inner sleeves! Why this isn't standard practice for cardboard CD covers I don't know. The stereo White album is a real bear to take out and replace the discs, putting the openings inside the folds. I guess if you have to have the stereo versions you're stuck with them. Fortunately, I prefer mono for music of that era. Stereo was new then and they didn't always mix things with headphones in mind. I'm no fan of vocals all crammed into one ear and rhythm tracks in the other, so mono works for me. The fact that they put more time into those mixes only makes it better. But enough about the Beatles and their ongoing efforts to lighten my pockets with the same stuff I grew up with.

For those few patient enough to follow this blog (hey, there's a couple that aren't just people I know and talk to all the time), I should be putting up something new soon enough. At least some type of holiday greeting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beatlemania '09

Since Beatle week is upon us, and I can't participate by getting a copy of the new set (sold out in the morning before I could even get there), I thought I'd post a couple of things I had handy (in digital form, that is) of the many I've done over the years of the the lads. I've done drawings, paintings, sculptures, construction paper cutouts and when I first got a sampler in the mid-80s, I even recorded an "original" music piece using only Beatle samples (I can't post audio yet, I still need to research where to put them first) but here's two. One goes back a ways, and the other is recent, but draws from another old one.

This first one is from 1981, one of a series I did that I brought copies of to Beatlefest that year to sell. Natural salesman that I am, I didn't move too many. There was this one of all four, and similar ones for each separately. There was also one of the picture from inside the Red/Blue albums, and one of John & Yoko with John's tale of "Jock & Yono" from the Christmas album transcribed. I need to find the originals of the others to scan them, the xeroxes don't do them justice (no wonder they didn't sell well).

And here's an advance peek at a background detail from "Money For Cheezums" and the latest work to feature the Fabbies. Some shots in the supermarket scenes will have actual products seen on shelves. To avoid any cease and desist issues, I'm opting to populate the shelves with fictional products and therefore use them to do a few throwaway gags and in-jokes. I had long ago thought of the concept of a box of molded chocolate Beatles sold as "Eat the Beatles", but since the scene where the boxes are onscreen is in the cookies/cracker aisle, I changed it to a box of cookies. To use the half shaded lighting of the Meet The Beatles cover, I made them half vanilla, half chocolate. The images are of clay models I also made in '81. I made molds to churn out copies, which I also had with me at the Beatlefest. I even sold a set to someone for $15. I used the molds to make fresh castings, took pictures, colored and texturized them to look like that kind of hard, dry, boxed cookies. A lot of work for a background element that'll only briefly flash on screen, but why not? Of course the "Meet The Beatles" cover is becoming less familiar now that they've been issuing the UK "With The Beatles" in the US all these years, but it's still known enough, I think.

So as you can see, These guys have been an influence all along for me, starting with growing up during it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Airbrush Paintings

I put up some of my airbrush illustrations on my Flickr photostream. Only three so far. They're not so easy to just scan and post, though. They require two passes on the scanner and a reassembly in Photoshop. They also weren't stored all these years in the best conditions, so there's a lot of cleanup and repair to be done.

These were done in the early Eighties, as I was teaching myself airbrushing techniques. I haven't used the airbrush for many years now, it's not so easy to set up in a small apartment. Being able to do the same basic things in Photoshop without the messy hassle of the real thing is a help, the downside being there's no actual "original" art in the end, just an easily duplicatable file.

If you've ever tried using an airbrush, you'd know how sloppy the process can get. And as much as I love thinly spreading rubber cement onto a delicate film, then slapping it on my artwork and taking an x-acto knife to it, the masking and setup makes for 80% of the process. And oh how I loved chasing my loud, chugging air compressor across the floor when it's vibrations caused it to start drifting around. And the constant flushing out of paint cups to change colors was a hoot, with paint fumes and spray cleaner mist filling the air with a chemical intoxicant. Fun stuff.

As I get the time I'll scan in some more, like my incomplete collection of SCTV character caricatures. These first 3 are among the smaller ones, though. They all took 2 passes to scan in. I'm not sure how I'd do some of the bigger ones, there may be no way to even reach the center of them. Digital camera, I guess.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Character Scrapheap: Flotsam & Jetsam

Here's a character team I threw together years ago in a fit of "me too" type creative thinking. The idea was to take the classic two man comedy team; Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Ren & Stimpy, and Harvey Kurtzman's Hey Look! strips, and kind of do it too. Because imitation is the sincerest form of riding coat tails.

Their look changed over the course of my entertaining the concept, but was always essentially the same, which was to combine Ren & Stimpy with Hey, Look! and add a dash of early Hanna Barbera. I worked up versions in Flash, and did a four page comic story to get an idea how to use them. I tried a couple others, but none went to completion. The very transparent cribbing seemed less a tribute and more a cop out. I'd rather not cast myself as "Cracked" to everyone else's "Mad", so their short development was scrapped. They may well make appearances in the thankless role of background extras in a crowd, but in the end the only slightly original element to them was using the phrase "Flotsam & Jetsam" as character names (at least, I don't think I've heard it used before), and that wasn't enough for me to continue with it.

Here's the 4 page comic, Triple Peanut