Sketchbook Artist!

Hey There...Back again with some more information about the creative process involved in our book. I am going to take a look at the first interior spread, leading the reader into the fantasy land of Roy and the rhino.

Before any of our pictures reached their final states, quite a bit of preliminary work went into each drawing. I have to admit that I often procrastinated knowing the amount of effort that would be involved in each image, and found that just sketching randomly was a way for me to avoid the task at hand, it was actually a good way to waste time.

This picture started life as a flash of an idea much like every picture in our book . The above rough was made by my Dad. As you can see the basic elements are present (A path, bird, foliage, Leroy) but the picture needed some major fleshing out. I have mentioned previously that we intended to do the book in full color (more on that in a future post), so I started to mess around with some color ideas just to get the juices flowing.

These pictures were all done as studies to establish mood etc... I have a bunch of this kind of stuff which I am just starting to re-discover. I also have pages filled with sketches and doodles of flora and fauna, which without realizing at the time, is the way most artists work. Duh!!!

I have recently started reading and buying any books I find about Disney, Pixar or other animation studios, particularly anything by John Canemaker, regarding their way of creating stories, characters, backgrounds, etc. Although they are involved in a bigger production involving many people, and much, much more conceptual art, the same amount of work (relatively speaking) is involved in the creation of a book full of text and images. I know better, but often see good art and forget that a lot of labor is done upfront before the final piece is complete, so I am always fascinated and stimulated when I get a chance to see books devoted to the working processes of these artists. I hope these pages inspire you. See you soon!

Rhino Extinction!

Hello! This week I am going to share a little knowledge I have gained while researching for Roy and the Rhino. When we began this project I had no real understanding of the different types of rhinos that existed (for a little longer anyway), or how close to  extinction most types really are. The image above shows the 5 types and how much they all differ, from head shape and size, to number of horns and length etc... From left to right they are the White, Black, Indian, Javan, and Sumatran. The diagram below shows their size relations. I found some information about the threat of extinction these rhinos face from the savingrhinos.org website. I am giving just a bit of info, you should visit the site to find out more.

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Black Rhinos are slowly recovering from a 96% decline in population, and are now up to about 4,860 surviving today, thanks to conservation efforts. It is shocking to consider that as recently as 1970, there were approximately 65,000 Black Rhinos in Africa. Due to poaching, those numbers decreased sharply to 2,300 remaining in the wild.

White Rhino

White Rhino photo

White Rhinos are divided into two distinct subspecies: The Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino. The Southern White Rhino is the least endangered of the living kinds of rhino, with a population of about 20,600.

Unfortunately, the Northern White Rhino is feared extinct in the wild, as reported on June 17, 2008. There are only eight known Northern White Rhinos in the world.

Indian (Greater One-Horned) Rhino

Greater one-horned rhino in Chitwan, Nepal

The Indian, a.k.a. the Greater One-Horned Rhino, or Nepalese Rhino numbers approximately 2,949 today, due to conservation efforts. Earlier in the 20th century, less than 200 Indian Rhinos were remaining. Strict protection efforts by Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities have been instrumental in the recovery of the Indian Rhino. Unfortunately, poaching has increased in recent years due to political instability in Nepal, causing the rhino population to decrease by 31% since 2000.

Javan Rhino

 

 

 

 

With fewer than 50 Javan Rhinos surviving in only two known locations, the Javan Rhino is quite possibly the most critically endangered mammal on earth. The Javan Rhino is at significant risk of extinction, due to poaching and habitat loss.

Sumatran Rhino

 

 

 

 

 

The Sumatran Rhino, a.k.a. the Hairy Rhino, has suffered a 50% decline in numbers over the last 15 years, due to poaching.  Additionally, the rhinos' habitat has been destroyed by development and agriculture. Several conservation groups are working to save the Sumatran Rhino, implementing protection of habitat, strengthening anti-poaching efforts, trade monitoring of rhino horns, protected area management, and awareness programs.

Way to go citizens of earth!!! These statistics are pretty depressing, there are some positive actions taking place, but is it too late? We get pretty bummed out over here at 4C's knowing this is really happening . It is sad to think that this generation will be held responsible for such a cruel and selfish act. We hope to reach more people and raise some awareness.

STOP Pay Attention!

Hi Everyone! Hope your Holiday's have been great so far. We are getting ready to wrap up another year and start a brand new one. I have been fishing around the internet and have come across some interesting statistics and facts, so I am going to change direction and talk about the main motivation behind Roy and the rhino. Our book is many things, but the most important and least talked about so far is the Pedestrian Traffic Safety lesson we are trying to promote. After reading through some of these stats and talking to a few friends with children I am more than convinced that our book can literally be a life saver. I am posting some of these facts below. Have a look and let me know what you think. In 2009, 4,092 pedestrians died in traffic crashes - a 7% decrease from the number reported in 2008. In 2009, an estimated 59,000 pedestrians were injured; 13,000 of those injured were age 14 and younger, and males accounted for 55% (7,000) of those 13,000 injured. In 2009, 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were among people age 65 and older. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - website

Wish I could find something a little more current, but you get the idea. Here's some more info this time from The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website.

Pedestrians—people who travel by foot, wheelchair, stroller, or similar means—are among the most vulnerable users of the road. In the next 24 hours, on average, 324 people will be treated in an emergency department for pedestrian-related injuries. In the next 2 hours, on average, one pedestrian will die from injuries in a traffic crash. More than 4,800 pedestrians were killed in traffic deaths in 2007, and more than 118,000 were injured.

Pretty alarming numbers and these figures are from just the United States alone. Imagine this problem world wide. Finally this next bit comes from The Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Children are very valuable - and very active - members of communities. Being struck by a car is a leading cause of death and injury to children.  The greatest risk is to children 5-9 years of age and occurs in their own neighborhoods. Children can be difficult to protect since they lack the skills and experience that most adults have come to take for granted.  Children have little or no sense of danger.  They tend to be impulsive and don’t take the time to stop and think about safety, and children may also have a difficult time judging the speed of approaching cars.  Their smaller stature also makes them harder for motorists to see. Adults need to take special care to teach children how to behave safely when around automobile traffic. Supervision is crucial through age nine. Motorists are also responsible for child pedestrian safety. Slow down in school zones, near parks and pools and in neighborhoods where children are present.  Parents dropping off children at school are a major threat to walking children and to those leaving other motor vehicles and school buses. Stay cautious after dropping off your own child.

Well there you go, it seems anyone, young or old can be affected by this very avoidable problem. The numbers seem to be declining, but more and more people need to be educated about this. Hope this wasn't too much of a downer this time of year, but welcome to reality, there is no hiding from that. Look Both Ways!!!

Coloring tips page 2 continued

Hello!!! Back again with some more coloring tips and exciting information. Let's go...The firehouse was photographed on the eastside of town and is a sandstone structure with a brick second story, it can be colored to match the original or left entirely up to your imagination.

The car in the foreground is a 1936 Desoto Airflow Series S-2. I took some artistic license and added a Buggati inspired rhino hood ornament.

Because our book is a traffic safety lesson everyone can learn from, we included a bunch of different public safety and transportation vehicles. The Desoto became a police car. If you notice in our picture a siren and searchlight were added, as well as a black and white paint scheme. The car door was purposely left blank as well as the license plate to allow you to customize those to your liking. You could look up an emblem and plate color to match the community and state you would like to represent.

The Fire Truck ( Engine No. 1 Hampstead MD.) is a 1936 American La France Protector (600 gpm). The photo was reversed to fit our picture. It's hard to tell the color of truck from this B&W image, so I went with a red and gold pinstripe theme. Color or not whatever you want, just enjoy!

Remember Christmas is just around the corner and Roy and the Rhino is a perfect inexpensive gift that encourages safety, imagination, and artistic expression for young and old. I know for sure copies can be had @ Amazon.com . If shopping online is not for you, contact me and buy direct. See you next time!

Coloring tips page 2

Hi this week I am going to share some more tips on coloring our book. The Illustration on page 2 is a great picture to apply your coloring skills and the use of your imagination. In case you do not have a copy of Roy and the rhino yet, and are curious how this early 1950's era image in the city with old cars and trucks has anything to do with rhinos or any other info I have shown so far, is what makes this book unique. We feature art work by 2 artists, a story within a story, and a lesson that could save a life. All of that for only $7.95 What a bargain! Here we go. You can use light blue for the shade on the snow. The light is coming from the upper right corner of the picture, so the shadows of most everything would be affected by that. To build the color on the crossing guards clothes try starting very light and then layer on more and more color to build up depth in the areas of shadow. The red brick of the street shows through where the tire tracks and footprint impressions were made, but not on the sidewalk which would be concrete or sandstone. I will let you get started with that for now and will return next week with some cool info and photos of the vehicles and buildings that were used in this image. See you then.

Stumped about that perfect holiday gift?

Roy and the Rhino and a box of crayons or coloring pencils make a super stocking stuffer for under $10. This gift will provide hours of entertainment and education. Thanks for looking and Happy Holidays!

Coloring Tips

We decided to show some coloring ideas and naturally chose the first page as a starting point. This picture is referred to as the "Rose" picture around the studio and was inspired by the illuminated manuscripts I have always admired.

Although the rose border is a stylised picture I still wanted to keep the colors realistic to some degree. The vines grow from the bottom left corner with a little grass by the roots and continue up and around the page alive and flourishing. Near the vines end at the bottom right, dormancy sets in as winter approaches, and at the very end I suggest the wind and cold as expressed in the text.

Parts of the picture were left uncolored on purpose, this is just a suggestion on how I might color this page. You might color this entirely different which is fine, just keep in mind there is no wrong way as long as the results bring you happiness.

Coloring Tips on the way

Decided to take a break from The Cover Story printmaking process and show some tips about coloring Roy and the Rhino. I have been extremely busy at work the past couple of weeks and am running behind on the new posting, so check back a little later this week and I will have some more info to share. This past Friday I went to an art opening in Tremont. The show was held at Aperture a cool little shop devoted to analog and instant photography.

The opening was a book release for a new title in the Grobin the Dog book series by Anthony Zart a local artist going the self publishing route. His work is heavily influenced by the old cartoon art of the 1920's and 30's. I love the fact that this type of art is still being produced right now. My niece Lily gave the book a thorough look over and gives it a thumbs up.

Printmaking Process 5

Some more info for you about the printmaking process. This is proof #12. I was starting to warm up to the picture by this point, but something about the ear of the rhino and the emptiness of the background was starting to bug me.

I was playing around with these Riffler Rasps I have and started to work directly on the plate just experimenting with some background textures.

I should have known better than to do this because I wasn't happy with the results, and it was taking quite a bit of work to scrape and burnish out anything I did not like.

I added the cast shadows from the birds to the rhinos back, and worked more detail into the rhinos front and back legs. I also started undoing some of the shadow Leroy was casting and started to detail him up a little bit more.

The rhinos ear was wrong and I knew it but I was trying to put the hard work off.

I took the ear out (what a process). The background came out also but I didn't put as much time in. I started thinking about the removal process and was convinced that there was an easier way to do it than what I had read or been taught. Plenty more info next week. On an unrelated note, I have been working downtown the past few weeks and discovered a great little restaurant located in The Arcade. The restaurant is named Zen Cuisine and I have to say it is really good. They serve Asian fusion food that is always fresh, hot, tasty, and inexpensive plus the owner is super pleasant, check it out if you are downtown for lunch. See you soon!

Printmaking Process 4

Back again with some more information on the printmaking process. After the seventh proof I started to work up some of the shadows and highlights on an overlay of tracing paper, it was a good way for me to detail up certain areas before I worked directly on the plate. I drew up a little key so I knew what method to work in (white=burnish, blue=roulette wheel, pencil=soft ground, etc...).

This is proof number ten. I slowly worked up the form of the legs, body, and head on the rhino, I didn't want to put too much detail in all at once because it is a time consuming process to remove any heavy handed work. I also started to play with the title placement and font type.

By proof number 11 things were starting to take shape, but a bunch of work still lay ahead. I will have more for you next week, and finally I would like to announce that Roy and the rhino is now available at The Learned Owl Book Shop in downtown Hudson, Ohio. Thanks for looking!

Printmaking Process 3

This is not the first print (proof) I pulled but the second, I can't find the first. As you can see there was already a bit of trial and error happening. The first proof I pulled was strictly a straight line etch. I wasn't happy with the rhinos belly or ear, so I scraped and burnished those areas out and added some texture to the legs using a Soft Ground Etch. The third proof I pulled yielded some unexpected results. I added texture to the head and back, obviously way too much. At this state the rhino was looking pretty scary. I had to burnish all the areas down that were too intense. It was hard to tell where this picture was headed at this point.

This is the fifth proof I pulled. I added the belly, smoothed out the head and leg textures, and etched Leroy. The picture was starting to take shape but I still had a lot of work to do. I have a bunch more to show you next week.

This past weekend I went to 78th Street Studios for their Third Fridays monthly open gallery event. I had a good time, saw some neat art, and met William Scheele who runs Kokoon Arts Gallery. William has some really good animal/nature themed pieces on exhibit if you get a chance to stop by you definitely should. As it turns out his father William E. Scheele was a local artist who was The Director of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, an author/illustrator of numerous books on wildlife, an early spokesman on ecological issues, and Executive Director of the World Wildlife Fund. There are quite a few of his works on exhibit as well as some cool dinosaur bronzes etc... Oh and did I mention that William represents some of the art of Charles R. Knight one of the great early artists of dinosaur and prehistoric life, what are the chances I would meet someone local who has a connection to this !!!

I finally wanted to show a picture of one of our junior artists hard at work in the studio.

That's my niece Lily (5) showing us how well she can draw a rhino, I better start looking for work elsewhere. See you next week.

Printmaking Process 2

Hi, back again. I decided to really go for it and work on a large scale for this print. I commited to an 18" x 24" zinc etching plate. I worked my sketch ideas up into this full size pencil rendering and decided to keep it fairly loose so I could save some spontaneity for the etching. Once I was satisfied with my drawing it was time to get started. I bought a plate from the local art store and rolled up my sleeves. Printmaking is a physical process. the first thing I needed to do was to bevel the edges and round the corners with a file, this prevents the plate from cutting through the press blankets and paper you are printing. Once the plate is filed the next step is to degrease the print surface, this ensures the proper bond of the Hard Ground (a mixture of asphaltum and beeswax which your image is drawn into and is the resist during the acid etching process).

Once the plate was prepped it was time to transfer the image. One important thing I forgot to mention about Printmaking is that when you are working on your plate everything is worked up in reverse. I redrew the image on tracing paper flipped it over and redrew it again with a red ball point pen (so I could keep track of my lines) over graphite coated transfer paper. Once the image was transfered to the plate I used my etching needle to redraw the image into the Hard Ground. The 2 etching needles I bought for $10-$20 a piece were not working out that well, the point seemed to get hung up as I was drawing and would not provide a continuous line, so I purchased a few cheap ball tipped stylus tools used for clay sculpting and ceramics and they worked great, it was like writing with a ball point pen.I will show one of the first proof's I pulled next week. While doing some research for the illustration I came across this cool book.This book shows the Dürer rhino in art from 1515-1799 as interpreted by various artists. Obviously photos of a rhino did not exist yet and I do not think that there were city zoo's around for people to visit, so everyone used this image as a reference when using a rhino in their artwork. What I did not know was that Dürer might not have been the first artist to interpret the creature. There is evidence that he that he never saw a living rhino and based his famous work on other drawings, anyway the book is fascinating if you are interested in this sort of thing. I will be back with more next week, see you then.

Printmaking Process 1

Where to start...I guess from the beginning. I could probably write another blog devoted solely to the cover of "Roy and the rhino", but 1 blog is enough for me to handle presently. The original idea for the cover was to use an interior picture in full color and call it a day. Flashback about 4 1/2 years ago, my sister was in town visiting and she suggested I look into a Printmaking class at a local Community College (Tri-C). I had done quite a bit of Screen printing and thought it would be a good distraction for myself at that time. I enrolled in the class and never came close to doing any Screen printing, but what I did end up doing and becoming obsessed about was the art of Intaglio. Homemade and Storebought Etching tools -  Scrapers, Burnishers, Needles etc...

Detail of acid etched zinc plate.

I ended up taking the Printmaking course maybe 6 times and learned a ton. The first few times I took the class I had to follow protocol and learn all the different etching techniques. I did a lot of experimenting knowing that I was eventually going to make a plate and prints of something that had merit. I decided that I would make the cover to this book my Dad and I came up with so that I could jumpstart this part of the project (The final artwork and Publication of our book, I had done quite a bit of preliminary artwork up to this point, but no finished pieces). I talked to my teacher Mike Gubkin (A very knowledgable instructor well worth seeking out ) and he suggested I take the class as an Independent Study Course so he could school me on some of the finer points of Etching.  Now all I needed was an idea for a picture and I would be off and running and falling and getting back up and...

The image for the cover came about as an inside joke (will explain later). The sketch above is the initial rough idea. I decided to pay tribute to one of my favorite artists and homage to one of the most recognized works of animal art.

Albrecht Dürer and his Rhinoceros

My first serious attempt. Don't laugh I must have drawn this with the opposite hand and my eyes closed.

Looking better. A lot closer to the image we all know and love.

That's all for now I will continue with more next week. By the way I have not seen it for myself yet but I hear there is a print of the Dürer rhino at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio. I need to go check this out. Oh and one more thing I went to one of the stores selling our book just to see if they might need to restock their inventory and much to my surprise noticed not one of the book's have sold yet. Why is everyone waiting? this book could seriously save a life. I have to admit the book looks good sitting there, you couldn't ask for better "real estate" but I would love to see that space vacant, begging for more copies to occupy it. Thanks for looking.

The anatomy of a picture p.21-22 part3

Welcome back... This week I am going to wrap up the explanations of the final elements I used to compose this picture and talk about the working process a bit. The building and clock tower above is a local must see/do for everyone. It's the West Side Market a Cleveland tradition for 100 years (2012) and counting. In the far distance is another worthy landmark The Terminal Tower.

In this next image I used a bridge spanning MLK drive on the east side of town.

The St. Clair Avenue Bridge is a Masonry Arch type bridge and was constructed in 1899. It was designed to handle a 50 ton streetcar load. That's why it will continue to stand the test of time!

The bridge as it appeared in the early 1920's and today. For anyone wondering how a bridge from the eastside could be in such close proximity to the landmarks on the westside, I used a little artistic license and took in account the possibility of Plate tectonics at play in the near future. Finally in the extreme foreground are a mother Chameleon and her baby, just hanging out basking in the sunshine.

Working Process...

All the images in "Roy and the rhino" were created using pen and ink. I worked fairly large on 18" x 24" Borden & Riley 90# artist sketch/vellum paper. The benefits of working so large enabled me to add lots of detail. After working the picture up to the final pencil state on butcher paper ( I bought a roll at a restaurant supply company, get some the stuff is great for working up your preliminaries it has a nice surface, holds up well , and is transparent enough to trace over without the use of a light table) I retraced the picture onto my final paper and basically redrew everything with all the detail and shading etc... I did all the inking with pen nibs, Sakura pigma micron pens, and various size sable hair brushes. I used Higgins waterproof black drawing ink and Winsor & Newton white  gouache for corrections etc... After a picture was finished I would erase all pencil lines and scan and save the image as a TIFF. I would then open the picture in Photoshop and crop, adjust the brightness/contrast or Levels, and save. I hope this information is of some help to you. I have plenty more info to post in the coming weeks. Before I go thanks to Pat, Matt, and Jim the hosts of Inner Sanctum which airs every Sunday night on v107.3 FM from 10pm-12pm for having me on the show to do a radio interview, I had a great time. Listen this Sunday Oct. 2 and hear me discuss the book. See you next week!

The anatomy of a picture p. 21-22 part2

The statue that I used as an area to place the text is an actual carved sandstone Art Deco style Cleveland landmark. There are 4 pylons with 2 statues on each. The 8 statues all hold a different vehicle to signify the progress of transportation. The vehicles range from a stagecoach to 1930's era cars and trucks. The pylons sit at both ends of the Lorain-Carnegie bridge just to the south of downtown. They are known as "The Guardians of Traffic" or "The Transportation Gods". A must see if you are visiting our city or you live here and want to see something really neat!

Easy as it may seem drawing the statue proved to be a bit of a challenge... First getting the right perspective was essential.  So I took photos, then after examining photos, I decided to make a model... Save your old boxes!!!   I made this model out of a Wheat Thin box and masking tape.

My dad took it a step further and made a scaled drawing and...

this maquette.

That is all for this week. We just sold our first book on Amazon and now when you go to the site it claims the book is out of print. This is false it is actually out of stock on their end. I am in the process of correcting this. If you want to get a copy of "Roy and the rhino" it is now available at Visible Voice Books in Tremont and Mac's Backs Books on Coventry.

The anatomy of a picture p. 21-22 part1

This week we are going to start to show the creative process that went into our artwork. In this picture our friend Leroy walks into an ancient abandoned city he had never been to before. I have always been fascinated by the lost civilizations of the Maya and Aztec as well as Nan Madol and Angkor Wat etc... so this was a natural place to incorporate this theme. Here is how the picture originally started out. I did a few preliminary sketches to get the drawing to this stage and then decided to scrap it and go with a lost city theme.

Here are some rough ideas for the lost city theme. I was going to use a stone head from the Olmec culture and a column inspired by the Toltec warrior pillars at Tula, Mexico.

Once again I decided to "grow" the picture and being from Cleveland thought it would be neat to throw a bunch of well built local landmarks into the image and create a new and unique lost city from the future. I chose some landmarks that will probably stand the test of time. The bridge is a stone arch bridge at Rockefeller Park on the east side, and the statues are known as "The Transportation Gods" and are located on the Lorain-Carnegie bridge just to the south of downtown.

Here's another rough idea sketch. I am playing with the different elements to work up a pleasing composition. That's all for this week. Next week I will show you some photos and some models we made to work the picture up to its final state. By the way as of Monday our book is for sale at The Book Center -  University of Pittsburgh.

Just Arrived

Our book is finally available on Amazon.com . Once the book starts selling we will be posting tips on how to color, artwork from rough sketches up to finished renderings, and information we have accumulated about the world of self publishing. Thanks for looking.

Hot off the press !!!

Just picked up the first print run of books and very excited about it. Our book will be available through Amazon.com shortly. As soon as it is available we will update the link to take you directly there. We would like to say thanks to Sandy at Foote Printing in Cleveland for being so helpful during the printing process, we highly recommend their company.  And also a big thanks to Cindy at the Beachland Ballroom (my favorite place for live music in Cleveland) for being so generous with her time. Finally because everyone is asking for it we will post our first Tips on how to color lesson in the coming weeks. Thanks.

First Post

Welcome to the 4c-studio art and design blog. Our blog is intended to give some insight into what we have learned about the world of illustration, self-publishing, and marketing/promotion, and to talk about the journey from idea to publication of our first book, among other things.