Many artists, mostly live retail caricaturists, have been asking about markers. I've worked for Kaman's Art Shoppes for over 5 years (on and off in the last year) and I've used many different supplies, specifically markers.

I started with the popular 229-LF DESIGN marker. They had a great firm-yet-flexible bullet tip that felt like a soft pencil, at times. While they were great, they were a bit short and hard to hold in a pencil-grip, they smelled horrible (xylene solvent for quick drying- ick!), and are now unavailable. On top of all this, about half of the old Design Markers would get pushed into the neck, like a turtle's head, from pressure. Other times, the tip would break off or wear down to a fuzzy nib.

I've also tried the
Chartpak AD markers. They also dried quickly and had a long-life, but the tip rotated in the marker when I applied pressure, and I don't always have a very soft hand while drawing- I like to vary the line weight quite a bit, and this became difficult. It is also difficult to get a fine or thin line out of them.

Copic makes a great brush-tip/chisel-tip marker that is refillable. I can't say enough good things about Copic- they are amazing markers, have replaceable tips that are suited for all types of drawing, they are refillable, and the ink is dense and wonderful. The only problem is that they tend to slow down the live caricaturist, as they require a bit more finess and maintenance. Put simply, one must slow down to get the quality out of these markers. When slammed with a crowd in a retail environment, it's tough to speed through and make a good paycheck. That being said, I used Copics exclusively for over a year and didn't regret it a bit. I'm actually thinking of getting a full set of colors, as they're great for illustration.

There are many other sorts of markers-
Sharpies, Faber-Castell PITT pens, Tombo brush-pens, Zebra brush-pens, Staedtler-Mars Graphic 3000 brush-pens and others. I can't stand Sharpies, but often use these other tools for different projects and in my sketchbook. Either way, the marker that I prefer now, for live work is the Dixon Markette.

Manufactured in Canada, it seems to be almost identical a marker to the old 229-LF DESIGN marker, save a few points:

1. It doesn't STINK as much
2. It's longer- fits in your hand better
3. It lasts longer
4. The tip lasts longer than the ink

5. It's actually being MANUFACTURED

The Dixon Markette is quick to use, it's forgiving, you can get a sharp, pen-like line and a dark, WIDE brush-like stroke. The tip doesn't deteriorate, and you can draw much faster and cleaner than with a brush-style pen. (I know many artists that can handle brush-pens well, but you're limited to a certain flair or style, whereas I personally see more versatility in the bullet-tip)

I'm not certain where the most accessible or cheap way to acquire the Markette is found, I do know that Kaman's Art Shoppes (the leading caricature and theme park art concession company in the world) uses them almost exclusively. At the behest of the NCN, the wonderful people at
ART SYSTEMS did some hefty work and got access to them. You can order them by calling the store at ArtSystemsFL.com and asking for Deidre Harris (or anyone else willing to help). You will have to pay shipping, but they offer a great price. Last I checked, they're nearly $3/marker.


Digital Painting

I'm working on several digital caricatures for comedian Frank Caliendo. Frank does amazing and hilarious impressions of celebrities and political figures, based on his own comedy and writing. You've seen him on Comedy Central, Letterman and MADtv, but sure enough Frank has gone further! He's got his own TV show "the FRANK show" on TBS this fall, as well as several other projects and tours along the way. Be sure to catch his act- it's great.

In doing caricatures for his website, I've learned a lot about digital painting and how simple or complex it can be. There's a lot to decide when you're painting. Either way, I've found that my favorite part of doing these ones, in particular, is the roughing stage. I do a pencil sketch first. Once that is approved, I throw some color underneath the pencil (in Photoshop) then rough lots of colors on top of it, painting in an impressionistic way. I look for light splashing across the face, and consider only hue and contrast at this point, with heavy use of the reference. Smoothing and sharpening edges comes later, as well as fixing up details and other 'finishing' work. Here are a couple details of the two I'm currently working on:


Day 5 in Tampa

Here are a couple more caricatures drawn at Busch Gardens. I'm not particularly excited about these two, but they seemed to get a good crowd response. I give them a B- or C+.


REJECTS rejects

These are four of the images that didn't make it into the REJECTS book. I've got some more of these, as well as new ones drawn in Tampa over the past 2.5 weeks, which I'll show soon.



Last Day in Tampa

I'll be in Tampa, FL until Wednesday morning. This is my last true workday at Busch Gardens. I've had a blast and even gotten the wonderful opportunity to meet and draw some fun local artists (jimmy, susanne...). I'm trying to put in my last 8 hrs., finish an illustration for the C-Ville Weekly, correspond with (and write BIG checks for) the Book Printers for REJECTS, and keep up with this blog.

I'll have lots more to say in the next couple of days. For now, take a minute and go to the REJECTS website and give me your email, at the top of the page. I promise you that my brother Keith, and myself, will be the only people with access to it and we will not abuse it. This is to keep you alert on updates, changes and news on the website, the book's release, availability announcements (stores, conventions), and the chance to win a FREE book.

Thanks a bunch!


Illustration Process

I promised last week I'd share the process of the email illustration I completed for the cover of the C-Ville Weekly. Not all of my illustration work is done through this process or even this style and approach. However I often use digital painting, due to the ease and speed that it affords me. It helps keep the time invested down, the cost, and in turn, keeps time-invested work affordable to the papers.

This illustration had to do with employees losing privacy in their company email accounts. Apparently bosses were taking actions as far as firing workers for mentioning opinions that violated 'company' opinion, in personal emails- making this a controversial discussion.

I've worked with this particular art director several times before. He is very clear at what he wants and communicates well, so it's a treat to do covers for this paper. He gave me a few ideas, so I did a few thumbnails, to two of which I narrowed it down:

Once he chose the boss popping out of the monitor, I changed and finalized the idea, composition and perspective:

From there, I did the final pencil, taking a bit more time to make the final composition. I used some reference from the Facial Expressions book by Mark Simon- a great face and expression reference. This was mostly for fun details and lighting reference:

Once the pencil was approved, I scanned the page and colorized it in Photoshop [image/adustments/hue-saturation/'colorize' option] then printed the sketch in a very saturated cyan, matching the C of CMYK in the photoshop channels, so I can hide it later. From there, I used the cyan sketch as a guide to ink it with a ZEBRA brush pen that I received from a friend in Japan, as it has a great tip for detail and very black, waterproof ink:

I scanned the inked sketch once finished and then hid the Cyan channel in Photoshop, copied, selected the LAYERS tab and pasted the image, removing the pencil sketch print, leaving just the ink. I then cleaned up the image, removing any stray marks or inconsistencies.

From there, the ink layer is put on top and changed to MULTIPLY mode, making the whites transparent. I create more layers underneath it and simply begin painting with a preset brush in Photoshop, starting with basic, low-saturation local colors:

From there, I start using a bit of reference and making up shading and lighting for the environment, adding to another layer more and more as I go. Most of this is done on one layer, once I'm satisfied with the color choices, making it feel like I'm doing one painting on one surface:

After that, a few details and extras are added on more layers, keeping them alive for changes later just in case I need it. Once I'm satisfied with the piece, I'll play with the levels, saturation and hue and crop it with 1/4" bleed, giving a bit of room for it to be moved around at the art director's discretion. This helps when he may need to accomodate certain text or graphics... and that's it!

Happy Easter!


3D Animation on TV

FOX is running some original animated promos during commercial breaks this week, says WSJ.com and the Wall Street Journal. The spots are an effort to keep viewers tuned during commercial breaks.


Tampa - Day 2

On my second day at work, I had some great customers and drew next to my buddy Dion. It was a blast, but today was a progress day. I was at a smaller stand (different location) with my bestest friendy Nate Graham, and was trying to work the art. I had the luxury of him being a powerhouse salesman and speedy artist, so I took my time a bit. I did many drawings, some crazy and some cute. These two were middle-of-the-road, but I thought they'd be a good 2nd post. Football themed.