Monday, October 31, 2011

Hallo Happyween!

skull doodle (pen)
It seems that nearly every channel I flipped to on the TV this month has been showing horror flicks, in honor of Halloween. (I think I saw a psychotic Michael Meyers slash a young Jamie Lee Curtis about ten times on ten different channels.) My personal favorite was seeing George Romero's cult classic film (1968) "Night of the Living Dead" again.

Inevitably I always doodle on scraps of paper and envelopes while watching TV... posted here is a detail of one such doodle made recently, most likely influenced by all the campy, scary movies on the tube.

Visit to see all my illustration portfolio samples... and most relevant to Halloween, click on the "Other World Sketches" portfolio section.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sherlock Holmes used an iPad and Abraham Lincoln was a Biker

sketch for "Sherlock with an iPad" visit
 "Sherlock with an iPad" visit
 "Honest Abe Motoring" visit

 "Brothers At Bat" illustrated by Steven Salerno  pub date: April 2012

final illustration from "Brothers At Bat" illustrated by Steven Salerno  Visit

Visit to view all my portfolio samples.

Every year since about 1992 I have advertised my illustration work in all the various illustration directories via self-promotional ads, with WORKBOOK being one of them (and it being the directory that has consistently yielded the best results for me). This year WORKBOOK altered their longtime usual book format, from being one 8x10" sized book released in February, to two smaller 7x9" sized books with one released in March and the other in September. (distributed for free to about 18,000 art directors across the country and abroad)

In the current 2011 September Workbook#33 that is out now, my ad page (shown above) is of a nostalgic 1940's scene with two golfers engaged in a match and a small gallery following their play. It's my charcoal drawing blended, via Photoshop, with a gouache painted background then with some added digital color. This golf image is actually one of my personal golf images found on my golf art site,, but I liked it so much I decided to use it to also advertise my illustration site, 

Having elected to also advertise in next year's 2012 WORKBOOK#34 illustration books as well, I had to prepare the new artwork for the March 2012 book last month and get it out to the WORKBOOK production department in Los Angeles. And since I really liked the look and feel of the "golf image ad" seen in the current WORKBOOK illustration directory I decided to create another "retro" topic image again. I doodled out a rough preliminary concept (shown above) of the legendary fictional character Sherlock Holmes hunting a trail of footprints with a magnifying glass (his cliche pose) but gave this cliche scene a modern twist by supplying Sherlock with an iPad 2 and his "magnifying glass" being an app on the iPad's screen. Solving crimes just became a bit easier in foggy old London town!

The final illustration of Sherlock Holmes to be used as the 2012 WORKBOOK illustration directory ad (shown above) was created by blending a charcoal and wax pencil drawing, via Photoshop, onto a painted gouache background (the texture created by flicks of paint from a toothbrush) and then adding digital color and effects. Originally I made the scene with a bluish-gray foggy background, but then decided to make the background clearer and employed a red-lavender color theme to make the whole image feel much more contemporary.

I enjoyed creating the "Sherlock" image so much, having to faithfully depict this character from the past, yet also giving it some modern interest, that I then created the next image shown above... President Abraham Lincoln as a biker... kind of like Marlon Brando in the 1953 rebel biker film, "The Wild One." I was wondering what Honest Abe did to get away from all the pressures of the Oval Office and came up with the fantasy that he was a rugged biker type who toured the countryside on his Harley to clear his head. I gave him a caricature extra lean look, leather jacket (no helmet law back in 1864!) and a blank gaze from extreme political fatigue. The motorcycle he is riding is a rough blend of 1930's and '40's bikes... and admittedly without bothering much with actual engineering details to the bike. The illustration was created by blending, via Photoshop, my crayon and gouache drawing of Abe and the bike with a Civil War era newspaper article as the background. The colors were then all done digitally in Photoshop.

How did I get caught up in this "retro" kick I wondered? I did not have to fathom this mystery very long, realizing it was because I had recently done all the illustrations for the picture book "Brothers At Bat" written by Audrey Vernick. It's the new children's book being published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (to be released in spring 2012) and is the true life story of 12 brothers who formed their own semi-pro baseball team and played in the 1930's, '40's and '50's and were honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. I had such fun drawing the period clothing, uniforms, cars, etc... for this baseball book that I guess the feeling of it spilled over and became the spark which lead me to create the Sherlock Holmes and Abe Lincoln "retro" images. The final images shown above are a sneak peek at a couple of the illustrations from "Brothers At Bat." Look for it in book stores, and on the Amazon and Barnes & Nobles web sites next spring!