I'm back, and only a year later! Let's celebrate with some art!
Growing up, I had always been intrigued by anime. Even as a child, I was drawn to the more mature, dark storytelling of the Japanese cartoons I saw on TV, probably before I was able to really put my finger on what was different about them.
In my early teens, this interest bloomed into a full-blown obsession. I started collecting manga; every week I would save up so that I could go to the comic shop and buy more. But the very first manga I remember buying is CLAMP's Magic Knight Rayearth.
From that point on, I was a CLAMP fanatic. Cardcaptor Sakura, X/1999, Angelic Layer, Chobits, Clover...I loved them all! My parents' attic is still full of boxes of CLAMP memorabilia (which, come to think of it, would have been handy when I started this challenge).
I loved the variety of stories CLAMP could tell. I loved the delicacy and intricacy of Mokona Apapa's artwork. And of course there were so many female heroes for me to idolize and identify with. It felt like a perfect fit.
When I started the animation program at School Of Visual Arts, my "style" was basically a combination of all of the manga artists I admired most, and CLAMP featured heavily. This was, of course, lovingly beat out of me by my professors, and I thank them for it. I emerged from the school as my own artist. And I quit manga cold turkey.
Runaways, created by Brian K Vaughn and Adrian Alphona, came about in 2003, but I didn't discover it until some time later. To me it was a breath of fresh air. I had been reading more mainstream American comics, but found them frustrating for a variety of different reasons. Something about Runaways was different. It featured thoughtful plot, engaging characters, and took risks other comics didn't. AND: it was a team that featured competent men AND women (or boys and girls, really).
In a lot of ways, Runaways seems ideally suited for manga, and shoujo manga at that! Which brings me to my challenge.
I chose Karolina Dean and Xavin to start with for a pretty basic reason: Karolina Dean demands to be drawn in CLAMP's style! The flowing blonde hair! Come on! An obvious choice.
In terms of design, I tried to keep Karolina's hippie-ish, California-girl style in tact, with bohemian jewelry, flowy top, etc. Xavin, being alien royalty, was inspired by how CLAMP often treats military costuming: straps, buckles, loooong boots. I had a lot of fun with this couple!
Good old Barret. Barret's a nicely fleshed out character with an interesting backstory and a lot of great moments in the game; he's also the third and final character from your original party, so he seemed like a great choice to round out this challenge.
As far as costumes are concerned, I didn't feel the need to change a whole lot with Barret. The only thing that truly bugged me were the metal bands around his mid-section. How does that not chafe? How do you move with metal bands around your stomach? I swapped them out for wrapped fabric instead, giving him a sort of pirate look.
Since his outfit didn't pose much of a challenge, I took this as an opportunity to really try and explore what makes Gipi's style so appealing to me. Gipi's inking doesn't have any line variation to it; he doesn't cover up his mistakes; you can tell he doesn't spend hours aching over whether or not something is perfect. Yet there's no question that the man knows what he's doing. What I found was that the looser and more relaxed I was, the more Gipi-like the drawing felt to me. It also helped to do a few warm-up sketches (which I may post later).
This may be the last in the series, so I hope you enjoyed it! I'll be continuing with the Square-Enix theme for a while. Keep checking back!
And we're back! It really feels good to be updating again! I hope to keep it up. Let's start from where we left off, shall we?
Today, we'll be experimenting with one of my personal favorites: Tifa!
Tifa was harder than Cloud for a couple of reasons, but mainly I had a hard time adapting her costume into Gipi's style. Gipi seems to favor a sort of realism in his stories; I've never seen mini-skirts paired with pieces of armor and suspenders before. Basically what I'm saying is this: Tifa's costume is ridiculous. So, I tried to approach her design a little more practically.
Gipi's characters dress, for lack of a better term, "normally". Their clothing fits their place in time and their needs. So what would Tifa need? Well, she's basically a kick boxer/mixed martial artist. I kept the cropped tank top (don't want her to be completely unrecognizable) but swapped the skirt and suspenders for athletic shorts. I gave her foam hand guards instead of gloves, and wrapped, bandage-like fabric around her forearm instead of sleeves. Her shoes are basically the same. (I still think that if she were to go around jumping off of airships she should at least spring for a leather jacket and some...I dunno...pants? But I didn't want to stray too far.)
I think the design has it's own issues, but at the same time it feels a little more believable, and I think that's necessary for her to belong in Gipi's world.
Note: I've gone through and deleted all of the non-design posts from the blog. Most of them were about shows that have come and gone, and any artwork can also be found on my main art blog. This way the 'Blender stays neat and clean :)
Making up for lost time, I'm going to dive right in with the hero of FFVII, Cloud Strife!
Taking my cues from Gipi's Notes From A War Story, I decided to try and turn Cloud's SOLDIER look into the look of an Italian youth circa WWII. (The interpretation is a loose one, of course). The biggest challenge was maintaining Cloud's "spiky" coif in a way that still made sense in Gipi's more realistic world. I tamed the spikes a bit and went with shaved sides instead, transforming him into a bit of an early punk.
I'm having a lot of fun experimenting with the style so far, and looking forward to seeing how I can take it further :)
Final Fantasy VII is the first RPG that I had ever played, and still one of the most memorable. Chances are if you were once (or still are) a fan of video games and/or anime, manga, etc., you have heard of FFVII. In fact, in all likelihood you have played it, become obsessed with it, dressed as the characters, and created a web-shrine devoted to even the most obscure of its parts.
I'm not sure what it is about this game that gave it such a hold on its fans, but its impact is undeniable. For my part, I had never played a game before FFVII that had such developed characters. The internal struggle of protagonist Cloud is arguably of equal importance to the immense external struggles the game's cast is thrown into.
Gipi, born Gianni Picanotti, is a well-known Italian cartoonist and illustrator. I discovered him completely by accident at my local comic shop and instantly fell in love. Gipi's understanding and portrayal of the subtleties of body language are incredible. His style maintains a roughness and energy often found in an artist's sketchbook. There is so much life in his drawings...it's such a joy to see!
Compare Gipi's studies with his finished product and you'll see that the latter retains all of the wonderful exploration and movement of the former. This combined with the fact that you can see a bit of his own face in the faces of his characters help to create an incredibly personal look to Gipi's comics.
I think this style will be a perfect fit for Cloud and his ilk.
Hello everyone! Happy New Year :) I'm sorry for taking such a long time between updates, but I am ready to start afresh!
Starting this month I'll be trying something different with the format of the blog. In addition to themed weeks, there will be themed months! This means, for example, that January could be Square Enix month, February could be 80's Cartoon month, March could be Web Comics month, etc.
If you're on the internet right now, then surely you know it is Election Day in America. Who we elect to office doesn't just affect our country; our actions have repercussions around the world.
If you are eligible to vote today, then please make it your business to go out and do so. Objecting to a bipartisan system is, in my mind, no excuse for not exercising your right to vote. There are other candidates to vote for. Not voting isn't sending anyone any messages.
Our system may be broken, but it's what we have to work within right now. So please go out and make your voices heard.
I'll be updating with a proper design later in the week. For now, here is a concept sketch for the Scarlet Witch.
Anyway, this challenge is a bit intimidating for me, because it involves one of my absolute favorite artists, Ashley Wood! I'm really anxious to see if I can pull this one off.
The Avengers have always seemed like Marvel's answer to the JLA, at least in my mind. The roster has been pretty fluid throughout the organization's existence, but The Avengers boast a membership comprised of some of the most iconic superheroes in the world.
Ashley Wood is an Australian artist who has established a career for himself in both the fine art and pop culture worlds. He has bold, exaggerated character design, and his work always has a fantastic energy to it. His palettes tend to consist heavily of ocher, sienna, and blue. A lot of women and robots are featured in his work (in fact, he recently completed a new limited series of Tank Girl called Tank Girl: The Gifting). This should give you a pretty good idea of who I might be featuring in the upcoming challenge ;)
I'm pretty excited about this, but just in case I botch this up completely, I'd like to apologize to Mr. Wood ahead of time.
Sophitia was always one of my favorites in the series. She starts off as a baker's daughter, until one day she receives a calling from Hephaestus to destroy the evil sword, Soul Edge. I think this simpler, pared down design nicely reflects on her humble beginnings. I went with the leather boots instead of sandals because they look a little more like something a superhero would wear to me (and I tend to associate Timm with superheroes).
I feel like overall this is a much more successful design than Taki, in terms of the simplification and adhering to Timm's drawing style. More still to come!
This week I had a really hard time coming up with a combination. I finally decided (after much help from my very patient twin, Lauren) that I wanted to do something in the style of Bruce Timm. Timm is a master at simplifying designs and making them sleek and animation-ready. So I wanted to take some characters that have slightly more complicated designs and see if I could channel Timm's magic.
I've been a fan of the Soul Calibur games since Soul Blade came out on Playstation. As the series evolved, technological advances have allowed for more intricate character designs. Even the more scantily clad fighters have lots of little details on whatever clothing they manage.
I am going to try to strip these characters down to the bare essence while still mainting an interesting and individual look!
I really loved Gully's character. The juxtaposition of small and mighty is always a fun one, plus it was refreshing to see a young, female hero in the story. Sweet and vulnerable, but still strong. She was the heart of the book.
I have a confession to make: I'm not actually all that familiar with Tezuka's work. Oh, sure, I've done a lot of research, and naturally I've been exposed to it, but the only two Tezuka films I ever saw were Legend of the Forest, and Unico (the latter when I was very, very young). As for his manga, well...I'm afraid I've been remiss with those as well. Still, I've gotten a fairly good idea of his style and tastes, and based on those I would have to say that Gully would translate nicely into the Tezuka world.
I'm really sorry about the lack of updates recently. I was actually out of the country and I thought I would be able to update while I was away, but that turned out to be unrealistic. The Design Challenge will be back on schedule this week :)
As an apology, I'm posting some of the sketches from the finished pieces you've seen so far! I hope you enjoy them!
During the Lobdell/Madureira run on Uncanny X-Men in the 90's, Joe Mad acquired an enormous and enthusiastic fan-base, including yours truly. Oh, I was wrapped around his little finger. So naturally, after Madureira left the series and started his own, I was enthralled. Battle Chasers is something of a wonder. It only made it to issue #9, and even at that it was a bumpy road. Still, I think if issue #10 came out tomorrow, it would sell out in seconds. The characters and story were dark and emotional, and they were part of an even bigger, more intricate world. In other words, for a girl who was (at the time) very much into dramatic fantasy anime like Record Of Lodoss War, Battle Chasers was candy. Still it's sad we never got to see any of it develop further.
Osamu Tezuka is known affectionately as the "Father of Anime". His beloved creation Astro Boy (originally "Mighty Atom") has won the hearts of fans for over 40 years. A master of both comic and animation, Tezuka paired mature, thought provoking storytelling with beautiful, childlike characters. His work has gone on to inspire generations upon generations of artists.
If Tezuka had ever produced a Battle Chasers story, I imagine we would have seen something a little purer, something stripped down from the "bigger is better" mentality of 90's American comics; maybe even a little closer to what Madureira had envisioned himself?
A special thanks to friend and super-talent, Zack Giallongo for suggesting Tezuka to me, and for having late night philosophical conversations about comic books.
Last but not least, we have Nightcrawler! (Please accept the two additional designs as an apology for running late with updates this week!)
What kid didn't grow up loving Nightcrawler? In fact, part of what drew me to Excalibur in the first place was the fuzzy blue elf. Nightcrawler leading his own X-Team? It seemed too good to be true.
With this design, I briefly toyed with giving Kurt his usual lithe figure. Really, though, "svelte" is not a word I would use to describe Baseman's characters. Considering Baseman's cast is almost entirely comprised of nude females and odd bean-bag shaped creatures, I thought it best to follow suit. Kurt is supposed to somewhat resemble a demon, and in Baseman's world the demons are lumpy, hairy potato sacks. So that's how I drew Nightcrawler! Personally, I think if anyone has the charisma necessary to pull off this look, it's Herr Wagner. ;)
Here we have Meggan. I have a soft spot for Meggan because she had the most interesting arc in of one of the very first Excaliburs I ever read (this one). Plus, she was co-created by Alan Moore. It doesn't get much better!
Meggan is immensely powerful, but she's also so sweet! With her design, I was toying with making her nude. Nature is such a part of her character, and honestly, most of Baseman's women are painted nude. In the end I decided against it for two reasons: 1., Even though I think the nudity fits Meg as an individual, I couldn't picture her scampering around naked with the rest of the team. (Not for very long, anyway) and 2., I didn't want her to be overly sexualized (even though the pose is not at all erotic). I made up the creature she's interacting with because I have no idea how Baseman would draw a bird.
I have one more surprise lined up for you guys with this challenge, so it's not over yet! I haven't come up with the next challenge, so I'm kind of biding my time. Plus I'm honestly having too much fun with these!
Next up is one of my very favorite X characters of all time, (though you may see that phrase repeated in the lifespan of this blog) Kitty Pryde! Kitty is just such a fantastic character! She's intelligent, loyal, and just. She's also probably the most relatable X-man, and I daresay she is on par with Peter Parker in terms of a character the fans can really connect with. I have a total girl-crush on her.
I had a lot of fun with this design. I think the slight changes to Kitty's "Shadowcat" outfit make her look just a little bit more like a ninja, which is fitting considering her phasing power and martial arts ability. And of course, where would Kitty go without her trusty pet Lockheed?
I really wanted to get more done by the end of this week, but I got pulled in for some unexpected (and much appreciated!) freelance work, so I am a little behind. Enough excuses!
Rachel is such a great, tough character. She's passionate and strong-willed. I wanted to make sure her strength was represented here without losing the Cupie Doll-esque look that is so predominant in Baseman's style. So this is what I came up with!
Excalibur came about in the late 80's as a property that melded the worlds of the X-Men and Captain Britain. Shadowcat, Pheonix, Captain Britain, Meggan, and Nightcrawler banded together and had all sorts of wacky, mystical adventures based off of their new home on Muir Isle. The series has gone through many changes through the years, but the original Chris Claremont and Alan Davis run will always be my favorite. Apart from offering a deliciously different take on the X world, Excalibur featured a varied and powerful female cast. Kitty, Rachel, and Meggan were each wonderfully unique women, and it was great growing up with them as a girl.
Gary Baseman has a "cartoonish", whimsical style...almost childlike in the rendering. His work features distinctive characters and often combines dark and/or disturbing imagery with a super-sugary color palette, kind of like Candy Land on crack. I can't take my eyes away.
This week I won't be announcing the particular characters I plan on drawing, in part because I kind of hope I get around to each of them (but know that won't be the case). It will also be a challenge to make sure that the individuality I love so much about the women in Excalibur comes through in Baseman's style. Here goes nothing!
I was toying with two basic directions for Batman here; either put him in the standard leotard, or (something I saw a lot more of in Gorey's art) dress him up in a classy black suit. In the end I decided it would be more interesting to have this particular "costume" be reflective of a rich, aristocratic Bruce Wayne; Batman as a gentleman crime-fighter. It also resembles more closely Gorey's drawings of demons and vampires, things that would inspire fear in the criminals of Gorey's Gotham.
I admit it; I was more excited about drawing the Boy Wonder this week than I was about drawing Batman. I really thought the classic Dick Grayson character would be a lot of fun to redesign in Gorey's style. This is what I came up with: This was my first time using actual pencil and ink on bristol in I don't know how long; I work 99% digitally nowadays. But I knew it would be a disservice to Gorey to try and draw in his style without actually putting a pen to paper. If I were truly hard core, I would have used a nib pen!
One of the things I really love about Gorey is the unique look his characters' bodies take on. They're sort of elongated and curvy...they remind me a bit of deflated balloons. I really tried to put that sensibility to work with Robin, here.
This week I will attempt to redesign Batman and Robin in the style of American illustrator and writer Edward Gorey! (The Robin in question will be Dick Grayson, despite Tim Drake being pictured above).
Batman and Robin have been portrayed in many different ways since their inceptions, and Edward Gorey's comically macabre pen and ink illustrations seem like the perfect setting for the dynamic duo.