December 4, 2015

Happy Holidays From Molly Weasley!

Okay, okay, I know I said I wasn't going to take on any more illustration work this year, but when my friends over at The Harry Potter Alliance asked me to draw a holiday eCard for them this year, I couldn't say no!  I ended up drawing one of the unused ideas that I had pitched them for last year's holiday card.  This concept was originally pitched for a printed card that would open, so it has two parts.

The first part is Molly Weasley, sitting comfortably in The Burrow, doing some knitting:


The second part shows the fruits of her labor, as displayed on the members of her family, and some of their friends:


Since this was going to be an eCard, however, we had to figure out how these two images would work together online.  Since this would all be digital, I thought it might be cool to post the first image as an animated .GIF file, instead of just a static image.

The first variant that I animated had a secret "Alohomora" message that appears in the bottom corner, allowing the user to "unlock" the image by clicking on it, thus revealing the second image.  I animated this by drawing six frames on paper and then bringing them into Photoshop.


This was the option that the HPA eventually chose.  You can see how it all came together (with music!) on their holiday fundraising page.

For the second variant that I animated, I got a bit carried away...  I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if everything in the scene was animated?!"  Really, it was an excuse to experiment with Anime Studio, a 2D animation tool I recently bought to help me with another project.  I tried out a bunch of different techniques and came up with the crazy scene below.  (WARNING! Big file: 2.7 MB)


At the size the HPA was going to use this on their site, the file was actually 5 MB, so it was a no-go.  Still, I had a lot of fun building this, and I learned a bunch of new techniques which will serve me well in the future.  Since it's kind of small here, I thought I'd do some "zoom-ins" on each of the elements.

Here is the garden gnome that Fred and George put a tutu on, painted gold and tied to the top of the Christmas tree:


The snow falling outside the window of The Burrow was probably the most complicated aspect of this animation.  It was only a 4 second loop, so I couldn't get a whole double-window's worth of snow to fall through in that amount of time - too fast!  Instead I took a tiny loop of snow falling past a single window and duplicated it.  Because they are identical, it appears that the top window snow falls into the bottom window snow (if that makes sense).


I wish I had spent a bit more time on the knitting hand poses, but as it was, I had already spent too much time on this animation.  Instead of drawing them on paper, I drew them directly into Photoshop to save time.  It's a pretty clunky 6 frame loop.  If nothing else, at least the needles cross over in different directions each cycle!


It wouldn't be the holidays at the Weasley's without some Celestina Warbeck on the wizarding wireless!  For this one I utilized a visibility "fade in / fade out" preset that was built into Anime Studio.


I was very excited to have an excuse to design and draw Mrs. Weasley's family clock! I used some "ease in / ease out" tweening on the pendulum and then had Arthur and Charlie Weasley's hands snapping back and forth between "traveling" and "work."  Everyone else was either safely at home, or at Hogwarts!


The fire was super fun.  It's just a quick 4-frame loop that I drew directly in Photoshop.


For whatever reason, my favorite part of this whole piece is Errol, perched up on the mantelpiece.  I think this drawing of the Weasley family owl is very funny, and it was fun having him breathe very, subtly and slowly.   Every time I look at this it cracks me up!


Thanks again to the Harry Potter Alliance for giving me a chance to work on this.  Please donate to their great organization if you are able to!

October 27, 2015

Harry Potter at 1, 6, 11 & 16

While digging through my illustration folder recently, I came across these Harry Potter drawings that I did for the Harry Potter Alliance back in 2009, for a project that never really went anywhere.  I never posted them on here, so I figure better late than never!  They depict Harry Potter at ages 1, 6, 11 and 16.





With this post, I'm all caught up on posting old illustration work.  I'm not currently taking on any new projects, so I'm going to take a break for a few months, while I focus on Isle of Elsi, Phase 7 and my first born child, who will be here soon!

October 22, 2015

2015 Highlights Gags

At the end of last year, I did a few gags for a new Highlights Magazine called Pullzemania.  The idea was pretty cool - each gag's punchline had to be in a speech balloon and they would be printed separately, as stickers.  So the reader has to look at a bunch of detached speech balloons and figure out which punchline goes with which gag.  I was proud in the first one that I snuck in a Metamorphosis reference...




It felt good to draw some gags again - like the good old days at Nickelodeon Magazine!  Too bad these were work for hire.  At least this magazine did not switch over to a spec work model, like the picture finds I was doing, so I may consider doing this kind of work again in the future.

October 20, 2015

Last Highlights Picture Finds

Here are my last two picture-find assignments that I drew for Highlights Magazine last year, and which were printed in the Eagle-Eye Hidden Picture series this year.  First up is the Henry Ford Museum, which I drew for issue #38.


And my very last picture-find was of a paddle boat on the Mississippi River.  In the text on the adjoining page, the characters said they couldn't see into the water because it was brown, and then said "Now we know why the Mississippi is also called the Big Muddy."  I looked up some reference and colored the illustration as you see it below, which was approved by my editor.  When the magazine arrived in the mail, Highlights had recolored the water green (!?!)


Sadly, after this assignment, Highlights changed the way these illustrations are commissioned.  Instead of hiring a talented illustrator and agreeing to pay them a fair fee through a contract, they are now requesting that illustrators send them fully formed ideas and then they may select them, or they may not.  For me, that qualifies as spec work, so I will not be working for Highlights any more.  

It was already a work-for-hire assignment, which is a very low priority me these days, but it was fun being in this historic publication that I used to enjoy when I was a kid.  Perhaps someday they'll revert to a more fair contract and I will do some work for them again.


September 4, 2015

My Weezer Pinball T-Shirt is now PLAYABLE!

Back when I designed my EWBAITE Pinball T-Shirt for Weezer I got an email from a game designer named Frederic over at games-mill.com who was also a big Weezer fan.  He pitched the idea of turning my T-Shirt design into a playable virtual pinball machine.  I said YES PLEASE.

For years now, Frederic and his team have been working on Weezle Jump, which is a web-based, Weezer-themed video game, with one mini game per album.  They decided to add my pinball design as the level for Everything Will Be Alright in the End!  It's done and it's pretty amazing:


They made some of the elements 3-D like the flippers, the drop targets, the slingshots, the pop bumpers and the ramps, plus they added some lighting effects on the inlanes, outlanes and lanes at the top.  They let me play an early version to give them feedback, so it's got a pretty solid ruleset at this point.  The player is rewarded for completing tasks like hitting all the drop targets or completing all the lanes.  There are multiballs and everything!

To play the game you need to install Unity 3-D. Then head over to weezergame.com, create a username and then select "Pinball" from the "Games" menu on the home screen.  Have fun and I'll see you on the high score board!