November 10, 2008

Blogging Hiatus

I started this blog in January of this year. My goal was to post pictures of my latest illustrations every week, with the idea that it would generate interest in my illustrations and hopefully create some more freelance work for me. Well, it worked! I'm working on A LOT of different projects right now, and I've got some big deadlines looming on the horizon...

This past week, I have been trying to find ways to free up more time to work on these projects, and unfortunately I think a break in posting on this blog will do just that. I made it 43 weeks, posting regularly, and I would have loved to have made it to a full 52 weeks, but for now I need to buckle down and devote my time to projects that are on deadline.

I've also been thinking about the layout and content of this illustration portfolio site, which both need to be updated, so perhaps I will start posting in this blog again once I revamp the site a bit. Until then, I appreciate your patience!

November 3, 2008

100 Watercolors #9: Drive


Oof, last week's watercolor ended up being kind of depressing, so I was determined to have a little bit more fun this week. Mission accomplished! I'm working on a children's book featuring this here dragon, so I might use him as a reoccurring character in these watercolors, as a chance to draw him more.

I'm still learning a lot each time I do one of these paintings. I can't imagine how much knowledge I will have gained after the next 91 of them!

October 26, 2008

100 Watercolors #8: Innocence


For the last few weeks I have been trying to come up with a good image for the theme of innocence. I went through three pages of ideas in my sketchbook but nothing seemed to quite sit. Then this morning, this image popped into my head. In the morning I thought it was great, in the afternoon I thought it was too confusing, and now I don't know what to think! Either way, it was good to break out the watercolors again. I'll try to keep these going in the coming weeks!

October 19, 2008

Vermont Institute of Natural Science sketches

This week I am working on a big batch of one-panel gags, and my first full page comic for Nickelodeon Magazine. Unfortunately, because of contractual restrictions, I cannot post those illustrations in this blog. So instead, I thought I'd show a few drawings I did this week in my sketchbook.

One of the great perks of being a fellow at The Center for Cartoon Studies, is that I am allowed to sit in on any class. I can also tag along on field trips, as I did this week, when Steve Bissette took his Drawing Workshop class to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science to draw real live birds of prey! These are birds who have been injured and cannot be returned to nature. Some of them were quite large, and it was really amazing to see them up close. I also took some notes about some of the things we learned, so make sure to click on the images below to see the larger versions.


This American Kestrel had imprinting problems (it saw a human when it was a baby bird, so now it thinks it is a human!) It did a lot of squawking, and also it can see in the ultraviolet spectrum (?!) It was definitely my favorite bird.


I also really liked these owls. They made the most beautiful "WOO" sounds, and the Horned Owl even horked out a pellet while we were drawing it!


Next week I should be back to the watercolor challenge. Until then!

October 10, 2008

Screen Printing: Part 2

Okay, FINALLY, here are the results from my very first screen printing project! Each year The Center for Cartoon Studies makes a "Facebook" for the new batch of first year students. Each student (and Fellows, like me!) creates a self-portrait which they screen print with two colors on cardstock. Then all of the portraits are assembled into a book!

I have resisted learning screen printing for years now, because I thought it might tempt me into making screen printed covers for my minicomics (which would only take LONGER to make). Well, I can now safely say that such a thing will never happen. Because it is SOOOO much work to create a screen printed image! I'm glad I learned how, but I'll be surprised if I use this technology again while I am at CCS... I will say that I now have a much greater appreciation for screen printed comics!

Anyway, as you can probably tell here, I printed the red layer first and then the brown layer on top. There were only so many paper colors to choose from, so I chose yellow, to keep things warm. The image represents a sort of "before" and "after" comparison for how I will look this year! I made 60 copies, which was enough to bruise and blister my hands. I've got a few more images to make for the book, and then I'm probably going to hang up my screen for a good long while!

October 6, 2008

Rachel CD cover

Whoops! I wasn't able to find an internet connection this weekend at The Small Press Expo so I am a little late in posting.


This illustration is a cover for a mixed CD of Harry and the Potters songs that I made for Rachel. Back in May, Rachel and I went to see a free HATP show at the main branch of the New York Public Library, which was pretty epic (they had a HORN section!) There were two people dancing around in lion suits (as Patience and Fortitude) and Rachel also screwed up her ankle that night, which is all pictured here. The title is a play on words, spoofing Brad Neely's brilliant Wizard People, Dear Readers. Inside jokes abound!
I've got a few things in the works... so I will definitely have some stuff to post next weekend - on time!

September 28, 2008

100 Watercolors #7: Heaven


Did I say I was going to post my first screen print this week? Whoops! That process is taking a bit longer than I thought it would, so in the meantime, here is Watercolor #7! I'm not sure this one makes PERFECT sense... but every time I look at it, it makes me chuckle, so that's good enough for me!
I'm going to out of town next weekend at the Small Press Expo in Washington D.C. so we'll see what happens... I'll post something!

September 21, 2008

Screen Printing: Part 1

This week at CCS I will be learning how to screen print. This will be my first time ever, so I am pretty excited! Our first project is to create a "Facebook" for the new class. Each new student (and the Fellows) will have a photocopied bio on one page, and on the other we get to have a two-color screen-printed self portrait. My design is above, which shows how I started the school year, and how I will most likely end it, with my Basewood Beard.

Next week I'll post the finished image. Wish me luck!

September 14, 2008

100 Watercolors #6: Break Away


I had a lot of fun with this one. And as predicted, I am learning a lot by working on these watercolors. Hooray for art challenges!

September 7, 2008

Top Secret Illustration


I didn't have time to paint another theme this week, so instead I'm posting this illustration I have been working on, from a top secret project that I have not yet "officially" announced. Some of you might be able to guess what this is... I'll let the cat out of the bag over on my other blog, probably within a week or two!

August 31, 2008

100 Watercolors #5: Seeking Solace


Well, I'm back in Vermont, and so it's back to the 100 Watercolors challenge! I've got one new illustration project in the works, but I'll probably keep going on these watercolors for the next couple of weeks at least. See you next week for theme number six!

August 23, 2008

Two New Alecs

If you have ever checked the homepage of my other website, you might have noticed that I have a few different variations on the drawing of myself, so that I can adjust it accordingly, depending on what's going on in my life at the moment. This week I drew two new variations of myself!

One has much shorter hair (and shorts as well!) I recently cut off all of my hair, and my plan is to never cut it again, until my graphic novel Basewood is complete! I guess I'll have to draw some new variations of myself every few months, to keep up with my hair growth.

The other one is a new rain drawing. The old one showed me in my red and blue raincoat, but now I am the proud owner of a DRAGON Rain Coat! This one is a lot more fun. :)

Well, I will be back in Vermont for next week's post, so I suspect I will dive back in on the 100 Watercolors challenge. Until then!

August 16, 2008

Robin's Nest


This week I'm taking another short break from the 100 Watercolors to show this spot illustration I just finished. It will be used on a Baby Shower invitation, for a woman named Robin (of course!) My instructions were to make the robin plump and cute.

I'm off to Seattle for a week to visit my family and to attend a wedding. So next week's post will be from the road. Until then!

August 11, 2008

100 Watercolors #4: Dark


Here is this week's watercolor! I guess it is kind of similar to last week's painting, though the emphasis is reversed...

In other news, I've finished lettering the forthcoming French edition of PHASE 7. I'm also working on another small illustration project, which I will share eventually. Until then!

August 3, 2008

100 Watercolors #3: Light


Well, I've moved to Vermont! I'm not all the way unpacked and settled in, but enough so that I broke out my watercolors tonight to paint the next theme!

July 26, 2008

French Endpapers and a Naked Mole Rat

Well, tomorrow I am moving to White River Junction, Vermont to be one of the 2008-2009 fellows at The Center For Cartoon Studies. All of my watercolor supplies are packed away, so instead of the next theme, I thought I would share some other illustrations I have been working on recently.

First is the design I developed for the endpapers of my upcoming collection of comics, which is being published in Belgium by L'employé du Moi.


First, I drew one object from each of the stories in the collection (a pair of glasses frames, a cracked bowl, a worm, a firefly, a turtle, a spray can, the big dipper and a skateboard. Then I chose a blue that had a middle value, with the idea that the black would stand out just as much as the white. Lucy Knisley was nice enough to explain a tricky method for creating a repeating wallpaper pattern (as seen on her LiveJournal background image) but for the life of me, I couldn't figure it out! So instead, I just copied the objects over and over and placed them "by hand" one at a time. I think it has a nice non-repeating balance.

The other piece I finished recently, was an acrylic painting of a Naked Mole Rat. I made this as a going away present for Rachel (who made ME a Dragon Coat!). Back in December, when I finished the Animal Alphabet paintings, I had two extra "canvases" which were already primed and ready to go. So I just used my same exact process from that project. The Naked Mole Rat is Rachel's favorite animal and let me tell you, it was a real challenge trying to make this repulsive (yet fascinating) creature look even moderately cute! Here's my attempt:


Alright, well it's time to finish up my packing and then hit the road. I'll be posting next week from the Green Mountain state!

July 20, 2008

100 Watercolors #2: Love


It seems like I have a lot of friends who really love cheese. So naturally this image came to mind, when trying to come up with an illustration for the theme "Love." :)

I will most likely take a break from the themes next week, as I will be moving from Brooklyn, NY to White River Junction, VT on Sunday. But fear not! I will have some other cool things to share, which I have been working on. Until then!

July 13, 2008

100 Watercolors #1: Introduction


The first watercolor is away! I'm trying a new process for this series and so far it is working pretty well. It goes something like this:

First I pencil out the illustration at size, in my sketchbook. Then I scan in the pencils and use Photoshop to darken them enough so that they can be seen when I print them out. Then I place the printed-out pencils under a piece of watercolor paper (and both on top of my lightbox) and then ink the drawing directly onto the paper. Lastly I go in with the watercolors.

I already learned a lot just by doing this first one, so hopefully I'll learn A TON by doing another 99!

July 5, 2008

100 Watercolors + National Geographic Kids!

Okay, it is finally time to announce my next illustration challenge (though I am not actually going to START it until next week). Yes, I too am going to attempt the popular 100 themes challenge! If you haven't heard of this, it is a list of 100 words (or short phrases) which are used as a source of inspiration for drawings or comics. I guess it all started as a manga challenge.

Over the past few years, I have seen the 100 themes challenge employed a number of different ways. The first set I saw was by Maris Wicks, who used the challenge for one-panel illustrations using her little black and white characters. Next Greg Means and MK Reed did the challenge together, each featuring a couple in 100 one-panel gags. Then Liz Prince started using the list to make short 3 or 4 panel comics.


So my idea is to do 100 Watercolors. Each will be a small, 4" x 6" watercolor illustration about the specific theme. They can be funny or serious or wacky, or whatever I choose. Mostly I just want an excuse to do a small watercolor painting each week, to try and improve my technique, and explore some new ways of working in that medium.

I'm going to be posting the illustrations weekly on this blog, and also over in my Flickr account. Greg conveniently put the 100 themes into a single image which can be printed out, if anyone wants to join in the fun!


Lastly, I wanted to tell everyone that I have a full page of gags in this month's National Geographic KIDS Magazine. It should be on newsstands now, so check it out!

June 29, 2008

French Phase 7 Collection Cover: Part 3


Well, here is the finished cover illustration for my collection of Phase 7 comics, being published (in FRENCH!) by L'employé du Moi.

I have been doing A LOT of digital coloring lately, as I am coloring Aaron Renier's next graphic novel for FirstSecond Books. So this actually only took me a little over an hour to color... but then I spent another TWO hours shifting all the values, trying to make foreground elements come to the front and background elements stay muted in the back.

The text was drawn on a separate layer and then dropped in using Photoshop. Lastly, I fiddled with a few of the color choices, trying to get everything to mesh together. Violà!

This book is over 200 pages and it will be out in November 2008. I'm hoping to make it to Angoulême this year to help promote it (and to go to Europe for the first time!) So look for it by the end of the year.

Unless I'm greatly mistaken, the new illustration challenge begins next week!

June 21, 2008

French Phase 7 Collection Cover: Part 2

Okay, here is part two of the illustration process for creating a cover for my upcoming collection of comics, which is being published (in FRENCH!) by L'employé du Moi.

Last week we saw my rough draft, and we heard the suggestion that I should add some more detail to the image. So the first thing I did was sketch out a thumbnail of the old rough dratft, and then I tried to loosely shift around the "camera" angle so that more of the scene shop was visible behind the figure.




Once I had created more space, I needed to figure out what to PUT in that space! Luckily, this is an autobiographical drawing, and I had some reference photos of the scene shop this illustration depicts. Here is one from 2002, though it was taken from the other side of the room (you can see me on the floor with my blue ear guards, and Bob is welding about where the figure is in the drawing).




After messing around with this for quite a while I ended up with the following finished drawing:

 


This was so complex, that I ended up drawing it in sections. First I drew the figure, with the table and inked it. Then I drew the welder and some of the background support columns and inked them. Then I started filling in the deep background with more detail. One tool that made this a lot easier was my new lightbox!

 

With the drawing all figured out, I next set out to color this drawing! I'll post the finished version next week. Thanks for checking in!

June 13, 2008

French Phase 7 Collection Cover: Part 1

I'm going to be out of town for the next two weekends. Next weekend I will be tabling at the "Indie Island" section of Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the weekend after that I will be co-teaching a week of workshops up at The Center For Cartoon Studies.

I was going to start my next illustration challenge, but because things are so hectic right now, I thought it would be better to start it when I get back from my trips. So instead I'm going to be posting some process pictures of an illustration I'm working on for L'employé du Moi.

I recently announced on my personal blog, that L'employé du Moi will be printing a collection of my Phase 7 Comics in French. I am going through the process of relettering my comics (using their translation, since I don't speak French!) but in the meantime they need the finished cover image so they can begin promoting the book.

Most of the comics in the collection are autobiographical, so I first chose specific moments which I thought would work well for the cover image. Here are my thumbnails:
It was decided that the welding image would be best, as it would tie together many of the stories, which revolve around my days spent working as a scenic carpenter. Next I made a mock-up of the cover in my sketchbook and then colored it digitally, just to get some idea of what it would look like:
The guys at L'employé du Moi liked this image, but encouraged me to put even more detail into the drawing. They cited the image I drew for the cover of Papercutter #6, and said I should try to achieve that level of detail:


Well, I'm working on it! next week I'll try to post the finished drawing (and how I altered it) and the week after that I'll post the finished cover!

June 7, 2008

Custom Commissioned Chucks!

Last month, a very nice guy named Chance hired me to draw on two blank pairs of canvas converse with sharpies. One pair would be for himself, and the other was for his son Rabbit.

I'm not sure how it happened, but in art school, I became obsessed with the idea of Dragons Vs. Wolves. So when Chance told me I could draw whatever I wanted on his shoes, that was the first thing that came to mind. And since his son's name is Rabbit, I thought I'd go with a Rabbit theme (of course!)

I'll post some photos below so everyone can see these shoes:













June 1, 2008

Organization Chapter Illustration


Well, here is proof once and for all that I'm done with my Harry Potter Drawings, a completely non-magical illustration! This drawing will be a chapter heading for the new edition of Make a Zine! which is being published by Microcosm Publishing.

Microcosm is a great collective of people who publish and distribute zines and minicomics. They have long carried my Phase 7 Comics and recently they have started publishing comics collections by many of my favorite cartoonists (and FRIENDS!) Make a Zine! will be an invaluable resource and everyone should check it out. I have often said that in my ideal world, EVERYONE would make their own zine. Find something you care about and show it to the world! You will find others with similar interests and it never hurts having more friends!

I've got a really cool post for next week, but you'll have to wait to see it. Thanks for checking in!

May 24, 2008

Harry Potter!



Well kids, here it is! My very last drawing for the Harry Potter Drawing Challenge featuring the man himself, Harry Potter!

I thought about drawing Harry in some sort of heroic, action pose (fighting off dementors, or the basilisk, or dark wizards) but really, when I think of Harry Potter, I always picture him like this; sitting in his room, brooding, stressing out about all of the tasks that lie ahead of him. This was a lot of fun to draw and I tried to cram in as much detail from the books as possible.

Now, this whole time I have been calling this Matthew Reidsma's drawing challenge, but Matt wrote in recently to let me know that it was actually JP Coovert's idea! Matthew was just nice enough to put together the master list and post links to all the contributors. Besides being a good friend, JP is also the mastermind behind One Percent Press and a fine illustrator to boot. So thanks to BOTH Matt and JP for coming up with the idea for this challenge! It was a lot of fun and I hope all of you enjoyed checking out these drawings.

I've got some "real" illustrations to share in the coming weeks and then I'm going to dive into my next illustration challenge. There's more on the way so keep checking back!

May 17, 2008

Voldemort



Okay, here is the penultimate post for the Harry Potter Drawing Challenge that I have been tackling. This week I had to draw He Who Must Not Be Named, which was a bit of a downer. Here he is in the graveyard with the corpse of Cedric Diggory and his pet snake Nagini.

Since this week's drawing was kind of a bummer, I thought I'd also include some 1" pin designs that I created for Harry and the Potters!


The guys will have these on sale all summer at the merch table of their Unlimited Enthusiasm tour. They're traveling all across the USA, playing 40 shows, so look for them in a town near you!

Next week will be the FINAL Harry Potter character... can you guess who it will be? :)

May 9, 2008

Professor Dumbledore




Professor Dumbledore is far and away my favorite character in the Harry Potter books, so I was pretty pumped about this week's Harry Potter Drawing Challenge. It was fun not only drawing the man himself, and Fawkes the Phoenix, but also all of the sleeping headmasters and headmistresses from years past. I tried to match colors for Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

Okay, and as promised, here is the final postcard I drew for Harry and the Potters. The timing of this is nice, as they are playing a FREE SHOW tomorrow (5/10/08) at the New York Public Library! Also, people know that they can click on these smaller images to see the bigger versions, right???


Okay, there are only two more characters left to draw and then the Harry Potter madness will be over!

May 4, 2008

Professor Snape


For this week's Harry Potter Drawing Challenge I drew the mysterious Professor Snape. This is actually my second drawing of Snape. The first one was scrapped because I felt it didn't capture his duplicity well enough. I won't say much more, for fear of ruining the books for someone, but I will say that Snape is easily one of the most interesting characters in Harry Potter! There are only three more characters in the challenge, so it looks like I will be wrapping this series up by the end of May.

Also, here is the next step of my process for the Harry and the Potters postcard. This is the fully inked line art, minus the band logo, which I drew on a separate piece of bristol so it could be placed more freely with photoshop. Next week I'll post the finished piece!

April 19, 2008

Professor McGonagal


One of my favorite running gags in the Harry Potter books is Lee Jordan's spirited commentary of the Quidditch matches and how Professor McGonagal has to constantly keep him in check. So I tried to depict just such a scene for this week's Harry Potter Drawing Challenge.

And as I mentioned last week, I am working on a postcard for one of my favorite bands, Harry and the Potters. This week I'm posting the finished pencils, and I'll post future steps as I finish up this challenge.

April 18, 2008

Hermione Granger


For this week's Harry Potter Drawing Challenge I drew a very studious Hermione Granger, working hard to rack up another top mark. It has been a lot of fun working on these Harry Potter drawings, and I'm happy to announce that I will be doing some more Harry Potter themed illustration work for one of my favorite bands, Harry and the Potters.

As an added bonus while I finish up this series of drawings, I thought I'd post some process pictures of a postcard I'm doing for Harry and the Potters. Below is the super-rough thumbnail that I used to pitch my idea. I have seen these guys play in some pretty bizarre/cool spaces, so I thought I could depict the band playing in an odd place in the wizarding world, namely, on top of the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4! Next week I will post the pencils.



And actually I might be a bit late in posting next week, as I am heading West this week to go to the Stumptown Comics Festival!

April 12, 2008

Hagrid



Well, after a week off, I'm back to working on Matthew Reidsma's Harry Potter Drawing Challenge. This time I needed to draw the Hogwarts grounds keeper, Hagrid.

My favorite description of Hagrid, is that he looks "too big to be allowed." And I thought there was no time he would seem bigger than when floating across the lake with a new batch of first-years. Then I thought about that time Dennis Creevey fell into the lake...

After checking his entry in The Harry Potter Lexicon however, I realized that Dennis crossed the lake in a horrible rain storm and the giant squid SAVED him, instead of pulling him IN to the water... So, um... I guess this is just some random students from a different year! :P

April 6, 2008

New portfolio update!

This week I am taking a break from the Harry Potter Drawing Challenge to announce the quarterly update of my illustration portfolio site: aleclongstreth.com! There is a lot of new work up including the following new pieces:


This is a dragon character I hope to do a lot with in the future (so he's © 2008 Alec Longstreth! Okay?) I drew this as a new promotional postcard which I just sent out to a lot of art directors and illustration contacts. There's also this one:


This is an engagement announcement I did for some friends. Each letter form has a small illustration featuring some aspect from Isla Mujeres. It's based off the design of some really old tourist postcards from places like Coney Island and San Francisco. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun!

Well, I'm already working on the next batch of Harry Potter characters and then it will be on to a new drawing challenge... Thanks for checking in!