References: sketching and field trips

Sketching from life (still life, life drawing, field sketching) is a handy exercise to keep your eye trained that reference drawing can’t compare to. In this case, a field trip to a zoo that had a small variety of deer proved relaxing, informative, and downright fun. Most of the sketches were tonal or gestural. There were definitely angles of how the jaw located to the neck, unusual behaviors which the deer displayed, and  new body physiology that a reference photo (even Google’s hoard) couldn’t really display (re: folds in the fur, environmental details).

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Needless to say, if you can get out there and sketch your subject (even little thumbnails), it’ll improve your drawing and educate your artistic endeavors.

Art style sketches + scribbles

About 3/4ths through the block of time carved out for project production, my mind starts to splutter. The writing gears just sort of give out.

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That’s when art style and direction exercises take over. The scribbles & sketches seen above are experiments (though they might not look it) and studies of what works while using black ink, white acrylic, and Sharpie marker on toned paper.

There’s something cathartic about these scribble-dibbles.

#tonedpaper #sketch #doodle #art #creature #skull #skullbottle #ghosties #ghost #spooky #blackwhite #artdirection

“Dear” project update + recap

The “Dear” graphic novel project is making slight head-way as an upcoming production session has been scheduled for late December 2016 through early January 2017. Below is a recap of past sketches, thoughts and other ephemera that’s been floating around in this brainpan of mine.

From January 18th, 2015 blog post:

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“Its been a while since i posted (life got in the way) but heres to hopefully a new year chocked full of progress shots of an upcoming long term project that is waaaay overdue and needs to get out of my system.   Above snapshot: pen and ink warmup and sketching study of deer.

The long-haul visual design project that is now in my creation queue is a graphic novel. It’s taken the better part of four years to be able to step back and be able to tell an un-compromised  story accurately but just recently there was a turn and catalyst about a month or two back(namely a few friends + supporting characters that you’ll see in days to come).

So consider the next oncoming entries the really rough visual underpinnings and evolving studies for final pages, pieces, cover art, etc. Some of the posts may be non-sequitur but these outliers will hopefully serve as fences and boundaries for the realms the project is going to enter.”

From January 19th, 2015 blog post:
About a few days ago, I stumbled across this gem of a youtube video from the excellent crew over at Extra Credits (long time fan of the show BTW) that covers the very basics of starting to create your own video game ( as well as thoughtful questions to ponder and advice before jumping in headfirst ).

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A lot of practical applicable advice (e.g. don’t expect a Hollywood-esque result if it’s your first go but be proud that you’re actually making something) and just in time with regards to what I’m working on. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a wee bit of motivation and a very rough set of organization tips to keep whatever you’re doing on track.

From January 20th, 2015 blog post:

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Just a quick snapshot of the sprawl that’s been over my workspace and a teaser of a WIP anthropomorphic creature that I’ve been in the middle of working through ( as well as glimpses into the chaotic thought process of filtering through what needs to go in the story and what doesn’t).

There are two large hand bound sketch pads that I’ve had for a quite a bit of time (and holding on to for good reasons) and this foray into the project seems a good use for them.

For those at home keeping tabs on this blog, the next year’s worth of posts are being dedicated to recording sketches, final pieces of illustration work and sequential art pieces. The (zealous) goal is aiming to finish a graphic novel in a year (as this is a long overdue project).  Some future material may not be suitable for certain audiences so I’ll do my best to leave warnings.

Anthropomorphic art: after reviewing past personal sketches, drawings an illustrations I realized that a common theme of more ‘finished visual thoughts’ started to emerge: the use of anthropomorphic imagery and subjects. It didn’t help that a few months ago, I was introduced to Misao Kinoshita’s mythological sculptural works that explored (and how!) the musculature structures envisioned for more well-known mythical & fantastic creatures.

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(photographic image credit: Misao Kinoshita)

A portion of the novel seems to be gravitating towards this theme and its quite intriguing to question the use of it (especially in contexts of visual narratives in general).

From January 22nd, 2015 blog post

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From the git-go, if you were to ask what is the first thing that caught your eye if you picked up a graphic novel or comic book, it’s going to be the characters (one dimensional or well rounded). This is just a quick warm-up practice sheet of just general facial expressions and a conscious effort to see the human form in an almost sculptural way. E.g. how does the nose change when looked from up above? Down low? What micro expressions on the face do you see  when you mix fear and anger?

Updates on narrative direction coming soon.

From January 23rd, 2014 blog post:
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Just a quick snapshot of a some of today’s sketchbook character expressions/designs fun. One of the potential main characters will probably be a modified version of this. Just how much … That’s going to be the hard part as this character is set is directly based off of the whimsical, otterlike playfulness that David Tennant exudes.
From February 3rd, 2015 blog post:
A quick WIP piece that is an experiment in use of line and color blocks on cardboard. The crown and use of solid white with black outline near larger bodies of white (no outline with use of the brown toned paper) is proving to be aesthetically balanced. This piece is a reference style study for what’s to come potentially.
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(Artist credit: Mike Mignola,  B.P.R.D.:Plague of Frogs Volume 3) 

I was able to get the chance to read  B.P.R.D. (an offshoot off of the Hellboy series) and just happend to fall in love with a small vignette of a story right at the end of vol. 3 involving a Wendigo creature named Daryl. The yarn is told via flashback as a “sad ghost story” and does a very good job exploring the legends and mythos of the Wendigo creature.

The concept of the ‘creature’ within us all and just what triggers this beast to consume/dominate/overtake us is a critical element on where my current work is heading. Questions of where does one stop becoming ‘human’ or ‘normal’ In today’s modern world and how does one cope or confront issues (personal/community/etc)? Is the ‘creature’ that we become our curse or an unapologetic mechanism of either progress or devolution.  And where does that fine line lie?

From February 6th, 2015 blog post
More experiments with block white highlights near stronger line work while sketching hands. Of all the items on the human body the hands (and to a certain extent the lips) are the punctuation in the visual statement of body language. Thoughts to chew on while sketching.

From March 8th, 2015 blog post

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A very quick and dirty sketch of one of the main places the graphic novel is to take place. Most of the detail is taken from memory. The way the grass sloped up and the neat tree line flanking the rear and left side of this particular building. I haven’t been near this site in about four years…so needless to say..  a field trip might be in the cards soon. I know that there are a few angles of the building that I personally never saw but would like have done that would compliment the style I’m heading towards.

Side thought: They say that when your trying to “sell” anything fantastical or non realistic (illustration or drawing wise or even in a narrative) that there has to be either in the environment, characters, or objects/ideas something that the audience can relate to. Either it’s as small as a common item found in our world to the language / slang heard.  Where I’m heading… It just happens to be human personality coupled with a somewhat familiar American homes.

From November 16th, 2015 blog post 

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Sketch Stretch# 3 Your Parents
(Micron on 1-ply bamboo white paper)

Before we go all Freud-y on this subject, if you’d ever seen my parents together the above rendered illustration is comically (and painfully) accurate.

Curiously enough, the same simplistic facial features and the way that proportions/linework for the upcoming graphic novel project and foreshadows of what’s to come and evolve.

The project (so far) has been a simmering and swirling plot of cerebral goo and intrigue. Hopefully the (micron) pen will be able translate what’s flurrying around in my brain.

June 20th, 2016 blog post

Sometimes getting back into the rhythm of things is like relearning how to speak. You start off rough, learn how to form sounds, piece together some parts and mash up others to form new words and meanings. Drawing or revitalizing a project can be looked at in the same manner.

Sketches of tonight’s rainy excursion on forming characters and art direction.

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From the Archive: “Inanimate”

inanimate Rebecca Miller Illustration

“Inanimate” is one of those moods where time stops or slugs along like syrup in winter next to icebergs. But you ever get the sense of being inanimate when everything rushes around you… so fast that it stops still or you do? Let me know what you think is inanimate to you? And yes, Keanu’s Reeves acting style has been counting in on the tally in the One Day One Sketch scoreboard.

This archived sketch was first posted on August 29th, 2011.

(c) Rebecca Miller illustration

From the Archive: “Blank” illustration

Blank Thoughts Illustration - Rebecca Miller illustration

Blank” really zoned in on those rare, somewhat blissful, or happenstance moments where everything around you is just white noise. Background music. Elevator music if you’re that panned out. Although, come to admit, maybe it’s just spacing out sketching for the One Day One Sketch blog. Hmmm.

This post first appeared on September 6th, 2011. 

(c) Rebecca Miller illustration

From the Archive: “Nauseated”

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That’s the last time we’re downing a gallon of milk in under an hour. Just the thought of slamming it and keeping it in for a half hour after. Feeling kinda sick and wait… wait… we’re a little Nauseated thinking about it coming back up.

Urp. We’re just gonna… gonna lie down for a while.

This post appeared on April 13, 2012. A print of this illustration piece was featured at the Redbubble Australian headquarters in 2012. Prints and t shirts available here.

(c) Rebecca Miller illustration

From the Archive: “Inked” rough final

"Inked" dapper vintage octopus illustration sketch - Rebecca Miller illustration.

"Inked" dapper vintage octopus illustration - Rebecca Miller illustration

This post first appeared on June 20th, 2013. The piece “Inked” was featured in the 2013 “On My Own Time” group exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art and the Szozda Gallery in Syracuse, NY. The piece was also featured on the Redbubble blog here in the “Tattoo Artworks that Would Look Good on Both Paper and Skin (and shirts and cases and stickers) article.

Prints, stickers, and tee shirts available here!

(c) Rebecca Miller illustration

From the Archive: “Beer C.H.U.D.”

beer chud illustration. Rebecca Miller illustration.

Inspired by a frothy demon residue smudge in a pint of Sam Adams Winter Lager, this friendly beer C.H.U.D. showed up just in time at Trivia Night recently. Slainte!

This post first appeared on January 20th, 2014. Stickers available here for limited time.