Archive | September, 2009

Mark Rudolph (part 2)

30 Sep

Sometimes you can get obsessed by a drawing, especially if you were mentioned in a podcast (Art & Story Extreme!!) by one of the people you’re trying to immortalize as a cartoon character. No pressure, though.

Today I wanted to make a better cartoon character version of Mark, somewhat closer to the Asterix and Obelix universe. I tried all kinds of things, even removing the perspective from the reference photo. Although it was interesting to know how you can visualize a head inside a cube, and how perspective works, it didn’t help me create a better cartoon version of Mark.

So I drew several versions of the reference photo, until I found one that came pretty close. A bit frustrated by the lack of progress, I took a short break, and from across the room I saw the sketches on a piece of paper. Because I looked at it from an angle, the flat paper was foreshortened. From afar and in that perspective view, that version looked much better.

I tried to recreate what I saw with an image editor (GIMP), by distorting the scanned sketch with the perspective tool. This tool presents you with four corners on your image. Dragging the corners distorts the pixels into some kind of perspective view. Like this.

Mark Rudolph, part 3

The upper sketch is the distorted version, and the lower the original. I guess the perspective tool can be useful at times.

The widest part of the face is halfway the nose, and the eyes are somewhat smaller and closer together. This means the lower part of the face has to become bigger, while the relative amount of area of the upper part shrinks.

I tried to incorporate that observation into a cartoon face, and after several attempts, I settled on this face. It isn’t entirely what I wanted, but it’s pretty close. It still has to be reworked into the style of Asterix and Obelix (drawn by Albert Uderzo), and then Mark has to change into a dog, which should look like Mark if he were a dog.

Mark Rudolph, part 4

Integrating the features into a new character and still have some resemblance with the original means you have to keep looking at your reference material, while stylizing the drawing at the same time. Unfortunately I can’t describe it better than this: stare at reference photo, visualize the stylized version (using the rules of thumb you established), start drawing, and hope for the best. This drawing was the sixth attempt. I have never done this before, and I guess it will get easier with practice.

I’ve spent around five hours of my life on these sketches. It can be frustrating at times, so you have to really do have to like it to keep going.

I think I should use different reference material, because it’s hard for me to get any more out of the one fuzzy photo I used. On Art & Story Video there are some videos with Mark and Jerzy, which I going to watch for reference.

More to follow in part 3.

Mark Rudolph (part 1)

29 Sep

There are many people called Mark Rudolph, but the one I’m referring to is the comic book writer and artist from Michigan, USA. You should certainly check out his website at, especially if you like barbarians and/or heavy metal music.

I wanted to draw him as Dogmatix, the dog of Obelix, of the comic strip Asterix and Obelix. I hope I can show you how such a thing could be done. I have seen other arists draw animals that resemble people, but nowhere I have read how they did that, if there was some method they used. I guess they made many revisions and where much more skilled at drawing than little old me.

Here is the photo on Flickr I based my sketches on. Mark is the one on the left in the photo.

credit: HoovracommandeR

The first quick sketch of Mark was made in a few minutes.

Mark Rudolph

Then I drew Dogmatix and tried to draw Mark more in the style of Asterix and Obelix, with rounded eyes, and an overall more cartoonier look

Mark Rudolph, part 2

I think I can’t finish this project today, or even tomorrow. It needs several revisions before I’ll get it right and can convert Mark’s face to Dogmatix’s face, while Mark’s features are still clearly visible in the end result.

One thing is for sure. Both Dogmatics and Mark have a mind of their own and don’t always follow conventions. That is what I like about them and why I think they are so much alike.

That is all for now.

Explorations into wolfiness

28 Sep

I’ve started a new series on drawing wolves. Here’s the first rough sketch I did.

Explorations into wolfiness, part 1

That’s nice, but only that, nice. I want to do better than that.

Explorations into wolfiness, part 2

Now, that wasn’t very helpful, so I decided to look into my many books about drawing for guidance. I found help in the form of the following basic sketch of a wolf’s head.

Explorations into wolfiness, part 3

Using that, I tried to recreate a photo reference, and that went surprisingly well.

Explorations into wolfiness, part 4

This is always the hardest part of drawing anything: finding out what is the underlying structure. Once you’ve got that, you can try to improve the features, have more feel for your subject, and practice, practice, practice. However, those are incremental improvements. It’s that first big step of understanding your subject most people get stuck on, including myself, and which, once taken, gives a sudden leap in how real your drawing looks. It’s like a light switch is flicked, and a light bulb appears just above your head: Eureka!

I’m just glad I have an extensive enough collection of art instructional books so I seldom get stuck. And if I do, there’s always Google to find an additional resource for that one teeny missing piece of the puzzle, which makes you think: Why didn’t I see that before?

That is all.

More caricature drawing preparation, part 13

27 Sep

Another drawing from imagination, that started as a pencil sketch, was inked and colored on drawing paper.

More caricature prep, part 13

That is all.

Jim Lujan caricature, part 2

27 Sep

A week after Jim Lujan turned 40, I decided to have another go at his caricature (this first one is described in this blog post). Meanwhile I have learned something about drawing caricatures, and now have Copic markers to color a black and white drawing.

Jim Lujan caricature, part 2

The black and white drawing is much better than the first version, probably because I have drawn so much this week, but also because I’ve seen Jim Lujan on video a few times.

The coloring is a bit of a disappointment. For some reason there are “dry marks” in the lighter parts. I should try to find out why that is. Copic markers are supposed to dry quickly, but perhaps I should have waited longer between applying new layers of color. And I went outside the lines. Luckily I could correct that digitally.

So this caricature of Jim Lujan is a huge improvement over my earlier version, but still lots of things remain to be improved. I guess that is a good thing, because once you know everything and are able to do anything, what’s the point of pursuing new things? You see, I’m driven by the things I don’t know or can’t do. Getting there is half the fun.

That is all.