January 2013

These images from the Toledo Zoo are photos of some of the trees I decorated for the zoo's Lights Before Christmas program.

This Bald Cypress was my favorite so there are multiple views :)

An Oak with clear incandescent lights

An Parrotia tree with clear incandescent lights

A pair of Sycamores with warm white LEDs

A little Oak with yellow incandescents

An Oak with warm white LEDs

Finally, the huge 90-foot Spruce...I helped with this one; my contribution was about 300 strands out of almost 800.

October 2011

I just found this guy in the weed garden today and he's so cool! And he was sitting right by my sign ^_^

I've never seen a brown mantis in....well, in real life, actually. There is a resident mantis in the weeds that has brown wings but a green body....I always called him "Mr. Brown Wing". Could this be him?

I don't know if mantids can change color after they become adults? We've recently had a weather change from very warm to chilly, but I saw Brown Wing just a few days ago and he was still mostly green. Either way, this guy is beautiful.

Please excuse the crappy quality of the photo; I don't own a professional camera, and mine is about 9 years old. Doesn't do so well anymore, but I HAD to get a photo of this guy :)

July 2011

Mantis Frenzy!

When we were kids, the praying mantis was the holy grail of backyard bugs, but we never found any. The only place I'd seen them was in my grandparents' vegetable garden. But it appears they're getting a foothold even in our cruddy urban neighborhood!

The bottom pic is a little spot behind our garage that usually gets overlooked. I went out to cut the grass and was a little surprised how overgrown it had gotten when no one was looking So I thought I'd tidy it up at least a little, but when I took hold of a stalk to cut it, a mantis hopped off! Holy crap! So I just trimmed back the overhanging bits and let the rest of it go wild, with a little fence to keep it off the sidewalk and a sign declaring "Hands off my Mantids, buttnuts!" Or something to that effect.

There are a few in our yard, including this guy climbing on my hand. They are just....SO adorable. I could not be more stoked to see them, finally! I hope we get even more next summer!

December 2010

It was SOOOOOO good!

Turns out that meatball sub totally rocked his world....but how can more be obtained?!

November 2010

Okay, so, we were watching that Subway commercial, you know the one where the guys are on the savanna talking about Jared and they're like, "The nearest Subway is 500 miles that way!" And CR, he's all like, "Ohp. No Subway. We can't ever go to Africa." 'cause he knows I'm totally pushing for that. And I'm like, 500 miles? that can't be outside the continent, there must be at least one.....and I had no idea how many there are. Seriously, check out Subway's restaurant locater, they're all over the place! South Africa's got like a dozen. Who knew. Never underestimate America's drive to make a buck. So the reasons we can't go to ZA are dwiiindliiing....of course, to be fair, you do stand a chance of having your sandwich stolen by crafty Painted Dogs. Then this drawing fell outta me. It makes me laugh. I bet a Wild Dog would totally eat a meatball sub! Gotta hang on to your lunch with both hands...

October 2010

A lot of people ask me how I color my work and such, so here's a step-by-step example from one of my personal pieces.

Click here for large version.

1) Pencil Drawing: This is the only step I still do by hand. If this image had a more extensive background, that would have been drawn too.

2) Line Drawing: I used to do this step on marker paper and scan it in, but I find it much easier to use my tabletís Grip Pen. (Iím using a Wacom Intuos 3 and Photoshop CS2). I like to put a solid layer of white above my pencil drawing and turn down the opacity to about 60%, so I can see the new, black lines Iím making clearly against the pencil lines.

3) Flat Colors: Just plunkíem in there.

4) Color Details: In addition to the patterns, Iíve added a texture layer (in this case, a mottled rock) to the main body of both characters. I usually turn down the opacity so itís not overwhelming, but still adds some roughness.

5) Shadows: For my shading, I make two copies of the colored layer and stack them above the original. The uppermost one, I darken for the shadows; the one below that (in the center of the three), I lighten/brighten for the highlights. Then I turn those top two into mask layers. This is what the picture looks like with all layers hidden except the line art and the shadow mask.

6) Highlights: I donít add the highlights with as much precision as the shadows, typically. In addition, there are more map covers the wrappings, a different one for the loincloth, and there are two over the egg. Iíve also added some color variations to the egg as I have seen on the screencaps I reference.

7) Background: For more complex projects, this wouldnít be a single step, of course. But for this, I used the scene from the movie to gauge what shapes/colors would appear here and just airbrushed them in, speedpaint style, until I was happy with it. Because both the background and the characters are dark and busy, I added a layer between the two with some light haze and dust particles, making sure the part behind their faces in particular was brighter. The floor, in addition to having some shadows and muck painted in, is made of two texture maps.

8) Zazz: Last step is to add the fluids, fine highlights, reflections, and the charactersí shadow on the floor. To do the clear gel, I like to draw it in freehand as a solid white with a hard-edged brush, then use a soft brush to (gently) erase much of the center of each drip, as well as the top of the trickle, as the fluid would be thicker and more visible at its leading edge. I also changed the color of my outline to a dark orange just at the places where the light hits Lekís back, as the black line seemed too obtrusive there. Then, all that remains is signature and copyright credit and itís done!

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