Bender vs Data

ghost doll
One last twitter originated sketch for now. This was also drawn weeks ago, and in less than half an hour (which pleased me no end) for fellow Futurama & Star Trek fan @aalgar, who co-hosts the excellent Sarcastic Voyage and Post Atomic Horror podcasts (more on both in a future post).

See the full post for a couple of details, and click here for a large version of the image

ghost doll
ghost doll


Ashwin Pande’s Boobs

Another twitter sketch request! This is something I did a few weeks ago, for @ashwinpande (who always requests “BOOBS!” so…). Coloured it up in the Gimp. Since it does feature naughty naughty breasts, am keeping the full image behind a more link, so as not to, um, corrupt people? Hell, I don’t know — if you’re here you’re probably corrupt anyway.

Sunday Night Sketch-a-thon

Last night on my twitter I sent out a tweet asking people to suggest things for me to sketch. I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while, so with the New Year as an excuse and no motivation to do, um, real work, I thought I might as well get my rusty drawings hands a bit of a work out. I got six suggestions, and though it took me until 2 am I got them all done. Here they are, in the order I was asked, and the order I drew them.

ghost doll
@cynduja asked for “a ghost doll” — I suppose I could have cheated and presented a blank page, then said the ghost was invisible, but this came out instead. I’m generally happy with the face and the somewhat awkward pose, but since drapery is my achilles heel I drew none on this doll when I would have quite liked to.

amitabh bachchan being pecked at by a woodpecker
@jun6lee requested “Amitabh from his Mohabbatein avtaar getting his head chipped at by a woodpecker” — um, okay. My unfortunate skew while drawing is most apparent here (look at this beard) which I really need to work on, and the bird is rushed, rushed rushed, but overall I’m happy with it. Celebrity caricatures were never something I was interested in, but this at least looks vaguely like the celebrity in question.

doodherman and udderrwoman
@SudhishKamath wanted “DPs for @Doodherman and @Udderrwoman” — I did not, as initial impulses will dictate, want to make the woman with Attack boobs (or is that Attack udders). I suppose the milk-can on the guy’s head is an homage to every kid who’s repurposed household vessels as helmets.

Drawing wise this too has the dreaded skew, and I really need to learn some anatomy instead of this cut-and-paste pieces of shorthand approach that I currently have. It works, but in very, very limited ways.

stylised owl
@thedilettante wanted “Stylised owls!” Well, here’s One. Of all six sketches this is the one I like the most, even though I went a bit overboard and unthinking with the grey brush pen on the background. It does’t look half as bad the morning after, which is some consolation, but for a moment there I thought I’d ruined the whole damn thing. The owl itself has some personality — albeit generic — which is good.

dj badger
@electrocowbellrequested “a DJ badger.” Of all of these this was the quickest sketch, and it shows. Not exactly happy with it, but it gets the job done, I guess.

five polar bears
@Kazarelth‘s request was the most complex: “Five polar bears playing a card game underwater wearing frilly panties and enjoying a nice glass full of oxygen.”

So I did that. I think the composition could be much tighter, and the drawing too, but I’m happy with the stylisation on the bears, and may re-do this as a proper illustration one day.

Well, that’s it. I would like to do this again, and maybe even make it a regular thing. It certainly helps to get those illustration brain cells and muscles working.

Doodling Owls

pen sketch of an owl's head

That title just sounds wrong. Using a very loose pen sketch technique which basically involves keeping a fineliner pinned to the paper and not picking it up until the sketch is more or less done, then doing similarly rough blacks with a big marker.

Purpose? To loosen up the hand, actually (and much needed with how little drawing I’ve been doing).

pen sketch of an owl

This one actually not the second sketch I did on the page, but the third. For some reason the second sketch is always crap. 😐


Doodling Owls

pen sketch of an owl's head

That title just sounds wrong. Using a very loose pen sketch technique which basically involves keeping a fineliner pinned to the paper and not picking it up until the sketch is more or less done, then doing similarly rough blacks with a big marker.

Purpose? To loosen up the hand, actually (and much needed with how little drawing I’ve been doing).


My Favourite Word

my favourite word infographic venn diagram

Mr. Savant Tries to Smile a Bit, and Searches For a Missing Lunch Ingredient

Mr Savant Tries to Smile a Bit - Gimp colored

More catching up! I drew this on paper last September, on an A4 sheet using a light blue marker for the sketch, and then various black pens to lay down inks. The good thing about this method is that you can then scan the piece in grayscale mode and any amount of rough sketch lines magically disappear! (You can see this in the sketch version below)

Colored in the Gimp, of course, using a woefully-neglected graphics tablet. Actually there was a fourth figure in this, but it was so horribly drawn (a last minute add to fill up the page) that I decided to erase her from the colored version. This is what the original page looked like:

Mr Savant Tries to Smile a Bit - Sketch

Another image I’d done early in the year also features our lovable interdimensional tourist, and involved food, of a sort. I just realised I hadn’t posted it here on the site:

Savant Chicken Monster

I should really be drawing a whole lot more.


Watchmen Doodles

A couple of Watchmen doodles I did the other day. My megaproject to redraw the entire Watchmen graphic novel has stalled. I could blame everything from the economic crisis to the crisis of not being able to draw well, but really it was the good old Crisis of Infinite Procrastination. I will get back to it but I need to think about a better, faster way to tackle it. As it was going I was obsessing about it too much and not enjoying myself. No sense doing something entirely non-commercial, that will never see public viewing, and not have any fun doing it, right?

So, a couple of fun doodles, quickly coloured (but since this is me, it took the better part of a day to color these in).

BTW, you can click on the Class of 1985 pic, or indeed right here for a 1600×1000 wallpaper version.


5 Men, a Horse & a Flautist

Daily Sketch Page for 13 April 2009, featuring 5 men, a horse & a flautist. Drawn with blue mechanical pencil on A4 copy paper
It’s been a while since I sketched, both in real life and certainly on this site. I’d like to change that, and whenever I finish a page — I’d like to do one every day or so — I’ll post it here.

In the past few months I’ve been trying out a blue pencil for the first time, and I love it so far. The rationale is that drawing in blue helps later on to separate the black inks drawn over them for easy clean-up. But even just at the sketch stage it’s nice to have this kind of separation (even though I didn’t ink this page). I’m using a 0.7 mechanical pencil lead which I picked up in blue (and orange of all things). I use mechanical pencils anyway for most sketches, and there’s been little to no learning curve to using them.

Here’s some detailed views of the page. I drew all of these from references, with one being a caricature (of Casino Royale actor Mads Mikkelsen), and others are from random pictures in my ‘stuff to draw for practice’ computer folder.

Detail of bearded man with hat covering eyes
Detail of caricature of actor Mads Mikkelsen
Detail of musician with long curly hair

Lastly, here’s a version of the page adjusted in GIMP to look black and white. I’m probably going to switch back to regular pencils, at least for reference based sketches like these since I don’t think I’d like to ink them.
Daily Sketch Page for 13 April 2009 adjusted in the GIMP to greyscale


Redrawing Watchmen

A TPB of Watchmen next sitting on a page drawn by me
Every New Year since I was 12 I think to myself, “You should really learn to draw.” And at the end of every year I find that I have drawn less than the previous year. My problem is twofold: while I have ample access to teaching material on drawing and have dipped in and out of it frequently, I have never developed a knack for daily practice. Secondly, when I do practice I try to draw everything I imagine I would like to draw, and within a few minutes a lack of experience and skill leads me to be frustrated with the terrible doodles on the page which look nothing like the grand illustrations I imagine.

So this year I thought I’d just try to redraw the greatest graphic novel of our times: Watchmen.

Origin Story


One day a few years ago I was re-reading Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic for the umpteenth time, and was struck by the quality of the drawing, the writing — just everything, really. I wondered when — or if! — I’d ever develop skills good enough to make comics even a fraction as good. As I pored over each page a memory flooded back: me hunched over a table — I must have been nine — copying a money shot of Kilowog smashing into the big villain from the Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn TPB. It was the first time I’d attempted something like that, it wasn’t exactly great, but it was a fairly accurate facsimile of the original. I noted with some disappointment that in the sixteen years since my drawing skills had probably deteriorated, not improved.

An idea struck: why didn’t I just try to redraw Watchmen? It was basically what most kids do, learn to draw by copying from their favourite comics, but I’d take it to the next level by trying to reproduce the entire book. Every page, every panel, every word balloon and every title, teaching myself — if not classical draftsmanship — then at least the workings and pitfalls of making an actual superhero comic. I put the idea out of my mind for a while, but this year I dusted off my copy and set to work in my free time.

Rough Draft

The Comedian goes out the window in my redraw of Watchmen There are several reasons I chose Watchmen over other comics. Firstly, I like it a lot, and was going to re-read it before the movie comes out anyway. Secondly, it’s set up on a strict grid, which not only appeals to the graphic designer in me, but also makes my life a lot easier as far as reproducing pages is concerned. Thirdly, it’s a dense script as most Alan Moore ones are, and since I was going to be doing the word balloons too (an Alex Toth doctrine from that infamous Steve Rude critique), it would really teach me something about getting words into a panel.

Finally,it’s not drawn in a highly stylised way. If I’d chosen works by other artists I admire like Darwyn Cooke or Terry Dodson, I’d have to look past their styles in order to interpret their work, or worse, I’d end up mimicking their styles too much and not really learning. Dave Gibbons’ work in Watchmen is almost photographic; it’s still drawn like a comic, but the proportions are realistic and everything is done with such attention to detail that there’s a lot of room for interpretation.

And interpreting it I would be; I didn’t want to just copy it or try to trace DG’s work line for line.


My trusty Batman pencil box full of my trusty pencils and pens
As of today I’ve finished my first inked page, and that’s because I’ve been having some teething troubles. I’m much, much slower at drawing that I have any right to be. A single inked panel takes me around 90 minutes, and that’s about as much time as I can set aside for a side project like this. I can grumble endlessly about how frakking detailed Dave Gibbons’ work is and how he must be a Terminator/Cylon, but the plain truth is my hands are stubs that don’t know what to do.

Of course, this exercise is designed to remedy just that (I hope), so I’m not worried.

Then, of course, I’m a tightwad, so I wasn’t going to waste art paper for something like this. My first pages were done on ‘computer paper’ — office drones from Accounts will know these as wide, perforated white-on-one-side sheets. Fold them in half and you get a two comic-book-sized pages ready for Japanese fold binding. Perfect, right?

Except they’re terrible to draw detail on. Maybe Archie comics would be okay, but certainly not Watchmen. Also, when I say comic-sized pages, I mean actual printed comic size pages. Most artwork that goes into comics is done at larger sizes and shrunk down.

Despite knowing that, I thought I’d try anyway, and the first two pages were done on the bad paper at that size. I couldn’t ink them — I gave up even trying to do the word balloons after two panels because it was too small. Until now I’ve always drawn small; tiny notebooks, tiny sketches. I shudder at the sight of blank A4 papers, not knowing what to do.

But this project couldn’t continue at that size, so I dragged out a roll of cheap sketch paper (I think you still get it at IKEA in the kids section, for about $4) and cut out foot-wide sheets. This gave me the required 10 by 15 inch frame I needed, and immediately I could tell the difference. The paper is still nowhere as good as art stock, but it’ll do.

For actually drawing the thing, I’m primarily using 2B mechanical pencils. I’m comfortable with them and I hate sharpening/going at ’em with a knife. Inks are first laid down with a Japanese brush pen (double-ended, small and medium tips), which gives the whole thing a certain manga-esque ‘bounce’. The lines are a bit more slack and curvy than Dave Gibbons (did he use 0.1 Rotring engineering drawing pens or something?) and this is partially down to my more cartoony style as well. I tackle the word balloons and text first with a fine-liner, then do figures from foreground to background.

So as not to dull the brush pen, I fill in the blacks with a couple of sizes of markers. I don’t erase the underlying pencils, mostly because this project isn’t going anywhere beyond this so I don’t need to, and also because the paper is too thin to stand it and I’ll ruin whatever is there. Also, it’s nice seeing your construction lines now and then.


Page 3 of my redrawn Watchmen in all its glory
For now I’ve finished just one page (the first two and cover don’t count since they were on the smaller paper) and at this rate I’ll probably finish this in around 3.2 years (I did the math). I’m enjoying it immensely, but I don’t want it to consume my life. So I’ve decided that for every page of Watchmen I do, I should then do a finished original illustration. I don’t want to just redraw comics for the rest of my life, I want to make some of my own!

Even at this early stage I’ve learned so much. It may be trivial knowledge for most artists, but it’s gold for me, and the only way I would have learnt it is the way I’m doing it.

I won’t be putting up all the pages online for public viewing, so please don’t ask. I won’t give away or sell any of these drawings either. The line between fan-art and copyright infringement is a thin one, and a redraw of a 400 page graphic novel somebody else created is not something I want to put up. If you haven’t read Watchmen please go out and buy or order a copy. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I will update every month or so with my progress and musings on the work as I go along. I hope you’ll drop by now and then and tell me how it’s going.


Comic Konga 2 #5: Megalomania

-I wish I was fabulously intelligent. -You aren't?
-Then I'd program a kickass brew of linux and rule the world!! -I see.
-Geeks would love me. Children would respect me. Women would really love me! -Women love men who program operating systems?
-You're no fun anymore.


Finally, the fifth and final strip of the second Comic Konga!. Dunno why I dawdled do long on this. It didn’t take me long to do. I guess that’s because I had a bunch of other strips planned and never got around to doing them (sorry Dolly!). I’ll have to get around to those soon, or when we do the next comic knoga in a month or two. Come to think of it, I didn’t end up doing any of the strips I thought I would do this time. Most of the ideas were very long, multiple page ideas, and would have required a lot more drawing. Still, I’ve enjoyed all the strips I’ve done (not to mention the rest of the strips).


Don’t Call it a Piña Colada

Further adventures in processed food in this, the fourth and much delayed strip of the second Comic Konga! Click on the image to see the full strip.

The drawing is all over the place in this. I’m just a bit out of it this week, I suppose, running around doing real life stuff. One more left; have the script, should draw it asap.