In case you didn’t know, this week is a Mayor Bloomberg approved official Illustration Week in New York. One of the biggest event of the week is tonight's American Illustrationand American Photography Annual publishing party (in a beautiful old synagog in Lower East Side!) I have five images accepted into this year’s annual, among them four are from first children’s book I have illustrated, which is due out in spring 2013. Barbed Wire Baseballwas written by Marissa Moss (published by Abrams, AD: Chad Beckerman). As you may be able to guess, it is a story takes place in wartime Japanese internment camp. It is a story of endurance and hope. It was a tremendous amount of work to get full book done. I am so happy that they got accepted into the Annual. You can see all the images from this year’s American Illustration 31 Annual here.
And, another one is this DC Comics cover I illustrate monthly for The Unwritten. This issue's story was about an aging superhero and a talking stuffed rabbit, and the end of the world.
I really enjoyed reading your postings on Drawger (as a lawyer who'd rather be an illustrator it is a nice escape from reality!), but it seems like these days you don't update Drawger very often - I think your most recent post is January 12. The reason I like your postings so much is that you explain how you do things, which is really useful for rank amateurs like myself. I was wondering if you post more regularly on another website? If so, are you able to let me know what that website is?
I saw this e-mail in my inbox this morning when I got to my studio.
Yes, I have just been thinking about updating my Drawger. Actually, for quite a while. Whenever I go on a business trips to different schools, often students or instructors tell me how much they like my posts because they show not just the final piece, but the process where they can learn.
Life is not easy. We never have time. Work load has been a bit of insane status since beginning of this year, second semester in teaching is always more work than the first semester (not sure why, but winter weather adds to it, definitely). Multiple business trips to lecture and teach (because travel is my hobby and reason for me to get outside of NYC), also, getting my website redesigned, by awesome web design studio, but I still have a lot of work to do myself.... yada yada yada... We never have time.
That is true. but the e-mail this morning woke me up. I'VE GOT TO UPDATE MY BLOG RIGHT NOW!
So, before going into the regular routine of a day's work in the studio, I am posting this now. It is for you, Mr. A.C.G.
Since the new Communication Arts Illustration Annual came out, I decided the first post after hiatus is one of the winning piece, which I worked with GQ for their October 2011 issue. AD was Chelsea Cardinal.
The story, titled The Man Who Sailed His House, was an amazing story of survival of one man during Japan's earthquake/tsunami in March 2011. He was washed about 1Km ashore on the roof of his house when he was rescued days later.
Above is the b/w version of the drawing for a double page opener. About 30" x 22". India ink with brush on watercolor paper.
I made three initial rough sketches and sent them to Chelsea. She picked the bottom left, from which I made more fefinied sketch (which is still rather loose).
There are way more than what you see here, but some of the reference materials I had found on various news sites on internet. Really charged photos..., to be honest, it wasn't so fun staring at them for days, although the project itself was fun.
the one in the middle with a man waving his hand is the only photo there was of Hiromitsu, the main character of this story. (And thus I knew why they needed to hire an illustrator for this project).
screenshot of the beginning of long and tedious coloring process on Photoshop CS3 (since then I had switched to CS5.5)
I was quite happy with the color. Very nutral, with only bright thing behing his helmet, which is the same color as the big fire far away.
... then some emergency happens right before the image goes to print. The full article was not available when I finished my illustration. And we found out that there are specific color references clearly written in the final article. So, the color needs to be tweaked around. But it was such last minutes decision, GQ production department had to take care of it.
Below is the final result. Red roof, yellow shoes, white helmet....
There was one more spot illustration in the print version of GQ, which was Hiromitsu's portrait. Also, what was new to me, was that they asked a few more on top for the iPad version of the magazine, some of which are posted below the portrait.
On another note, I will try (TRY!) to post at least one or two process from now on. I will either post other works that got accepted in Communication Arts, or related Japan tsunami piece I recently did for Japan Times.
It's December. This is the time of the year when I look back and give the light of the day to the sadly killed jobs for one reason or another. Yap.
This year, it happened in January, and I knew immediately that it was going to be my "killed job of the year"
My first TIME Magazine cover that never was.
When TIME called and asked me to do an illustration, that, by itself, I was really excited. I have worked with TIME in past, but not so often, so phone call from them is always exciting.
I think the good thing was that when they initially said 'half a page or full page" later turned into "maybe possibly cover", then "maybe possibly a cover and interior illo", I didn't take it too seriously.
Oh of course, I did take the job very seriously. But I have worked long enough to know not to keep my hopes too high when I hear something that sounds just too good to be true. (Although, I know Tim and Edel and a few others here on Drawger have done multiple TIME covers in past. For me, it is still a dream. And I am in peace with it. )
When eventually, the magazine has decided to go with a photo for the cover, I wasn't surprised. The photo felt more like TIME to me anyway.
It was a bit sad when eventually neither of my illustrations got published. But hey, the one with the tiger and piano got accepted into both American Illustration and Society of Illustrators annual, and then published in my first monograph (I will talk about this book some other time). I cannot ask for more. Thank you Andree Kahlmorgan and Emily Crawford for giving me an opportunity to work on an image that I am really proud of.
It was an article about tiger mothers. Remember, it was all the rage in early 2011? So, initial cover ideas were on top, drawing actual tiger. Then they asked me to draw the big mother and small daughter, which would look great as photos, but not so interesting as illustrations, I thought.
I found the image on the right on TIME website. Works so much better in photo than illustration, I think.
This was my pitch for the cover, and although killed, I am still very happy with the image. Most of the illustrations I do have a lot of details, but I am a big fan of simple graphic image.
PS: Comments welcomed. But do not write things like "illos are better than photos" kind of stuff, please. Thanks!
I am not at Comic-Con.
Many people asked if I was going, including my DC Comics Vertigo editor Karen Berger, with whom I work monthly on covers for their (ahem, bestselling, woo hoo,) series called The Unwritten.
This year, I received my first (hopefully not last...) nomination for Will Eisner Awards in best cover artist category. I am just happy and honored that enough people thought my work deserved a nomination. I don't want to think about wanting to win, which I may feel, if I was in San Diego.
I rather stay in New York, finish up piled up work before heading out to Italy early next month to teach a week long workshop.
BUT, that does not mean I am not present at Comic-Con.
In fact, I am participating in a one night charity auction event curated by Creterion Collection for Japan earthquake relief. Creterion Collection puts out beautifully packaged collectors edition DVDs with edge, working with many illustrators. I remember dreaming of working with them when I saw a gorgeous package designed by Josh Cochran a few years back.
Eric Skillman of Creterion Collection has curated an auction show of Akira Kurosawa's works interpreted by various illustartors including Josh Cochran and myself. All one of a kind originals. Proceeds will be donated to Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund.
So, if you are at Comic-Con, head out to San Diego Wine and Culinary Center across the street from San Diego Convention Center. Friday July 22, 7PM to 1AM. And Buy art for a good cause!!
A TRIBUTE TO THE FILMS OF AKIRA KUROSAWA
A benefit for Japan Relief, presented by The Criterion Collection and Tr!ckster Tr!ckster is being held at the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, 200 Harbor Drive, San Diego. A Tribute to the Films of Akira Kurosawa," is one night only, Friday July 22, 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
These are DVD packages I worked with Criterion Collection. The Mikado is an opera-film, and Topsy-Turvyis another film about two men who were behind created the operaMikado. It was fun to work on both covers simultaneously.
Topsy-Turvy, like the title, has the upside down heads of two main characters. It was a tough job to draw both of their portraits on one head and make them look like the actors. Eric helped me a lot with the process. I am happy with the result.
Below are the actors in the film.
my piece is based on Akira Kurosawa's "Donzoko (The Lower Depth)" 11.25' x 14.5" black and red ink on watercolor paper, 2011
Below is the press release
A TRIBUTE TO THE FILMS OF AKIRA KUROSAWA A benefit for Japan Relief, presented by The Criterion Collection and Tr!ckster
TR!CKSTER and The Criterion Collection <http://www.criterion.com/> have joined forces to curate a one-night-only celebration of the works of legendary director Akira Kurosawa. Cited as an inspiration to generations of storytellers, Kurosawa’s films resonate with a singular clarity of vision, and his images last in our minds long after the last frame has played.
This intimate show, curated by Criterion designer Eric Skillman, will feature original pieces by artists from the worlds of comics, animation, and illustration, including: Mike Allred, Scott C., Josh Cochran, Francesco Francavilla, Robert Goodin, Victor Kerlow, Ted Mathot, Scott Morse, ShoMurase, YukoShimizu, Bill Presing, Jim Rugg, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Connor Willumsen. Though the gallery show will be free to enter and enjoy for the general public, all proceeds from sales of these works will be donated to the Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund. <http://www.japansociety.org/earthquake>
This is a special engagement gallery event, existing for one night only: Friday, July 22, 2011.
Tr!ckster is being held at the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, which is a venue across the street from the San Diego Convention Center where Comic-Con is being held. Its address is 200 Harbor Drive, San Diego. Our show, "A Tribute to the Films of Akira Kurosawa," is one night only, Friday July 22, 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
Congratulations again to everyone who’s work is exhibited at the Society of Illustrators Book/Editorial Show, and nice seeing you (those who were there) at the opening party on Friday night. Missed the party? No worries, the exhibit is open to public through February 20th.
I had realized I forgot to post the creative process of the cover for The Beautiful and Grotesque, a collection of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of the most celebrated modern Japanese authors. So, here it is.
The process started from rough ideas. I gave them four different scenes from the longest story in the book: The Robbers.
I think the only art direction I got is that it is an adult fiction and the cover should not look like a young adult book. I always repeated that in my head while working on ideas as well as coloring process.
They picked one of them, and the next stage was to make the wrap around sketch for the cover.
My secret weapon and amazing reference book for this project: "勇者の装い Samurai Armor Design" from PIE Books of Japan, bought at Kinokuniya Bookstore Bryant Park branch in New York. It is a wonderful coffee table book and makes a great gift too.
As you can see, sketch with gutter space is printed out to the size I would draw, and traced onto watercolor paper using light box. The rest is just tedious drawing process using ink and brush for hours till I am done.
black and white drawing is done. Next step is coloring on Photoshop.
screenshot of Photoshop process. As you can see, I ended up multiplying arrows to give image more depth and contemporary feel to the image.
This is the final wrap around cover image.
There were a few color variations to choose from. I actually liked this fuchsia version too. Intentionally chose the color that is not in traditional Japanese color scheme to give it contemporary feel.
final front cover. I love this unexpectedly contemporary design. I am so happy they didn't take the expected direction of making it look very Japanese. Design: Rodrigo Corral, AD: Albert Tang
I have to be just honest; 2009 was definitely not the best year I had, and work was definitely slower than usual.
But when the most of the world is in recession for over a year and more than 10% unemployment rate, you gotta look at the brighter side of it.
This week when I schlepped my heavy suitcase back from Hong Kong with my head spinning from jetlag, there was a big package waiting for me at my door. SPECTRUM silver medal!!! And look how sci-fi fantasy it looks!
Below are the images that got accepted to SPECTRUM this year starting from the silver medal winning piece in advertising category created for Microsoft as client.
Ok, so this year was not so bad. There were lots of great things to celebrate. What goes down must come up. Economy will soon come floating back up, my dear friends who have lost their jobs will eventually find jobs that are probably even better than the ones they lost.
For now, I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. And let’s make 2010 even better year than this one!
PS: this won’t be my last post of the year.
SPECTRUM 16 annual just came out. My silver award piece on the right. Gold was also by a Japanese artist, Mr. Ryohei Hase
one of five images created for online ad for Microsoft won this year's silver
another piece from Microsoft advertising series
Sandman issue No.4 cover for DC Vertigo was accepted into comic category
PLANADVISOR piece for CD: SooJin Buzelli, in editorial category
I am so psyched to learn about all the fellow Drawgers winning the medals. And, here is the news from me.
I have been a hermit trying to finish up everything before I take off to Hong Kong tomorrow morning, totally stressed out…. Then Anelle Miller, Director of the Society of Illustrators called me with a big cheer up present: A book cover I recently finished has won Gold Medal!
It is an upcoming book from WW Norton. Designer is one of my favorite book designers, Rodrigo Corral. AD was the sweet Albert Tang. It is a collection of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of Japan's most respected modern writers.
Thank you Rodrigo, thank you Albert. Thank you all the judges, and fellow Drawgers who are all always always so supportive.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. I will off to judge Greater China’s first big illustration competition. 再見！
wrap around cover design. We discussed about making it traditional and contemporary at the same time.
I love the fact that Rodrigo didn't choose the obvious deign choice of going very Japanese. His design is always so cool.
Drawing nightmares is tricky.
It is easy to draw a nightmare you had last night, but when it comes to drawing the bigger ‘idea’ of nightmares, all of a sudden, it is not that visual.
Besides, there is this iconic nightmare painting already exist by the master of the genre: Fuselli (please see below).
When Ronn Campisi, an AD who works with multiple publications around Boston area, called me for an assignment on this topic for Bostonia Magazine (alumni magazine of Boston University), it was a bit of struggle at first. After getting rid of really cliché ideas that initially came and went in my head, I settled with two rather simple ideas of drawing the gloominess of the experience of nightmares rather than trying to illustrate too literary.And, I tried to stay away from Fuselli imagery as much as possible. We were pretty happy with the final result. This illustration got accepted into this year's Communicaton Arts illustration annual, which was a nice surprise at the end. Thank you Ronn and CA!
The ultimate icon of nightmare images by Fuselli
two sketches. I could have done either one of them, but the bottom one probably had a better composition.
drawing as it was scanned in. Black india ink on watercolor paper.
Then using Photoshop I tediously cut out the swirl part to pop it up more from the rest of the drawing.
This is the final colored version.
Bostonia Magazine page layout. Ronn did an amazing job, and the illustration got accepted into this year's Communication Arts illustration annual. Thank you Ronn!
Donato Giancola announcing the award. You can watch the video on Spectrum site.
I just found out I have received a silver medal from SPECTRUM 16. Yes, that SPECTRUM, where sci-fi and fantasy artists are awarded. Yeah! Is it for real????????
When you see my work, you probably don’t think about this genre, I know. But, I have to comfess, I was a huge sci-fi fantasy geek in middle school drooling over Frazetta, Boris and Jeffrey Jones, reading Moorcock and C.L. Moore. This is something I wish I can go back in time and tell the 14 year old me! Thank you thank you thank you judges.
This job was done about a year ago for Microsoft’s website UltimatePC (site is now gone). Microsoft hired multiple artists; photographers, illustrators and animators to create work using PC (instead of MAC which we are more used to) to promote the high graphic performance of PC.
This is the site UltimatePC which unfortunately not around anymore. This site had some fun works by Photographers and animators as well.
This is Falcon! Red and shiny! And I became bilingual at shortcut keys, which I am really proud.
I was given the top of the line machine Falcon custom colored to my taste (red of course) with all the software pre-installed. Their request was to create a series of five images or more. I asked them what they were looking for. They said “your personal work”. They didn’t even bother to look at my sketches. Well, I sent some to them anyway, and all they said was “they look great”.
Under current economic crisis, this sounds unreal, like a voice from heaven. Yes, I did it myself, but it still doesn’t sound real to me. Probably one of the best jobs I have ever given. I guess, we do our best work when we are trusted and given total freedom.
These are the sketches I sent to my client. Now I look at them, one of them I didn't even create at the end, and the award winning piece doesn't even have sketches...
this is the drawing before I colored it. Matt Rota helped me a lot with this process. He colored the base for the finished images as I was still working on other images.
These are other images in this series.
Thank you Microsoft for this awesome project, Pamela Esposito for getting me this gig, Matt Rota for helping me with complicated coloring process.