Mar 30, 2010

The Sky Is Falling


   Okay. I've never been one for making speeches here, so please bear/bare with me as  I consult my online spellatharus (kinda like a pleothorus but with less splines) to help me make my Chicken Little speech....


Clears throat softly and sips from water glass held firmly in left hand.

  'Hello, well a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be awarded The Sunshine Award by Karen of  Puddle of Crumbs. Thankyou Karen!
   Apart from being honoured I am very flattered. Now if you haven't checked out Karen's amazing art, I'd click on this link so that you can enjoy the visual feast that is Karen's work. 

   Now, while I was ruminating on what to do with this award (yes I have seven stomachs with which to ruminate with) - that is, to whom to pass it on to, I was extremely honoured and surprised to be given The Renee Award, not once, but twice. Firstly by the incredible Ces, secondly by the just as incredible Susan. Now this is a very serious award and I thank you both - though I know in my heart I do not deserve it.
 I never knew Renee, only of   her. I would recommend a visit to her site - Renee's story is very poignant and makes me both sad - happy that she had such wonderful friends.  Please meet Renee here.

And for Ces and Susan's enticing artwork, you'll find them here. Ces and   Susan. Who needs the Musee d'Orsay when you have artists like these?

And yet, just this morning when I was still realling/reeling from everyone's kindness I discovered that I have been further blessed by Justin Segal with a Zombie Chicken award. Now this award is very interesting, as some people regard it akin to the famous Chinese blessing, may your life be 'interesting'. You can see from tiny Tim's  face in the next picture, that he too has heard this famous chinese blessing.

And lastly, I'd like to thank Tim for being kind enough to pose with these awards as I am too shy to stand on that side of the camera - especially after my nose job went wrong. Of course, if you click for big, strange things will happen - but hopefully only the pictures will get bigger, not my nose."

Happy Easter Everyone. Safe Holidays!

Mar 28, 2010

Illustration Friday: Rescue

    Hearing of the princesse's plight, the Huntsman asked: "And why has the dragon not been killed?"
   "Ahh," the Landlord said. "Many knights have tried and all have failed. The king now has no choice but to offer his daughter's life.
   The Hunstman said nothing further. But late that evening, unobserved, he went to the rear of the tavern, where his horse was stabled. From a pack on the animal's back he drew out a well oiled package and held it carefully in his hands. Inside the package was a worn leather sheath, tattered at the edges but still bearing the marks of the Huntsman's skinning tools.
   And inside that sheath was his father's old sword.

(borrowed and illuminated from Grimm's Faerytales.)

Ps: I'll be round everyone's blogs in the next few days, so get ready :)
The last image is what the image was like pre-post.

Mar 27, 2010

Leaving Meek-a-Thumpa

Well, this is another double page spread from 'you-know-what'. Almost April, time to send it out .....

Mar 25, 2010

Monday Artday: Monkey Variation II and III; and Some Method-ology.

'"Hey... hey! Not the frog, don't let the monkey kiss the frog!" yelled Medici.

    Well, while Rome burned this afternoon and I waited for my eight year old Jersey cow to lay a golden egg, I stood on the front balcony and played Irish battle songs on my grandfather's ancient Heindecker fiddle.
    And as I fiddled, driving the neighbours nuts (even those in Victory Apartments stuck their grey heads out), I asked myself: "What's the most important part of the monkey illustration I did this morning?"

    Answer: The relationship between the boy (Tim in case you don't recognise him), the frog, and the monkey. So I cropped and re-arranged and came up with this. The hand without a body was a risky manouevre. But if  Degas circa 1897 could cut off bodies, so can I circa 2010:)  (and don't forget, Van Gogh cut off his own ear with a bread and butter knife - and his hearing was never the same....)
     But I digress :)

     Below are some images from along the way. They might be of interest if you are interested in the method. Don't you love tautology?

     The first is a bluescreen of the main action. Firstly I rendered this against the church background, then blurred the background up and superimposed this transmap. (for 'transmap' read 'alpha' map. ) In the transmap what you see here as white is actually clear. That way I can put shards of light behind these figures if I want, and get a little depth of focus happening. Sometimes you need to blur the edges of the transmap to get it to sit correctly. It's a good time to play with lost and found edges. I like to use the mouse for this and make it less clinical - rather then the precision Waacom.

The next image is the texture map for the "Organ Grinder" box. (Gee that is a scary word). Hmm. With the texture, you can see I used a lot of grunge and wear to give it some character - grunge is very fashionable at the moment among Cg artists. I'm also not too particular about geting things straight and even. CG work is straight enough as it is.

I've been using the 'clea'r attribute lately on my brush work in photoshop elements and it makes it easier than using eraser all the time - as you can change the brush orientation. But I am working with very big images at 300 dpi, and a lot of the time the brush resolution is not high enough. Uggh.

This next character in the image below is, of course, Max the monkey. He is rendered again as a transmap so I can bring him into photoshop and place him where I want on the organ box texture. Great suit that I made for him.... I should have been a seamstress ..... puting the gold braid on was fun. I hope he appreciates it when the next monkey parade is on. He is rendered with a high ambient setting to increase shadow detail.

And lastly, below is the whole scene in situ, without the viscious cropping. You can see the shards of light painted between the foreground figures and the church bricks. And also the detrious painted on the ground really adds a bit of flavour - it suggests both the passage of time and the fact that there is something outside what you can see in this illustration (ie adds temporal and spatial elements). 

 I'm not really happy with the organ grinder's face, though I fiddled with it for a while. And gave him a new slick haircut! His head is too small compared to Tim's, and his legs too long. Good, I have something to work on over Easter.... :) :)

   The programs I used in this were:

  Anim8or for some of the basic modelling. Blacksmith 3d morph for the facial morphs. Blacksmith 3d paint for the face textures. Uvmapper Pro for the organ texture uv mapping. Photoshop elements for post processing and some textural work. Stitwitch for texturing the monkets clothes. Carrara for Scene setup, rendering and some meshwork and texturing. I also used basic Carrara content for the base meshes, plus purchased content. And lots of different brushes from different sources,

 Thanks for looking and, if you like, click for big. :) 

 Sorry about the spellink mistakes. Englash is my secondo language.


The last image is to give you an idea of the underlying geometry of the scene. You can see a better example here, of Saint Enrico the Dwarven Acrobat and Chicken Sexer. 

Mar 24, 2010

Monday Artday: Monkey Variation 1

"The Medici Family Organ Grinder"

Might work this one up some more, put in some paraphanalia, not sure though. I'm trying to keep the images reasonably clean for a while. But, like Nero, I just can't stop fiddling. I made this with a strong tradional A-Frame composition. Somehow it reminds me of a lot of crucifiction paintings. Different subject matter of course.

For big, please click.

Mar 21, 2010

Illustration Friday: Expired

"Young Girl as The Huntress"

This one inspired by an old photograph I saw last night, of a litle girl dressed as a huntress, the Teddy Bear as the hunted. Apart from the ominous shadow, I have tried to emulate the studio lighting popular at the beginning of last century. I suppose there's a few expirations going on here; on individual terms there is a loss of innocence, on cultural terms there is the replacement of the Teddy Bear with things like Nintendo and Tamagochhi.

Please click for big and thankyou for looking.

Mar 20, 2010

Monday Artday: Castaway

Please, if you get a chance, stop by Monday Artday and wish Mike Baker (Monday Artday's Life Blood) a speedy recovery from his cancer operation.

You can post your well wishes here.

I'm sure he would appreciate it muchly!

As far as the pic? Brian the Teddy is wearing fur by Rabbit, patches by Andrew and stitches by Mrs Partlefast (who lives in flat 12a in the block of flats across the way). As you can tell Mrs Partlefast stitches by feel, rather than sight. Don't worry about Brian the Teddy's wounds, I think his story will have a happy ending. As a matter-of-fact, I can see a pirate somewhere in his future.  Of course, the future is bleak for the upstart White Bear - who appears to have the shadow of a Raven across his brow.

Once again, thanks for stopping by and thanks for clicking the image.


Andrew Finnie

One Tree Sun and Moon, Tarot Card Box

This is the landscape from the last image of Red Riding Hood. It reminded me slightly of a Japanese print. The bottom two images were on the path to the finished work.

I often ask myself what will I do with my finished digital work? Hmm. So we have a mockup of a Jewellery Box.... or better still a Tarot Card Box - then there would be something to go in it....

Please click for big and thanks very much for looking.

Mar 19, 2010

Red Riding Hood Atop Grey Wolfe

I think Red Riding Hood was full of suprises in the olden days. Why, for example, was she wearing a 'riding' cape? Of course the wolf looks like it is made of wood but that's something I need to explore.... Learning from k.h.whitaker, I put some pattern in. :)
Thanks for looking.

As you can tell, the surf was flat today. Please click for enlargements.

Mar 17, 2010

Illustration Friday: Subterranean

"In the Cave of The Dwarven Kings"

Well there's a story that goes with this, not my story....I just have to write it. Thanks very very much for all the comments on the last post. .... cheers andrew
 The images expand if you click them.

Mar 12, 2010

What goes around, comes around, Rub a Dub Dub

Well I've been thinking of getting some of my illustrations out in the real world for a while. So this one is painted on canvas about 92 cm by 120 cm. It's a still a WIP as I have to solve the compositional problem of the candlestick maker's face and right hand, plus sort out the sky a wee bit. I also have to take some reference images for the hands and clean them up a little - not too much as I want the faces as the main details. I've been using some new glazing techniques with the acrylic and working opaques into the glazes while they are still wet, so it's been fun. The little chap's face on the right, the baker, isn't quite so much in your face in real life. Thanks for looking, be back on line in a few days after my vegie garden is planted. 

Below is the painting at the studio. Apart from the clowns in the background, the other paintings belong to another member of our group. 

Mar 7, 2010

Illustrated Friday: "Brave."

This poem by Odgen Nash has a deliciously wicked chill about it.  For me it's about bravery and how we face our inner truths, however unpleasant they might be...

Please click for enlargement.

Saint Enrico: Dwarven Acrobat and Chicken Sexer

    Well.... I was coming back from the surf a few weeks ago and this fellow was out on the lawn across the road - doing somersaults.
   He saw me pull up, flipped himself onto his feet like an agile leipreachán and came across to the car. He walked on the gravel a little oddly, as if he'd sprained his ankle. But after a moment I realised one of his legs was a little shorter than the other - so he limped from the pelvis.
   He stopped three feet from the car and smiled. What few teeth he had were dirty yellow - like old ivory. And his broken nose looked like a back street plastic surgeon's rebuild. 
  He eyed me up and down, looked at the bald tyres of my four wheel drive... then shook his head sadly. His right eye wobbled a little and I saw that it was false, and pointed towards his nose more than it should.
   The glass eye gave him away; finally I recognised him.
  It was Enrico Bastardi Santa Ferdinardi, the little Basque chicken sexer who'd come to see me at my offices the previous week (chicken sexing is very hard on the eyes).
  He wasn't really a dwarf of course, he was merely very, very short.
  He, his three children and his mother had moved from the Basque region of Europe eighteen months before, and, he explained in his twisted English, that they had secured 'apartment 2' in the block of flats opposite...." à l'extrémité du couloir..."
 I followed his pointing finger to the neighbourhood eyesore. Victory Flats they were called, like something out of Orwell's 1984, all broken windows and crumbly grey brick coated in granulated salt from the seaside breezes.....
   Enrico had an interesting face I decided, and would be good for my illustration work. So I hired him for a few short sessions. The going rate is $47 an hour - draped or non draped, so we settled on $46, as long as he kept his clothes on - which suits me down to the ground thank-you-very-much.
    It also turned out he been the leader of a Dwarven Group of Female Acrobat Impersonators back home in Europe, and insisted he pose for me doing one of his favorite skits. (see the daguerreotype like pic at bottom right.) He also posed for this circus poster, which was quite difficult as you can imagine.

   Tommorow I might hire him for a few hours. I need someone for the "man who isn't there..." You know: 'he wasn't there again today, I wish that man would go away' '.....


Please click images for enlargements.

Mar 6, 2010

Circus Dog Training Camp

      I once had two dear friends who, in turn, had a dog - a Dalmation named Casper. The dog, of course, like all well bought up dogs, thought it was human. They all used to walk together - the two humans and the dog - on the beach near our house.
     Then, after a few years, things changed, as they do, life went on and careers flourished and..... a long, long time ago they all moved away.
 Since then I believe they've had three human children. So this 'illustration' is for Casper, who by now has probably moved on to the after life - and discovered that he is really a dog after all.
And it's also for my friends' three children - imaginary or not.
What's the circus have to do  with it? .....Good question.... give me a moment and I'll make up a story.

Mar 5, 2010

Monday Artday: Circus (The Magic Circus)

A few characters from my unpublished novel. Here they are, drumming up publicity for themselves. They want to be famous, that's why they are carrying on like this....rowdy attention seekers, the harlequin, the twin clowns, the Oliphant.....always the same, where ever you go. Ho hum!
    Maybe it's time to start sending them out into the world. At least there'd be some peace and quite around my house.....

   You've got no idea how my new neighbours complain.
   They even complain about the odd smells in my backyard.
    One of these new neighbours - Ralph I think he said his name was - had the hide to come banging on my door last Saturday. He's a rather large, three chinned, red faced man that must drink too much.
   As soon as I opened the door he almost jumped on me.
   "Look here Finnie!", he said - which I thought was a bit presumptious because we had only just met.
   "Yes," I said.
  "You're not keeping some... some ... some kind of animal in there, are you?"
  "Certainly not!" I said, thinking guiltily about the three gold fish my wife kept in one of the cupboards in the spare bedroom.
  "Are you sure?" he asked, his face swelling up as if he were going to have a red apocalyptic spasm. He apparently didn't believe me.
  "Of course I'm sure!".
   He looked over my shoulder and began to sniff the air wafting out of my house. "Well I can smell a pachyderm,' he said.
  "A what?"
  "A pachyderm! An Oliphont, an African .... African Bush Elephant!"
   "Don't be ridiculous!" I said. "My house isn't big enough to hide a large guinea-pig , let alone an elephant."
   I tried to close the door but he'd sneakily stuck his foot in between the door and the jamb.
   He squinted at me through his bright little yellow-bead like eyes and sniffed again. "I can smell an elephant anywhere! I happened to be an eggspert on Loxodonta africana africana!"
 "An 'eggspert'? Well good for you," I said, trying not to laugh. "Now I must be off, I have to hang my washing out, we all need clean socks now and then. Goodbye."
  I closed the door as quickly as I could.
 Through the closed door I could hear him sniffing deeply, as if he really could smell an African Bush Elephant somewhere in my house.
  We stood there for about ten minutes, he sniffing on one side of the door, myself on the other, as quite as house-mouse, not daring to move lest he banged on the door again, forced himself in, and discovered my 'little' secret. 

 Please click for enlargement.

Mar 2, 2010

Butterfly Hunting on an Oliphant. The Story of The Witch and the Princess.

Two sisters, one rich, one poor, one a witch and one a princess, hunt magic butterflies from atop the safety of an oliphant.
What's an 'oliphant' I hear you ask?
Well they are kind of like elephants, but more patient, and definitely not scared of magic butterflies...
So who is the witch and which is the princess? Now that would be telling....

Many thanks to Ces and Her Dishes  for suggesting today's topic :)  Please click for big.

Mar 1, 2010

There Was a Crooked Man....

Well I had a go at this the other day and screwed it up bigtime, so that was my task for today... to salvage what I'd made.  You can see that I am absorbing a few influences from the excellent artists who post their work on blogs, especially spindlemaker..... In answer to an anonymous comment by a friend, that is a crooked walking stick in the crooked man's hand.... Please click for big.

PS my anonymous friend is a wonderful artist and taught me at college and well worth having a look at:
His name Robert Birch.  Please click his name to view his work.

The small image on the bottom is an experiment in style. Instead of outlining the figure with a black 'pen' in photoshop I used the 'burn tool' set to burn medium tones. I think it worked slightly better because it maintained the underlying colour.


As always, thankyou for looking. Apologies for being frivilous.