Saturday, December 2, 2017

Synchro Sisters Forever, Mermaid Dreams - Katie R reads form her book


Chloe is a ballerina. Sophia loves gymnastics. Jenna is on the swim team. However, what these three best friends love most of all is playing together at the local pool. One day they discover a unique sport that combines all of their passions — Synchronized Swimming! But when the novice team tryouts don’t go quite as planned, at least one girl is left wondering if they will ever really become “synchro sisters forever”.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING IS AN OLYMIC SPORT that empowers young athletes by building their minds, bodies, character and social skills. However, the lack of awarness and participation threaten this beautiful sport’s prospects in the U.S. That is why the end of this book includes resources the allow readers to find a nearby club, learn fun tricks, and meet real synchronized swimmers!

Buy a book here:

All poceeds from sales go directly to USA Synchro, the sport’s governing body. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Friday, November 11, 2016

Toto's Story, Chapter-book for 6-10 year old kids

Book cover and chapter-head illustrations for "Toto's Story, My Amazing Adventures with Dorothy in Oz" 

Based on L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, Toto tells us what really happened when he and Dorothy made that magical journey to Oz. Read all about the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and the Wicked Witch of the West…through Toto’s eyes.
Buy it on Steve Metzger's website  and also download 3 free coloring pages.
Or buy it on Amazon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mother's Day Gif

This piece was made for an organization that supports South African mothers and children. This little gif is a part of their mothers's day campaign. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sugar-skull girl

Sweet Sugar-skull Girl
I have wanted to draw this type of half pin-up half sugar-skull girl for a long time. As Mel Milton, the amazing Disney artist says in an interview when Will Terry asks him about art, you can draw robots and spaceships, monsters and muscled dudes and get away with the lack of things, anatomic or other  flaws. However, drawing pretty girls is another cup of tea. Spoiling things can make them repulsive or ridiculous instead of irresistibly attractive.
Link to the interview.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hommage to Norman Rockwell and Happy Holidays!

It is always great challenge to to try to capture a bit of great artists's style and approach without copying them. Nostalgia and charm. 

Happy Holidays! Little boy presenting a holidays gift to a solder.

Little boy with present (detail)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Adult Coloring mermaid dream

I have been working on an adult coloring book for a while now. I asked some friends to test color the ready pages. They all loved the variety and the little twist on the Surprisingly it takes at least a day to finish one page from pencil sketching to the ready coloring page. It is joyful and relaxing to create them too.
Mermaid Dream

Friday, December 11, 2015

Amelia Earhart Queen of Aviation

 I have always been amazed by brave women as well as machines. Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean alone....I wanted to draw her first aero-plane the Canary too so I did a little research. Look at the vessel...I am fascinated and shocked because it looks somewhat simple as if you could DIY it at home. Would you try flying on it? :) I would probably chicken away.

Amelia Earhart, aviation queen from the 1930s (personal project)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cute Character design

What makes a cute character 

2/1 Humans

Some thoughts and practical advice on what you should keep in mind when designing cute characters. See the illustrations below.

Cuteness and Human Instincts

One might think what you find attractive or cuddly is very subjective, depends on personal taste.
However, cuteness in general mostly based on our instincts, our animal-self. We are wired in a way that we find baby or toddler proportions and expressions of shyness cute and adorable. We feel babies need to be cared, cuddled and saved.  One key feature of surviving as species.
Some easily noticeable features of babies are:
- huge head, compared to the rest of the body I real life a baby's head is approximately a quarter of his height.
- relatively big eyes, small ears, small nose
- notice the place of the eyes nose and ears on the lower part of the face. (If you draw an imaginary horizontal line approximately in the middle of the head, that is where the eyes are sitting.)
- roundish face soft and roundish limbs and body

Reasons for Exaggeration 

In character design, cartoony,  realistic or 3Ddesign, these are the features we exaggerate even more to get the audience's "aaw".
One of the most popular proportions for cartoons is the half's  rule. It means the head of the character is a half of the height. The body and legs share the rest. You can play a little bit with the body and legs, sharing the place evenly or making one or the other bigger. Juts for comparison, if we draw a realistically proportioned adult human, the head is somewhere between a fifth to an eight of the height.

Designers, illustrators, animators  have a good reason to enlarge the head at an almost ridiculous scale.

While when I design a character almost always start with a light scribble of the whole body, looking for a pose that expresses the personality, human or humanized animal characters's face conveys too much information to neglect. Facial features and expressions have a priority when designing characters. Remember, how we "read" each other's faces when having a conversation. The smallest unconscious movement of the eyebrows or little tremor of the lips  a shake of nostril can give away us. How the lack of this information when we do not see the others leads to misunderstandings in correspondence or sometimes even when on the phone.
Scientist say the mother's face is the first thing that a baby recognizes.

Expressing Age with Proportions

Here are some doodles to show humans with the half -half proportion. In spite of the fact the all the characters have the same size heads as the baby has on the left, he looks like a very young little fellow, a couple of weeks or months old only. From left to right, it is not difficult to tell the age of these little guys. 
What makes the first character look so much younger and the others older?  
One key factor is where the eyes, nose and mouth are situated. See the purple line halfway of the baby's head. The eyes are slightly under it. Also notice the curvy lines, short limbs and cute bean-shape roundish body.
Placing the eyes slightly higher on the face, the next little guy he looks older as he is wondering what his older brother doing with the measuring tape. Notice the measuring little fellow's eyes, they have higher position, face is less chubby and he has slimmer body.  Next to them, the boy with the football looks about 9-12 years old. To demonstrate that it is possible to draw even adults, keeping the same proportion, I made  a young man and woman too. Their heads are slimmer, though still same length,  notice how their bodies are proportioned closer to an adult's. 

Apple in My Eyes, Add a Little Spice

Another example can be the pretty redhead sitting on an anvil  holding a welding equipment. She has large head, huge eyes, with big pupils, small nose and lips. Pupils, also play an important role in character design. They can change size from 1.5 mm to over 8 mm depending on the light or darkness around us and also according to the emotions we feel. They get smaller when we are afraid or angry and extend when we are excited, happy and when in love. Large pupils mean experiencing positive emotional stimuli, no wonder we find them attractive.
The redhead's face is somewhat Disney type cute and innocent. To make the girl a little bit more special, spice her up, I decided to tattoo her. Not wanting to use the most popular cliches (rose, heart, skull) I went for a motif from an older sketch of mine. So she got flowers and an octopus wriggling on her arms. 

A Handy List to Summarize

Here is a handy list about what you need remember to create a cute human character:
Do not forget to start with the pose and the general shape of the whole character, then you can work on the details.
- big head, big eyes, (big pupil) 
- small nose, ears and mouth
- roundish shapes, the younger the character the more roundish it is in general
- avoid pointy or sharp shapes
- to express age watch the proportions on the face (high forehead, keep eyes under or around horizontal midline)
- watch proportions of the body
- find something to spice it up (tattoos, clothing, props, weapon, jewelry, something unexpected or funny, something that adds extra flavor to your character's personality

There are certainly many other versions of lovable characters, what I showed you in this short intro is just a few examples of them. In the next part, I am going to bring examples to show cute animals or other creatures.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

British WWI pilot, Smart and charming veteran,
Work in Progress

How to Start to Design Characters Mini Tutorial

In this short article I will describe my procedure to design (human) fantasy or game characters. See the illustration below the article.

Step 1. How to start and what to look at the references

I almost always start the job with researching and collecting references. Looking at them helps to feel the atmosphere of the era and you will see clearly the hairstyle and clothing or other props that can add to the character. In this case the blue line drawing on the left is the first sketch based on a real British fighter's vintage photo. He is wearing a pullover with a unbuttoned jumpsuit. His carefully trimmed mustache is very stylish. I made his face more characteristic, slightly based on another, contemporary pilot's features. Although I liked his natural and confident look he was not what I was looking for. I was drawing him because I thought his study would help me to create the fictional pilot for the game. To get that look some exaggerations needed.

Step 2. Exaggerating, checking, refining and... sometimes let it go

Admitting (after a satisfying first sketch or study) that your second approach is a failure is not easy. The smallest, light brown sketch (only lines, no blocking) shows an abandoned version where I was going to the wrong direction. I drew it over the first sketch, but now our hero is wearing a uniform. Unfortunately his posture is not specific enough, his facial features are way too general and his body type is average. It is a good example for a bad design. :) He is so uninteresting and somehow rigid the best we can do is just let it go and start all over.
It is always good to make thumbnails with loose sleekly straight and curvy lines. Draw the spine, a kind of simplified skeleton of the guy. To get the character anatomically correct I use my other references sometimes 2-6 photos to get the right posture. Family members or friends have to pose when there is no other way to get it right. There is no detailed rendering that can fix the wrong or uninteresting posture.

Step 3. How to refine or modify your character

The aim was to provide not an artistic or lifelike, but a rather game-fitting guy I started to play with the proportions. Simplifying the lines I was looking to find his posture keeping in mind it should suggest confidence with some hint of easygoing attitude but somewhat arrogance too. He knows he is good looking and after dozens of fights, shooting others and being almost killed he sees the world with different eyes. He does not give a damn about what Mr X thinks of him. On the other hand, he is not cynical, but rather smart and charming with some dry humor sense. I broadened his shoulders and slimmed his waist. Not only he got and almost sculpted hairstyle, but his jawline got more square like and his chin came forward. I love rendering and get carried away easily by coloring or refining details, so I worked only with values as you see it in the brownish blocked image in the middle.

Step 4. Further refining, checking and experimenting

It is always a good idea to swap the canvas horizontally or in case you are not working digitally using a mirror. It helps to see your drawing with fresh eyes and mistakes will pop up. Working digitally you have the opportunity to check the values when you look at your design in gray scale. The colored close up shows more rendering. In fact I have made 4-6 more versions of the character however, I did not find them acceptable yet. I am going to continue to simplify him.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions just drop me a comment.

Monday, March 23, 2015

An older watercolor from me, titled Chopin Nocturnes
Recently I have been working digitally a lot and often find myself 
yearning  for playing with ink and watercolor again.