Hello, Fallon

Meet Fallon, our Christmas puppy. And by “our” I mean my mom has to take care of her while I get to walk and walk and walk her on weekends. A nine week old Scottish Deerhound -- currently a lapdog, soon to the size of a small pony.

More pictures, because she's cute as a button, here.

Brian Elig and Neil Gaiman’s I, Cthulhu

Just showing off the sketches for Brian Elig’s illustration for Neil Gaiman’s very funny “I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This”.

There was a third drawing which became a Christmas greeting for Brian.


Custom type for HGTV.

Over the past six years I've slowly been working on a new font design I call "Nincompoop." When ever I get a project that comes in and the style of my type works with it, I'll create new letter forms and re-use existing characters to create my art and expand my alphabet for the font at the same time.

Such was the case with this project for Scripps Network and HGTV.

Custom type for HGTV.

Prior to the dawn of OSX I use to design fonts more often. I use to work at a design firm locally where I was responsible for designing five fonts all of which are still available through T26.com. Of course my former employer owns these, but you can check each one out via the links below.

- Beat Street
- Frazzle
- Hunky Dory (Orig. name: "Scorn" AD changed it. Lame.)
- Lollygag
- Squidly (Orig. name: "Biomorphic" AD changed it. Lame.)

Over the years I've spotted my type in various places. Some usages last a few seconds, some are amusing, and others are just laughable.

When I designed the fonts above Postscript ruled the roost. But since then the Open Type format has brought a new standard for all future fonts and rightly so.

Custom type for HGTV.

I simply don't have the time to learn a whole new software application like Font Lab Studio so I'd rather focus on the creation of the letter forms and just hire out the production end. For that I'm willing to split the profits for any font developer wanting to team up. So if you know how to produce a font or know someone who does please introduce me to them.

"Nincompoop" sample.

Since Open Type allows for a lot of customization I'd create multiple variations on letterforms, ding bats, characters etc. in the final form of "Nincompoop."

But for right now I just have an Ai file I copy/paste from to create what I need.

Blend it!

Famous Arists Courses available as free PDFs

The Famous Artists Courses was a correspondence art school started by Norman Rockwell and Al Dorne. Students would sign up, get a booklet on various aspects of drawing, do assignments, get critiques, and so on. I have heard about these booklets for as long as I have been talking to illustrators — usually they have the starry-eyed stare that great explorers searching for mythical cities have in the old movies. Many people have spent hundreds of dollars hunting them down on eBay.

Daniel Caylor on “On Animation” has collected them all and made PDFs available. Go check them out -- they are designed to be serious practical lessons.

Included are lessons about drawing the human form, landscapes, color, experimental design, figure in motion, studio procedures, the list goes on. All brought to you by the likes of Rockwell, Austin Briggs, Al Parker, Robert Fawcett and, again, the list goes on.

(Thank you, Tristan Elwell, for the heads up.)

15 Water Splash Brushes for Adobe Illustrator

Here we have a set of ten scatter and five art water splash brushes for Adobe Illustrator from r2010. You can use them for decorating your artwork or designing abstract background elements...

To use expand the ZIP archive, load the .AI file in Adobe Illustrator and open the brushes palette (Window>Brushes / F5). Download

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Now you have new brushes for your web design, it's time to look for web hosting plans that will fit your budget.

The Logo Design Process. Layers Magazine Tutorial

In this tutorial Jacob Cass takes us through the different stages of the logo design process: researching, composing a design brief, sketching, reflecting, developing, color brainstorming and presentation...

"Logo design in today’s world is totally underrated. People don’t understand how important a good logo is and how valuable it is to their business. Let me guide you through the basics of what makes a good logo, while also walking you through the process of creating the identity and logo design for one of my recent clients, Vero, a limited liability company based in Miami, Florida. Hopefully, this will give you an understanding of what actually goes on behind the scenes while creating a professionally designed logo..." Proceed to tutorial page

Drawing with Uncle Pat

My Uncle Pat scored some drawing supplies for Christmas.

A few posts back I introduced you to my Uncle Pat. He shared a drawing he had done and many of you asked Pat to draw some more pictures over Christmas.

He seemed to really enjoy drawing so our family got him some art supplies for Christmas. The last few days I sat with Pat as he drew pictures and have posted them below along with a couple videos. I hope you enjoy.

Uncle Pat Talks about his artwork.

A scary Bear, a Spear, and a Crow.

When Pat draws he gets really into it. His face is just inches away from the paper and he doesn't come up until he's done. I loved how he did the feathers in the crow art.

Pats friend the Cat.

The only thing we suggested Pat draw was the Moose and me shown below. Everything else he just decided to do himself. I find it interesting that all of them with exception of the Snowman were an animal. He likes animals apparently?

A Chick.

I thought he did a great job on this baby Chicken. The color and detail came out awesome!

An Alien Moose.

Pats art reminds me of something Stefan Bucher might have animated.

The playful Snowman.

In the midst of drawing all his animals, Pat quickly drew out this snowman too.

The green Grouper.

I liked the simplicity of this art and the shape of it's mouth.

Uncle Pat Draws Me.

Pats drawing of me.

My youngest sister Amy told Pat to draw me and this was the end result.

I just wanted to thank everyone for commenting on the previous post I did about my uncle Pat. We were able to show Pat the blog post and read through all the comments for him and he enjoyed it a lot. We had fun drawing together and I thank God for him, he has a very gentle spirit and I think his art rocks!

Blend it!

Nucleus Gallery

Oh, to be in LA....Nucleus Gallery is having an insane line-up of exhibits coming up in the next few months -- shows dedicated to airships, zombies in love, Alice in Wonderland, Avatar, and a bunch of others. All between January and March.

Merry Christmas

Robert John Wildhack

[Other great old Life Magazine Christmas images on Filboid Studge. Via Cartoon Brew.]

Happy Solstice Day

(Tom Thomson)

Avatar (Don’t tell the cool kids, I had a blast watching it.)

For the record: I hate it when people say, “X isn't a great movie but the special effects are awesome!” Movies are about story telling. The visuals are an integral part of that but, if the story isn’t there, than it's just a wasted opportunity. (Ahem...Tim Burton.)

That said, Avatar isn't a great movie but the effects are awesome! I’m embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed it. You know the plot backwards and forwards before you’ve entered the theater. It’s so predictable, it’s un-spoilable. And, yes, every character is a stereotype. And yet, they are somehow likable and you really do care about “what happens next.” But first and foremost, it is a complete visual immersion into a truly stunning world.

I remember some concept art friends at ComicCon saying that it raises the bar of movie effects. I couldn’t imagine how that could be -- effects are so seamless already, how can this be that much better. Well, it is that much better. Whether it’s futuristic laboratories or all that amazing planet exploration footage, it is both unbelievably real and completely magical.

With all that money behind Avatar, it’s a shame they couldn’t come up with something more original, but knowing that the environments where the star of the show they turned a good portion of scree time into a loosely narrative, and comepletely mesmerizing, nature documentary...And I can watch nature documentraies All. Day. Long.

For a much more reasoned and nuanced review, check out Charlie Jane Anders at IO9.

More highlights from the Cthulhu art jam thread

Riding the line between awww and ewww: here's a wee Cthulhoid from Sherya Shetty.

As always, you can check out a host of tentacled beasts, and add your own, on the “Show us your tentacles” art post.

Art Out Loud 6 DVD now available

Just in time for the holidays: The DVD of Art Out Loud 6 — a one-day simultaneous demo with Greg Manchess, Donato Giancola, James Gurney, Charles Vess, and Sam Weber. Experience the event from set-up to take-down, including interviews with the participating artists.

Email or call the Society of Illustrators at:
212 838 2560

Earlier post on the event here.
Photos here.
And DVD teaser below:

Trailer for Art Out Loud, Vol 3 from Kate Feirtag on Vimeo.

Kurt and Zelda and “The Tempest Wakens”

Firstly: Comic by Teetering Bulb! Free! Here!

Now, back-story...

About a month or two ago I was at a gallery opening talking to Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon — Teetering Bulb, together. They were talking about how slammed with work they were. I said that was great but, too bad, since we had this idea of Cthulhu Month coming up and I was wondering if they would be interested in doing a comic for it. Kurt started to say, “No, we really are too......” and then his words trailed off and, I will swear to my grave, the sound of gears turning in his brain became audible.

They worked like hell to get this done and yet it feels as loose and dreamy (and freakin’ scary) as if they had all the time in the world. Their work , which was always good, just keeps getting better and better -- style, color, pacing....just great stuff.

So, if you are in the mood for something quietly horrific, take a look at The Tempest Wakens.

ArtOrder challenge winners.

I was honored to be a judge for Jon Schindehette’s Hurakan book cover ArtOrder challenge. The winners have been announced, you can check out what the full panel of judges had to say here: Hurakan Challenge.

We had some tough choices to make. I was grateful for Jon’s system of picking 5 (although I cheated and picked 6) winners and commenting on them. Picking “a winner” adds excitement to the event, no doubt, but the real fun is forcing yourself to articulate what is working and what has potential. Congrats to everyone that entered.

The Bronx Zoo

Turns out, the best time to go to the zoo is in 37degree temperatures and rain -- nobody will be there with you.


If you’re the type that needs things on-topic: A shout-out to the amazing Jack Unruh drawings in the Congo Gorilla Forest. Seen in the above: third row, middle.

Tara Rueping's Lord of the Rings

I honestly did not mean to spend time looking at Lord of the Rings concept work this evening but such are the hazards of the job -- easy to trip off the path and find something sorta wonderful, like Tara Rueping’s concept work.

More Cthulhu

Okay, I know I said I would do this on Mondays but there are too many great works in the thread, and too few Mondays left in December, so: Another highlight in the “Show Us Your Tentacles” Cthulhu art jam post.

This one from Susan Sanford. Cthulhu and Mr. Hulot!!! It is a wonderful life world we live in. Sanford is offering this image (along with a lot of other cool writer-y themed drawings) as a t-shirt here.

And, be sure to check out, and add to, what I will declare (completely without research or scholarship to back it up) is the coolest collection of pro and fan Cthulhu art online.

John Jude Palencar’s Horrid Wings

We recently published Elizabeth Bear’s The Horrid Glory of Its Wings on Tor.com. It’s a lonely and moving story. John Jude Palencar was an easy choice for it -- it needed something quiet and soulful, and a little sad but still strong.

Sketches below. The first was the clear choice...but the second one makes me want to see what John could do with a dark superhero project.

Eric Drooker's fantastical New York

A tweet from Richard Solomon pointed me to Eric Drooker's website. Smitten with my city for 20+ years, I can testify to the complete accuracy of these reportage paintings.

A thousand apologies!

Or at least 80-100 apologies.

I was getting ridiculous amounts of spam a while back. It's still in the system, junking everything up. So I turned on moderation for posts over a week old and then I promptly forgot about it. I never went back to check for real comments hidden in the weeds.

I am apologies to the 90ish peolpe that posted and only now made it on the site. There were a lot of great comments and a number first-time commentators.

I have turned moderation back off...hopefully the spamming has subsided. If not, I'll be more careful next time.

Mondays of Madness

I’ve been blown away by the response to the Cthulhu art thread. A big “thank you” to all the participants -- doodler, pro, and Play-Doh-er alike. Honestly, I was worried no one would respond — figured I’d be the girl wearing a party hat in an empty room — but you guys are awesome and it’s a blast watching it grow.

If you missed it, above is just one image from the thread, by Ture Ekroos. I’ll highlight a new one each Monday through December — for the full onslaught, check out our art jam, or better yet, join in!

Brian Elig speaks Girrafe. And other stuff.

We started a new series on Tor.com, I Speak Fluent Giraffe, featuring the insane grumblings of one Jason Henninger. Throughout December that means grumblings of a Cthulhuian nature, afterwards it will branch out (as if anything could be beyond Cthulhu's reach.) Only one episode old right now, but this series will grow fast as a Dunwich child.

Check out: I Speak Fluent Giraffe.

The Cthlhu poems will be illustrated by Brian Elig. I was very excited to work with Brian. I met him a few years ago when Jon Foster asked me to speak to his RISD class. (There must have been something in the Providence water that year -- Wesley Allsbrook was in that class and she went on to create some great comics for us.)

I loved Brian's work and would visit his website a few times a year since that lecture. Honetsly, I doubted I'd have an assignment with the right mix of creepy sweetness that is in so much of Brian's work. Thankfully, Jason Henninger's whimsical poems about horrible evils were a perfect match.

Two nights ago I was giving a lecture to Soojin Buzelli's SVA class. The Brian example reminded me to tell the students the unfortunate truth about marketing -- you never know what is going to work or when it will work. A postcard sent today might get you work right off, or, it may stay tacked to an AD's wall for years before they call. I'm constantly going through years old Spectrums. A promising portfolio review my stick in my mind for ages before I have the right assignment. There's no way around it: Emerging artists need to take advantage very means of showing their work, update those efforts, and try to stay confident that steady progress in their work (artistically and marketingly) will pay off in the end. It's hard work to keep that faith up. Hats off to you guys. I couldn't do it.

I drew in public! Or, Show us your tentacles: A Cthulhu art meme.

It doesn’t take looking at too many portfolios before you realize artists love tackling Cthulhu’s tentacled madness. Being a newbie to the Old Ones, I wanted to ask a bunch of artists friends: Just what is it about Cthulhu and Co. that makes drawing, painting, and sculpting from Lovecraft so much...fun. (If fun is the right world?)

Head over to Tor.com and see what Michael Whelan, John Jude Palencar, Mike Mignola, Bob Eggleton, and others have to say on the topic. And then add your own! Post any Lovecraftian or tentaclian inspired art (doodles by non artists count, maybe even more so) in the comment section—horrify your friends, worry your love ones...

Added bonus! I expose myself for the art-fraud that I am. Go and see my drawing of the dreaded Jack’thulhu!!!

It's Stubby! (Post fin-enhancing surgery.)

Kurt and Zelda on The Comic Book Club

Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon (together Teetering Bulb) where guests at The Comic Book Club last night. For those not in the know, like I was, The Comic Book Club is three very funny guys geeking out the week's comics and interviewing comic book creators. Added bonus: the audience is almost as funny as the guys.

Speaking of Kurt and Zelda - Tor.com just launched Cthulhu Month. K&Z have agreed to make a Lovecraftian comic for us, airing mid month. Stay tuned!

Donato's ebook cover for The Dragon Reborn

We have unveiled the cover to the third volume of the Wheel of Time ebooks, The Dragon Reborn. Head on over to Tor.com and you can hear Donato talk about his work and see his initial drawings.

Omar Rayyan

Public service announcement of the day, check out Studio Rayyan's blog. Holy cow, do I love these.

And I'm looking forward to seeing the Alice in Wonderland piece in December as it is part of an Alice exhibit at the Brandywine Museum.

(The Brandywine as in, “bury me under the Andrew Wyeth’s, please.”)

The covers that got away

I got batch of cover designs in today and immediately regretted that the one I liked the best, visually speaking, would never fly for the cover. In this case, with good reason — it looks freat but isn’t quite suited for the audience. Luckily, there are others in the batch that also also very good and more appropriate for the book.

Also today, I got sketches in for another book. Here we are clearly we are making the less interesting choice because it more closely resembles familiar territory. The artist is no dummy and will likely reuse the pose on someone else’s very successful book cover. (And I will be jealous!)

This happens a lot in the job. Many times I agree with the final outcome, in some cases I don’t. Below are two older examples of covers that “got away.”

The Mystery of Grace
Illustrator John Jude Palencar and designer Peter Lutjen have been the dynamic duo beyond many many Charles de Lint covers. It’s amazing how well their sensibilities work together, even more so when you consider that Charles, Peter, and John have never met.

When Mystery of Grace came up, when we knew a general outline of the story. John Jude sent in a series of sketches and I was blinded by how much I loved this puppeteer drawing. It makes for a great painting, and even a great cover, but when the author and editor brought up the fact that it was much too dark for the book, it was hard too fight it. It certainly is macabre. This is not the artist’s fault. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have asked for other sketches. In this case we got as far as printing Advance Reading Copies with the puppet cover before we were able to about-face and start over. (I’m told you can find those advance reading copies on eBay every now and then.)

Since we do have such a long and wonderful history of Palencar covers on de Lint books, there was never a question of what to do — I went back to John, described the book more fully, and gave him a clearer understanding of how we wanted to position it. It was a whole second commission for him — a pricey mistake on my part but, thankfully, not one that I make too often. In the end, the second cover is just as lovely in a different way.

Blood Groove
In this case, it was tough to get the marketing tone right. The initial copy and the title made it sound a bit campy and hipstery. When talking to the editor, the book sounded much more gritty than that, and it sounded much more grisly than the current slew of hot Twilight-y vampires. Designer Jamie Stafford-Hill went to town on the idea of a truly horrific, old school vampire. What you can’t see here is, he even requested a slightly textured varnish to make the cover just a tiny bit pebbly your hand. We did an advance run on the jackets and they looked great. Really great. In the end, though, Sales and Marketing felt that we should try to hit larger audience an go with a “movie-poster” style cover.

Selling more books is good for everybody — everyone from the author, to the bookstore clerks, to the truck drivers moving inventory around — so it’s difficult to say that going more commercial is a bad thing...But truth be told, this was example where I wish we could have stuck with something that was a bit more unique and engaging. While I certainly like the re-do, quite a bit actually, I’ll always wonder which cover really would have performed better.

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