Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blast from the Past #331: 2003 Christmas card

Jeannine and I got to talking a few days ago about our Christmas cards, and realized that we don't have an organized archive of all of them, which we both thought would be a neat thing to have. So I am going to try to put that together, which means starting with searching the hard drive on my desktop computer for any Christmas card-related files. So far, I have only come up with three -- not an auspicious beginning.

But one of them is something that before I started looking, I'd completely forgotten about. It's the card I made for us in 2003, and it was unusual in that unlike previous cards, this one was folded differently, in thirds in a kind of accordion fashion. That way, the image of the Turtle on the Segway was on the front of the card, and when unfolded you could see the whole image.

I kind of like this one... I think the colors work well. -- PL

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blast from the Past #330: Pete at Fred Wolf's office

I found this one while rummaging around in the horrific mess which is my room (I was going to say "cleaning", but that would not be at all truthful). It's a photo taken by Kevin Eastman, I believe, during our first visit to the Murakami-Wolf offices in California back in 1986 or 1987 (at this point in time, the dates are starting to blend together). It was during the time when the original TMNT show was being developed.

Kevin and I were out there to meet with Fred Wolf and go over what they he and his crew had already come up with for concepts for the show. Some of them were pretty bad, in our opinion (for example, they had the Turtles defeating the Shredder and his minions at the end of the first three episodes and then moving into the Technodrome, making it their headquarters... which made zero sense to us), but others were good. It was an exciting time.

In this photo, I am sitting at the table where Kevin and I were going over the stuff and sketching out our own ideas for the show. I think I am working on a design for a Foot ninja costume -- it's hard to tell. -- PL

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Christmas card

When Jeannine and I shared our first Christmas in Dover, NH, I drew our first Christmas card, a tradition I kept up with for around ten years (I've posted one or two of them on this blog). As time went by, I moved from drawing the cards to creating them with various computer graphics programs like KPT Bryce and Photoshop. And for the last few years, I've just taken some wintry photos and tweaked them a little bit in Photoshop to make them more Christmas-y.

They were fine, and served as decent Christmas cards, but I felt then and now that something was lacking. There was something about actually drawing the card that brought me closer to the holiday somehow… and I'd lost that. I'm not completely sure why -- quite possibly it was in part due to laziness -- but in any case, this year I wanted things to be different. This year I wanted to go back to drawing our card.

And not only that, I wanted to try to recapture some of the -- well, let me be blunt and call it what it was -- wackiness of some of those cards from past years. I recall things like "The Christmas Snail", a drawing which depicted a slightly anthropomorphic Christmas tree riding a huge snail on a beach.

So after I told Jeannine of my intentions, and she enthusiastically approved, I started thinking… and within a few hours an idea came to me in the form of an image of an octopus standing on its head on the ocean floor, its tentacles twisted into a rough approximation of the triangular shape of a Christmas tree, and holding in those tentacles, at the very top of the "tree", a starfish.

I got to work and within a short time had sketched out the idea.

Over the course of the next few days, I inked it with a variety of black brush markers.

Around  this time, I asked Jeannine if she would be willing to write a poem to go along with the art, and to my delight, she agreed. So while she was musing about that and trying out different rhymes, I had to decide how to color the piece. I'd thought about doing the colors in Photoshop, but decided I wanted to keep more of a hand-drawn look (though I knew I would probably tweak the art in Photoshop). So I got out my new box of Pitt brush markers -- I think there are sixty-four different colors in it -- and got to work. This was the result.

I liked it okay, and Jeannine thought it was fine, but for some reason, I wasn't totally happy with it. I decided to try a second version, this time using watercolors over the black and white line art. (I think I was inspired in this not only by that Jerry Pinkney show I talked about a few blog posts back, but also by seeing some of the beautiful watercolor art Jim Lawson has been doing recently.)

I don't have a lot of skills in this medium, but I figured I should just jump in and try it. And it went more easily than I expected, and I liked the results.

Now I had to put a background into the image, and rather than try to carefully mask out the image and attempt to do a watercolor background, I decided to cheat a little bit and use my computer to create something that I could play around with until I got the look I was going for… and after a few tries, I was satisfied with this one.

By this time, Jeannine had finished her poem. I made a few suggestions, of which I think she may have used one, and she tweaked it a bit further. This is the version that ended up inside the card. (You may have to click on it to get a bigger, more readable version.)

(Here's the poem in plain text in case the above is too difficult to read -- it isn't the clearest font, though I like the shapes of the letters.)

"Some say reindeer can't fly to rooftops

and holidays don't happen in the seas.
They say the sky is up, the ocean down,
and octopi can't be Christmas trees.

But there's more than one side to a story
and more than one side to a tree. An octopus
can twinkle. And special stars can swim.

We wish you many merry days with fishy lyricism!"

And because I was a little concerned that my original idea (that of an octopus pretending to be a Christmas tree) might not come across as clearly as I wanted, and also because I wanted to make sure that Jeannine got her due credit for the poem, I put the following on the back of the card.
It took more work than the cards I've done these past few years, but I have to say that it was much more satisfying than all of those. And I believe it marks the first (though I hope not the last) time that Jeannine and I have really collaborated in a words-and-pictures fashion. -- PL

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Designs from TMNT 2K3 show for Christmas episode

While searching my hard drive for some Christmasy stuff to put up on my blog, I found the following designs which were sent to me some years ago from 4Kids for approval. I am not sure which episode these were done for, but it was definitely a Christmas-themed show which featured the reappearance of Usagi Yojimbo and the Daimyo from the Battle Nexus. Here's the Daimyo spiffed up in some Yuletide accoutrements...

... Usagi dressed up as an elf...

... Klunk the cat in the snow...

... Michelangelo as an elf...

... and Santa Splinter. -- PL

(Usagi® and © 2010 Stan Sakai)