Friday, June 24, 2005


The Tuskegee Airmen of WWII were real-life heroes. They faced down the advancing German Army and prevailed in the skies over North Africa and Europe with one of the best combat records in history. But the Germans weren't the only enemy they faced and defeated; they fought during a time of intense racial prejudice, but they proved themselves more than worthy to fight alongside anyone. Because of their bravery and skill as fighter pilots and soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen won the respect of a nation and the world.

This illustration was done as an in-class illustration demonstration. I used a little of everything: Watercolor, acrylics, oils and colored pencils. And, a touch of Photoshop at the end.

For a step-by-step on this piece, go here and scroll down.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lemur step-by-step

This is a brief step-by-step of how I made the lemur piece for Illustration Friday's "Black & White" theme.
This is the reference photo I used; it was published online, and I hope it is a public domain image; there was no copyright notice on the image, so I hope it's ok to use ; ).

I added some area to the bottom of the canvas to accomodate the long tail, and sketched in the basic shapes using a Wacom tablet; I use a small, 3 or 4 pixel soft brush to draw with in Photoshop. If you want it to look like graphite, you can add texture and a little noise in the brushes palette.

Next, I added a layer at the bottom of the stack and filled the top area with black and the bottom with white. Then, I made a new layer above that one for the basic shapes; I used the lasso tool and roughly drew shapes for the black and white areas and filled the selections with the appropriate color. I wanted a stark black and white abstract pattern at this point, so I made the selections as simple as possible while still maintaining the essence of the lemur.

Now comes the fun part. I used a small brush and the Wacom tablet and painted with white to create fur along the edges of the shapes I had defined earlier. For smaller, more random fur, I used the brush that is normally used for creating blades of grass, and after tweaking the settings in the brushes palette, I came up with a reasonable simulation of fur. I also used the smudge tool a bit to soften some of the fur.
For the face and hands, I used various shades of gray to bring out the details, painting with small, soft brushes; I lower the opacity and flow settings to get as much control as possible. Still, I was not too concerned with precise details, as you can see below...

The details of the face are quite impressionistic and loose; I just wanted to get enough detail to capture the expression on the lemur's face.
The eyes were done on a seperate layer; I used the lasso tool to create selections for the eyes and filled them with an orange that was a touch more saturated than the photo. I added pupils and a catchlight using a small brush and the Wacom tablet.
You can see in this close-up where the smudge tool comes in handy for softening the fur, especially under his chin.

And, again, here is the finished piece. The details in the hands got lost in all the darkness, but that's adds to the mystery that I was shooting for.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Black and White


The first idea that popped into my head was Michael Jackson, you know, before and after. But, that's a tired story, and just too pathetic to address. So, I thought of natural things that are black and white, and of course the usual suspects were considered, such as zebras and skunks and magpies, but for some reason I suddenly thought of a lemur; a very elegant and formal looking creature with just enough color to make it visually startling.

Friday, June 10, 2005



I don't have time this week to create a new work, so I offer this piece that was originally done for the cover of a book called "BOP".