Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stock photo availability

Let's say I want to use a famous photo on my Facebook page or blog, and I am Google-looking randomly on the internet to see what's out there that I can use for "free."

The image search will certainly turn up some Getty images. Go to the link and the Getty Images page that looks kinda like this.

And covering part of the picture is always the Getty Tag.

It doesn't usually ruin the picture. Just gives obvious credit to where the picture came from. Who really owns it. Ownership on the Internet is a slippery thing.

Anyway, I was Googling myself the other day. Pause for silent shaming. And I turned up some art I did for the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper earlier in this century. And the images had Getty Tags!

Kinda made me feel special. My work costs as much to use as a photo of Marilyn Monroe!

Backstory: The Pioneer Press art department was encouraged to send copies of completed artwork to our owners (first Knight-Ridder, and then McClatchy) for the owners to put on their commercial sales sites. Occasionally, I would hear from friends and relatives around the country that one of my illustrations turned up in a far-flung newspaper. Apparently, whoever owned that batch of Pioneer Press illustrations has now sold them to Getty Images.

Note: The "Brain Child" illustration has some strange stuff on the bottom that looks like it doesn't belong in the illustration -- because it doesn't! I would often include extra bits for use in other places in the newspaper. For teaser graphics or for pull quotes. I would just toss them in for page designers to use if they wanted to. And so I included them in submissions to our owners. But they look kinda out of place here. Hopefully any person buying this illo knows how to cut apart the images.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book on the horizon

I've done some mini-comics in the past.

I started doing mini-comics because I thought it would be an easy way to force myself to produce longer humorous stories. And it worked. Sorta.

What really happened along side of the longer stories was a format of graphics criticism and a representation of me on a tall horse making proclamations about typography.

And that was fun, too.

Anyway, I've now gathered all the mini-comics into a book, "The Big All Small Comics Collection." It's 180 or so pages of comics from 1983 to 2017. Since it's mini comics, the book is mini-comic sized, 4.25 by 5.5 inches. Plus an index of topics and people mentioned.

I hope to be selling the book at the upcoming SpringCon Comics convention in Minneapolis. Saturday and Sunday, May 20 - 21. Perhaps I'll see you there!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Type swap: "Shaft"

Not going to make the obvious "shafted" pun in the opening sentence. Oops.

I was watching Turner Classic Movies last Thursday night. They are showing Academy Award winning and nominated movies -- from the TCM library -- in alphabetical order. In-between 1976's Sherlock Holmes/Sigmund Freud pastiche, "The Seven Percent Solution" and 1937's Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers confection, "Shall We Dance" was the original 1971 Gordon Parks-directed "Shaft."

I was watching the opening credits, enjoying Isaac Hayes Oscar-winning Best Original Song, "The Theme From Shaft," and then I noticed that something was weird with the credits.

Hi-def "Shaft" credits, substituting Arial for the original Helvetica. Also adding a thin black line around the letters. My photo doesn't capture the vivid red of the lettering. They got that part of the credits right. (Click on the photo for a larger view.)

Original "Shaft" credits using Helvetica.

The credits had obviously been re-done when they re-scanned the film for high-def blu-ray and HDTV release. The type was very crisp. It had a thin black outline around the red type that looked really sharp. Too good, maybe. But I won't quibble about type being too sharp.

The second thing I noticed was that the typeface used was Arial. Now, if you don't know about Arial, Mark Simonson wrote a wonderful essay about it and it's history. (And how to identify the typeface.)

I was pretty sure that Arial wasn't around in 1971 when the original "Shaft" credits were made. According to this Wikipedia article, Arial was designed in 1982.

Hi-def "Shaft" credits, substituting Arial for the original Helvetica. 

Original "Shaft" credits using Helvetica.

Anyway, all this was zooming through my brain and it took me a few moments to get my camera out and to take some shots of the new "Shaft" credits.

And after the credits were over, I went to YouTube to look up the original credits.

Hi-def "Shaft" credits, substituting Arial for the original Helvetica. 

Original "Shaft" credits using Helvetica.

It will not come as a shock to know that the original credits were actually done in Helvetica. And it kinda looks like the originals didn't have the black line around the type. But I can't really see that for sure from the YouTube video.

I was hoping the original credits would be in a typeface that has a little snap it. Maybe Franklin Gothic. But Helvetica is cool. I was very surprised that whoever scanned the movie and redid the credits didn't know that the original was Helvetica. Or didn't care enough to match the original. Or didn't have the budget to match the original. Whatever the excuse, to me, there's no excuse for this!

Mystery solved via Internet. The movie itself? It was kinda fun. Angry fun.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Process (silkscreening "Winter Cars")

I'm taking a  silkscreening class at the wonderful Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists (SNAP) just down the street from our apartment. This is my second screen printing class there in two years and I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Anyway, here's the project.

I wanted to do something winter- and Edmonton-related.

I walk the neighborhood streets for exercise and I take photos as I walk. And I thought, "Cars with snow on them."

And that's it.

Here are the unedited photos.

The cropped photos. I did the composition and color work in Photoshop.

Swapped out a couple cars.

Black and white.

Reducing the photos to individual shades using the Curves pallet. Posterizing. Here's the pallet.

Here's the picture with the posterized look.

Making the background color cutout by using Photoshop's paths.

Making seps. Two grays, one black and one background color of light blue.

Light gray.

Darker gray.


Background blue.

Okay -- I decided to do a three-color print first to see how it was looking. But I still wanted four shades. So I did the black in solid, and dots for the darker gray.

Here's the Photoshop proof all the colors.

Here's two colors actually screen printed. Starting with the light blue. I'm printing on an 8.5 by 11 -inch (21.59 by 27.94 cm) sticker-back paper.

And the screen print of three colors.

Here's a close-up of the Photoshop proof.

Here's a close-up of the printed piece. That's some serious dot-gain!

So, we've gone from real world, into digital photos into Photoshop, out into the real world for silk screening and then finally, back into the computer for this blog post. Whew!

Next challenge: The four-color version on good paper.

Friday, April 01, 2016

How much is that zombie in the window?

Hey! My zombie comic, "Post-Dead: After the Zombie Apocalypse," is available for purchase at Variant Edition Comics + Culture, 10441-123 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta. You can see it from the sidewalk as you stroll by.

Here's the cover without the reflections.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Vue project #1051 Krampus edition

Last year at this time I was hard on Vue Weekly's 2014 Year In Review cover. I thought it was obscure. And I wanted more emphasis on the Krampus character and less on the talk show format.

But I've changed my mind on it because, as this week's cover makes clear, last year's effort was one in a series of Year in Review covers featuring a Krampus character. And seeing this year's Krampus cover makes me feel better retrospectively about last year's cover.

That said, there are definitely some improvements in this year's cover. I like the type treatment integrated with the illustration. I like the "Krampus" name tag on the bowling shirt. I like that the character is solidly put across by showing the hooves and tail. Plus, the pose is dynamic. The colors are well chosen and the white logo pops out of the page.

A quick search of shows me that the Krampus Year In Review covers started (probably) with the 2013 Review. Here's a screenshot of that cover:

Friday, December 04, 2015

Vue project 1049

Saw this week's  cover and thought it should be more fun. The subject matter is off putting, but fun in an alternative-weekly way. Parts of a horse that make a horse: horseshoes, horse neck, horse legs, horse tail, horse nose. Parts of horse on view in this illustration: horse legs, horse tail and horseshoes. But the hand and the sandwich kinda take over this illustration.

I thought I'd tighten up the headline a bit and put the whole horse on display. And believe it or not there are horse meat butcher charts much like this available for view on the internet. I constructed my own, so the all-Cheltenham type would make a unified cover.

Logo this time: Antique Olive condensed bold lowercase with a few alterations.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Vue project 1047

Vue Weekly introduced a new section this week. Named, "Pop." When I hear the word "Pop," my brain jumps to Pop Art. Specifically the work of Andy Warhol (high contrast silkscreen images) and Roy Lichtenstein (the guy who did the versions of comics with the black lines and the big dots) come to mind. One other thing that this cover brought to mind is the Batman television sound effects lettering onscreen. Particularly the one reading "KaPow!"

Photo credit:

Here's the original Vue Weekly cover. I like the bright colors of the type and the large, white "Pop!" really pops out of the background color. Didn't like the cryptic, unlabeled photos connected with a blend. What are the two photos about? Are they from the same pop culture niche? 

I took all that and made my own version of this cover. Reducing the art to high contrast black and white made it easy to combine the two separate images into one -- taking some care to make the people the same size. But then I labeled the two separate things so the reader knows there are two subjects. Perhaps they are combined into one article, perhaps not. Logo is Gill Sans with mutated letters for "e" and "k."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Vue project 1043

Canada's latest national election just ended. Justin Trudeau is now the Prime Minister of Canada. It's a big switch. It's big news. So all the newspapers are making a fuss.

Here's how the Vue Weekly did it.

I like the National Enquirer vibe of this original cover. I like covers that have a lot of headlines on them. Looks newsy. But I thought it could been taken further. So I did this version.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Vue project 1032

I like the Schwinn Sting Ray. When I was a kid, my dad told me I couldn't have one because the wheels were too small and the wheels would wear out faster than big wheels. But I still wanted one. And I still kinda do.

This week's issue of Vue Weekly features the Death Spoke Bicycle Club -- which despite its scary name, has a large percentage of Sting Ray riders. The published cover is actually very nice. The colors are strong and simple. The type is pretty cool. And I like the headline.

But when I read the story inside, Sting Ray bikes are mentioned in the first paragraph! And I liked the inside headline better: "Swell on Two Wheels." So I thought I'd shorten that headline for the redo, and also include an image of that iconic bike (stolen from the internet). I just couldn't help it, Dad.

This week's reworked logo is Franklin Gothic, with a couple twists.