Author Archive for Benjamin – Page 2

Travel Back to 1890 with Me

In case you don’t follow me on Instagram (…um… if not, why? @hummelillustration), I am in the middle of illustrating a historical picture book about Ike Hoover, the young man who wired the White House for the very first time. Those familiar with my work, know my propensity toward historical illustration, and in specific, I have a tender spot for the latter Victorian/Industrial age as it emerges into the Belle Epoch era at the turn of the century. Everything about this story is tailor-fit to me and my illustration style.

The book is titled “Lights On!” It is being published by Filter Press and will be released in 2017. I have a total of 20 illustrations to complete. I’m using this opportunity to really explore what I can do with perspective, as I have been challenged with a variety of unique settings both inside and out of the White House. As the book nears completion, I’ll release other blogs about it, so stay tuned!

Like all of my work, the process is what makes the final successful. A lot of research and a lot of time spent in the preliminary stages. Here is a sneak peak of some of the illustrations, but certainly, I’ll keep posting my progress on Instagram.

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Two to Tango

Originally inspired by a challenge prompt: shoes. There is a part of me that really enjoys jazz music of all flavors and the coordinated dance that accompanies it. Seems like once every four or five years I do a piece similar to this, although each time significantly better.

This piece is a practice and exploratory piece, as I played around with color, application of media, and the pushing and pulling of background vs foreground elements. This piece was a sample piece of the method and style I’m thinking about painting for an upcoming children’s book. (Oops, did I say that out loud? Well, the rest of the details about this book are proprietary, that’s the only hint you’re getting for now…)

Yes, I burned through a lot of detail brushes in the process. But it was worth it.

 

Turning 40.

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I belong to an illustration challenge group, and every week they have a different topic. I do not always get the opportunity to participate, as my schedule is very full, but every once in a while I’ll be inspired. The word for this cartoon was “mirror.”

Deciding to focus on the duplicitous meaning of the word, to look back, I tried to mirror not only the characters, but perhaps their shared discoveries across the years.

This was a piece in which I challenged myself to try and create the same character both as a fourteen year old boy and as a forty year old man. This utilizes a technique called character aging, and I’m rather happy with the results.

CardIsle is currently selling this card. If you are in the Virginia or Oregon area, you can order this design as a birthday card online, and go to any CardIsle kiosk to pick it up. Follow the link here: https://www.cardisle.com/shop/#/selection?artist=Painting%20for%20Life®.

Basic perspective drawing… made easy and fun!

Stay informed about the progress of the Perspective Book.

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I’m writing a book!

My own personal learning challenges coupled with in class experience led me to develop a unique and fun technique for teaching perspective, a method that cements these concepts into a beginning artist’s mind. In class successes proved my techniques to be highly effective, therefore, I decided to start putting them down into a book.

Educational Philosphy

My personal educational philosophy is this: Education should be both informative AND entertaining. That is the approach I take when teaching, and that is the approach of the book. I sprinkle my lectures with visual gags, running jokes, and stupid puns, but between those I weave in the concepts of perspective, focusing on the “why it works.” I truly believe that once you understand the “why,” remember the steps of the “how” become a lot easier.

For more info, sign up for the email list

This has been a project that I’ve been picking at for a few years now, remaining back burner until now. As I have been working on it, many of you expressed great interest in wanting to stay informed about this project and perhaps getting a copy of it when it is finished. My plans are to get enough chapters written and illustrated so that I can then pitch it a publishing company. When it is finally published, I will absolutely let everybody know, along with any book signings, talks, or other related ventures. So, please, please, please, sign up below! I will only send emails out in regards to the status of the book. But if I have enough individuals on the list, that will be a draw for potential publishers.

Everybody who joins the email list will receive a free gift! I will send them a chapter from the book, complete with all the illustrations, in PDF form.

Perspective books are usually two of three things: thorough, illustrative, and entertaining. Some books have great visuals, but not a lot of copy to explain exactly what is going on in the diagrams. Some thorough with both copy and visuals, but were dry to read, and boring. And some had great visuals and were entertaining, but the book’s organization made it difficult to follow. My book will be the successful culmination of all three: thorough, illustrative, and entertaining.

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Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Because it’s funny, that’s why! Enjoy!

LEPER CON

Go Broncos! Cartoons

While you wait, enjoy some cartoons. These two are Bronco cartoons I created during their last Superbowl run. Always experimenting, I had some fun with these.

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Because I have to knock out these cartoons as soon as possible, I utilize a technique where I pen and ink in Radiograph, and then I color with vector shape areas underneath. Often times, this technique can look mechanical if I’m not careful, so I decided to play around with an app that I have that will convert any photo into a watercolor painting. It’s a pretty awesome app, and depressing at the same time, especially if you are a landscape watercolorist.

I brought my completed vector shapes into the app, had it converted into a watercolor before reapplying it to my pen and ink.

My only issue is that it made my cartoon much darker than my original colors. Being in a hurry, didn’t want to have to lighten up my cartoon, so I went with it. The end result is what you see below.

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This next cartoon was a play on words that I thought made sense for the moment. Isaac Newton being known for hypothesizing about gravity, Cam Newton sharing the same last name, why not put the two together, highlighting Von Miller’s iconic glasses. I actually developed Bronchitis right after the Superbowl, so for three days, I was bed ridden. When I finally emerged, I wanted to knock this out as fast as possible.

I decided in order to do so, I had to simplify the values. Von Miller and the shadow he cast were to be one singular value, and the background another. Then for the people in the stands, I simply designed a quick and simple pattern that I could fill the area with. I was finally able to finish it four days after the Superbowl ended, although the idea actually came to me while lying in bed with burning lungs.

 

Zacchaeus was a wee little man…

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For those of us who grew up going to Sunday school, we’ll recall the nursery song about Zacchaeus, the Jewish tax collector mentioned in the Gospels. So when Pastor Blake at Faith Bible Chapel, Carr St, brought him up as a case study into more adult topics it made sense as a part of my note taking to doodle the scene out.

I actually do this a lot. Instead of writing words, I’ll draw out the imagery that comes to mind as I’m listening to a sermon or a lecture. Sometimes those images are very concrete, as is this one, and sometimes they are more abstract. Often times, they don’t end up mounting to much, other than pneumatic devices to help me personally remember the different points.

In this particular case, I was rather pleased with the final sketch. The actual pencil drawing was only about 4″ high at most. Since it turned out well, I decided to scan it in, at which point I felt that I could enhance it even more with some digital color overlays. Trying to force myself to play around with unique color combinations, I went with these bold, out-of-gamut colors. It was fun, turned out alright, and so I felt compelled to share.

New Year’s Cards… in the third dimension!

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In addition to my traditional, printed page, illustration work, I also am an illusionary 3D chalk artist. Yes, I’m one of those crazy guys who sits underneath blistering sun and driving rain as I try and bring my street art illustration, created in nothing more than chalk, into something that appears 3D in the camera. If you haven’t checked us out, I invite you to go to PeopleOfTheChalk.com. And while you are at it, if you know of or are in charge of an upcoming festival or event and you would like me and my team (aka, my talented artist wife) to come down and perform a custom (as in, you help choose the design) 3D chalk art piece, be sure to drop me a line and we can set that up. (*AHEM, AHEM*)

Thus, when it came time to come up with a design for my holiday card, I thought to myself, what if I could create a similar illusion, but on a smaller scale. What if those receiving the cards could take those cards, lay them flat, and then with their camera phones get a sense of that illusionary depth.

That is what I endeavored to do with this piece. Nothing is new in regards to how to set up the reverse perspective, except that instead of working in feet, I’m working in inches. I plotted out my reverse vanishing point and drew everything up on graph paper. The image below shows first how it is supposed to look when the illusion comes together, and then what it actually looks like when looking straight down on it. It’s pretty fascinating how, if you have the vanishing point in the right position, based upon the precise viewing area of the camera, the converging lines appear to look parallel.

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Next, I had to plot out the shadows. The illusions work best if you have a strong shadow pattern and it is accurate according to a given light source. Assuming that most people would be looking at these cards with a light source directly above them, I anticipated this to be the light source, moving it to the left a little to give it some visual interest. With this in mind, I plotted both a shadow vanishing point and a light source point, in reverse perspective. Then every single to corner that can cast a shadow somewhere needs to be plotted to BOTH of these points, plus additional lines drawn back to the reverse vanishing point. To see how complex that ended up being, see below.

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I took this shadow information and retraced everything onto illustration board so I could paint it traditionally. I painted a version digitally as a color study and used that as a guide as I went into this final piece.

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If all of this sounds complex, … guess what, it is. However, I understand that perspective is a type of math that can be very confusing to the lay person or the right brained artist. For that reason, I’m writing a book on perspective, designed to be very user friendly and easy to understand and use. It’s in it’s rough, rough draft stage right now, but as I continue to develop it, I’ll keep you posted.

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That’s all for now. I made a limited number of these cards, but if you send me a query from my contact page and let me add you to my email list (which I email once every seven years, I’m kind of like a comet in that regard), I’ll be sure to mail you any of the extras I have, first come, first serve.

Green Ribbon of Hope

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Once again, I was privileged this year to create the art for the University of Colorado Transplant unit’s Christmas card. The image that we decided to go with was a more pastoral winter scene, something that invoked Colorado. Since the green ribbon has such strong symbolism with organ donation, we always try to tie it in (no pun intended) the design somehow. Some years, it remained hidden, other years it’s a part of the main attraction.

This year, we decided to weave it throughout the aspen, which then serves both as a compositional element, as well as convey the idea that the continuation of life is felt throughout. I know this first hand, as many of you are aware of my story, I’m a two time liver-transplant survivor, made necessary from the debilitating auto-immune disorder from which I suffer. These cards are very personal to me, and I’m very honored to be a part of this ongoing holiday tradition.

Once the initial concept was complete, I rendered several sketches, playing around with different value studies and color schemes. I decided to make it appear as if it is a new morning. Fewer things are more beautiful than a cold winter morning as the sun rises on freshly fallen snow, and I wanted to convey the sense of new beginnings through this idea.

All of it was done in acrylic on board (with really tiny brushes… which reminds me, I need to go buy more brushes…)

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I did multiple color studies in Photoshop before moving to the final.

A Wild West Encounter

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These next set of illustrations were created in partnership with Buffalo Bill Daze in Georgetown and in celebration of Buffalo Bill and his travels to the small, but significant Colorado town. For those who may not be familiar with Colorado, Georgetown is a one hour drive due west on I-70 from Denver. You might miss it if you blink as you are driving to Vail, but if you pull off, what a treasure awaits. We were invited to participate in the Buffalo Bill art show, and then partake in the Buffalo Bill Daze events, of which there were period actors walking all around us, mine tours, and a chance to meet the real Buffalo Bill in person! (well, not quite, but close enough. Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley were played by seasoned actors and were a thrill to get to know). The curator of the Buffalo Bill museum was present and offered a wealth of knowledge, as I picked his brain about the era, them man, the myth, the legend.

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When creating these paintings, I immersed myself into the designs of the old time show posters. I used these as inspiration in creating my own “poster-esce” designs for the two characters, including hand drawn lettering. I wasn’t content to do a simple portrait. As a part of my new mod-narrative caricature style, I wanted to see if I could apply the same technique to Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. I started with a ground base color and I built them up out of the color, using my thick flat brushes to try and keep it as loose as possible. I worked on Buffalo Bill first, and when finished, I immediately jumped into the Annie Oakley portrait. The second time around, I had a feel for everything, and it went much quicker and more smoothly. In fact, I felt so confident going into the Annie Oakley portrait, that I decided to time lapse my progress (and add funky stock music). The video you can watch below.

After finishing off these two, I’m wanting to do more. Perhaps more of the Buffalo Bill performers, including Wild Bill Hickok, Sitting Bull, and maybe some other bands as well. Considering all of the renewed attention to Billy the Kid and the recent photograph of him playing croquet, maybe Billy is next on the list?

Much was going on at the Daze that the originals are still available for sale. I also had high quality art cards professionally manufactured as well. If you want to own a piece of this exciting series, be sure to place an order. *Ahem* Christmas is just around the corner… Jus’ sayin’.