Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Department of Lands: Hydrological cycles and Watersheds


If you're just joining us and haven't seen any of the previous posts, allow me to briefly summarize: I was hired by the Idaho Department of Lands to create a set of illustrations.  These illustrations will accompany a manual outlining laws, regulations, and guidelines concerning watershed protection, erosion prevention, road building, and general land management.

It was a huge project.  One of the biggest I've worked on as an illustrator.  It was also enormously fun.  I love technical illustration like this.  There's a kind of detail and style and cleanliness that isn't typically called for in many other illustration jobs, so I'm always happy to have the opportunity to work on projects like this.

The first illustration of the last set is about the forest hydrological cycle.  You've probably seen more general hydrological cycle illustrations in textbooks.  They typically show a large section of land and sky and how water moves throughout those sections.  This one is a more specific micro-water cycle and how that cycle works on a much smaller scale.  Here's the sketch:

And here's how the final turned out:

The second and final illustration for IDL project was a watershed illustration.  This was probably the most complicated of the lot.  There were a lot of elements to include.  A lot of information.  A lot of detail.  So of course, this one was my favorite.  I'm sure there are people for whom this kind of work would be an insufferable bore.  I am not among them.  This was so much fun for me.  It scratched every one of my Type-A itches.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

And so concludes the IDL project.  Such sweet sorrow.  If you know anyone who needs some technical illustration, let me know.  I'm going to be hungry for something technical very soon.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Investing.com: Scottish Secession


Here's the latest comic for Investing.com.  This week's comic deals with the upcoming secession vote in the United Kingdom.  The people of Scotland are just about to decide whether or not to remain as part of the United Kingdom.  Secession would mean major ramifications, financial and otherwise, for both Scotland and England.

The crew at Investing.com asked me to draw England and Scotland (colored like their respective flags) with Scotland pulling away from England while Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and Prime Minister David Cameron try to pull Scotland back.  I was also asked to include British pound symbols in the water.

Here's the sketch:

The layout of this sketch actually took a bit more time than usual.  First, I had to figure out how I was going to draw England and Scotland (perspective-wise).  A side view wouldn't work because you wouldn't be able to see the shape of the countries.  A top view wouldn't work because you wouldn't be able to see Carney and Cameron's faces.  It would have to be an angled view.  But I tried an angled view from the side (with Scotland on the left side and England on the right) and it just looked weird.  The countries were too misshapen.  And, thinking that the comic is primarily about Scotland, I thought it would be a good idea to put Scotland in the foreground.  But I figured we're all a little too used to the Mercator-style world maps and having Scotland "below" England would seem geographically incorrect.  So I settled with what you see above.  I think it does a decent job of drawing the focus to Scotland itself (central location, the "v" shape of the rope pointing directly to it).

After that, all I had to do was spend the next eight hours sketching Cameron and Carney, outlining, coloring, shading, and then editing until I had this:

I'm mostly happy with this comic.  It was pretty technical.  Like I said, there were some things to figure out and I can't say all of it turned out perfectly (Carney's head is a little oddly placed on his body).  But overall, I think their faces turned out well, the shading is decent, and the subject matter is interesting.  I would have liked to do something to the ocean to make it a little more ocean-like, but I was out of time and energy, so it just ended up being a big, blue flat thing.

Still, not my worst effort.


Monday, September 8, 2014

The Icy Plate Tectonics of Europa

A while back, I was contacted by Planetary Geologist Dr. Simon Kattenhorn, a leading expert on one of Jupiter's moons, Europa.  His research (along with the research of Louise Prockter) indicates the existence of icy plate tectonics and subduction on Europa.

Photos of Europa's surface showed the icy crust that covers the moon's surface was expanding, but scientists had been unable to explain exactly how this process was taking place until recently.  Kattenhorn and Prockter's research seems to show that plate tectonics and subduction (where one plate is forced under another) is the key to understanding some of the geologic mechanics of the icy moon.  If true, this would be the first evidence of this kind of activity anywhere other than Earth.  Pretty cool, right?

Dr. Kattenhorn asked if I would be interested in illustrating this subduction process for his research paper.  As technical and scientific illustration is one of my favorite kinds of work, I accepted immediately. Not only do I genuinely love this type of illustration, having the opportunity to contribute to a discovery of this magnitude (geology pun) was truly an honor.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

The illustration shows the hard, brittle ice that covers the surface.  This is where massive ice plates move around like the plates on Earth.  Sometimes they collide, forming large ridges and mountain ranges of ice.  When one plate is forced beneath another plate, part of that plate can be subsumed into the layer of warmer ice beneath it.  Beneath the second layer of ice is liquid ocean.

You can't tell me that's not awesome.

Part of the fun of illustration for me is getting to imagine what these environments are like while I'm drawing them.  Picturing the almost unfathomable depths of ice and ocean beneath on a distant moon is usually reserved for the realm of science fiction.  But this is real and happening as we speak.  It's just that it's happening very, very slowly.  One might even say at a glacial pace.

Here's a link to the NASA press release:


The ABC Science press release:


And the Time press release:



Infrared Thermometer

Here's a quick illustration I did last week for Decagon Devices, Inc.  The assignment was to draw an instrument called the IRT (Infrared Thermometer).  Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lindy's College Basketball 2014!


Everyone has a list of things they love to do in Summer, right?  Particularly in August.  It's usually the hottest month.  Usually you can also feel the Summer slip sliding away at that point, which makes you want to go out and do even crazier things to get your fill.  I'm no different, really.  Except I'm an illustrator, which makes me a lot different.

Every August, one of my favorite things to do is work on illustrations for "Lindy's Sports Annual" (the college basketball edition).  This may not sound like fun to you, but believe me, to my illustrator's heart, this is a swimming pool full of kittens and jello.

One of this year's stories had to do with the high rate at which players are transferring from one school to another.  I was asked to draw a basketball player with tattoos of various colleges/team names that were then crossed out and replaced by others.

Like so:

The other story I was asked to illustrate had to do with Bruce Pearl and Kelvin Sampson who are both returning to coaching after recent suspensions.  Pearl and Sampson are both known for their on-court histrionics, which made them extremely fun to caricature.  They also both have good features for caricaturing, which helped.

Here's the sketch:

The illustrations are going on either side of the article, hence the gap in between the two characters.  Here's the final:

These were so, so much fun to draw.  I also had a decent amount of time to work on them (more than a week), which is unusual for me.  The caricatures I usually draw are for Investing.com, which are a one day turnaround.  Although I'm always happy to draw them, the abbreviated deadline means I don't get to spend as much time on the craft of the caricatures as I would like.  This time, I had all the time in the world.  That time really let me dive in to the shading, skin tones and highlights, and everything else.

These were really, really satisfying to draw.