Monday, October 28, 2013

Desperadoes in Motion

For this pitch I developed with Tony Kaye, time was a big consideration. We discussed the tone of the spot as well as some of the bottle clinking action that we felt was essential for the branding of Desperadoes Beer. In Storyboard Pro, I am able to make a quick animatic - not perfect, but with enough clarity and timing to sell the idea. The implementation of the bikini diver in the bottle, the Day of the Dead motifs, and the cubist Picasso bull was an attempt to elevate the narrative toward a surrealist appeal that would speak to the target audience of 21 - 35 years old. The brand embraces a Midwest backdrop like New Mexico or Arizona. Scratch track is from U2.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New York Comic Con 2013 - A Long Way From Creation

Adam West's cousin's brother....still my favorite Batman
     Let me state up-front that I remember my first comic convention. It was around 1979 or so, when it was called "Creation Comic Book Convention," or something like that, at the Pennsylvania Hotel. The only celebrity there was beautiful Caroline Monroe from "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" and "The Spy Who Loved Me." But I was there for the comics. I sat with rapped attention as John Byrne spoke about his current run on the X-Men, right before his stellar fame took off. He was approachable and accessible to anyone who was in the room. It was the first time the comic book business became real for me. I begged my folks to let me spend the $100 on a "Master Class" that was taught by Gil Kane, Burne Hogarth, Harvey Kurtzman. At one of those early conventions I bought my first Neal Adams comic, an old X-Men issue in the Savage Land. Strangely, I could not find his credits in the book, but suspected this was the guy I heard so much about. Costumed attendees were few and far between. The dress-up was reserved for the Saturday Night Costume Contest. I attended annually for years after, rubbing elbows with the hot and sweaty geeks who perpetuated the aisles lined with dusty back issues in cardboard boxes. It was typical that halfway through the day I would be starved, tired and fighting a headache. Usually I trekked home on the Staten Island Ferry feeling like I overstayed my visit.

Me in midst of painting a Nazi-Zombie with Talens Gouache
     It's all changed now. The NY Comic Con 2013 at the Javitts Center has borrowed the format from the famous San Diego Con. Like San Diego, celebs, movie studios, TV shows, video games, toys, comics, collectibles, tee shirts and even art supplies enjoy the limelight. The costumed attendees comprise more than half the crowd and may be worth admission alone. I was not ashamed to chase down an Adam West Batman lookalike and take a photo with him. The range of quality and creativity in the costume designs and executions ran the gamut from simple to sophisticated. Back in my day, the costumed ones were often looked upon as freaks. Today, they are looked upon as a community of neo-geeks, and proudly so. Spend a few hours at the Con and you will love being among them, as their enthusiasm is a bit contagious. "Artists Alley" is where you can leave the vendors to meet comic book and fantasy aritists, peruse their work, chat and maybe purchase an original or two. Most are delighted to meet fans and collectors. For me, I like running into old colleagues at these tables.
Gouache from Talens
     As celebrities go, I was disappointed with how hard it was to glimpse any of them. As far as I could tell from my "info booth" inquiry, the cast of The Walking Dead, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, William Shatner ("Spock!") and the rest of them were only accessible if you purchased an autograph ticket. The A-listers were charging about 60 - 70 bucks to stand on line in Disney-style queues, something that I had not the time or money for, as I was busy with my demos. In any case, I could not so much pass by the table and see my favorite thespians from a short distance. Although I didn't pay for my pass, (it was courtesy of the good folks at Canson and Jerry's Artist Outlet), I know it was pricey, and I feel sorry for the poor soul who has to spend more than 20 bucks for an autograph.

Art supplies for all who want great deals at Jerry's.
     I used Talens gouache to promote this excellent line of water soluble paint. I got lots of questions about the material as well as lots of interest in my work. Several attendees said I was "Bad-Ass" and "Awesome" and a few inquired about buying the Zombie piece I was painting. The gouche made it easy for me to cover large areas with opacity, and still rework the area with water if I needed to.

     On day two, I drew portraits of customers in their newly purchases sketchbooks, and even did one on a trading card. I had the pleasure of meeting some friendly and appreciative fans. Kyle from Canson along with the gang at Jerry's Artist Outlet couldn't have been more supportive of my efforts. I finished the demo with "reportage" drawings of the kind that got me started in my career. I enjoy the freehand approach, working directly with a dipping nib and ink. 

     Comic Con was fun and exciting. I enjoyed working my tail off, being flexible to the needs of the booth and the crowd. I had a blast and would like to attend again next year. And I have plenty of enthusiasm to experiment more with some great art supplies. Now let's see…I have a year to figure out what to work on.

Check out my gallery of images below. Click to enlarge.

Above: Zombie gouache demo in progress
as a Cosplay customer inquires about art supplies
Below: Finished zombie demo painting 

Above: Portrait of Leo in his Canson sketchbook.
Below: The model and his original.
Drawn with Bruynzeel pencils
Add caption

Top; View of convention floor with pen and ink.
Above: Jerry's Artists Outlet Booth with a few familiar faces.
Talens ink and Van Gogh watercolor

Portrait of Mandy, resident Booth-Babe 

Zombie nurse with zombie Deadpool. Stellar makeup.

Are we having fun yet?  
Not sure who the ape-rabbit is but I like him.
The splitting image of Kitty Pryde
as created by Claremont and Byrne 
"I'd kiss you but you're so damned ugly... ."

What's the word of the day Pee Wee? 
The girls from Jerry's: Bonnie, Nancy and Christine. Hi girls!!

Yours truly blabbing about the properties of gouche with Kyle,
Canson's brilliant product manager in background. 
Many people don't know that
Boba Fett got his start in a piano bar on Tatooine.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blick "Drink and Draw" with Dr. Sketchy, Grumbacher and Canson

 Amazing Grace - Burlesque models in real life 

I recently represented Grumbacher Art Supplies at the "Drink and Draw" Grand Opening party of Blick Art Supplies new art store on 6th avenue and 20th street. Grumbacher supplied color pencils and markers from their Polycolor line to all participants of the 5- 1/2 hour life drawing sessions. Canson reps Kyle, Ed, Arthur and Jon joined us to promote their excellent paper supplies. 

The dedicated students...

All who registered for the opulent event were rewarded with some of the best models on the planet, courtesy of Dr. Sketchy's  Anti-Art School. In addition, generous goody bags were stuffed with Canson sketchbooks, Grumbacher pencils and charcoal. For a class that cost $5.00, the participants received at least 40 bucks of supplies, hot and cold catered food and a great open bar stocked with beer and soft drinks. Where can you find a bargain like that? 

Dr. Sketchy's costumed models are professional burlesque dancers, as evidenced by three of the most outstanding specimens of female grace, poise discipline and showmanship I've ever seen. I've drawn thousands of models in the course of my education and career, no exaggeration. Parsons, The Passalacqua School, Art Lab at Snug Harbor, Salmagundi Club, Art Students League, Disney University, Crealdi - I've been around. Melissa Dowell, Dr. Sketchy's Creative Coordinator,  and her team set up the stage, poses and time for each session. The DJ, (yes, there was even an ultra-cool lady DJ) was spinning great tunes, and even played Adam Ant for me by request. The whole affair seemed to be effortless and on auto-pilot, although I am sure experience and careful planning had a lot to do with it.

Statuesque trio

If art supplies are your fancy, check out the Canson line of sketchbooks and watercolor paper. You can't go wrong with products so thoughtfully manufactured and distributed worldwide, starting in 1557. Their 150 lb Illustration paper is the bomb, and the 9x 12 "Repositionable" Art Book is my new favorite. The spiral-bound book has pre-perforated pages that can be removed and re-ordered without the mess of frayed scraps. Treat yourself to one and see what I mean. When choosing drawing implements I am again reminded of the impressive quality of Chartpak brands. Grumbacher has charcoal sticks available in 4 grades from extra soft to hard. I find soft the most versatile and have used it for blocking broad shapes and values in my storyboard work. I use a paper "blending stump" to get a smooth area and rub out the highlights with an eraser and eraser shield. 

Canson Repositionable Art Book
and Koh-I-Nor Cedar-Wood Color Pencils

The Koh-I-Noor line makes my favorite colored pencils. The Polycolor 12 pack are oil-based and encased in cedar wood; they are smooth, rich and go down heavy. Their cousins, the Koh-I-Noor Woodless Color Pencils, are easily as smooth. They have a lacquer coating which I love, but don't be upset if they break in half when drawing. I am not one for lining up my pencils when I work. I  dump them on the floor, use them up, break 'em and sharpen the pieces as needed. The students loved them. 

Banquet of food.
Most came to draw....some came to eat.
Blick's recent partnership with Utrecht Art Stores should prove to be interesting. Both carry a great range of supplies, seem to have good customer service and knowledgeable staff, and remind me how much I love shopping for "analog" supplies.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Money Shot

In this pre-vis frame I designed for an upcoming movie pitch about bare-knuckle boxing, I worked black and white with a splash of color. The main character is being portrayed by a popular television actor and should help the pre-production get some traction. I am hoping it receives the green-light soon because I look forward to storyboarding the project.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Project Oz: The Great and Powerful Runway

Early this year I completed a cross-marketing commercial pitch for Lifetime's "Project Runway" and "Oz: The Great and Powerful." Great assignment with both black/white and color frames. I was asked by the producer to substitute the Latest "Runway" Winner for James Franco's Oz character. Instead of getting whisked away to Oz, our "Runway" star lands in Times Square where he meets Tim Gunn and announces the the new season of "Project Runway."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"ASOCKOLYPSE!" Storyboards for Indy Film Reveal Missing Socks

I recently finished storyboards for the Indy sci-fi- comedy film "Asockolypse!" Boarding the feature length script was a blast, with over one-thousand storyboards featuring character designs, environments, spaceships, and funky alien props. Partnering with director Carrie Schoenfeld and her talented team has been one of my favorite experiences as a story artist. 

As socks around the world disapear at an alarming rate, our cast of characters find the culprit is an alien race who use washing machines and evil squirrels to steal socks to fuel their advanced ailen technology. 
Check out the early trailers for "Asockolypse!" at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tekserve's Official Wacom Cintiq 13HD Release Party

Prounounced "Wah-Kum"
New York City’s Apple Specialist store Tekserve hosted the Official Wacom Cintiq 13HD Release Party last night. The bench mark for interactive pen displays, Wacom (pronounced Wah- Kum) Intuos pads and Cintiq interactive pen displays have been the art entertainment industry digital standard for many years now.  Many illustrators, photographers, editors, and designers have embraced the tool for enhanced productivity, flexibility and integration reasons. 

Tekserve hosted the after-hours free presentation for ticket-holders only, including an impressive spread of food and drink that I rarely see at such events. Attendees mingled, munched, networked, and test-drove the Cintiqs and other models on display. Marvel Comics fans were happy to see Marvel CCO and favorite artist Joe Quesada as one of the guests who generously shared his Cintiq workflow with the audience. The standing room presentation was comfortable, as the absence of seats felt informal and flexible. I was close to the stage, but a big screen and other monitors broadcast everything throughout the store, enabling guests to watch and listen from anywhere in the shop.

Wacom Cintiq 13HD 
Lots of food for hungry guests

It was interesting to see Quesada’s workflow. He uses the Cintiq for layout purposes mainly, sometimes sketching concepts directly on the screen, other times working from scanned pencil/pen doodles on paper. He manipulates Google Sketch-Up models of cars, buildings, and other props as desired until he finds the right angle. Then he brings a screen shot into Photoshop to draw over this reference to satisfy his final layout. He often will drop in shading with a big broad brush, and if I understood him correctly, he will sometime ink his work using Photoshop’s pencil tool instead of the brush tool (which he feels is too unpredictable in line quality). Although I was a bit confused with his flow at times, he clarified that he will work the layouts up as pencil on paper drawings for the final art. After that I was unclear if he produced the final black lines in analog or digital form. Quesada mentions that many comic-book artists have not abandoned the pencil and India ink final art pages because of the demand for after-market original art sales they may enjoy. However, since sharing a lot of his finished BW and color art, I gather that Quesada is comfortable using both methods.

Joe Quesada draws a crowd
In my experience Tekserve has been a great resource for my Mac needs.  I bought my tower from them a few years ago, and repaired my laptops’ motherboard at the same time. The wait for the repair counter can be somewhat long and inconvenient depending on the time of day. If you need a repair inquiry and have the luxury of an open schedule, earlier in the day seems best. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, and has helped me make some great decisions regarding hard drive products and performance.

If you need Apple products, Cintiq’s, upgrades, audio devices, repairs, or want to check out some of their events, visit Tekserve at 

"Being Human" Drives a Subaru

Here is a commercial I boarded for a Subaru/Being Human cross promotion.  Fun characters and premise, which are a take off-on the supernatural characters from the SyFy show. The full-up can be seen here:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Niia Bertino's Debut Video Single with Storyboards and a Twist

Doll with a Vengeance
Some of us remember when music videos were a novelty. Back in the early cable TV days, when HBO had its “Video Jukebox,” I would record the half hour show on VHS in hopes that something unique and memorable would capture me. The results were hit and miss.  Sometimes a mediocre song would be elevated by a great video, while others had lackluster content. Few had both great music and great visuals, and those that did not only helped sell vinyl records, but also became visual trademarks. As the music industry started to decline with the growth of sharing sites like Napster, the role of music videos as a marketing tool became less important.

Now, thanks to the “On Demand” feature of my local cable box, music videos air from A to Z. I occasionally view the latest pop videos from today’s “sensations.” For me, these are more “miss” than “hit.” Videos run the gamut from conventional storytelling to abstract performance clips; performers range from the vocally talented to the vapid computer-enhanced singer.

Motel and factory voyeur
Occasionally there is a true vocalist, brave enough to stand outside the mainstream, while talented enough to circumvent the industry nonsense. Niia Bertino has a rich velvety voice that takes its time. She sings with discretion not born from a marketing strategy but from an honest talent. No digital synthetic boosts, no layer upon layer of background noise, just straightforward and confident singing, delivered at its own pace. The lyrics languish, then intensify; resonate, then satisfy.

“Made For You” is Niia’s debut single.  The video has the two essentials – a strong song and a strong visual timeline. As I storyboarded the short for director Tony Kaye (American History X), I had access to the most unusual source images that helped develop the macabre story. Under Kaye’s direction, the rubber doll factory is a haunting place. Filled with eerie voyeuristic shots that show dissembled fabrications of women, along with a main narrative where the antagonist debases the female form, the video clashes reality with perception. The dénouement is a striking reminder of the power not just of the femme fatale, but also of any woman’s vitality and strength.

You can view Niia’s sensitive song here, but be advised the video is intense and contains mature subject matter and graphic images. Children should not view it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fighting With a Purpose – The Marines

Last year I designed shots and storyboards for this USMC commercial. As marine First Lieutenant King walks though his hometown in dress blues, his uniform transforms into combat fatigues and the neighborhood turns into mission territory. 

I started with rough thumbnails in pen and ink, and quickly expanded into rough digital line art in order to explore and build upon each design. Director Warren Fischer’s vision presents an intimate portrait of Lieutenant King as well as the awe-inspiring deployment of the USMC materiel and relief effort under his command. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Groundhog Day Chills

If you've ever wanted to see the groundhog come out of his hole, you don’t have to drive the five hours from New York to Pennsylvania to do it. This past weekend, my adventurous family woke up at 5AM, packed blankets and snacks and hopped in my Dodge Journey to wheel it out from the Bronx to the Staten Island Zoo, where within the hour we were parked and hiking throughout the frigid temps to visit Staten Island’s Chuck the Groundhog. In case you don't realize it, Chuck is the official groundhog meteorologist of New York City. Last year he bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg - no doubt upset about the constant taxes Bloomberg is so fond of. This year City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was there to officiate.

I held my 6-year-old daughter on my shoulders for the duration of the 40-minute ceremony. My 9 year old, however, was not as happy to be there as the rest of us. She just couldn’t warm up amidst the 20-degree chill. My wife took photos in her usual keen-eyed fashion.

Swiped from The New York Daily News web site...with yours truly and family upper left.
New York accents were in full force as the ceremony begun. Introductions were started by a band that didn't know the words to the Beatles "Ob-La-De, Ob-La-Da". Next, they performed their own original song about "Stun-island Chuck." Ten minutes of silence passed as we wondered when the show would start. I was beginning to feel like I was trapped in the Staten Island Ferry terminal waiting for the next boat to load. Finally, some sweet kids from PS29 sang the National Anthem, and Borough President of Staten Island James Molinari announced he had to get up at "tree-in-the-morning" to be here. Christine Quinn touted Chuck's record of accurately predicting the weather 80% of the time in contrast to PA's Punxatawney Phil, who has only been 40% accurate.

When Chuck finally came out (cute little fella), Quinn and colleagues concluded that Chuck DID NOT See his shadow, and therefore spring will be arriving in 6 weeks. Good call, Chuck! Give the people what they want, or there's liable to be someone shouting "Moider da bum!"