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Illustration Friday


Repurposed Art One of the classic images I considered for this theme was Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times". After trying to shoehorn the gears into the Metropolis idea, I had a strange attack of deja vu ... as if I've been on this track before. Sure enough, I remembered. In addition to the technical difficulties of rendering this in Adobe Illustrator 3 -- no working in Preview mode, every blend is hand-built and masked, no Gradient tool -- my client was also difficult with last-second demands. Therefore, I believe I earned enough combat pay to bring this 1993 classic to a new audience.


"There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator."
-- Fritz Lang, Metropolis

In the future, the society of Metropolis is divided in two social classes: the workers, who live in the underground below the machines level, and the dominant classes that lives in the surface. The workers are controlled by their leader Maria, who wants to find a mediator between the upper class lords and the workers, since she believes that a heart would be necessary between brains and muscles. Maria meets Freder Fredersen, the son of the Lord of Metropolis Johhan Fredersen, in a meeting of the workers, and they fall in love for each other. Meanwhile, Johhan decides that the workers are no longer necessary for Metropolis, and uses a robot pretending to be Maria to promote a revolution of the working class and eliminate them. Official Movie Site


A Day Late and a Buck Short

There are a few reasons why this week's installment is late. The delay was mainly caused by the a short work week, creative ambition and running into a Corel Painter wall. Since the IF "Past Fridays" tool is broken, it's doubtful anyone will see this painting. Still, I'm tired and brain-dead. Is there a better time to unload on your 'blog? Here are answers to questions both real and imagined:

Why The Retro Pin-Up Art?

There certainly isn't a logical, market-based reason. The genre reached its peak in the mid-1940s, then slowly died off in the mid-1960s, as magazine's ability to print photographs improved. The classic pinup art entertains and excites men and women of my generation. To us, the best paintings accomplish a sense of warmth, wit and sexiness that far surpasses mere photography. Anyone younger than 40, however, isn't interested in all that old man art shit. That generation is more likely to get the same thrill from Maxim or FHM. For this younger audience, even Playboy is a relic.

This is partly why my IF work takes so long to produce. The masters of the genre -- Gil Elvgren, Earl Moran, Jack Cole, many others -- made it look easy. Attempting to express the same combination of charm, sex appeal and craft -- through the bottleneck of my limited artistic abilities -- is A LOT harder than I thought.

Creative Ambition

Before going to paint, I tried to cram a lot of wit and historical reference into this picture. The scene itself is inspired by one of Jack Cole's paintings for Playboy. It was of an adult costume party in some swanky New York apartment. We see a bedroom where a couple just finished banging. The man is putting his Uncle Sam costume with a huge smirk on his face. The woman, still stunned, is on the bed in her disshevled indian costume. She says "Boy, that's history repeating itself".

My version isn't nearly as well-drawn, witty or socially significant. However, like Bill Parcells says, you work with what you've got. Rather than regurgitate another Norman Rockwell painting, I decided to focus on the first Thanksgiving. The woman's costume is based on actual Wampanoag clothing. The man's outfit is close enough.

Corel Painter's Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

My first two attempt were spent trying to master the Watercolor tools again. This time, using traditional watercolor examples as a guide, I tried to emulate the quick technique of Jack Cole. None of the Painter's watercolor tools worked as quickly, intuitively or naturally as traditional watercolor. It's not that I have a more natural ability with the opaque tools; the Watercolor tools simply don't work. This took 12 hours of R+D to discover, before giving up the ghost and punting to Gouche.

So What Have We Learned?

Spent less time on research and media discovery, more time doing the actual drawing. Hopefully this week's theme'll be a lot easier to work with.


Once again, I was able to create an original drawing, learn a new Corel Painter tool (gouche) and finish in one day. As a bonus, this is my very first crackhouse illustration.

As the weeks progress, I hope to simplify my approach to these exercises. The wonderful thing about this exhibit is see how others succeed in creating solutions that are simple, elegant and brilliant. (This doesn't account for the repurpose crowd!)

What the Heck is Illustration Friday?

Think of it as a voluntary, client-free playground for illustrators. A topic is posted every Friday morning. Participants from around the world create, post and share their interpretations.

No Client? Why Bother?

At this stage of my career, I need a weekly public exercise to draw anything at all.

Freshness Dating

Unless otherwise stated, my iFriday work is all-new, created soley for that week's theme. Other Freshness categories include:

  • Repurposed
    Old art, lifted straight from the archives with no current modifications
  • Refurbished
    Previously-viewed art, modified and enhanced for current times
  • Alt Theme
    Past iFriday themes, presented when I have nothing for the current week's theme

Mission Statement

"It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not."
-- Andre Gide

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