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Showing posts from 2012

Ten things I've learned in 2012

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Take them for what you feel they're worth. They were hard lessons to learn, and rather then elaborate on each of them I'll just present them here as generic fortune cookie wisdom:
Just because you've known someone for a long time does not mean they are your friend. That said, true friendships are mutual efforts.
I can try to prepare for future hard times, but I must balance that as to not be an expense of being happy in the present.All things are temporary. Good times and bad. But temporary doesn't necessarily mean short term.Pining over "could-have-beens" only robs you of future opportunities and potential. Learn from the past, but don't dwell in it. Just because you are good at something doesn't mean you have to find a way to monitize it. In other words, if you really want to turn a hobby into a career, you'd better be damn sure you have another way to relieve stress.I was happy to help people realize their dreams, but now I know it's been at …

Time to Change

It's been a while since I've had a chance to write in any of my blogs. Of course it always has to do with how busy my life has become. A giant chunk of my time goes to family- as it rightly should- but little ones always need to be watched like a hawk, and my wife's 60+ work hours makes my job as Mr Mom that much more important. The time I stole from sweet sleep to use for freelance was taking up everything else. And really, it wasn't fair to my clients or to my family... or to myself for that matter. Without going into too much detail, it caused too much friction with those I cared about most. It's time for a change.

So, I'm retiring from all forms of freelance. I have my sights on new interests that I hope that one day will evolve into new endeavors. But for now, time at home needs to be spent on home.

As for day job, that too is also changing. We've hired a new fantastic designer and my focus will now shift to all the back-logged video. Frankly, I'm …

Looking up from my work stupor

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Hey all, it's been far too long. I have been busy busy busy- mostly with freelance, and then some projects that have arisen while others have been shelved. The creative process is frustrating, but a big part of the chaos is simply a matter of survival. Cryptic? Yes. To sum up, it's been a matter of working to pay the bills.

I haven't had a chance to work on the Kubert Correspondence Course I spent $300 on. I don't want that to go to waste, so I need to get my butt in gear. With Joe Kubert's passing, it's been hard for me to get motivated- I took it as hard as any who admired him, and only feel the deepest condolences for his family.

That said, with old man winter peeking around the corner, I've been trying to work out some projects that I can shoehorn into my tumultuous schedule.

I met a fantastic artist online by the name of Robert Schaupp- really nice guy that possesses an incredible talent. Check out his Comic Vine Gallery and you'll readily agree with…

The Muse decided to pay me a little visit

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I wouldn't quite say I'm on a roll, but I have been more productive in the past month than I've been in the few month's prior.

I've done a few things that needed to be finished:

I finished my short film Southside of Elsewhere.I've had tons of (welcome) freelance.I created some concept art for James Cawley.I helped with a friend's film on the 48 Hour Film Project.I created a poster for his film.You can read about SSOE and the 48 on my Lost Skies blog, but for relevance I'll just talk about the concept art and the poster here.

I wracked my brain trying to come up with a concept for his promotional art... so many others have done the gunslinger looking at the dark tower. I decided to put the raven in there- even though it isn't the main character's pet. What I really am proud of is the figure of Roland - his pose says something. I think it turned out pretty good, even if I do say so myself.  Photoshop composite, painting, pencil.

This one came together…

48 Hour Film Project - SLC 2012

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Well, I didn't head up a team again this year... I did help out one of my very talented friends- Tony Henrichsen. I've shown some of Tony's work on this blog before in "Vicariously living through my friends" post.  Tony drew the Horror genre this year, and decided to make a werewolf movie! It premieres tonight at the Gateway Megaplex movie theater downtown at 8:30pm.

I didn't do much- I helped find some music and did the titles... I was inspired to do the poster above as well.

The Gunslinger Fan Film

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My friend, James Cawley, is gearing up to do a fan film based on Stephen King's "The Gunslinger". He asked me to create some original art based on the book:



It's hard to really deviate from what's already been done. King's imagery is so strong, but I added my own flair with Roland's gesture- reaching out at Brown's bird Zoltan!

The other design consideration is the Dark Tower. I originally had all sorts of spires and a wicked edge to it, but it was unbeliveable, almost cartoonish. I opted for something that is simple, and seems closer to reality- though my version of the tower looks to reach 5 miles high!

Anyway, it's always a pleasure to work with James. I hope you like it!

Southside of Elsewhere

Enjoy!

SATURDAY PREMIERE!!!

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After three years, Southside of Elsewhere will finally have it's online premiere! Tune in to Lost Skies Production on VIMEO on Saturday, May 26th, 2012 at 10:00am MST and watch the hard work of many people!

Here's the official synopsis: A researcher goes on the run when he tries to hide his daughter from becoming the target of a megacorporation's super-soldier project.

I'm excited for all of you to see it!

Neil Gaiman's Timeless Advice for Artists

We've had a rough couple of weeks recently. We've been dealing with the passing of our young nephew, so as you can imagine it's been stressful and heart breaking. I've also had some freelance that needed a quick turn around, which was a much needed diversion.

With everything that has happened, I stumbled on this address from Neil Gaiman to graduates- and he had one striking piece of advice that I know I must follow: When times are rough and life seems overwhelming, make good art.

Now time to follow that advice.

Life is fragile, but goes on.

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I keep going back to Milton Caniff's work. It's obvious to me how so many of my inspirations were themselves inspired by him. His work is so cinematic, alive, and timeless. The craftmanship and storytelling alone are incredible, you just don't find much out there that matches it's spirit.





And to look at this picture- I see myself in a few years... I'd like to imagine myself like that anyway...


It's a long ways off.

I'm sorry, though. I have no artwork to post today, and probably won't for a while. On a personal note, my 16 year old nephew died in a car accident this week, and to say it's been hell would be an understatement. He was bright, funny, popular and talented- he had better designs than I did in college. It's been devastating- his father had died 5 years ago and that was just horrible enough. Now, we're reeling, trying to shake off the shock and lay my nephew to rest soon.  Life is short and fragile, so please hold on to you loved ones…

Some more old drawings

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Just for fun, I discovered these on my harddrive.  Here are the first five of fifteen older drawings from some comic book pages that I turned into storyboards:





Visual tool

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Well, I promised some recent drawings. Hardly any personal stuff right now- my fault of course, but to be fair I have been busy with house and home lately.

My day job is challenging, but sometimes the work very dry. So I get excited when a project comes along that requires me to draw something. A year and a half ago, I was asked to design a mascot, but they opted for another design by a very talented employee whom I've yet to meet. Earlier this week, another department wanted an orientation video, but due to expense they'll have to pitch the idea to the president of our organization... so I was called upon to do some quick storyboards.  By quick, I mean just a couple of hours!

Luckily, due to the nature of the video, it's mostly interviews- and not a lot of b-roll. So the Senior Copywriter pounded out a script and I illustrated the key points. Easy enough... so here's what I quickly put together:


Of course, the copywriter added this to the side of the script. Hopefully t…

Not what I expected

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I got my copy of "The Cisco Kid" yesterday... and while it was exciting to get, I am slightly disappointed with it.

While I could only imagine what effort it was to find and compile 3 years worth of strips from 60 years ago, it looks as if the scans were from actual news paper proofs, or in some cases actual clippings. Being a graphic artist, I can see tell tale signs of degradation and cleaning effort.  Plus, the original film process and printing onto porous newspaper would really destroy half of Salinas' work to boot.

What I was expecting (though unrealistically)? Scans of the original art- like here: Salinas- Cisco Kid on Comic Art Fans. What is printed in the book is very different.

However- my expectations were extremely high. I will still treasure this book and read it- the story is entertaining and the art is still wonderful.  It's clean and the publishers did the best that anyone could do with such a rare, old and complete series.

Time to retire an old friend

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Here is an old business card that I have used for years (altered here, no offense but I'd rather not advertise my cell number online :). These illustrations are old, and the card itself was in black and white to save printing costs.

In any case, it's time to retire the old bugger. It's served me well for many a yarn, but I've been using my Lost Skies business card more and more. However, I'd would still like to use a separate card strictly for illustration purposes. But what should I put on v2.0?

Ships sailing the skies...

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The original idea I had when I came up with name "Lost Skies" was based on the "lost lands" literary motiff: undiscovered country, new horizons, lost civilizations... that sort of thing.  What better way to explore the proverbial 'Lost Skies' than on a ship sailing through the clouds?  That was the idea for this logo- which I used for a number of years.  However, as a logo, you really could never see the illustration technique of the boat and the clouds- it didn't really "read" the way I wanted it.

Still, it captures my imagination. Enough so that I've decided to use it as a title for my web comic strip (currently under development) "Tales of the Lost Skies". It would be an anthology series, like the Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt, Weird War, Weird Fantasy, Mystery in Space, etc. This way I will be able to experiment with one shots, or short story arcs allowing me to visit all sorts of different…

Quick Update

It's been a bit busy lately. While Aaron is hammering out a new script, I've been taking care of life, but have also stayed creative with drawing. Not to worry, I will have a storyboard article sooner than later! As for SSOE... plan on a Vimeo release in May.

Meanwhile, please check out my other site http://juanmaestas.blogspot.com to see what I've been up to lately!

"Adventure" Library PSA

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Back in 2005ish, I had done a set of illustrations used in some public service announcements on how exciting it is to read (which it is, of course). The images were given motion, sound, and music by the producer. They were rather effective. I illustrated two, and storyboarded a few others.

This particular one was titled "Adventure", starring the tomb robber "Montana Stagg", named after my friend Brett Stagg who helped me with some photo reference. I particularly like how this one turned out- it almost seems like a traditionally animated cartoon. Note how they are formatted in the "academy" aspect ratio of 4:3... the good old days of NTSC before the digital switchover.

Kubert Correspondence Course Sale!

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I've been waiting for a Correspondence Course sale at Kubert School, and I was hoping one would be popping up soon.

Kubert School is celebrating the 13th Anniversary (of I'm assuming their Correspondence Courses) and they have a big contest to win a print drawn and signed by Joe, Adam and Andy Kubert! 13 lucky winners of the prints will be drawn (heh) from the best of the second assignments. If that's not incentive to do your best, I don't know what is!

So I have some freelance gigs coming up which will pay for my order! And I will post my assignments and critiques!

Stocking up

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Hmm... what could these be for? You tell me, I've had them for a while.

The initial idea was that I wanted to convert one of my feature length screenplays into 6 issue mini-series that could become bundled into a graphic novel. I have plenty of ideas- more than I know what to do with- and often because I keep switching back and forth, it's paralyzing. Running too many directions at once paralyzes you in place. I want to do too many things and I lack focus some times- or rather I get discouraged. I'm working on it, though. I've always done well in school, freelance, and work- when I have deadlines and I have people relying on me... but it's at the expense of my own goals.

SO they're patiently waiting for me to get to the point where I won't waste them.

The Cisco Kid, Volume 1

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I'm really looking forward to getting this- I just placed my order through Amazon. But a bit of background- I first came across Jose Luis Salinas' artwork while perusing Comic Art Fans' website. I've always loved the adventure comic strip, I used to cut and save many of them when I was younger- usually Prince Valiant, Spiderman, The Empire Strikes Back, Tarzan, etc. I was always taken by the draftmanship of these cartoons... ever since I was 4 years old. Seriously.

When I came across Salinas' work I was awe-struck. Anatomy, expression, landscape, light and shadow, sequential storytelling, costumes and props, inkwork... I could go on and on. AND it was all done BY HAND, nothing digital at all about it. No crutches of 3d software or anything- just plain old talent and skill.  You hardly see anything like that anymore. I'll leave that rant for another time.

However, there are many articles about Salinas throughout the web, and many examples of his art. When I found …

Bacon on the side!

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Experimenting with cartoons and painting. This little dude turned out, and has sort of become my alter-ego.

Inking bad guys!

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This turned out decent enough.  I tend to use india ink pens, but what I need to start using is a brush.  I just need to take the time to really learn.

More sketches from FB

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I was looking through my sketchbooks, and I realized one thing- I started drawing only 3/4 view heads. I think I was searching for a new 'style'.  I'll post some of those in the future, but I found that I was in a rut. Nothing really new, more like random doodles, I wasn't really exploring ideas or finishing anything that I was drawing. What happened?
It's frustrating. I've dedicated the past few years (and tears) to filmmaking- which has been fun, and has taught me many things about storytelling, cinematic visual language, timing, acting, lighting- all things that are in the best of comic books, but I've let my drawing abilities lag. I am extremely out of practice, and sometimes I beat myself up about "had I stuck with it, I'd be much better." I then have to remind myself that what I've learned while filmmaking is equally, if not more valuable than just working on technical skills.

Still, I look around and realize that I haven't done as…

A few older FB posts...

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Some more stuff that I have on Facebook that I had shared with my friends. I was on a pretty good kick of posting things once or twice a week until life kind of took over.





Character Sketches 4.17.2012

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Some character sketches for a space opera I've been working out for years. I don't have a whole lot of finished illustrations, but I have PLENTY of sketches... so expect more!

Kubert School Correspondence Courses

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Ever since I've seen the ad for it in an old comic when I was fourteen (many, many years ago), I've wanted to go to the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning in Dover, New Jersey. Life happened and I made other choices, so the dream of going to college there may never come to fruition, but the desire to go there never faded.

That said, I've been going back and forth for YEARS about doing the Correspondence Course.  And although the price is a little steep for me, it's far less than taking a class at the local community college.

Now, I think I'm going to go ahead and do at least one (Superheroes) to see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Conceptualization for Film: Part Two

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CONCEPT ART
Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of concept art: "Concept art is a form of illustration where the main goal is to convey a visual representation of a design, idea, and/or mood for use in films, video games, animation, or comic books before it is put into the final product. Concept art is also referred to as visual development and/or concept design. This term can also be applied to retail design, set design, fashion design and architectural design." 
The level of concept art depends on how much a specific idea needs to be created and produced. This can be as simple as a color palette and wardrobe ideas, to dressing a room, to creating vehicles, props and prosethics. Sci fi and fantasy genres will more than likely have more concept art designs than a modern day drama.
As always, it's best to have a finished script so you know what you need to design.  There needs to be a visual breakdown of each scene, each shot, and everything that will need to be cre…