Archive | December, 2013

The Horseman’s Gift

31 Dec



I’ve always loved the Headless Horseman, and I was really taken with the notion of this premise. I thought it was really sweet that this terrifying gruesome figure turned the one thing he owns–his pumpkin head–into pie to share with his family on Christmas. I haven’t done a digital drawing in forever, but I liked the way this one turned out in just ink that I was worried I’d make it worse by putting a lot of work into digitizing it. So I left it as it was. I actually missed Christmas dinner this year because I was chundering* downstairs, but I don’t really care. I got to spend the week up to that point with my big brother, my two young cousins, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents, and my parents, which was absolutely wonderful. And that’s really what Christmas is all about, no? The glazed ham’s not as important as the people you eat it with. So my dinner of saltines and watered-down orange juice the next day with my mom was one of the best Christmas dinners I’ve ever had. This has been a spectacular year of drawing with friends, and I know next year’s going to be even better! I’d wish all you other artists Happy New Years, but I’m going to be seeing you all at a New Year’s Party in a few hours, so I’ll say it then. If you’re reading this and it’s already 2014, and I forgot to tell you Happy New Year’s, then Happy New Year’s.

*i.e., blowing chunks, upchucking, losing my lunch



31 Dec


My family is pretty anti-social, so I’ve never experienced the whole invite-all-the-weird-distant-relatives-for-dinner part of Christmas (except vicariously through old home movies of my grandparents’ Christmas parties from the 50s–70s, which I was weirdly fascinated with and watched over and over when I was 11, even though they were pretty boring, but that’s another story). For us, Christmas is pretty quiet, with just dinner, board games, a walk around the block to look at Christmas lights, and a movie. Also, at least this year, lots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So I decided to take the opportunity to draw my dog, Joseph. This illustration is based on a little ballpoint pen doodle I did during our Christmas Eve screening of Elf.

Since it’s the last day of the year, the first anniversary of the blog and therefore reflection time, I just want to say thanks so much for doing this project with me! I’ve changed so much this year in my attitude toward illustration; a year ago I expected that I’d be doing a lot of lettering and collage work to get around my lack of drawing ability (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, gosh. I still really want to improve my lettering skills and I wish I was good at collage). Now I’m realizing that drawing pictures and telling stories is kind of the main thing I want to do with my life (and has been pretty much since I was two years old, save for some angsty teen gaps), which is really scary to admit because I still have so much to learn and it’s not like I’m saying this on a post for a truly epic piece of illustration but a dumb drawing of my dog with a quote from Elf and so many people are already ridiculously talented blah blah blah. But yeah. Illustration 4 life, y’all. Thanks for making sure I draw all the time and don’t just do work for school and keep trying new things.

You’re awesome. Happy New Year!

Felis Nåbidåt, yan Magof na Åñu Nuebu!

31 Dec

No, I don’t actually speak Chamorro. But this month’s illustration is dedicated to my Dad.

Tim Cespedes vs. the English Channel

The goal for this response was two-fold. When I was thinking of the gift I was going to give my Dad this year (who is by far the hardest person to shop for en la familia), I was influenced by this month’s prompt and decided to do an illustration. He was super into superhero comics in his youth, so I decided to render that with his passion for swimming into his very own comic book cover.

On August 11th, 2007, my Dad made an attempt to do a solo swim across the English Channel, which is 32 km/21 miles wide. He finished it successfully in 10 hours and 37 minutes, becoming the first and still the only Chamorro (from the Marianas Islands) to have completed the swim. Our relationship wasn’t the strongest at the time because we didn’t live together, but I later found out that he dedicated the feat to his late mom, as well as to us kiddos.
We’ve become a lot closer since and I wanted to find a cool way to honor him–not necessarily for cool stuff like the channel swim, but for working his ass off to support a scattered family.

As far as the illustration itself goes, it was really fun but also a work-intensive process. As with all period-related stuff, there was a lot of studying to do, from rendering styles (e.g. early Luke Cage, Aquaman) and pose references to color schemes and typefaces. Also, this was my first go at drawing the ocean and crashing waves, which is one of the more difficult things I’ve ever tried to draw. I took some cues again from existing comic works, and I think it just comes down to how much time you want to spend on it. I didn’t do all I could have, but it was enough to be satisfied.
Another thing that came in handy was knowing what Photoshop’s strengths are over Illustrator’s, and vice versa. I did all the ‘illustrating’ on ink/color/background layers over the original pencils in PS, and then hopped over to AI for titling, type, and word bubbles, since they interact with the layers of the artwork. Finally, back to PS for adding texture and a slight reduction in the blacks to mimic the look of aged-ink.

Whew! That’s a lot of words for the sake of context and process. So here’s something else I want to say!

Y’all have been one of the most imaginative, supportive, and helpful circles of friends I’ve ever had the fortune to create with, and thanks so much for being a part of this project. Our little Tank Engine turns one now, and how bloomin’ exciting is that! I’ve learned some incredibly valuable approaches and techniques from all of you, and I feel that my capacity as an illustrator has improved remarkably over the course of this past year. Learning, bettering, expressing, enjoying others’ work, and having fun–these are the reasons I wanted to start something like this, and you guys have made that possible. (Plus, look at the sizzlin’ portfolios we’ve put together over the year!)

I’d love to continue riding this train as long as it serves all of us, so here’s to a wonderful 2014! Perhaps we ought to invite some new members, and re-invite some old ones? We’ve got a pretty concrete system established here, so feel free to invite aboard anyone you like!

Happy new year, Imaginators.

Guess Who Came to Christmas Dinner?

2 Dec

Christmas Final

December is here, and that can only mean one thing: Christmas. And that can only mean one thing: Christmas dinner. And that can only mean one thing: oddballs you may have never met or may be related to showing up to eat with you. Of course, all of those things can mean other things as well, but that’s not the point. Yes, this month’s prompt has a little bit of a tighter focus. Because while I think it’s cool to see what an extremely vague prompt will lead to, sometimes creativity blossoms most when held within certain constraints. And I phrased it in the past tense because by the time these go up Christmas will have already passed. So ruminate on a bizarre houseguest you may shudder or guffaw or marvel at their appearance at your solstice feast, or just take a photo of the weird uncle you didn’t know you had drinking straight from the gravy boat. And most importantly, have a merry Christmas!