Saturday, March 31, 2012

Indian man on the subway with the rock star hair

The challenge of drawing from life on the trains like I do, is that there's no guarantee how long your subject is going to be there. They can exit the train at the next stop, move to anither seat, start reading a newspaper, or have anther passenger stand in front f them, obstructing your view!(all of which happen to my dismay) it's for this reason that I have to train myself not only to draw fast, but also to "see fast" and to remember what I see. Often, the initial sketch like this one, is so incredibly sloppy that you wonder if it's ever going to become a good drawing. But "good drawing" should ever be the focus wen doing the initial sketch. Most importantly, I try to get the major details (the "headlines") of te face down on paper first, and worry about the smaller stuff Katerina. It's here in this initial stage where I clearly identify the arts of the face I want to maximize and minimize. I love drawing people from India and the mid east mst f all, because I find so much variety, contrast and humor in their faces.
I frequently draw on colored recycled notebook paper because fr subway sketching, I don't want to alert my subject to what I'm doing. If I have a notebook they think I'm just another student or writer.

Once I'm satisfied with the sketch, I take a picture of it ane email it to myself, and then open it up in the iPad app, "Art Studio" since getting the iPad device I've abandoned Photoshop altogether, finding that Art Studio does pretty much the sae thing, and as the added benefit of the touch sensitive screen. I put down the base colors on one ayer then use a separate one to shade the picture using the airbrush tool.

I find that because of my subjects complexion he appears to be blending into the background a bit much, and I want him to pop off the page. After a couple of minutes experimenting I decide to go with this greenish color that does the trick. I also decide that I don't really like the harsh outlines on the inner features of the face and use the smudge to to eliminate tem and to blend so I have a mire realistic look. I also use the smudge tool to get rd if the rash cartoony edges of the hair, deciding on a more feathery look. It works perfectly. Finally I add whisps of white hair to the dark strands which adds to the drama of the face.

Friday, March 30, 2012


It appears tat this lady was a little too angry to sit down in the two available seats. Or maybe she became aware that I was drawing her and didn't want to give e a front view! At any rate, she made for a great caricature regardless f the angle.

Drawing The boy with the stinky drawers....

One of the great things about keeping a sketchbook is occasionally finding artistic ges that you totally missed. Since I'm constantly drawing from life on the streets and trains of NYC, a lot of my stuff gets literally buried between the pages of my sketchbooks. For me, it's like Christmas to find a really great caricature/cartoon like this one, which causes e to literally laugh out loud and say to myself,"did I do that?". I drew this last summer on the train. I'm sitting there in my seat, and along comes this hip hopper in "full swagger" wearing his summer braids, wife beater tee shirt to show off is scrawny yet muscular physique, smoking an illegal cigarette in defiance of the no smoking subway ban, and sporting a youthful urban fashion that I will never understand....the swung low pants. Usually these pants are purchased a size or two, bigger, held loosely with a belt so that the underwear is exposed. Not only is this unsightly looking, not only is it a prison style that indicates you're "one for business" but it's...kinda unsanitary. I decided to draw him in a more urban setting, hence the sidewalk, and also to create more visual balance, have him "smoking"from both ends. The final picture was done in the Art Studio app on the iPad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crazy Looney Tunes Caricature

One of the great things and least understood things about caricature is tgat you not only can caricature facial features, but also personality , body language and mannerisms. These are the essential qualities that make personalities recognizable to us. Warner Brothers artists and writers in the fifties did a masterful job demonstrating this in this Bugs Bunny cartoon, co staring the hilarious "Pete Puma"character, who was based on the live action comic character, "Crazy Guggenheim" from the Jackie Gleason Show.

I can't take the credit for finding out this info, the thanks goes to Google! What a great technological age we live in that we can find out even the most obscure bits of information just by typing in a request!

I've said it once, and I'll say it again...when drawing caricature "forget"about drawing the likeness! Draw the PERSONALITY and you'll GET te likeness!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Contrary to popular belief, the so called "great idea" dent come to us "out of nowhere" in a sudden "AhHa!""Eureka! Moment". According to Steve Johnson. Instead, they're more of a collaborative effort, akin to stew cooking slowly in a crock pot. Listen on to this thought provoking seminar, you WILL learn something, and feel better about the creative process.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Giving Personality to your Cartoons

A good cartoon in my opinion should be able to "be read" by any person regardless of what language they speak. In order to achieve this, in toons involving two or more characters, the personalities of each character should be so distinct that the reader should be able to not only make up their own dialogue that fits the visual situation, but also clearly identify the subtie nuance of personality. Study any Disney film and freeze frame a scene. You will always see the intangible nuance of personality, intention, and character displayed in the body language or facial expression. You develop this ability to capture this by exploring your own emotions, and getting into yourself" without a doubt, all goid animators and character designers are great actors and actresses as well.

REAL life Drawing by subwaysurfer

I've said it once, and I'll say it again, there is no substitute fr REAL life drawing. By this I mean drawing that is taken out of the sanitized environment of the professional classroom or studio, where a nude man or woman contorts themselves in unnatural positions, or poses". The real drawing takes place in the unpredictable real world, on the subways, in the parks, in the coffee shops where people are moving, gesturing and reacting in natural ways. Your ability to do character design or caricature will sharpen to a razors edge if you make this part of your daily practice.


"So,...did you do your tribute to Davy Jones?" blurted out an artist friend of mine over coffee,the other day, reminding me that Davy had recently passed away. As you might expect, that is, if you're as old as I am to even remember Davy Jones, our conversation turned to jokes about the sixties TV show, "The Moneys" starring Jones and tge rest of the band, as well as that famous episode where he made an appearance on the seventies sitcom, "The Brady Bunch", because Marsha Brady (Maureen Mc cormick)was his "number one fan!" Of course I was gonna do a caricature tribute to Davy Jones I responded enthusiastically, thoughts of drawing him with the body of a monkey, using a banana for a microphone dancing in my mad caricaturist brain.... I immediately went to work on the picture then realized that I had completely forgotten what Davy looked like. I kinda remembered the thick busy eyebrows, big teeth and "Prince Valiant-esque bowl the hair doo" he sported back in the day, but wanted to get an accurate picture of him rather than rely on memory.

Thank God for Google Images! How dud we artists ever survive without it?! Within seconds My iPad screen was full of wall to wall pictures of Jones.

Wow... He got old!...

I know aging is a part of life, I mused, stroking my salt and pepper goatee, but it's still amazing how we still expect our adolescent icons to remain exactly the way they were when we stopped watching their tV shows.

I found the sixties Davy Jones picture I'd been imagining. But then became more intrigued with the older, more contemporary pictures if Jones. While it was true that he had gotten older, he nevertheless had aged very well. He didn't look used up and drugged out like so many stars look like these days. His eyes still had that sparkle, he was a little heavier but not what I'd consider obese, and...darn it, he had all his hair! And styled in a way that framed his face beautifully.

I was so impressed by this distinguished look that I decided to honor Davy's memory by drawing mire of a caricature portrait, leaving out the humor altogether.

I chose to use my new toy, a red China Marker to do the job, and absolutely loved the result.

Drawing Davy'sportrait was mire fun than a barrel of moniker, and without the annoying smell!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


With ST Patricks Day fast approaching,(this was posted a couple of days before March 17) I thought I'd share this illustration and poem I submitted to a client recently. The client wanted to make known that ST. Patrick was not just an urban legend", and the original illustration, in black and white, is being used as a coloring page for youngsters. What I loved about this assignment was the research I dd on the man. I gotta admit, I got a kick out of discovering he wasn't Irish! It's enough to make a leprechaun fall off his rainbow and drop his pot-o-Gold!

ST Paddys day is big business in New York where I live. We host the mega ST Patricks day parade, retailers are selling green shirts hats, flags, you name it! Even Mcdonalds has green ketchup that day!

Don't even let e get started on bars, and beer. It's a regular drunken paradise...

Funny how the man who the holiday is supposed to commemorate gets forgotten in all the "celebration"

People really ought to look deeper.maybe this poem will encourage that.

Just for fun, go ask someone on March 17 who ST Patrick is, and ask what he did. the answers or lack of them may surprise you...

ST. Patricks day! It's finally here!
Let's celebrate with lots of beer!
I grab a red headed "Bonny Lass" and yell to her,
"Refill my glass!"

Millions walk the streets in drunken stupor...
That Big Parade! It sure was Super!

"kiss me, I'm Irish! " I hear people say,
Blowing on bagpipes throughout the day!

In all this laughter and gayety,
Do we ever KNOW who St. Patrick be?

He was a missionary, not brash, or "stylish"
Of Roman birth, he's not even Irish!

Kidnapped by Irish raiders was he
Was thrown into cruel slavery!
He was forced to work, and without pay!
After six long years he ran away!

He could have felt bitter, and that's a fact
But God told him, do not attack
Instead he told Patrick to come right back!

To preach the Gospel of love, and peace
And this, he did, and did not cease
He preached to the highest, and to the least
Millions of souls, they were converted
Even though Patrick was the one they hurted

He loved the Irish people, and did not faint
And that is why he is called a Saint.

He used the three leaf clover you see,
To teach the Holy Trinity
The three in one, a mystery!

So on this day when you drink your beer,
You should raise your glasses, and give him a cheer
To a man who sacrificed, who paid a price
So that you might know the sweet love of Christ.

Elgin Bolling



If making comics have fascinated, agitated, frustrated, and mystified you, have no fear, true believers, Subwaysurfer tells you hw to make comics, the easy way! This is part one two or three of a thirteen part series, the rest of which I encourage you to check out on my YouTube channel. In these talks I don't focus on the familiar mechanics of character design, page about and formatting techniques, or penciling and inking as other tutorials commonly cover. Instead, I focus on the intangibles, like getting ideas, and storyline creation, which I feel is even more important than the actual drawing aspect.

My theme throughout these videos, is that we all have compelling, thought provoking stories that we can and should share with the world. Hope you not only tune in, but practice what I'm preaching here!