Monday, December 29, 2008

Let's hope for a better year !

New Year


I'll end this post with a painting of my cat Laura, hoping to counteract the above poster a bit.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Line illustrations for Abex


An Abex ad campaign done for C.F. McLaughlin Company. When I worked at Campbell Ewald as the head art director of the Chevrolet Sales Promotion Department, I worked with writer Chuck McLaughlin who was the Creative Director of our group. In 1970 Chuck started his own ad agency, Tom Clarke, who was in my department at CE, was hired as his art director and commissioned me to do this art for the Abex ad.


Ink line art doesn't necessarily have to be tight and rigid. Here are some close up images of the art which show they were rendered rather freely.


Here you can see just how loosely the ink lines are sketched in using a Crowquill pen.


The basic drawing must be very accurate or this technique would not work well.


This is a much more interesting way to work than doing a very tight rendering. When the drawings are reduced for print they reproduce very well.


To me, it seems to add some life to an ink line drawing when it is rendered in a free, loose manner. It gives the work a softer, almost painterly feel.


Treating mechanical subjects in a loose manner is not quite as easily done as it may look. It's really a fine balance between accuracy and confidence which comes from years of experience.


Another series of ads for Abex, this time the art was done using ink washes. The solid blacks were done with India ink while water soluble ink was used to paint the gray tones and washes in the sky which create the interesting cloud effect.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seasons Greetings from Sawyer, Michigan !

Holiday Blog 2
Snow 2-1 05-20-04
I couldn't even get up to Grand Rapids to see Gloria.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Creating cartoons for advertising

Throughout my long career as an illustrator I also did many cartoons for ad agencies. Like most kids I loved comic strips and cartoons and was determined to become a comic strip artist. My high school teacher, Margaret Stein, steered me into the commercial and fine arts. I couldn't get cartooning out of my system and through the years I have submitted many comic strip ideas to newspaper syndicates without success. It's probably a good thing I didn't luck out as I would no doubt have gotten bored drawing the same characters day after day. I will show you a few of the strips in future posts.

Cartoon 1

Above is the cover of a promotional brochure that I sent to the ad agencies. The drawings shown were done for the Detroit Free Press.

Cartoon 2

I am unable to remember who these cartoons were for but this technique was used on many of the advertising cartoons that I drew. These may also have been done for the Detroit Free Press.

Cartoon 3

This drawing was done for a Chrysler ad and the art director was George Guido at Leo Burnett in Chicago. I worked with George at Campbell Ewald in Detroit when he was the art director on the Chevrolet newspaper ads.

Cartoon 4

A Buick Opel ad done for McCann Erickson New York, the art director was Bob Shepperly.

Cartoon 5

Art Director Marty Leiberman at N. W. Ayer had me draw these cartoons for a Plymouth ad.

Cartoon 6

Michigan Blue Cross- Blue Shield cartoons done for Bill Dye at Ross Roy in Detroit.
It was a nice diversion to do cartoons in between some of the hard-boiled automotive illustrations.

HB Santa

Since it's almost Christmas I'll end this post with a scratchboard drawing of Santa that was done for one of my Christmas cards years ago. Happy holidays !

Monday, December 22, 2008

More NAVL stuff


These illustrations were all done using Liquitex Acrylic paints. This was one of my first attempts at working with acrylic paint. Acrylics are a difficult medium to get used to, at first it's a battle to get the paint to do what you want it to do. It's a totally different experience than working with Windsor and Newton Designer's Colors. Once you get acquainted with the medium it's a joy to use. Acrylics work quit well as washes or when used thick like oils.


Rep Bob Witmer and a friend's children were the models for this illustration. That's my cat Puffy on the roof of the truck.


The only model I remember in this illustration is Don Weiland, one of the top automotive illustrators in Detroit, he's standing with the blue box.


This job was done in about 1965, there was still a good deal of illustration work around. I was getting my share of work in Detroit and with Bob Witmer repping me in Chicago and Bill Neeley in New York it was a busy time for me. I was also teaching at the Society of Arts and Crafts full time. I managed to do that because teaching was only a half a day except for Wednesday which was the full day. Being able to juggle my time well between working at the studio and teaching I only missed one day of school in all of the four years that I taught. At times it got a little overwhelming, evaluating and commenting on 48 students work and answering all of their questions, but I really enjoyed it. I still keep in touch with some of my former students and we get together fairly often. Some have retired, I must be getting old !

Friday, December 19, 2008

North American Van Lines Brochure

NA VanLines C0v

An old high school buddy, Bob Witmer, worked with me for years as a rep. We started working together in Detroit at Allied Artists, then at McNamara Brothers, Al Hutt Studios and also during various freelance periods. Bob was handling all the work out of Chicago for Al Hutt when he brought in this assignment for North American Van Lines, it was a brochure filled with illustrations.


At the time I was experimenting with unusual color combinations which was fine with the art director, but I can't quite remember who he was, possibly Berl Catell, not even sure of which ad agency this was done for. For models, I used my wife, Jeanne, and a couple of guys in the studio, Terry Smith, automotive illustrator and Dave Mosora, a former student working there as an apprentice.


This was a very interesting assignment for me and a welcome relief from illustrating automobiles. I was happy to be branching out in other areas of the business.


There were quite a few smaller spot illustrations in the brochure as well. More NAVL illustrations on the next post.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Aircraft paperback cover illustrations

Paperback 13

Doing illustrations involving aircraft is a very specialized field. These are much more complex to do than you might think. It's imperative to be very accurate as far as the details of the particular airplane including the color and markings. There are a lot of experts out there that will examine every last detail on your illustration, very much like those automotive engineers who scrutinize car illustrations. As an avid model builder in my youth I became familiar with various types of aircraft. I also have an extensive collection of aircraft reference books in my library.

Paperback 14

Here is a good example which shows aircraft with special camouflage and a variety of markings. Accurate research is a must when doing this type of work.


Here is a sample illustration done for my rep in New York, it is an acrylic painting. The previous book covers and the one below were painted using Windsor and Newton Designer's Colors.

Paperback 10

Another example of an illustration which must be thoroughly researched before starting to draw or paint.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More paperback cover illustrations

Paperback 11

Another cover painted for Ace, Again, I don't recall reading the book. At the time I didn't think anything of it, but today I wonder how I got away with that nude gal in the illustration. I would have thought that the art director would have requested that I add at least a few torn remains of clothing on her.

paperback 12

A detail close up shows the the hero is also in the buff.

Paperback 4

This next group are part of a series of Dracula book covers done for Pinnacle Books in 1973.

Paperback 7

That's my wife Jeanne, she was a professional model in Detroit for many years. For the Dracula character on all of these covers, I shot reference photos of my long time friend, illustrator Lou Perkowski. He was perfect for the roll, the filmmakers should have latched on to him.

Paperback 5

For the main character in this illustration I used John Foster as the model, he was the Chairman of the Crafts Department at the school where I was teaching.

Paperback 6

A close up of Louie, could you find a more perfect Dracula ?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Illustrating Science fiction paperback covers

Paperback 1

Some of the most enjoyable assignments I've had have been painting science fiction paperback covers. I really didn't illustrate that many, perhaps a dozen or so. I'd love to do some today employing the digital medium, I may do some samples to submit to publishers.
In fact, that's exactly how I got my start in this field. In 1965 I did the above painting as a sample for my New York rep Bill Neeley. He showed the illustration to Curtis Books and they immediately bought it for a cover, I didn't even have to read the book ! I was teaching at the time and used a couple of my students as models. For the foreground figure I used Terry Smith, an automotive illustrator that I was working with at Al Hutt Studios.

Paperback 2

A close up detail of what's going on in the background. No models were used for this motley group.

Paperback 3

I don't recall reading this book either. On this cover for Ace I used myself as the model. I have no recollection of just what those glowing round things are, but they were done with an airbrush. These covers were all painted with Windsor and Newton Designer's Colors.

Paperback 8

Another fun cover for Ace Books, again, I wish that I had painted more of these, but I was very busy at the time with advertising assignments which paid much higher fees. These covers were painted with quite a bit more background than you see on the final printed cover. This was required so the art director could crop the art as he chose, to allow for lettering and other issues.

Paperback 9

For models I used my wife and myself, Jeanne became pretty good at shooting Polaroid photos of me when I posed. This type of assignment was a nice diversion from the hard-boiled world of automotive illustration.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scratchboard illustrations can be very effective


Above are a couple of very rough composition sketches done for a small ad illustration for the Dearborn Inn.


The finished illustration was done on scratchboard, a good choice as a strong image is needed in a small ad like this.


Here is the final ad, the wand was shortened so the illustration would be a little larger. Below is the art director's layout that I had to work from for the next ad which depicts Chicken in a Basket.


The finished art, again rendered on scratchboard. The complex basketweave was easier to do using scratchboard than it would have been if I had rendered it with a pen.


I've often mentioned that I've done many samples to promote my work to ad agency art directors, it was, and still is an essential part of the business. These illustrations were done for Bob Shepperly, the Creative Director on the Buick and Opel accounts at McCann Erickson in New York. I wanted to show Bob how a strong, effective image can be achieved with the scratchboard technique, especially for newspaper ads. The sample was well received but the agency decided against this direction. I still think this type of art would have made a very effective ad campaign.
I knew Bob from his years in Detroit at McCann Erickson. When he moved to New York he used to fly Bill Wallace, a graphic designer, and I in to produce the comp layouts for his proposed ad campaigns. We worked as a team, Bill would design the ads and I would do the marker renderings. Often we would be there for two or three weeks at a time as there were several art directors that we were working with. On one occasion the agency even flew us back to Detroit for the Thanksgiving holiday, then flew us back to continue working. Our wives usually accompanied us, it was a nice vacation for them and we also enjoyed dining at some great restaurants after many hours at the drawing board.


These illustrations were part of a group done for an Esso ad. The art director wanted me to simulate old woodcuts, a perfect subject for scratchboard. In fact, working in this technique is very much like doing an actual woodcut as you scrape into the board surface with a special tool. I don't remember the art director or which ad agency this was done for, but this was one of the many assignments I was receiving from New York ad agencies.



Another sample illustration I did for my reps to present to art directors. The scratchboard medium was very strong for line work. I think that art done today using this technique would still be quite unique for newspaper ads.