Notes about illustration

January 13, 2014 permalink

Charles Addams Mother Goose

Maria Popova posts a wonderful selection of cartoons from Charles Addam’s lesser-known book of Mother Goose rhymes from 1967. Such good stuff, and fun to imagine the crossovers between the classic grim nursery rhymes and his own macabre sense of humor, juxtaposed with his mid-century New York City skylines and deadpan-faced characters.

March 19, 2012 permalink

Moebius on Drawing Comics

Comics give to the artist a very interesting field of exploration and research. Everything is possible. You can be very small or very big or very modest or very ambitious. You can stay in a regular style like everybody, or you can escape and be completely unusual and incredible. You can give more to the world, more to the drawing. Everything.

February 14, 2011 permalink

Ward Kimball Mobil Ads

Legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball also drew on the side for antique-auto-enthusiast magazine the Horseless Carriage Gazette (and he contributed a lot over nearly 30 years: his name comes up frequently if you search for him in this index of the magazine). He also worked on custom ads for Mobil that ran in the Gazette, like the nice tattooed guy above, or this fun one with the Mobil Pegasus.

According to an interview cited by Cartoon Brew, an angry Walt Disney made Kimball stop contributing to the magazine, even though it was on his own time and for gratis. Thankfully these scans are cropping up on the Ward Kimball Facebook page, along with lots of other great stuff!

October 20, 2010 permalink

Physicist’s Goodnight Moon

What happens when a physicist considers the passage of time in Goodnight Moon? Chad Orzel, physics professor and blogger, attempts to measure it using the illustrated passing of the moon versus the wall clocks:

These two methods clearly do not agree with one another, which means one of two things: either I’m terribly over-analyzing the content of the illustrations of a beloved children’s book, or the bunny’s bedroom is moving at extremely high velocity relative to the earth, so that relativistic time dilation makes the six-minute rise of the moon appear to take an hour and ten minutes. Calculating the necessary velocity is left as an exercise for the interested reader.

(Photo credit: Chad Orzel)

August 1, 2010 permalink


WAX MODEL from 1917: Smallpox lesions on face of 15 year old boy

Sorry for the icky photo, folks, just wanted to share a striking bit of anatomical illustration! This image led me down the rabbit hole of looking into the art of moulage, casting realistic wax models with “wounds” and other dermatological problems for use in medical training. Obviously a much better way of introducing a classroom full of doctors to diseases than wheeling in an actual smallpox patient. There’s a photo book on the subject called Diseases in Wax: The History of Medical Moulage that I might have to track down. At $180 on Amazon, though, I sure hope that the library here has it…

(Via the Otis Historical Archives of the National Museum of Health & Medicine on Flickr)

March 6, 2010 permalink

Uncle Fester Laughing in Theater

The New York Times has up a nice review of the new Charles Addams exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York:

The city street is dark and deserted. The buildings are empty. There are no witnesses. A lone man carrying a briefcase, after a long day at the office perhaps, approaches a subway staircase. Out of the subterranean gloom, a giant human hand protrudes, its index finger beckoning the office worker, inviting him into the depths. His eyes are wide with astonishment, his face showing the hint of a grin, as if the bizarre, illicit invitation were not entirely unwelcome.  […]

Above is my personal favorite Addams cartoon, perhaps one of my favorite cartoons of all time. His drawings are often cited as finding their humor and inspiration in the macabre — I think their lasting appeal comes more from his ability to find joy in laughing at and rejecting the bleakness of modern life.

February 21, 2010 permalink

“I don’t carry a sketchbook to do pretty drawings in it.”

Storyboard artist and animation historian Mark Kennedy on keeping a sketchbook:

I’ve seen artists on the Internet question the necessity for this, saying that you can’t really learn anything about drawing by carrying a sketchbook, and that the drawings you do in a sketchbook are always dashed off, careless and sloppy. []

The real reason I carry a sketchbook is so that I can record and remember details that I observe. Drawing from real life is the best way to teach yourself how people look, act and move in a naturalistic way (and help you remember it later). Life drawing and studying the work of other artists and animators are great learning experiences, but those things aren’t the same as studying real life. A great life drawing is an amazing feat and you can learn a lot about drawing and anatomy by going to life drawing. But very few life drawings give you a lot of information about the model’s personality and what kind of human being they are. You’re never going to create an original story or character based on a life drawing model you saw.

January 27, 2010 permalink

Finally the One Thing the Four Contending Films

Finally, the one thing the four contending films listed above [Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Disney’s A Christmas Carol, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Up have in common is they all employ CGI, just like Avatar and many, many other films we could open this discussion to. I bring this up because it has pretty much been agreed upon around the Internet Avatar will be taking home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, which creates an interesting conundrum. Why is the CG in Avatar considered visual effects while the CG employed for a Pixar or DreamWorks film simply considered animation? If Avatar is up for Oscar’s Best Visual Effects award shouldn’t Up and Monsters vs. Aliens be as well? The fact they aren’t, but A Christmas Carol is, interests me.

From a post by Brad Brevet on Rope of SIlicon on the graying divide between animation and visual effects, and the Academy Awards’ “animation ghetto”. Arbitrary definitions aside (the Oscar qualifications stipulate that a film must be “75% animated” to run in the animated feature category), it’s interesting to see folks try to distinguish between a “film” and a “cartoon” – is it the attempt at naturalism? The motive of the director (and subsequently how he himself submitted it for review)? The application of a specific technique like performance capture that makes CGI act more like makeup or costume?

January 18, 2010 permalink

Richard Williams on Eye Lines in Animation

A note from famed animation director Richard Williams to his crew working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? about the importance of the gaze between the toons and the live actors in establishing the believability of the scene. In matters of animation composition, this guy knows what he’s talking about: his Animator’s Survival Guide is a compelling read for artists of any stripe working with visual storytelling, and he’s also the man responsible for the great-but-famously-troubled production of The Thief and the Cobbler (if you’ve never seen it, fire up your favorite torrent client and look for Thief and the Cobbler: the  Recobbled Cut – it’s a must-watch).

(Via Signal vs. Noise)

January 18, 2010 permalink

MS Paint Album Art Recreations

Album art recreated quickly for the Windows 3.1 era:

The drawings in this collection were made by various users in a discussion forum on the website Using MS Paint, and other rudimentary computer drawing programs, users attempted to recreate their favorite album covers and let others on the forum guess the band and title from the artwork. […] Some gave themselves a limit of five minutes to recreate the most recognizable essentials.

I sort of like these. I’d forgotten the subtle charm of MSPaint’s spraycan, though I’d always envied MacPaint’s patterns.

(Via Coudal Partners)

January 11, 2010 permalink

The University of Nebraska Lincoln‘s Online Cartoon Archive

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is hosting an online collection of U.S. government-produced comic books, with full PDF downloads. Tucked away between the weirder, more off-beat stuff you’ll find some unique work from the likes of Walt Kelly, Hank Ketchum, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, and more. Like this special run of Peanuts where Charlie Brown has Sally tested for amblyopia ex anopsia.

(Via Cartoon Brew)

December 9, 2009 permalink

Dreaming the Industrial Body

Dreaming the Industrial Body. I’m not sure that I’m following the info that they’re trying to convey about the sun’s effects on our bodies, but it’s definitely an eye-catching image as far as medical literature goes. From Der mensch gesund und krank [The Healthy and Sick Human], menschenkunde 1940 … . Vol. 2, displayed as part of the National Library of Medicine’s Dream Anatomy exhibit. Speaking of which, check out their cool children’s art page!

August 29, 2009 permalink

The Full Moon Appears as a Tarte

“Harriot regularly corresponded with friends who were also trying out telescopes. One wrote to him saying that the full moon ‘appears like a tarte that my cooke made me the last week’.”

— A note from the “Cosmos and Culture: how astronomy has shaped our world” exhibit at London’s Science Museum, describing this first-ever drawing through a telescope, created circa 1610 by English mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Note to Austinites: the excellent Harry Ransom Center at UT will soon be opening their exhibit “Other Worlds: Rare Astronomical Works”, featuring some beautiful drawings by the likes of Cassini, Kepler, and Brahe. Can’t wait.

August 13, 2009 permalink

The Women of Leisure Suit Larry

From The Women of Leisure Suit Larry. I don’t think I could sum it up any better than the post’s author: “there is a seriously ugly and amazing coffee table art book dying to be made out of this”. Hopefully such a coffee table book would include a portion dedicated to the even-more-awkward non-Sierra attempts at smut like Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender.

(Via Offworld)

July 7, 2009 permalink

Hi-Res Scans of Walt Kelly’s “Pogo in Pandemonium” Comics

Some kind guy named Thom Buchanan has created a blog where he’s posting high-res scans of the daily and Sunday strips of Walt Kelly’s Pogo from the 1966 “Pogo in Pandemonia” storyline (one of the lesser-known and stranger bits from the comic, it’s set in a Lost World type locale instead of the usual Okefenokee swamp). Excellent. Now where’s that Fantagraphics set?

May 5, 2009 permalink

Revolver: Looping Animation Shorts

Revolver, a brilliant series of short looping animations by Jonas Odell (codirected with Stig Bergkvist, Marti Ekstrand & Lars Olsson). I loved these when they ran serialized in the early days of’s Renaissance 2.0 / Kino section, circa 1995, and hastily squirreled away all of the QuickTime .mov’s from the site for archiving. Benefit of having the .mov’s? You could have all of them open and playing simultaneously!