Recent Work

LasVegas ConExpo map & VR

This week from March 7-11, the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show is being held at the LasVegas Convention Center. I was asked to create a 3D map for convention visitors. The finished product was a large scale file that could be reproduced large enough to use for signage at the entrance to the show. Along the way, it underwent many changes and iterations depending on the purpose. The challenge was to balance aesthetics with clarity, so ultimately it was simplified from the earlier designs.
The 3D model I built was based on floorplans and images captured from Google Earth, which proved to be invaluable:

ConExpo 2017 wayfinding map

And here’s an an earlier version, which was to include lots of construction equipment rendered at various angles.

Another part of the assignment was to create a 360-degree environment that could be viewed using a Google Cardboard (or similar) viewer. If you aren’t familiar with Google Cardboard, it’s a simple inexpensive virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for a smartphone. While it isn’t as totally immersive as more costly VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, it does give a pretty convincing feeling of being in an environment.

When first given the assignment, I’d never done anything like this before, and online solutions for creating content for Google Cardboard were slim. It took some trial & error, but I finally hit on a way to render out the 3D environment and the client was pleased with the result. If you have access to a Google Cardboard viewer, you can click on the image below to see it in action.

Once I had a workflow, creating another environment for Dipstick Studio, my ideation sketching business, was easy:

This is the second year I’ve done an assignment for the ConExpo show. The previous work can be seen here. Thanks to all the great folks at Slack & Co. for bring me in on this fun job!


Conexpo-Con/AGG ads

Here’s a 3D job that kept me busy for most of the past month. From what I gather, they’re promoting a construction equipment convention that’s going to be held in Las Vegas in March 2014. (Note: I DIDN’T do the video on their home page.) The images needed to be rendered big enough to output them for trade show booth displays, so the final file sizes were pretty much a bear to work with.
I started with prebuilt 3D models which were purchased from Turbosquid , a 3D model site. I then used a cloth simulator in a 3D program which is a good start, but requires a lot of post rendering Photoshop work. The “cloth” is in fact a 3D plane that is dropped over the model (actually an invisible low-polygon-count “proxy” version, to get geeky for a moment) and frozen when it looks about right. Getting a proper feel to the fabric takes a good bit of fiddling with the cloth/gravity settings and trial-and-error.

Oh, and in the process, I also learned what “stanchions” are (those velvet rope barrier thingies).

Thanks to Joshua Schober for the excellent art direction.

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All-American Horror book cover

Here’s a recent job that involved designing and illustrating the cover for a soon-to-be-published American horror anthology edited by Mort Castle and published by Wicker Park Press. It’s a little different from the more whimsical style I usually work in,  so I was looking forward to taking a crack at it.

The assignment was to do something appropriately creepy but work in the Americana aspect somehow. I came up with up a few sketches, and though I kind of liked the idea of doing a needlepoint sampler with the suggestion of a skull and some macabre folk-art images, it was decided that we should go with something iconic and stark, so we settled on a weathervane topped with a ghostly raven.

It took a couple tries to get the silhouette looking OK, though the skeleton isn’t quite accurate, but I was more concerned with an impression than getting the anatomy right and with enough fog, I could cover up the fact that I’m no ornithologist.

It was a fun project and I look forward to the year 2020 and volume two.

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MacUser UK featured artist

Many thanks to Art Editor Camille Neilsen for spotting my work and to Kirsty Fortune for editing the copy. Here’s a lowres version (The actual magazine is a bit larger). In the U.S., cialis one of the larger chain bookstores, generic cialis if there are any left, may carry it. And of course subscriptions are available online.

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Skybox on Sheffield 3D rendering

This was a quick turnaround job for “Skybox on Sheffield”, a recently renovated space across from Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field baseball park. The client wanted a simplified 3D rendering of their space for their website and promotional materials.

It used to be the houses across the street from Wrigley had simple rooftops from which owners and their friends could view the game. No more. These spaces have been converted to luxurious facilities offering a first class viewing experience. The third floor has a club level with bar and plasma screen TVs and the outdoor levels have stadium seating with a grill concession and several bar areas. At my first visit there, I was impressed by the design, and the sight lines from the seats give the illusion of actually being inside the ballpark.

Chicago’s Haymarket Anniversary gig poster

I recently had the honor of creating a gig poster promoting a show at the Old Town School of Folk Music headlined by folk musician Bucky Halker marking the 125th anniversary of Chicago’s Haymarket Affair and to raise awareness of workers’ rights. The details of the event have filled several books, but the basic facts are as follows:

• On May 4th, 1886, a rally was held at Chicago’s Haymarket square to demand workers’ rights, among them a standard eight hour workday.
• An unknown person threw a bomb which killed one police officer and injured several more.
• In the confusion which followed, seven more officers were killed and many other police and civilians injured, most as a result of friendly fire.
• After a corrupt and hastily arranged trial of eight labor activists, four were hanged and a fifth commited suicide in prison.
• In 1893, Gov. John Peter Altgeld concluded that all eight men were innocent, and issued their pardons.

This Mayday (May 1, 2011) marks the 125th anniversary of the event. There is a monument in Forest Park, Illinois, just west of Chicago in Forest Home Cemetary, honoring those who were executed.
The site has been designated as a U.S. national monument (The only one located within a cemetary) and is currently being restored though funds raised by the Illinois Labor History Society and its President, Larry Spivack.

I also designed a plaque which will be placed at the base of sculptor Mary Brogger’s memorial honoring the Haymarket Affair. It can be found at the corner of Desplaines & Lake streets in Chicago, the actual site of the incident.

The Haymarket Incident (which some still refer to as the “Haymaket Riot”), was one of the earliest and most significant events in America’s labor history and has been a source of inspiration for workers throughout the world.
A couple weeks ago, I posted some sketches inspired by the unrest taking place in Cairo. Though the current labor protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the U.S. can’t compare to the life and death struggles going on in the mideast, it’s important to remember that there was a time when those championing worker’s rights were met with violence and, in some cases, gave their lives to fight for rights that many now take for granted. As recent events in Wisconsin and elsewhere throughout the U.S. show, that struggle continues today.

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Making of a Shamrock Shake Leprechaun

As they say in showbiz, “There are no small parts, only small actors” and this guy is a small actor indeed.
The assignment was to digitally illustrate a leprechaun painting a billboard sign, Trompe L’Oeil style, to advertise last year’s announced return of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. It was termed “urban signage”. Translation: a sign that would go above the entryways to Chicago’s downtown L-train and other locations.
I was provided the Art Director’s thumbnail sketch and told to make the figure turn and look at the viewer as if “caught in the act”.

When working on storyboards or in my usual finished illustration style, I generally don’t use photo reference, but in this case, the client wanted a semi-realistic style, so I had my son shoot a few humiliating reference shots of me in character.
I gave the AD a proposed pencil sketch along with an edgier cartoony version as an alternative. I preferred that version myself, but the client definitely wanted more realism. Even if they’d gone with the alternate version, I’m sure I would’ve had to delete the pipe, which was my favorite part anyway. 🙂
After the sketch was approved, I scanned it in and used it as an underlay in Photoshop. I digitally painted over the sketch on a new layer, reducing the opacity to about 50%. Once the simple shapes were blocked in, I made the layer fully opaque and continued refining the figure, starting with the face. I had to keep reducing the size of the image on the screen to get an idea of how it would look at a much smaller size. By doing that, about halfway through the job, I decided that the body should be smaller in proportion to the head. Fortunately, I was working in layers,so it was a pretty easy fix to reduce the body size. Near the finish, I adjusted the levels in Photoshop to increase the overall contrast and deepen the shadows.
All in all the job went very smoothly and though the finished figure was a miniscule part of the composition, it was fun seeing it posted in a couple of locations within a block of the office.

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Cover art for “Food with Attitude” by Chef Papi Pérez

Here’s a cover I did recently for a soon-to-be-published cookbook: “Food with Attitude: Cooking the Cuban-Rican Way”.

From the Chef Papi Pérez Facebook Fan Page (which includes a fantastic and unique recipe for hummus) :

“Join Chicago’s very own Chef Papi Pérez on a culinary journey where flavor and health-conscious food go hand-in-hand. In this unique cookbook Papi Pérez shares recipes from his many years as a certified Kosher chef and restaurant consultant.”

It’s being published by Wicker Park Press Ltd. and will sell for $27.95.

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