about Von AllanVon Allan's artVon Allan's comic booksShop page for Von Allan StudioEssays by Von AllanInterview links by Von Allancontact Von Allanrss feeds for vonallan.comLinks to the I Am Still Your Child documentary film featuring Von Allan
Showing posts with label sketches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sketches. Show all posts

Drawing Kids


Given everything that has been going on, when I get a chance to draw I've been looking for fun little pieces to work on. The illustrations below certainly fit that bill!

Drawing kids is a great deal of fun. Very challenging, but fun! Why challenging? Drawing adults allows for more "wiggle-room." In other words, there's more flexibility in how one chooses to render adults. Or rather, I find that there's more flexibility. That's partially based on style, probably mixed in with a bit of my own sensibility when it comes to figure drawing. If you over-render children, they immediately look "wrong." Generally my goal is to try and keep everything as simple as possible while (at least in these cases) still maintaining my own visual style. It might sound easy, but it's really not in practice. In the cases of all these girls, I didn't want to get too cartoony or abstract, so that also influenced how I approached each piece.

In the case of the middle illustration, I also decided to play a bit with colour holds (where I change my black linework to a colour). Why do it? Again, for fun! It's neat to play and see how the art (and, more importantly, the feeling of the art) changes with different visual approaches. I've done it before, something you can see in this little celebration of Mary Marvel.

One of the things I love about art is that there's no "right" way to do it. There are multiple ways and multiple approaches. How one feels about that is a reflection of them, at least in that particular moment. And, of course, opinions change about art, too. Even how I approach colour has changed over time (see this, for example).

I don't know about you, but I find that pretty exciting.

Illustration of young girls balancing books on their heads by Von Allan
Illustration of two 'tween girls chit-chatting and goofing around by Von Allan
Illustration of three girls raiding a bubble gum box and blowing bubbles by Von Allan

Ajamu Baraka illustration and Ottawa visit


Ajamu Baraka will be in Ottawa, Ontario on November 14th to discuss "Defeating the US/EU/NATO Axis of Domination. A Global De-Colonial Imperative." The event will be held at the McNabb Community Centre (180 Percy Street) sponsored by the Canadian Peace Congress (note that their website is currently being revamped, but their Twitter account is at https://twitter.com/CdnPeace). I was asked to do an illustration of Mr. Baraka for the poster promoting the event. The illustrations below are the pencils, inks, and final colour version I did.

Pencil portrait of Ajamu Baraka by Von Allan

Inked portrait of Ajamu Baraka by Von Allan

Colour portrait of Ajamu Baraka by Von Allan
As I write this, I'm not quite sure what the final poster design will be. Unlike the posters I designed for the Ottawa Transit Riders, in this case I'm not wearing a designer hat. Which is a little scary, but it did allow me to focus on the portrait and not worry about anything else!

Navigation Options


Home Page: https://www.vonallan.com
Art Page: https://www.vonallan.com/p/art.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scoundrelwizard

Professor Richard D. Wolff takes on Jordan Peterson


I've enjoyed Professor Richard Wolff's arguments and lectures for quite some time and this one, short at less than 5 minutes, is no exception.


If you've never listened to Wolff, he's well-worth your time. His lectures on Karl Marx are fantastic.

Which reminds me! I did a pen and ink illustration of Professor Wolff based off of a very lovely photograph by Don Usner. Probably about 2 and half years ago. It's been sitting in the ol' archive but the video above finally galvanized me to get it online. It's below:

Pen and ink illustration of marxist economist Richard Wolff by Von Allan

Pencils for a pivotal scene in Wolf's Head


Busy working away so here are some loose rough pencils from a pivotal scene in WOLF'S HEAD. One of the things I like about working this way is that I can tweak things a bit once I scan the pencils in. In this illo of Lauren, I made her left hand a bit too big so I digitally shrunk it down. I made some other tweaks, too, but I've already started to lose track of what I did! Ack!

Wolf's Head pencils of Lauren by Von Allan

Christmas Card Design Pencils



For the first time that I can remember, I decided (with some gentle nudging from my wife!) a Christmas card. This features Bill, Butch, and their press agent (!) from the short story The Cowardly Clerics of Rigel V. The final inked version features snow as well as a song! YES! Can you tell that I'm having fun with these guys?

Rough pencil sketch for a Bill and Butch Wizards Christmas Card by Von Allan

Gesture Sketches


I often do gesture studies as a quick way to warm up. I like using ballpoint pens (good ol' blue ink) to roughly lay in the figure. Ballpoint has the advantage that it doesn't allow you to get fussy, a good thing to avoid in quick gestures. In fact, my general approach to thumbnails and layouts are not that different then how I approach gestures. The main difference between the two is that, for thumbnails, I don't usually add black ink to them. For gestures, adding a bit of black ink really brings 'em alive. In the ones below, I was using a Pilot brush pen. Quick and clean.

Each gesture took about five minutes, including inking with the brush pen. They're all small, just done on letter-sized paper. These aren't technically life-drawings; I was working from photos or from my imagination rather than a real human being. But they're fun and a nice way to loosen up!

Five minute gesture sketches in ballpoint and brush ink by Von Allan

Five minute gesture sketches in ballpoint and brush ink by Von Allan

Five minute gesture sketches in ballpoint and brush ink by Von Allan

Wolf's Head first issue pencil roughs for page one


I'm currently working away on my new comic, WOLF'S HEAD, that's going to be launching soon. While I can't say too much about it yet*, I do want to start sharing some things. So, rough pencils! Yes! Sometimes I pencil fairly loosely and sometimes I'm somewhat tighter. This is an example of the latter. Since I ink so much of my own work, I generally pencil just enough for me to ink it. It's mainly a time issue; drawing can be slow and perfect pencils are that much slower. I rarely pencil in the way "pure" comic book pencillers do, but then...it's art. Whatever gets you to the end is just fine.

* By the by, I'm not being secretive deliberately. It's mainly because a few things are still up in the air right now that need to be worked out. Rest assured, when I know more I'll be posting it!

Rough pencil sketch for Wolf's Head Issue 1 by Von Allan

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Upset Girl Poster Process


As noted yesterday, I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today I'm looking at the development of another poster for the film and the support website. This one is a good example of how the process develops from rough concept to final version.

My initial thinking was that I wanted contrast between a very upset girl in the foreground and an adult, possibly in trouble, who isn't even paying attention. Initially I thought she'd be starring at the girl, but not really seeing her. Later, I changed my mind and had the adult sitting with her back turned. As the process continued and I received feedback from St├ęphanie Couillard, my main contact for the poster series for Catbird Productions, the poster evolved. You can see that in the following sketches and I think the piece is much stronger based on St├ęphanie's comment. 

Again, here is the Final Press Version with that great logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Upset Girl for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (as always, this is done very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small. You can also see that the foreground character is slightly off-balance here. It happens, but it's the kind of thing I correct as I go:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with that original concept of a "neutral" adult in the background:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

This is where a number of things changed. A very different adult figure appears. She was roughed out and tightened separately and then digitally added into the piece. And the background finally shows up, too. Little bit of cheating here, but you can't tell. I hope!

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

You can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Poster Process for Girl In School


I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film project (titled “I AM STILL YOUR CHILD”) that I've been involved in. The goal was to create a series of stand-alone pieces that feature characters dealing with parental mental illness. Unlike traditional comics, these wouldn't have a narrative save for that unifying theme. And they would also need to be very bold and graphic to catch the eye and presented in black and white to ease desktop printing. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. The full poster series can be found at the documentary's official website.

Beginning today, I'm going to go through the creation of a few of these posters. I was given a great deal of creative room by the production crew; they encouraged me to draw on my own thoughts and feelings, especially relevant given my own background with my mom's schizophrenia (developed more full in my graphic novel “the road to god knows...”). Some of these images were inspired directly from my own experiences while others were “pushed.” In other words, still drawn from my own life but dramatized to some extent.

The one below is a good example; I was very shy at school, especially at this age, but showing emotion was something I tried very hard not to do (though how successful I was in a different question). This girl, on the other hand, is very upset. That was something I tried very hard not to show at school.

What follows, then, is a pretty good breakdown of how this poster came together.

First, this is the Final Press Version with a terrific logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils (figures only; this is slightly deceptive since I drew each character separately and then digitally composed the image to finalize their positions):
Initial rough layout sketch for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with loose backgrounds and perspective grid:
Tighter pencils with loose backgroundsfor Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Final inked version with completed background:
Inked final illustration for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan
I should add here that sometimes I do pretty tight background renderings and other times, like here, I keep it pretty loose and finalize in ink (albeit digital ink since I use Manga Studio EX 4 for inking). Manga Studio also allows for some really nice shortcuts for tones, hatching, "zipatones," and splatters. I've done them manually (the ol' toothbrush and ink immediately comes to mind for splatters) but I much prefer doing them digitally now.

And that's that. Again, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And don't forget that the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

Bill the Wizard head sketches


Head Sketches of Bill the Wizard by Von Allan

I believe these were the first sketches I ever did of Bill the Wizard from my Bill and Butch stories. He's not "on model" here, but that's mainly because I was playing around with ideas. I had the general concept down, but I wasn't completely sure about his final facial appearance. So you can see me trying to find him in these inked sketches.

The image below, on the other hand, is an example of a head turnaround of Bill with his design finalized. I usually don't ink concept work like this, but I love Bill and he's fun to ink!
Head Turnarounds of Bill the Wizard by Von Allan

Character sketches in pencil


Pencil sketches of Lauren, Patty, and their boy by Von Allan
Head turnarounds in pencil of Lauren from WOLF'S HEAD by Von Allan


These are pretty loose pencils, but I since I ink my own work I generally find loose pencils are a much better and quicker way for me to approach my art. My pencils kind of evolve as I ink anyway; it's not unusual for me to ink for a bit, then switch back to pencils to tighten or correct something, then move right back into inking. I can also do a bit of a weird fusion; while I tend to pencil "traditionally" (i.e.: with an actual pencil on actual paper), I usually do some digital pencilling, too. Partially that's because I often "flip" my pencils so that I can see them in reverse, which is easy enough to when working digitally as I do. And partially because corrections are much faster with digital pencils, at least in my experience.

Whatever gets you to the final image, eh?

Bill the Wizard


Preliminary sketch of Bill the Wizard from WIZARDS FOR HIRE - CHEAP! illustrated by Von Allan


A rough preliminary sketch of Bill the Wizard. The finished colour version serves as the back cover of my short collection WIZARDS FOR HIRE - CHEAP! (available in print at comic shops and online at places like Amazon). And, of course, you can read his adventures (along with his canine wizard companion Butch) for free online starting right here.

Wolf's Head by Von Allan

Link to Von Allan's Wolf's Head comic book series

Email Subscription

If you'd like to receive email updates from Von Allan Studio, please subscribe using the form below.
* indicates required field

Please note: You can unsubscribe from email updates at any time.

City of Ottawa Grant Support

Von Allan Studio gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa.

City of Ottawa logo

Creative Commons License

I Am Still Your Child Trailer

Documentary Film Excerpt