Graphic Design and Illustration.

Archive for ‘October, 2012’

Hey diddle, diddle, the fox and the fiddle!

Just a quick sketch coloured in Photoshop. I’ll be doing a more finished image later.

Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be the Cat and the fiddle, but I needed a clever intro, so there you go.

This month, The Secret Handshake was held at some place call the Fox and Fiddle pub. Very recently opened. Pretty swanky place. Located in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District, I believe the building was originally a bank. It’s pretty much a solid block of marble. Right next door is a dance studio. Kimmy and I used to take dance classes there.

For some reason I wasn’t very hungry that night. My waitress recommended the Mediterranean flatbread. Was pretty good. Kimmy would have liked it. Was very olive-y. I guess that’s where the Mediterranean comes from. Maybe I’ll take Kimmy there in a few months once certain things have settled down. Assuming they ever settle down again (huh?).

Otherwise, it was a pretty typical evening of the Secret Handshake. The usual assortment of Winnipeg’s finest (and sometimes eccentric) creative talent. I did have a bit of a first though. Someone asked me a new question! Most peoplewant to know things like how I found out about Secret Handshake, or how many times I had been. Other are intriguedby my particular line of work (one actually looked terrified!) and ask me questions surrounding that. But this guy wanted to know what I had planned for myself a few years down the road. Truthfully, I have no idea. I don’t think I can keep going being just a designer, a cog in the wheel of a big company. I’d like to be at least doing something else with my creative talent at least part-time in the future. Not what that includes exactly, I am still leaving pretty much in the open. It could just be freelance design, illustration or maybe dipping my toes in fine art. Rather then trying to explain all that in a noisy bar, I took the leap and just went with the fine art aspect and that I’d hope to one day have my work hanging in a gallery somewhere up for sale. The guy (whose name escapes me right now) was rather surprised and perhaps a little unsettled by my response. Afterall, the fine art gig is a very tough road to travel. And I think about outside his realm as well. I believe he was some sort of computer programmerator. Though he did give me some good advice for my design career that I think would apply to just about anyone. He said, and I’m somewhat paraphrasing here, that I should really try to put my own attitudes and ideas about design into my work, that way I’ll stand out as a person and not just be another vaguely anonymous designer. Words to live by. And then no sooner were these words spoken, but another wild-eyed and half-crazed programmerator descended upon us. I gather my would-be mentor is well known in theprogrammerator crowd, and this wild-eyed crazy man was looking for someone to unload onto. I ws entirely certain whatwas being talked about, something very meta, whatever it was. Though I have a sneaky feeling I have a rather differentdefinition of meta then others it seemed. So the conversation was hijacked, and while I was by no means upset about suddenly having to deal with crazy programmerator stuff, hijacking conversations did become somewhat of a theme for a good chunk of the evening. 🙂

After a few hours of mingling, it was time to make like a pumpkin. It was a school night and this kid was getting pretty tired. While I left earlier than most, it was a bit later than I had planned (around 9:30 or so) and I had a bus to catch.

Oh, and as far as I know, the dish didn’t run away with the spoon. Or at least not while I was there.


Happy Halloween – Image of the month for October

I’m not normally quite this morbid, but ’tis the season and all. And besides, I had a much simplified skull lying around from another project,and my very old and slowly dying Wacom is getting awfully jittery these days, so drawing straight lines is a problem. Craggy, jittery line work is suddenly a whole lot easier. Enjoy.

As mentioned in my previous post, I have put together several 3D printed objects that I am quite proud of. As of right now, they are up for sale. Just in time for Christmas, they’d make a great gift! You can find my storefront by following this link.

Just one word of advice for any fellow Canadian shoppers. Shapeways currently uses UPS for it’s shipping. UPS tends to charge rather outrageous brokerage fees for shipping items across international borders. There are ways around this. Mainly by clearing customs yourself before the item crosses the border. But you need a shipping number, and lately, I haven’t gotten any shipping numbers from UPS until AFTER the item has arrived at my house! Not very helpful. Of course your mileage may vary. Though for small, 3D printed pieces, the amount due hasn’t been too bad.

Sterling Silver Prints

Heart 3D model. Made in Blender 3D, 3D printed at Shapeways in Sterling Silver.
Photo courtesy of my wife, Kim.

People might remember the 3D objects I’ve been working on. You can see them here and here. I finally got around to finishing up the 3D models and had them printed out in Sterling Silver with the help of the fine people at Shapeways. As far as I understand it, the process uses a lost wax casting method, but updated for the digital age. The object is printed out in a hard, wax-like substance, and a mold is placed around the printed object. Then molten silver is then injected into the mold. The wax melts away, leaving the silver in its place. The detail is quite good, but real close inspection does still reveal a few artifacts, revealing it’s digital beginnings. I’m not certain whether that’s a restraint on the printing process or the limit of detail that Shapeways puts onto the models you can upload for print. Since Shapeways get files from all over the world to print out, they put a limit on file size (ultimately affecting detail of the model).

All-in-all, I am very happy with how they turned out. I am not a jeweller by trade, and I am still learning how to use 3D model applications. I think I will eventually put them up for sale. I have now put these up for sale on The link to my storefront can be found here. Shapeways allows people to set up storefronts on their website so other people can buy 3D printed goods.

Turtle 3D model. Made in Blender 3D, 3D printed at Shapeways in Sterling Silver.
This became a 5 year anniversary gift. Photo courtesy of my wife, Kim.

Ambush Bug

My rendition of another favourite of mine from my childhood – Ambush Bug. A rather zany superhero from the DC Universe, who originally started out life as a Superman villan. More can be read out him here. As for the style, I’m trying to keep up with what I did in the post. And this one as well.

I like the character. He was so strange. I discovered him right around the same time I discovered Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so zany humor mocking the comic-book industry was just what the doctor ordered. Any character who is forced to use a potted plant for Swamp Thing and finger puppets of villains, all because his super villain license had been revoked, was just perfect in my books. And by this time (my late teens) I was slowly beginning to loose interest in superhero comic stories, but not the artwork. Catching up on the rare stories featuring this guy was a good way for me to keep myself interested in Pop Art, but without the headache of over-the-top testosterone fueled storytelling. Not that I don’t still find a good adventure story exciting and interesting. I was just getting interested in greater storytelling experiences.

The Truth Is Out There, Part II

This is a continuation of an earlier post about my largely aimless wanderings around the Whitesehell Provincial Park area this past summer. If you missed part one, you can read about it here.

One of the hidden gems of Star Lake – a nice, quite, marshy bay.

After my not-so-close encounters of the very distant kind behind me, it was time to think up a place for a cache of our own. My wife and I had thought we’d setup a geocache for fun that would be close by to my family’s cabin. That way we could see who all found it and the goodies they may have left without having to wander very far through the bush. That last part will become rather important to any and all a few posts down the road, methinks.

But before that, it was time for some serious head cleaning. I was on vacation dammit. And by God, I was going to relax, both physically and spiritually.

Every year, I always make an effort to head off to a very special part of Star Lake, the lake where my family’s cabin lies. You see, Star Lake is not a very big lake. Or a very deep one. The deepest part of the lake is around 20-25 feet deep. And that’s just the deepest parts. Most of it is a bit shallower. So It is basically a really big swimming pool. With fish. And weeds. And leaches. And no pool boy (see the part about the weeds and leaches). Now, one of my Uncles is a bit of a scavenger, and managed to find some small, plastic, toy kayaks for the cabin. Probably got them from his favourite shopping place – the dump. These little guys won’t win any awards in the looks department, and I am certain many an outdoorsman would scoff that anyone calling these big plastic tubs a kayak, but they are perfect for this lake. Especially if you want to go far into the shallow, weedy marshes that much of Star Lake drains into.

I love going in these marsh-like areas since they are generally well protected from the winds and are always dead calm. And since they are so shallow, there is very little chance of me being bothered by water-skiers and other boaters. The large motors on the beats will get tangled on the weeds or the boat will bottom out on the rocks in the shallow ends of the bays. I’m usually in only a two or three feet of water. It also means, that until only a few years ago when we got the kayaks, I never really had much of the chance to see this part of the Lake. So every year I jump at the chance to hop in a kayak and head for the other side of the lake for some peace and quiet.

This year I managed to get out there twice.

Offerings left at Bannock Point

I also took it upon myself to explore another part of the Whiteshell that was foreign to me – the northern part. Much of the Whiteshell is left undeveloped on purpose. To make it look more natural. The southern part of the park is much more “civilized” than the northern part. My family rarely went much further north than Caddy Lake, and there’s quite a bit more of the Park beyond that. So we decided to check out the Bannock Point Petroforms.

I had heard about the artificial rock formations before. The Whiteshell Provincial Park even uses one as part of their logo. But as mentioned, before, I had never made it out that far into the Park before. As it turned out, they had guided tours in the evenings over the summer, so we decided to go then.

It was really cool. I’m kicking myself for not going earlier.

A quick word of warning to any and all who are thinking go going to check the place out. This area and these petroforms are still sacred to many First Nations people in the area. It turns out it is still a very active site. Many people leave offerings and prayers behind. Usually in the form of tobacco, copper coins like pennies, and pouches of brightly coloured cloth behind. THEY ARE NOT TO BE DISTURBED. Along with the stone formations as well. People have gotten into their head to sometimes rearrange the stone formations, ultimately destroying artifacts that may have been laid down thousands of years earlier. It is thoughtless, stupid and pathetic. Look with your eyes people.

While we were on tour, our guide told us that scientists believe the petroforms are about 1.5 – 2 thousand years old. Perhaps older. Stone formations are hard to date and there are no biological remains to Carbon date. Local tribal Elders feel the formations are much, much older. Many of the formations in the area open to tourists have been adultered in one way or another over the years (see my little rant in the previous paragraph), but there is another area, not easily accessible where the formations are believed to have been untouched by careless people. In fact, this entire area has the largest known concentration of petroforms in the world! The true meaning behind many of the formations are unknown and open to interpretation. Though the most common formations are turtles and snakes, and are believed to represent lakes and rivers.

The only downside of an evening tour especially one in late August, is a rather long drive back in the dark. The Park has a very large deer population. Thankfully no incidents to report coming back.

Petroform turtle. The dark yellow on some of the rocks are tobacco left behind for the spirits.

A geocache of my own?

At the end of our vacation, we found a spot I was certain was a good spot for our geocache. Turns out later I was wrong – it was a bit too close to another cache – but I did like the spot and I thought was a rather clever hiding spot, with lots and lots of hide-y-holes to keep people guessing for a while. Found out much later, it wasn’t really a great idea. Not only was I too close, it seems you need to get permission from the Park authorities for a spot. Meant I was off to the Whiteshell for a do-or-die mission to retrieve our rashly placed box of ill-gotten gains and find a new place somewhere else. And then get permission from the Park. Which as of this writing, I am still waiting for. I have a feeling it may be a very, very long wait. Meaning, I may have to think of something (or someplace) entirely different.

I will keep everyone posted.

The contents of my would-be cache.

Image of the Month – September

I would have had this post in earlier, but it has been a busy few days for me! At least work has slowed down to manageable proportions. I put this image together while enjoying the absolutely crazy warm weather we had the past few days. And according to the weatherman, it should all come to an end right about now.

Anyways, a bit of mixed media here. Some watercolour along with a bit of acrylic to opaque some areas. And a bit of pen and ink to finish everything off. All on a really crappy stretch canvas that come with those cheap-o acrylic sets you can buy in stores like Michaels.

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