Sunday, 30 December 2007


Quick scribble for this week's IF, created in Flash and Illustrator so no dirty hands! Shame really, I like the feeling of ink on my fingers...

So, I wondered idly about how big an Angel's wings would actually have to be to be able to fly and came across a fun little thread of silly people here. The gem of the comments is this lovely quote from a guy called "Ramon Valentin" (Can that be real? Sounds like he should be in a Jack Black movie);

"I have prepared a model that would fit any human and is still in tests, but i tried it at the beach with a lot of wind, and just opening both 3 ft. long wings( 3 ft. each )I was able to float for like two minutes. My arms got tired and the wind was inpredictible and I was like 7 1/2 feet lifted up in the air, so I fell on the sand. With a little more excersice, and a better phisycal condition, I think that we can just lift off and actually fly...Hope to hear from someone really interested. We could really do this and earn money at the same time."

This is just an assumption, but a guy who spells "physical" "phisycal" ain't going to be all that great at "phisicks" which is kind of what you need to be good at to be able to "fly".

Expect to see this guy on the Darwin awards anytime soon.

Oh, yeah, and if you are out there Ramon, and you do actually fly, awesome dude!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Justice & Favourite Shows to Draw to

Finished image...

Sketch... and now for the whinge!

I've been wanting to write a post about how my first year blogging's been going but I think I'll wait for the year anniversary of this weblog rather than the calendar year because... well... we've got 4 months left and who knows what could happen!

Ok, this image started out as a sketch that I drew whilst watching the popular BBC programme "Dragon's Den".

Now, I don't know about you but I have favourite shows to draw to. I've had a little think about the one's I usually draw to and I don't think it's got anything particularly to do with how "wordy" the show is. Having said that, I just spent 2+ hours drawing to "Pulp Fiction" last night, a particularly wordy movie and sat there gawping at the screen, sketchbook untouched, whilst flinching at the dreadfullness of "Jurassic Park III". There are some surprisingly good actors in that movie... but it just sucked! Oh the Christmas schedule...

To the image! I messed around with it for ages, scanned it 3 different ways and generally messed around and procrastinated while avoiding the big image that I keep talking about! I put colour all over it, took it off, put it on again, vectorised it and... here it is!

Right, back to work...

Friday, 28 December 2007

Will It Be Too Much?

Good Christmas? Mine was awesome thanks for asking!

So, this is a small part of the large image I was working on when I gave up and did the "Girlfriend backpack" image for Illustration Friday (see the post below for the protracted dumb and boring explanation.)

I need some help. I've been a doofus.

I like to work fast. Real fast. 5 images a day fast. This image is killing me. I've been at it for 4 or 5 hours now and I ain't even half done. This is really testing me as this isn't for money or nuthin', this is just something I've started doing and so I must finish or the whole thing will be a big fat waste...

The crop above is part of a street scene I've started. It all began with the I.F. theme "backwards". I had this idea to do a guy talking on his phone crashing into another car "backwards". I had this plan to write a whole thing on how much talking on your phone and driving annoys me blah blah blah blah blah.

But then I got ideas.

I started drawing the bus to go behind the car (this is all in Flash) as I thought it would be fun to create all these little characters to go in all the windows and stuff... damn it, I drew a bunch of windows! Now I'm putting in pedestrians and... I need a break! So I'm going for a run. Relax me down so I can concentrate. I need to finish this so I can get on with updating my website! Oh the freelance fun...

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Girlfriend Backpack

Ok, I cheated a little... I did the "back" but not the "wards"!

I started this Illustration Friday theme at home, ran out of time, found some spare time at work, worked on another idea (the one above that I'll come on to in a sec), realised I would have no time to finish my original idea this week and so I decided to post this image instead, as loosely themed as it is!

Make sense? Yes, no..? Aaaall-righty-then!

The image above is based on a plan I had to make a "girlfriend backpack". I guess in these current climes we'd have to call it something else though, like a "Person Backpack" or a "Mobile Assisted Reverse Lumbar Partner Pack" or maybe a "Weaker Partner I-told-you-to-stop-complaining-so-I'll-just-bloody-well-carry-you Pack"

Check out the radio spot: "Have you ever been out shopping all day? Does your partner's choice of footwear hinder your excursions? Does your loved one's little legs tire easily? Well, worry no more! From Reeko, the company that brought you "The Boat Made of Cheese" and the "Monkey's Uncle" comes the device guaranteed to boost relationships the world over! For the introductory, one off, super sale price of £49.99, you too can enjoy the pleasure of man powered co-dependent transportation!"

Of course this sucks if you are the carrying partner. I'd recommend a strength test followed by a "Whinge-omoter" rating to see which partner should have to carry the other in times of stress. The whinge points would count against the strength points, so a excellent whinger who was a super weakling would always be carried. Of course in the event of a score draw there would be a certain number of steps (say 200) before the couple would have to swop places.

So what do you think? Ideal Xmas gift? Should I apply for a worldwide patent?

What's that? Back to the drawing board? Why you little...

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Xmas Creativity

Why is it people and/or companies get all over excited around Christmas with their creativity?

I'm soon to be leaving my current position to go freelance. The kind of creativity my current job normally involves is picking new images of multi-racial happy, professional and productive co-working team members for corporate templates. Snore...

However, in the last month, these corporate brand managers have just gone nuts! I've been creating illustrations, animations, crazy party invites and all sorts of fun material to send around London town celebrating the winter solstice. I'm not sure why, but along with the office christmas parties, corporate jollies and various hilarity people get creative.

The above image is a classic example of this. A company wanted me to create some personalised parcel tags for all the boxes of Celebrations they were sending out to their clients. Awesome! Loads of fun with textures and brush tools later and another fun creative christmas creation.

Now why can't these guys be open minded and creative the rest of the year?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Ten Minute Rule

I broke a bunch of rules with this one.

First rule to break, price! I did this as a freebie for a client of ours at work. He's not even a illustration client so that was dumb too. However, I was bored, we've slowed down this near xmas and it was bit of fun.

I guess that's one of the problems of doing your hobby for a living (apart from the long hours) is when your not doing anything and someone ask you for a favour... it's pretty hard to say "No! You must pay me full wack!" as any car mechanic or builder would probably do. I should though. It's good practice.

However I am on someone else's clock at the moment, so I don't really give a monkey's about payment, since I'll get paid anyway! Still, not the right attitude in a forward, industry thinking way.

Second rule that I broke; I did the image without knowing what I was about. I was sent a faxed scribble that had the basic elements in place, the desk, the door, the man, etc and I read the title "Use The Ten Minute Rule" and assumed it was some dumb in-joke. So I did the image.

Then, as I was finishing up, I thought, "I'm sure I've heard this before... somewhere..." so I googled it like I should have done in the first place. See here.

Acknowledge, "I don't feel like doing that," but do it for 10 minutes anyway. That gets you over the hard work of initiation. After being involved in the activity for 10 minutes, then decide whether to continue. Once you're involved, it's easier to stay with a task. Succeeding at a task does not require that you like doing it.

Sounds like a good idea to me! Not so great for my illustration though. I could have a ball with a topic like that! Never mind, I altered some of the positioning of the figure to help with conveying the idea and sent it in. Oh and "Who is Gary Smith?" I hear you ask. Well this is an xmas present for him and I've no idea what he looks like! Fingers crossed he looks vaguely like this guy... What else can you do?

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Don't Hitch a Ride on a Spaceship

You'll get burned...

Just one of those little things, those life lessons that are so important to get right! Now what's that thing your supposed to never do to a Klingon...?

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Why I Came Back


I was stressing. I'd started this blog at work because I was getting back into illustration, I was bored, and I wanted to post the little things I was making in between jobs. Also I'd discovered Illustration Friday and I was having fun with that.

I went on other Illustrator's sites. The way that people had dealt with the blogging issue appears to very much be a tale of 2 cities. On one hand you have my favourite illustrator's website (not my favourite illustrator... although he is awesome! But his site is especially awesome!) which integrates the blog squarely into the site. In my opinion, Kevin Cornell has perfectly designed a portfolio/weblog site. The home page opens up straight into the blog with all the portfolio and other projects, links and goodies arranged down the right. The portfolio sections and the store are easy to navigate and beautifully designed. A gorgeous creation.

On the other hand you have Illustrators who sepearate the blog and the website. I assume they do this for the same reasons I do. They have an existing website, free blog sites are super easy to set up and use, they are unsure that they will keep the blog up and they have a lack of technical knowledge to create their own. The amount of coding required to set up a portfolio site is, well, I set one up in my first Dreamweaver lesson. A blog page with comments and and all the trimmings is a little more complicated to code from scratch.

So I ignored all that. I was so into bearskinrug that I tried essentially to copy it.

I failed. Why? Because I don't have the technical skill to do it. I could have paid someone to do it for me but... I wanted to be in control. Also, it was awesome procrastination.

I was teaching myself all the coding I needed in order to create the site and I started to put it up online and one weekend when it had all gone wrong again I sat there staring at my screen and looked down at my sketchbook and thought...

...what a waste of time. I'm supposed to be an illustrator not a web developer.

So I fished around for a solution. I found RapidWeaver. I spent a whole day at work playing with it when we were quiet. RapidWeaver is a template based web design application for Mac. Actually, saying it's a design application is misleading. It's not really a design application. It's more of a content manager. They give you a bunch of templates and off you go. They are customisable up to a point (you can change the colours, whether you want the boarder on the left or the right of the screen etc) and that's what bothered me. It wasn't free enough. I wanted my website to be like my work, you know, unique (in my eyes).

Thing is though, website are not that unique. They pretty much keep to one essential layout. Header at top, navigation bar underneath or to one side etc etc... and of course this is a great thing! We know how to work this format! There's nothing worse that a page that says "How to use this site". If you need that page then you've failed as a designer. Remember all those crazy slow loading flash sites? I used to love designing those...

There I am, um-ing and ahh-ing over RW. Then I found a plug-in that let me add my own picture header. Ok, I thought, this is now looking like "mine". Then I started adding the galleries and you know what? My greatest internal fear was realised. Once I'd put my work up it looked like my site. All those hours coding was a waste. Well not totally a waste of time. I'm much better at CSS now!

RW has a built in blogging tool that allows you to put up an all singing all dancing blog much like this one. I figured this is it! I kill off this blog and I've created the site of my dreams! Just like Mr Cornell's! Everyone will love me, angels will sing, doors will open and the packed masses will carry me through the streets of London with money cascading down from the heavens!

I posted the death of this blog and played with the site all weekend posting a couple new things.


All was not perfect. The new blog was giving me grief.

One of the things, as a posting artist, I love about blogger is that you post a small image on the blog which then links to the full sized file. You get the gist from the blog image but if you want to see detail (how I love the detail) you select the image. Not so in RW. I found the RW page hard to read, the fonts were too big and the spacing was all wrong. The gaps between the posts were too small. The format was too wide and strange... I fiddled with all the options and couldn't get it to work. I looked back to the blogger account for guidence and saw my old nicely ordered and spaced blog and my 100 old posts, all standing behind me like an achievement, each one giving me confidence to go on with the next.

The other thing that was troubling me was that I didn't feel free to write whatever I thought on RW. My website is my shop front. You don't air your dirty laundry in the shop in front of customers. You do it out the back where they can overhear it and giggle at the gossip.

This blog is my staff room, my fag break. I feel free and relaxed here. I can say what I think and take on all comers.

Also, especially as I'm going freelance full time in the new year, I can access this page remotely.

So I put it all back like it was! I'm keeping RW for my site because it's an awesome app for managing my images and contact details and all that shop stuff. I can have a store on there too for when I start selling prints in the future. And all for $49 (£24.99 thanks to the weak dollar. I was bought a limited edition Rage CD for more than that). If wasn't posting artwork I would definitely blog there. In fact I'm going to have a little "News" blog up there, mainly to say when I've posted new images in the portfolio section.

So that's where I'm at. Going to do some drawing now. Free at last...

Up Hill Struggles

It's definitely been a struggle in a season they've made a complete meal out of... but Spurs finally won this weekend! In other related news, on the virtual betting website I put £300 on Spurs to win and £100 on the final score being 2-1. That's right, I've taken home £1,130... virtual... pounds! Now I'm off to have a virtual celebration with virtual champagne and virtual strippers and if I'm really lucky I'll get beaten up by a virtual drug dealer and left to die in the virtual rain. Just another night on the virtual tiles...

Reports Of My Death...

...that were given by me, about this blog are not true. I've resurrected it again. The long and boring reasons why I will scribble down here tomorrow when I've slept on it.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The End Is Neigh!

It's sudden, but pretty final.

After 100 posts, and an awful lot of fun, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that this Sketchblog is dead.

From now on I will be posting at my website, rather than here.

Why? Simple. I want to keep all my posts, sketches and portfolio in the same place.

Thanks for the good times and for taking the time to read this page. Come on over and continue the fun at

Nuthin' but love,

Jimmy Boy Reeko

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

I hate Quark

I really, really do. I just can't contain my rage any longer. I just downloaded the 7.3 update and it killed my copy of Quark, so I get to write this rant whilst reinstalling the whole thing AGAIN.

Remember Quark 4? The all conquering application that was the staple for publishing printed media? I learnt Quark on 4.0 with it's weird little world of backward short cuts ("Command - E" for I-mport? who's idea was that?!) but it was the standard. You didn't question it because it's all there was. Ok, so there was page maker and the "lesser" applications like publisher but quark was king. Got my first job in a studio and bang! Quark 4, Photoshop 6, Illustrator 8, get on with it! No problemo...

Then, my missus got a job at the BBC. They had recently switched to InDesign which came with the newly released Creative Suite. She came back from training raving about it. "It's just like Illustrator but with a multi page layout!" she cried as if she'd died, gone to heaven and been pulled back to earth to be told "Yes, Earth and Heaven is now the same place."

See, designers love Illustrator. Why? Because it's a free creative environment. It's vector based so it runs quickly, you copy-drag ideas around a vast artboard, grabbing bits, merging and splicing at will. Quark is practically the opposite of this. Want to place a picture? Well, how big is it? Where do you want it? There? Where's that then? Which font? Nope, wrong font type can't deal with that one. Now, you want a table of information? Why would you want to change the line weight? You'll have to find my sub menus. I give you a clue, it's in the preferences that I just lost. No, wrong tool! Double clicking won't help you there! You need to hold down 5 keys to do that. Which ones? You think I'd know, wouldn't you? Oh, and I just lost where all your pictures were kept too. You'll have to import them again.

I remember the great Kevin Cornell describing designing with Quark "like trying to draw Mount Rushmore with an Etch-a-sketch" on a message board.

You see Quark wasn't designed for designers. It was designed by technicians to do a job. "Put picture here, put text here, print." I used to design (still do actually) on paper or in Illustrator and remake in Quark as it's so anti-creative. I've had to developed a new mental workflow which requires imagining the entire layout before beginning. Super annoying for a guy who likes to push things around and see where they go.

I got Quark 7 at work about a year ago. I had hoped they would take on board the threat from InDesign and add in some more creative elements. Copy dragging, outlining fonts, additional image previews, multi image importing... nope. Drop Shadows. That's what they managed. Oh and a new properties bar made utterly useless if you know the shortcuts that Quark pretty much requires you to know to use it effectively.

In fact Quark is so reliant on it's users knowing shortcuts that I know of one recruitment firm that devised a test for it's DTP applicants involving a shortcut Q&A, i.e. "Centre text. A: Shift-Alt-M, B: Shift-Alt-C..." and handed you a print out and an unplugged keyboard to "help".

To add insult to injury with Quark 7 they even managed to screw up a load of things that previously worked fine. My version has never imported pdf's consistently and struggles with rendering CMYK .eps and .tiff files to the same colour. How basic is that? How can you not fix that stuff?

So why don't you switch to InDesign then Reeko? Well, I can't. My boss requires me to use Quark because he doesn't want to learn InDesign. I can see it in my Dock, taunting me. Crying out for me to switch! Oh well. Quark will die soon. People will have to switch. Hopefully.

Monday, 3 December 2007


"Excess" seems to fit so nicely into a environmentally themed post.

Check it;

"One study estimated that a single transatlantic return flight emits roughly half the CO2 emissions produced by all other sources (lighting, heating, car use, etc.) consumed by an average person yearly."

One thing that's amazed me, whilst doing a little browsing, is how many people seem to believe that Global warming is an invention of the media. Now, I'm no scientist (really? no kidding...), but I can't buy that all the fumes from our power stations/cars/aeroplanes are having no effect. Also cutting down all the trees on this planet... good plan? Hmmmm. Digging giant holes in the ground to put all our rubbish in. Not really a long term solution is it?

I hope global warming is a load of scare mongering, I really do! That means that the ice caps won't all melt and my children will definitely have a nice future on a nice planet. In the mean time, however, I'll be using public transport, recycling my waste and watching what I buy. Even without Global warming, all of the policies and practices that are being put in place because of it can't be a bad thing.

Catch up...

I've been out or away since Tuesday, hence the lack of posting. Went to an awesome wedding on Saturday night (Congrats Owen & Lizzy!) where I ended up slightly sozzled and looking a lot like this drawing. I have to play catch up for my excess now and I have a part two to the castle post below to finish writing.

I ain't feeling too inspired though. Might give it a couple hours. Food shopping calls me!