Category Archives: illustration process

A Sunday afternoon wedding

Some caricatures from the weekend—

You can book me here: https://www.thebash.com/caricaturist/johnmanders

A few more caricatures from last weekend

Here’s a tiny handful of photos from my gig last weekend—the community event in Utica, New York.

Thanks again to Michael Purcell at A-1 Entertainment for hiring me!

Drawing faces

Last weekend I got to draw caricatures at a lovely community celebration in Utica, NY. Michael Purcell of A-1 Entertainment hired me and was kind enough to take this video—
https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPQZdqkj1hwhsH9lWRYZtWFELJZhHt6lsUTuIdHZKmo30C1EAo6X04tol4ZhdfcvQ?key=Sk9FSjJmVkNFR1pHOHlnV2VMb010TzczU05JN3hR

Here’s the couple holding their finished caricature:

If you’re looking for party and event vendors in central New York, give Mike a shout—A-1Entertainment.com

Format

So those early vernacular writers shaped their languages. In a similar way, the early printers and paper manufacturers shaped what we think of as a book. How big is a book? How many pages? How do you organize the information printed inside?

When this book gets printed it will be about 9” x 12”. It will have 32 pages plus the cover. Thirty-two is the usual number of pages for a kids’ book. Why? Because of the size of the press sheet—the piece of paper that gets run through a modern 4-color printing press. You can fit 8 pages onto each side of a press sheet. Two sides equal 16 pages. Sixteen is too few pages to tell a story, so kids’ books are 2 of these press sheets—32 pages total. There will be a title page and a page for copyright/dedication and other information. The rest will be lousy gags and badly-drawn cartoons and history. This is called the format of a book.

https://writersrumpus.com/2013/09/24/why-thirty-two-pages/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

Mucho mejor

Much better. I made Rosinantes just a little bit bigger—115%. It made all the difference.

We’re going to need more books

Charlemagne wanted to promote a culture of learning throughout France and then the Holy Roman Empire. He didn’t have tv or the internet to spread this learning around, so Charlemagne would need to use books. Many of those old books from classical times (during the Greek & Roman Empires) were hard or impossible to find.

° Bad news: Charlemagne was made aware that many original manuscripts of ancient writers and philosophers had been lost or destroyed—like when the library at Alexandria got torched. Probably Alcuin and the other teachers told him.
° Good news: Charlemagne was made aware that copies of these ancient manuscripts existed in the Near- and MidEast, translated into Arabic. Probably Alcuin again.
° Plan of action: Charlemagne and Alcuin began an empire-wide program of finding the Arabic copies and translating them into Latin.

As I mentioned a few posts back, written Latin had taken on a different character in every different kingdom—it didn’t look like the square-cap Latin chiselled into a column that Julius Caesar would have recognized. Copying and translating these Arabic manuscripts would be a golden opportunity to standardize writing—get everybody in the empire writing the same way. Here’s the thing: instead of making all the monks go back to square-cap Latin, Alcuin had a different idea. He noticed that a lot of those regional writing quirks made Latin easier to read.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25669.How_the_Irish_Saved_Civilization
https://omniglot.com/writing/latin2.htm
https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldhistory/chapter/charlemagnes-reforms/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

This sketch was driving me nuts

I drew this sketch for The Die Is Cast Part IV. Pope Leo’s head was too far to the right. It made him look like he had really long arms. So I cut and pasted (the old fashioned way, with a razor blade and a piece of masking tape) his head a bit to the left and it made all the difference. I also redrew Charlemagne’s sleeve so his arm is more foreshortened. I must not have had my wits about me last week.

Here’s the old sketch:

Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day, ad 800

How my sketches evolve

Probably my best tool for convincing an art director to hire me is my ability to sketch. I like my drawings to look like they came together without much effort. That’s an illusion, of course. To make something look easy you need to put in a bit of work.

Here are the stages of the Hannibal drawing I did for the last post:

1) A rough thumbnail sketch of the idea. Believe it or not, I drew it 10 years ago when I first started planning this book. I like the carelessness of this drawing.

2) I grabbed reference for Hannibal’s elephants and drew this sketch by tracing over the thumbnail and refining it. I added a guy behind the elephant for some drama. I think it looks way overworked, like I’m trying too hard.

3) So I traced over the tracing. This one feels light and fun, like the thumbnail. But, I overlooked one thing…

4) …that howdah needs to be drooping further back on the elephant. That change makes the elephant look even less in control—the balance has shifted—there’s tension because he could go tumbling at any moment. I didn’t redraw the whole sketch, just the howdah.

If I use this image in the printed version of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing, I will paint it traditionally. I will concentrate on keeping it light and fun.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

That dirty rotten Rochefort

Here’s a little scene from The Three Musketeers where our hero, D’Artagnan,  recovers from having been knocked out by Rochefort’s henchmen. Rochefort has a quick conversation with Milady DeWinter—and you can see that he has stolen D’Artagnan’s letter. That scoundrel!

Reference photos (yes, that’s a Wells-Fargo stagecoach), thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, color sketch, work in progress, final art—bon appetit!

Christopher Lee and the astonishingly lovely Faye Dunaway

The Channel of old England

Update: I apologize—Wordpress.com’s new, pointless, irritating, impossible-to-use editing feature seems to have wiped clean the comments and likes from this post. I don’t know how to retrieve them. I dearly wish the geniuses at WordPress had never monkeyed with their editor.

More from Starry Forest’s The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan must cross the English Channel to collect the Queen’s jewels from the Duke of Buckingham—and so restore her honor. Here’s our hero braving the sea-spray on the fo’c’sle deck. Thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, color sketch, some work in progress, final art.

The original art is available at my Etsy shop.