All posts by Dennis West

Pin the Tail on the Werewolf

So, my 7 year old daughter arrived home from school the other day holding a piece of paper with a bunch of names of the kids in her class written on it. She shows it to us and says excitedly, “These are the kids who signed up to come to my Halloween party!”

“Uh, what party?” was the instant reaction of both my wife and myself.

Well, we had to debate for a while on whether or not to let her have this party. On one hand we were upset because she didn’t talk to us first, but on the other hand, we were impressed that she would take the initiative and plan it out so well—which is much more than I would have even thought to do when I was 7.

I guess you can tell by the painting that I’m featuring on this entry, that we decided to let her have it. This painting is for one of the games she thought of to play: “Pin the Tail on the Werewolf.”

At first I just wanted to do something quickly and wasn’t very concerned if it turned out well or not—I was only thinking that it would used once—so I got some cheap poster board and used some cheap craft acrylics to paint it, but it turned out much better than I thought it would. My wife is even taking it to be laminated so we can reuse it.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been experimenting with painting in Photoshop and trying to get a hand painted texture to it. With the way this came out I’m really getting the itch to brush up on my painting skills (not pun intended).

Pictured here are also a few of the tails. i think I made around 10 of them.

The party is today. There should be about 10 kids coming.

I have a happy daughter.

If you would like to download PDF files to print so you can play “Pin the Tail on the Werewolf” at your next Halloween or Twilight party, see the links below!

Downloads:

 

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Float – IN LIVING COLOR

This post is a continuation of my first “Illustration Friday: Float” post from the other day. Here I will show the steps that I took to attempt the “textured” feel that you get from actually painting. I use a Wacom Graphire Tablet for drawing on my computer. I’ve used many of them and found the the $99 version was all that I needed.

The first thing I did was bring my rough sketch into photoshop and screen it back to about 25%. Then I created a new layer to trace it on. Using my “Line Brush” I redraw my drawing over my scan. When I do my lines, I have my brush set to 80% opacity with the blending option set to multiply. That way when I re-trace over lines, it darkens it in. I like the texture of my line brush, but not the fuzzy edges, so I go over most of the lines again with my “Round Wet Edge” brush.

 Using my “Soft Wet Brush” I laid in my base colors. Having the opacity and flow set to 50% and the blend set to normal. This is meant to just get in the basic color, don’t worry about fully shading or getting the colors solid right now. You can also reduce the opacity of the brush to be very light—as much as 15%.

Next, I use my “Large Texture Brush” and do additional shading and detailing on the image. Set the brush to Multiply and vary the opacity. I also usually do each of these steps on new layers with some of the layer blending set to Multiply.

My final step is to create a new layer and change the brush blending to normal and do a combination of white and yellow highlighting to define some of the light edges and highlights. Still using the “Large Texture Brush.”

 Here is the final Drawing. I think the technique could use some refining, but I’m pretty happy with the textures and that it doesn’t have the soft “airbrushy” feel that Photoshop usually gives. As with any advice you receive online, season to taste. This is working for me now, but you may find something that works better for you. If you’d like to share, I’d be more than happy to see.

Here is a detail of the drawing for a closer look at some of the textures.

Whew! This was a long post. I hope nobody fell asleep at their keyboards.

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Jim Henson, The Works


Everyone who knows me as an adult thinks that I must have been a huge Disney fan as a child. While I’ve always enjoyed Disney films and shorts, my childhood was focused mainly on three things: Peanuts, Star Wars, and The Muppets.

This week’s book spotlight is Jim Henson, The Works — yet another of my most prized books in my library. In it, we not only read biographies and histories of the characters that we’ve grown to love, but we also learn about some of the projects that he would have like to have produced and how much of an artist and visonary Jim Henson really was.

The book contains some of the most creative and unique page layout designs that I have ever seen. I especially enjoy the small “Jim Henson: The Early Years” book which is about a quarter of the page dimensions of the rest of the book which is tipped-in to the binding. The entire volume appears to have been assembled as thoughtfully and lovingly as you can imagine Jim doing all of the projects during his life.

In a nutshell, I would highly recommend this book—not just to people who are fans of the Muppets, like myself, but to anyone who likes to have a peek into what makes creative people tick, and maybe glean some inspiration in the process.

What made me decide to comment on this book—besides seeing it on my bookshelf every day at work—is my recent purchase of The Muppet Show: First Season on DVD. I was a little nervous when I first got it that I wouldn’t enjoy the humor as much as an adult as I did when I was a kid, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. It is so nice to see the sophisticated wit in the writing of this show that still makes me laugh out loud. I was also happy to see that my 5 & 7 year old daughters also laughed quite a bit at the show and often ask to watch them over again. The shows still have value today as great entertainment and I would highly recommend them.

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Experimenting in Watercolor

Every once in a while I break out my paints and try to do something by hand. I really like the texture that painting and drawing by hand creates, but I usually feel much more confident in the results I get by completing something on the computer.

This is an illustration that I did a few years back after reading an article in Step by Step about how one of my favorite illustrators, Peter DeSeve, does his illustrations. I don’t think I quite achieved his style, but I was kind of happy with the result.

More recently, I have been working on a children’s book. I did two versions of the above illustration (the other one being my first Illustration Friday entry). This is actually my first attempt. Painting it went smoothly enough, but I just didn’t feel comfortable enough with it to think that it would really measure up as a book illustration. Hopefully with this blog/Illustration Friday avenue open, I’ll be able to practice my basic skills more. I enjoy realizing the illustrations on the computer, but there’s a certain amount of warmth that comes from painting that I’m just not getting from the computer.

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The Art of Charles Schultz

One of my favorite books that I own is Peanuts: the art of Charles Schultzstyle=border:none. Its rich, close-up photography of the yellowing newsprint pages are so warm and inviting. It also includes a biography, rare memorabilia, sketches by Shultz as well as images of the original inked artwork from the strip. Even though I’ve had the book for a few years now, I never get tired of immersing myself in the evolution of Shultz’s talent and the Peanuts characters.

There was a time in my life when I very much wanted to be a syndicated comic strip artist. Occasionally my fancies take me down that path even now and usually it’s encounters with this book that trigger such wanderings.

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