Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The A.T.T. - Part 2 - The Maquette

At Goodwill you can get a "grab bag special," which is essentially a clear plastic bag for two bucks and as many broken toy parts you can cram into said bag. What you see on the left is the chaotic mess from one of these fun and hand-sanitizer-required-afterward expeditions.

James Gurney has been preaching about maquettes and their usefulness on his blog for ages. Although I had known about them in school, I'd never actually tried building one. With each new concept, I worked, re-worked... and kept re-working an illustration trying to capture something that I just could not translate without seeing it in the environment I was trying to illustrate. Using the maquette saved me a lot of valuable time because I could easily visualize what each shadow, or ray of light would look like because the photo reference for it was right there. Each illustration required less tweaking and I was able to complete them much quicker than with no reference.

When it came time to create the maquette of the A.T.T., I used the opportunity as another "sketching method." I still was not absolutely set on a design, and since I was creating it from scratch I had free range on experimenting. Using the interesting shapes of old toy parts, foam board, and other random materials, I was able to create my own Frankenstein of an Automated Torque Telegrapher. Once it was completely assembled, I painted it flat grey to make it appear more seamless, easier to capture shadows, and reflect light in photographs.

The fun thing about building maquettes is that you can be as precise or uncomplicated as you like. The ultimate goal is to get the information you need out of it, whether it be a certain pose, the perfect angle, or most importantly, how lighting and cast shadows fall on your subject. I've gotten quite a few miles out of just this one maquette. I've used it for several panels in the web comic as well as faux newspaper articles, and eventually I might make a "blueprint style" poster of the Automated Torque Telegrapher. Until then... it rests happily in my studio with all the other clutter of maquettes, books, and scribbles just waiting for the day I need to draw the A.T.T. once more.

In the next post, I'll share a few of the finished illustrations/designs that I have referenced this maquette for.

Until Then,


You can view the A.T.T. in action in the
Apparition Abolishers webcomic

See the sketches of the A.T.T. - HERE

For some of the very best tips and tricks of illustration art,
visit James Gurney's blog - GurneyJourney,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The A.T.T. - Part 1 - The Sketches

The Automated Torque Telegrapher, or the A.T.T. for short, is a "little" invention that the great Dr. Mortimer J. Torque created circa 1889. The A.T.T. had a unique way of receiving code and translating messages into hand written script via an automated mechanical arm. Considering the technology of the time, such a device was unfathomable.

I've found that trying to formulate ideas for things that do not exist in our world, without making it look too much like something that has already been done before can be quite daunting. Over the course of the next few posts, I would like to share some of the process of how I came about designing the A.T.T.

It all started with this tiny thumbnail. When I scribbled this, I kind of had a lose idea as to things I wanted: a fancy table-like base, an arm, and some cogs & steam for good measure.

Seems pretty easy right? Wrong!
I literally drew dozens and dozens of sketches and scribbles before I found a shape I liked. Below are a few of the "better" ones. At first, I was digitally drawing interesting silhouettes and then chipping away until I found something I liked... no dice.

I even did some traditional sketches in the ol' sketchbook. There was still nothing I liked, but I felt I was getting closer to the essence of what needed to be there.

Next, I tried a really fun method of mashing up photos just to see what would happen. In using this method I didn't find exactly what I was looking for... although I did get just enough information out of the exercise to move back to pencils and continue fine-tuning what I had going with a fresh concept.

Now at this point, I liked what I had, but felt I could do better. I had just bought James Gurney's book, "Imaginative Realism," and after seeing what he does with maquettes, I really wanted to try my hand at building one-especially since I knew I would be drawing this bad boy from multiple angles for more than a few panels, it just seemed to make sense to build one!

On the next post I'll show you in which direction I took all these jumbles of chicken scratch and how the A.T.T. came to be in maquette form.

Until then, Stay Classy.


- You can view the A.T.T. in action in the

- Visit James Gurney's blog - GurneyJourney, for some of the very best
tips and tricks of illustration and great art in general.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

¡Dia de lo Nachos!

Well! It's 2011 now. 2010 was one of the worst financial years of my life... so far. But not to fret, I have made many plans and projects to hopefully make 2011 a much better year.

One of my goals (not resolutions, those are bogus) is to really try and make a regular posting scheduale here on my blog. Hopefully with doing that it will help keep me "accountable"

I think i might start tomorrow with a little Abolishers insight and an update of how things are going on that front.