Buffy vs The Deadliest Catch

My wife and I were debating what to watch on Netflix.

– I want to watch Buffy!
– But I want to watch The Deadliest Catch!
– No, Buffy!
– No. Deadliest Catch!

My wife won. So we were watching The Deadliest Catch. On the plus side, I got to draw boats while “watching”.

Fishing vessel marker illustration

Fishing vessel a la The Deadliest Catch

Fishing vessel marker illustration

Fishing vessel a la The Deadliest Catch

Constitution day weekend in Oslo

Paradisbukta marker sketch

Paradisbukta at Bygdøy

Over the long weekend, the weather was beautiful, the wife had a friend visiting and we got around Oslo a little. The beaches at Bygdøy were full of people bathing in the sun and in the, by most accounts, still cold water.

Brenneriveien near KEM, Oslo - marker sketch


I also got to visit the art supply store KEM where I picked up a few discount markers. Since the ladies went shopping I had time to sit propped up against some of the great graffiti and sketch the opposite view. Several tourists came by and took photos of each other against the wall I was next to.

Spring is here

Tree hut marker illustration

Spring tree hut

Well actually, it has been here for at least a week, but since tomorrow is Constitution Day in Norway and that usually (not always) properly marks the arrival of spring, today is probably a good day for this illustration.

I think I only built a tree hut once when I was a kid.

Joel Åkerman

Hotel lobby sketch by Joel Åkerman

Hotel lobby sketch by Joel Åkerman

These sketches are done by Joel, whom I had the pleasure to work and hang out with in Funcom while he was Art Director on The Secret World. On a few occasions, both in Beijing and Montreal, we have sat and sketched together. These first ones are from the bar of Hotel Crown Plaza in Beijing.

Hotel bar sketch by Joel Åkerman

Hotel bar sketch by Joel Åkerman

Joel does such observation sketches with a black Sharpie, if I remember correctly – though on the one below from McGill University I think I can see some areas where he quickly borrowed one of my Copics.

McGill University sketch by Joel Åkerman

McGill University sketch by Joel Åkerman

He has a good eye for where to mark the transition from light to shadow, something that is always tricky when working only with a black / white contrast. James Gurney has a good post on that here.

Park sketch by Joel Åkerman

Park sketch by Joel Åkerman

Joel is now Associate Art Director for EA in Gothenburg, and he still seems to put things up on his portfolio site, so head over and have a look!

Digging machine concepts

Digging machine concept sketch in marker

Digging machine concept sketches

These are sketches from when I worked on Anarchy Online. I remember wishing we had gone for the top one, rather than the bottom one. I’d still like to model the top one and put it into a game.

Robot sketches

Robot marker concept sketches by OJ Kielland

Robot marker sketches

Here are some robots! Although the one on the left has a lot of random bulky shapes that don’t really do anything, I do like that it has a bell helmet. The two others are clearly just a cute couple.

Eric Canete

Marker illustration by Eric Canete

Marker illustration by Eric Canete

Eric Canete is an illustrator, designer and storyboard artist who has worked on animation features such as Aeon Flux and Tron: Uprising, as well as being an accomplished comic artist.

Marker illustration by Eric Canete

Marker illustration by Eric Canete

He is featured on Copic Markers’ website, and it’s easy to see why. His figures are active and dynamic and clearly reflects his comics and animation background. But what I enjoy the most is the contrast in his marker renderings. The values really go all the way from dark to light with great control, and that is admirable with a medium where what’s put down, stays.

Marker illustration by Eric Canete

Marker illustration by Eric Canete

Go see lots more at his own blog: http://kahnehteh.blogspot.com

Diana Mini and origami crane

Diana Mini and origami crane marker illustration by OJ Kielland

Diana Mini and origami crane

I bought my Diana Mini out of necessity when I was in Beijing a few years ago, as my digital camera decided to finally stop working on the very first day of my stay there.

I had only been walking around Sanlitun for an hour when I saw the Lomography store, and realised here was my chance to not miss any more photo opportunities. At less than $100, including a few rolls of film, it seemed worth it at the time, and it absolutely was.

I have knocked this poor thing around quite a bit, but the simple plastic construction just won’t break. Apart from the lens cap, which I lost on the third day, of course.

Though I have to admit, sharing photos takes me a while – I am pretty sure I still have a roll or two of film shot about a year ago.

The above illustration was a result of me feeling like drawing something boxy, and when I needed something more on the page I resorted to origami, which I had just been busy with at work. I guess it turned into a proper hipster sketch.

Francis Tsai

Character sketch in marker by Francis Tsai

Character by Francis Tsai

Character sketch in marker by Francis Tsai

Characters by Francis Tsai

Francis Tsai is a comic book artist and concept designer whose clients include Marvel and DC Comics, Warner Brothers and Wizards of the Coast. He has also been featured in several Spectrum editions.

Environment concept sketches in marker by Francis Tsai

Environment concepts by Francis Tsai

I discovered Tsai’s work sometime in 2006, and was thrilled in 2007 when he was featured in imagineFX, in an article that showed some of his excellent marker sketches.

Environment concept sketches in marker by Francis Tsai

Marker sketch by Francis Tsai

He also used pens as a foundation for digital work in a very sexy way, and his character poses are uber dynamic.

Comic concept sketch in markers by Francis Tsai

Comic concept sketch by Francis Tsai

In 2010 Francis was diagnosed with ALS, which naturally is a big blow to anyone who uses the fine motor skills of their hands and fingers to produce illustrations.

But there is a thing about doing what you love – it’s really hard to stop. So Francis has, as his ability to use ink and Wacom pens diminishes, picked up eye scanning software called Tobii to maintain his ability to make art, and his work continues to be stunning.

Digital art made with eye-scanning software and Photoshop by Francis Tsai

Digital, made with eye-scanning software and Photoshop by Francis Tsai

So do me, and yourself, a favour – whenever you feel you should draw, but just don’t feel like it – remember that nothing, and at the very least (especially?) yourself, should be able to stop you.

I think that’s a thing to remember – don’t worry about those days where you don’t feel like drawing. If you love what you’re doing, you’ll keep it up. You don’t really want to stop.

And please head over to Francis’ blog or Facebook page to check out his great work!

DNA sketches

A while back I was asked to quickly help out with a research illustration. It was a relatively simple vector illustration but I nevertheless wanted to come up with something on paper.

As I did these, I learnt quite a bit about the structure of DNA, so prepare for some trivia.  One of my first attempts was symmetrical about the helixes’ axes, and showed a pretty arbitrary amount of base pairs.

DNA sketch ojkielland

DNA sketch

This proved to be wrong, and while most illustrations of DNA are some sort of symbolic representation (The actual molecules probably look more like this.) there is a difference in the spacing between the two helixes (the backbone strands, made of phosphates and sugars)

These spaces are called the major and minor groove, and they serve a function. The base pairs in the major groove are more accessible than the ones in the minor, which results in some proteins binding only to bases exposed in the major, for example.

The distribution of base pairs is also specific, it turns out to be approximately 10.4 base pairs per turn of the helix. I think I rounded that down to 10 for simplification in the final illustration.

Another interesting exercise was to turn 2 helixes around a sphere or cylinder (which represent another molecule) – I ended up studying an old phone cord to wrap my head around it.  While the final illustration was in no means real world accurate, at least it was better than my first attempt!