Sketchbook: Grave Thoughts

Well, it's that time of year when I really begin thinking about new ideas for the Halloween yard and considering I'm almost always thinking about haunted decor for the front lawn (even on Christmas Eve), that's saying something.

As the wheels turn, I also get frustrated with myself because there are so many ideas from the past left unrealized, old props needing makeovers and all are always more than my time and budget will allow.

Then again, what is Halloween if not a great reason to let the imagination have fun. So with that in mind, I doodled up yet another possible character for the yard (and play with my new Sakura pigma brush marker).

Creative Inspiration: Bernie Wrightson

Book trailers on the web are a common promotional tool in publishing today, but here's one from the '80's for the now classic Bernie Wrightson illustrated Frankenstein.

Halloween '10 - Sinister Saint Novena Candles

Awhile back on my web comic, Para Abnormal, I did a series of Saints whose patronages where strange, somewhat sinister and very true (click here). I decided these guys needed their own novena candles to include in my Oct. 31st decor.

I chose two cartoons from the series perfect for Halloween...

Thankfully, living in Los Angeles, novena candles can be found almost everywhere and actually bought mine at the corner mini market for $1.50 each. The original cartoons needed tweaking to be candle ready. Using Photoshop, I got rid of the captions, elongated the panels and adjusted the size overall...

Then I printed on vellum, flipped the computer image and printed again on the back of the same vellum sheet. This helps to keep the colors saturated and not washed out from the flame back light. After cutting out I just glued on the glass. Want to make your own? Feel free to click on the "candle ready" cartoon panel above to enlarge and swipe it. Just keep my credits on there is all I ask.

IMPORTANT: the labels won't hold up well to extended heating from the candles if left lit for a very long period of time. There may be warping, even browning. Glue them down well and far below the glass lip. A good general rule I follow... never leave candles burning out of sight!

Jeff's Big Book

As propmaster for Nickelodeon's BrainSurge, I created this fun giant book used in each episode by host Jeff Sutphen. The one pictured here is the recently filmed second season makeover version of the book currently seen on the air in season one. It couldn't be very different as it's an established prop now. Because the audience only gets a brief moment to see the cover when Jeff holds the book up quickly before opening, the simple overall design and bold wording works well to recognize what it is as opposed to a prop tome of intricate detail.

The book had to be very large, but still very easy to lift and handle, so I made it from scratch with lightweight foamcore board. It's painted and finished using the same paper towel and Mod Podge method from my creepy old book how-to. Although it looks 500 pages thick, there are only 50 or 60 glued in sheets of thin drawing pad paper. I crumpled each page and loosely made flat again, so the book never really closes completely and has the illusion of thickness and weight. The pages were aged with brushed on coffee. The natural warping of the paper after drying also helps the illusion.

The ornate corners on the cover are cut out from craft store fun foam sheets with added brass upholstrey tacks. Like many of my past projects needing old labels, the one here is also done in Photoshop, printed out, glued on and aged with coffee. I wrinkled and tore the edges for the worn look while still wet.

Creative Inspiration: Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess

If this doesn't make you feel like using your imagination creating something in someway today then I have no idea what else could...

Easter Kid Crafting

Three very easy and kid friendly Easter themed craft projects I made for Family Fun. Most of the materials needed are probably already around your house. Click on the project titles to view the "how-to" videos.