@davepryor72 - the latest on Instagram

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Princess Bride - 30th Anniversary

The Princess Bride is a film that has captured the hearts of so many (it's a movie about the power of true love, so how can it not)! If you are into fairy tales, sword fights and people in giant rat costumes, this film is for you!

SquaredCo - a company set on creating high quality art and events, celebrates the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride in a big way, with film screenings and an art gallery, featuring great giveaways and some fantastic artists such as Andrew Kolb, Cassie Hart Kelly, and Leire Martin.

I am so excited to be part of this show with these other talented artists. You can see the whole gallery of offerings on their site. Such wonderful pieces - be sure to take a look and pick up some of your favorites! If you are so inclined, my piece can be purchased here.

Now a little bit about the creation of my contibution to the show.


"He's Gaining on Us"
12"x36" print

I love working in vertical dimensions. When I was watching the film doing my research and getting inspired, the Cliffs of Insanity scene came up I said "That's It. That's what I need to do". It came very easily.

The question was how to portray it and what rules to break. In the movie Fezzik wears a harness that Inigo, Buttercup, and Vizzini attach themselves to as he climbs the rope. For the sake of seeing faces, I re-positioned everyone and concentrated on just making a fun silhouette. 

Here is my initial sketch on the iPad (using Procreate). Not much changed in the pose from the initial drawing. This shows 2 levels of refinement - I worked in a loose black color and then refined the idea in red. The biggest amount of noodling happened with Princess Buttercup, where I tried an option where her hands were tied together before going back to this. 

Here is a view of the initial cleanup line - still working in Procreate. The "brush" I use is custom made and simulates a felt pen. It has a slight fade on the edges and a smooth clean look. I prefer to work the lines, giving it a more hand-done quality rather than constructing the lines in vector. I have done a lot of pieces in vector for linework (using Flash), but lately I have settled in on simply enjoying the process and not worrying too much about exact line perfection. Also - if I can draw on a tablet, I push that pipeline for all it's worth!

On to color. Everything is manually filled as I also generate self-color lines. I tend to pick the palette based purely on my instincts rather than selecting from reference. The beige colors mixed with muddy greens and vivid oranges and reds, gives that feel of classic fairytale book mixed with royalty. The Princess being the prize in this case - you can't pass up an opportuity to showcase a red dress.  

The self color lines offer a cartoon look with softness. I didn't place shadows everywhere, but they do offer a tad of dimension and help with those big Fezzik arms. In the image above you can see the flatter stage before some of the self color and shadows are added. 

The color decisions are made pretty quickly, but for some reason, Westley, with the black robes, threw me for a loop. I went back and forth on his line color about 3 times, coloring everything before changing my mind and doing it all over again. 

The colors and costumes are loosely referenced from the film. I didn't force myself to stay too true to those verbatim, especially on Vizzini. Speaking of which, he was the biggest challenge of me out of all the characters. You can see here if you compare the images, I changed the shape of his head quite a bit and moved around the facial features well after finishing the coloring. I made him look more creepy than goofy. The idea was that he was indeed angered by noticing "The stranger" climbing the rope and challenging his plan. He's really more of a little monster here than a smug genius. 

The image above shows progress further along. I'm working in Photoshop at this point because layers are beginning to add up and texture comes into play. I added bit of a "stained" look over the characters, and used it even more on the background. The background plan was to place the feeling of rock cliffs made of graphic shapes, and just enough vegetation to add interest without overtaking the characters. I added airbrushed areas of "mist" to tone back areas, and even more-so at the bottom of the art to promote the feeling of climbing up into the clouds. The bottom could be endless - this is a dangerous predicament.

The ornate frame was a last touch to cement the "storybook" feel - choosing colors on that was also tricky - about 10 or more options, balancing the line color and base color against the background with different tones. Also, because of the frame design, characters got slightly repositioned, offering a tad more distance between Wesley and the rest. 

Here are 2 alternate ads created for the event. The Fezzik one was used, but I did make 3 just for fun and variety, utilizing the SquaredCo layout provided.

That just about wraps it up. Special thanks to Mark Morris (@emm_squared) for selecting me to participate in this great collection of art, and of course Rob Reiner for making such an epic film!

I hope you enjoyed reading! 'Till next time.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Magic Kingdom

For Christmas this year, I created an illustration/gift for my Sister-in-law of Cinderella's Castle from Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Truth be told, I was hoping to have it finished by her birthday only a few months prior - but this was something I needed to fit in with other projects and I didn't want to rush through it. Here is some of the work in progress and my thoughts throughout the way.

I started off with a Procreate sketch. I knew I wanted to exaggerate the scale of the towers, so I worked with the tall format dimensions that I have grown fond of. This felt like a followup to the Wonka Factory piece I created for the September's Wonka art show, and I really liked this concept as a followup.

A few of the towers around the gate lent themselves to some reuse to make it a bit easier, but there are a lot of subtle differences in the tower structures that needed to be handled independently as I worked through. 

I wasn't sure which characters to include. My main thought was for sure the main 3 - Micky, Donald and Goofy. But I also wanted to fill out the composition with some characters in the sky. You can see here that Tinkerbell, Dumbo, and Aladdin and Jasmine on the Magic Carpet were all possibilities, but in the end I chose Dumbo only since I knew I wanted to feature a lot of fireworks in the sky. I know Tinkerbell is a pretty strange one to drop since she's present in so many iconic castle representations, but I just wanted this to be a little different, and Dumbo is just too adorable. Minnie gets in there too since you almost never see Micky apart from her any more. Those lovebirds.

Actually, my Sister-in-law's favorite characters are from Beauty and the Beast - but I just couldn't imagine including them in this "classic" Disney piece - maybe in another illustration down the line ;)

The characters were all illustrated on the iPad using Procreate in large scale, and the first items I tackled after the initial sketch. I wanted to add my own take on these guys of course, so I played around a little as I researched their characters and moved forward. 

I didn't have the full palette in mind yet so I worked them up in steely teal monochromatic colors as I built them up. I think this is the first time I ever drew these characters outside of a scribble. Each completed character felt like a mini accomplishment on the road to the larger goal, so I rendered tome toned versions of each one as I went along and featured them on my social pages - fun little teasers of something bigger to come. 

These little vignetted versions of the characters are pretty fun in on their own, and I do enjoy how they turned out. Dumbo with Timothy tucked in the hat was probably my favorite from the group. 


I did also consider Daisy and Pluto at one point, and even started painting up Pluto, but scrapped that progress to move on to the castle, figuring that I could finish them later on if I wanted to include them in the composition. As it went, I didn't feel they were needed, and I didn't want to just cram them in. 

At this point, I migrate from Procreate to Photoshop simply because of the sheer number of layers I knew I was going to create with the tower work, and also to have the flexibility of selection tools and vector shapes. In this illustration above, you can see the early stages of developing the palette, and the rough inclusion of the monochromatic characters. 

I had thought of making the sky simple arc shapes in the beginning - thinking that maybe they would turn into implied clouds or something interesting - that idea was abandoned for the sake of the fireworks.

Here, those arcs became dithered, and elements of the horizon colors begin to emerge. Those golden trees really get toned back in the end, but those were a detail that I felt might balance the highest golden tower at the time. 

At this point I'm getting to just about final. All the Characters went through stages of color additions to harmonize and balance out the vibrant golds and pinks. At one point, the fireworks were also all different colors, but in the end,  I just didn't want them upstaging the castle and I felt they worked better as a background element. 

One of the trickiest things through all of this was creating something that felt somewhat symmetrical when things were not, and breaking my natural desire to make things as such. There was tons of "scooting" assets around - like exactly where the bottom characters get placed, and the design of the rounded staircases. Every tower placement was questioned, and there are tons of design calls going on with those caste details. What to include or not include - and trying to allow for flexibility in what does or does not need to line up from a construction standpoint when compared to the real castle. 

In the end, print colors did come out nicely vibrant and I had some great assistance along the way. When doing these big prints, I need to work with outside resources, so there is less time for "playing around". 

Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed the commentary. I'm sure there are items I forgot to mention, so I may edit if something pops up. If you have any comments, I'd love to hear what you think - leave them here or use the social page that linked you here. Tell me that detail that you would have included or what characters you would have chose. Most of all, I hope you get a chance to see the Magic Kingdom with your own eyes very soon!

'Till next time! 
- Dave

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017

Since I don't get around to doing blog updates as often as I used to, I figured i'd compile a few late 2016 update post. So... going backwards in time, here we go!!!

First of all, Happy 2017! 2016 has been a great year for me artistically. Finished lots of personal art goals and I was happy to have gotten a few mini animations completed. I've gotten back to doing animations just for fun, taking only a day or two to crank something out. Not sure if I will ever go down the road of a film project like Alien for Christmas again, but who knows!

Here is my New Years animation called Burst out of Your Shell. It's a simple statement that we should all shed our skin each year and start something new!

Right before Christmas, I updated Alien for Christmas (which you can watch on Vimeo) with an all new HD version of the short. It was really starting to show it's age with the 640 format - so it was overdue for an update.

Now that I'm using Instagram much more than the blog, I put up a widget at the top of the page that shows the latest posts. This way, the blog stays a little fresh, even when I'm not updating it here.

In early December, I was part of 2 gallery openings at Gallery 1988. One was "The Coen Brothers show" (which you can see more detail on in the previous post below), and the other was "Another art show about Nothing" - a show dedicated to one of my favorite shows of all time, Seinfeld (which, coincidently, we have been working on a slot game at work for Seinfeld for the past year!)

"The interview"
Ink on paper

I chose to do an homage to one of my favorite episodes to a bit where Kramer and Newman work up a scheme to have the homeless pull a rickshaw cart around New York City. A fun moment when Kramer and Newman perform ad-hoc interviews with the 3 candidates that shows up - one of which wanders off right at the start, and another that ends up just running off with the cart!

I was using a new ink stain technique on this image - so if you now own it from the show, a fun fact that this is the first time I worked in this medium. I really wanted this to have a personal quality. 

Here are a few more images of the process:

At thanksgiving I had a chance to work up a couple fun bear-eating images. Who doesn't love a good guilt-snacking furball? 

After seeing "Fantastic Beasts" - I worked up this Bowtruckle image below - loved this little guy and how he would hide under Newt's lapel in the movie!

On November 19, I was part of an art show at Creature Features in Burbank CA dedicated to "MYTHBUSTERS"! What a treat. The show, curated by Chogrin, and featured a select group of artist works that featured portraits of Jamie and Adam from the show.

11x14 - Digital

My piece showcases, from what I was told by the curator, something that never happened in the shows history - Jamie and Adam dining together. Another thing it showcase is a drink that Jamie created called 444 - a mix of 4 fruits, 4 veggies, and 4 grains. I thought it would be fun to have these 2 cheering each other for their awesome success! The art is now on tour as part of a Mythbusters exhibit. Check out the review of the show on Nerdist

On November 18 and 19, I had the chance to experience CTN and DCON for the first time. Both conventions were fantastic, and I came home with more that a few bags worth of artwork and artist cards to enjoy.

CTN gave me a chance to talk with many folks that I normally only get to see online, and a chance to rub elbows with may of the industry professionals that I admire, and worked with on previous occasions. 

DCON was a real artists show - independently produced works (art, shirts, toys) from a wide range of passionate creatives. The price was right - only $10 to get in, and just about anyone who wasn't at CTN already was located here. 

In November, I took part in the Back to Bits project, a multi-animator effort that collected GIFs from animators and showcased them as an homage to the games of yesteryear. This is the first "volume" of the show with (hopefully) more to come. This effort is curated by Jerry Liu.

My animation - The Life and Death of a Marble - based on the Atari game Marble Madness, ended up being a little long for the GIF format - but you can see my directors cut here

On November 5th, Gallery 1988 feature "Postcard Correspondence" - a show entirely dedicated to postcard art that you could buy and use as cards to display  - or better yet - mail to your friends! My piece featured "The Blues Brothers" at christmastime, and was aptly title, "Let the Good Times Roll". I was inspired by Elwood's tiny apartment in the movie, and I loved the idea of the brothers sharing that space at Christmas.

"Let the Good Times Roll" 
5x7 Postcard

And one of the biggest moments of 2016 - Cubs winning the world series! It doesn't get better than that for a Chicagoan. 

Geez - I have more to get to - Inktober, the Wonka show, SDCC... I'll need to do the rest in a post update when I get more of that precious time! 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Coen Brothers Art Tribute Show - Gallery 1988

A first of it's kind show for Gallery 1988 - a tribute to Joel and Ethan Coen, directors of films such as "Fargo", "The Big Lebowski", "True Grit", and "No Country for Old Men". Check out the show at:

7308 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles CA 90046
Show runs December 9-23, 2016

My Piece is titled "Civilized Conversation", and depicts the scene in "O Brother Where Art Thou" where the jail-breaking Soggy Bottom Boys (Everett, Delmar, and "Toad" Pete) encounter Big Dan Teague, wonderfully portrayed by John Goodman. If you have not seen the film, I strongly urge you to give it a view and enjoy this little masterpiece from the Coen Brothers collection. 

The entire show is viewable online and artwork is available for purchase through Gallery 1988.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

20 Years Later - Gallery 1988

It's been 20 years since Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!", and in celebration of this milestone, I've worked up a new piece that is part of other 1996 films showcased in Gallery 1988's new exhibit, "20 Years Later". I still remember being wowed by the CG aliens - and you can be wowed all over again by all the love this movie gets in this art show!

7308 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles CA 90046
Show open July 1-16, 2016

"They Blew Up Congress"
Acrylic on birch board

Rough iPad sketch of the concept. The scene that is in the movie is actually a pretty cheesy effect shot of a bunch of old dudes getting blasted by lazers, ending in a wonderful moment with Grandma Florence Norris (played by actress Sylvia Sydney) shouting happily "They blew up Congress!"

I did originally think about doing this painting with have skeletons and half old guys, but after working up the skeleton pattern, I found it impossible to go back. 

A shot of the painting workspace - I did most of this at the Elmhurst Art Museum while folks were checking out the Red Wagon Gallery. This was a fun one to explain!

I added some extra sparkle paint to the lazers, which looks kind of cool as the light catches it. 

So check out the show before the 16th if you live in LA, or online if you are out of town at this link. Thanks for checking out the page! -Dave