Creative Latitude: Cat’s fancy

Crative Latitide: Cat's fancyDesigners who blog is a terrific blog that I wrote about back in December. It features blogs by designers, illustrators and others in related disciplines.

Each month DWB author Catherine (cat) Morley picks a number of the blogs that have a common topic and interviews the blog creators.

She then posts the interviews, along with a screenshot from the blogs and sometimes a DWB header with a photo of the blog creator, on her Cat’s fancy column on Creative Latitude, a cooperative site for graphic designers.

This month (February) she is featuring blogs by illustrators. There are several blogs and their creators showcased, including lines and colors and yours truly.

There is also a feature on the popular illustration blog Drawn!, and its primary creator John Martz, which should be of interest to most readers of lines and colors.


The Zoomquilt

The ZoomquiltThe Zoomquilt is a collaborative art project between 15 artists and a Flash designer.

There is also a non-animated HTML version (offline at the main site, mirror here), but the Flash version is definitely better.

Like Nosepilot, The Zoomquilt is essentially a diversion, a visual toy meant to amuse and entertain, and just maybe make you look at things a little differently.

While Nosepilot has been on the web for at least eight or nine years, I first encountered The Zoomquilt a little over a year ago, so I think it’s relatively new.

The project is the brainchild of German graphic design student Nikolaus Baumgarten. The other artists are listed on the intro page with links (in some cases to their own portfolios, in others to mirrors of The Zoomquilt).

From the intro screen, choose your version (choose Flash) and, as the intro screen explains, click and drag up to move forward, into the image, or click and drag down to move backward, causing the image to recede.

Either way the animation progresses from scene into scene, passing through image elements that serve as portals to the next scene.

The disparate scenes are tied together by a couple of morphing ribbon shapes that you basically follow through the various “worlds”.

The images are bizarre, often grotesque, which I think makes it a little easier to blend the different artists’ styles, and the progression from one scene to the next is nicely done.

The fact that you are controlling the movement adds to the fun. The overall effect is hypnotic.


Christian Lorenz Scheurer

Christian Lorenz Scheurer
Christian Lorenz Scheurer is a concept artist who has worked on films like The Fifth Element, Titanic, The Matrix, Animatrix, Final Fantasy, What Dreams May Come and The Day After Tomorrow. Born in Switzerland but now living in California, Scheurer initially studied to create graphic novels but realized he wanted to pursue a career in concept art after being struck by lightning (literally).

The Movies section of his site has a selection of his concept art for many of the films he has contributed to. The Games section, similarly, has concept art from many of the games he has worked on, including GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, Lord of the Rings: RotK, and Final Fantasy IX. The Paintings section contains some striking images that don’t seem to be tied to a particular project.

The sketchbooks in the Sketches section are a particular treat, filled with flights of fancy in a loose, comics-like drawing style, slightly reminiscent of Moebius at times. This is probably my favorite part of the site and enough to make me wish he had kept up his interest in doing graphic novels. The Characters Sketches section (bottom right link on the Sketches page) has drawn and painted versions of the same sketches side-by side, something I particularly enjoy.

The Projects section has art from several projects, including a fascinating “secret project” (that looks like it may be a theme park installation) and Entropia, Scheurer’s own book project.

Entropia is an art/story book about a fantastic land (called Entropia), packaged as a book about rare stamps from that land. There is a separate and rather elaborate web site devoted to the book.

Scheurer seems to work both digitally in traditional media. He is an instructor in “analog media” (a misuse of the term “analog”, they mean “traditional” media) at Gnomon Workshop, but his instructional DVDs are in digital concept art techniques, such as Introduction to Digital Painting in Adobe Photoshop and Advanced Digital Painting in Adobe Photoshop (which includes the image shown above). Here is his gallery on the Gnomon Workshop site.

There is an extensively illustrated interview with Sheurer in the CG Channel site.

Olduvai George (Carl Buell)

Carl Buell
Olduvai George is a blog title and online identity for natural history illustrator Carl Buell. (The name is a play on Olduvai Gorge, a large ravine in Tanzania where some of the earliest human remains have been found.)

Buell has a passionate fascination with animals, living and extinct, although his work has him most often illustrating animals that lived in the last 65 million years (after the disappearance of the dinosaurs). His robust, colorful illustration style uses texture and color relationships to give the animals a real sense of physical presence.

He works in both traditional media and digital painting, working primarily in Photoshop for the latter. You’ll also find work in acrylic posted on the site (image above). Here is his step-by-step walk through of his digital illustration of a mammoth, and a more abbreviated look at the drawings for a color image of a bird.

The links that say “Click here for a larger, more detailed image” link to Buell’s Photostream on Flickr. While it’s nice to be able to leaf through the images that way, and I think there are a few on Flickr not on the blog, the images are disappointingly not much (or any) bigger then the images on the blog. They’re good sized on the blog postings, I would just enjoy seeing more of the details because the images seem rich in detail and texture.

There are both color and black and white illustrations posted on the site. Some of the black and white ones are preparatory drawings for color pieces, some are finished (and nicely rendered) black and white illustrations.

Check out this wonderful black and white landscape, inspired in part by Ansel Adams’ photographic techniques.

Link via John Nack on Adobe and Drawn!.

[Addendum: As of June, 2010 — Buell seems to have abandoned the Olduvai George blog, it’s gone. He has a largely incomplete website that appears to be in the early stages of construction, I don’t know how current it is. In the meanwhile, his Flickr account looks like it’s been updated recently.]

Kurt Wenner

Kurt WennerAmong his other talents, Kurt Wenner is a “street painter”, an artist who does highly rendered “paintings” in colored chalk on public sidewalks, usually with a fairly high degree of draughtsmanship and most often in European cities. (American cities are usually too up-tight to allow “art” on the sidewalk, even temporarily; advertising maybe, but not art.)

For more on this fascinating practice, see my post from last fall on its other notable proponent, Julian Beever.

As with Beever, Wenner’s street paintings sometimes take the form of straightforward classical or original images rendered on the pavement. The most intriguing sidewalk images, however, are anamorphic; distorted in a way that, when viewed from a certain angle, produces a dramatic illusion of 3-dimensionality.

Wenner’s site doesn’t demonstrate it, but you can see an excellent example of how this works on these two pages from Beever’s site: the illusionistic view, and the anamorphic image from another angle.

With Beever, (who plays the pop art counterpart to Wenner’s classical approach), it is often the illusion of a 3-dimensional object on or above the plane of the pavement. Occasionally he projects depth below.

Wenner, however, prefers the illusion of depth below the pavement and creates spectacular images of ornately decorated structures that appear to be sunken into the sidewalk. Many of his painting sessions also take on the flavor of public events.

Wenner is certainly the more classically proficient draughtsman of the two and his images often carry the feeling of the classical trompe l’oeil techniques, used to add the illusion of ornate decoration to plain architectural elements, that were popular in the Baroque period. In fact, Wenner himself does this for clients and you can see a rather striking example of it here.

Wenner also does traditional painting, sculpture and decorative relief, as well as designing fanciful architecture. He used to be a scientific space illustrator for NASA(!). There is also a gallery of his street painting at

Link via John Nack on Adobe.

Arnold Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin
We assume to a certain extent that most artists’ work is influenced by their life. Arnold Böcklin is known for his famous image The Isle of the Dead, a composition of which he actually did five different versions. The one shown here is in Berlin, there is also one in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and you’ll encounter a couple of the others in the links I’ve provided.

Böcklin also did a painting called Self Portrait with Death. The seemingly macabre fascination with death can be better understood when you learn that the painter’s life was impacted by it again and again. Five of his eleven children died in infancy and his family had to flee two different cholera epidemics.

Böcklin was one of the best known of the Symbolist painters. Symbolism was a loosely defined movement in art and literature in the late 19th century. The symbolists’ images were often dreamlike, mystical and filled with mythological subject matter, but the “symbols” were likely to be arcane and personal, not the universal symbols you might expect from the term. The Symbolists had a distinct impact on Art Nouveau (see my post on Alfonse Mucha) and were predecessors of the Surrealists in their exploration of dream-inspired imagery.

Böcklin actually called The Isle of the Dead “a tranquil place”. It supposedly was inspired in part by the “English Cemetery” in Florence, near where Böcklin had his studio and where one of his children was buried. I have to wonder, though, if it was also inspired by Isola di San Michele, the island cemetery of Venice. I saw it from a boat and, while it lacks the dramatic landscapes of Böcklin’s compositions, it has the cypress trees and the strange quality of actually being an “island of the dead”.