Finn the Prime and Jake the ‘Bee!

My twitter pal (and talented wordsmith) @DelilahSDawson asked for my help coming up with a Christmas present for her husband (also my twitter pal & fellow Transformer fanatic) @DocKrog. When she told me the concept, ADVENTURE PRIME, I was all, “WHAAAAAT”

Here’s what I came up with:

 

This was such a fun concept to flesh out, and a surprisingly fitting mash-up. Plus I got to try out the new WHITE pen I bought at the J-market/stationary store. I used it for the highlights on Jake’s arm/hand and for the Autobot symbol on Finn’s arm.

Fun fact: I no longer know how to end blog posts.

._.

TEAM ELITA

Eh… what’s this? *Blows dust off of URL* Oh right, I have a sketchblog! Well, I may as well post something on it. But I’m not coming up with a pun title dammit.

Ahem.

So a couple weeks ago @Brentosaur tweeted the following hypothetical scenario:

 
To which I replied:

 

And then I decided to take it too far and draw up my Autobot team. I would have posted sooner, but I didn’t have time to finish the colors until Labor Day…

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Elita-One, Tracks, and Minerva are pretty straightforward depictions, based on the G1 cartoons. Strika is based loosely on her appearance in Transformers: Animated, but with colors and elements from her original toy (I thought that made her more Autobot-y). Wheelie has proportions inspired by the original toy, but I kind freestyled it from there. For those who are wondering, Elita-One, Strika, and Wheelie were drawn without any real consideration to a Transformation scheme.

This started out as a quick and dirty pen sketch, but I ended up spending a lot of time on the colors and the background in Photoshop. I kind of like the contrast between the super scratchy lines and the very computery background… but I’d be lying if I said it was intentional!

I BET WHAT YOU’RE REALLY LOOKING FOR IS SOME NERDY BACKSTORY, RIGHT??? (The idea here is that this is a starting point for a new series with its own continuity)

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While responding to a distress signal from a remote Autobot colony, Optimus Prime and Elita-One’s team of freedom fighters find themselves ambushed by Decepticons. During the battle, Optimus is rendered comatose by the notorious Decepticon warrior Sixshot, and the Autobots find themselves stranded behind enemy lines…

ELITA-ONE (leader, melee expert): With her mate and partner Optimus out of commission, the mantle of leadership falls solely upon Elita’s shoulders. She is renowned for her even-handed sense of justice, as well as her almost peerless hand-to-hand combat skills. She treats her team like a family, perhaps because she had to leave her actual family behind on Cybertron…

STRIKA (tank): Beneath her armored hide bristling with heavy artillery is… a total martinet. Like, exactly what you would expect. Strika is the only one on the team with formal military training. She often clashes with Elita’s unorthodox methods, but ultimately is loyal. In addition to providing the team with heavy firepower, Strika is a brilliant tactician and strategist. Don’t tell anyone, but I think she has a crush on Tracks…

TRACKS (flyer): It’s a toss up whether Tracks is known more for his prowess in combat or his insufferable sense of vanity. He’s a member of the Omnibot division, which accounts for his extra mode enabling him to fly as well as any Decepticon. When he isn’t dogfighting with Decepticons, Tracks is usually flirting with Minerva. He would claim that he’s just kidding around, but that’s probably because Minerva hasn’t responded to his nonsense…

MINERVA (medic): The second youngest member of the team, Minerva takes her duties very seriously, devoting most of her time to trying to revive Optimus from his comatose state. Minerva has also been entrusted with Optimus’s trailer, which converts to a mobile battle station/repair bay. BTW, she has a secret that only Elita knows about…

WHEELIE (scout): When Optimus and the freedom fighters arrive at the Autobot colony, Wheelie is the only remaining survivor. He becomes the youngest and newest recruit to the team. His outward demeanor is cheerful, but he’s acutely aware that Optimus fell in battle for his sake, and he carries that burden quietly. Wheelie is a fan of poetry and hip hop…

More to come if I get around to illustrating my corresponding Decepticon team…

Two Robots (age before monstrosity)

First, here’s Kup, made to match some of my previous Transformers fan-art:

 
Roughly 3.5″ X 2.75″, drawn with color pencil, marker, and black Sharpie on a ticket stub from a parking garage.

Next up is the tormented Autobot X:

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This one is roughly 9.5″ X 7.25″, drawn on a piece of irregularly cut backing board.When I saw the misfit piece of board, I knew I needed to draw a character who would match its roughness. I made this a grayscale image with red as a spot color hoping to be evocative of old monster movies (since Autobot X is likened to Frankenstein’s monster).

That’s the ticket!

If you’ve read my blog before, you may recall that I’m something of a paper hoarder. I really hate to see paper go to waste. If it can be drawn or scribbled on, I’ll do my best to save it. And when I see other people throw away perfectly scribble-worthy scratch paper, I practically flinch.

Which brings me to the three sketches I have today. Each one was drawn with colored pencil, Sharpie, and marker on the back of a 2.75 x 4″ ticket stub from a parking garage. The subjects of the sketches are the Autobots Hot Rod, Arcee, and Springer. I picked this particular trio of characters because they happened to match the colors of the ticket stubs:

 
A ticket stub from a parking garage is an incredibly mundane thing. It makes me feel good to use such a thing for creativity, even if it’s merely a crude little sketch!

(There, 3 sketches and I’m all caught up again!)

Every Hound Has His Day

Here’s a quick sketch in honor of the passing of Ken Sansom, known to most as the voice of Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh–but to me he’ll always be Hound, the serene, nature-loving Autobot scout:

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I was surprised how quickly this piece went. I’m satisfied that I was able to throw in an indication of an environment and turn a simple bust sketch into something with a little more atmosphere. Also, I managed to avoid getting anal-retentive while I was coloring. That’s an accomplishment for me!

Testbots

I have very nearly zero formal education in the arts, so whilst I ramble about theory today, you must forgive me if I use some terms incorrectly. Nevertheless, I think you will get the gist of what I’m saying. And for hardcore arts people, I’m sure you will have heard this all before. Bear with me, every so often I must talk these things through.

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So, you may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been having a stylistic identity crisis. Maybe crisis is the wrong word. I’d like it to be resolved, but there’s no imminent danger.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll notice that I draw in a lot of different styles. Just the last few entries should make that apparent. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drawing in different styles, but I have been struggling with a more unified overall approach, and I think I need to figure out which style I’m going to focus on and attempt to master.

I’ve been attempting to move towards streamlined shapes with a lot of energy, which goes against literally decades of focusing on details and structure. When I was younger, I fixated more so on drawing things “right.” But you can draw something completely “right” with every detail in place, and it will still lack that undefinable thing that makes a piece of art interesting. And something that’s sort-of related to that–I’ve really become opposed to fussiness in drawing. I still like complexity. And I certainly don’t want to dumb things down. But fussy character design or composition is never a good thing.

I tend to get bogged down with details, so today’s piece was a bit of a style test. I wanted to draw some Transformers in a more streamlined and dynamic manner, without being such a slave to detail and geometry.

In regards to what I’m trying to achieve, I don’t think it worked. As a stand alone thing, the piece is decent enough, but Optimus still looks pretty stiff, and in the end, I still got a little hung up on details. However, on the plus side, the drawing itself didn’t take long at all. (Coloring it still took me forever because I’m slooow.)

Well, what can you do? Back to the drawing board, but first, sleep.

5-Second Review: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Plus Bonus Art!)

Did you know that I’m that guy? I’m the guy who whenever there’s Transformers related news (new film, new cartoon, new video game, etc), everyone I know comes to me. I’m like… the only Transformers pundit my circle of friends is acquainted with. So how could I not review…

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (In theaters now!)

Man, after watching this movie, I’m all: O_O

As in shellshocked. Very intense.

Basically, it’s Michael Bay, you should know what you’re getting into, so don’t be hating. This one is better than the second one, and not as good as the first. If you’ve seen the other two, you have a good idea where your opinion will fall.

It’s a 4 hour plot crammed into a ~2.5 hour movie, and I felt like we were only watching every other scene–the burden is on the viewer to fill in the blanks in many instances. But you get what you’re there for: crazy intense robot battles, hot cars, one hot girl, and plenty of ‘splosions.

As promised by Bay himself, the toilet humor is pretty much gone (there were maybe three toilet humor jokes, and some innuendo, but nothing even as bad as the masturbation conversation in the first movie). And with that little modification, I did find myself enjoying almost every joke that was cracked.

Like the second movie, this one suffers from too many new robots with too little characterization. Let me rephrase that… there’s no such thing as too many robots, but let’s see some personality, yes? The old school cartoon had a cast of dozens, with distinct personalities established within the first handful of episodes. On the Decepticon side, the hordes of grey Genericons (some of whom were supposed to be “somebody”) were pretty dismissable.

Another notable downside carried over from the second movie–Optimus Prime’s moral compass goes beyond the Mortal Kombat mark, when it should really be closer to the Superman mark.

My last two complaints:
1) Why are Transformers so hairy and gooey? You’ll see what I mean.
2) They are referred to as Transformers in dialogue, which is a huge faux pas to me. Transformers is the name of the franchise dude, not the race. They’re Cybertronians. I know, pretty nerdy, right? Hi ladies.

And…

Verdict: Come on, who are you talking to here? It’s me, Transformers fan numbah one. It was Awesome. Good pacing, intense action. I’m not downplaying the movie’s faults, but like I said, we all know what we’re getting into. If you can acknowledge significant flaws without letting it bum you out, and you’re looking for some robo-centric eye candy, then go for it.

For More Giant Robots Getting Blowed Up Good: Real Steel is coming out in October, and oh my god it looks stupid and also, why do I have to wait until October??? ROBOTS NOW PLZ. K thx.

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That was more like a 500 second review, but oh well. In unrelated Transformers news, I did this for my co-worker’s son:

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Autobot insignia drawn by me. Child courtesy of Blabidibla, photo by Ruth666.

No Apologies

THIS IS A SPOILER ZONE FOR TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED… YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I claim to be such a huge Transformers nerd, and yet I don’t believe I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy Transformers Animated–I’m caught up on season three, which has been amazing. Both the series and the toyline are easily amongst the best incarnations of the franchise since Generation One (for anybody keeping score, I do enjoy the two most controversial incarnations of the series–Beast Wars and the live action movie). Transformers Animated has introduced a fresh asthetic, invigorating a franchise that was in danger of stagnating. The new, cartoony look is largely the doing of Derrick Wyatt, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite character designers. The asthetic has been translated into the toy line masterfully by the team at Hasbro, and provides a great visual counterpoint to the gritty realistic look of the Transformers live action movie(s). It is a good time to be a Transformers geek.

Today’s post features the Autobots’ half human, half-Cybertronian sidekick, Sari Sumdac:

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I elected to draw Sari in my own style, because I think it would be foolish to try and out-Wyatt Derrick Wyatt. Sari is depicted in her powered-up teenage form from season three, though I did take some minor liberties with her costume. I tried to make this one a bit more dynamic, since I know static-ness is an on-going poblem with my art. Sari’s costume makes her look like a RAcaseal from Phantasy Star Online, which is definitely a good thing.

  • Please check out the fantastic blog of Derrick Wyatt, bad-ass character designer, and genuine Transformers fan: A Delightful Tedium

Flashback Friday, Again?!? WTF?!?

Let’s face it. Lately, I have been S.T. Rugglin. Which means that once again, you get something that i drew and colored years ago, instead of a fresh selection from my drawing board today. I’m going to work hard this weekend to get ahead on my blog posts, because I know the 5.7 people who read this blog rely on me for 19 seconds of diversion, twice a week. I promise there’ll be all new stuff next week.

Until then, here’s a robot that needs no introduction, but gets one anyways–Optimus Prime, heroic leader of the Autobots:

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Current Mood: Gettin’ there
Listening To: The Long Black Veil
Reading: Just finished Kiki Strike Inside The Shadow City (which was awesome)
Watching: She-Ra season one
Playing: Possum
Eating: Nothing, I’m starved right now!
Drinking: Vitamin Water

Horrible Post Title #085367: Fangs For The Memories

You’re reading this impossibly dorky blog, and asking yourself, what kind of a person is this enigmatic J.Ho? Well let me tell you something–the other day my boss gave me a Transformers pencil (because it’s well known throughout the office that I am a zealot for Transformers), and the first thing I did with that pencil… was sketch a Transformer. I did it, as if compelled by some greater force; as if inaugurating that Transformers pencil appropriately with a drawing of a Transformer was ensuring that all was right throughout the universe–nay, the multiverse. That is the kind of person that I am.

Here’s Grotusque, one of the Monsterbots:

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Though I never owned the Grotusque toy, I always thought the character looked cool: (sabre-toothed tiger) + (dragon) = WINNER, as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, because I don’t own the toy, I have no idea what color it really is–in various photos I found online, the main torso appeared anywhere in the range of magenta, maroon, or burgundy. In the end, I think my colors skewed too close to the magenta end of the spectrum. Oh yeah, there’s also no rhyme or reason to the light sources in this pic.

Close-up photos revealed that Grotusque’s face was molded with a slight texture–in my mind, this implied fur, so I decided to give my interpretation an organic face.

The wing is cut off because that’s where the paper stopped. And on that awkward note, I will end this post.

(Exeunt)

Put on your game face…

Transformers came out on DVD this week, and I’m glad to say that after repeat viewings I feel the same about it as when it first came out. I got an itch to draw the movie version of Bumblebee, which you can compare to my depiction of the cartoon version from a few months ago.

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Trying something new here… sort of. Combining two of my regular techniques, this one is 100% Photoshop, sketched in pixelly fashion with the pencil tool but colored in the semi-painterly fashion that I use every now and then. It’s pretty fast and dirty, all kinds of B.S. imaginary light-sources going on here. Still, I’m fairly happy with it. Bumblebee is drawn, by the way, with his battle mode face-plate (which I think is much cooler than his weird gas tank mouth). I believe it was Vinny who called it Bumblebee’s “game face.”

BOOYAKA!

Flight of the…

…BUMBLEBEE!
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Those who know me have probably been baffled and confused that my blog has been so primarily focused on the world of He-Man. Indeed, even I am shocked that it has taken almost three full months for an illustration of a full-fledged Transformer to show up here (sorry Battle Beasts, being a part of the Transformers universe isn’t the same as being a Transformer).

Bumblebee was the fresh-faced rookie of the original Transformers cartoon–he transformed from a Volkswagen Beetle into a robot. Since then, there have been, like, a million iterations of him in the toyline, but I won’t get into that. A new version of the character is also going to be one of the main characters in the upcoming Transformers live-action movie.

My sketch is a pretty faithful rendition of the original cartoon version, and I was able to complete most of the drawing without needing to look at reference. Whether that’s sad or awesome, I leave to you, dear reader. My pencil drawing was a little tighter, and therefore the inks were as well. The coloring on this one was fast and simple (but maybe a little bit plain and flat)–you’ll note that I have left the black lines intact for the most part. The type treatment just sort of came to life on its own after the drawing was done. All in all, this was smooth-going, and I wish all my pieces came together this easily!