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puzzling dinosaurs

June 13th, 2011

mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle

A project I did for Mudpuppy was published just recently. It’s a 12-piece puzzle featuring those famous and extinct relatives of lizards (or birds if you adhere to those theories), the dinosaurs. T-rex, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Pterodactyl each make an appearance here.
Go get yours at your local favorite toy shop, or if that doesn’t work, get it on the internet.

mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle
mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle
mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle
mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle

I’m a T.Rex Golden Book

May 15th, 2010

Little Golden Books
Well it’s out, and now I can safely say that when I retire as an illustrator and spend my days on the golf links in Boca Raton, I will have illustrated a Little Golden Book. I’ve loved Little Golden Books ever since I can remember. My grandmother’s house had a stack of them that belonged to my aunts and uncles back in the 50’s and 60’s, and I liked the goofy stories and wonderful illustrations. At the time, I knew nothing of the legacy of these illustrators like Richard Scarry, Tibor Gergely, Leonard Weisgard, and Alice and Martin Provensen. As I grew up and went to college and became a designer, I forgot about much of the Golden Books.

It was only much later, while I was working on a poster for The Kids in the Hall in 2002, that I rediscovered these works. Mary Blair’s I Can Fly, Garth Williams’ Mister Dog, the Provenson’s Color Kittens, and especially Scarry’s Rabbit & His Friends were the inspiration for this poster.

[singlepic id=16 w=400]

Last year I discovered a book called Golden Legacy by Leonard Marcus. It’s a history of Little Golden Books, and I was about halfway through it when I got a call from out of the blue, that the editors of Little Golden Books would like me to illustrate a new book called I’m a T.Rex, written by Dennis Shealy. Needless to say I fell over and was stunned.

I love drawing dinosaurs but I hadn’t had a chance to draw dinosaurs for a book before. Sketches commenced. The T. Rex had to be fierce and angry but I wanted him to be kinda cute and funny as well.

I'm a T.Rex! cover sketch

The work went smoothly and just this last week, on May 11, it was officially “published” and released into stores. I got my copy on Thursday. And like I wrote, I’m pretty happy to be able to be part of the “story” of Golden Books now. I sure won’t put my book up there in the same echelon as the Scarry, Gergely, and Prevensen books. But at least it’s now sitting on the same shelf…

I'm a T. Rex!
My Little Golden Book: I'm a T. Rex!
My Little Golden Book: I'm a T. Rex!

happy accidents

September 4th, 2009

I’ve been working on this book for Little Golden Books called “I’m a T-Rex,” you know. I spent a considerable amount of time on Wednesday working on one of the spreads, finishing it late Wednesday evening. Thursday morning I come in to the studio and want to open it to save the TIFFs and whatnot, and the file won’t open. I got an error saying something like “there was a problem reading layer data. read composite date instead?” I figure, you know, sure why not. So when I click “read composite data” it tells me that the file isn’t compatible with my version of Photoshop. Hm. Ok. Well, that’s dumb.
What this means in real-life terms is that the file got corrupted. What it also means in real life terms is I’ve got six hours of work in front of me that I already did if I don’t find a can-opener that will open this can.
Searching around the internets I found an open-source plug-in thingy called, melodically, Photoshop File (PSD) Extract/Recover Tool. I downloaded it, installed it, followed the directions, and it proceeded of course to crash Photoshop and make me restart. I’m an optimist, so I opened Photoshop and tried it again. The fourth time (!!) it didn’t crash, and instead opened a nice dialog box asking me if I want separate layers (this file had sixteen of them) or a flattened version. I tried flattened first (I figure I might as well get a workable 600ppi T-Rex, even if I would maybe later have to go in and surgically extract the layers). What I got was a nice big empty file. Well, see, I’m an optimist (did you know this about me?), so I tried it again this time asking for individual layers. I got excited when layer one, a shadow of the T-Rex on the ground, opened all fine. Yay! But then, this is where it got fun, I tried the other major layers (I have lots and lots of small texture layers that would be as easy to redo as going through this process) and got just the loveliest abstract colorful images. Here, I saved them and posted them for you.
trex_screwup1

trex_screwup2

trex_screwup3

trex_screwup52

The funny and amazing thing is that the colors and textures have absolutely nothing to do with the base layer/image that I lost. Photoshop completely made this up! I saved these (obviously) and don’t be surprised if they get used in the future. Maybe as album covers for my electronic music projects. Who knows?

Update: using a lower-res-but-high-enough-to-use layout test file that was also corrupted, I rescued a composite version of the T-Rex that I’d plopped on top of a background Wednesday night before closing up. This is not ideal, as it has no layers and is just big enough for the book (I like my files big enough to stick on a bus), but at least I have a usable image at 300ppi. See, optimism is a good thing. Here’s that original image from where these abstracts were born.

click the T-Rex to see it bigger

click the T-Rex to see it bigger