Illustration Friday: Stuffed

Copyright 2015 Stephanie Smith

Copyright 2015 Stephanie Smith Drawn with Black and Grey Pentel Color Brushes on marker paper over a pencil sketch.

This week’s Illustration Friday word is “stuffed” and out of all my fat animal doodles this little mouse won out.

Remember, #Inktober is still going strong over on my social media feeds, so head on over for the doodles and other drawings that are showing up there!



© 2015 Stephanie Smith

I hope you’re enjoying your summer! Guess which summer popcorn movie with dubious scientific underpinnings I went to see last week? Jurassic World was a fun flick (although not without some serious plot flaws) but some paleontologists were not as amused: the current science says that critters like Velociraptors would actually be much pudgier and probably covered in some kind of feathers, virtually unrecognizable as the same critters from the movie. Which gave me the idea for this sketch!

I’ve always had a soft spot for dinosaurs and the original Jurassic Park totally blew me away when I first saw it in the theater. It was the first time we actually saw on the big screen the active and social dinosaurs that I’d read about in books like The Dinosaurs: A Fantastic View of a Lost Era by William Stout (I still have my well-thumbed copy of the original printing!) instead of the slow, plodding behemoths of the past. But that was 20 years ago, and paleontology has advanced a lot since then: the movement against “shrink-wrapped dinosaurs” (art that focuses mostly on the bone structure and discounts musculature, skin flaps, and fatty tissues) and concrete discoveries about pigmentation and feathers are starting to change the representation of dinosaurs again. And there’s enough evidence out there to back it up that the Jurassic World even hung a lampshade on the fact that their dinosaurs don’t measure up to scientific scrutiny.

Mine’s not particularly accurate either — I drew it too large, for starters, and the proportions are off — but as much as I like drawing my boney, scaly dragons I also love the idea of a world full of crazy, colorful, feathery dinosaurs.

Pencil sketch on bristol, with blue pencil underdrawing, © 2015.

Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat Kitties!

I tried to capture their respective personalities, but in reality my cats are rather ambivalent to Halloween… of course, in reality I would never try to dress them in costumes. Well, “never” may be a strong word…

The truth is, that while my tuxedo cat Simon may very well frolic in a costume, he’s equally likely to become inexplicably terrified of it. The end result is more-or-less the same: running around the house like a maniac, except in the latter case he will end up under the bed, with his impressively bushy tail even more bristled out than usual.

And my little tabby Tinkerbell? She wouldn’t even be in the picture, because the instant I attempted something like this there would be just a puff of smoke as she vanished, never to be seen again (until dinnertime).

I suspect that I may have to come up with a project that forces me to draw Simon over and over again until I get over my hang-ups about drawing black fur… I’ve used him and my previous black-and-white cat as body doubles in past projects, but usually chickened out and made a light-furred cat rather than dealing with their actual coat color.

This was a quick ink drawing on 9×12 inch smooth bristol paper with my micron pens. I was going to practice my brush pen with this one (it’s usually great for fur) but was already dealing with having no power or heat due to Hurricane Sandy and had to make do in the room with the most daylight instead of the one with my drawing table in it. Oh well!

PS: Be safe this Halloween! And please keep your cats indoors tonight, so they can be safe too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous New Year!

Holiday Mischief

Ordinarily I try to wait and post my holiday card artwork after they’ve all been received, but a welcome overload of freelance work meant they were printed late and those heading to recipients are either in transit or being hand-delivered this weekend.  Because of this you can probably tell from the caption, I’m sort of thinking of them as “New Years’ cards.”

This year’s artwork is a bit sillier and self-indulgent than usual: a portrait of our older cat Tinkerbell and our new “teenager” cat Simon. The only meaningful difference between this picture and the daily situation at our house is how static and quiet it is. In reality, this tableau would be immediately followed by yowling and a pair of furry projectiles rocketing through the house. The two cats are actually getting along rather well after two-and-a-half months, except when Simon really, really wants to play… whether Tink does or not.

Holiday Mischief, detail

This artwork was drawn with Micron ink pens on bristol paper and colored digitally.

Here’s wishing everyone out there a wonderful holiday season!

The last of the little flock

Tiny Gryphons #5 Goldfinch by Stephanie Smith

I saved the most colorful of my little house-gryphons for last. I think these are my favorites from the set. If you missed the previous installments, they’re here and here. I hope to make some little notecards with these after the holiday, but I’m not sure whether to leave them with the watercolor pencils or recolor digitally… I have the scans of the uncolored ink drawings just waiting on my computer. What do you think?

Tiny Gryphons #1 Cardinal by Stephanie Smith

Tiny Grypons #2 Blue Jay by Stephanie Smith

Artist Trading Cards: Tiny Gryphons

Tiny Griffons ATC #8 Chickadee

Where did the summer go? Oh, that’s right… between client work, an illustration-heavy project at my day job, and general craziness all the way around, I’ve had very little time for “just for fun” drawing. That’s one of the reasons I like the Doodle Swap Project, a little club of artists and designers who all make tiny trading-card-sized artworks for each other. It gives me an excuse to do some quick, small, simple drawings that I don’t have any time to overthink because they have to get out the door fast.

This time around the theme was “hybrid animals” — chimera, creatures made up of two or more different unrelated animals. Perfect timing for me, since:

a) the idea for little gryphons that are a cross between songbirds and housecats (instead of the more traditional eagles and lions) has been kicking around in my head for a while, and

b) “Backyard” and household fantasy creatures are the theme of my Sketchbook project book. More about that one later…

So, this was a little bit of two birds with one stone. Or something like that. Here are the first few of the cards, I’ll be posting the rest soon. They’re all 2.5 x 3.5 inches, drawn with ink and watercolor pencils on bristol paper.

Anyone else think that these will make nice little notecards? 🙂

Tiny Griffons ATC #7 Crow

Tiny Griffons ATC #6 Robin

March for the Animals!

March for Animals poster

Today is our local SPCA’s big annual fundraiser: the March for the Animals. This year I had the honor of drawing the illustration for the posters and T-shirts, which were designed by Brooke Behnken. They’ve been showing up all over town!

If you support this worthy cause, please give. The Maryland SPCA is one of the oldest in the country and does great work in the city of Baltimore. In recognition, I’ve made the artwork available for sale in my RedBubble store, with a percentage of all proceeds going directly to the SPCA.

Pets on the March card

Pets on the March stickers

F is for Fantastic Fun!

One of the things I like about being at RedBubble is the great community of other artists there. I recently had a chance to collaborate with a whole bunch of them in a project to make a child’s alphabet, each of us illustrating one letter or number. The project is wrapping up and soon a set of prints will be making a grand tour of various schools and child care facilities starting in Scotland.

My contribution, as you can see above, was the letter “F” and it was great fun to make! It and all the rest can be seen in this thread at RedBubble, where you can buy cards or prints if you like. In the meantime, I’m working on my own somewhat simpler alphabet project and hope to have it done soon.

Illustration Friday: Propagate

 Bunches of Bunnies sketchbook page
click to enlarge

This week’s Illustration Friday is straight from the sketchbook. When I think of something that propagates like mad, I think of rabbits! But that’s not the only reason I’m posting this one.

This week I was going through all of my bunny references trying to brainstorm on fun Easter ideas. I usually try to have some idea of what I want before I start looking for reference material, but when I’m stuck for a concept I just try to find as many images I can and start doodling, hoping that propagating familiarity with the subject matter will spark some greater idea. Occasionally something comes out in this stage that makes it wholesale into the finished illustration, but more often it’s just a seed of an idea and at the very least it’s good practice for the anatomy. Still not sure if I stumbled across a winner yet, I’ll have to keep sketching…

In the meantime, if you want to see one of my finished rabbits, he’s lurking in my online shops:

Year of the Rabbit Small Postage stamp The Year of the Rabbit Mousepad mousepad Year of the Rabbit Beach Tote

 Prints, cards and shirts at RedBubble

Ornaments, keepsake, boxes, pillows, water bottles, and more at CafePress

Shirts, magnets, keychains, postage stamps  and more at Zazzle

SALE: Zazzle is having a sale this week: 22% off two or more mug, apparel, or hat items if you use the code TWOTWENTYTWO at checkout, whether you’re buying from me, someone else, or making your own custom items!