I ignite clarity in all. A window to the Art of Chuck Todd

Posts tagged “www.chucktodd.net

Eastern Fox Squirrel illustration for Los Angeles Magazine

For the September issue of Los Angeles Magazine my illustration of a fox squirrel accompanies a Know Your Neighbor column by Jason G. Goldman. I have turned in artwork for October’s column and am looking forward to more wildlife illustrations for the monthly column. As they publish I’ll share.

Here is the link to the column with some fun facts on how non-native fox squirrels found their way to Los Angeles and Southern California.

http://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/know-your-neighbors-eastern-fox-squirrel/

Eastern Fox Squirrel illustration in Los Angeles Magazine

Eastern Fox Squirrel illustration in Los Angeles Magazine http://www.lamag.com


Chuck Todd’s Smartphone Kill Switch artwork featured in newspapers; Huffington Post story

Artwork by Chuck Todd for Bay Area News Group; Illustration was also used by Huffington Post. "Kill Switch" technology locks down smartphones in an effort to keep phones and private information out of the hands of thieves.

Artwork by Chuck Todd for Bay Area News Group; Illustration was also used by Huffington Post. “Kill Switch” technology locks down smartphones in an effort to keep phones and private information out of the hands of thieves.


 

I created this illustration for Bay Area News Group to go with a Dana Hull story on lock down technology used by Apple and other smartphone makers to thwart thieves from stealing private information from a cell phone.  In print the illustration ran in the San Jose Mercury News and in the Contra Costa Times in the TechMonday business section. I few months later I was delighted to learn that my artwork was also picked up by The Huffington Post and ran with this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/smartphone-kill-switch_n_5158926.html

The illustration was created with pencil, photocopy and Photoshop. I wanted to really push the threatening feeling of the hands trying to snatch the iPhone. I did this as a separate drawing, xeroxed it to push the blacks and texture and then worked back into it some more. On another piece of bristol board I drew the hand and the lock with chains wrapping around the iPhone to keep it locked down. I scanned both in and accented the hand and phone with color in photoshop. Keeping the background black and white was more striking and sinister. This approach harkens back to my love for printmaking and etching.


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Who knew you could farm Abalone? Infographic explains sustainable farming of red abalone in Monterey Bay

Who knew you could farm Abalone? Infographic explains sustainable farming of red abalone in Monterey Bay

Here is a graphic I created for Bay Area News Group that ran in print and online last week in the San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times. Hidden from the view of tourists the Monterey Abalone Company is busy farming abalone under a municipal pier in Monterey. The natural and sustainable way of farming foodie favorite red abalone utilizes the seawater habitat of Monterey Bay. The graphic went with a story by Nicholas St. Fleur. I enjoyed rolling up my sleeves and doing the graphics research, reporting, writing and Adobe Illustrator rendering for this one. It ran online as shown here. In print the top portion showing the growth of the abalone ran on the front page and the rest of the graphic ran on the jump. Here is the link to Nick’s story: http://goo.gl/10Jju8


Freud and Siri

Freud attempts to get inside the mind of Apple's enigmatic Siri.

Freud attempts to get inside the mind of Apple’s enigmatic Siri.

Recently I got this illustration assignment for a Pat May story published in the San Jose Mercury and Bay Area News Group papers. Pat was interested in finding out what made Apple’s enigmatic, helpful (sometimes) and mysterious female concierge tick. He wanted to get inside SIRI’s head. To do that he enlisted the help of a local psychologist to probe and ask SIRI questions to discover the mind behind the iPhone voice.

Trying to psychoanalyze SIRI was a fun assignment to get. When the story was pitched to me by the Business editors we hit the idea of putting SIRI on the psychiatrist’s couch. I took the idea and ran with it. And what more famous couch…or psychiatrist to dive into the mind of SIRI than Sigmund Freud himself. No kidding on running with this assignment….with other newspaper deadline work I had just a morning and part of the afternoon to go from thumbnail to finish.

You’ll find in the illustration a few apple and female related symbols.

You’ll find Pat May’s story at this link:

http://goo.gl/xhi27Z


A goodbye to James Gandolfini and Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in boxing gear. Illustration by Chuck Todd

Detail of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Illustration by Chuck Todd

The funeral for actor James Gandolfini was held today in New York City. Gandolfini died last week of a heart attack in Italy at the age of 51. Gandolfini brought the character of mobster Tony Soprano to life in HBO’s “The Sopranos.” He breathed into the character complexity, vulnerability and a violent power seething under the surface. So sad to lose such a great actor in the prime of his life.

As friends and family of the actor gathered to celebrate Gandolfini’s life I thought I would share this illustration I did of Tony Soprano for the Contra Costa Times when “The Soprano’s” ruled.

Pencil and watercolor illustration of Tony Soprano (James Gandolini)  for The Contra Costa Times

Pencil and watercolor illustration of Tony Soprano (James Gandolini) in boxing gear for The Contra Costa Times

Battle for the Emmy's A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times. Illustrations by Chuck Todd. background and design by Dave Johnson. Art direction by MaryAnne Talbott.

Battle for the Emmy’s A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times. Illustrations by Chuck Todd. background and design by Dave Johnson. Art direction by MaryAnne Talbott.

The A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times featured boxing poster take on “THE BATTLE FOR THE EMMYS” with James Gandolfini and Martin Sheen portrayed as boxers as “The Sopranos” and “The West Wing” fought for Emmy Awards supremacy. I created the characters of Tony Soprano and President Bartlet in pencil and watercolor adding in boxing gloves, shorts and some details that matched each character. Fellow artist Dave Johnson did the design, background photographer and combine them in photoshop…art direction by MaryAnne Talbott.

RIP James Gandolfini.


Priority Based Budgeting graphic and Budget Story project get national attention

An infographic created for the city of Walnut Creek to explain how the process works in their city. Part of a group presentation I gave at the "Transforming Local Government Conference"

An infographic created for the city of Walnut Creek to explain how the process works in their city. Part of a group presentation I gave at the “Transforming Local Government Conference”

I was honored to be part of a group asked to give a presentation at the Alliance for Innovation “Transforming Local Government Conference in Atlanta on April 10, 2013. Our presentation was entitled “Think Outside the Bar Chart! Creating Compelling Budget Communications for Public Engagement”  Walnut Creek Assistant City Manager Lorie Tinfow, , Multi-Media Producer Liz Payne and I were joined in spirit by Communications and Outreach Manager Gayle Vassar in spirit though she could not be at the presentation in person.

Last year I was asked to work on a project that grew into “A COMMUNITY CONNECTED: THE 2012-14 BUDGET STORY” for Walnut Creek, CA. The project grew out of a desire to create a more visual, informative and engaging publication than the typical large budget binder. To create something with more context and to also help the public understand the work the city is doing…and the tough challenges and choices ahead. Gayle and Lorie assembled a team that included Finance Manager Cindy Mosser, Liz Payne, Blue Ribbon Taskforce member Karen Majors and myself.

As a visual journalist on the project I was brought in to find visual ways to tell the story. And in the presentation I got to discuss what a visual journalist does and the process of working on the publication, cover and the Priority Based Budgeting infographic. A visual journalist takes complex information, data and ideas and turns it into a visual story….focusing on key messages and what is important to connect to the reader. Visual Journalism is visual reporting using illustration, infographics, design and/or sequential art.

Priority Based Budgeting is a process where a city establishes goals and with input from The City Council, city staff and citizens rank programs and spending in how well they met the goals. It is new, innovative way for cities to aproach budgets and the city of Walnut Creek is one of the first to embrace the process. 

The graphic and publication has been well received by the citizens in Walnut Creek and has garnered national attention. It was a great honor to be asked to give our “Think Outside the Bar Chart!” presentation at the TLG conference.  I’m including here the cover and a two-page spread from the Budget Story.

It was a great experience and I even got to meet the folks who came up with the idea of Priority Based Budgeting. Getting compliments from them on how well the graphic described the process was high praise indeed! For more about their work go to ( For more on Priority based Budgeting go to: http://www.pbbcenter.org)

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VISUAL TRIBUTE TO GARY BOGUE

After 42 years Gary Bogue’s final column published in Friday’s Contra Costa Times.

http://goo.gl/au1jt

Gary wrote his pets and wildlife column for the Times for 42 years. Amazing. More amazing is his wealth of knowledge, his empathy for wild critters and his connection to his readers. I have had the honor of working with Gary at the paper on graphics, wildlife posters….and on our three books for HeyDay Books. Gary is a great resource, a gracious and incredible collaborator and a dear friend. We have been on many adventures together to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum for research and events…and giving talks to schools and civic groups throughout the Bay Area. Gary is a pure storyteller, in his columns, in his books….and on our roadtrips to various events.

I’ll miss working with Gary at the Times…I don’t think the place will ever be the same. But, I better clear off my schedule. Now that he has more time…he’ll be hitting me up with many more book projects to illustrate. Bring it on Gary, let the adventures continue! And congratulations on 42 wonderful years of columns that connected, enlightened and raised millions in funds to help preserve open space and care for animals in the Bay Area.

Here is a link to a story on his amazing career in today’s CCT Times.

http://goo.gl/z7OjW


IDEA INVESTING

Illustration by Chuck Todd.  Story by Peter Delevett. Centerpiece design by Daymond Gascon. For the Monday TECHNOLOGY section in Bay Area News Group print and digital editions

How do you illustrate the concept of Investing in Ideas? One of the two startups highlighted in Peter Delevett’s story called MOTIF aggregates companies into motifs or ideas. Say an investor likes PETS. Yup you can invest in a grouping of PET companies.  Or GREEN companies, or FAST FOOD companies or MOBILE TECH companies, etc.

I thought of an idea taking off, earning money. The concept of turning light bulbs into a flock of ideas flying up and away popped into my head. After a couple of thumbnails the idea gelled. I used $100 bills to construct the wings, which created some fun, bird like patterns. I kept this one loose and fun, I painted up one light bulb and incorporated the finished wings all in photoshop. Then I duplicated the ‘light bulb with wings’ image on multiple layers and made the smaller ones more transparent. I used my artistic license to keep an old style of light bulb…allowing me to leave a subtle birdlike beak on the bulb.

This appeared in Monday print editions. To read Peter’s story online go here:

http://goo.gl/zRLCm


GUYPOCALYPSE NOW

Are Violent Video Games and Online Porn Leading to the Demise of Guys?

Illustration by Chuck Todd for story by Bruce Newman for Bay Area News Group

Don’t blame the end of the male species on sex, drugs and rock and roll. A new e-book claims that violent video games and online porn are leading to the “Demise of Guys.”

In today’s online and print editions of San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune Bruce Newman writes about the new book.

Newman writes: ” Lamentations over the fall of man reached a crescendo recently with the publication of a celebrated Stanford University psychologist’s e-book, which suggests that guys may be doomed by their addiction to Xbox video games and X-rated video dames. Among author Philip Zimbardo’s more startling conclusions in “The Demise of Guys,” co-authored by Nikita Duncan: “Video games and online pornography could kill you.”

To read the whole story click here:

http://goo.gl/7tdhM

For the illustration I wanted to highlight the violent video games and online porn that the authors claim are isolating and rewiring the brains of men. I contrasted the physical play of a video game with the internal impact and social isolation. I drew the teen head and shoulders in pencil and created a separate drawing of the hands and the controller.  Most of the line art to represent video games and porn was done in Photoshop. The zombies I sketched and scanned in. The rest was painted in Photoshop.


CLOUD CONFUSION

Here is my latest illustration for today’s (June 8) editions of the San Jose Mercury News and Bay Area News Group papers for a column by Mike Cassidy. With all of the “cloud” storage out there for apps, photos, documents, videos and such it makes it virtually impossible to keep track of the virtual clutter. Cassidy says that the “beauty of the cloud” doesn’t help when ” I don’t even know what cloud I’ve seeded with what document.”  Here is a link to Cassidy’s column on http://www.mercurynews.com:

http://goo.gl/MwKJp

I explored the motif of having someone’s head in a cloud. Rather than it being a positive…the clutter of files swirl about…the cloud, like fog, makes it hard to see…or remember where things are. The cloud hides, twists and confuses around the head. I like the fog-like fingers of the cloud that start to wrap around the man’s head and in front of his vision. The final is painted in Photoshop on top of rough sketch. For speed, I sketched out the line art clutter in pencil on paper, scanned it in and layered it into the photoshop file.


THE INFLUENCE OF BARRON STOREY

I wanted to share an illustration project I did a few years ago for the Contra Costa Times that shows the influence on my work of master illustrator Barron Storey. Barron has done everything as an illustrator, book covers, Time magazine covers, National Geographic…he has a mural in the American Museum of Natural History and portraits hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

If I have ever seen true genius at work it is looking at a Barron Storey original…once in illustrator Bill Koeb’s old apartment in San Francisco and I have had the luck of catching a couple of gallery shows in the city over the years.  His sketchbooks are legend: His personal visual journals and his graphic novel work have influenced and inspired many artists: Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz, Greg Spalenka, Bill Koeb, George Pratt and Kent Williams among them.

As a teacher he may be without a peer…so I hear. Barron is the reason I moved to the Bay Area in 1996 to pursue a graduate degree in illustration at the Academy or Art in San Francisco. I researched the influences of artists that influenced me…many of them cited Barron as an important influence. That’s how I discovered the Academy of Art and how I ended up in the Bay Area. My timing was a bit late. By the time I started my graduate courses in the fall of 1996, Barron was no longer teaching at the school, but was teaching at California College of Arts and Crafts and at San Jose State. Although I didn’t take one of Barron’s classes I was taught by artists who studied with Barron (Carol Nunnelly and my graduate advisor Bill Koeb)…so I was able to absorb some of his wisdom though them.

I have had the privilege of meeting Barron a few times. The first was at a gathering at Bill Koeb’s pad in San Francisco probably in 2000. About 5 years ago I was attending the  Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco with Gary Amaro ( another of my graduate advisors. ) I had some samples with me including these Cancer Journey pieces.

About the Cancer Journey project. Contra Costa Times writer Dan Borenstein penned a five part series in 2007 on his harrowing experience with cancer and cancer treatments.  I was honored and humbled by the challenge of illustrating each installment of the series. ( And indebted to Dan for sharing his story and giving me such a poignant project to be a part of.)  I came up with the thought of a sequence of panels, interconnected that could each tell each part of the story individually. But when combined –on the final day of the series – made a sequence of panels telling the more complete narrative. The layering of elements, with drawings and line work is a direct influence of Barron. Not as much in the technique (who the hell can draw as well as Barron Storey?)…but in an approach to storytelling that I have soaked in from Barron’s journals.

Coming full circle: At the Alternative Press Expo, Gary and I found a table that Barron had been at to sign his journal book “LIFE AFTER BLACK.” I bought the book, word was that Barron was around and would be back. As we walked around the hall looking at the variety of local artists and creators we bumped into Barron. We talked for a bit and I asked if he wouldn’t mind taking a quick look at some of my work. He very graciously did…and when he saw the Cancer Journey images has asked me about them. I gave him a quick rundown of what it was about and said that I created them for the newspaper. He said something to the effect “Amazing work. So great that they published this in a newspaper.” I honestly died and went to heaven. I felt like I had come from the world of wanting to be…to being. That I had ascended the mountain top after toiling and struggling for years on the climb. From a dream of wanting to be better than I was as a visual journalist and illustrator in Missouri. From a dream of studying with the master in California and falling short. To finally, the master himself holding my work and finding value in it.

Barron continues to inspire me and give me something to aspire to. If you are not familiar with Barron’s work you should be. Here is a link

http://www.barronstorey.com/

Here is the note Barron scribed for me in his book “Life After Black.” Thanks Barron.


CONNECTION POINT

In Today’s TECHNOLOGY section in the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times is my illustration for a Peter Delevett story on new startup services that allow users to stay connected to friends from multiple lists and networks from one central location. Many of the services use geo-location features that allows users to track friends, and their locations, in real time.  Here is a link to the story:

http://goo.gl/GjSFY

This was a super quick turnaround. Thursday I had a thumbnail sketch approved, but I wasn’t able to start illustrating on the finished piece until Friday morning. The concept I came up with conveys a connection to many contacts in multiple networks. Of course this meant on Friday morning I cranked out 28 different faces in my sketchbook. ( I felt like I was doing a homework assignment for the late, great Barbara Bradley at the Academy of Art in San Francisco!) About two thirds of the faces are from photo reference, about a third are invented. ( I snuck in a few friends, family and even jazz musician Joshua Redman.) The main figure holds up her cell phone into the singular connection point that all of the other networks of friends are joined to. The circles were created in illustrator, the faces and figure were sketches I scanned in and rest was painted and combined in Photoshop. Starting on the faces at 9 a.m. I turned in the finished illustration to the designer at 5:30 p.m. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day!

Here is how to looked on the page, design by the talented Daymond Gascon:


Bidding Wars in hot housing markets and Apps with the latest Rental vacancies

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A quick post with two housing themed illustrations for Bay Area News Group. The Bidding Wars illustration went with an A1 story on the San Jose Mercury News and other front pages on housing markets in parts of the Bay Area that are red hot.  In some South Bay areas, the demand is sparking multiple bids and bidding wars on high-priced homes. Hey those newly rich Facebook folks have to find a place to live.

The second illustration below went with a business and technology story in Bay Area News Group. This story dealt with apps and websites that allow users to get up to the minute updates on Rental properties in the Bay Area.

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IS INVESTMENT IN SOCIAL MEDIA KILLING REAL INNOVATION IN SILICON VALLEY?

With the recent Facebook IPO and a lot of venture capital spending going for the quick return of social media companies, there is a growing concern that the pursuit of the quick buck is killing real innovative technologies (in medical, robotics, clean energy, etc.) that take longer for a return on investment. This is my illustration for a Chris O’Brien column in the Sunday (May 27) San Jose Mercury News and Bay Area News Group papers and websites. O’Brien quotes entepreneur Steve Blank as saying that it is “pushing real innovation outside of our country. And it might be the demise of what we do in Silicon Valley.” O’Brien explores the ideas on solutions to the problem that Blank and others have, including the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps. program. You should pick up the paper or go to the story online to read the article…link is below:

http://goo.gl/8RoAb

For this illustration I used a landscape to depict innovation and contrast that with an opposite. The futuristic landscape is an abstraction of Silicon Valley. Innovation is like a bright light…so the sun represents the light of innovation and ideas. Massive clouds gather, casting a shadow over the valley and buildings and starts to block out the light source of innovation.  In the cloud I had fun layering in swirls of money, a few social media companies…and even an eye from the back of a dollar bill. The cloud is building energy and momentum as it pulls in more money.

Here is how the page turned out with a great design by Daymond Gascon.


THE VERDICT: IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT DUE PROCESS

Illustration for The Verdict by Chuck Todd

A couple of quick, direct black and white images for The Verdict – a quarterly journal published by the Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals (CCLP). I created these a couple of months back, the magazine should be out soon.

The illustration is for an article on the National Defense Authorization Act and its lack of constitutionality and due process that allows for indefinite detention of individuals. Senator Dianne Feinstein has submitted to Congress the Due Process Guarantee Act that would prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizens or permanent residents.

The edgy, gritty images show individuals who have lost their freedom, they are prisoners who have no voice or rights. The illustrations I do for Verdict are always black and white…bring out my printmaking, pen and ink and sequential art skills and influences.

Prisoner spot illustration for The Verdict by Chuck Todd


Sinister Malvertisements: Even when you don’t click sneaky cybercrooks use these ads to attack

This is a very disturbing trend. Disturbing and scary make for some great visuals. So…OK, I admit it. I had a lot of fun with this illustration for the TECHNOLOGY section published May 14 in the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. According to the story by the Merc’s Steve Johnson, cybercrooks are using “malvertisements” to steal data, infect computers and wreak havoc. Codes are hidden in these malicious ads…and the ads can show up on legitimate sites that screen for ads gone wrong. Not only are the malware codes hidden, a user does not even have to click on the ad to become a victim. Experts say this trend is only going to get worse. This story is worth a read to understand the problem and to get a few tips on how to protect yourself. Here is a link to Steve’s story

http://goo.gl/2mc5A

When I came up with the motif of the sinister shadow of a clawed hand and arm coming out of a computer everything else fell into place. The trick was to show someone getting attacked, but being unaware. I had the woman looking at a website with ads on the side. Out of one of the ads the shadow, filled with malware code, shoots out and wraps around. The hand is just about to get the woman. I hit on the idea of binary code interspersed with the word “MALVERTISEMENT” to layer into the shadow. I would have to say this one is one of my favorites so far this year for Bay Area News Group.

Here is how it looked in print across the Bay Area News Group papers, with a great page design by business design chief, Jennifer Morris.


iPhone Freedom…or Life After Your iPhone

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A quick post on a recent illustration for a Jessica Yadegaran column for the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News. The column was about her newfound freedom from the trappings of her iPhone. Jessica left it in the back seat of a plane after letting her kid play with the phone during the flight. She was unable to get the phone back and was forced to revert back to her old phone. At first she missed her iPhone and felt lost without it. But she soon realized she was spending more time enjoying life in the moment, rather than respond to each text, tweet or status update. Here is a link to Jessica’s story:

http://tiny.cc/mxofew

I played with the concepts of being trapped, shackled or imprisoned to contrast the idea of freedom. Also I tried to factor in how to depict the lost iPhone. I started playing with the idea of flight to symbolize freedom. The birdcage seemed like a great way to express being trapped. For the final solution I created the iPhone in illustrator and used the old cartooning trick of using dashed lines to indicate something that is a ghost or invisible. The rest was created in photoshop. The line art of style of the birdcage further contrasts the swirls and looser more painterly approach to the background and the woman with wings flying out of the cage.


An infographic to share on Mothers Day

I created this graphic for Bay Area News Group back in March for a Mike Swift story on the ShoeBox app for iPhones that allows you to make a digital archive of old family photos . Here is a link to the story on the ContraCostaTimes.com website http://tiny.cc/iln8dw

In creating this graphic and in helping come up with visuals for the print presentation, I dug out a tattered shoe box full of old family photos. The main photo I used in the graphic to show how the app works is a photo of my Mom, Carlita Carolyn Todd. I hadn’t planned on using this image for the graphic, but it really seemed to be the best portrait I had in the old shoebox to use to tell the story. The portrait is a school portrait from her early years as a teacher in Fordland, Missouri. I would guess the photo is from 1960 or 1961 or thereabouts.

I researched how to use the app, and took photos with my iPhone for the graphic. I used a ink marker to draw the hands and phone and opted to keep them simple and graphic with no color to keep the emphasis on the photos and the process of upload images in the ShoeBox App. I combined all of the elements using photoshop and illustrator.

I haven’t posted many infographics on this blog. But for Mothers Day it seemed appropriate to share this graphic and the photo of my Mom. Although Mom passed away in 1991, she got to see my illustrations and graphics work published in the Springfield News-Leader. One Sunday when she was in the hospital before she passed, I had an illustration on the front of the paper and a TV book cover illustration of Twin Peaks  (yes…that long ago) in the paper. The nurses told me how proud she was to see my work and how she glowed when showing them. As my teacher, my mother and as an incredible influence, she still inspires me.

To all Mothers past and present…Happy Mothers Day.

And if you haven’t checked out the ShoeBox app…it is a very handy way to archive and share those old family photos.


‘IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN’ EARTH DAY ILLUSTRATION

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Angela Hill’s story, published Sunday in Bay Area News Group papers, explores why it isn’t easy being green…in fact it can be downright confusing. What may claimed to be green, when looking at the carbon imprint and the amount of energy used in manufacturing a “green” product may net an adverse impact on Mother Earth.  So sometimes when we are trying to be green we may not be…thankfully sometimes we are. The story offers tips and sites where you can go to help make good green decisions.

For the illustration I wanted to evoke a sense of Earth Day and of the dichotomy of making green choices…and choices that end up not being green. I wanted to avoid using a big earth for Earth Day…been there, done that. Instead I wanted to focus on the personal side of someone making green decisions. I came up with the concept of the Earth being used as the lens in a pair of sunglasses. One side the earth is green with blue ocean in the lens. The other has the continents in red and water is gray. On that side of the figure the color scheme is gray on the figure with red in the lens and background.

On the green side…color is vibrant..using a green, blue color scheme with warm flesh tones in the figure to give that side more life. We positioned the headline in the head scarf and the story in the dress of the figure. An extra embellishment was picking up the continents as a pattern in the scarf and dress.

Of late…all of the illustrations at the news job have been quick turnarounds…but challenging and fun. I working up a rough sketch, scanned it in and did more drawing and painting in Photoshop. I rendered the continents first in Illustrator and then imported to photoshop. Features Design Chief Jennifer Schaefer pulled it all together on the page and made it all work. For the page we used a tight, more dynamic crop.

I’ve been slamming out so much illustration work for Bay Area News Group recently I have had little chance to update my blog…I’ll start catching up this week.


THE AURATOR: DEADLY SECRETS by M.A. KROPF

Illustration and logo design by Chuck Todd for "The Aurator: Deadly Secrets." "The Aurator" is a sci fi / fantasy, medical thriller by M.A. Kropf. The first of a trilogy of book covers I'll be illustrating. The first book is NOW AVAILABLE as an ebook, in hardcover and softcover from Xlibris.

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IT WAS A REAL JOY AND FUN CHALLENGE TO WORK ON THIS SCI FI / FANTASY BOOK COVER. This artwork has the kind of visual storytelling I love the most. Mystery and drama..think Sci Fi and Film Noir..that really gets the creative juices flowing. A lot of fun elements to play with for an artist: fog, threatening shadows, a San Francisco landmark….and The Aurator, Megan, entering the scene with her glowing red aura. The book written by M.A. Kropf has just published and is the first of a trilogy. I better get busy on the next two cover illustrations.

You can find the book here: http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0111572049/The-Aurator.aspx

UPDATE: Now available as an ebook as of Friday, March 9.

Here is a description of the book:

THE AURATOR: Deadly Secrets by M.A. KROPF

First book of a Trilogy. Genre: Fantasy/Sci Fi

Illustration and logo design by Chuck Todd

“Megan is a nurse, wife and a mother who learns that her lifelong heightened sensory perception puts her among an ancient elite group known as Aurators—those who can read people’s auras. Mentored by Max, leader of the Aurators, she is swiftly thrust into membership within a secret historical medical society originating back to ancient Greece and her world quickly wobbles between reality and the supernatural driving her to the brink of insanity. In discovering her powerful bloodline, she also learns the prophecy marking her to protect the world from the Caduceus, an equally ancient society intent on world destruction. Conflicted between her professional oath to do no harm, and her prophesied calling to protect the innocent, Megan cannot deny an inherent and swiftly growing urge to do the unimaginable. Barely juggling her new Aurator life, work and family, Megan tries to confide in her rock solid husband only to discover that he too has secrets of his own—leaving Megan to question if her marriage and family will ever be the same.”

For more information on the book, an excerpt from the story and on author M.A. Kropf go to: http://www.theaurator.com

You can also visit the Facebook page for more updates: www.facebook-the aurator.com.

The Aurator: Deadly Secrets by M.A. Kropf Detail of artwork by Chuck Todd


INTROVERTS UNITE

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My INTROVERTS illustration for a Bay Area News Group story by writer Angela Hill. Although extroverts get all of the attention, several new books highlight the advantages for those who prefer solitude. Some famous examples of successful and influential people with a more introspective approach to life include: Author J.K. Rowlings, Director Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. I can relate, particularly when I’m working on artwork…solitude and quiet…help me on the path to finding my muse and to be creative and productive.

For this piece I thought it would be fun to illustrate some famous introverts. However, when I read the finished story, the focus was more on the individual who identifies with the traits of an introvert….and that they are not alone. In the original concept I wanted the famous introverts coming out of a shadow, or from behind a door or curtain. I liked the concept of pulling back the darkness to be enlightened. I shifted the dominant part of the image to be a woman in deep thought and used the portraits of Rowling, Spielberg, Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt as background elements…perhaps they are thoughts or inspirations. I used a warm/cool color scheme….and kept the famous portraits in deep blue tones.

Technique? All painted in Photoshop CS5…this is my third recent illustration done predominately in Photoshop. Rather than scan in drawings and coloring them in photoshop, I used my wacom pen and drew and painted digitally.  Years ago I used Painter, I’m being inspired by my friend Jeff Durham who does spectacular illustrations in Photoshop.

Here is a link to Angela’s story on Introverts: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_20072237

An update: It was CRAZY busy in the month of February and so far the month of March is keeping the trend going. I will be catching up on my posts in the next few days with a recent book cover and other illustration work.


YOU’RE NOT HIRED

If you don’t land that job…blame your facebook post. Employers are increasingly looking beyond resumes and are peering into social media to screen new hires. My photoshop illustration hits the stands today on Bay Area News Group front pages (Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News). Story by Steve Johnson, design by Chris Gotsill.

I used a different approach for this project. I’ll express it as an artistic equation:

CONCEPT + SKETCHES + FAKE RESUME & FAKE FACEBOOK PAGE + iPHONE PHOTOS + PHOTOSHOP/PHOTOCOPY = A1 ILLUSTRATION

For this illustration I created and printed out a fake resume for John Doe. In photoshop I created a fake Facebook timeline page and using my fellow News Artist’s iPad…took photos with my iPhone. A lot of playing, experimenting and changes later and I ended up with this result. I went for a poster graphic look by using the photocopy filter in Photoshop and more experimenting until I got the feel I wanted.  Of course, I love to create hand drawn illustrations and layer in elements in photoshop…but sometimes the subject matter speaks to you of the best approach. It was clear to me from the thumbnail stage I wanted to go with this photo-illustration style.


Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

ImageMartin Luther King, Jr., would have been 83 if he were still alive. I had the honor of illustrating the great civil rights leader when I worked at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. After researching the writings and many images of MLK I decided on this profile to show his intensity and to emphasize the power of his words. Fun technique. I used china marker (wax pencil) on gesso, worked in ink…and scratched back into the surface with drypoint scribe and an exacto blade. I created the illustration in 1993…it is still one of my favorites.


FACEBOOK FIGHTING: Social networking for FISTICUFFS?

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OK. I had too much fun on this one. This image was created for a story a couple of months ago in the Contra Costa Times on teenagers using Facebook to setup fights on high school campuses. This has been a recent problem at several local high schools. Of course boys full of testosterone have been prone to fight in high school since before high schools were invented. However, with social media on iPads and smartphones on campus…setting up a battle royale in the quad has never been easier!

I came up with the solution of utilizing the tools technology as the portraits of the boys who were fighting. I used a laptop as the head of one student and an iPad as the head of the other and had fun drawing their profile pages. Pencil, pastel, watercolor and a pinch of comic book drama finished the image.