More Mannequins

So, this weekend I am determined to get fully pencilled at least one page of this new story for the graphic novel (the one featuring science as the main character… follow the link for more).

(I had a fantasy that by the end of this weekend the page would be inked and painted as well, but I spent a bit of time on teaching myself a new set of techniques instead, which will feed into much of what is to come… so I am behind.) So I’ve designed the interiors, done all the layouts for this page, and am very happy with it. I have done the first pass at the accurate pencil-work, and there it is on the left. Those mannequins from before are back, now fully worked out in perspective for you. Takes a long time, as I’m rusty, but it’ll gather pace now, as I clothe them in flesh, then cloth (and some leather), and also the space they are in. Compare to the rough layout of this same page from a previous post.

The story? Well, not giving away anything in detail, but the two characters you saw conversing in an earlier story had met before. This is the story in which they meet for […] Click to continue reading this post

Hanging Out at the Paramour

Now that we’ve finished the shoot, I’ll tell you that we were shooting at The Paramour, a wonderful old house in one of the Silver Lake hills of some renown. It is part of the Canfield-Moreno estate, famous for being a mansion built for a silent movie star and his bride. It has recording studio facilities used by lots of musicians of all sorts (you’re maybe heard recordings that were done there), and it is used a lot for filming. You can read more about it here.

The above sketch is one I did there yesterday while waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the various scenes I was to appear in. I chose this part of the house because that’s where craft services was and it was one of the places people were allowed to congregate when not involved in shooting. There are more beautiful parts, but then… you see those in photos all the time anyway. It’s time this side got some attention. I did 90% of the pencil work on the spot, and finished it up and splashed some (digital) paint on it in the early hours of this morning (Inexplicably, I got up at 4:30am and have been up for four hours now… I think I am going to try to have a nap before going off shopping). I was also going to share with you some sketches of people playing a dice game (karaki? I did not know it before) that we used to pass some of the time, but I didn’t finish any of them, sadly…

The rest of the shoot? Yes, it went well. I brought an extra layer of clothing against the cold, but it was still very cold, especially since this time most of the filming was outside. The afternoon was ok, as there was a bit of sun, and, helpfully, a pig was roasting, so we could stand near the heat from that. Yes, you read me right… there was indeed a pig being roasted. It was for a scene involving a picnic, followed by revelry later (hired revelers were bussed in for the night-time craziness), with several of us standing round talking about random topics as the film crew wove in and out of our groups, catching snippets of conversation. Lunch later on involved eating the pig (not on camera). I had a monologue coming up later on in the day, and so I memorized it in the […] Click to continue reading this post

Market People

A few people I quickly captured while relaxing in the sun at the farmer’s market this Sunday. (For larger views, click the images.)

It has become quite cool in recent days, and so it was nice to have a patch of warm sunlight to sit in for a while, as I watched people go by.

I was late for the market that day, and so I’d missed the people whose tamales I usually get, but found a tasty pupusa instead. […] Click to continue reading this post

Rough Pages

Well, it’s a time-consuming process (continuing the new work on The Project mentioned in a recent post), especially when you put in more detail than really needed on what is supposed to be a rough layout. Sigh… Anyway, I’m several pages along in layouts for a story I wrote a while back, and I’m flipping ahead from time to time and wondering how long this beast is going to end up being! In any case, it’s a fun topic (or topics) being explored in this one. I’m wondering if I should try to find a way of splitting it into two stories or perhaps […] Click to continue reading this post

Mannequin Fun

Today is supposed to be a return to page layout on The Project. I’m rusty as all hell, not having done that for a while. I’ve been procrastinating a bit, and various errands have intervened, and more will – but I want to get down to it. This is the stage where I try to get all the beats of the conversation and other action all mapped out, before more detailed design of the settings, and before doing tighter (i.e., more detailed) pencils.

To knock the rust off, I decided early this morning to play with simplified mannequin figures. These little guys are great because they are very expressive, while being composed of only a few lines.

It worked…After a little while we were all loosened up and […] Click to continue reading this post


Some more Feynman diagrams from quantum electrodynamics (QED), with squiggly lines representing photons and straight lines representing electrons or positrons (their anti-particle), depending upon which way you read the arrows. The process represents an entirely quantum process, with no classical counterpart, of light scattering off light. You can read the diagrams any way you like, running time in your chosen direction, and you’ll get a sensible story. For example two photons approach […] Click to continue reading this post

While Relaxing…

It has been a very busy week, and I’ve been trying to find time to relax somewhere in all the hubbub. I’ve not been fully successful in it all, but I’ve been trying to do a bit of drawing practice where I can as part of the relaxation, but then sometimes I get carried away with my experimentation and turn a simple sketch into a more elaborate thing. It is good practice for The Project, but is it relaxing? I am not sure. It sure is more productive than watching a random TV show, I suppose…

I dropped in at a studio to do a bit of drawing of a model some nights back after a long time away. These “drop in and draw” sessions are good ways of helping me do a hard self-reset on certain aspects of technique, and wake up certain types of seeing, as I’ve mentioned here before. They are an excellent complement to the drawings I do on the bus, subway, in cafes, […] Click to continue reading this post

Bus Moment

Always great when someone closes their eyes for a bit on the bus right in front of me. Gives me a chance to look really closely while drawing and finish up some of the details.

This guy’s old-school hair was my favourite thing of all. HB Pencil on the bus, and then this morning I inked it with india ink. The inking was fun as I bought some new nibs, and remembered what a really nice flow can be like. I splashed a bit of digital paint onto it at the end, by way of variety.

The SCSS over at UCLA was great yesterday. Four excellent talks, and great conversation and discussion the whole day. I also got a […] Click to continue reading this post

Market Inks

Well, to be accurate, I did the inking later on. I liked a quick pencil sketch I did at the Hollywood farmer’s market on Sunday. Not far from when I did that previous market scene.

There was a woman who’d set up a stand to do painting of children’s faces with clown-type makeup. Seemed like easy prey to get some interesting sketches.

As it happens I only got one because people had the unfortunate habit of standing […] Click to continue reading this post

Markets and Musings

I’m back in Los Angeles from my visit to the workshop (see earlier), have a bit of a cold, and am tired. I’ve been thinking a lot about various issues in quantum field theory, surrounding quantum entanglement, non-equilibrium processes, Fermi surfaces, and a lot more like that. I’ve also been teaching about real QED processes in the class today – they are now able (I hope) to compute real cross-sections for things like electron-electron scattering, and electron-positron scattering! Very rewarding actually.

Anyway, I’m tired, so I decided to spend a little time relaxing by experimenting with watercolours of a sort. The digital kind. This is a sketch I did in my little square notebook at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market last week, and back then I’d started to use colour pencils to do some colour on it and got a bit bored… So I did a bit more […] Click to continue reading this post

Breakfast Guy

I’ve no idea who he was, but he made for an interesting subject for several minutes*, sitting eating his breakfast with his (I think) wife. I was staying at a hotel and having breakfast, just North of Santa Barbara. The person I set out wanting to draw (very interesting face) was sitting right opposite me, at the same table as me, looking over regularly, and so it seemed a bad idea to try to sketch him. Also, he turned out to be a physicist also visiting at the KITP for a workshop, and so it could have ended up quite awkward.

It was a pretty good week at the workshop. I had a number of interesting conversations with young people trying out ideas and calculations, who’ve actually read (!) various papers of mine, and so had questions and […] Click to continue reading this post

Head Lines

Well, here I am, almost at the end of Saturday, and rather behind on where I wanted to be. Somehow, a half-day shoot for a TV show turned into an all day marathon, due to a series of mishaps and so forth. The first part of the shoot was fun (it involved me in a pool hall, occasionally potting balls and so forth), but not the second. But I soldiered on, managing to explain a bunch of concepts about quantum mechanics, spacetime, and quantum gravity. We’ll see what comes of it. It’s all for science, and for you…

So much of the afternoon had been set aside of writing, and for maybe a little drawing, and it’s all mostly gone now and the only thing I feel left in the mood for is […] Click to continue reading this post

Categorically Not! – Food

The new season of Categorically Not! gatherings started last Sunday night. It went very well. You may recall that it is held at the Santa Monica Art Studios. It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones.

This one was about food, and had musings on food and bringing people together at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe, by the founder Robin Hirsch. He talked about the history of the place, read some extract from his writings about it, and also described the beginnings of the “Entertaining Science” series that got going when K C Cole, Roald Hoffman, and Oliver Sacks did a performance there many years ago. The Categorically Not! series, now five years or so in age, was a spiritual outgrowth of that series, and so it was great to see Robin speak at it. He was very pleasant and interesting to talk to before and after the event too. (I did a quick, rough, sketch during his 20 minute segment – with some tidying up later – and have included it for you to see. Click for slightly larger view.)

Robin was followed by Amy Rowat, of UCLA. Amy gave us a nice overview of what’s going on in her lab. She’s a physicist, and spends a lot of her time looking at food through that lens. The concerns she described were largely ones of structural, […] Click to continue reading this post

That Was the Week that Was

I might be losing my stamina, or have simply taken on more than I usually do, but it sure seems more tiring and hectic than it usually does this early in the semester.

It was a busy week, but I managed to get a few things done here and there that seem worthwhile, so I count my blessings, as they say. (Or used to say – maybe that’s somehow too loaded a phrase to use now? Not sure.)

To attempt to wind down yesterday after a tightly wound day and found myself walking with large sketchbook in hand in the warm evening sunlight to a studio to […] Click to continue reading this post