This AI's only function is to draw penises

DICK-RNN is a recurrent neural network trained with 10,000 doodles of dicks. You start drawing a shape and the AI tries its best to finish it as a penis. Starting with the balls helps a lot.

Try it.

For the technical background and conceptual inspiration: GitHub page for DICK-RNN Read the rest

Edward Gorey's new book reviewed by Mark Dery

"The Angel, The Automobilist, and Eighteen Others" is a new collection of early drawings by eccentric illustrator and storyteller Edward Gorey (1925-2000). Over at The Comics Journal, Mark Dery, author of the Gorey biography Born to Be Posthumous, reviews the slim new volume while considering where Gorey's odd oeuvre sits (or doesn't) in the comic book tradition. Dery writes:

[Gorey's] library, at the time of his death, included anthologies of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, Gary Larson’s Far Side, the droll caricatures of Ronald Searle, European comics like Astérix and Tintin (Hergé’s ligne claire aesthetic surely chimed, in Gorey’s mind, with the crisp line of his own hand-drawn “engravings”), 12 volumes of Hyperion’s Library of Classic American Comic Strips, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, and Wilhelm Busch’s classic Max and Moritz (1865), a black-comedy parody of moralizing children’s literature like Heinrich Hoffmann’s macabre Struwwelpeter (1845). Predictably, his small but carefully curated (as we’re taught to say) collection of original art included cartoons by Glen Baxter and the loopy New Yorker stalwart George Booth. Less predictably, his bookshelves were stuffed, too, with collections of superhero comics, especially Marvel titles: Batman from the 30s to the 70s, Superman Battles the Mightiest Men in the Universe, Bring on the Bad Guys: Origins of Marvel Villains, Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles, The Silver Surfer, The Incredible Hulk, and on and on.

Gorey’s fondness for comics and cartoons isn’t proof positive they influenced his work, but Steven Heller, a historian of design and illustration, has no doubt he has a foot in the comic-art tradition.

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Studio Ghibli released magnificent free backgrounds for videoconferencing

Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli has released stunning free backgrounds for videoconferencing software like Zoom. Change your set and setting to Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, and four other enchanting film scenes. Download them here: "Studio Ghibli wallpaper that can be used for web conferences"

(via Open Culture)

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When Banksy has to work from home

"My wife hates it when I work from home," writes Banksy on Instagram.

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Recently discovered: Eiffel's drawings for a slightly different Statue of Liberty

In 2018, Barry Lawrence Ruderman, a rare map dealer from California, bought a folder of documents and blueprints related to the Statue of Liberty. What they didn't realize is that the lot contained almost two dozen original engineering drawings for the Statue produced by Gustav Eiffel's workshop. Ruderman and Alex Clausen, director of Ruderman's gallery, hope to eventually show the drawings at a museum but for now you can inspect scans they posted online. Greg Miller writes in Smithsonian:

Berenson thinks the drawings may nail down something that historians have long suspected but not been able to prove: that Bartholdi disregarded Eiffel's engineering plans when it came to the statue's upraised arm, electing to make it thinner and tilted outward for dramatic and aesthetic appeal. Several drawings appear to depict a bulkier shoulder and more vertical arm—a more structurally sound arrangement. But one of these sketches (below) was marked up by an unidentified hand with red ink that tilts the arm outward, as Bartholdi wanted. “This could be evidence for a change in the angle that we ended up with in the real Statue of Liberty,” Berenson says. “It looks like somebody is trying to figure out how to change the angle of the arm without wrecking the support.”

The date on that sketch, July 28, 1882, as well as dates on several pages of handwritten calculations and diagrams pertaining to the arm, suggest that this change was made after much of the statue had already been built. “It’s really late in the game,” Berenson says.

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Video: Behind the scenes of the Astro Boy anime (1963)

Osamu Tezuka's iconic Astro Boy TV series premiered on New Year's Day, 1963. (First episode below.) By some accounts, the cartoon was watched at its most popular point by 40% of Japanese people with a TV. I love watching cartoonists draw familiar characters and the above behind-the-scenes footage from the Astro Boy production is a real delight.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

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Enjoy this rather weird social distancing flipbook animation

The Flippist presents "Social Distancing... A Flipbook," inspired by Kirsten Lepore's wonderful "Hi Stranger" (2017) and Juan Delcan's "Safety Match" (2020). Read the rest

RIP Barbara Remington, illustrator of 60s paperback editions of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”

The New York Times remembers Barbara Remington, who created the cover illustrations for Ballantine Books' 1965 paperback editions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Remington's covers will always be the canonical covers for me, because these editions were in my junior high school library when I first encountered Tolkien.

From the article:

Ms. Remington, who designed other book covers for Ballantine as well, was asked to illustrate the 1965 editions of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” on a tight deadline.

“Ballantine was in a hurry to get these books out right away,” she said in an interview for the literary journal Andwerve. “When they commissioned me to do the artwork, I didn’t have the chance to see either book, though I tried to get a copy through my friends.

“So I didn’t know what they were about,” she continued. “I tried finding people that had read them, but the books were not readily available in the states, and so I had sketchy information at best.”

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Vaughan Oliver -- graphic designer for 4AD, Cocteau Twins, Pixies -- RIP

Vaughan Oliver, the graphic designer whose work defined the 4AD record label, has died. He was 62. His ethereal, surreal, magnificent album art for The Pixies, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and Clan of Xymox brought together design and music in a way that forever changed and elevated the design of music packaging. From The Guardian:

Oliver, born in 1957, grew up in County Durham and studied graphic design at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Polytechnic. “I was a working class lad from a dull town,” he said in 2014. “There was no real culture, my parents were not really interested in anything unusual – everything I was getting was through record sleeves. It was a democratic way of discovering art.”

He moved to London and in 1982 became the first employee for the record label 4AD. As their in-house designer, he created artwork that helped define them as purveyors of dark and complex alt-rock music; with their clashing fonts and boldly allusive but mysterious symbolism, his sleeves became some of the most revered in modern pop. “I like to elevate the banal through surrealism,” he said in 2014. “Mystery and ambiguity are important weapons in a designer’s arsenal.”

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Coop's Randotti skulls: now available as tights!

Artist Coop's revival of the outstanding skulls of the Randotti Corporation (as seen at Disneyland and Walt Disney World!) continues with a line of tights featuring Haunted Skull, Voodoo Skull and Pirate Skull. Read the rest

Coop's tribute to Randotti Skulls, from the golden age of Haunted Mansion merchandise

From the 1950s until the 1980s, Randy and Dotti Smith supplied a line of fantastic cast sculptures sold in Disney theme-park gift shops, especially a line of skulls sold in shops associated with the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean rides; these Randotti skulls haven't been sold in decades, you can still find used ones (at high prices) online, as Boing Boing pal and fabulous illustrator Coop discovered when he sourced an impressive collection of Randotti sculpts.

Illustrator Mark Crilley's tutorial on adding shading to faces

My kids and I like to draw. We sometimes go to the weekly figure drawings sessions at the Art Directors Guild in LA, or we just sit at the dining room table and draw. As an amateur sketcher, I'm in awe of illustrator Mark Crilley's skill with a pencil, and with his instructional books and videos.  His videos are enjoyable and useful -- he explains what he is doing with a calm, soothing voice, and the tips he offers are often just what I need to gain new understanding about drawing. In his latest video, Mark shows how to add shading to faces.

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Lynda Barry's "Making Comics" is one of the best, most practical books ever written about creativity

I've been a fan of cartoonist, novelist and memoirist Lynda Barry for decades, long before she was declared a certified genius; Barry's latest book, Making Comics is an intensely practical, incredibly inspiring curriculum for finding, honing and realizing your creativity through drawing and writing.

Interview with Kai Lan Egg, a Hong Kong protest artist who specializes in anime pro-democracy memes

Matteo writes, "Kai Lan Egg is an anonymous artist from Hong Kong. He started drawing illustrations of the Hong Kong protest primarily using a Japanese anime style to encourage the people around him to stand against the progressive erosion of the Hong Kong independence." Read the rest

From 1929, a splendid experimental animation that imagines life's origins

Tusalava (1929) is a splended experimental animation by New Zealand avant-garde filmmaker and kinetic artist Len Lye. The original film featured a piano score by Jack Ellitt that has unfortunately been lost. (The video above has contemporary music by Andrew Pask who uploaded the film to YouTube.) From the Len Lye Foundation:

The film imagines the beginnings of life on earth. Single-cell creatures evolve into more complex forms of life. Evolution leads to conflict, and two species fight for supremacy. The title is a Samoan word which suggests that things go full circle. In this film Lye based his style of animation partly on the ancient Aboriginal art of Australia. Tusalava is unique as a film example of what art critics describe as “modernist primitivism”. In contrast to the Cubist painters (who were influenced by African art), Lye drew upon traditions of indigenous art from his own region of the world (New Zealand, Australia and Samoa).

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Download hi-rez scans of all 435 illustrations from John James Audubon's Birds of America

The Audubon Society's tribute to John James Audubon's Birds of America (originally published between 1827 and 1838) features all 435 of Audubon's vibrant, beautiful portraits of the birds he studied, along with his notes on their behaviors and other characteristics (the site also includes audio samples of each bird's call). Read the rest

How Susan Kare applied embroidery skills to create the iconic Macintosh icons

In the early 1980s, Susan Kare joined Apple Computer to design fonts and user interface graphics. A legend of pixel art, Kare created the look of the original Macintosh, from the Chicago typeface to the Trash Can to the Happy Mac icon. She's currently creative director at Pinterest. David Kindy profiles Kare in Smithsonian:

Pioneering designer Susan Kare was taught by her mother how to do counted-thread embroidery, which gave her the basic knowledge she needed to create the first icons for the Apple Macintosh 35 years ago.

“It just so happened that I had small black and white grids to work with,” she says. “The process reminded me of working needlepoint, knitting patterns or mosaics. I was lucky to have had a mother who enjoyed crafts..."

Designing the icons proved to be more of a challenge (than the typefaces). Reproducing artwork on those primitive CRT surfaces, which used a bit-mapped matrix system with points of light, or pixels, to display data, was a designer’s nightmare.

However, the friend who recommended Kare for the job—-Andy Hertzfeld, then lead software architect for Macintosh-—had an idea. Since the matrix was essentially a grid, he suggested Kare get the smallest graph paper she could find. She then blocked out a 32-by-32 square and began coloring in squares to create the graphics...

After leaving Apple in 1986, Kare became creative director for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs at the short-lived NeXT, Inc., an influential computer startup that was eventually acquired by Apple. She founded her own eponymous design firm in 1989, which created graphic designs for hundreds of clients, including Autodesk, Facebook, Fossil, General Magic, IBM, Microsoft and PayPal.

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