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Music Video Art: Creative Process

Here's one way I create my art and comics:

HRR_CLee_garage_process For this series, I did all the roughs and layouts in Photoshop. I move those into Manga Studio, where I tighten the pencils (if need be - this one didn't) and jump into the line art. Inking in Manga Studio allows me to work quickly and loosely - I just undo strokes I don't like, and try again. I export the line to Illustrator, Live Trace it and color away! Doing the final art as vector allows me to re-size as needed without any loss in resolution - if I want to do a large poster of any of these at a later date, it'll be no sweat.

Maybe that seems like a lot of bouncing around from program to program, but many times I'll pencil in Manga Studio, and color in Photoshop. Whatever the needs of the project, I'll do, and this process is still much faster than the time consumimg process I've used for traditional pencils and inks.

This one of about fifty pieces needed for a music video I'm working on. Some frames are less involved, some more. I'm more than half-way through, and I can't wait for you to watch the video!

In the meantime, check out song samples, or maybe pick up the Holy Rocka Rollaz CD pack - C'mon And Shine On!


Emoto Music CD Cover

I just realized I never posted this image on the blog, my favorite of the three CD covers I did a few years ago for Emoto Music.

The first two covered the Who and What, but the third answers the question to some degree with Where, featuring not only their logo, but elements that are actually in their lobby, larger than life (the dragon fly, bowling pin and alligator). How'd you like to start work each day walking by those statues?


My Life According to XTC

I grabbed this from my Facebook Notes, an exercise/game using only song names from one artist/band to the answer the questions below. I chose my second favorite band to describe My Life According to XTC:


From a super-cool site, Sleeveface; this one by Wolfgang Egberts and Antonia Jenner

  • Are you a male or female: The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul
  • Describe yourself: The Mayor of Simpleton
  • How do you feel: Burning With Optimism's Flames
  • Describe where you currently live: Playground
  • If you could go anywhere, where would you go?: Desert Island
  • Your favorite form of transportation: That Wave
  • Your best friend?: Brainiac's Daughter
  • You and your best friends are: Stupidly Happy
  • What's the weather like: Season Cycle
  • Favorite time of day: Ballet For A Rainy Day
  • If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: Easter Theatre
  • What is life to you: We're All Light
  • Your fear: Cynical Days
  • What is the best advice you have to give: Knuckle Down
  • Thought for the Day: Don't Lose Your Temper
  • How I would like to die: In Another Life
  • My soul's present condition: Train Running Low on Soul Coal

XTC 4ever!


Great Album Opening Tracks

This topic was kicked off by NPR, then picked up by blogger Ann Althouse. Everyone's gonna have their own take on it, depending on personal musical tastes and preferences, and whether a great track can lead off an otherwise mediocre album. The Beatles' Revolver is pretty much my favorite album, and Taxman is a great opening track, but it didn't make the cut for my top twelve, as I'm looking for more: a particular superb track that sets the tone and theme for an album, or perhaps kicks off a great career for an artist or band. So here are my faves, some well known, some far less so.

Wouldn't It Be Nice - Beach Boys - Pet Sounds The wonderful tune to open a classic album, the opening song perfectly encapsulating Brian Wilson's naive, innocent and optimistic state of mind in his mid-twenties. The album explores the themes and ideas most important to Wilson at the time: how to find his place in the world; break out on his own; personally and creatively. He's a musical prodigy, yet has been stunted emotionally, damaged by his father, his growth delayed. The album becomes bittersweet as it closes, and more mature, as one can sense his entry into adulthood. And there's no going back. In hindsight, Wouldn't It Be Nice becomes bittersweet itself, because of the loss of innocence (also lamented in J.D. Salinger's novel, Catcher in the Rye), and it just about breaks your heart hearing it and knowing how life went for him not long after. Hello There - Cheap Trick - In Color I find this to be a classic rock tune, a superb opener for an album, show, playlist or party. Sure, they had released an album previous to this, and Surrender was on the following album, but to me, Cheap Trick announced themselves as major players with this song and this album. I love that they kept it so short; it's an intro, really. I love the double guitar lead that finishes it. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water To open their final album, the folkster duo gives us a hymn (released about the same time as McCartney's Let It Be) that soars. Like The Beatles last, Abbey Road, which opens with Here Comes the Sun, the second side starts with their last and ultimate folk song, a story of survival and persistence, The Boxer. What begins as a simple folk tune with guitar and voice, it builds with additional and effective instrumentation to become a bombastic epic, and one can really feel the triumph of the narrator. We Will Rock You/(We Are the Champions) - Queen - News of the World It's tough to beat the one-two punch of the opening of Queen's second best album (following Night At the Opera). Sure, both anthems have been overplayed and have become nearly cliches, but We Will Rock You bursts with energy from the opening insistent beats and claps, Mercury's rough vocal and Brian May's astounding solo.

I Will Follow - U2 - Boy Not their best album, but still one of their best songs, and that's saying something for a band with such a long and storied career. I Will Follow is quite an intro for the band, as these teens declared themselves to the world, with the Edge's distinctive guitar sound, Mullen's pounding beat, Clayton's pulsing bass and Bono's dramatic vocals. With their first song an album called Boy, these young men had already come of age. Welcome to the Working Week - Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True Another startling entrance for an artist, as Elvis Costello emerges fully formed, in your face and fighting for the blue collar worker, though offering little comfort. With the backing vocals ooh-ing and aah-ing behind Costello's first lines, he kicks it into high gear and doesn't let up as the song clocks in at 1:23. He and the band keep up the pace and quality for the rest, in one of the greatest introductions in rock history. American Music - The Violent Femmes - Why Do Birds Sing? Accompanied by a guitar strumming simple chords, pastor's son Gordon Gano whines to us the question whether we like American music, challenging us to answer in the affirmative as the drummer and band kick it into gear. This semi-punk trio takes us for a ride on this opening song, speeding up in a furious flurry 'til it stops on a dime. The rest of the album is heartbreaking, snarky, joyous, silly, sophomoric, primal, vengeful and literate, leaving one to answer that sure, "I like American music (We like all kinds of music!)", but can't for our lives figure why birds sing. The Blues Walk/Here I Am - Lyle Lovett and His Large Band After the sprightly Blues Walk sets the stage, it then all goes quiet as the spotlight hits on Lyle Lovett who introduces himself, stating simply, "Hello, I'm the guy who sits next to you and reads the newspaper over your shoulder/ Wait - don't turn the page/ I'm not finished/ Life is so uncertain." Here he is indeed. The rest of the song/album is funny, quirky, gender and genre-bending, and contains an array of great bluesy tunes jilted lovers and aching ballads of lovers still together.

I Feel Young Today - Peter Himmelman - Gematria
A personal favorite, Himmelman kicks off his solo career with a rhythmic opening track that gets the heart pumping and a person ready to take on the day/life. It begins simply with a syncopated guitar pattern, but soon builds to a crescendo with grunts & groans, soaring and screamed vocals, drum bursts and echos, and more. It hard not to listen to this without feeling energized and ready to roll. Just One of Those Things - Blossom Dearie - Give Him the Ooh-La-La Opening with a smoldering whisper of a slapping, bouncy upright bass, Blossom Dearie brings a new sound to an old standard. One of the most distinctive voices in pop and jazz history, Ms. Dearie breezes through a tune of rapture and regret in just over two minutes. Accompanied by that bass only for the first minute, the band joins in for the second half, until Blossom and the bass dwindle and fade off. A superb start to her best album, for the Verve label, recorded in 1957. Let the Day Begin - The Call - Let the Day Begin An epic, exuberant, compassionate call to all, a rocker predating U2's Beautiful Day by more than a decade. Michael Been & company lift us up, every one: babies, preachers, dreamers, teachers, doctors, soldiers, the lonely and the homeless in a song that is actually narrated by God, with blessings from above. The Call is one of my favorite bands, and they seem to open every one of their albums in strong fashion. Don't Wake Me - Toby Lightman - Bird On a Wire A rousing opener to one of three of Lightman's great albums. It kicks off with an a capella gospel intro before jumping into a funky/soulful exploration about indecision of a relationship. Toby's incredible pipes hold it all together. I strongly recommend you pick up everything she's done.

I couldn't help but include these two more:

I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles - Please Please Me Their first album, which included their two previously released singles and B-sides. But ten more tracks were recorded in a rigorous nearly ten hour session - incredible. Much of the album seems dated now, due to early efforts that weren't their best and some forgettable covers. But it also includes the immortal first-take of Twist & Shout, Love Me Do, Please Please Me & Do You Want to Know A Secret. And the album kicks off with what is still one of the greatest rock tunes ever. What a debut!

Beyond Belief - Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom

Another Elvis Costello song & album - had to. Beyond Belief is an evolving, free-form, explosive tune that opens a fantastic album, one of Costello's best. It's one of my all-time favorite songs and one of my favorite album covers ever.

Now, what are yours?


Banjo Girl: Getting To Know You

Gosh, this sure puts me in a good mood. The sweet sounds of music of a girl and her banjo: I love the choice of song, the bossa nova rhythms and arrangement, the low-light, low budget video quality, so casual and free, and the short video length, only 90 seconds, in-and-out. Perfect. And she's got good taste. Here's another to prove it: For many more, see Mercedes' youtube page, and a favorite of mine, God Only Knows in a post from last year. When I'm next in Chicago, I just may stop by and see her play live; maybe you would, too, would you...would you?