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Dr. Armstrong Operates, Performs Extraction, Saves The Day (Again)

March 20, 2014

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably thought to yourself: “This guy is a genius!! His work is so perfect! Doesn’t he ever make a mistake??”  Yup, you’ve probably thought that… : )BlankVertSpace.8pixels

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Mistakes are a specialty of mine. Fortunately, correcting mistakes is also a specialty, which allows me to rescue myself.

All of my line drawings contain “the usual” mistakes: a crooked line, somebody’s head is too big, objects are too close together, etc. Occasionally, there’s a truly ludicrous mistake, because somebody got careless (guess who?).

I’m in the middle of an assignment where my line drawing contained both kinds of mistakes. I thought a quick look at the correction process would make an amusing and instructive blog post.

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My client is the Pontifical Mission Societies, and my illustration features a World Mission Rosary and a world globe.

The 5 decades of the World Mission Rosary are 5 different colors, each representing a different continent. Each decade consists of 11 beads which represent familiar prayers: an Our Father, followed by 10 Hail Mary’s.BlankVertSpace.8pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

If you study my original line drawing (below), you’ll get the feeling that something is “off.” You’re right: the right-hand side of the elliptical globe is squashed in a bit, and needs to be pushed out and made rounder.

And if you count the beads, you’ll notice that some idiot put in 12 red beads, instead of only 11. Hm. Who do we know who could make a dumb mistake like that? (Don’t answer that.)

Note: The small arrows below indicate the “Our Father” bead for each decade. You also get to see my note to myself (circled in red) that one of the red beads has gotta go.

Catholic mission rosary with colored beads crucifix forming outline of globe with major continents misshapen too many red beads

I don’t have a neat and tidy solution to these kinds of problems. It’s usually messy and labor-intensive.

In this case, I could see I’d need to move both the red and yellow beads, pushing them outward to the right. I used the Pen tool to cut the strands into pieces, copying and pasting them onto new layers. Since I’m removing a bead and lengthening the right-hand side of the rosary, I clearly need more of the chain which links the beads together. So I simply copied and pasted in bits of chain as needed.

Here’s the result, with Mr. Big Purple Arrow indicating the naughty 12th bead removed by the surgeon.

If you scroll up and look at the original, you’ll see that Africa is now much further away from South America. When mighty illustrators expand the world, they have to realign the continents, too.

Catholic mission rosary with colored beads crucifix forming outline of globe with major continents right edge rounded extra bead extracted

In the following image, I overlaid the corrected drawing with the original red and yellow bead lines. You can see how the right-side realignment gives the globe a more pleasing, symmetric shape.Catholic mission rosary with colored beads crucifix forming outline of globe with major continents overlay compare of original and revised globe right-side arc

How’s the assignment coming along? Here’s the illustration with some flat color laid in. I’ve also added Pope Francis who’s releasing a dove filled with kids’ faces. The illustration’s for the Missionary Childhood Association, which seeks to instill a spirit of mission in Catholic school kids in the United States (“children helping children”).Catholic mission rosary with colored beads crucifix forming outline of globe with major continents Pope Francis releasing dove children participating in missionary work

Ever been involved in mission work, either firsthand or as a financial supporter?

Ever performed any surgery? (Dicing a carrot, peeling potatoes, cutting a piece of cake, etc.)

If illustrators are performing surgery, should they be required to carry malpractice insurance in case they decide to sue themselves??

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Chrome, Chrome On The Range

Ring Around The Rosary, We All Stand Together

Joe Castillo’s Face Of Christ

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2014 1:05 PM

    The elliptical planet in the finished piece actually adds something to it – looks more like a necklace.
    At what point do you just scrap a problem-plagued illustration and start again?

    Like

    • March 21, 2014 8:42 AM

      Man, you’ve asked a tough question there. I guess it’s when you look down and feel like you’re in a barbershop because the floor’s covered with hair– and it’s yours, ’cause you’ve been pulling it out!

      I do think it’s worth trying to salvage a drawing, because that first sketch– at least in my case– has more energy, more spontaneity. Redoing a drawing almost always results in something more stilted. I have redrawn portions of a sketch, and then successfully combined them with the original– that can be an effective compromise.

      Thanks for a very interesting question and your gracious support! : )

      Like

  2. March 20, 2014 6:18 PM

    “This guy is a genius!! His work is so perfect! Doesn’t he ever make a mistake??” 😆
    I know you are a genius and I suspect you are doing what Michelangelo did. After finishing a perfect work he used to break off a small part to create a flaw! 🙂
    Enjoy the first day of Spring, my friend! 🙂

    Like

    • March 21, 2014 9:00 AM

      I like comments that begin with a quote from a famous illustrator… : )

      My dear Marina! Comparing me to Michelangelo?? I did attempt to paint a ceiling once. I didn’t break off anything, but I sure had a stiff neck the next day. I also discovered I’d painted half the floor! I’ve never had to create flaws, they just come naturally to me… : (

      All I see is snow outside, but your comment has put me in a springy mood– tra-la!! : )

      Like

  3. March 22, 2014 10:35 AM

    Mark … It’s unlikely I’ll every perform surgery. I’m forbidden to be around sharp objects cuz I’m such a klutz. But you … you are the real deal. Love your illustrations and the solutions you come up with. Adding Pope Francis was a touch of genius. 😉

    Like

    • April 1, 2014 4:01 PM

      Now, now, my friend, I think you’d make an excellent surgeon– after all, you’ve been an “operator” all your life… : )

      I mean that in the positive sense, of course. You could never have survived the newspaper and radio biz if you weren’t sharp and decisive and ready to cut to the chase!! Plus, every newspaper has a “morgue,” and you know where the bodies are buried… : )

      Thank you, Dr. Judy, I always appreciate your visits to the Armstrong Clinic!! : )

      Like

  4. Lily permalink
    March 27, 2014 4:12 PM

    Making mistakes always makes a piece seem more real, in my opinion 🙂

    Also, very clever way you have for fixing them! It’s like it never even happened in the first place… or maybe it didn’t! 😛

    Like

    • April 1, 2014 4:13 PM

      What a very interesting and perceptive comment, Lily. I agree. I don’t care for any creative output that’s too slick, too perfect. I think it’s especially true in visual art and music. An errant brushstroke, a missed beat, something slightly off-key– they do indeed make a piece seem more real, more human.

      Lucky for me I feel that way, since I’ve never come close to creating a perfect illustration– not a worry for me!! : )

      Thanks for your very kind comment, and for always being so supportive!!

      Like

  5. March 30, 2014 5:37 AM

    My dear and clever Mark, you make it all seem so easy, and yet I know this is not the case. I shall, therefore, leave all that painstaking creativity in your most capable hands… 😉

    I will however, make myself feel a little more competent by suggesting my surgeon’s skills in the kitchen are vast, and by no means trivial.

    I remain
    Yours Truly
    Open mouthed and humbled… 😉 😉

    Like

    • April 1, 2014 4:34 PM

      Ha! My dear Carolyn! Your kind and mellifluous words falleth as the gentle rain from heaven!! I’m getting soaked here, and loving it– thank you!!

      I knew you were a delightful poet and essayist, and the most graceful of whirligigs found on a ballroom floor, but I didn’t know your talents extended to the kitchen! Amazing, but– not surprising, no, no, not at all… : )

      Thank you for your lovely comment and charming support!!

      Like

  6. March 31, 2014 4:29 AM

    Wow pretty awesome! You’re not only a great illustrator but also a very brilliant surgeon 😀
    mmwahhhhh

    Like

    • April 1, 2014 5:05 PM

      My dear Dolly! I’m sitting here after performing surgery all day. I’m wearing my green scrubs, because many of my patients are donuts. Operating on them always seems to produce a lot of crumbs. I also do a lot of transfusions, mostly involving coffee, mostly on myself. I’m happy to say I’ve had a very successful day, and your lovely comment was the icing on the cake. Well, on the donut, to be precise… : )

      Thank you for being your always delightful self– mmmmwahhhh! Oops! Sorry to get all that powdered sugar on you… : P

      Like

  7. SingingTuna permalink
    April 20, 2014 5:51 PM

    Dr. Armstrong! To Emergency! STAT!!!!
    You really are a deft and fearless surgeon. AMAZING post-procedure outcome!!!
    🙂
    Wow, wow, and WOW!!!

    Like

    • April 23, 2014 3:26 PM

      Dr. Armstrong… gosh! I can’t believe I finally made it!! I sure hope no one finds out I flunked outta med school… : (

      I suppose now that I’m a doctor, I’ll hafta start wearin’ scrubs and a hairnet when I work… : P

      Thank you, Dear Tuna!! Your jolly comments are the best medicine any illustrator could ask for!!! : )

      Like

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