Skip to content

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… : )blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels highBlankVertSpace.8pixels

    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *    BlankVertSpace.8pixels

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highMistakes are a specialty of mine. Fortunately, correcting mistakes is also a specialty, which allows me to rescue myself.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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?).blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high


    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *    BlankVertSpace.8pixels

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highMy client is the Pontifical Mission Societies, and my illustration features a World Mission Rosary and a world globe.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highBlankVertSpace.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.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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.)blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highI don’t have a neat and tidy solution to these kinds of problems. It’s usually messy and labor-intensive.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s the result, with Mr. Big Purple Arrow indicating the naughty 12th bead removed by the surgeon.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Eric Meisfjord communications director Catholic diocese of Spokane

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 40 pixels high

20 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?


    • 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! : )


  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! 🙂


    • 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!! : )


  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. 😉


    • 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!! : )


  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! 😛


    • 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!!


  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… 😉 😉


    • 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!!


  6. March 31, 2014 4:29 AM

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


    • 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


  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!!!


    • 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!!! : )


  8. RKLikesReeses permalink
    March 31, 2019 6:26 PM

    Who in the world is that SingingTuna person!!??? LOL – I remember this one – very impressive, indeed! ::applause::


    • April 4, 2019 8:30 AM

      Singing Tuna?? Well!!– she’s only about the greatest underwater vocalist of all time, is all!! I’m proud to know her, and if you promise to be good, I’ll introduce you sometime!! 🎤🐬😂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. RKLikesReeses permalink
    April 4, 2019 10:25 AM




  1. This Old Illustration Is Still Laboring In The Vineyard | Mark Armstrong Illustration Specializing In Content Marketing Advertising Editorial Infographics Animation Videos and Social Media

A penny for your thoughts. I'm on a tight budget here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: