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I love doing illustrations. Years ago I even thought that my skills were developing enough that it might make a good career. But like an aging high school athlete who's gone to work in his dad's gas station, my skills have faded. I can still look for weekend pickup games, though.Sketch of a mole man. When I saw the 700 Mole Men challenge posted on an illustration blog that I follow, I knew that I'd found a game.

I'm unsure of a lot of the particulars, but the challenge seemed simple: pick a name from the list of 700 mole men in John Hodgman's new book More Information Than You Require, illustrate it, upload the image to flickr and send it to the 700 mole-men group. Easy enough; I gave myself Saturday and Sunday to play with it, figuring that I'd upload whatever I came up with by Sunday afternoon.

The name that grabbed me first is number 101, Mr. Francis Carlsbadcavern, a guanomonger. It was a pleasure thinking of what the business would be, what the equipment would look like. I didn't even know what size these things were, but there was a photo of a naked mole rat on the web site so I guessed naked mole rat size. His pump truck is an oatmeal box with yogurt lid wheels. I wasn't going for cute here... I was going for kind of smarmy. The guy is an uneducated but hard working dealer in bat poo. Nothing cute there.

Sketch of a mole man.Originally the guy was on the right and the cart on the left. I switched them on a whim, added some details and painted myself into a corner. The clock was ticking and there was no time to redraw. The textured background is a bit too juicy, the guy's right shoulder and hand are badly drawn. In fact, I should put the whole thing on the light table and do one more rendering with some attention to anatomy. But times up. Like the aging high school athlete after the pickup game, I came away with pulled muscles, a twisted ankle, and a nagging "what were you thinking?" pounding in my head; but I came away thinking it was fun enough to do again.

I get the Illustration Friday challenge every week. Maybe I'll finally figure it out and give it a try. I think next time, I'll go for cute.


kim said:

Dave I always enjoy your illustrations. Thanks for sharing more than just the final illustration. It is interesting to see your first and final. Though I like them both, the final definitely does the job of putting the moleman in the spotlight, and makes for an even stronger composition. I could see both used in a "comic" panel. The well used shovel adds a really great touch. Looking forward to your next illustration that your wiling to share.

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