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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"How To Make The Best Use Of Your Time...If You Know How To Draw!"

A Bombardier CL-415 ( Superscooper ) 

Tanker #240 seated from runway at the Van Nuys Airport.
Sitting here with my first cup of weak coffee trying to make the best use of every SoCal hour. Yesterday, arriving a hour too soon to meet with an aviation buddy of mine for lunch, I sat in the car and sketched... what else, but an airplane!
Whenever I return to LA, I always try to make time to have lunch with my ASAA, SILA and AFAPO friend and part-time confidant ( of sorts! ) Mike Machat. We both enjoy eating at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant overlooking the Van Nuys airport runway and talking about old times and new projects while we keep an ear open for the sound of a big radial engine.

I was so tempted to Photoshop color it that big, bright, yellow against a beautifully blue California sky!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, December 10, 2015

"No Texas Regrets For This Bayou Egret"...

Cowgirl egret... Geraldine!
A few months ago, a friend of mine was taking her show on the road to an art festival in Texas. Being from the bayou, she was a bit apprehensive about going it alone.  I jokingly told her to go ahead and buy some cowboy boots and a Stetson hat and she would fit in perfectly.

Whether Carol did or did not, I'll never know, but...

But, the thought enter my mind, that if she wasn't gonna take my advice seriously, ( and who actually would? ) that I would dress up her branding icon, Geraldine the Egret!

This is what I came up with in a few hours and sent it to Carol before she left for Houston. I think it lessened her fears about stepping outside her comfort zone... props to her!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Messing Around... In Between Bites!"

An early Christmas present to one of my favorite servers!
Well, it's been a while, but who's counting? Apparently, not me!

This is a sketch I created in between bites of a Reuben sandwich at local eatery, Coffee Rani.  http://mandeville.coffeerani.com  Lately, when my wife and I have caught up talking about our daily exploits, we have another cup of coffee and pull out our iPads/ iPhone.

This night, she had her connection, but I left mine in the car, so I decided to sketch this "bayou gator!" I posed her trying to decide what to order from the charkboard menu posted on the wall. The gator is one of many bayou characters I'm refining for a possible painting for a local library. It was great fun and since it was a mindless doodle, it just flowed right out from under me!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Pack Up All My Cares And Woe"...

Part of a last scene in the movie...

Packed up all my cares and woe, 
Here I go, swinging low... Bye, bye, blackbird!"

Had a nice drive on the backroads instead of the interstate yesterday afternoon. Nobody pushing me to drive hard. Just me, a cup of coffee, an occasional downpour, and Tom Petty...

I don't think he's ever recorded this tune, though!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Transitional Landscape Storyboard Frames...

Having dinner at a Lebanese restaurant here in St. Francisville, LA, Al Aqaba. I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep. A new briefing of twenty-five frames will probably occur later this evening. On to the final confrontation at the Plaquemine sugar cane factory. It will be a real challenge for all involved.
I attached some gratuitous landscape wide shots ( WS ). It's kinda fun because I get to create my own visuals... as long as they pertain to the appropriate scene. I say "gratuitous" because these pics don't reflect any dialogue or require any specific angles for the film storyboard.
For added flavor, I entitled each one of my location frames. The one with the turtle is called,"Blew By You!" It was part of the many car chase scenes I've had to draw.
The one with the heron I entitled, "Carol" for obvious reasons! My friend, Carol Hallock, has an egret named Geraldine as her brand. Carol is a painter of the Louisiana marshland and quite successful doing it. 
BTW, my Beach Boy collection of eight and a half hours made to sunrise, today, with plenty to spare.
Onward, and, uh... onward!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, August 17, 2015

"To All Those Plein Air Painters In Peril"...

Local color for a film I'm storyboarding!
"Polk Salad, Annie,
Gator got your granny!"
( Chomp, chomp! )

"Everybody said it was a shame, 
That 'yo mama wassah working on the chain gang!"

( A wretched, spiteful, straight razor tottin' woman! )
( Tony Joe White )

Good Morning, y'all. Watch out 'fer 'dose gators while you're painting in 'dem swamps!
Second cup of coffee...yesterday's brew!

Copyright 2015 /Ben Bensen III

Thursday, August 6, 2015

More Film Storyboard Sketches... The Corrupt Private Investigator!"

"What can I do for you, podnah?"
About a week ago, I posted, on Facebook, a colored location comp featuring some corrupt private investigator. ( He's probably gonna run for something in this state in some upcoming election!) 

Continuity, for me, is hard especially in this kind of time frame, but this guy only had about ten frames worth of time and I managed to keep him looking the same. The cigar and jowls, plus the rolled up shirt sleeves and pulled down tie, help.

In frame" 80.9", the husband inquiring about a felon's record is light gray and fuzzy. We decided this approach was quicker than selecting areas to blur in Photoshop. This was fine with me because I hate the selection tool in Photoshop. We also use this approach to indicate the use of one lens over. another. 

I'm not too good at knowing one lens over another, and how to illustrate it,  either...

Have a great day, y'all, and keep the eraser close by your side... mine's electric! 

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, July 20, 2015

"A Twofer Tuesday Sketch..."

A thumbnail and the final sketch...
Here's two sketches for the storyboard of a script I'm working on, on location in St. Francisville, LA. Unlike the previous post, this sketch was not first created in front of the director in thirty seconds, but it was drawn with an approval in mind before I go to the final frame. The client wanted the same dress that this character wears throughout the movie, practically. The pose was right, but she wanted the woman looking at the chord she is playing. I went online to find tons of ukulele files to draw from and chose one pic for the turned head kinda looking down and the strumming hand from another file.

Now, I just had to match the face of the character, including her bangs,  with the pose and put the dress, the face, and the strumming hand all together to make a final. Then, I added the background, which in this case, wasn't a perspective nightmare.

I never once considered how involved it could be putting subjects in the right setting, in the right perspective, and in the correct focal length. So frustrating...

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, July 17, 2015

"Just A Thirty Second Sketch"...

Making a quickie work...

I've been working on a job for over two months and slowly the deadline appears. But, as I get briefed on the upcoming scenes, the quick sketches, like the first one on top, need to be created with just enough information about the location, the body language, and the emotions, to help me remember the scene and fast enough to satisfy the whims of a director.

In this one hour dissection between me and the director/story teller, there were over twenty frames that needed visualizing, so speed is of the utmost. In this original sketch, the heroine witnesses a horrible crime with awe and fear. If you look closely, the next frame is the final frame created from that quickie and numbered, six in scene "26". I don't know if I created the exact emotion the director needed, but she did want the heroine to show more anger and less fear in her face.

I captured the "less fear part!"

One of the "joys" of this job is utilizing one sketch, in this case, one thirty second sketch, to use as a base for other scenes. In the last sketch, numbered "61.6," I used the base sketch as starting point, if, for no other reason, because the portrait fits the frame's design. Unfortunately, much time is lost trying to make the subject matter fit in the space you are allotted.

It can become quite frustrating to have the client say, after the piece is completed, that it needs to be more to the right, or reduced, or enlarged. That's where Photoshop can come to the rescue.

Anyway, I've been lucky to be able to use this original sketch on more than one scene with only slight changes to satisfy the client.

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, June 29, 2015

"A Sketch, "Hook, Line And... Worm?"

Getting the worm...
 "It is said that the early bird catches the worm.

This thumbnail sketch was done rather late the other night, so it was really late at night or super early in the morning where no birds are to be found. Regardless of the time of night, you probably wouldn’t wanna be sitting in a boat in the dark, attaching a worm securely to no hook.

The script has, in this scene, the antagonist trying to win over “the babe” by entertaining her daughter on a fishing trip. The little girl is fascinated by the whole process of attaching the worm. I, first, did a quick thumbnail to show the director how I was seeing the scene. The following morning, she was not envisioning the scene, the way I drew it, but, instead, decided the hook should already be ready for casting. So, I dropped the second hand, that is holding the worm, and, then, tightened up the worm, the fingers holding the hook and the actual hook.

As it turned out, the final frame was much more involved than the one I’m showing here, but the worm and the hook, tightened slightly more, survived intact.

Now, let’s go fishing… or bird watching!

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Talk About Continuity!"

Badass Skeeter!
Skeeter, the early morning partier, and I, wish every body a good morning.

Talk about continuity. I've drawn this character, at least, a dozen times and only now do I get a descriptive profile on the dude. He is one of the antagonist is the film, but here he really looks like a "Good Joe!"

I sure hope they don't ask me to go back and make changes on all the previous frames. Regardless, I kinda like this drawing... I think I'll keep it!

Old coffee, CDM, first cup!

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, June 18, 2015

An Often Heard Cliche... "We've Decided To Go In Another Direction!"

The French Quarter
More elaborate than my last blog post, where the scarcity of line still defines the shape, this thumbnail has perspective, lines and tone to help get idea across. The sketch is one of a series of location shots that were done rather quickly to satisfy the client before we went to a final. The scene was faked with just enough architecture to get the idea across.

I am from the city of New Orleans and though I don't live there anymore, I am pretty intimate with this section of town. Still, it wasn't until I added the lamp post in the foreground that I was satisfied it actually felt like the French Quarter. The drawing is one and a half wide by four inches long and created at that size for a good reason. It was later decided to be a rather cliched visual and not used at all.

Regardless, I was pretty happy with the final sketch.

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, June 5, 2015

" A Squiggle Here, A Squiggle There..."

It is amazing how thumbnails work. Sometimes, it doesn't take too many lines to define a shape. It is almost magical. These two thumbnails aren't any larger than two inches wide, if that. They were sketched on the script next to the appropriate scene. This was scanned at 300 dpi in case the director, or I, need them enlarged.

Fairly easy to see how one quick squiggle can make or break an idea, or drawing. It is almost magical!
Copyright 2015/Ben BensenIII

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"A Fight Scene...What Was The Most Expedient!"

A composite shot of the scene...
I am still working, as a storyboard artist, on a feature film project in St. Francisville, Louisiana. At
times, it can get pretty intense even though the deadlines are pretty much self determining between me, the cinematographer and the director. Thankfully, there's no drop dead deadlines, like there are in the advertising world.

A friend asked me if I was drawing all of these key frames (establishing shots) from out of my head and without any scrap. The answer, pretty much, is yes. And, it is exhausting, for me, to do so.  But, we spent three days shooting location shots in and around southeast and central Louisiana, so I do have photos to work from. But, in classic art direction form, the angle always seems to have a need to be changed. 
In one scene, there's a fight that culminates in an old sugar cane factory in Plaquemine, LA. It's pretty cool place to walk around in, and, at the same time, it's a real death trap, if you're not watching where you are walking. As it happened, one photo wasn't enough and the angle was not to the director's liking. So, I cut and pasted two photos and then, in Photoshop, warped them, to fit in perspective... kinda!

I spent way too much time trying to draw two guys fighting. I thought, my wife loved the movie,"The Ouiet Man" with all the John Ford regulars, and as it always seemed to be in his movies, there's always a great fight scene. ( I needed the bad guy to fall back when he is punched, dangerously close to the hole in the steel floor.) 

So, I Googled it and there was an almost perfect shot of John Wayne taking it to the actor, Victor McLaglen. So, I drew it from that shot, scanned it into the computer, and pasted it into the scene.

The final comp... for now!

The scene needed some definition by moving lights and darks.
Later, I redrew, actually traced, the entire layout, with all the changes and then, added rays of artificial light. The finished piece with sketches, pasteup, retracing, and final comp was completed, in  about four hours.
Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, May 4, 2015

"Okay, That's A Bit Over The Top, But"...

Atchafalaya Spillway...
I really have been remiss in keeping with my original intent. That is, to sketch everyday and post whatever I can that isn't an embarrassment to my "reputation" as a great American illustrator.

Okay, that's a bit over the top, but you know what I mean. Somedays you are hyper sensitive to every line you put down, and it, many times, looks worse than a mindless and aimless doodle you create between beers.

I can't explain it. I stopped trying to, long ago.

Anyway, I decided to post some "thumbnail" sketches that I'm doing for a film being shot in and around the city of St. Francisville and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before investing any more time, ink and paper to show my interpretation of just what the director is thinking, I draw these quickies before I go and do another round of sketches in a larger size.

The director swears she can't visualize thumbnails, so these drawings are for me to formulate an approach.
Fireside hug...
We aren't even a tenth of the way through the script, and I've completed about ten large pencil sketches, ( legal size ) and eight color finals, which I complete on the computer. To get to that point, I've done, already, about fifty thumbnails that vary from 1"x2" to 2"x 6".

Here's a few samples...

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Abita Springs Cafe And My Thoughts While Staring At A Church."

Fakin' it with negative shapes and great grub!

It's been a while since I've had the time to ease into the morning with some coffee, a pen and a sketchbook. Two weekends ago, my wife and I stood in an unorganized, but well behaved, line waiting for a table at the Abita Cafe in downtown Abita Springs, LA. We had to wait for about twenty or so minutes, but it really was our fault. It was Sunday brunch time and services at the little church across the street just exploded with the exiting faithful.

Faithful to get a seat at the cafe in time for brunch, that is.

When we finally got to sit down, it seemed the weather had changed. People who had no problem, twenty minutes ago, sitting outside on the veranda, slowly began to bundle up or request an indoor table. But, we were nice and cozy with a cup or two of the cafe's own brand of dark roast coffee. At $2.50 a cup, I made sure I got my free refills quite often. I think the waitresses understood, ha!

Anyway, I had a four egg Greek omelet with hash browns and it was excellent. The omelet comes with fresh basil apparently from their own back yard garden, and asking for a little extra created no turmoil or nasty looks. 

I'm always hesitant to order hash browns because every cook's idea of what that means is different. You really don't know exactly what state of mind the hash browns can come in, but these were great. I don't remember what my wife had, but she appeared to be awfully quiet on the other side of the table until her plate was empty. So, I guess she loved what she ordered.

The only problem I had with this meal, besides the crowded situation, was that I could not just sit and stare out the window and people watch. My partner in life can't sit that still, so we left the restaurant not too long after we finished eating. It would have been rather selfish, anyway, to hog a table on this Sunday morning.

But, a few wet aggravating days ago, I went back to test another omelet and calm down. The week hadn't started off to well, and I felt I needed some comfort food. It was almost lunch time, but they  were still serving breakfast. This time, it was their famous Alaskan Smoked Salmon omelet with scallions and dill sauce. Very nice tasty and rather light. And, again, the hash browns were treated with the same love and respect as they were two weeks earlier. 

I love consistency!

Of course, the coffee flowed, as my sketchbook and I enjoyed the time off to eat, think and stare, and capture what I could with pen in hand... southern styled!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"We Don't Need No Stinking Resumes"...

Short thumbnail storyboard for Lincoln Aviator...
I'm an artist. It what I've done most of my life to earn my keep. It is pretty good money, but it is usually quite hectic with unrealistic deadlines and stressful situations. It usually is an adrenalin rush and not for the faint of heart.

Above, is one of the many on-site thumbnails I sent to the potential client. These little pieces of art are usually drawn in front of a pacing art director who wants his or her idea quickly visualized for approval before going to a final. Last week, I was asked to present along with a bevy of thumbnail sketches, a resume including a detailed story of my career. In all my life, I have only successfully used a resume to get a job, once. It was for a full time job at an aerospace plant where I work for just under four years.

I, then, went freelance and never again was asked for a resume. I have one, but I only occasionally revise it... once every five years or so!

Since when do we need to pdf a resume for a storyboard job. I'd much prefer googling an address, driving to the place, paying to park, walk into a lobby, present myself to the client and open up my "effin portfolio" and wait for a response or a conversation!

Proof's in the puddin'... not a resume!

And, besides, behind one's portfolio is a real, live, engaging and fun person who is looking to share his or her talents with another, supposedly, talented person. Why not a meeting face to face? It ain't like we will show up with explosives strapped across our waists to push the button if we, as artists, are not validated with love and candy kisses!

It is not like artists have never heard the word, "NO!"

In afterthought, I guess I'm rather put off that I am here in Louisiana, where no one really knows me like they do in Los Angeles. This is the ninth or tenth time I've been asked to present a resume. As I said, in LA, I've only once written and presented myself to a client in that manner. 

I must not be good at writing them anymore because I haven't been hired yet from any resume or pdf sent here in Louisiana. I once hired a company to formulate in words what I do for a living. It cost me a good penny or two. Made me feel like what was being said about me was totally fabricated. They embellished way too far and kinda went "Brian Williams" on me.

Said I was with the "special forces" when I actually was a mess hall cook!

Well, anyway, I now have a cleanup job to perform in my studio. And each sample has to be placed back where I found it, or it will never ever been seen again. I pretty much wrecked my flat files, my dvd's, and my slide trays to come up with some usable samples to "pdf"...

 ... along with a "resume!"

Copyright 2015? Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"How Come You Never Draw Me?"

Keepin' it Real for Carl...
Just sittin' here watching a matchbox hole in my soul. 
About two weeks ago, a burly, scruffy faced senior, asked me why I never found his face pretty enough to sketch. I hadn't been at the senior center in almost half a year since my mom is now in a nursing home. Carl loves to harass and tease the ladies, and any guys who he knows can handle the teasing.
I took a picture of Carl on my clamshell cellphone because he seemed overly concerned about his bridgework and how it makes his mouth appear crooked. It's one thing to sketch a person that possibly can't sit still, it is another thing when you're sketching a heckler with about a half dozen seniors looking over your shoulder.
I promised I'd get back to him in a week or two as he only visits the center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Today, Tuesday, I remembered to bring the sketch, but when I walked into the center at lunchtime ( I really should know better! ) everyone asked me to sit down and have a knosh and be a part of the group like mom and I used to. I thanked them, but decided to just sit down and have a cup of coffee. Naturally, they asked about my mother and I let them know how she was getting along at the nursing center... and how she was not. My mother has always been a difficult person to deal with and it only took a few months for other seniors to realize Mimi's true sobriquet. For sure, I pretty much had everyone's sympathy especially Carl's. She was one of Carl's best targets.When they asked me about why I was again visiting without my mother, I showed them my sketch of old codger.

As I did, I noticed a slight groan in their perusal of Carl's likeness. I assumed that they knew all about Carl's denture work and fear, possibly, he wouldn't approve of my interpretation. Instead, they informed me that he was in the hospital with pneumonia. Some folks said, in rather hushed tones, that he was also suffering from prostate problems.
"Darlin, Cynda said, "go see him at the hospital and show him your portrait. I'm sure he'd love to see you and your sketch!"
Everyone agreed and I promised that I would go visit him today, and if not, certainly the next day and that I would also bring the portrait along for him to enjoy. Still, it kinda puts a hole in your soul, ya know?

Ben Bensen III/ Copyright 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

"A Tough Nut To Crack, So I'm Told..."

Sketched from a coffee house nutcracker... edited, ha!
My chiropractor says I'm a tough nut to crack. We "crack" each other up every time we get together. After about two months of C, he suggested I see his massager to tenderize me. This has been my fourth session with the guy. He put me into this glute isolation position and pounced.

Oh man, it hurt so good!

Like a worn clutch or brake that you didn't realize needed an adjustment until you actually feel the results, I now remember what it is supposed to feel like when walking.

"Damn," he said. "Freddy, ( the chiropractor ) was right!" You ARE a tough nut to crack...you've got no flex!"

"I don't know," I replied..."Is that supposed to be a good thing?"

"No"... he huffed!

"Sorry," I laughed!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III