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Batman Vs. Joker

Saturday, May 11, 2013  |  Permalink

Bang! Pow! Last fall I made a little sketch of Batman fighting the Joker for a Photoshop demo at LCAD. The demo went great, the sketch went into a notebook and I forgot about it.

Until a month ago. I pulled the sketch out and decided it deserved to be finished. I posted the results on Tumblr but forgot to add it here. Pretty fun, right?

Here’s a photo of the sketch, from my Instagram account:

Sketch of Batman vs. Joker



The Incredible Hulk

Saturday, May 4, 2013  |  Permalink

Bruce Banner is The Incredible Hulk

Here’s a little something I made recently. As has already been established, I’m a lifelong fan of comic books. I don’t follow superhero books so much anymore as an adult (with a few exceptions — Hawkeye has been a lot of fun lately), but superheroes sure are fun to draw.

I was able to find surprisingly few drawings out there of Bruce Banner’s actual transformation into the Hulk, so I thought that might be fun to tackle. Here’s the sketch I started with:

nathanolsen_theincrediblehulk_02

That’s actually about as finished as I got with that. Sketches are just that… sketches. Maps. A place to figure things out. I felt pretty good about what I had so I just moved on to the painting.



CSS Zen Garden (HTML5 Markup Update)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012  |  Permalink

Update: In honor of the 10th anniversary of the CSS Zen Garden, David Shea has updated the site’s code to HTML5 and reopened the design contest. The new code can be found here.

I teach Internet Design in the Visual Communications department at LCAD and one of the core objectives of the class is to ensure that each student is fluent in HTML and CSS by the semester’s end. For students that have no background (or particular interest) in programming, it’s very challenging to bring them up to speed in such a short period of time.

After a few weeks of exercises and demos, I introduce the class to David Shea’s CSS Zen Garden. The CSS Zen Garden is a highly effective way to introduce a group of design students to the power and purpose of external stylesheets and it also makes an excellent first project.

When they first start working with HTML and CSS, students often give into the temptation to rearrange the content of an HTML page (and ignore semantics) when they can’t figure out how to achieve their design goals through CSS alone. By making students work with the CSS Zen Garden HTML code (and by not allowing them to alter it), students are forced to seek out solutions to their design problems using only CSS. It’s great way to teach the proper implementation of web standards.

Read More



The Exhibition

Sunday, November 28, 2010  |  Permalink

For those of you who have been kind enough to follow my work but were unable to attend my MFA exhibition, I thought I might post some photographs from the show. Unfortunately, I don’t have any shots of the opening reception — after all the hard work that went into getting the show up, I was just happy to be conscious and in attendance that night. The reception was great though — there was a huge turn-out and I had a lot of fun talking to folks about my work.

There was a brief write-up of the show in the campus newspaper.

The work in the show is all from large scale digital files — many of which are over 3GB in size. The largest prints, the Candy Wrapper Series, are printed at 3’x3′ from files that each contain 234,090,00 pixels (15,300px by 15,300px). I’ve never worked this large before and seeing these pieces at this scale was really gratifying. Months of drawing, painting, layering, masking, and color correction went into each piece but I never really got a good sense about how it was all working until I finally saw the prints on the gallery walls.

Now that the show is over, I’m looking forward to figuring out what to do next. I’d love to continue working on some of the ideas that developed out of this body of work, but I’m not quite sure how to proceed. Working at such a large scale is very demanding and outputting high quality, archival prints at these sizes is not easy on the pocket book. I would love to do a short run of limited edition prints of some of these pieces.

By the way, this entire album of photos can also be found on my Facebook page. Liking my Facebook page is a great way to keep up-to-date with what I’m doing and to help me spread the word about my work.

Click here to see more images from the show.




Emergency!

Thursday, November 11, 2010  |  Permalink

The vendor I used to print some of the work for my gallery show screwed up one of my prints. With just days to go until my show opens (and far too much work left to do), I managed to track down a printer on campus that could handle this 15,300px by 15,300px monster file. The catch? The printer is powered by a 2001 PowerMac. I wasn’t allowed to leave the printer unattended, so I spent three agonizing hours sitting on the floor of a small workroom staring at this thing.

As last minute emergencies go, I can hardly complain — the print is gorgeous!




MFA Thesis Exhibition

Saturday, November 6, 2010  |  Permalink

On Sunday, November 14, 2010, my MFA thesis exhibition, Make Believe, will be opening in the Dutzi art gallery on the campus of California State University, Long Beach.

A map and directions can be found on the university art department website. Park in lot 7 if you plan to attend the reception.

The reception will be from 5:00pm-7:00pm and coincides with the opening receptions for the MFA exhibitions of three very talented friends of mine, Nancy Chiu, Jennie Cotterill and Harry Diaz.

The exhibit will be on display the week of November 15th-18th. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00pm-5:00pm, and Wednesday from 12:00pm-7:00pm.

I’ll personally be on hand at the gallery to answer questions and talk art both at the reception on Sunday as well as during gallery hours on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, so stop by if you can!




Brushes

Tuesday, October 12, 2010  |  Permalink

A digital painting by Nathan Olsen that was made using the Brushes app for iPad.

Today was a work session for my Tuesday Photoshop class at LCAD, which left me with some downtime. I like to draw while I await requests for help from my students so, in that spirit, I decided today to check-out the Brushes app for the iPad. It’s a neat program. The interface is really simple to use, but I still found it a little awkward at first. As I got the hang of it? I really started to enjoy myself. It’s no replacement for actual paint, but it’s definitely a much more practical option for sketching on the go.

I know that there is at least one or two competitors out there to Brushes and discussions often revolve around which of them has the most/best features. Honestly? I love the simplicity of Brushes. I don’t think I need anything more than this. I just learned that there are shortcuts for changing the brush size and picking colors, which is great. If there was a shortcut for changing opacity? The program would be perfect.

Update: You can watch a time lapse video of the painting process at YouTube.



Batgirl

Sunday, September 19, 2010  |  Permalink

A drawing by Nathan Olsen of Batgirl.

Other superheroes in the notebook:



The White Queen

Thursday, September 16, 2010  |  Permalink

A drawing by Nathan Olsen of Emma Frost, White Queen from X-Men comics.

My favorite comic book series as a kid was The Uncanny X-Men. I was too young for the Byrne era, but I was there for Rick Leonardi, Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee. Chris Claremont’s writing was so convoluted that half the fun was just trying to figure out what the hell was going on from issue to issue. The first time The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants showed up? I had no idea who they were, but Claremont wrote the story as if everyone knew who they were — I think that was kind of what made the book so interesting. Reading it was like joining a club and the longer you stuck with it, the higher you rose in the ranks. Long time readers knew the Brotherhood, and that’s all that mattered. Me? I just had to catch up.

Other superheroes in the notebook

And it wasn’t too difficult to find the motivation — the Brotherhood’s leader was a character called The White Queen. A cold, evil woman named Emma Frost who had the body of a supermodel and a costume that looked like it had been picked off the rack at Fredericks of Hollywood. To a pre-teen boy? The most terrifying supervillain imaginable — either she’d kill you or kiss you and at that age both prospects seemed pretty frightening.



“Meanwhile, Below” Print For Sale

Wednesday, September 8, 2010  |  Permalink

Hey folks! It’s been a long time coming, but I finally have a new print for sale. For those of you who have been following my work, you probably recognize the Lollypop Squid from a previous print of mine.

This new print, Meanwhile, Below, is offered in my store as a 12″x12.5″ giclée on 13″x15″ acid-free fine art paper and ships signed by me, the artist.

While I’m really happy with how this piece came out, it’s been a long journey to get it to this point. I actually started the piece last winter, initially rendering it as a pencil drawing.

A pencil drawing by Nathan Olsen of the Lollypop Squid.

At the time, I was mimicking the workflow of many digital illustrators by starting with a pencil drawing and then moving to digital coloring. However, my method of digital coloring was a bit… complicated. Slow, tedious — those would also be apt descriptions. I mean, the results were always great, but I really didn’t enjoy the process and I was really getting bogged down while working on this one.

An early rendering of Nathan Olsen's new print, 'Meanwhile, Below.'

After a good month (yes, month — perhaps longer, but that’s too embarrassing to admit to) or so of working on this print, I gave up. I needed to find a new way of working. So, I set this print aside and started experimenting, looking for better, faster, more enjoyable ways to make pictures.

Comparing the final image to what I made a year ago, I think it’s clear that all that work hasn’t gone to waste. There were certainly some nice elements to the early piece, but I’m much happier with the results I’m getting now. More importantly, I’m much happier while I’m working, which is also really important.

Once again, if you’d like to have a copy of this print for yourself, you can find them in my online store.