There is a Dog

@ronmarz has a picture of his dog as his twitter icon.  His dog looks nothing like this and it's head is actually turned in profile to the right, but at the small avatar size, this is the dog my brain sees... even though I know better having already seen at a slightly larger size it's clearly a completely different image. I'm always fascinated by the flexibility of perception. It constantly reminds me that reality is open to interpretation, subject to the resolution and expectations of my own imperfect perception. This is a good thing to know so that I can correct myself when a new more appropriate idea or model of perception comes along without being too overly attached to my old ideas and paradigms.

There is something there, but it's not what I think it is, and that's ok.  In fact, it's good because it generates creativity.  I can create something original and useful out of my flawed perceptions. This drawing looks a lot like my own dog, so you can see I've projected my own experience into a vague image.  My brain has reconstructed the image with detail and meaning that it expects to see which isn't actually there.

How is this misperception useful? In this case I've created a character portrait that I might be able to use in a story, or a cute image I could put on a greeting card, or a toy design, or use it as a story starter, or create fresh interesting content for my blog. ;-)  It's the same process of improvisation people use to compose art, invent technology, innovate business processes, invent scientific hypotheses, find new ways to communicate and relate to one another, and philosophize about almost anything.  Imagination creates new solutions and modifies things in ways that suit new purposes.

Cartoon Christmas Wrapping

I'm really looking forward to seeing my two little nephews this Christmas. I think I had as much fun making their gift wrapping as they will have with the gifts! The improvised cartoons were meant to be some randomly fun pictures to decorate their plain brown wrappers, but they sort of turned into a little story... a tableau of things two young siblings might like to do together in the winter.

Information Design

I have a penchant for information design.  I get all obsessive about creating systems to make key information and tasks more efficient easier to do, understand and remember.  Sometimes this manifests as illustrated graphic design, a.k.a. information design.

Bicycle Boxes

This was for the City of Guelph via Lind Design.  It's part of an education campaign to teach the public how to use the new experimental bicycle boxes, which are road markings allowing bicycles to more safely turn left across traffic.

Hypothesis Testing Flowchart

This was a personal project, a redesign of my stats professor's flowchart.  I needed to optimize it for visual learners so that I (a visual learner) could understand and remember it.  The variety of fonts, colours and shapes contain meaning, designed to differentiate and connect types of information.

Canada Post Learning Map

This learning map was made for for Canada post via Metrix Group as part of a training program for new employees.

Pricing & Rates

Illustration pricing depends on a few factors, including complexity (my estimated hours of labor), usage rights\copyright buy, and distribution.  And sometimes it's based on they client saying "here's the most I can spend, what can you do for that?" and then we figure something out with the style and level of detail to make it fit in the budget.  

Pricing for illustration also varies a lot depending on what industry it's being used for.  Comics, magazines, corporate, TV, advertising, rendering, storyboarding, technical, educational, information design, book covers, children's books, newspapers, packaging, animation, concept design etc. all have their own ranges of budgets, terms, and industry standards, so there is no set standard fee for an image.  So in order to calculate a rate I often refer to the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines book (which lists these variables in detail) to confirm my calculations.

If you want a price quote: In order to calculate fees I need to know how the artwork will be used, what media, image size, colour treatment (line art, greyscale, or colour), and a brief description of what you need to accomplish with the image.

Photo Retouching:
I use Adobe Photoshop to enhance and modify your photographs.  Skills I offer are image cleanup, lighting enhancements, colour and contrast manipulations, face and body sculpting, compositing, digital makeup, photo book layout, and photo illustration.
$75 per hour.

Illustration and Drawing Lessons: 
Learn Anatomical structure (humans and animals), figure drawing, perspective, light and shadow, composition, colour, and concept design.  Use paper and pencil, and digital media including Photoshop, Illustrator and Manga Studio EX.
For kids under 18, $40 per hour.
For professional designers, illustrators and artists, $75 per hour.

Photo Retouching Lessons: 
Using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to enhance and modify your photographs.  Image cleanup, face and body sculpting, colour and contrast manipulations, compositing, digital makeup, and more.
Private lessons are $75 per hour.  
Workshops range from about $175 to $300, offered through Trina Koster Photography, see

Internships & Co-ops

Occasionally people ask me If I'd take on an intern or co-op student.  Because it takes me a long time to type up the email I thought I'd save myself some time in the future by posting my latest response (today is December 6, 2012) so you can decide if I'm a good prospective mentor:

What are your illustration and design skills?  Do you have a portfolio and a resumé I can look at? How long would the internship be and when would it need to happen?

To be completely candid with you, I'm terrible at working with an intern.  I work weird unpredictable and spontaneous hours and there's almost nothing I can delegate to someone who isn't a seasoned specialist.  From now until Christmas more than ¾ of my production work is photo retouching and solving computer and website problems for the photography business I run with my wife Trina.  In the past any time I've had a co-op student it's been a constant and unsuccessful struggle to find work for them to do and they spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for me to give them something to do.  I generally work from my home office, and sometimes I'm running down to the photo studio (a 5 minute walk) or running errands for the photo studio.  When I have it, the bulk of my illustration work is done late at night when people aren't interrupting me with questions and phone messages and requests for help of some sort.  A good deal of my photo retouching and design work is done then too… after supper, sometimes after 10pm because I go to the gyn at 8:30pm sometimes (I would not expect you to come for that but just so you know that's when a lot of this gets done).

So that being said I would be willing to consider it if you are interested in a sort of informal unstructured format.  Depending on whatever's going on at any given time you might be learning more about photo retouching than illustration, but I find that what I know about Photoshop from a photo point of view definitely improves my ability to use it as an illustration tool, and vice versa.  Depending on your skills if I can find a way to put you to work it may be photo retouching (I would train you in that), book design, or there may be occasion to have you do some illustration work, like colouring or inking or some text design or maybe even some concept development, but I can't guarantee that part. 

So, if you're interested in an experience like that let me know and we can consider it further.  I'd suggest if you can find a placement more suitable to your career plan, be willing to invest in traveling to do it.  If you find a better fit don't settle for me just because I'm convenient in Guelph.  Work with a company or a freelancer who most specifically works in the field of your interest.

Threadless Reject

This is my first design submission to Threadless (a crowd sourced T-shirt design and retail company).  I worked hard on the design and I figured it was a good one.  Even so it did not get voted/rated enough to be printed.  I'm not sure if it's because the design isn't good enough or because I don't have a big enough following that will go on there and vote for it, or maybe I didn't do a good job of communicating to my following in an inspiring way.

I'm interested in your feedback.  Got any ideas of how I could improve this design or my campaign for votes?  Email ( or tweet me (@scott_mooney).


War of 1812 TV and Comics Illustrations

This summer I got to work on a historical TV program and related comics about the War of 1812 (in which America attempted to invade Canada). My client for this is Zeros2Heroes, a comics and entertainment company out of Vancouver. There were 6 episodes in total (of which I illustrated 3) and each episode was also turned into a 22 page comic book (of which I illustrated 2).  I was hired on as a penciller, so the inks and colours and lettering were designed by other artists.  These are some samples of those pencils.

These TV bits are from the episodes about Sir Isaac Brock and Laura Secord.

These comics pages are from the story of Enos Collins, the privateer that helped win the war, got rich in the process and founded a bank now known as the CIBC, which is one of the biggest banks in the world right now.

Mighty Bubble Issue 3

My latest Mighty Bubble minicomic.  I went for a retro 3 colour treatment on the cover because it looks cool and sophisticated, and to save time… it’s actually a really efficient way to colour something.  Lazy or efficient?  You be the judge.

Mighty Bubble is a character I created (in collaboration with the communications team at AECOM) for Hudbay Inc. as a part of their corporate citizenship with Flinflon Manitoba/Saskatchewan (the town straddles the border).  Mighty Bubble is part of an ongoing campaign to get kids excited about hand washing. Fun things I’ve created for the campaign include Mighty Bubble himself and his accompanying characters, stickers, puzzles, activity sheets, temporary tattoos, and of course the comics, written and drawn by yours truly.  It’s a really fun and creative program to be a part of.  I really want the program to grow from Flinflon to the rest of the world.  It's a great public message with huge potential to improve public health, and the kids are loving it.

Canadian History Doodle

Here's a little character study for a period piece I'm working on for an entertainment company.  And that may be about all I'm legally allowed to say right now.  But I thought it was a nice image and this will likely be the only place anyone will ever see it.  It's a doodle I made in the margin of the script to help me get a sense of the character.  The final product ended up being something quite different than this.  

Concept Art Fantasy

Every now and then I mess around with some bit of software to see if I can use it practically for illustration.  I love concept art and character design, but most of my professional work revolves around technical, medical and otherwise instructional art so I don't get paid to do a lot of this looser more imaginative kind of work... yet.  I guess you gotta get it out there if you want people to hire you for it, so here's a selection of concept drawings and character designs from the ol' digital doodle folder.  

Manga Studio

Smith Micro had their Manga Studio comics creation software on sale recently.  Something I've wanted to try for a long time.  Turns out it's a really nice drawing tool.  It's exactly the thing to have if you like drawing comics.  Here's one of my doodles from that tool...  The inking tool creates just the kind of line work I love.

Dog Heart 2

This is the second time Dogs in Canada Magazine asked me to make a picture of a dog's heart.  Several years ago I did one as a cutaway to show how the blood flows through.  This time I wanted to make it squeaky clean with a purely vector constructed image... which I've been doing a lot of lately.  I really love how clean these come out.  It makes all the tedious construction time worth the effort. 

Drink an' Draw Doodles

I don't make it out to every Drink an' Draw event but this summer I made it twice so far and here are a few doodles I made.  Last time I brought my Modbook, determined to make a digital painting on it.  That's what Bought the machine for after all, but usually I just use it the same old way I used my ordinary desktop.

1972 Man, directly in brush and ink.

Hellboy done in Artrage on my Modbook

Ratchet and Clank Doodle

Mighty Bubble!

This work is part of a major hand washing awareness program designed to get kids feeling great about washing their hands.  Soap is your super power against germs!  The campaign includes stickers, temporary tattoos, activity sheets with games and colouring and drawing, a costumed mascot that visits schools and events, and a series of comics.  The tag line "Soap is your superpower!" and the comics were my idea as a way to get a story to live in the minds of the kids, so that they can imagine themselves vanquishing the germ bad guys by washing their hands just like Mighty Bubble does.

This project is a community service initiative by AECOM on behalf of HudBay Minerals.
All images are copyrighted by HudBay Minerals.

Check it out at


Here's a special one I haven't shown before.  This was published this year in UpHere Business Magazine, based in Yellowknife NWT.  It's for an article about some previously inaccessible super giant mineral deposits that are soon to be accessible.  The client started me off with an idea sort of like the Superfriends TV show, with three caped superheroes charging towards the "camera".  But as I started drawing that it occurred to me to do something more elemental, so I sketched it out and pitched the idea of humongous giants towering over the Northern Landscape.  They loved the idea so we went with it.  From front to back we have giants representing rare earth minerals, iron ore, and a mysterious deposit that is yet to be determined what it is.

Logo Evolution, Trina Koster Photography

The Trina Koster Photography logo has been updated a few times. I've always loved the dynamic moody, imaginative art of comics, fantasy art, and concept art and I'm committed to bringing that dynamic aesthetic into everything I possibly can.  So here's the latest version:

Below was my first proposal for the 2011 version, but Trina thought it was way to... uh... buxom for her comfort level, and she wanted the sort of symbolic faces to be more specifically similar to her own face.  I didn't mean for the figures to literally be Trina, but more a comic-booky symbol of dynamic girl power in action.

It evolved from this one, which at the time I made it I thought it was pretty cool, back in 2006 or so.  But now it looks like the figures are slouchy and... uh... boring compared to the one above. Also, I needed to update the cameras... When's the last time you saw a big medium format film camera at a wedding?

The one immediately above evolved from the one below, which I created circa 2000... pretty clunky looking, right?  Well, we all gotta start somewhere.  :-)