Sunday, June 29, 2008
Illustration Friday: Fierce
Years ago when my daughter was about a year or so new, we moved to Ocala Florida courtesy of Time/Warner (this was the pre-AOL days). Having lived in metro areas most of my life, I was unaware of the dangers that lurked in the grass just outside my door.
On this particular day I was sunning in the back yard, minding my own business when I noticed an ant on the filter of my cigarette (hey, it was 90s, everyone smoked). I crushed the filter and the ant, lit a cigarette and didn’t give it another thought. A short time later the girl child starting fussing about something so I stood up to bring her in the house. In the process of walking towards her, I felt something sting my toe.
When I put her down in the house my toe was throbbing and my face felt like it was swelling. A quick check in the mirror showed that ‘swelling’ was an understatement—I looked like an Italian blowfish. Things happened fast after that--it was painful to move my foot and my eyes were swelling shut. I remembered putting up the child gate so Sara couldn’t get too close—I still didn’t know what was happening—for all I knew, this was some strange Florida disease. I called my wife and suggested she come home from work if she wanted to see me before I blew up.
The doctor in the emergency room said I had a ‘reaction’ to a fire ant bite. A reaction? Seriously, a reaction is the scream you get when you jump out of a closet and shout ‘booga booga’ at someone. I was well beyond reaction and into terminal response. Anyway, I’ve been bitten since then but I’ve never had a ‘reaction’ as severe as that first incident. I’ve also wondered what possible evolutionary purpose could these little bringers of pain serve? I am still waiting for a satisfactory answer.
Based on this experience, I think fire ants are fierce little monsters and therefore qualify for my Illustration Friday entry this week. I realize that the scale in the picture above would make the fire ants the size a small dog or a large rodent—a Fire Chihuahua perhaps—but, if you’ve ever been bitten by one of them, you know that the scale is psychically correct.
I did this piece completely in Illustrator. I used several different reference pieces as models for the ants and drew the body using a standard brush. Then I filled the bodies using the mesh tool, copied them, and created a red transparency (multiply) over the original body. I created the grass using a custom brush generated from 3 pieces (I read about this process in the Illustrator Wow Book). The sun is a yellow circle with a flare placed over it.
Your comments are encouraged.