Monday, March 16, 2009

The Others #2: Daily Zoo 'non-features'

Here are a few more Daily Zoo sketches that didn't get featured in the book. (If you're just joining us, I started drawing an animal a day on the one-year anniversary of being diagnosed with leukemia. More info on the story and book can be found here and on my website.)

Day 051 - Caiman
First up are sketches done on back-to-back days. On Day 051 I drew a caiman (a small species of crocodilian native to the Americas) experimenting with just slight exaggeration of the snout and brow.

Day 052 - Crocodilians
Upon returning to the subject matter on the following day, I started with a more pushed version of the same caiman in profile and then did a few more sketches playing with different angles and proportions.

Day 159 - Vulture
Next up is the crafty vulture done on Day 159. Vultures seem to have a bit of a bad rap in general society, but I think they're awesome. They do nature's dirty work of cleaning the savannah of decaying corpses and they have quite a unique visual appearance. Their heads have no feathers so when they're burrowing inside a rotting carcass all day, they don't have to spend a wing and a leg on vats of Prell. I find that their bald noggins also give them a cool resemblance to dinosaurs. The tree that he is perched on is dead and thorny to echo his reputation of being associated with death. This sketch wasn't completely fulfilling for me on an artistic level, so I drew another one on the following day. To see that one, however, you'll have to check out The Daily Zoo: Keeping the Doctor at Bay with A Drawing A Day.


Brian Murphy said...

Cool, love seeing the additional artwork Chris. Just curious, did you use any kind of reference when you were working on these or did you just do it off the cuff?

Chris Ayers said...

Thanks Brian. I definitely used photographic reference for the caiman on Day 051. And I may have had the reference out for the crocodilians on the following day too (I honestly can't remember!). The vulture, alligator salesman and wallowing hog were all just done from the "collected reference" in my head. Sometimes I like to just let the pencil fly without being surrounded by a bunch of open books and magazines... but then of course I run the risk of getting details and anatomy wrong (which is ok for some styles). Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

Ekove said...

Hey Chris, love the details on the 051 croc, especially the eyes.

I was also wondering if you've ever considered listing some of your originals on your site for sale?


Chris Ayers said...

Hi Ekove,
Thanks for visiting my blog and the comment!

At this point, I haven't really considered selling originals, but I have sold high-quality prints of some of the images from my book The Daily Zoo. If that is something you are interested in, you can contact me for further details on my website at

g1toons said...

jut purchased your book really inspirational and fun, are there going to be any more volumes? I love all the designs but for some unknown reason i really love "Nuclear Squirrel, Octopus giraffes and my number 1 is Cardinal, i just love that design great job, did you colour these on the spot or did you go back to them later and, and did you use various mediums
thanks for the book

Unknown said...

Hey Chris!
you have a blog! awesome, glad I put your website in my links on my blog-cuz without it I would never find yours! so now I'll add ur blog to my that was hard to type-still a little hung over sorry lol...urp...
looks like you're feeling better too
grats to that :)

Chris Ayers said...

G1toons & joverine,
Thanks for the comments! Volume 2 is scheduled to be published this November. Most of the images were colored on the day that I originally drew them, but while putting the book together I did revisit some of the images and took them to a more finished state. I used a variety of media (pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, gouache, watercolor, digital) - experimenting with different media and switching styles helps to keep things interesting!
Thanks for linking to my site joverine - hope your hangover has cleared!

Unknown said...

lol yup hangover is all cleared up hahaha...thanks back for the link here! much appreciated

roy santua said...


Cool stuff!!! How've you been?


Chris Ayers said...

Roy Boy!
Nice to hear from you! Sorry I never followed up on grabbing that beer the last time we spoke... we'll have to do that soon.

I'm well - crazy busy with trying to get the Daily Zoo 2 in the can and off to the printer.

Your work is awesome - as ususal!

roy santua said...


I do understand you have a busy schedule - outstanding artists are always the buy ones.
Good to hear from you as well.
Is Scott (Robertson) your publisher? Design Studio Press? He's one of my teachers at The Art Center.

Chris Ayers said...

Roy -
Yup, DSP is my publisher. It's been great working with them and Scott has been a great mentor. Cool that you've got him as one of your teachers!

g1toons said...

today i came into work, and it was one of those days where i was like i do not want to be here to day, so i have a a bunch o f books at my desk that i look through for inspiration and motivation, usually just looking at the pictures and techniques at ore, today i decide to read your book fully! form start to finish, you had a a lot of worthy quotes that made me think about life and where i am in my career and where i am trying to go, but also reminded me that i am lucky to have a job right now, and good health, so thanks again for jump starting my day

Chris Ayers said...

Happy to do it, G1!
It can be easy to forget how lucky we are amidst all the deadlines and stuff to do. I'm honored that the book put a little zing in your step for the day - there have been many books, films, and artists that have inspired me at moments when I could really use it, so it is humbling to be able to "give something back" in kind. You made my day. Thanks!

Jparked said...

CHRIS!!!!!! hey long time no talk or see! hope things are going well, I just ran into your blog and decided to drop you a message.

Hope to see you soon


John Park

Chris Ayers said...

Hey John!
Nice to hear from you - great stuff on your blogs by the way!
Things are good... busy! Wrapping up Daily Zoo 2. How are things on your end? Maybe see you at Comic-Con?

Ann Haase said...

Dear Chris,
My name is Ann Haase. My son is Bobby Haase. You sent him a book thru a friend of yours at UWGB. Bobby is 7 and has been in remission for 5 years after surviving 2 bouts with AML and 2 bone marrow transplants. Bobby loves the book. He and his grampa read the whole thing in 2 days up at our cottage north of Green Bay. Our whole family appreciates your thoughfulness.

Chris Ayers said...

Hi Ann,
Thanks for contacting me. I'm so glad to hear that Bobby is enjoying the book. What a trooper he is! I wish him - and your entire family - many years of good health and fun summer days spent at the cottage!