Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Charlie Allen's Black & White World

When I asked Charlie how long it typically took to do a black and white illustration, he responded, "Can't recall exactly, but a good B&W could take a day to get models, facts and sketches going, another two to four days to render."

In reference to the piece above, he writes, "A tired newspaper proof of a Pac Tel ad done in about 1960. A friend posed for the switchboard lady. An example of line film-pos [an acetate sheet with black line art printed on it] and halftone rendering underneath."

Charlie continues, "Two examples of dozens and dozens of steel product B&W's... a real bread and butter account. Later they all had to include, totally illogically, a pretty hostess-type icon of a gal, always the same one in the same skirt and blouse."

Tomorrow, we get a good look at Charlie's "Steel Lady".

My Charlie Allen Flickr set.


  1. I just can't get enough of Charlie Allen's line work. Thanks, Leif, for another brilliant week!

  2. Thanks for your comment, jesse - I know Charlie, who is reading these posts, will appreciate hearing that! :-)

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  4. The simplicity and clarity of Charlie Allen's illustrations is amazing. His compositions are always clean and easy to read, his values are uncomplicated for better clarity and reproduction, and his drawing is always academically accurate and EVERYTHING reads. This doesn't just happen by chance... it requires understanding and refined editing skills, that separate the top illustrators from the run of the mill illustrators. Those skills are just as valid today as they were then.

    As an illustration student in San Francisco during the late 50's, I was greatly inspired, and at the same time, in awe over Charlie's professional skills and flawless drawing ability. It is no wonder his talent was in great demand, and he stayed busy decade after decade.

    Congratulations to Charlie Allen and thanks to Leif for more of his work to admire and enjoy.

    Tom Watson

  5. Well put, Tom; I always wish I were able to describe these things with the clarity and thoroughness that seems to come so easily to you - thank you! :-)

  6. Mr. Allen, if you're reading this, would you mind commenting on your technique for the black and white work? I'm thinking specifically of the types of paper, pens, brushes, etc. that you used to create the art, and anything regarding your process would be much appreciated!

  7. Great request, jesse! I put it to Charlie and was rewarded with another slew of scans and a wealth of info - which I will use as Friday's post - so stay tuned!