10 Oct 2011

World’s Greatest Exaggerator

Illustration, Process / Tutorial, Shirts For Sale No Comments

My newest design “World’s Greatest Exaggerator” is now up for sale at Threadless! This design was inspired by an overheard snippet of conversation at a restaurant, and is currently in the running for the “3 Words or Less” competition. It seemed like a design that lots of people would enjoy, and something that even if YOU don’t need it, you probably know someone who does.  Your votes and comments are how they choose what to print, so thanks for all those who took the time to vote!

Prints, laptop skins and iPhone cases are also available at Society6.com.


For this design, I turned once more to scratchboard, which is quickly growing to be one of my favorite artistic media. For those unfamiliar with the process, you start with a panel that’s coated in white clay, then covered in black ink.

Initially, I create my layout / composition sketch using a combination of digital and analog techniques:

Then, I transfer the artwork to the scratchboard. To do this, I place the original drawing on top of the scratchboard, and trace it all with a ball-point pen. The pressure from the pen leaves light impressions in the soft surface, that I can then use as guides.



After that, it’s a matter of using scratching tools to slowly and deliberately scratch away the top surface to reveal the white clay underneath. To begin, I outline the primary shapes to make it easier to see them as I’m working.


Once that’s done, I go back and begin rendering each individual element.



Until eventually (many hours later) it’s completed!



I hope you’ve enjoyed this little process blog! If so, and you’d like to keep up with my work, feel free to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

01 Sep 2011

He’s Dead, Jim

Illustration, Personal Work, Shirts For Sale No Comments

My latest design, “He’s Dead, Jim”, is now available in my shop!


“Landing party, with me. Spock. McCoy. Uhura. And… you. Over there in the… red shirt.”

Ah, the poor red shirt. Ensign Whosit. Yeoman Whats-his-face. Don’t bother learning their names, as they won’t be around long enough for you to need to know them. This design is my tribute to unsung heroes everywhere who tirelessly do their work behind the scenes and sometimes give their lives while the flashy ego-maniacs is charge get all of the credit (and all the alien women).

Engineers, Communications Officers, Security, Administrators – this shirt is for you.

Front print has an updated insignia, showing the likely fate of the wearer, and warning label on the back lists each and every method by which those brave red-shirted souls were summarily dispatched during the Original Series.

2-sided screenprint on red/black 50/50 Augusta 710 ringer shirts for guys, and American Apparel 100% soft jersey cotton 4377 cap sleeve shirts for girls. Available only through my own shop!


Pre-order today and get a free 1.25″ pinback button with your order!







For those looking for something a little less subtle, I’ve also made a single-sided version, available through RedBubble shop.



10 Aug 2011

SausageFest 2011

Illustration, Personal Work, Shirts For Sale No Comments


SausageFest is an annual party (now in its 4th year) that my wife and I throw at the end of summer for all of our friends as well as some of my local design clients and vendors. And to answer your question: yes, we do allow girls to come too.

This year, we’ll have over 20 pounds of bratwurst from a local freerange organic farm, as well as a full keg of craft-brewed beer and a wealth of summery games and activities.

Previous years’ shirts have been such a smash hit that lots of people have asked about them after the event, and several of our friends have even had strangers attempt to buy the shirts right off their backs!

They’ve been so popular  that I decided to put them for pre-order for just $15 through my shop for to those who weren’t able to attend the ‘Fest but still want to proudly display their love of all things sausage-y. This year’s shirts are printed on lightweight super-soft vintage style ringer tees to complement the retro style of the illustration.  Guys shirts will be black on a gray/black ringer and ladies will be purple on a lavender/purple ringer tee.

Girls – Bella 6050 sizing chart

Guys – Canvas 3055 sizing chart

I’m placing the order with the printer tomorrow, so you only have today to pre-order if you’d like to get one!

Available only at http://shop.ianleino.com



And for fun, here are each of the previous years’ designs as well

I relished the meat at SausageFest 2010

Rock out with your brat out at SausageFest '09

I got my weiner grilled at SausageFest '08


18 Jun 2011

The Final Note + linocut process

Illustration, Personal Work, Process / Tutorial 3 Comments

Every life is a unique song, but they all end with the same final note.

My latest design “The Final Note” is up for scoring at Threadless and needs YOUR votes and comments to help it get printed!

The Final Note - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

For this design I’ve used a linocut process to first create a block print, which I then cleaned up digitally into the final t-shirt design. It’s a really fun way to work that not many people have tried, so I thought it would be fun and educational to give a quick walkthrough of the process. For anyone interested in trying it out, I’ve linked to low-cost options for most of the tools and materials, and you should be able to set up for linocut printing for under $40 total.



As a graphic designer, I’m stuck in front of the computer most of the day, so whenever possible I like to get back to some actual analog illustration and print methods. I particularly enjoy linocut which is a relatively cheap and easy (though time-consuming) print method that you can do yourself without too much set up cost.

Most of these are probably available from your local arts and crafts store, but I’ve also provided links to DickBlick for anyone who might want to puchase them online. Here’s what you’ll need:


1. Carving tools. There are fancy ones of course, but a decent $7 set like this will work just fine.

2. Linoleum. Artists originally used regular flooring linoleum as a cheaper, quicker substitute for wood block carving. Eventually some art-supply dealers wisened up and made a new type specifically designed to be carved. There are several different types, but this one is a good balance of professional quality for a decent price.

Now, on to the process!

First, generate a rough sketch of your idea

Then coat your linoleum with a thin coat of gesso or white paint

Because the carving will be mirrored in the final print, be sure to reverse your initial drawing when you create it on the linoleum. This can either be done as a new drawing, or if you scan in your sketch and flip it in Photoshop, you can then transfer it over using carbon paper.

Then, get to carving. I recommend you find a good movie or TV series with lots of dialog on Netflix, or else set up a good long playlist on your iPod.

At this point, I find it helpful to see what the actual print will look like (as I’m bad at thinking in the negative) so I use a wide-point Sharpie to color in the uncarved areas of the design that will print.

Once the central image is carved away, you can either work on a setting for the character or remove the remaining material for a clear background plate. I like to create an organically-shaped frame around the edge and leave a bit of “chatter” for a little more dimension. Note by the change of lighting that night has now fallen. Did I mention this isn’t a super speedy process?

A little more carving the next morning, and a final round with the Sharpie reveals what our final print will look like.

So that’s it for the carving portion of this tutorial. I’m now working on the actual printing part, and will update this post this afternoon once I have that documented as well.


So, here’s how the printing went (along with a materials guide for those of you following along at home)


3. Brayer: (cheap version – $6, pro version – $60) This is what you’ll used to spread the ink onto the linocut when you’re ready to print. I found a mid-range one for $18 at Michael’s

4. Glass/Plexi sheet. This is how you coat the brayer with a smooth layer of ink. Tempered glass works best, but in a pinch you can use standard glass or even plexiglass.

5. Ink. There are lots of options here, and honestly I’m still experimenting myself and don’t have a strong recommendation yet.

6. Pressure: Fancy types will have a special printing press, but like me you’re doing this at home, so you probably won’t. There are several different methods and you should experiment to see which works best for you and your print style. For this print I’ve used a combination of a heavy rolling pin and the back of a spoon.

Now for the super lo-fi print process:

Take your glass/plexi sheet, and apply some of the ink to the center. Then take the brayer, and push the ink around until it is smooth and consistent without streaks or spots. This means that you have covered the brayer in an even coating of ink, and there won’t be blank spots when you apply it to your block.

Now roll the brayer across the surface of your block, being sure to cover every print surface. Depending on the size of your block, you may need to re-ink the brayer.

Place your block on a hard, flat surface. Here I’ve placed a cut section of plywood on top of the stove. Let’s hope it doesn’t leave any scratches or I could be in real trouble.

Lay your paper on top of the block, and press down lightly to tack it down. Once you’ve placed your hand on the paper, don’t remove pressure until you are finished with your print.

Apply pressure! What you want is to exert even pressure across the print surface. To achieve this I used a heavy marble rolling pin, but apparently forgot to take a photo.

Now, you can peel back a corner to get a look at the print, but be sure to keep your hand on the paper to keep it from slipping.

I noticed that there were some areas that were not pressed enough with the rolling pin, so I’m now using the back of a spoon to fill in the detail in those areas.

And here’s the first print! It’s not perfect and you shouldn’t expect it to me. What it does is give you a good idea of where you may need to carve out more of your design, how well you applied your ink and how evenly you pressed it.

Based on that information, you can make any further tweaks that you need until you’re happy with the result.


As it turns out, this may be the biggest pain of the entire process, depending on what inks you use. Oil-based inks tend to work best but are also the worst for cleanup. I used mineral spirits to remove the ink from the brayer and the glass/plexi plate. This is not a quick or clean process, but should be *slightly* quicker than cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In addition, it seemed to merely transfer most of the ink to my hands. This is AFTER quite a bit of hand cleaning. It turns out that a good way to get oil-based pigment off of your hands is with oil (to lift the pigment) and a little salt (as an abrasive). Once you’ve got all the ink off, you’re now left with merely OILY hands, which you can clean with standard dishwashing soap.


Now that all the dirty work is done, I take my favorite of the prints and scan it in, clean it up a little in Photoshop and pop it onto a t-shirt template to see how it looks. I’m not typically a fan of framed work on shirts, so I’ve created a second version removing the frame and background to leave just the central character. That allows me to increase the size of the main image and remove any distraction around it, to make a graphic better suited for a t-shirt design.

Thanks for reading! If you like this design or enjoyed seeing the process behind it, please take a moment to vote for it at Threadless!

17 May 2011

3 Little Pigs: Mechanized Assault

Illustration, Process / Tutorial, Shirts For Sale 1 Comment

One of my all-time favorite designs that I’ve created “3 Little Pigs: Mechanized Assault” has recently been reprinted and is available for sale once again at Threadless.com! And since they currently are running a summer sale, you can get yours for just $12 now through 10 am CST on May 18th!


And for anyone interested in the process behind this design, here is the writeup that I did for the Threadless Sketchbook, outlining how I created the design.


27 Apr 2011

The Empire Strikes Out

Giveaways, Personal Work, Shirts For Sale No Comments


It’s an epic day here on the field in Tattoine. The bottom of the 9th. 2 men on base, with the Rebel home team ahead by 2 runs. Typically a big hitter, Vader hasn’t made much of a showing in this game, and really needs to land one here to pull out a victory for the team and salvage his own record as well.

After a conference with co-managers Yoda and Kenobi, rising star Skywalker returns to the mound with a strong set to his jaw and look of grim determination in his eye, perhaps remembering the beating that the Rebels took the last time they faced this team on the icy fields of Hoth.

He winds up. Here’s the pitch. Vader swings … and it’s NO GOOD! The Empire has stuck out, and the Rebels seize the day! This is a HUGE win for the scrappy Rebel team, and gives them just the push they need for when they face the mighty Empire next on their own turf at the Death Star, as this storied rivalry continues.


My newest design “The Empire Strikes Out” combines those two classic institutions of Star Wars and Baseball, and will be for sale for just 24 hours at RIPT apparel, starting at midnight!

Heather/Black raglan sleeve baseball jerseys are also available, only through my own shop. (Coupon code “VADER10” will get you 10% off your total order, too!)



Once again, to celebrate the launch of another design I’m sponsoring a giveaway! This time the prize will be 3″x4″ magnets – the perfect way to spiff up a dingy droid, sand-worn speeder, or shiny starship. There are 3 ways to enter to win!






Facebook: “Like” my fan page and leave a comment on the ‘Empire Strikes Out’ post.

Twitter: Follow me, and tweet this message: There’s an awesome #starwars / baseball design ‘The Empire Strikes Out’ by @ianleino, $10 today at http://bit.ly/gkh0pa

Tumblr: Follow me and reblog my ‘Empire Strikes Out’ post

At least 3 winners will be chosen from each site, and it could be more depending on the number of participants!

Good luck everyone, and thanks for helping to spread the word!



27 Apr 2011


Illustration, Shirts For Sale No Comments

Over the past few years, I’ve been printed 9 times at shirt.woot.com, and “Metrognome” is the first design that has lived through their weekly “reckoning”. For those who aren’t familiar with shirt.woot, they print a new shirt every day, printed on American Apparel for $10 including shipping. After their one day in the spotlight, they continue to offer shirts for $15 each, but only the top 20 designs! At the end of each week, the “reckoning” purges the ranks of all but the top designs, and I want to stay on that list!

After 2 weeks on the charts, “Metrognome” is currently 17th of 20, but there’s some strong competition, and it needs your help to stay on the chart. If you’re a fan of music, a lover of gnomes, or just someone who enjoys a good pun,  take a second to check it out. And if you know anyone else who might appreciate it, be sure to send them a link and help spread the word.  Thanks!

22 Apr 2011

“Lie To Me” winners!

Giveaways No Comments

Winners in my Portal-inspired “Lie To Me” giveaway have just been announced! 5 winners each from Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr will get FREE “Lie to Me” temporary tattoos!

From Facebook: Zuzanna Kanska, Patch Jarnes, Mark Renfrew, Freya Pope, Zeke Hill

From Twitter: @alxf9, @EmoSeal, @Ken_Diesel, @RogueFrenchFry, @UKDreaminGirl

From Tumblr: fromthenotebook,robotplanedinosaur, pencilfangs, annmariebrok, twopartsawesome

For anyone else interested, these tattoos are for sale in my shop, along with t-shirts of the design, printed on American Apparel.

Thanks for everyone who participated and congrats to all of the winners!

18 Apr 2011

Portal “Lie to Me” t-shirt

Uncategorized No Comments

Minutes after picking up the original Portal in 2007, it had already become one of my favorite games of the year, and still holds a place high on my list of all-time amazing games. I am absolutely filled with nerd joy at the prospect of Portal 2, and have designed a new shirt to express some of that excitement!

“Lie To Me” t-shirts are for sale in my shop (along with temporary tattoos), and will also be available at TeeFury.com for just 24 hours on April 19th, to celebrate the release of Portal 2!!


To coincide with the TeeFury printing, I’m once again sponsoring a giveaway, with multiple ways to win

1. “Like” my Facebook page, and leave a comment on the “Lie to Me” post

2. Follow me on Twitter and tweet this message: Check out the cool #Portal ‘Lie to Me’ shirt by @ianleino today at teefury.com! Temporary tattoos too! http://bit.ly/aXqsXj

3. Follow me on Tumblr and reblog his “Lie To Me” post.


At least 5 winners from each site will win a FREE “Lie To Me” temporary tattoo! One entry per site, but feel free to participate on more than one to increase your chances of winning!

Also, to celebrate both the Portal 2 release AND my print at TeeFury, on Tuesday only use coupon code: LIETOME for 10% off your total order in my shop!

Good luck everyone!




12 Apr 2011

Featured on G4′s “Attack of the Show!”

Personal Work, Shirts For Sale 2 Comments

In awesome and completely unexpected news, my shop and a wide selection of my shirt designs were featured recently on G4TV’s “Attack of the Show!”

They seemed to enjoy all of my designs, but especially loved the “Most Dangerous Animal in the World“, “Choose Your Weapon“, and “No Match for a Good Blaster” shirts.

For anyone looking for any of those (or other designs) they’re all available in my own shop, printed on American Apparel shirts, along with pint glasses, stickers & more.

Whoever tipped them off about my work, THANKS!