Saturday, December 18, 2010

Year in Review

Everybody's doing them so I might as well too.
6 month Delay
First half of the year was spent creating the children's book for my son that my mom wrote. Book sales aren't good but it was never about that and I could care less whether another copy ever sells. I haven't spent any money or time on advertising so really it hasn't had a chance.

Speaking of advertising, since I wasn't working in the field for 6 months or doing any self-promo things were super slow after returning. I thought maybe I'd have to give up. The work I was getting was below a sustainable rate.

GenCon
GenCon went super well with me doing twice as well as last year which I found surprising considering people still ask if I've ever been published.  I really need to get some higher exposure work as it does seem to matter to people whether they've seen my work somewhere. Maybe sales were just better because customers saw my work the previous year? I think for 2011 I'm going to get a larger area to show my work.

Feast
I got a big opportunity to do texture work. Unfortunately it didn't become permanent. My first pass was too rough. My second pass too tight. I didn't get a chance at third pass. A real shame since it was paying $3800/month. That sort of yearly income would have allowed for some crazy stuff. I likely would have wanted to move.

Freelance
Freelance picked up after GenCon and we switched to having my son in daycare which meant being able to work more and have a greater profit margin. It was also more reliable. One month I did an insane amount of illustrations and am responsible for every illustration in a book that's going to be released. It's exciting to be the only artist on a book. So if people say the art was great I know they're talking about me but ofcourse if people hate it then ofcourse more blame falls on me than would be normal. I certainly hope it's well received.

Then I switched to an hourly gig again with a little freelance on the side. I'll be able to talk about the hourly gig more soon. I could probably talk about it more right now but I'll just keep quiet. That's been going well. I got some side work that's pretty exciting and pays well that I can't talk more about yet.

FANS!!
I've now got a couple of great fans now. :) People who are regulary buying my prints or ordering commissions,etc. These are people who really care about how my career is going. They're not just following me on DA and blindly faving everything. Actually I don't think these couple of people even follow me on DA or anything. I know some artists hate private commissions but I love the idea of that being the majority of what I do. It's work that pays upon completion or you can even have them pay up front. I can post the work whenever and even livestream it or post publicly for advice. Plus most people don't have a deadline in mind for you. Plus it gives me an opportunity to at least attempt some things in real media.

Future
I really should have learned after the first half of the year how important it is to keep my name out there but I've really been lazy about self-promotion this year. I need to start posting on rpg.net, enworld, CA, epilogue, cghub,ArtOrder ning,ImagineFX,etc. I should return to submitting artwork to 2DArtist and should probably submit to other publications if there's no entry fee. I should try to return to doing livestreams. I should probably whore myself on twitter more and hassle people about new blog posts a couple times per day. I should make more blog posts and make sure to include art with every single one, even if it's a doodle. Maybe spend and hour doing a warm-up livestream and post the daily sketch every day on the blog.

Thanks to the hourly gig, I'll probably be attending more conventions this coming year although I won't be able to have my own booth since I'll be needed at the company booth. There are a couple of cons in Ohio that I plan on having a table at .I don't think I'll be going to Illuxcon in 2011. If money is good, I may have to attend World Fantasy Convention as that sounds more like what I was hoping Illuxcon would be (ofcourse I could be wrong).

Also I need to start doing my tight sketches on toned paper and at a finished quality. When possible, I need to keep trying to make finished pieces in oils. Kind of tricky since most clients want everything on separate layers these days. Another reason to be grateful about the influx of private commissions.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thumbnail Revisions.

I'm still fooling with the thumbnails for the piece I'm doing on my own. Thought I had one picked out but it was a night scene. It seems like people prefer brighter prints and I offer way too many dark prints. Plus it's a lighting situation I've done a hundred times. Probably fell into it out of comfort. So I turned it into a day shot and changed things a bit. It's still the front runner. Thought I'd also fool with the other composition some and see if I couldn't pull something useful out of those. The city in the sky in the images are photos that I do not own the copyright to. They are just thrown in as placeholders for the purpose of these thumbnails. The one with the woman on the chinese dragon is really strange composition-wise. Probably shouldn't have those little triangles in the corner. People love dragons so that might work out from a commercial stand point. At the same time I still kind of like the girl in the tree as it feels like a white and green card from M:TG and that can't hurt the portfolio. If I decide to go that route though, I probably need to have a quicker read. The dragon concept keeps getting my interest though because it's basically two values so it makes for a really quick read. Which do you think has more potential?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Comics and Games

I'm trying to be more regular with my blogposts. Sorry that NDA's kind of interfere with my ability to make more of these contain art.

The major project I've been working on is for a comic company so I thought I'd talk a bit about it.

I was super hesitant to take on this work but it offered consistent work at a good wage so I just had to accept. I was and still am worried about a variety of things about how my style will be received in comic form. All of my weaknesses are the areas where comic artists normally excel such as exaggeration, loose poses, speed, and expressions. The trends really seem against my own art style with most comics seeming to have a real attachment to local color and putting details in both light and shadow. They also tend to shy away from being too realistic and I think that partly has to do with the Scott McCloud books.

So in a lot of ways the art in comics tend to be the exact opposite of the artwork we see for roleplaying games. Pretty odd considering how much overlap I'd expect among the fanbase. I think a lot of it has to do with the slightly different expectations artists have for the viewers experience. Comic art tries to leave room for readers to imagine the characters are the reader. Gaming artists (or at least me) try to make characters so that readers will imagine they are the character.

Gaming art tends to be very specific, realistic and detailed. It really wants you to know this is somebody completely different from yourself but they're damn cool and don't you want to be damn cool too? Well heck this is for a roleplaying game so guess what? You can be damn cool by being this character in our game.

CREDIT
Got off on a tangent there. Back to the work I've been doing. I hope to be able to show it soon. It will be a bit odd though to show. Compared to art orders, this comic book work leaves me with all of the freedom of being in a straight-jacket. The story being told isn't my idea. The races, technology and environments have all been designed before-hand. Plus the work is subject to a ton of revisions. The art process is a bit like I put out the equivalent of a lump of clay in 2D form and they push and pull it until it's what they see in their heads. If I were to post it on any of my sites I'd have an overwhelming urge to accompany it with, "don't comment." Not because I don't like it but because most of what would be praised or ridiculed probably wouldn't have been my idea. It's a very strange feeling. It's like being an animator who just does the frames between key frames.

This job will allow me to do some stuff freelancing likely wouldn't have. I'll be able to work on some personal pieces in my spare time or be super duper picky about any extra work. Plus it's more likely I'll be able to afford awesome stuff like upgrading photoshop.

NO CREDIT
So beyond this first set of pages, I've been asked to do some work in a style completely different from my own. I would never have an interest in doing additional work in this style so I'm debating on having myself listed in the credits under a different name. I wouldn't want any confusion about what I'm interested in doing and I wouldn't care to be tempted by the lure of money to do it a second time. So have any name suggestions?

Or if you think a rising tide raises all ships, feel free to tell me I should still connect my name to work in a completely different style.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Artist videos

So last night I decided to look through some old livestream by Tom Scholes and it got me all rejuvenated and wanting to do some environments. My environments are weak and Tom makes it look so easy. Thought I'd post some links to artist videos that are free on the internet.The last two are more like ads for buying the full video. Know of some great free vids that I don't have listed here? Post them in the comments.
http://www.livestream.com/tomscholes
http://www.livestream.com/fuckinartwithmrdelicious
http://www.artbycarloscabrera.com/tutorial.html
http://www.youtube.com/user/Bugmeyer
http://www.livestream.com/daniolart
http://www.livestream.com/mikrobart
http://www.youtube.com/user/MrJonHodgson
http://www.youtube.com/user/FZDSCHOOL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG3hPBMv_Sk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-3yCRdZ2ik&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzkNs_vHkks&feature=related

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cubicle work

This is a piece I did for Cubicle 7. I wasn't too happy with how it turned out. I tried to do it as oils and chose too small of a size and was just totally discouraged by how tiny the heads were to try to paint. I also tried using some new oils that were water miscible. They dry very matte so it makes it very tricky if you're using water miscible with regular oils. The regular oils look much darker so some transitions get a bit screwy. Anyways, I did a lot of thumbnails. Made a maquette. Shot photos of me in silly poses with silly clothes on. And it still didn't turn out so great. I think it was partially because I was tackling materials I hadn't used in a while along with some new materials and that combined with the state of mind I was in. Business was going terrible at the time I got this and I was wondering if I was seriously going to have to give it all up. While I've never made tons of money, I've always felt like I've been slowly marching up the hill and at the time I made this, I felt like I'd slipped and tumbled all of the way to the bottom. Things are better now. Hopefully I'll be allowed to post some of what I've been working on sometime soon. Anyways, here's the digital touch up, photo from the maquette and the actual oil painting.

I thought I was quite clevering texturing the surface and scraping a palette knife over it for that mound on the left. I thought I was so Bob Ross. While now I think it is quite a crappy looking mound, I know doing it digitally probably would have irritated the tar out of me. I probably would have tried to paint every little thing in that mound. Perhaps subconsciously I knew that and knew I couldn't afford to so I chose to do it in oils.



More thumbnails

Still fooling around with that one thumbnail I did at Illuxcon. Originally I'd planned on a body being on the ground but I decided that was perhaps a bit dark for a possible print. Then I thought maybe I'd have a woman summoning something that's a dark value out of the ground. Decided I didn't like the lighting situation in that scenario but the cast shadows were a major part of the composition. So here I fooled with a couple of other ideas. One is kind of zoomed out which hurts my ability to do this as an oil painting but it also makes it seem more epic. I'm going to sit on it for a while. The girl on a tree branch thumbnail from Illuxcon is a concept I think I could go ahead and start doing but something feels wrong. Like it's cliche or simply not me.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Illuxcon in-depth

It's not that I have time to do a more in-depth post, it's just that I have to do something to break up the cycle of eat,sleep and work.

I didn't want to miss anything on Thursday so I arrived on Wednesday in Altoona. Thursday I realized that nothing much happens until 6pm. We decided to try to find something to do in Altoona. There were only 4 results for things to do in Altoona and they weren't very interesting and weren't open until the weekend. So instead we just went into the show before the actual opening. As previously stated, I ran in and saw Donato's work first. Just wanted to go home and paint right then. I hardly ever paint in oils so there's no room in my process to ever arrive at a finished product like Donato does.

Then I checked out  Paul Lehr stuff. I'd never heard of him before but I was really struck by the chroma in his stuff and the contrasts he tackles. Then I sort of wanted to tackle that. I wanted to run home and try to do a painting with bright purple everywhere and then a splash of insane yellow. Once again, I don't think I could arrive at something so bold through my process.

This sort of thing basically continued for every artist there. There was something in everybody's work that I felt like I previously never could have arrived at. All of this occurred in the first day. So the rest of the convention was kind of torturous. I just wanted to go home and get to it already even though I knew I had two jobs waiting for me that require working digitally since different elements have to be on different layers and dozens of revisions are required.

At the same time I have to tell myself that I can't be like everyone I love. I mean I loved Donato's stuff and Petar's. They're pretty much polar opposites in terms of execution. I'm also not sure that it would be a good thing to have such an open process that the end result could be anything. It's very tricky and it seems the only solution is to give everything a try and the processes and approaches that are uncomfortable or unnatural will fall to the wayside very quickly

There weren't a ton of lectures or demos like other workshops but the quality was very good. Donato did a great lecture and Rob Ruhpel was great as well. Bob Eggleton did a painting demo which I always think are a lot of fun to watch. Boris and Julie painted at their booth but they were using such tiny brushes it was impossible to tell what they were doing. Hilderbrandt was also painting at his table. The live critique was entertaining but I'm not sure it was too valuable to most. I went to the Todd Lockwood digital painting demo which was kind of a mistake since I don't like painter and I was all amped up to try my hand at oils again. By the way, you need to get to the lectures early or you won't be able to get into the room. I couldn't attend the Lars Grant West lecture because people couldn't fit into the room.

The showcase Friday night was really interesting. Huge variety of work. I was really surprised to see so many digital artists. I didn't purchase a table myself because I thought rocks would be thrown at me for only having two or three traditional media pieces. Turns out the showcase is completely accepting of everybody. Ofcourse you have very few potential buyers coming through and most seem to be interested in the traditional stuff so I'm not sure what the chances are of making any money as a digital artists. Most seemed to just be trying to get their name out there. The tables seemed to just be first come first serve and the wall tables seem to be better spots so start setting up early.

I had an out of date portfolio. The same one I had at GenCon. Since then I've either done stuff under NDA or work that's unrelated to the fantasy/sci-fi illustration field and hadn't had time to edit pieces that I got feedback on at GenCon.  So I barely showed my portfolio to anyone. I had a ton of known problems with the work in there and was frankly embarassed to show it to people. I feel like when I hand somebody a portfolio of my work I'm saying, "I'm proud of this stuff! It's my best yet!" and unlike in August, I just couldn't say that anymore. When you feel like that, even complements make you cringe.

I should have gotten a booth. I hope to next year and should have some paintings by then.

When I first signed up for this convention I thought there would be more art directors from book publishers but it looks like I was completely wrong. Irene wasn't there and I didn't hear about any other book publisher AD's being there. So I was kind of disappointed with that. Paizo's AD was there but I saw her three months earlier at GenCon.

On an unrelated note, the road to Altoona is paved in blood. I've never seen so much roadkill before.  In some place the blood covered both lanes. I don't know if that means a whole family of deer were hit at once or some deer were running with the flow of traffic when a car decided to cross the road to get to the woods on the other side.

On another unrelated note, what's with stripclubs in the middle of nowhere? Is it one chick depending on the 4 unrelated males in the area to support her? Or are there enough people driving through that actually think, "this place probably has some really HOT women that would make me want to have sex. But then I won't be able to. So I'll basically just be stuck in a room with a bunch of horny dudes wanting to jerk off but can't due to the situation that I've put myself in. Also, there's probably a bouncer who is just itching to kick my ass. All of this sounds totally better than a nudie mag or the internet." Or perhaps stripclubs in the middle of nowhere tend to break that whole rule about not having sex in back rooms. In that instance, you know those women can't be too discerning about their customers because you know traffic isn't that good. Who knows. But seeing more than one was amazing.

I is sleepy    n iiinju bhy8i mkkkkkkkkkknhjjjjjjjjjjjj                                              

Monday, November 22, 2010

Illuxcon wrap-up

Wanted to finally do a post-Illuxcon post. Finn's been gettings sick lately and with Thanksgiving coming up, I feel like I've constantly been behind so this will be super fast.

I snuck in early and ran to check out Donato's work. Hit me like a ton of bricks. Walked away thinking, "whatever it takes to create something like that." I've been holding myself back from oils for a laundry list of reasons. "It's too slow for doing little $40 quarter-pagers that involve multiple figures," "scans always look bad and having to assemble multiple scans into one image takes a lot of time and looks bad," "working small enough for scanner means I'll never be happy with the faces". So I think now for any work where I can spend the extra time, I'm going to try to paint large paintings. I'll just have to pay somebody else for scans have a particular family member photograph them. I also just found out about photomerge so maybe that will help too. These numbers are arbitrary but I feel like I can hit a range of quality with digital that ranges from 5 to 8 while traditional offers a range from 1 to 10. While I could end up creating some absolute disasters I'm way more tempted by the possibility of hitting a 10.

I'm also going to try to do tighter drawings on toned paper so that it's another item I can sell. I mean I've been doing the drawings loosely and then tossing them and now I realize from the show that I've been missing an entire market and source of income. Toned paper apparently is more marketable.

Ralph Horsley and Wayne Reynolds use some miniature paints. Makes a lot of sense to me. Very opaque with great flow.

Paul Lehr-Kind of fascinated by how his palettes work.

Need more consistent light.

Unify my light masses.

Use color sliders for picking color to create more variation

Can accomplish more realism with hue changes and color bleed than with tons of detail.

Test design in 3 values.

Getting caught up in the details

Painting dark on top layer and erase out for lighter values. Makes it possible to control lights and darks separately.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thumbs

Just got back from Illuxcon. Trying to work out compositions in around 3 values. Hopefully it will make for some more striking images. Here's two I'm thinking of pursuing. First one needs something. Did have a body on the ground but decided against it for content reasons. Maybe something dark at the characters feet would serve the same purpose.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art tool review: Triad Eva and Evo

Size comparison between the popular articulated Spider-Man and the smaller but still highly articulated Daredevil.

So most of who are using artist mannequins probably aren't using the old wooden type. The most popular seems to be this gigantic Spider-Man that has a million points of articulation. The proportions of it have always bothered me so about a year and a half ago I started looking for an alternative and pre-ordered the Eva and Evo. The release was pushed back month by month until here we are a year a half late and they finally arrived.

The figures are much smaller which I find more convenient than the Spider-Man. They're also super light. I mean it would probably take 6 of them to equal the weight of one Spider-Man. This means they feel easier to break but it also makes them very easy to manipulate and pose.

Quality Control
Now we get to the nitty gritty. Quality control issues abound. The hippos are very loose on the Evo so the legs always fall right back to the center line or if you put it in a wider stance he'll try to slide down to do the splits. His torso is floppy. His shoulders can rotate forwards and backwards but it's so loose that the shoulders are always rolling back when you pick it up. The Eva on the other hand has a super tight spring in the torso so rather than having a range of positions, it snaps to being hunched over or thrusting it's nipples skywards. The Eva's legs pop off really easily. I checked the companies forums though and some people had solutions to the problems. Here's a little diagram I made. Basically you need to build up thin coats of super glue to create friction so that things aren't loose or so that the friction stops the tight torso spring from forcing the doll into positions. I think I actually forgot a couple of arrows here.



So out of the box they're completely useless. They can't take any pose and hold and they're nearly impossible to stand on their own. At first I tried some hobby magnets on the feet to see if that would help any with keeping the feet from sliding but the magnets are too weak. Each of these come with two extra sets of hands and have extra chest plates. The holes were too small on every single on of my hands, making it impossible to get them on so the hole had to be widened with a hobby knife. There were also two errant flaps of plastic on the figures that had to be cut off so that the knee and a forearm could twist.
After adding the superglue though, it was a night and day difference. They're much easier to get into various poses now.
Differences in articulation
So the Eva and Evo do not have articulated fingers and I found that I really didn't care. The hand sculpts are all very nice and give much better information to the artist than the Spider-Man hands. The feet of the Eva and Evo do not articulate at the toes. I actually do miss this as it aids in the ability to stand the figure. Although it's not necessarily realistic, I wish their ankles had a better range of motion as that too makes it easier to stand the figures. It helps a lot when you can get those feet flat. There's no articulation where the neck sprouts from the torso. I don't really miss this either although I don't believe that extra cut line really interferes with the aesthetics.  If I had my choice I'd add that point of articulation but I'm not going to fight over it. As a side note, the necks of these figures played a major factor in me purchasing them. I found that most other action figures/dolls have super long necks so that when clothes are added they're not crowded and hiding the head and making the figure look like it has no neck. I'm not planning on dressing these up so I'd rather not have the extra long neck. 

Also there's no real articulation at the wrist on the Evo even though I believe they're counting that as a point of articulation it's mostly just where you snap the hands in and out. Evo will never be able to bend his wrist for doing a push up.

Spider-man's joints are kind of like gears with catch points. So as I rotate the arm in a windmill fashion I count twenty different positions it snaps to. Above the knee there are three points and below the knee there are 4 points. So there's theoretically a limited number of positions that each articulation point can hold. The benefit of this system is that it's super tight. You could drop the figure on the floor and it will practically still hold the position exactly. The system also makes it where you can very very easily get it to stand in a huge array of positions. No Stand is necessary.This also means it takes a little more strength to pose.

The articulation still doesn't compare to the Spider-Man by a long shot but the proportions are much more realistic and less distracting. When looking for a female mannequin in an action figure/doll it was nearly impossible to find a female figure without an hourglass figure with giant breasts and some silly strings coming out of the head pretending to be hair. I do a lot of fantasy work so I wanted a female figure  that didn't look like it was set in modern day by having breast implants.  Also the wide point of the figure is just a little up half-way up thigh which is more realistic to a real woman because of the fat deposits that occur there.

Posing
Like I said, they're very difficult to get standing. I don't own a dremel and it looks like I'd have to order especially strong magnets if I even wanted to try to insert those into the feed. I don't really want to spend any more money on these so that they can stand so I made my own ghetto figure stand using some scrap armature wire.
 


Future Use
Here's a big selling point for if I ever get rich. These figures are designed to be extremely modular. Both figures have interchangeable breast plates that range in size/musculature and Triad will likely make more.  The "muscular" male chest plate looks pretty bizarre on the figure. Arms,head, legs and feet can all be swapped out as well. There are already a variety of heads available and Triad is working on some more muscular arms. So there's a lot of potential for some interesting things down the road. For instance if I wanted more heroic proportions on my Eva I could switch her legs out for some longer Alpha legs. Also a lot of companies make 1/6 scale accessories so if you want to you can buy swords, guns, etc you can. Can't say I recommend clothing as from the photos I've seen the folds and wrinkles you'll see aren't realistic to what you'd see in real life. While these figures aren't exactly close to real, you'll constantly be aware of the lie and won't copy every detail of what you see. I think clothing could give an artist a false sense of security and cause them to trust those details too much and copy something that gives them away.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Focus on nouns VS gibberish

I'm always trying to figure out why I'm not satisfied with my work and I think I may have found part of the answer.

I think my major problem is I focus on the nouns of my illustrations. As my little stylus flies here and there across the screen I'm always thinking, "this is leather. This is shiny. This is wet and shiny. This is bumpy. This is transparent. This is wrinkly. This is an up plane. This is a down plane. This is a soft edge. This is a hard edge. This is x color and y value.What's my light effect? How's this silhouette? Should this be a lost edge?" That's really great for a foundation and is great for a landscape or still life painter. It's gotten me to a certain point and has been really helpful since lots of publishers briefs run along these lines, "I need a kobold with a  leather cap, rusty sword, baggy pants, sling shot, back pack, bed roll,bow and arrow,dagger, hammer, fork,spoon,girdle, suspenders, gloves, rings, necklace, fake arrow through head, coin purse,  elf shoes,pet parrot and a cherry on top." I don't think solely thinking that way is going to work for an illustrator though.

The top companies need you to have the noun/thingness down BUT much of the time it's more about the verb or emotion. So the focus is more on how the kobold is falling down a hill and less about how he's attired as he tumbles. Or the focus is on how much more painful the fall is because the kobold is carrying so much stuff.

Today I was listening to Netflix while working on a piece and all that was going through my head were the thoughts about the thingness of what I was rendering. This was a particularly bad movie though and it suddenly burst into having nothing but a heavy metal song for probably 4 minutes. Suddenly I was thinking things like, "this should be more RARRR and this should be more POW and this should be more AAAAAHH." It was like the world was turned on it's head and I have to say it was more fun during those 4 minutes. Unfortunately it happened during the finishing touches stage but I hope to remember the experience for next time. Netflix isn't going to inspire me in the right directions right now. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I need to start listening to more music while I work and not my more story driven music like Tom Waits and The Black Keys but more of the hardcore metal I used to listen to in high school.

Other notes
Working digitally means I kept help but be zoomed in on a focus area and notice how digital something dumb in the background looks. Then I can't help but try to work on that background element so that it doesn't look as digital. Next thing I know, everything has been rendered to the same level of finish. If I could just force myself to work traditionally and remember to keep my focal points a workable size then I could have varying levels of finish within a piece.

Oh and because I haven't been posting hardly any art on here. Here's a rush job I did a while back for Kobold Quarterly. Plenty of perspective wackiness going on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Naked guy

Done from life on my tablet last sketchgroup.

Product review is going to have to wait. Thought I got a shipping notice but it was a notice stating that something was ready to ship and I'd be notified when it shipped. geez. I might write a prequel post that talks about a strange subculture.

Anyways I should be able to show some fun artwork around the end of the month or early next month. I'm excited about all four of them.

Also, I'm getting to illustrate an entire RPG book. That's the October work I mentioned last post. I haven't gotten to illustrate an entire book since I did a PDF for Silven when I was first starting out. I think the knowledge that it was all me helped me to raise the bar last time. I'm hoping I'll be raising the bar this time as well. Pay is pretty good and many of the illustrations are half-pagers rather than quarters so I can allot a larger amount of time to each illo since each one pays more. Really looking forward to it.

After October I think I'm probably going to take on some sequential work. I had previously turned it down because I thought it would hurt the growth of my portfolio and frankly because sequential art is intimidating. Now the idea of regular paying gig overrides any fear.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Notes and Update

Good news: I got my check from GenCon and I made more than I thought. Basically made up for the percentage that GenCon takes. This means that one guy that I thought must have just left, must have paid and then never came back for his prints. Strange.

Bad news: The texture art gig is no more. Apparently my work wasn't up to snuff. I should have expected this as he didn't really like my test piece so I have no idea why he gave me a contract to do more. I won't be getting anymore work from them. I was prepared to put everything into that work and it looks like it just wouldn't be enough.

There was a brief moment of terror when that gig got canceled because I had just upgraded the childcare situation. Luckily some gigs have popped up and I should be good until November. Anyways, just had my birthday and Ada bought me a Gnomon DVD on color theory. Mostly just basic stuff but unfortunately some of that basic stuff has probably slipped my mind since it's been at least 5 yrs since I've got any sort of art lecture. So here are some notes.

  • We're more sensitive to the gradations in higher values when they're on a dark field.
  • More sensitive to dark ranges when on a light field.
  • Can use more vivid and saturated surrounding to create a more pale/subtle skin tone
  • saturation isn't common in nature
  • At night greens seem brighter? Not sure about this. I'll try to see if I observe this tonight. Wish lecturer had shown a photograph demonstrating it rather than a painting.
  • Use filter or color of light to create dominance of hue and analogous color palette
  • low sun creates warm light
  • yellow can help join red and green
  • dawn creates low contrast scene? Again, I'll have to try to observe this myself
  • complementary harmony focuses on browns and grays
  • low light/shadows for greens and reds
  • green least seen in sky. again, I'll have to try to observe this
  • pale surroundings for a more flushed look to skin
  • white on dark field looks brighter and bigger
  • dark on light field looks darker and smaller
Not from that DVD
  • law of reflection: direction of outgoing light and direction of incoming light make some angle in respect to surface normal.
I was told to imagine the incoming rays of light as rubber balls and imagine what angle they'd leave a surface to determine the direction of reflected light. I think I prefer the more technical description above. It's somehow easier for me to imagine. My brain thinks rubber balls are unpredictable chaos.

GenCon notes
  • My fancy display/catalog binder didn't seem to really add anything. Didn't get more people to stop. It did give me an excuse to acknowledge a person's presence by saying, "this rotates for the horizontal images," or "everything in there is available at different sizes so just ask if you see anything of interest."
  • Really should have ordered more business cards for customers. Would have barely cost me anything and one commission or print purchase would have paid for it. Poor time to choose to be a cheap bastard.
  • attach lower half of foamcore prints to panel to increase my panel space.
  • dragonborn pic doesn't look enough like a dragonborn. Some thought it was perhaps some race from EverQuest. The fact that it was in oils didn't attract any added interest.
  • I stand to make more money if I had an original of every piece.
  • Drew's computer monitor stands looked handy. Wouldn't look good with a smaller booth but it worked with Drew's larger booth.
  • There were a LOT less kids there this year. I think it's because WotC no longer runs a ton of demos or does the dice roll. Also there aren't elaborate set ups in in the exhibit hall anymore which I think means less kids in the hall. The most elaborate set up was a strange booth White Wolf had where they weren't even selling products and just had a lounge with a couple of booth babes for a booth. Kids love monsters so I missed them roaming the art area.
  • There weren't any video game companies in the exhibit hall this year and there were hardly any booth babes this year. I expected things to be a bit bigger and grander this year. I think the biggest and flashiest GenCon I ever went to was my first and that was like 7 or 8 years ago.  I'm guessing the economy just hasn't been what it used to.
  • The printed portfolio book went over really well. I think everybody asked where I got it from. I think everybody ordered their own too since WHCC seems to have acknowledged the need by making a new similar product available that's slightly better. 
  • Somebody asked if my portfolio was for sale. I was incredibly flattered that someone would want to buy a book of my work.
  • Somebody asked if I'd do a custom paintover of a magic card. Kind of strange since I think you're supposed to ask the original artist to do that.
  • Two people asked about play mats.
  • I didn't sell any prints of Overconfidence and I think part of it is that it's too low contrast. May re-visit it and see if I can't make it pop from further away. 
Next post should be a review of an art tool so keep an eye out.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Figure drawings

    Haven't posted any of these in a while. Probably because I haven't been going to sketch group as regularly as normal. If I don't have much work on my plate, I feel bad about going to sketch group and spending money. The inconsistency has made for some figure drawings that are all over the place as far as quality. Anyways, this first drawing was done on my trip to Indy. Finn's head wouldn't stay still because of the bumpy road so he's got half of a face.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Self-publishing with Xlibris

    I've seen a couple of people talking about self-publishing lately so I thought I'd make a post about my experience. I'll try to keep it short.
    So a major problem in my search was the fact that I had to try to find a self-publisher that would accept a book with less than 32 pages and full-color. That significantly narrowed my search and I thought I was going to have to cut out the dedication page to make it 24pgs to make print requirements. Turned out they could do even page numbers beyond 24.

    I was mainly putting the book together for myself and my family so I didn't care too much whether it was available on amazon or not. I wanted to spend the very least amount of money I could buying enough copies for my family. Xlibris was the best option for that costing only about $240 to set it up. The cost per book was surprisingly high with each copy costing a buyer $22. Way too much in my opinion but I'm not used to buying print-on-demand books. As an author though, you'll be able to buy copies at a decent discount.

    I could have just gone to a printer and ordered copies for my family but I chose to go to a self-publisher to give the book opportunity to potentially make more plus it meant that I didn't have to deal with layout and graphic design. Now I realize that using Xlibris was kind of a joke as far as making any sales through their site. Any time I post on my blog,forums or website google alerts notifies me immediately.  To get any search engine hits you have to type in my mom's entire name and the title of the book. If you use the search box on their OWN website then you get NO HITS NO MATTER WHAT you search for. It's like they've made an effort to make it difficult to find books on their site. Or it could be that I haven't paid for advertising so they go out of their way to make my book invisible. On that subject, they hassle me a lot trying to get me to buy advertising. Some of their advertising packages means getting your book featured on the front page of the book store. Most of the time that page normally contains the most embarrassingly bad books you've ever seen in your life. So I'm sure a million people do their book shopping by looking at Xlibris' bookstore.  Other advertising packages are basically them putting your book in their catalog for trade shows. Again, based off the books I've seen them advertise, I find it hard to believe any book sellers or movie people are looking at what books their advertising.

    So that's my experience with Xlibris.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    GenCon 2010 recap

    It was good. Made $437 this year which I believe covers my booth and print costs. Last year I just covered booth so that's an improvement. I need to start selling originals if I want to make big money. Might want to think about frames as it allows for bigger purchases. I've been catering more to the youngster with posters on their walls than collectors. Might need to try to hit both areas.
    My neighbor Kelly Howlett had a pretty sweet contraption from Crate and Barrel for displaying prints. She was also very nice.
    My other neighbor was Chris Pritchard and he was very cool as well. Last year everybody was borrowing from me but this year I kept borrowing from Chris. It was interesting to see how he did since he was offering bookmarks which I always imagined would do well but never got around to myself. Still not sure whether to offer bookmarks.
    I sort of followed Drew Baker's advice on print pricing and I believe it worked. I think if I'd sold my 11x17 prints for 15 rather than 20 I wouldn't have seen any additional sales and would have made a lot less money.

    I printed very few prints for this convention and I realized once I was there that I'd forgotten to make prints of Crudsucker, War Goddess and Modifications. I think it worked out for the better though. I nearly judged perfectly how many prints to make this convention. I nearly sold out of all of my Taishu prints. I sold a Dragonborn print which covers the cost of the other Dragonborn prints. I sold one Blood Goddess print which covered the cost of the left over Blood Goddess print. I sold Cerebus and Angel VS Demon prints as well as one of my tiny oil paintings. Most of my money came from the Taishu print. I didn't sell a single print of Overconfidence which was a big miscalculation as I ordered 3 prints of that I think and it was a more expensive size.

    Just so you know, I have a zillion prints left over from 2009 so those will be around for sale until the day I die.

    The whole WIP podcast crew stopped by and said hi at various points. It was very nice of them. Couldn't believe they drove 16hrs to go to GenCon.

    Tyler Walpole was the big inspiration I left with from the con. I'll just be honest. I didn't like anything at his booth last year. This year though, everything on his wall blew me away. I need to find out how he got so good so fast.

    Jim Pavelec was nice enough to stop by the booth for a minute and talk to me. He seems to be a really nice guy. Run out and buy a copy of InkBloom.

    Drew Baker was using monitor stands to show off artwork and it looked really nice. Something to remember when I think sales could cover it.

    Saw a guy attach the bottom end of a painting to his panel and let the top part extend above the panel. That's something I could easily do with my foamcore prints to add space. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it sooner.

    The cast of The Guild sat with a group of us at the Hyatt bar. Kind of interesting. I admit I mostly just continued to talk to Woodrow Hinton and Amy Ashbough and Andrew Bawidamann. I got to meet Christopher Burdett in person. He was nice too.

    I should have printed more business cards. I have to admit that I was a little lax on getting more because I felt like I wasn't desperate for work this year so I wasn't concerned with fans being able to pick up business cards. At least 500 cards were picked up last year and I probably heard from three of those people. All of which just added me on facebook.

    Still doesn't look like I'll be getting any work from WotC anytime soon which isn't really a shock. I think I've begun to put them out of my mind though and am just trying to make good work. Jeremy Jarvis gave me some great crits though that had solid art advice in there. He also said my most recent portfolio piece was my best which is great. One of the other AD's gave me solid advice on what would make a good book cover portfolio.

    I still don't think I'm going to get any work from FFG which is another sign of how incredibly far I am from getting any WotC work. Kind of seems strange but I'm not going to worry about it. I was excited to see that World of Warcraft is owned by a new company now. Maybe they'll make it easier for artists to submit their work than Upper Deck.

    I'm sick now. Sorry if I forgot to mention anybody. Thank you for buying something if you stopped by and bought something. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. Seriously. I'm the most frugal person and cannot imagine buying artwork to put on my wall. Thanks to the guy who asked if my portfolio book was for sale. It's flattering to think anybody would be interested in having a book of my artwork on their shelf.

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Wrap Up/Review

    I feel like the year begins with GenCon. My gas tank gets filled up with work there and then by the time it rolls around the following year I'm starting to run on fumes. That was especially the case this year. So I thought I'd do a little review of how things are going.

    DONE
    I've finally updated my website so that prints are available. That's something I've needed to do for forever so I'm excited about that. My website will also be a lot easier to update now. Bio section isn't like a sterile bathroom anymore. I've successfully branched out to different kinds of art jobs by doing this texture art gig. That also represents me starting to look beyond just trying to finally get work with WotC and Upper Deck. Isn't there some kind of saying about not being able to get a girlfriend until you're not looking for one. Maybe that theory will work :)

    STILL NEED TO DO
    Create 3D portfolio now that I'm really starting to understand ZBrush.
    Complete the rest of the Lynda.com videos for ZBrush
    Move blog to my website.
    Create portfolio for book covers (my portfolio is appropriate for gaming but not books)

    CHANGE SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
    So I have just been completely failing to make work that's suitable for a book cover portfolio or successful prints and it occurred to me today that it may be connected to my sources of inspiration. In the past I've thought perhaps if I just looked at enough cover artwork my work would naturally swing towards that sense of taste. So far pen and paper games, card games, video games, photography and sculpture are my sources of inspiration. I'd say that interaction with all of those are kind of imagination lite activities or the focus is on dramatic action. They probably wouldn't inspire work that's appropriate for book covers. So I'm thinking that I need to start listening to more music and read more books/listen to books on tape. Those likely stir the imagination a bit more and generate more subtle imagery that are heavier on mood than action.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Website

    Sort of changed my website. It's wordpress now but it's not really any better than my old site. It will be easier to update and it will have a store up sometime after GenCon. Doesn't look like I'll be able to combine it with my blog unless I buy a premium theme. My previous bio section didn't really say anything about myself and sounded more like it should be a part of a resume. Now it's rambling chaos which I think is an improvement.

    Also, I got that texture artist job. I'll still be able to do a little freelancing. So now I've been an art director, concept artist, illustrator and texture artist. Hopefully soon, I'll also be able to say 3D artist. That only leaves  storyboard artist to do.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Adventure in being a texture artist

    So I've been working on some texture work lately on a trial basis. Wrapped it up today and I have a good feeling they won't be hiring me on. Very unfortunate and disappointing as I'd really like to do the work.

    Isn't there a saying that goes, "you don't know what you don't know." I didn't know jack about how difficult it is to be a texture artist. You might think it's just painting surfaces for a 3D object so that it looks like metal,skin, rust, dents, pores,dirt,etc. It's more graphic design than painting. I thought more of the surface of the models would be modeled so all I would be doing is painting textures. The whole side of a vehicle might be a single flat plane though and you've got to paint all of the doo dads like vents and cavities and the like and make their texture appear real. All of the stuff you paint also sort of needs to be devoid of a light source. So no highlighting up planes and putting down planes in shadow. What makes a difficult task even more difficult is trying to visualize an overall design for the object while you're working on a tiny section. Plus you're trying to concentrate on keeping your work ultra clean. Sort of felt like my work looked like you emptied a trash can onto the plane.

    It's a real shame that I probably won't get the full contract. Could have meant a totally different lifestyle for me and my family.  I've been filled with so much anxiety over this thing that I wasn't able to sleep a wink last night. It's been a long time since I've wanted anything more than I was wanting this job. It was my first texture work though so I'm not ready to give up on that career option yet. Or maybe I'll get lucky and the client will see some promise in the work and I'll get the rest of the work.

    The plan is to go ahead with learning 3D at the moment.

    How I became an art directore and how hilarity ensued

    I think it's an interesting story so I figured I'd lay it out here.
    I was art director for a roleplaying game company and helped put together a couple of books in case you didn't know.

    So I was hired by company X for some quarter-page illustrations. Eventually they asked if I would like to playtest the game for them. I said sure. I playtested the game with some friends and knew the rules really well and gave the company feedback. They asked me to do some paid writing for their game even though I'm no writer and I said sure. I also did some more artwork for them and pointed out to the current AD at the time that one of the other artists had given them stolen artwork.

    Then Gencon came and they asked if I'd like to stop by the booth and do a signing of the two books I'd worked on. I said sure. There I found that the current AD didn't like the game at all and seemed to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the game. It would be like handing someone the xbox game Need for Speed and them asking how many hit points they have and why can't they jump out of their car and like totally shoot a machine gun or something. AD had his wife doing demos of the game and he had his wife telling them the rules how he thought the rules should be. I felt sorry for the owner because his product was being totally mishandled but hey I'm not about to go insulting the AD that gives me work so I shrugged my shoulders and ignored the catastrophe.

    Owner was disappointed that Gencon sales were terrible. Then he found out that AD and wife were very obese, making it difficult for customers to visit booth and felt that they were socially inept. Owner apparently wasn't getting along great with AD before then and was especially fighting with AD's wife who was designing the website. So he asked if I was interested and to send him a photo of myself if I was. I said sure. I apparently didn't look like a hideous cave troll so I got the job. I managed to raise rates for the artists and created some great books I think. I used some of the previous artists and had to keep some of the established design stuff that the previous AD had done. I continued to hire the previous AD for work but owner asked for a recommendation for a new web person which I did direct him to somebody.

    Bitter wife of ex-AD begins posting as false personas on company forum criticizing my art direction and attempting to sabotage the company by posting other ridiculous stuff on the forum. She also began pushing for us to hire the ex-AD more. We started calling her out and she admitted that she was a friend of the ex-AD. The wife under a false identity had said she hated the digital art we were using and would rather we use traditional stuff. I said that we would if there were traditional artists able to deliver the same quality for the same price. She continued to run her mouth so I said something along the lines of , "good news! We'll be cutting out all border art and chapter art which will give us a bigger budget for our quarter-pagers!" The ex-AD was the one doing the border art and chapter art.  The ex-AD e-mailed us saying that he just found out that his wife was doing this stuff on the forums and that she was sorry. Yeah right. Anyways, never imagined there'd be sabotage and subterfuge to deal with when I took over as AD.

    Work with the company slowed down and was really inconsistent. Then I started doing the work on the children's book and the company started needing AD work again so I decided to resign.

    Presentation

    Thought I'd run through the various ways I've presented my portfolio and the pros and cons.

    Regular Ol' three ring binder
    Pros:Cheap. Custom cover. Adjustable page count.
    Cons:Feels cheap.Can get scuffed up.
    Anecdote:In college I had some support materials in a drawing presentation that where in a binder where a plastic sleeve was scuffed and something had mysteriously discolored a spot on the back. The guest reviewer (nobody famous) gave me a C based on this alone. Meanwhile a girl who tied yarn onto a nail in the wall got an A for her drawing project. Love it.

    Itoya
    Pros:Plenty of space.Cheap.Portable.
    Cons: When is the client going to have time to hire you? They have to set aside the rest of their lives to look at your portfolio if you fill it up. The pages get scuffed easily. Pages are not interchangeable so a damaged page means buying an entire new one. Glossy pages make for a lot of glare in a convention setting.

    Anecdote: A guy I was friends with actually filled up a monster sized Itoya portfolio with robot thumbnails and mid-sized family sedan concepts. He got a job at Massive Black. Sometimes quantity over quality works. No offense if you're reading this (which I doubt) buddy but that was obviously your tactic and it totally worked. He sold himself as a work-a-holic that was overflowing with ideas.

    Leather portfolio case with zipper
    Pros: Number of pages can be adjusted. Relatively portable. Artwork feels very safe. Flap for business cards. Matches your couch?
    Cons: Way too expensive. You'll never use the zipper and handles seem entirely unnecessary unless you've printed your work on lead plates. Once again, the plastic sleeves create a glare in a convention environment. Binder part has a million loops so it would be a huge pain to make your own custom pages. Portfolio will want to close on you.
    Anecdote: I fondly remember showing my work for the first time at Gencon and being nervous and bumbling around with that zipper. I was screaming in my head, "oh god why! Why did I zip it closed!? Must unzip before client runs away!"

    Univenture thin binder
    Pros:Very portable. Lots of sizes. Can insert custom front. Easy to make custom pages where there won't be shiny sleaves creating glare. This bad boy is so thin that you're forced to limit the size of your portfolio which is probably a good thing.
    Cons: It's able to be so compact because of the unique binder rings. This uniqueness means that viewers often fumble with how to turn pages. Turning pages means slide then flip with this case. Viewers don't seem to mind but there's very little clearance between rings and spine so you're dealing with potential for accidental wear and tear on a very thin piece of paper. So you need to either get those little plastic rings to put on your paper and strengthen the paper or use heavier stock paper.
    Also, you'll have to spend a couple of minutes after ever review resetting the pages as most viewers won't know how to move the pages back and even if they do, you pretty much have to move one page at a time.
    Anecdote:I remember showing my work at Gencon and being nervous while art directors bumbled with turning the pages. I was screaming in my head, "oh god why! Why won't the pages just flip normally!? Don't give up AD! Keep trying! You'll get it! There's good artwork on the next page!"


    Univenture mega binder!
    Pros: You can put 11x17s in this bad boy. Artwork feels very safe. Nice for when multiple people are looking at your work at once.
    Cons: It's pretty darn big. You feel like a jerk carrying around this thing on a convention floor. You'll feel tempted to carry it above your head and expose everyone to your armpits. You also can't customize the cover really. It may be a problem with AD's at smaller booths because they won't have a table to sit down at and look over the work. So they have to hold this monstrosity in their hands.

    Anecdote: Last year the WotC reviewers talked a bit about how much they liked this portfolio presentation of mine. Said it was nice to see such large, high quality prints.

    Book
    Pros:Custom cover. Very professional feel. Pages are hinged and lay completely flat. Very portable. Makes a good keepsake. Can have two page spreads that look amazing.
    Cons:Expensive. Your paper choices are going to be more limited. Images have less impact because I didn't want to make this ungodly expensive by only printing on one side of each page.You could print so that each image is viewed individually but again this gets into that whole cost issue. It's also impossible to make any last minute adjustments to the content of your portfolio.

    Anecdote: Maybe I should make this like a children's book for AD's and put flaps over every image so that they have to be viewed individually. Lift-a-flap portfolio book. Sounds awesome.

    PSP,Iphone,etc
    Pros: Can carry it all of the time for unexpected portfolio showing. Also doubles as toy.
    Cons: You look like a douche. Artwork is too small to make any conclusions about. I'd feel like I was going to break the thing. Also you may find yourself distracted by the toy aspect of these gadgets and missing something of importance.

    THE BOX portfolio(some artists have a little box with masonite or styrene mounted illustrations)
    Pros: Lots of paper choices and finish choices for prints. Forces you to have a smaller sized portfolio. If you only have a small number of pieces to show you can make those few pieces feel more important this way. It's another way to express who you are by designing your box.
    Cons: You've just handed the AD a box with a bunch of objects to juggle. Expectations are going to be through the roof. I'd expect gold inlay and original paintings. Your craft for the presentation has to be especially good since these are handmade.
    Anecdote: Every artist I've seen do this had really high quality artwork.

    .

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Keeping prints in mind

    I often forget until GenCon rolls around but if you want the productions costs of your prints to be  really low you need to plan for the images being 11x17 or 8.5x11. You have a lot more options as far as companies when it comes to looking for those size prints and most of them offer big price breaks for ordering as few as five. It's not too hard to get each of your prints for fifty cents to a dollar. If you really go nuts and order a lot of prints, some places will do offset printing which is supposed to be higher quality. I ordered some prints last year that were offset printed and I honestly couldn't tell the difference.

    If you've failed to design for those sizes you'll end up using a company that prints for photographers and prices are much much higher. An 8x10 might cost 1.30 to 2.50 and usually these companies don't give price breaks until 10 prints and even then it's not competitive with the 8.5x11 prices.

    There aren't really any cheap options for the larger sizes such as 16x20 but you'll have to go with one of the photo places.

    There's another strange thing to consider that had never come up until last year but you might want to ask the company if the prints can be signed. Or ask the company to send you samples and they will and then you can test them. Last year my prints were impossible to sign. All inks just beaded up on the surface. People would ask me to sign their prints and I felt bad because they were left with a pointilism version of my signature.

    Thought to post this because I didn't order any prints of my Mage piece because I made it a really strange format. Really silly considering it was a private commission and I could have made them any dimensions.

    If you're going to GenCon don't forget to check out my GenCon recap on the blog as it might have some useful information for you.

    Right now I'm working on two traditional media pieces and I should be allowed to show them in August. I'm excited and hopeful about them. Thanks to Lynda.com I'll also be learning Zbrush better soon. The website isn't as close to being finished as I thought.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Mounting...huh ..huh. .huh

    I need your help. I don't do a lot of traditional art so I don't know how to do some stuff.

    I've got this painting on illustration board that I'd like to have on my panel at GenCon. It's not very rigid though so I suppose I need to mount it on foam core. What's the best way to do that?
    I suppose I could frame it instead but I think it would be a more expensive option and I'm trying to keep things cheap.

    Also, it looks like it won't be long before I have the new website up.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Revisons

    Been revising a couple of pieces. I think the war goddess one is much improved. Crudsucker was mostly just expanded to the old background. Thought it'd be more attractive as a print that way. Still struggling with that Elorgo piece. Think I may call it done. Having the fire in there was probably a real bad idea. Looks strange to tone a fire down from full brightness.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Business

    This is kind of me laying down stream of consciousness as far as what I've been thinking as far as the career lately. Figured writing it down might bring some clarity and make me more resolved to pursue the solutions.
    So business has been bad lately. Potential reasons; pen and paper gaming industry is in decline, pool of artists has increased, other artists are lowering their rates, babysitting fees make small jobs unacceptable. I was absent for about 6 months working on the children's book,before that I wasn't soliciting for three months because business was good.

    Crisis
    Every single one of those has probably helped make for a really bad phase at the moment. The other day I accepted some work at a page rate that I haven't taken in 3 years. Maybe I haven't been making a ton of money during my career but my page rates have always steadily been going up. It killed me a little bit that things are so dry that I had to accept that work. Then the next day I was going to work on an entry for a contest in the hopes that it would lead to work. Then I realized that it wouldn't add anything to my portfolio and the dimensions made it impossible to use as a potential print. I'm putting too many eggs in this basket. So I've kind of run into a career crisis. Things are not going up and I find myself wishing on stars that I somehow get work with the very biggest clients.

    Weak Solutions
    If I want to continue I have to (a)be willing to let my babysitters make more money than me, (b)increase ways I can make money off current work, (c)undercut others with ridiculously low cover rates, or (d)diversify the illustration work I offer. (D)I hated working on the children's book so I'm thinking pursuing art outside of the gaming and sci-fi/fantasy book industry probably isn't a good idea. (A)I hate the idea that what I earn is nullified by babysitters as it makes me feel like I'm paying someone so that I don't have to care for my son.I could choose to practically disappear from the industry by not hiring babysitters until my son starts preschool in a couple of years. I'm afraid I'd be eaten alive by depression if I take that route though. (C) I'm probably in this situation because of others undercutting rates so no need to further drive rates into the ground. (B)Making paintings rather than digital art could potentially help increase the amount of money I can make off each illustration. Companies have flirted with the idea of buying artwork from me that I already own the rights to but usually nothing ever comes of it so I think from now on, anything which I've created on my own will be made available as a limited edition print with the rights remaining with me. I need to also figure out how to have a shopping cart system on my website so that people can order prints. I tell people they can contact me about buying prints at X costs but nobody does and then they used to still buy the more expensive prints I had available through DA. That's a big sign that shopping cart systems make buyers more comfortable. Also they might just feel awkward writing an e-mail. The plan is to figure out Wordpress so that I can finally combine my website, blog and a print shop.Currently I don't understand a thing about Wordpress and the fact that I have joeslucher.com redirecting to joeslucher.daportfolio makes it impossible to preview as far as I can tell.

    Serious Solution
    The big option that I'm more seriously considering is pursuing 3D wholeheartedly. I've been looking more at full-time art related jobs and many of the entry level 3D jobs offer pay that's quite impressive. In order for me to take a full-time job I would have to leap frog my wife's salary which is pretty significant and 3D appears to be the only way to do that. Unlike the children's book stuff, I really love working on Zbrush stuff.

    So anyways, I plan on finishing up the stuff I got started for GenCon and then the plan is to start more serious training on Zbrush. Ofcourse if something great comes up from GenCon or Illuxcon I'll pursue that until things dry up again.

    Anybody have recommended zbrush training? I'm planning to buy FormaCD which is 35hrs and is supposed to be more of a class format. Also planning to get the Eat3D DVDs.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Hey I designed that!


    So I did a ton of illos for Aberrant a while back and some of the sculpts based on my illos are starting to roll out. I think it's pretty cool.
    Anyways here's a list of what's next on my plate to accomplish before GenCon.
    1.Fix Blood Drinkers
    2.Fix Elorgo's Tale
    3.Fix Drow VS Mindflayer not worth it. removed from portfolio

    4.Hook Horror plenty of fight scenes already. dimensions are print prohibitive

    5.Cubicle 7 illos
    6.Frog Island
    7.Black samurai/white dragon
    8.Fix War Goddess
    9.Fix crudsucker

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    More Progress



    Here's the maquette I put together for this. The action figure was a bit too small for what I had in mind for the picture.

    Still looking for work so I kind of rushed this one through the process. The more frequently I'm able to update threads on forums, the more my work gets seen and the more work offers I get. Unfortunately I've just been getting a zillion percentage profit offers.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Progress

    Here's how the demon and chick pic is coming together. I'll probably put some clothes on her eventually but I'm hoping this will be a good T&A piece that might attract some print sales.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Sketching

    Sketching up a new piece. Here's progress so far.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Awesome Fails too

    A lot of you are probably aware of the latest Art Order challenge. Gotta Have a Hook.

    Unlike most challenges or contests this one is very specific in what the resulting images will be and I have to admit it's very intimidating. Everybody is going to be turning in a male dwarf fighting a hook horror. You could make the most amazing fight scene from this and STILL not stand out. So the task at hand is not whether you can make an awesome fight scene but whether you can make something unique of it. Like the contest title, you have to have a hook. It's scary to think you can fail even with an awesome image. Here comes the cheesy conclusion. I should probably work on every image as though a hundred others are painting the same concept. Everything should have a hook.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Art Terms

    I'm a big fan of art terms and quick slogans. As I work, I try to cycle through the rolodex of things I've learned and terms shortens that cycle significantly. Thought maybe I should write down some of that list plus add a new one.
    contrapposto-"human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs." I don't think of this one nearly enough. I showed my wife a piece that was under NDA yesterday and she pointed out that I make people stiff when in conversation. It's totally true and I realized today that utilizing some contrapposto would really help.

    silhouette-I think of this one a lot but apparently I still suck at it if you ask my friend Richard. It's great to have things read from the silhouettes alone. At the same time, you don't necessarily want to define the entire silhouette of a figure. I think Andrew Loomis said, "edges cannot be defined all around and a sense of space be achieved." I have a feeling I'm botching that quote.

    tangents- when lines or shapes meet in such a way that it attracts unwanted attention or confuses the space and depth of an image.

    lost and found edges - losing the edge of the shadow side of an object on a dark background or edge on the lit side of an object on a light background. Trying to bounce back and forth between highlighting edges with contrasting background and losing them.

    windmill - this is just the way I came up with for shortening this neat technique Gurney posted once where the four arms of a windmill by Rembrandt alternated patterns. light on dark, dark on light, light on light and dark on dark.This could also be called counterchange but I like to think "windmill" in my head because it brings up a specific example.

    shapewelding- much like lost and found edges. "compositional device of linking up related tones to make larger units."

    flyswatted- term from Prometheus' art tutorial. Means a figures pose is shooting off in too many directions. Looks stiff.

    petted line- means that you have scratchy linework from doing a back and forth motion as you draw instead of making one confident line and then returning to adjust.

    circulation- term I've started to try to run through my head since the CA portfolio review. It's a reminder to not have colors isolated to one spot. Try to give hints of those colors in other parts of the image too.

    "when in doubt black it out"

    antiHDR- okay so this is one of mine and some may not even agree with me here. HDR is "1) bright things can be really bright, 2) dark things can be really dark, and 3) details can be seen in both." Well that seems ridiculous to me and it seems like most artists agree. Our eyes adjust for the light or dark. If our eyes are adjusted to the light, then the shadows lack details and vice versa. Plus not rendering details everywhere is going to save you time.

    be Aziz- Aziz Ansari is a stand up comedian who does this joke about buying some sheets labeled with an inaccurate thread count. It shouldn't be funny but it is. Somebody else could try to relay that joke and it would fail. I like to remember that joke as a reminder of what can be accomplished when every part has been given attention and supports the central idea. For instance the pacing, expression, tone and wording has all been focused to support the joke. In the same way, I think I should be thinking about how everything in an image supports the center of interest or central idea.

    Here's a new one for me to keep in mind when creating my thumbnails or sketches for clients.
    C.A.P.S. -clients always pick snoozers . Got a new client recently and I was unsure of their taste so for one of the images I made six sketches covering a variety of things I wanted to test as far as their taste. It was meant to be a litmus test. So there were really edgy designs, really conservative designs, dynamic poses and very posed figures,etc. The client unexpectedly went with a very stiff pose with very conservative design. Now I find myself working on a piece that is doomed not to be in the portfolio simply because it's not the sort of work I really want to do. I don't get paid enough for every piece not to have a chance to be in the portfolio. Anyways, thought I better come up with a term to try to keep myself from assuming that client will pick the sketch that I love. I hate the name of this term so if you've got a better abbreviated way to remember this concept, let me hear it.

    What are some terms that you run through your head?

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Troll update

    Here's that troll pic I've slowly been working on during my livestreams.
    Thinking about cropping in and darkening out a lot of the background details.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Creatures

    Thought it would be fun to post a bunch of my creatures. Which are your favorites? Which are your least favorites? I put boll deevil at the bottom followed by cerberus. My portfolio probably consists of too many of these but I have a hard time ranking these.