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?