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.

    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 :)

    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)

    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.