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 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.

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 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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.