Friday, April 29, 2011

Color Study

Quick color study for the big painting. Alan Grizzell was nice enough to let me use his opaque projector so the drawing is on the masonite now. So I'm not far from finally starting!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Final study

Finally finished the last study for the big painting! Well unless I decide to do a couple of rough mini paintings of it first. But awfully eager so I'll probably jump right into it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Own it

Sketch for the makers of Pact Magic and a rough sketch for the Eowyn and Nazgul challenge on Art Order. Debating on whether to finish the Lord of the Rings image. Hard to motivate myself to create fan artwork. At the same time the webcomic work isn't satisfying my art interests and it'd be a real picker upper to work on the LotR image.

Now for my latest blathering/plotting.
I've got to do something for me. I want to own something I make. I want to have the right to do whatever I want with it. I want to be responsible for what I've made. As an illustrator, I'm often just taking dictation in a visual form.  Sometimes people tell me what they want to such a degree that there is no room for interpretation and even the style is dictated. I'm left with no product and no sense of pride in what I've accomplished for someone else because no part of myself ever entered into the process. I do work that I never post online.

"The notion of making money by popular work, and then retiring to do good work, is the most familiar of all the devil's traps for artists."-Logan Pearsall Smith

I need to do the work I imagine doing if I were retired and I need to do it right now. So what would I do if I was retired? Well I'd still do artwork but beyond that I'm not sure so I've made a list of formats for consideration.
art book-I don't have the self-confidence/ego to do this. I could easily see myself making one and then being embarrassed by it in two years and wanting to burn all copies.
calendar-possibility I suppose but it just doesn't sound very exciting to me. Maybe because I always buy my calendar several months late and whatever is the cheapest. So right now I have kittens as my calendar.
gaming visual aids-another possibility. I've messed with this in the past. Idea was to do an environment illustration, couple of illustrations of characters/creatures from the area plus an illustration of an item or two that could be found in the area. Then I'd write some plot hooks for inserting the location into a campaign. I actually put together stuff for 4 or so locations but then it fell apart after that. I think it fell apart because I can't write and I tried to do too much with the writing. Not sure anybody would care for the art without background for everything.
RPG game-I'm not a writer. Actually began this at one point. Came up with a core mechanic and sort of a style/theme but was sort of at a loss/lack of interest to get into everything else that would be needed to flesh out the game. Game revolved around the idea of re-incarnation and past lives.
webcomic or comic-I'm not a writer.Plus it's so many images and so many of those are only meant to progress the story and visually could be stick figures.So much time spent on visually insignificant images would be a downer in my opinion.
Instructional book-I'm not a writer but...I went to a lecture at GenCon a while back that had Jim Pavelec and I think Chris Seaman and Chuck Lucaks talking about their instructional books and there they handed out Impact books proposal guidelines. I actually put together a rough one but really need to set aside some time for it. I would feel like a fraud offering technical advice because so many people are better at it than me so my book proposal was more for a book about getting over artist block/getting inspired/being creative. Maybe I should start pulling together images for that. Assuming I have a good editor I think that could be a book that people would enjoy and I'd always be proud of.

Picking and Choosing- So what can I do that doesn't involve words but isn't an art book. Well there's a calendar but I'm still not excited about it. Well a comic doesn't have to have words. I could throw out those pesky words. But then there are all of those dang images where my degree of rendering seems silly and unnecessary.  Can I throw those out? Now we're getting somewhere. I remember reading understanding comics and liking the comic example where the story was shortened to a panel of "don't drink and drive" then him drinking and finally a panel of a tombstone. Maybe I could come up with a story and just illustrate the keyframes from it. That sounds really interesting to me. If I really don't want to think up a story maybe I can even make a game out of the process by just carrying over elements without regard to whatever story is. Angel with wings is flying in the midst of a flock of dragons. Next shot is native american with peace pipe with giant angel wing feathers attached. Next shot is post-apocalyptic punks pulling peace pipe out of the hollow of an old tire. Aliens collecting tires. Caveman with alien-skull club. With this method I could just come up with a couple of illustrations of scenes I'd like to paint regardless of genre and it would just be a matter of playing seven degrees of separation to connect them no matter how disparate. Either way I would want the book to have some sort of message even if it's just, "everything is meaningless. everything is nothing."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gearing Up

Gearing up for the big painting. The surface has arrived as well as a couple of paints I ordered to fill gaps in opacity between colors. Shot reference for the female, the bard and the mage. Just put together this little maquette to get an idea of scale between characters and to shot them under various lighting conditions so that I can unify the lighting from the various photoshoots for the individual characters. Threw some flour down in case that white would be able to kick up some light. Not nearly as reflective as real snow I'm sure. Also gathered some reference for the rocks and trees.

Next weekend some armor I bought should be arriving and I'm going to shoot reference for the dwarf. Then I'll start to make some selections from my toned paper studies. I'll post some of them here sometime. Like I said before, I'm really trying to give myself no excuses for a failure. We'll see if it works. Need to get some larger brushes. I know this composition isn't the most complicated but I'm hoping some dark figures on a light ground will help grab attention. I'm hoping that keeping the composition simple will lead to fewer headaches. I'm looking forward to putting paint to masonite but I'm trying to really do all of my homework before that test. The commission pays well but not enough to cover armor and models so I have to just fit it in around the rest of my better paying work.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Couple of recent pieces. Top one was a private commission. It was fun to do a piece that was way over the top. Tricky since the client wanted a flaming hammer, glowing armor, an illusionary image of a volcano erupting and a figure that's darkness. Decided to make the flames more stylized. Haven't heard any complaints but still not sure if I shouldn't raise the realism. Probably change the volcano to some kind of magic symbol  when I go to make prints so that it's not confusing.

Second piece is a cover for an eBook. Bottom section and top section will end up being covered with text. It was also a bit tricky. Basically just had hair colors and ages. The problem for me was that all of the characters are wearing cloaks and facing what would be the light source. Stylized the magic part a lot like I did with the fire on the other piece. Again, not sure whether it was the best decision. Gives them a photoshop look but at the same time I'm not sure I'm totally against the more graphic look.

Thought I'd bring up a problem a new illustrator may not expect. Sometimes people won't like your work. In fact they'll hate it and not because of  your drawing, rendering,color choices or composition. It'll be because it's not what they expected. One of my very first gigs was for a product that had several editions before it and I had to illustrate a race/monster that had changed several times throughout. For some reason I was directed to illustrate a version that wasn't the most recent. Well fans hated it and posted all over forums saying they hated it. The company never spoke up and said, "hey this is what we wanted." They just ignored the complaints and really that's the right call. I have to admit that I was agitated over the whole thing and wanted to scream, "it's not my fault! They asked for it!" It's tempting but don't do it. It won't do any good and will likely hurt your standing with an art director. You also have to remember that art directors won't see some fan complaints on the interpretation of something and decide not to hire you. Other artists and ADs know how the art process works and would never lay the blame at your feet.

On a related note, I'll have some new work being released sometime soon that I bet will have some fans screaming about the design. Kind of dreading it and already feel that urge to scream out, "I was just doing what I was told!"