Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Creature Sketches

I've been working on my silly personal project. Writing an entire game system and world is tough stuff. It's going to take a while. Anyways, I've been doing a lot of sketches for the various races, wildlife and fauna of this world. Here are a couple. Maybe I'll post some more today. Critters are always fun to do.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Just finished a board or card game box cover. Modern day setting so it was a bit different for me and more focal points than I really like to have. It will probably be year before I can show it :(.

Went to sketch group last night and was just drawing terrible. It's always fun regardless.

Anyways, the only big update I have is that I'm working on my own IP finally. I've started making my own pen and paper RPG. That's really about as great a plan for riches as buying lottery tickets. A while back though, I made a style guide for a company planning on making a fantasy video game where I put together a document on the designs of various creatures,environments,items, buildings,etc. I went over different color palettes, shape language, silhouettes,etc. It was a lot of fun and I felt like the game could look really striking. It ended up being canceled due to funds and personnel changes. I was disappointed but most of the artwork was going to be executed by others so I wasn't too bothered. Then a pen and paper project came up where I was going to get to write and I thought I was going to have the same control as the video game thing but with the added goodness of writing for it as well. It turned out the project wasn't going to really give me any chance to define anything new. I was surprised to find myself so incredibly disappointed in that project not being what I wanted. So surprised that I decided that this was a serious problem. I obviously wanted desperately to make my own game but I wanted somebody else to pay me to do it. Well I shouldn't wait for that so I've begun it myself and things are really coming together quickly. All of the crunchy mechanics stuff should be done this month which was a lot of fun working on. The world concept is already together so I've mostly just got the art and the descriptions for the various cultures to work on. Once I've completed about 10 images for it and have some pages to show layout, I think I'll put together a Kickstarter with a low goal.

This all comes back around to another change I've made lately. I've been trying to do 30 minutes of work for myself each morning and 30 minutes to an hour more of work for myself every night. Usually my wife goes to bed at 10 and I go to bed at 11. In that time between I usually just play a video game as sort of my R&R for the day. Every morning I'm slow to begin work so I think doing my own thing first thing isn't actually cutting into my productivity for the day at all. Sometimes I'm using that time to exercise instead.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sketch Night

Some figure drawings from tonight. As an added bonus my buddy Richard gave me some anatomy flash cards tonight. I'll be finishing up some illustrations soon but they will likely be stuck under NDA for quite a while. But after this week I should be working on a book cover that I'll be able to show whenever.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Made my custom shapes and templates for that smudge trick. Today I went through and messed with some various colors for skin tones. Not as much about the drawing as playing with the colors. It would be fun to get hired to do a female portrait pic or something a little more pin-up-ish.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Study time

Going to try to take a couple days to practice/learn and create some new tools.

1.Simplifying group shots. I'm not Ralph Horsley so I don't want or care to paint a bunch of background faces and details but I haven't had enough practice with losing details in crowd shots and still make them seem realistic. I know that currently, I would put more work into it than I would want to and then I'd probably have to blur it all and maybe lighten it all with some atmospheric perspective. I think that can arrive at some good results but a more direct route would save me time. So I need to practice painting low details faces and anatomy with atmosphere factored in right from the start.

2.Experiment with painting with the brush on hard light mode. I've seen some artists who paint consistently nice skin tones where a lot of it is done using the hard light setting. I've never tried it, so I want to experiment with it some.

3.I've tried this method of painting with custom shapes LINK. The problem is that I've had problems with photoshop saving the shapes and if I have to create the custom shapes every time I need to use them then it's no longer a time-saver. I need to figure out what this bug is and how to fix it.

Example by Sparth

4.Saw this technique posted by Tom Scholes and Sparth the other day and I want to experiment with it some. Basically the middle image works as a template and then you use a hard square smudge brush set to 100 strength to push the base around. Basically you can quickly create a bunch of components with a shared design sense, etc. So I think I'll create a couple of templates that could combine with this technique to speed things up down the line.

Image by Scholes or Sparth.

5.Try out these new bristle brushes that photoshop has. I've dabbled but I want to spend a more serious amount of time to see how I can MAKE them useful.

6. Basically just look through some of these photoshop tools I haven't used and see how I can MAKE them useful with my process. Focus for all of this is how I can speed up my process. Healing brush, patch tool, color replacement tool, history brush,all of the 3D object tools, gradient maps, unsharp mask( am I the only one not using this?). Also I need to think anew about my custom brushes and what I need to make.

7. Pick up some new tutorial vids by other artists.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quick post

Disclaimer: The artwork in this post IS NOT MINE. I don't have down the artists' names so feel free to do a tineye search if you want to find out who made them.

Just wanted to talk quickly about why I'm trying to be more colorful as it goes beyond just trying to create more marketable prints.

The root of it is seeing artwork that I really enjoy that's really colorful and thinking, "I would never arrive at that image with my current process/thinking." I don't think stylistically an artist needs to be able to do everything but I think where I'd rather my style narrow is in the drawing aspect and not on the color. Maybe I'm a bass but I want to be able to occasionally hit a soprano note so I'm trying to expand my range of colors in the hopes that it results in my process having more possible destinations than currently available.

Anyways here are some examples of pieces that I've seen and thought, "my current methods would never lead here to this nice image." Second image is by Perzo. Third by Belibr. Fifth by Tom Scholes.

Card Art and figures

I finished up another card yesterday and posted it up on DA. I can hear the crickets. Perhaps the nearly perfectly divided composition wasn't the best idea. I was trying to go way more colorful than I ever go so I was afraid that by trying to have good color circulation I would end up with too gaudy of a piece. Regardless I'll probably make a print of it for whatever convention I attend next. I think brighter and more colorful prints sell better and this card stretches more into the surreal genre than fantasy which I think could result in better print numbers. The box cover for this is going to be fairly tricky as the scene is going to be more difficult for me to continue introducing these crazier color palettes. It will likely be a while before I'm allowed to show that.

Here are some sketches from figure drawing last night. I was pretty happy with the short poses and then things fell apart on the longer poses.

Thoughts I've had lately on art and improving
- When I was really into I would really labor over work. I'd ask everybody for their opinions and re-work pieces for months. I'd beat my head against the wall trying to sort out conflicting advice. Now I really feel like it's best to just do a post-mortem a couple weeks after, listen to any feedback but absolutely move onto the next piece. I think I've improved much more quickly by simply moving on while acknowledging that the previous piece wasn't perfect.

-I've noticed a lot of negativity from other artists lately regarding how others create their work and their content. Such thoughts used to occupy my thoughts. "Is this guy just tracing photos? That armor isn't realistic! That axe is too big! He used a 3D model! He used photo reference! That's just shameless fan art! That's realistic but so stiff and boring. They're using this custom brush. This color scheme is so overused. Rim light is such a gimmick. "etc. I just realized yesterday that I've completely stopped giving a shit about what others are doing in their work. It doesn't matter. It's irrelevant. It's poisonous to yourself to even think about and worse to put it out there. It's a speed bump on the road to rocking your own shit. I think putting this out of my mind has also helped me improve in the past year and a half.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sketch Night

Been sick this week. Working on some cards and a board game box art. Trying to be more colorful than usual.
Anyways, here are some sketches from figure drawing nights until I can actually show anything I've been working on. Starting to wonder if I should do detailed still life drawings on Tuesday rather than figure drawing. Landscapes might be an even better idea.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mystic Crusaders

Latest piece finished and a closer shot. Might go back and open the dragon's eye as some people aren't realizing it's a dragon quickly enough.


Friday, October 19, 2012


Finished up a piece for that big client. Waiting to hear if any revisions are needed. Likely there will be. Whenever I hear a client mention their "team" that usually means a half-dozen people feeling compelling to give a suggestion. Anyways, while I wait on that, I've been working on the dragon piece some more. Mostly just the texture and hands.Leaving the minor figures out at the moment so I don't feel compelled to over render them. Hope to add them loosely at the end so that they're not too distracting or time consuming.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Thumbnails for something. Pretty much the same scene but two different angles.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Things are slow. Did some studies. I'm not a big fan of doing studies but I might start doing them regularly to see if it makes a difference. I don't think I really retain anything from quick studies. I might learn something if they were long but in that case I'd rather spend a long time painting something in a piece for a job where I have some good reference.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Everything is going slow lately. Seems like I'm in a constant state of having to wait for e-mails.
Anyways. Here's piece that I'm ready to call done and a sketch for another piece. I've got some other sketches going on but I don't believe I can show those. Supposed to be working on a big exciting order from last week to the end of December but still haven't received the briefs.

On an odd note, I'm getting an urge to try some more anime-ish stuff. I've been checking out a lot of other companies lately and have started to really enjoy some of the artwork for these smart phone games. In particular the wild colors in the Rage of Bahamut card game. Most of the time I don't like the drawing style but the colors,compositions and character designs make for very exciting images. I'll definitely be trying to introduce more of those kind of colors into my images soon. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9/25/12 Sketch Night

 More sketch night sketches. Managed to forget my drawing tools though so I had to borrow an old school pencil. Felt very strange compared to using a mechanical pencil or lead holder.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another sketch night

Couple of life-drawings from this week. I'm very timid when it comes to drawing so I thought I'd get out the brush pen and try do be a little more brave than normal. I think I'll have to start doing this more. I wasn't any faster but I felt like I was more focused.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Working more on this. Barely touched the figures or anything. Just been messing with the background.I think I'm going to have to do something more with the right side perhaps. Maybe a building or something.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Had some time to fool around today. Messed around with some sketches.
I might make this first one into a playmat. The rest are just fooling around. Second one is actually just added some color to a sketch I post on here WAY back.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Sketch for my next playmat. Crazy and big angel spreading some gospel and whatnot.

This one should be considerably more tricky than the werewolf pic. With the werewolf pic I could just really try to make a jaw read or get the anatomy correct on a hand ,etc. This one is going to be more about bigger picture things with light,color and atmosphere.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sketch Night

Nothing much to report. Working. Actually reading some books for once. I've been reading the Pathfinder Tales novels.  I'll be posting several sketches for illustrations soon I suppose.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Night Shift

Here's a recent piece for Artists of Magic. Copyright Action Sports. I'm honored to have done a piece for them as they really select some top talent to work with them. I hope I didn't disappoint. I assume I didn't as it looks like I have several more to do for them. I chose this one to do first out of the line-up because it's one of the simpler ones in some ways. Mostly in the sense that it's easy to put on a breastplate and hold a sword to get some good reference. The others will be more difficult with reference but easier content in my opinion. All of the subjects are the stuff that tends to make for more popular prints.

Anyways, I thought of this as an audition for M:tG and in that sense I think I could have made it read better at a smaller size. More over the top. There's actually a card by Wayne Reynolds with a guy doing something similar that I think shows what I could have done to make for a better magic card. It's just more simplified so that it reads much better. The idea for the illustration came from a Pathfinder RPG spell called "Moonstruck". It basically forces someone to unwillingly become a werewolf for a couple of rounds.

It's an improvement but I think I could do even better and am really looking forward to the next one. I was able to take my time and feel more calm working on this piece. It didn't actually take longer than any of my book covers though. The calmer state seems to lead to more efficient work. Not really advice you can give to artists struggling to make a living though is it? "Just calm down and taker your time." It's not really an option most of the time.


GenCon was really different for me this year as I wasn't attending as an artist. I didn't bring my portfolio. I didn't have a booth in the art show,etc. I manned a booth for Dark Skull Studios (GO SUPPORT our kickstarter!) so I didn't even get to play any games. So it was a little bittersweet. It hadn't occurred to me though that I would have to review the portfolios of other artists as I'm the AD at DSS. I've given plenty of artists critique but never in the role of AD talking to a prospect. The poor artists found it awkward and I did as well. Most all of them were extremely nervous and I have just never had anyone feel so nervous about talking to me before so it was strange. It would have been easy to tell everybody, "oh this is great and we'll keep you in mind" but I didn't think that would be the right thing to do by them. I always remember Chris Pritchard complaining about a portfolio review he received from somebody once where it didn't give him any insight into how to improve the quality component of his work but talked about content instead. I really tried to give the artists clear feedback on problem areas and how to change. I was a bit worried that I'd have nightmares about giving these rough critiques or one of them would stab me or something.

I really enjoyed getting to talk at length with Eric Lofgren though who stayed in the house with us. It was also great to see some of our other artists such as Christ Pritchard, Pat Laboy and Jeremy McHuge.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3D print

My first 3D print is here! Pretty exciting to see in the flesh so to speak. It's 8 inches tall and feels super fragile. Can't wait for prices to lower for these kinds of prints as I would sculpt my own 18inch anatomy reference models and print them up. Right now something like that would probably cost me about $800/model so that's not happening.
The super important illustration is coming along nicely. I feel calm working on it which I think I'm just now realizing is a first. I don't know if the calm is from a lengthy deadline with the pay to cover it or being confident in my skills and reference material or the fact that these days it's pretty easy to sculpt anything of concern in Zbrush and have that reference. I'm resisting the urge to post it early but I think it will be nicer to wait until the end of September to show it.