Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zbrush efforts

So I've come a long ways on zbrush but I still have a really hard time with hard surface stuff.
I thought I could append a zsphere subtool go to rigging>select mesh and then draw out new topology to clean it up.
Edit:Okay apparently I don't understand how quads work. I figured all of the shapes needed to have four straight sides. I didn't realize that even if the line is straight, and point is added on that line it is considered to have five sides. ugggggh. In terms of logic that makes no sense to me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sketch Night

Another night of figure drawings. Not very happy with these.

I think I might pick up a color or two of gouache and start using that instead. Or maybe ballpoint pen. I feel like I need to draw in graphite before doing the prismacolors because they're so difficult to erase and that just feels like a giant waste of time. I've also become so used to painting on the computer that it honestly annoys me when I can't quickly push and pull my values. So I think it's about time that I basically start painting from the model with two or three tubes of gouache.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FORGE CON post-mortem

DISCLAIMER: I'm friends with the people who run Forge. The shortest length of time I've known one of them is 13 years.

TL;DR Forge attendance was pretty good for a small sized con and they used some great tactics to get people into the exhibit hall and really check out all of the booths. The staff was really great to vendors. I will return next year.

Helping Vendors
The exhibit hall was free so we got some traffic from people coming into the convention center to shop,eat or go to Rupp for high school graduations.

Although I'm friends with the Forge guys, I really didn't know a lot about the show besides it was going to be a gaming convention. Now that I've seen it in action, I'm even more excited about future Forge Con shows.

They've developed two ways of really driving attendees to make sure to look at every booth and interact with exhibitors.  Everybody who buys a badge has stats printed on the back of their badge for a character. They can level up that character by playing demos at vendor booths or participating in various events. This idea seemed to work wonderfully for driving business to my booth neighbors, Frog Dice.

The other tactic was a scavenger hunt where all of the items were from various vendor booths and were items that weren't products. So I obviously wasn't running any demos but people would still make sure to stop and look over my booth in case I had one of the scavenger hunt items. When attendees found something from the scavenger hunt, I believe they were supposed to take a picture of it on their phone and bring back all of the photos of the items to collect their prize. Their prize would be an item for the character on the back of their badge. I thought the pictures were also a great idea, especially if the vendors start bringing odd objects with their companies name,etc on it because then attendees would have that info right in their phone.

Now for the reason people care about their characters. On Sunday attendees can take their character/badge and special equipment from the scavenger hut over to a table where they fight waves of bad guys in a survival mode type of setting. The number of waves you survive determines what level prize you get. I believe most of the prizes were donated by vendors and frankly they could have been better. Once bigger vendors arrive or bigger profits are expected from vendors (resulting in better prizes) I can only imagine how big of a draw this could be. Forge also records which faction you chose your character to represent so then all of the faction's waves are added up and this is used to determine the Forge War storyline. I believe particularly successful characters' names will be used in the writing of future lore. Now think about this whole Forge War thing. It's a logistical nightmare. The mini game rules are super simplified but even then it still demands a lot of preparation time, execution time and volunteers. It's obviously a something that the Forge staff felt would be a core component for the Forge attendee experience. I just hope they can manage the logistics as this convention grows. Forge War convinces me that the direction this con will take is towards gaming in a more focused fashion.

Besides these, I personally witnessed the Forge staff bending over backwards to help two vendors who were numskulls in my opinion and had created problems for themselves that the Forge staff then had to help them out of.

It seemed like things went pretty smoothly for their first year. Apparently the convention tried to setup 3 foot pipe and drape rather than 8 foot and so Forge had to ask them to change that to the agreed upon size and it sounded as though the host was reluctant. Then it looked like they had on energy saver settings and were finally harassed into turning lights to full power on Saturday morning.
My only real criticism is that some attendees bought badges and obviously didn't realize that they didn't need one to go into the exhibit hall. There were plenty of signs showing that it was free though so I don't know how much Forge should really try to hammer it home to people but I felt bad for a couple of old people that bought badges and told me they weren't going to play any games.

Vendors. It was the first year of Forge so I think they took what they could get as far as vendors. I know I tried to get a couple of artists I knew to sign up and they wouldn't because it was the first year. I can tell the Forge crew want to make a strictly gaming convention but many of the vendors had nothing to do with gaming much less comics. A fellow vendor told me that they went to a local restaurant with their badge and the waitress asked what burlesque has to do with gaming. For this first year, I suspect it was first come first serve. At the same time, the burlesque group consisted of extroverts and they probably did a better job of advertising and making people aware of Forge than a normal vendor might have. There were several vendors that showed up late or closed up shop early or left their booth unmanned for significant amounts of time. They're jerks.  It was a small show and when you do that sort of thing it makes the show look unprofessional and hurts the other attendees. My fine artist friends say that it is better to be shown in a gallery next to high quality work than next to an amateur. Contrary to popular belief it doesn't make you look better, it just lowers the value of everything else in the room as the perceived quality of the gallery drops. I want people around me that can at least PRETEND to be professional for three days.

Lexington Convention Center. The layout of that building is terrible. Parking was close and free for badge holders. At least I never paid but that may have been due to showing up early and leaving late. ALCOHOL. Attendees can get beer in the convention center and can walk into any exhibit hall,etc. Gaming and alcohol go together like peanut butter and jelly so this is a nice feature. Not sure it should be allowed into the exhibit hall where beer can be spilled on products but I'm a big supporter of it being allowed into the conference rooms where people are gaming,etc. I actually think it's something greatly missed at cons like GenCon where attendees have to sneak it into their soda bottles or flasks for those late night games.

PRIZES.I feel like these guys remember a GenCon from ten years ago where WotC said "We REALLY want you to play OUR games," by offering prizes to attendees that participated in demos of their games. From there the Forge staff said no no, "We REALLY want you to play games!". To continue that spirit, I'd like them to use some of their profits to perhaps buy a Forge War prize that attracts people that believe they don't like games. Could they get some frat guys to come in and play Dragon Dice, etc so that they might win a new iPad or something when they get to do the Forge War? I'm a bit of a gaming evangelical so I think gaming has this perception of being anti-social when really it can be a really social activity that people outside of our subculture would enjoy if they give it a chance.

VENDORS. All of the vendors seemed like wonderful people...but... I'd like to see the vendors narrowed down to being only gaming related. They mention comics but it doesn't seem to really be much of a focus in the way they sell their convention. Personally I always find it really lame when there are middle men at cons. I don't care to see shops at conventions. If I'm at a con, I want to be buying direct.

CELEBRITY. I REAAAAALLLY don't want to see any celebrities appear at the con. That's a comic convention staple so I'm really afraid they'll start doing that. Lexington Comic and Toy Con happened a month before and I believe the Power Rangers had a line out the door waiting for signatures. Maybe I'm an elitist prick that's giving a suggestion that hurts their profits but I hope they never sell out and go for the cheap gimmick of celebrity. Think of it as ruining the branding of the convention. If there were any celebrity stuff at Forge I would hope it would be tied into gaming. For instance I hear Bruce Campbell is a gamer so it would be cool if there was a chance to play _____ with Bruce Campbell as gamemaster. Or play MtG with so and so. Or you know how they have celebrity poker, why not a celebrity gaming tournament of a different sort. Celebrity call of duty tournament,etc. That would be highly entertaining in my opinion.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Just a reminder that I will be at Forge Con (Lexington KY) on Friday,Saturday and Sunday. This is the only place I will be selling prints this year so make sure to stop by. The exhibit hall is free to enter and my prices will likely be a little lower than normal!

I'm in the process of working on four more interiors for the same product that I've been posting work for and the cover. I think the villain is a bit dull conceptually for the cover so I think I'm going to have to approach it like fine art and aim to really capture one light effect. Since the concept isn't mind-blowing, I'm going to try to make the believability factor mind-blowing. So I've started on a zbrush sculpt of the villain. I'm hoping that when the sculpt is done, I can show it as my first piece of portfolio quality zbrush sculpt. I've been using it for a while but I haven't put the time into making the sculpts presentable or really professional. I'm really working on making this one efficient with it's polygon count now that I know how to retopologize in zbrush. I've really been hitting the books hard on figuring out the little stuff with Zbrush so hopefully it pays off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Human tornado

Last night was sketch group. This week I started it off by wildly flailing my arms and destroying the place. I'm pretty sure I owe someone a life debt now. After that I drew a naked lady.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Here's how that image turned out.

Here's the reference image I shot for this. This one was actually after a couple of poses so the top of the turban was falling apart and I kind of liked how it stuck out above my brow like a bill on a cap and the silhouette kind of made a bird mouth shape with my head emerging. Decided to opt for a tidier and tighter top part of the turban in the final image. Still not sure if I should have gone with what made sense to logic (tighter turban) or the more aesthetically pleasing.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Hoped to finish this one today but looks like it will have to wait until tomorrow. Those are going to be burning leaves beginning to swirl up around the character. I'm really liking how this one is going but I think it has suffered from some poor planning in the beginning. That poor planning has caused the piece to be more work than it probably should have been.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Illustration and Sketch Night

I didn't realize on my last post that the image would be cropped and you'd have to click to see the full thing. Sorry about that.
 Anyways here's how the illustration turned out. Not thrilled with it but there was a point where I thought it was going to be a disaster and I think I recovered from that.Luckily 1/3rd pagers are a bit of an odd ratio so for prints I think I'll crop off most of the right side which I think will help.

Here are some sketches from nude figure drawing night. Tried to make the page into one of those 70's photo montages but didn't have time to do a decent portrait on the left side.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I hate horses

Finn has been sick this week so I haven't been able to work like I'd like to this week. I wasn't able to go to sketch group this week. Last week I finished the image from the previous post and that will be at the end of this post. Here's a work-in-progress shot of an image for that same project that will involve the same character. The character layer is turned off as it's still kind of a distracting mess at this point. Still not sure about some things in this one. I'll end up pushing and pulling some things more before it's done. Probably push everything beyond the rider a bit lighter to make the horse and rider pop more as a dark figure on a grey to light background.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Here's a work-in-progress shot of an illustration I'm working on. Happy with it so far. I already feel like this is on an upward track just because I feel less stressed. It used to be that I would paint a scene like this all in one scale of values and then I would add a layer to try to give that faded effect on the right from light pouring in. It was about being safe and not knowing how to gradually shift my value range. I've had a couple of projects lately where basically from the moment I begin work I've been given a file with 10 layers on it so the change may just be a backlash from having had to work with so many layers on those projects.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nudes and Characters

Blogger has changed so forgive me if this post comes up a total mess.

I'll no longer be doing any sequentials for Carpe Chaos. I mostly quit because working every third month made scheduling freelance a nightmare. I could have gone full-time with the work but I wasn't that in love with doing sequentials. I made a ton of money working for them last year so it was a pretty bold decision to make but I'm happy with it and feel like a huge amount of stress has been taken off my shoulders.

So now I've begun on a gaming cover that hopefully will be the beginning of a new era of better artwork by me. I'm giving myself more time to be creative. I'm going to be more critical of my work and try to imagine it alongside the artwork of others that I love. I'm not going to be afraid of making big changes for fear of hurting my profit margin. Here are some pics for that client which were done before leaving Carpe Chaos but I think are already beginning to show a bit more finish.

I've also begun art directing a new Facebook game. I'm excited that one of my good friends has had his game pushed to next in line. The previous game I came in as the third art director on the game. So it's a bit of a hodge podge and has a bit of a blurry artistic vision. It was an awkward situation where I came in and was told we'd be beta testing in a month and I ended up art directing over 150 additional pieces of art. So I ended up determining the look more than I anticipated but it was so incremental and under the impression that everything needed to be implemented immediately so I'm not really happy with that first game. For the second game, I'm creating a really detailed style guide covering rules for drawing, palettes, silhouettes, splash screens,buildings,items,animations,etc. Without even having commissioned art yet, I can clearly see how the game will be cohesive.

There were client issues in this past 6 months that really caused me to get jammed up with work and that creates a cascading effect of stress,panic and bad artwork. Plus I had a couple of particularly picky clients that had me pulling my hair out with one asking for me to move something by 8 pixels. So even beyond the rush, I know I was developing a flinch. You know how in highschool boys will start a prank like smacking each other in the balls when they yawn or aren't expecting it? Before long all of the guys are flinching at any sort of sudden movement. I think I was perhaps being conditioned to turn in work early and go ahead and cover up my balls because I assumed there would be an absurd or absurd number of changes so why take something to full polish when you know a client is looking for revisions to make regardless.