Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cincy Comicon Recap

Might have to change this to the convention recap blog. Next post should have some more work for my personal project. During this convention I made some thumbnails for landscapes and...gasp... I like some of them. This is amazing because environments are a weakness of mine

The Good
The convention staff was amazing. It was super easy and fast to unload and setup. There was a goodie bag waiting at my table with food, water, tylenol and hand sanitizer. Yes. It's as if the planner, Tony Moore, has gone to a few conventions. The staff were constantly asking vendors if they needed anything and would do their best to get those items whether it was food,water,information,etc. When they heard my booth neighbor had a long long long bus ride ahead of him, they provided him with an entire bag of snacks. We were basically pampered and doted upon like we were celebrities.

Which brings me to the other amazing thing about the convention. There weren't any TV celebrities. The celebrities were the artists. That's the very opposite direction many comic conventions are headed and that's awesome. Internet high five to Tony Moore. There were some really talented artists at the show which I'm always happy to see. I only wish I had more money to buy more of the comics in that art show.

There were several events to raise money for the Cincinnati Museum Center and other charities. Big thumbs up for that.

I made enough money to cover my expenses and next years table. So not really a big profit maker but it's better than I should probably expect for a first year of a convention.

There weren't any other vendors carrying my playmat.

My neighbors were great.

Artists all had name placards that could be reverse to show a "be right back" type of message. Some of those BRB messages were customized. That's pretty cool and handy.

Metallic prints all day every day. People really flip out about the colors on the metallics. I don't think I can go back to printing non-metallic prints for the larger stuff.

Almost forgot. Several particularly awesome individuals tipped me. That was pretty amazing. People are awesome.

The Bad
VIP Friday was kind of a waste of time for vendors. I think we all knew that going in. I still showed up because I feel like signing up for a convention means I agree to be there during their show hours. Many people didn't set up  or didn't set up in time for opening on Friday. I'm not even mad. Usually VIP tickets get you in the door an hour early to get into lines for signings or limited items. It didn't appear there was even much of a reason to purchase a VIP badge. A VIP attendee told me that it allowed some sort of special privilege at the Drink and Draw so maybe it is worth it.

Apparently there isn't as much crossover between gaming nerds and comic nerds as I thought. I'm a rarer breed than I anticipated. VERY few people knew what a playmat was. This kind of spelled trouble for me since that's how I made a large sum of my money at GenCon and hoped I would here. Lesson learned.

Apparently comic fans aren't used to seeing digital art at their comic shows. Most people seemed baffled by the digital thing which in retrospect makes sense as most of the vendors are there drawing in pen and ink and selling their raw pages. There aren't colorists sitting there trying to sell their colored pages. Digital art is still very taboo for many people. I really should have brought out some of my prelim sketches as I think they would have been more well received there than at the gaming conventions.

Convention staff would not allow any food stuffs into the exhibit hall that didn't come from the concession stand (super fucking long wait) or from Starbucks. Both options are pricey and this is the first time I've seen vendors not allowed to bring in some lunch for themselves. If they want to have us by the balls like that, at least roll it into the cost of having a table and bring vendors lunches during lunch time. I know that I would at least be less grumpy about it and it would keep me at my table during that hour rather than going elsewhere for food which is good for the convention.

The Ugly
Here comes Joe's controversial statements of the recap.
I've gone to a lot of comic conventions and gaming conventions and this may be more of an accumulation of experiences. This could be the contrast between a gaming and a comic convention or the difference between a large and a small convention to put this...the artists seem less professional. It seemed like an awful lot of vendors rolled in pretty late and packed it in early every single day. It makes the show look lower quality when there are so many empty tables. The higher the quality the show looks, the better I look. I swear the fewer booths that are just shooting blanks,the slower people walk and that's a boon to a vendor trying to stop attendees from rolling by on the conveyor belt of the convention isle.

 On Sunday, the website states the hours at 10-5. The show was basically over at 4 with everybody breaking down their booths. I believe GenCon will fine you if you empty out your booth during show hours. The result is a much more professional environment and customers genuinely shop up until the last minute. I always feel like at comic shows that many attendees are caught by surprise. This doesn't lead them to suddenly purchase something. This leads to them feeling unwelcome and trying to rush through and see as much stuff before it's all taken down.

I'm not saying my booth was a masterful display of my works and I'm a little embarrassed that I still haven't purchased a wall or vertical banner to put behind me but..... damn some people weren't even trying. You can't regulate against this and the big names will do what they want but I was shocked. It wasn't just little guys on a shoe-string budget but some of the artists who have been doing this for a while hardly had a thing on their table.

Prices. It's well known that comic artists charge next to nothing for their prints. That just continued here. I don't think it affected my sales much. Attendees think of the comic art as meant to be used like posters and pinned to the wall with a push pin or thumb tack and attendees interested in my prints seem to view them more as pieces of art. It may sound crazy but I think that has to do with the prices rather than the actual quality of the artwork or prints. I think part of  It's pretty frequent that people mention framing the pieces or matting them or asking if I sell them matted. So I don't usually hear any complaints about my prices since they're only a fraction of what framing would cost in most cases.

Morals/Ethics; I still struggle to understand the vast gulf between what the comic industry and what the gaming industry considers right and just. I won't go down this road publicly because frankly I would piss off people from both industries and some of them are likely friends. Let's just say that indy comic artists often look at gaming artists and say, "that's not right to do X" (and sometimes I agree) while failing to acknowledge their own breaking of those taboos but in a different way. The issue is particularly apparent at comic conventions. Whatever. Probably shouldn't have brought it up.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Quick GenCon recap

I'm going to try to keep this short.
I made a profit. This is good. It looks like I'm going to get work with one of those companies that I dreamed of working with as a kid.Now Werewolf the Apocalypse just needs to make a resurgence and maybe I can hit both of my childhood dreams. 

On the downside, I found out that I will likely never be making work for L5R or Paizo. That's a real shame since Paizo is kind of a favorite of mine right now with their diverse cast of characters and the fact that my most popular piece, Moonstruck/Night Shift, is based off a spell from their Pathfinder products. Unfortunately I think I'm barking up the wrong tree looking for work there.

Allergies were kicking my ass the whole time so I didn't hang out with my art friends as much as I would have liked. Most nights I was so zonked from struggling to breath that I went to sleep at 9pm.
I printed as little as possible for GenCon this year...I think my self-esteem was in the dumps. So I sold out of some stuff which is rare for me as I've usually ordered too much of everything.

My playmat was a monster success. The "moonstruck/night shift" piece was so popular that it basically drained the sales from all of my other prints. :( I think it was sooo eye catching with it's metallic print,etc that people wouldn't even entertain buying anything less than that print or the playmat of it. That said, it's still my "Taishu" image that would get people to stop in the first place. I had a lot of requests for a playmat of that.

Did I mention that the playmat was popular? Two other booths were selling my playmat and they were doing well, citing it as one of their more popular playmats. One local business came up and thanked me for making the playmat as it was selling well in their store. One guy wanted to buy one but had to run to his M:tG tournament and couldn't wait in the line. He only had a $50 and I only had $14 cash. He bought the playmat for $36 when I was charging $15. That's pretty amazing. Don't worry, I filled out a receipt for him and paid GenCon myself(plus a little extra twice on that since Barbara didn't bring back the $3 in change I thought she would). I was charging $15 because I didn't want to under-cut my distributor who was there. At local cons I will be selling them for $20 and I suspect they will sell at the same rate.

I need to make more playmats.

I'll no longer be making my fancy business cards for the public to pick up. This year convinced me that some people wanted to just pick up a business card of the piece they wanted rather than buy a print, if they could.

I wish I had originals.

MISTAKE: I went into the con thinking my metallic prints cost a certain amount but I had accidentally packed the wrong invoice with a set of prints. Soooo I was charging more than I would have for some prints although I wouldn't say that the price was insane. I still nearly sold out of them so I guess it was a good mistake. Still, I'll be charging a little less next as I think I will sell a ton more.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Personal Work

Finished another piece for my personal project. Trying to pick up the pace on these. There's only one more intelligent species to do. Anyways, I thought I would talk a little bit about my thinking as I forge this new world IP. And I am thinking about this as an IP more than just as a game world.
I like to make lists so here's a list of rules I've had in my head while I work.

1.Do not set out to make these scary. These are not monsters. These are aliens to us rather than monsters. They must appear to be practical rather than just designed to be cool.

2.Think of their silhouettes/proportions in relation to each other so that I won't repeat myself.

3.Think of each character as a song. What's the hook? What's the thing that people will remember and summarize to friends. This also ties into how I imagine them functioning in-game. Why choose this race over this other race?

4.Try not to add personality into these race concept images. I know a lot of games create their races around archetypes and they seem to continue across all sorts of variations but still cling to stuff established by Tolkien. How many times have you played a game where there was a short and sturdy race that might as well been called dwarves and slender and sensitive races that might as well been called elves. Then there's the ever-present half-orc race that's in every game and the standard personality/culture. If I think of it as a video game, I don't want players picking their race because of the personality they want to play but rather because of some puzzle related reason. For instance a player might want to choose race X because it would allow access to extreme cold areas or extreme hot areas or subterranean areas or underwater areas or sky areas. So as I work I'm trying to think of what part of the game-puzzle does a race allow players to complete. The game revolves around exploration though so ofcourse I think about it this way. 

5.How does the race scale? By that, I mean, how would it translate to other mediums. How would I animate this? How would this work in a comic book? How would this work as written subject matter only? This has been the trickiest thing to keep on my mind and the most difficult to stick to. It brings me to the conclusion that their faces have to be relatively earthly. Typical things like eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and opposable thumbs become a requirement when I have to imagine doing narrative pieces like sequential storytelling where viewers would have to quickly understand the expressions of characters. 

6.Do it. Regardless of anything else, do it. I'm trying to build an IP that is all about exploration and the unfamiliar. Nobody is going to care. People want to see more of what they know. They seem to want the familiar. "MOAR werewolves! MOAR vampires! MOAR orcs!" Nobody is going to care about my funny little alien races in a fantasy setting and those are trying to stick somewhat to the familiar. I suspect people will care even less when I get into the animals,ecology and strange environments that try to veer sharply into the unfamiliar. I have to stick it out though. I love this stuff. I REALLY REALLY love this stuff. There aren't enough clients out there interested in commissioning the sort of stuff I want to do. So I have to make it happen on my own. Hopefully the sum will be greater than the parts and the right people will find it and I can do this kind of subject matter constantly. So I'm going to keep hammering away at this. More to come soon. One last race before I move onto creatures and environments.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Critter and GenCon

Almost done with this guy. Trying to do these faster and take shortcuts where I can.
Starting to prep for GenCon and thinking about what I want from having a booth this year. I didn't have one last year because I was helping with the DSS booth and the year before that, I was so busy that I really didn't prepare and my presentation was frankly embarrassing. I always take a ton of stuff and it's a headache to haul it around. Last year (I think) I had a table at another convention and I was able to display a lot more of that giant amount of prints but I think it perhaps was a bit too much like a flea market stall.

Soooo this year, I'm going to do the opposite of normal. I'm going to have a really sparse display but really really well presented. I want to test the waters as far as presenting the work as really high end art rather than posters and merchandise. It may be a disaster but hey I won't be breaking my back hauling stuff around. So that means I'll be printing up a really nice banner to hang on the front of the table rather than my art-less bargain basement banner and I'll put up no more than three prints on the wall behind me. On the table I'll probably just have an even more ridiculously fancy portfolio book that will work like a catalogue for me to pull prints out from under the table. Then I'll probably also have a couple playmats on the table.

In any case, I'm really looking forward to going and seeing some familiar faces. It will really be like a vacation for me. Can't wait.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quick Update

Still alive. Very little time to do any freelance or personal work but here are some doodles on my personal project.

Monday, April 8, 2013


In case you're not aware, I now have a full-time job at a game company that has kept me from doing much illustration work. The work I do is for mobile games so it's mass market stuff and meant for low quality display so I hope to still keep doing my personal stuff on the side. Here are two unfinished pics for my personal project that I'm messing with at the moment.I'm getting the itch to animate them but I need keep focus on getting the needed stuff done before moving on to anything like that which would only be useful for a kickstarter video or something.

Here's a pic from work that's for Hungry Gows which you can download for free for your Ipad. It's a background so it's meant not to pop out too much.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Art Tool Review: Edation Seamless Body

After last weeks catastrophe with the A9 I was a bit worried that this expensive Edation Seamless body was going to be a disappointment as well. But it turns out to be really great.

The figure has over 38 points of articulation. The fingers and toes are wires and can be bent into any pose. Obviously this means the fingers and toes can often look a bit like noodles since they will bend where there are not in fact joints.Unlike many of the female figures out there, the neck is articulated and the torso can be twisted.

I think the proportions are pretty good on this figure. All of these figures are designed with putting clothes on them so the breasts are always made to be defying gravity as if they're bolted on. So it doesn't look so great without costume on but it's not often a client would have nudity in an illustration anyways. It's nice the the back of the knees and knees are well sculpted. There's an indication of should blades. The clavicle is cartoonish. There's a nice little bump to indicate the end of the ulna.

It's important to note that this figure doesn't come with a head. I took the head off of my Triad Eve (which was terrible) and put it on this figure and it fit fine.

I do kind of prefer sculpted hands as they are much more realistic but I may be able to find more interesting and inspiring hand poses with the options available with the wire fingers.

People have a really strange mindset on how to portray the female form so I'm not sure if it's a limitation of the silicone or an artistic choice but I'm about to have a mini rant. There are soooo many people out there that want to draw and sculpt women like they don't have any bones. They're all soft and gentle forms and they're filled with flowers and gingerbread. Well they're not. They're made of blood,bones,muscle and fat like us men and they're not any less attractive for not being filled with flowers. You gotta put in the sacrum where muscle and fat don't dwell and it breaks up the round forms. How can a sculpt gloss over the iliac crest on a woman?! If you can do that little bump for the ulna then you can put in that precious bump where the tensor fasciae latae and sartorious originate and the external oblique seems to rest on top of. If you can have a fucking belly button and slit for the vagina then you could have had a plane change for the blade of the shin and SOME kind of indication of what's truly going on with the top of the foot. Rant over. Again this might be a limitation of the silicone rather than a sculpting choice.

This was the big concern people had online. Since you can't see the joint setups, it's hard to know if you're twisting and turning things correctly. This puts you at risk of breaking the figure. The instructions try to explain how to pose the figure but do a terrible job and the english translation is probably leaving a lot out. A quick search of the net turned up a page saying that when moving the shoulder and hip joints to apply pressure to the joint as you move it. This seems to do the trick or at least mine doesn't seem to have broken while I was putting it in a variety of poses.

It's difficult to do extreme poses(arms above head) and the silicon can begin to fold, ruining any illusion of realism.

I failed to realize on these poses but it would definitely be best to start posing from the extremities and work your way in.

The instructions also say not to leave it in an extreme pose or the silicone could get resistant to further posing.  So basically return it to it's shipping pose when done.

The material is a silicone like what's used for prosthetic so it is squishy. It almost feels slimy. As such it seems to attract every little piece of lint and hair that's nearby. So I'll be keeping it in a zip lock baggy whenever it's not in use.

It's a great figure although not perfect. It makes me really excited about what we might see down the line. The ideal set up would be a skeleton underneath that in places is just barely covered by the encasing material and the encase material is attached or anchored to those spots. That way raising the arms high doesn't create creases and you can have a better sense of the hard vs soft forms.
Here are some quick poses with it. In the first one you can see where I couldn't bend the arm any further back to meet her head.You can also see where the slight torso twist makes the breasts go all funky.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Personal Project

I've been working more on my personal project. Here's a work-in-progress shot. Trying to colorize a greyscale I did. I'm still not so great at that and pretty much need to start with color. This race still has a ways to go as the male is entirely different.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Working on a batch of stuff. Decided to do something I normally don't do. Try to put together some decently clean lines. I usually don't do much as far as drawing before I getting into digital painting a piece. I usually think of the most direct route to finished product is best. So anymore I don't do tons of prep stuff like tightening up lines that will be painted out, greyscale underpaintings, color studies,etc. Although I do gather plenty of reference. I'm trying to go back to this to see if it improves some of the things I've been unhappy with regarding recent work. I made a 3D model of the girl's head here to try to keep it consistent.
It was fun to do a fish-eye lens picture as there are just so very few times it's appropriate. It makes a lot of sense for this one particular image though. Some of the figures just kind of look blank because that's how they are going to look in the final. The one with her smiling looks kind of strange, like she's high/the joker. The real little kids don't look so great either yet. I'm REALLY not used to ever having children in paintings. It's hard not to give them adult proportions just smaller.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I went on a little mini vacation this weekend and found some time to sketch. These are two of the race concepts for my personal game project that I'm calling Recall for now. These will end up getting fully rendered. There's actually one race that's sort of ahead of these in terms of finish so that one will probably be the next final piece I show.Actually there are a couple that might be closer to finished than these two.

On a different note, I've been hired to do an hour and a half digital painting demo. I need to figure out what I'm going to do for that as last time I did something like this, I think I had 30 minutes and kind of made it into a Photoshop 101 lecture. The students weren't experienced with Photoshop but I still in hindsight think that was a bit silly as there are so many locals that could show the basics of Photoshop. I think this time I'll just try to show what I can do in Photoshop and hope that it inspires some to try it out. In any case, I think I'm going to start practicing talking to myself while I work so I have some idea what I'll see when I'm working in front of these students.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sketch night

I was really drawing terribly last night.This was the only thing that was okay.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I tend to tailor my workflow to each illustration assignment and now I'm wondering if I should perhaps create  a more strict process for myself. My process is currently completely unpredictable I feel like I have peeks and valleys in my quality and I feel absolutely terrible when I'm in a valley. Anyways, I'm going to start writing down and keeping track of the time on each step. Hopefully this way, it will give me some hard data for seeing where I'm wasting time and where I sometimes fail to put enough time and what processes get the best results for me. Totally left brained approach but these valleys kill my morale.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I keep messing with my personal game project. spent the weekend messing with race concepts. A bit more alien than normal fantasy races I think. Looks like it's going to have a sci-fi look. I also tightened up the mount concept and have sorted out the page layouts for the creature entries. So things are going at a steadier pace with it than I anticipated. So really I think I might have things ready for a kickstarter perhaps before GenCon. I want to have a certain number of environment illustrations ready though and I suspect those could be a big hangup. At least I better get this book all the way to completion because I don't think creating these non-illustration pieces are that helpful for the career.