Monday, December 29, 2014

Complete Entry for Reckless Deck

Here he is! He shall be called Santiago Serpante, a serpentine assassin with a venom-tipped bullwhip at his disposal.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reckless Deck Challenge

Another art challenge from Infected By Art. This time, it's a character concept based off of a randomized set of attributes generated after clicking this link. My character had to be wearing a half mask, leather/goth attire, cyborg/robot parts, and carry a bullwhip as their weapon. With such competing characteristics, I tried to think of a background for this character that would bring them all together. I decided to start with his bullwhip, which is something of an unusual weapon. I thought of the original use of a bullwhip (herding cattle) and went with a western-inspired setting for the character. The desert environment he would be subject to seemed like it would work great with incorporating the optional "inherent nature" attribute, which in my case is reptile attributes. Every addition to the character would in some way reflect that setting. The shoes underneath their Gothic belt-embellishment are, for example, cowboy boots.

There's still plenty of time to enter! Check out the details on the website.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Animal Name Game

I sketched these curious creatures today and now I want to see how well you know their names!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Of Martian Giraffes and Infectious Art

I finished my cover for Out of the Silent Planet and learned how to make an animated GIF of my progress shots. You can see some of the odd solutions before arriving at better ones, especially with the creature in the foreground. Also, I will note that the pinkish version of the illustration is the base-color I established with a gradient map before adding the local color of different objects. You will notice that it starts off quite vibrant before I back off on saturation and move the color scheme more evenly around the canvas.

And the final illustration: 

In other recent news, the Infected By Art website is compiling their 3rd volume of artwork. Judges will be making most of the calls, but the artwork will be open to virtual public voting, which will guarantee the inclusion of 3 pieces. The dates for public voting have changed a bit due to the avalanche of submissions, but I believe it is from December 3-9. Good luck trying to decide on your favorites! There are over 1,000 to choose from...

Here are the pieces I entered:
- "Out of the Silent Planet"
- "The Last Unicorn"
- "Monocle Mantis"
- "Reckless"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your day of thanks and feasting! I give you the man responsible for the official observance of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, Abraham Lincoln.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Cover Sneak Peak

Just a little close-up of one of my new book covers for Out of the Silent Planet. It will be released to the interwebs very soon...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mini-Comics Expo

If you are in the vicinity of Savannah, GA, you are welcome to come to the 2014 Mini-Comics Expo, presented by SCAD's Sequential Art Department. I will be there with my little table, portfolio, some prints for sale, and free bookmarks for your enjoyment. Come say hello and check out the amazing work created by my peers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finished: The Last Unicorn

A book cover assignment I recently finished for The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dancing Sketches

Just a few studies from the beautifully choreographed music video for Chandelier.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Of Unicorns and Malacandra

I have two book covers in the works. One is for The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and the other for Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis of his "Space Trilogy" Series.

Three semi-loose thumbnails for each book.

Tighter renderings of the two thumbnails I've decided to proceed with. I posed some Daz3D models for reference on the figures and looked at several different deer-like animals for the unicorn.

I made this little maquette of the giraffe-like alien for the Out of the Silent Planet cover. I made sure to make the limbs free-moving so I could use one maquette for all of the different poses the creature appears in. To make sure that I got the right angle in all of the photos, I created a reference point for the horizon line. I made a blob out of foil and tape that is a stand-in for the human character that appears on the cover. The blob is scale-wise the correct height that the character should be in comparison to the giraffes. When I took my photos, I made sure the "horizon line" (in this case, the end of a ironing board covered in green towel) ran through the lower half of the blob, just like it does through the character in the thumbnail. This trick would not work so well with a higher horizon line since the end of the ironing board would be visible and not represent the true vanishing point.

After taking my reference photos for the creature, I combined them into one image to continue working out the composition. 

Using the previous photo and several others for more detailed reference, I created the current composition with yet more changes. Most striking is the greater presence of the tall pointy things or Malacandrian "mountains" in the background. With a tight drawing in place, I can move on to rendering with a very clear direction.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Landscape Studies

Just some landscape studies I did in preparation of what might be an alien landscape in a new illustration that I'm working on. The first is after a painting by David Drummond and the other two are from photographs of the Grand Canyon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Experiments with Corel Painter

I've seen some illustrators use a combination of Corel Painter and Photoshop with exceptional skill, so I downloaded a free trial of Corel to see if I could incorporate its tools in a similar way. I proceeded to make a little sketch to test out the brushes and their various "sliders".

There are some things that I like and things that I don't like. Of the few weaknesses in the program, I think there are some that I can get used to. For example, increasing and decreasing the brush size takes forever when using the shortcut keys, so I found it easier to go up to the size slider and drag it. Now, the good thing about the added hurdle to changing brush size is that it forces me to continue painting with the same size brush. This is a good thing if you are going for an effect with expressive brush strokes. One thing that is less beneficial are phantom brush strokes that appear out of nowhere while you're painting. Not the end of the world, but they can be annoying, especially if you don't notice them until later.

The strength of the program as many know is its ability to simulate traditional media. For me, it's not so much it looking like traditional media as behaving like traditional media that I enjoy. I love the way the oil brush settings smear your previous brush strokes with each new stroke, preventing the straight-edged overlaps you often see in digital paintings made with Photoshop.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hide your Dwarven kids. Hide your Dwarf Wife.

The Tomato Wyrm Project continues. I have a couple shots that give you an idea of how I went about adding color on this one. 

Here is my finished grayscale painting. I rendered it pretty tightly this time before moving to color.

With green being the primary color for my wyrm, I used it as the base color. I put it on a gradient map on an adjustment layer that sits on top of my grayscale rendering. The gradient map ranges from dark brown to green to white, which gives you a much more natural range of colors as the values change. If you look closely, you can see brown in the darkest occlusion shadows. No ugly gray values here!

The additional colors were added on new layers, which vary in layer mode (overlay, multiply, and color mode). Multiple layers tends to get things messy, so once I was happy with the colors, I merged everything and did a little bit of painting clean-up. I went with a more modest color scheme than my original plan involving stripes and eyespots. It just was too much. The gradual shifts in color do a much better job of showcasing the Tomato Wyrms lovely lumps.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Jelly Sketches

Some delightful jellyfish in pencil and gouache. There are some really freakish ones out there...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tomato Wyrm Project

In an effort to tackle more character design, I have decided to create a detailed reference sheet for a creature I call the tomato wyrm. 

This my initial sketch. He's a flightless dragon, which are sometimes called a wyrms, but not always. I am fusing together a tomato caterpillar and a gecko to get a balance of wormy and lizard.

The next step (after amassing a pool of reference photos) was building the maquette. I'm using Sculpey as usual, which is built on top of a foil and tape skeleton. I photographed the maquette in direct and diffused light. The direct light I will be using more frequently to get those dramatic cast shadows, but the soft light is nice to refer back to since sometimes dramatic light can make it hard to read the anatomy.

I'm not one to create very detailed under-drawings, but I've learned my lesson that taking more time at this stage is going to mean less corrections in the future. The little circles help with imagining the the creature standing on a flat surface in perspective.

In this next stage I'm painting in occlusion shadows, which are the shadows you see when two surfaces meet and there's a gap between them. I like to think of what a 3D model looks like before you add "lighting". This is the first time that I have tried this technique, which is the method that illustrator Sam Nielson uses.  After the occlusion shadows are painted, I will move on to the cast shadows and color!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Thumbelina Final

The entry deadline for Jon Schindehette's Personal Poster Challenge was today. I finished my piece just in time!

I have a couple more process shots: 


Check out all the other spiffy entries at the Infected By Art website.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thumbelina WIP 2

Some progress on a small part of my Thumbelina illustration:

I'm using a basic round brush with canvas texture built in and then a mixer brush made of several parallel lines, giving it a nice brushy look. It seems like I'm using a different tools every time I paint digitally, but I think this combination might stick around.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Thumbelina WIP

The most recent "challenge" put on by Jon Schindehette has me really excited. The challenge involves creating a poster and is very open-ended with the only strong suggestion that it relate to "legends, lore, myths, & fairy tales". This makes perfect sense considering the audience of fantasy fans who will be purchasing the prints.

This thumbnail is sort of where I started. I say "sort of" because I went through two other related concepts that had a fair amount of thumbnailing and research involved. One centered around a griffin in a regular taxidermy shop and the other around a guy sewing up a jackalope in a mythological creature taxidermy shop. The voice of reason a.k.a my sister pointed out the morbidity of the concept, so I went searching again for ideas. I don't really remember how I came up with doing my take on Thumbelina, but I settled on that idea relatively quickly because it's a fairytale familiar to most in the fantasy community, providing some basis of connection with my audience. I also knew that I would have an opportunity for some cool dynamic poses with the narrative that I was developing for this illustration. You can't go wrong with cool dynamic poses.

A lot happened between the thumbnail and here. I gathered a ridiculous amount of reference including my own photos of myself in my figures' poses, google images references of general plant and animal anatomy, images of a maquette frog I made and its cast-shadow on the water, and my new favorite, DAZ3D images for scale, anatomy, and perspective reference. This last one I will get into more detail later. One big change from the thumbnail was removing Thumbelina's wings. She does get wings at the end of the story, but she reads better as Thumbelina when she doesn't look like a fairy at first glance.

Several more large changes here. The fairy prince was just was not working in the previous version. The composition was ok, but the angle of his body was not very flattering, even if it was a dynamic pose. It's also easier to read that he's a fairy by having more of the wing in the picture (sounds like the opposite problem I had with Thumbelina). There are a couple things I have noticed work better in the previous version, including the values and the toad's pose. The Lilies may be a little too overbearing as well...We'll see what I can do about that in the next revision! 

 Just a little bit more on DAZ3D. It's pretty awesome. It's free and if you have to find a new pose like I had to, it's much easier to change your 3D model than having to remodel yourself or re-pose a live model. Not the best for lighting reference (or clothing), but then again if you have a better handle on the program than I do, I bet you can simulate very accurate lighting reference. I bought the frog model (very inexpensive) but the other two are part of the free package for DAZ.

Here's the re-posed dude with some floating frog phalanges.

Some fantastic submissions have already been submitted to the challenge, which you can check out at the Infected By Art website. If you want to get DAZ, you can go here. Have fun with it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Spock Sketch

A caricature of Leonard Nimoy as Spock. I focused on planes and angles, which really helps with symmetry and understanding how exaggeration of different parts of the face effects the lighting.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

WIP: Monocle Mantis

I'm revisiting this character design I did last summer:

He's quite the dapper fellow by the name of Monocle Mantis. I'm going to create a new version based on this design--something more realistically rendered to add to my character design portfolio.

Things came together relatively quickly with having done research on victorian-era clothes and praying mantis heads in my previous design. I wanted to see if I could try giving him an antennae. It seemed like a good idea at the time to help make him look more mantis-like. I re-drew my light-source, which is why you see two of them up there.

I proceed with a soft-edged brush, which is out of the norm for me. Because I'm not using any direct reference, a soft brush is nice because you can kind of "feel" things out so you gradually build up dimension. It's kind of like sculpting with your imagination. The more you practice and observe how light works, the easier it is to create the illusion of dimension. Not that it's easy--it usually takes longer to build it up like this than to take shoot accurate reference photos with a live model.

Working out the face and the stubborn top hat. I'm still not so sure how to work with the mandibles. 

Definitely getting somewhere with the face and neck scarf. I tried out something new with the monocle, which I won't get back to until much later. I made my painting layer more transparent so I could see the figure sketch I have underneath. I'm using it to help with fold placement and to help especially with the poofy sleeves.

Folds! I really enjoyed doing those. In the process, I discovered the wonders of adding a second light source. There's a soft almost rim-light that I will be adding to the left side of my Mr. Monocle. It's great for helping the edges of the forms stand out! And it secretly makes my think of J.C. Leyendecker's work, which is definitely a good thing for this piece. 

Everything but the pants is rendered out and ready for polishing and detailing. I've decided to put some buttons on the sleeves, but those won't last long. At this point, I move on to color. If I waited until the very end for that, I wouldn't get the uniquely colored brushstrokes that make a digital painting look more vibrant. 

It looks like I just put a sepia color on overlay, but I actually used two different colors (picked directly from a Leyendecker piece) on a gradient map. This is the first time I've used gradient maps and I have to say that it's the best method I've found. Putting the gradient map on an adjustment layer allows you additional flexibility. 

More color, which I've added on layers set to soft light, allowing the sepia to affect the color. 

Here is where I'm currently at. The first thing I did was move the arm over to get rid of the tangency with the hand and the pants. Once I got the hat to a happy place, I was able to move on to other things. I did a lot of experimentation with the monocle design, but ended up with something pretty traditional. I also tried to add the antennae back in and went from one antennae to two antennae to none. The solution I came up with was to add feathers, which suggest the mantis silhouette like the poofy sleeves. The hardest parts are done! The finish should come swiftly.