Friday, December 24, 2010

Opera House Dragon - Working

The foreground is mostly done on this. It is time to focus on the background; I need to add tons of baroque ornamentation and also to tighten up the perspective lines.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Opera House Dragon - Color Process

It is the 'holiday season', and I have the same tired and ubiquitous excuses as everyone else: illness and the distractions of friends and family. Poor health in particular has kept me from working, but my dragon is coming along, hopefully in time for Spectrum in January.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Opera House Dragon - Sketch

Next up is the underpainting/grisaille for this one.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Irons In The Fire

All the images I have been doing lately are not expressly for my book(s), but rather to beef up my portfolio. I will, however, maybe put these portfolio images into my books at a later time. Since they are intended for my portfolio, they are not always my first choice when it comes to subject matter. I thought I would take a break from selling myself and do some things that are a little closer to my taste.

I am of course a great lover of the fantasy genre, but I find its trappings to be tired and superficial exercises in style. I love (the potential) of what we now call 'fantasy' because it really is just 'myth' by another name, and myth is the best way to tell big, epic, florid, and, most importantly, universal stories. Universality is important to me. The big picture offers the surest path to essential truth and understanding.

It is tempting to digress into a bloviation about how ill-informed almost all presentations of sword and sorcery are when it comes to things like art and technology. I try to stay tight lipped on this blog though, so instead let me just quickly express my distaste both for steampunk and WWII retreads. The baroque era is an undervalued and misunderstood time in history that, for me, offers a ripe catalog of artistic modes and decorative styles nearly ignored in the fantasy genre. And, just like classic myth or modern fantasy, the age of enlightenment's art and culture is big, florid, and epic.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dungeon Delve Challenge - Final?

I run the risk of overworking this if I continue. This is not to say more cannot be done to improve it, rather I have run into that solitary wall called "I don't know what else can be done". The fellow running the challenge just posted a number of points regarding ways to improve one's entry and I like to think I have already covered those bases.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Angel - Facelift (New Final)

I could sleep at night knowing I had drawn that face ... but just barely. This, I think, is an improvement.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Angel - Final

I really struggled with the face on this. I am still not completely satisfied with it. Earlier, she looked quite a bit like Carla Bruni. Then she morphed toward January Jones. Now I am getting a Miranda Kerr vibe from this face. None of that matters, I just wanted it to look like 'a' face; a face that appears human.  I suppose I try to encourage myself by seeing a resemblance in order to convince myself that the face is 'working' as a face. That is all I want, after all, is a face that makes sense to the viewer. I swear I spent as much time on this face as I did on the other 90% of this piece.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dungeon Delve Challenge - Color Step

I have been anxious to get some color into this piece. The eerie, eldritch light from down below just is not the same in greyscale. After some experimenting, I made some decisions about how to both add more visual interest to the bottom half of the composition while also better serving (I hope) the concept defined by the art direction. The architectural elements enhance the perspective and present a better understanding of how lost the adventurer is. It still looks a little stale, but I think effects added into the final will change that. Still, looking at it here, I think I may add a third bridge--possibly on the extreme left.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dungeon Delve Challenge - Sketch

I have put my angel on the back-burner to participate in ArtOrder's 'Dungeon Delve Challenge'. Here is my work in progress. I used myself to take one of the reference photos; giving my bald pate all that hair was a very strange feeling. Also, in taking that photo, I learned that my coccyx and pelvis do not quite make the 7 inch clearance that is under my bed frame.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Angel - In Progress

This is coming along slowly, but well. Initially she had white hair (and more of it) and was wrapped up in a orange shawl that served to exaggerate the perspective even more. However, the effect made it appear as though her ascent was causing her to unravel and I did not want that. I spent yesterday 'back to the drawing board'.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Angel - Sketch

It seems only proper that I follow up my demon with an angel. My high school sketchbooks are packed with angels; there is surely no other subject I have depicted more. This is the first one I've done in at least 8 years. It is already one of my favorites.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Malefic - Final

Here is the final for Malefic. Sometimes, when I create an image I want very much to jump out of my skin and see what I have made from the perspective of another person. Obviously, that would always be a good thing (and not just for art-making), but certain images like this one just seem to beg for it more than others. That being said, I am quite happy with this image--especially with respect to my original intentions for it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Malefic - In Progress

I took a few weeks off to give serious effort to the Great Designer Search 2. I made it past round one and felt very confident about my answers for the test during round two, but alas I did not succeed. In that time I created an essentially complete 249 card set. I say 'essentially' because the set is, of course, in need of plenty of revision before it could be called workable. Cards like my 'Haruspex Chancel' are evidence of various ideas frozen together in a mess. Despite all of that, I am confident the set was among the best individual efforts put forth on that wiki.

If only people who have played Magic since Alara were under consideration, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be in the top 5%. I will assert forever that WotC could find value in the fresh ideas of a person who has not been so thoroughly steeped in the game's past, but I will never have their ear to make the case.

So I put that pipe dream to rest in search of another. Here is my progress on Malefic, demon extraordinaire. I don't usually make illustrations that are so " \m/ ", but I have long been trying to work outside of my comfort zone in order to find where it leads me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Raindream - FINAL

Here is the final for Raindream. I need to stare at this a lot longer before I can determine what I do not like about it; what I would change. the number of possible improvements are probably many, however I just need a break from looking at this tangled dragon for a little while.

I do not usually post the cards I (and a friend) have designed to go with the recent images on this blog, they can all be seen here, however. I am happy enough with Raindream the raster and Raindream the text that I have decided to post the card 'spoiler' this time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Raindream - Color Process

Here is the color step for 'Raindream'; not much to add at the moment as this is a work in progress.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Raindream - Underpainting

I had some fun designing new brush presets this morning in order to get the canopy background effect for this image. Now I have to restrain myself from jumping the gun by adding various final touches; I am only just getting started with this one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Raligan Slave Drums - Final

I am getting better at fully realizing my images as planned. This one presented challenges and not all of them were dealt with to my complete satisfaction, however I still consider this image a great step in the right direction.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raligan Slave Drums - Color

It feels good to not be sick anymore and back to work.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Raligan Slave Drums - Underpainting 2

Production of this image has been plagued by delays including an unexpected visitor, a trip out of town, a truly wretched illness, and a holiday. It seems cursed. And now today, I have all kinds of errands to run that I didn't plan on. I'll probably have it done next week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Raligan Slave Drums - Underpainting

I have been so busy lately. I knew this image was going to take me a while, but so many distractions and obligations have only worsened my progress on this image. I am glad to be back in the saddle. I think I need to extend the left-hand edge, that doesn't look good at all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Raligan Slave Drums - Rough Comp

Here is the rough comp for what I am working on at the moment. I am going to try to sneak a for more giants carrying heavy stones into background. I listened to and watched some videos of Taiko drums on youtube in order to get inspired for this illustration. I would love to see a live performance one day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ice Hag Coven - Final

Ice Hags are done. It is time for another, but what?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ice Hag Coven - Working

The main takeaway I received at GenCon as far as editorial notes and criticisms was that the work I had on offer was too graphic, too unpolished, too linear. The criticisms were very constructive and from now on I will pursue a more painterly hand. Were I working in traditional media, I would have no option but to express a strong mark-making sensibility. In a strict digital environment, this has proven more difficult; not because of the implement, but rather the boundless potential it and the accompanying software provides. Fussing over this image, I tell myself, as I have numerous times in the past: "I will simplify". I will "return to my roots", to that of indirect painting. I think finally, having encountered sobering, unified, and wholly detached notes, I am ready to do so.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ice Hags - Sketch

I am back from my first GenCon. I had a great time and ate some good food. I did not see any opportunities for the A la Carte system--but that is exactly what I expected. Hindsight being what it is, I find myself wishing I had taken along Epiphany, Alarond, and Tidewater in my portfolio. Based on the advice and criticisms I was given, perhaps those images would have been better received. Now I know. 

Here is the initial sketch for some Ice Hags which I have laid out in a classic DaVinci triangle. The fat one's hand needs work, along with a few other things.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Appetite of Galamoth - Final

Here is the final for this illustration. I did not quite achieve the sense of scale I was after here, but this still succeeded in other ways that I knew would be difficult.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Appetite of Galamoth - Working

Ordinarily, I would have been done with this illustration days ago. Preparations for GenCon are slowing this image down, but I hope to have it finished before the convention.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Appetite of Galamoth - Sketch

Damsels, strumpets, and witches are always getting tied to poles, chained down, or strung up some other way. I thought I would ignore convention and make my 'in distress' figure a dude. Initially, I had his head turned away from the viewer. Then I realized what a mistake that was. If this were happening to me, I think I'd be looking away, pretending or denying or disbelieving what was about to occur.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tidewater - Final

This is one the first landscapes I have ever done -- digitally or otherwise. It was a challenge and I learned much in the process. I also enjoyed the making of it more than I expected to. I plan to do more eventually.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Epiphany - Final

Here's the midway color step and the final for this illustration. It should come as no surprise that there is no sculpture in all the world I am more anxious to see in person than The Ecstasy of St. Theresa of Avila. I'd walk through the Sistine Chapel blindfolded in order to see that sculpture if I had to.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Epiphany - Sketch


2. an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity.
3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. 

I think maybe I'll put her in red or orange. Maybe green; anything other than white or blue to give this image a more generic religious association.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I did this one all digital, so here's the sketch and the finished piece together. It feels like it went faster because there was no drawing to scan, but I do not think that is correct. I think this took me the same amount of time that it would have if I had drawn it on paper first.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oksana - Final.

Meet Oksana, to date the best face I've ever painted with a Wacom pen.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I had a good bit of trouble getting this figure to work the way I wanted it to. The foreshortening was tough, as were the proportions. I struggled with it for a while, but I eventually got it working the way I intended. Here also is the background to go behind this character.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brandish - Final

Here's the final for my 'Brandish' illustration.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beginning Color process - Brandish

I added in the background and began the color process for this image. It is almost done except for a final rendering of various odds and ends. His feet need work, along with his 'pieces of flare', and the lighting on the hammer. I also need to add in reflected light from behind him.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brandish - Underpainting

This is the underpainting step for this illustration. I tend to work in sepia because it feels familiar, as though I'm working with tangible materials on a real canvas. It is just a value pattern however, and the color can of course (and will) be digitally altered, irrespective of the color 'underneath'.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Brandish - Sketch

I'm done with all the illustrations for the book project I've been working on for the past two years. I counted 96 illustrations (and graphics) for the book in total. It was an enormous task for me, and because of that, much of the artwork was a little rushed. So now, beginning with this character here, I'm slowing things down. I'm fully rendering and taking my time to produce the best possible images I can.

This is Brandish, my first ever D&D character. Fans of Rifts will note where his direct and borrowed inspiration came from. I used to draw this character repeatedly in high school--sometimes with no mask, sometimes with the mask, and with or without the hood. This time around, I wanted to show all of those states at once. His hood is partially off, exposing his rockin' 80's metal band hair, that he is an elf, and the hood all at the same time. I wanted to try to glom all those ideas from high school into one image. I still have the mechanical pencil I used to draw with in high school (more than a decade ago) and this image is being partially drafted with the very same pencil. I still have it! And it still works great.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mesa Falconer - Final

My friends and I have been playing a lot of Magic lately. I could not stop myself from turning this gal into a White rare.

WW(1), Creature - Human Shaman


Whenever you play an Enchantment or Sorcery spell, put a 2/1 White Falcon with Flying into play under your control that has: (tap), sacrifice this creature, It deals damage equal to its power to target creature with converted mana cost 1 or less.

(W): Gain control of target Bird.

What are clouds, but an excuse for the sky? What is life, but an escape from death?
--James Clavell.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mesa Falconer - Underpainting

Here's the underpainting for this one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mesa Falconer

This is the preliminary sketch for the final illustration for my book. I wanted to end with a bang; a large full page, full color artwork.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


UPDATE - 19 MAY 11: I have recently been having the insane idea to redo most of the illustrations for the A la Carte Rulebook. It took me just under two years to write, typeset/design, and illustrate the entire thing. I cut corners on the illustrations though, because if I had not, then I would still be working on it. The problem is that rushing artwork is no way to build a portfolio. It is no way to get noticed, and most of all, it is no way to improve one's craft.

In a way, I have been redoing the illustrations already (for the past 8 or 9 months). However, lately my focus has been entirely on illustration--and I'll worry about how to fit the work I make into the book later, instead of trying to design and plan it specifically around the needs of the book. So I have updated my portfolio, some old chaff was trimmed and I think it should still be fairly evident which pieces are next in line to be excised ...