Sunday, September 18, 2011

14 Layers later ...

... and I have a new desktop background. I've switched to a new schedule to encourage myself to keep momentum on my various projects. I am shooting for Mondays to be 'illustration days'. Thus, I hope to get more of my staff-wielding dude worked on tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Martial Artist - Grisaille

Now he's been cleaned up, tweaked (adjusted one arm, eyes), cut out, textured and toned.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Martial Artist - Scan

This one's just for fun. He's mirrored backwards from the way I initially drew him and I'm still not sure which way he'll end up.

I have gone back to the drawing board, literally. I am now very confident the work I do is (nearly always) better if I start with a real pencil drawing first. I spent a lot of time and effort investigating entirely digital drawing options in order to reach this conclusion. If I ever get my hands on a Cintiq, maybe things will change. I am skeptical though, I suspect I have put too many hours worth of memory and experience into working with traditional media. I like working big(ger than my scan bed) and while Photoshop's 'photomerge' is amazing, scanning things is still annoying; it still causes distortions too. Also I have to clean them up, cut them out laboriously with the pen tool, and then draw back into them. It's a lot of extra work but I can't deny the final product ends up looking a lot more fresh and more 'real'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eowyn & the Nazgul Challenge - FINAL

This one went right to the eleventh hour. We were given an extra week to complete it, and I ended up needing it--but only because I became unexpectedly busy in the past month. Several obligations have been pulling me in different directions and I nearly ran out of time. It goes without saying that I would have been disappointed if I had been unable to complete this. Challenge, paid work, what-have-you, I hope never to miss a deadline.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to the drawing board... er monitor

I just bought a new Bravia, it's more modestly sized than most others I encounter but I measured my desk and it fits perfectly. My desk has a height restraint--due to a lintel type shelf that is meant to hold a printer, scanner, or what-have-you--and the TV could squeak right in. I am not currently using it as a PC monitor, but that future exists if I ever get a windfall; I hope it's not too hard on the eyes when sitting that close because the thought of painting in Photoshop on such a giant screen seems like a ton of fun.

Oh, also, I got discouraged and started over with Eowyn and the Nazgul.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'Eowyn & the Nazgul Challenge' - Sketch

A new challenge is already up over at, which I have lately been exploiting as an outlet to build my portfolio. The current challenge is to make an image of the classic battle between Eowyn and the Witch-King of Angmar from Tolkien's The Return of the King. I grabbed my copy, which I just re-read for the third time last year, and thumbed straight to The Battle of the Pelennor Fields; I was surprised how quickly that chapter gets right down to it--Dernhelm's victory over the lord of the nine. Can you tell I'm really excited to be working on this? It's something I had always meant to do anyways. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

'Ultimate Fighter Challenge' - Reprise, FINAL

At first I was overworking this and I began to worry I was going to lose control of it. Then I just kept working and I think there was a 360 at some point--a rotation past overwork and back to 'just right' again. I'm calling this a milestone because I have lately made 'light' the focus of my digital painting efforts.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'Ultimate Fighter Challenge' - Reprise, Working

Here is a work-in-progress picture of my second take for the Ultimate Fighter challenge.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

'Ultimate Fighter Challenge' - Final

I have finished my 'Ultimate Fighter' illustration. I am going to attempt a second entry for this contest as well.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Ultimate Fighter Challenge' - Process

I was pleased to see a new Art Order challenge posted almost immediately after the deadline for the Segmentation challenge. I like these challenges a great deal because they are helping me build a portfolio of work that isn't entirely directed by my own energy--and thus the work I am making is more reflective of what real work will be like. My confidence in my ability is absolute at this point and I believe real work is now only a matter of time.

I have been so hard at work that I've been remiss in posting updates. This latest challenge is to be a "beauty shot" of the "ultimate badass". But "something fresh" was also requested. I thought long and hard on this. Free of context, or the very loose context of the 'sword and sorcery' genre present at, the question of what shape the ultimate badass should take was daunting to me. My mind strayed to many places: vikings filing their teeth, Kratos, samurai, Conan, and Tony Jaa to name a few. Elric was created as an anti-hero as a reaction to Conan and that was over 30 years ago; that idea too is essentially cliche at this point. This first idea is more in the Conan vein but with the idea that this guy has traveled to strange foreign lands, met interesting people, and killed them all. I still need to fix the pommel on his sword and tone down the texture on the armor, and lots of other things...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I added the reflection...

It was 'easier' than I thought, but if it is to be a success, is largely not for me to decide.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

'Segmentation Challenge' - FINAL

Beholders have a host killer rays which issue from their various 'eye-stalks' and since the art order gave no direction, I chose the disintegration ray. At the outset of this illustration, the plan was to have the warrior's face reflected in the sword blade to show her fright and dismay at so narrow an escape with death.  Once I started working on the Beholder in earnest, though, I realized she should instead be reflected in the creature's main eye. That was a better decision from both a story-telling and compositional perspective. I've run out of time, however, and that is a challenge so daunting that even if I am capable of it, I simply don't think I have enough time available.

This work has enough going on with it that I am not too upset over the missed chance for the eye reflection. There are, I think, a few second and third 'reads' to wander to. My girlfriend called the mouth 'lewd'--and that was the intention. I put an eye on the tongue, and also gave the creature nostrils; two things I've not seen done before. Again, my girlfriend was quick to point out that beholder-iffic creature from Big Trouble in Little China had an eye in it's mouth. Perhaps that's where I got the idea from. Finally, I could not have done all these eyes without looking to the inspirational work of Izzy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

'Segmentation Challenge' - Color process

I am trying to do this illustration with more of a sense of procedure than I have used in the past. There are some best practice type things I want to get better at doing such as saving any brushes I create and using an indexed color table. This time I did save my brushes (used to lay the groundwork for the tree canopy in the background) and made a color table. The color table really helped and I need to remember to use them more often.

Despite the custom brushes, I am like most digital artists (based on what I read online), I am perfectly content with only 2 or 3 brushes--generally the simpler the better.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Segmentation Challenge' - Grisaille (Working)

I'm doing this the old fashioned way, with the mantra my father taught me: light to dark, transparent to opaque. It looks a bit dark now, but the miracle of Photoshop will correct that as the process goes on. I can't wait to do the finishing touches though; the Beholder's disintegrating ray! It is so sad that I could not find that episode on Youtube.  That Duck Dodgers bit was easily one of my all time favorites.

Monday, March 7, 2011

'Segmentation Challenge' - Thumbnail and Sketch

I've been making attempts to make my digital art more 'comic' (as in sequential art, not humor) for a while now. I am not after the linearity of an 'inked' look, but rather the saturation, contrast, and POV that comes to mind when one thinks of comic books. This segmentation challenge from Art Order is only a push in the same direction for me. My target audience, per the challenge, will be the 18-24 crowd.

I went through three different orientations for the figure in Photoshop and liked this one the best; it's the most dynamic and I always enjoy the look and challenge of dramatic foreshortening. The down-n-front posterior will eventually be covered by the scalemail as dictated by the art order of the challenge. Also, this is the first Beholder I've ever drawn--it was quite a bit of fun.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Dragon in the Opera House - FINAL

At last, I have finished this piece. It bears my new, 2011 digital signature. It feels odd that the first one should be in March, but I have been busy with a new job (as previously indicated). This is one of those artworks that kind of got away from me. I felt I had to rescue it from myself. Also, this is the first time I've attempted to create the Tyndall effect in an artwork, digital or otherwise. I am done just in time, too, there's a new ArtOrder challenge up.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I can sketch again!

I was crestfallen to learn, after spending more than a week re-tuning my new OS install to run just so, that my Intuos 3 driver was not playing nice with Windows 7. 

Recently, I ruined my XP install with only two swift selections. In a nutshell, and without going into too much detail, I accidentally told my computer to forget which drive XP was installed on (and to never be able to remember). Of course I hadn't realized this mistake until I was greeted with a complete inability to rebuild my boot sector. While this might make me seem like a dunce who doesn't know what he's doing, the circumstances that created this mess for me are more complicated than you might expect. I am a dunce who marginally knows what he's doing.

So I decided to make the switch to Windows 7, rather than re-install a ten year old OS for the fourth or fifth time. Everything was working brilliantly; until I attempted to use my pen in Photoshop. The stroke would at random, and very frequently, lose all sensitivity and make a full-force line. It was completely unworkable, especially if you know anything about history states in Ps. I'm really glad I found a fix. I list it here in the very off chance someone else who has the same problem is ever reading this. I had to rollback the driver to 6.15.

So, all problems have been ironed out. I lost about two weeks to these and other problems but I am back to work now!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Change of schedule.

My schedule has changed again and it has freed up my time so that I can get back to my work. Lately I've been messing around with Sculptris by Pixologic. As you can see in the picture, they also make a program called ZBrush which, in addition to being a standard in the movie and game industry, is a program I covet for no real practical reason.

I'm very impressed that a program like Sculptris exists for free, though I admit being restricted to 'spheres' and 'planes' is frustrating. Maybe I'll have to give Blender a shot. Also, Sculptris can import wavefront .obj files which I'm guessing is like 70% of the battle.

This week I think I can finally finish my slumbering dragon...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some work slows, other work speeds up.

I am still adjusting to strange hours at a new job. These hours split my day up in an awkward way and I am finding it difficult to secure the chunks of time needed to get some serious illustration under way (namely, finishing my dragon). Experiments with my schedule will continue next week, but posts will likely be rarer for the next few months.