Friday, December 30, 2011

Vampire Girl

Here's a spontaneous doodle that I put together in about two hours tonight, as a distraction from other stuff I should be doing. I started it as a straight-to-Photoshop sketch on a toned background, using a layer of black lines and a layer of highlights/washes. Flattened after a while, then used some color overlays to bring the figure forward more, and a chalky halo to push her further out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And Also a Dragon

I'm not sure if this is the final draft, but I thought I'd share.

This came out of a quick warmup sketch that turned into a full-blown painting before I knew what was happening. About 6 hours over two nights. I wanted to create a classic dragon, ruthlessly evil, winged, and generally unpleasant. And with articulate hands. Dragons need hands.

The sketch started very rough. I then tried to exaggerate the original stance I'd drawn by placing the legs further apart, suggesting weight. Some highlighting and deepening of shadows came next. I also refined the neck, making it a bit more sinuous, and elaborated on the back foot.

The piece up until now had been created on a few layers: one for the darks, and another for the highlights, all against a textured paper background. I've been using a method whereby I draw on an Adjustment Layer mask, so the line art is revealing a color beneath. It's an easy way to adjust the color of the line art on the fly.

At this point, I placed a weird orange to turquoise color gradient below the line art, again in an Adjustment Layer. This allowed me to tweak the gradient in real-time, and see the results as I adjusted. When I got some colors I liked, I started painting in opaque layers on top of the whole deal, eventually flattening everything and adding more layers on top as I refined areas like the head, wings, claws and flames.

For most of the picture, I used a textured brush that I got from somewhere -- most likely an IFX disk. I was paying attention to focus in this one, hence the brushy areas juxtaposed against the detailed ones.And I tried to really nail down three distinct light sources: the ambient greenish sky lighting, the uplight from the flames, and an unlikely but effective spotlight directly above the dragon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Steampunque Project

 A little while back I was contacted by the creator of a great little iPhone app called StampArtFever. The concept is essentially digital stamp collecting, allowing users to buy, swap for, bid on, and hunt down rare stamps to complete sets created by a single artist. Many of the stamps are lovely, using artwork either commissioned or leased by the game's creator, which makes the game a real treat.

So I was pretty excited when he contacted me and tapped me to do a few pieces based in the steampunk world of The Robber Baron painting I did a while back. I already had a few characters floating around in my cranium, so it was with great pleasure that I took up my stylus and got cracking.

The Tinker.
Here's a preview of one of the characters, The Tinker.

Nailing down a design for this dude was tough. The other three characters arrived pretty quickly, but this guy took a while. I knew I wanted someone who wasn't particularly heroic -- really just a professorial guy who makes cool gadgets for the government, and has since gone on the lam.

I eventually got some solid line art down for the pose and face, with a few suggestions of the gun and shoulder piece. After that I did a lot of slow form-finding for the equipment by scribbling in and erasing out until things started to happen. From there I started building up washes of color and solidifying the forms.

I'll try to post a few more updates as things progress, but in the meantime, check out StampArtFever. It's free for the iPhone/iPod, or a whopping 99 cents for the hi-def iPad version.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Marker Brush

I should be less random about posting here. Alas!

Taking inspiration from Bobby Chiu's recent Fairy Tales Reimagined contest, I started up a new project. I'd had a few ideas rattling around for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as a classic D&D adventuring party, with each one taking on a distinctive character class. I'd already gotten some ideas down for Snow White herself (as a ranger, since she's like friend to all the animals) but needed to generate some dwarves quickly. So I cranked out a few thumbnails using my new brush.

I dig this new brush. And it's so simple. It's basically just a square brush tweaked to work like a design marker. (Opacity 15%; Shape Dynamics- Size Jitter: Pen Pressure, 34% minimum diameter; Angle Jitter: Direction; Smoothing on.)

Working fast and loose in black & white over a simple gray textured background, I've gotten some results I really like. The tones build up nice and slow with those settings, and the rough squareness of the brush keeps me from getting too fussy early on. It's all about blocking in shape and tone, without stressing over details too much.

I took the Druid guy and worked him up more, again starting with the marker brush, just with a much larger canvas size. After a while, I began to refine with some more traditional brushes. There's a lot of tonal layering going on, working up shapes and slowly refining, which seems to be working out well for me. There seems to be something about the very quick and gestural start, followed by a slow, methodical period of refinement that seems to suit me well so far.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Stuff I've Been Working On

Here are some things I've been noodling away at lately.
Fog Giants

These guys are Fog Giants, which are really stupid and very primitive giants. I liked the idea of making them look like inbreds, so I gave them small craniums and gawping mouths. I also tried to keep the color scheme very cool to underscore the foggy, damp environment.
I used some new brushes here, including a nice spatter brush and a great cloud brush, both of which I grabbed from last month's ImagineFX.


Francis O'Furious

This chap is Francis O'Furious. He's my friend's character, and is a simple-minded, vain heroic type. This was a lot of fun to work on because I'm very familiar with the character.
I worked this one up from a very rough sketch in Photoshop on a blue background. I hunted down a lot of reference for his sword and armor, and slowly pulled together the background from photos. What's there now is actually just for placement -- I don't feel right about using photographic overlays like that. But I am into that pink and blue-grey background. It's an unusual color scheme for me, but the serene quality of it offsets the figure nicely.
I've still got a bit of work to do, refining the textures, detailing the shield and face, and bringing up another level of finish to it. But I'm digging it so far.

Bee Haga, the Dark Queen

Finally, I've got this one going on. A friend of mine dreamed up this character from another piece I did last year, and when he told me about her, I wanted to redo her design.
She's half-hag, half-nymph, and a mysterious and powerful sorceress. As I was sketching her out, I began to realize I didn't have anything to tip off the viewer that she's a freaky abberration. So I started exaggerating her hands, eventually turning them into nasty claws. Then for extra horror, I painted them all blood-splattery. I figure that's a permanent condition -- a mark of her night hag heritage.
I got the idea for her headdress from looking at lampshades and umbrellas, and just added those big ol' stars for fun. It evolved from a simpler shape, but I added those spikes to improve the silhouette. I further enhanced that by doing what James Gurney refers to as "flagging the head." You call attention to the all-important face & head by offsetting it against a stark background shape or color, or by lightening the color behind it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some Sketches From End of 2010

Sketch dump!
Website logo ideas. It was a tough call.


Thumbnail for berserker.

Three adventurers.

Two chicks hangin' out.

Some amazon attempts.

Some sketches for a painting I've yet to start. Plus Santa.

A couple of landscapes from my head.

Spear dude.

Working out a pose & costume for a painting.

Tree sketch from last summer up the mountain from Woodstock.

Some folks.

My son's work, actually.

My daughter checking out the snow.