Starting February 2014 this blog will be out of action.

But DO NOT DESPAIR. We've just moved, and you can still find the same riveting and informative posts that you have come to expect on our new blog:

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Forest Troll Part I: Thumbnails

One of the great things about the worlds that Tolkien creates are the half-mentioned places and events that are going on in the background of Middle Earth. By hinting at them and leaving them a bit mysterious, Tolkien gives the reader a chance to use their imagination and place themselves inside the world and explore it for themselves.

 Many of us, when we read stories like these, like to imagine ourselves there in the background as clever, dangerous warriors, or as powerful wizards and the like. We don't ever just place ourselves in there as hapless serfs who get ordered around a lot and eventually eaten. Or as complete bunglers for that matter.

 Which led me to an idea for a painting that I plan to share with you over the next few weeks as it develops. Here's an initial thumbnail:

 Makes sense right?

 Let me explain: A few months ago, I went mountain biking with a few of my friends. At the beginning of the trail ride my friend Asher listed off the names of the trails we would be on which would lead to which, and I sort of heard, but mostly didn't. We started riding and things were going well until I got myself into a spectacular wreck that involved several roots, 2 large trees, a stream and possibly a rabid squirrel.
 I had been in the rear of our caravan, and my friends hadn't witnessed my mishap (thankfully). While I was glad to be spared the embarrassment of having them see me wipe-out and then ask me if I needed training wheels or a squirrel-proof suit, I was dismayed to realize that I had lost them completely. I put myself back together and kept biking in hopes of eventually catching up with them, but it was no good. They were all experienced master Jedi mountain bikers and I was but a padawan learner. After a while I came to a fork in the trail, but the trail names were unfamiliar. Was it Firetower or Pipsissewa? I know he had said it was one of these trails, but I couldn't remember which one. So I took one at random and got myself randomly lost. 

It occurred to me, while I was out there bewildered and lost, that if this were war, I would probably have just gotten us all killed. Had I gone to war, I would probably have fought very hard, and then died very fast because of something really stupid, like mishearing the coordinates on a map, and getting myself caught by friendly mortar fire.

This image was a result of that. If I were wandering around in the background of Tolkien's world, I'd probably have been a dwarf. Not a legendary warrior, or a powerful orc chieftain or a wizard, but A dwarf whose helmet hadn't been tied quite right, and who got himself and his band into a lot of trouble.

 When I got back from the trail ride, I scribbled this thumbnail down:

This is often what my thumbnails look like, with little notes pointing out important narrative details.

 Over the next few weeks I will be posting up the progress and development of the rest of the piece.  And we'll see if our dwarf can make it out of the mess he has gotten himself into.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let's Draw Warthogs

I have an upcoming illustration project that has warthogs in it. Before I begin, I am taking some time to familiarize myself a little better with these ugdorable creatures.

"I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror, and I ask myself; just how did you get so good looking?"

I often do this before starting on a drawing that has animals or costumes I am unfamiliar with. (The drawings, not wondering how I got so good looking.) I like to do studies from life when I can, or photos when no models are available. 
As I draw from my reference, I try to commit everything I can to memory.  Most of this will happen automatically as you draw. Your brain beings to see certain things as correct and others as incorrect.  

Studies from photos

After you have worked from the photo it is amazing how much information your memory retains. Details you didn't realize you were taking in come back to you as you draw.  

From Memory

The next drawings, done from memory with no reference around, will lack the sharpness and realism of the ones worked from the reference, but they will have a little more personality to them and I usually find them more interesting. 

 Once I feel like I have a decent understanding of my subject I start on the final drawings for my illustration. 

 Warthog Tracker #1

Warthog Tracker #2 

Later on, when I am into the final illustration I will bring out my reference again to fact-check, and make sure I haven't put an extra leg in there somewhere.  My brain is good, but it has been known to trip over itself from time to time.  

Most of this method of handling reference with illustration I blatantly stole from the Disney artists.  On some films, like the Lion King, they would have workshops where they would bring in an actual lion and do life drawings of it before they began work on the film.  It was a very good way of both keeping the personality in the character, while at the same time making sure it is anatomically coherent and believable. 

To see this process clearly outlined and executed, check out Ian McCaig's Visual Storytelling Tutorial from the Gnomon Workshop. It is a really excellent demonstration and has been very influential for me in my approach to using reference.

This article is a re-post from an article on MuddyColors.blogspot.com.  To check out the original article and comments, click here.  

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Christmas Is Coming

So I am selling prints again. I currently have 4 up on my store, including 2 from the St. George Series and one from the AWOL Series.  Check them out here.  

All the prints are giclee on fine art paper and have been individually signed and numbered.

Holiday Bear Delivers Your Packages Safely. 

The sketchbooks however... have sold out. We sold through 200 in 2 weeks. 

And now that I have told that to the world, my family will be expecting absurdly lavish gifts for Christmas.  Like the 14k gold kitten collar and the diamond-encrusted yacht that have recently appeared on their wish lists. 

I am working on getting a second print run together and hopefully will have some in time for Christmas. Until then though, check out the new prints!