Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sketch Dailies: Muppets!


Yesterday's topic on Sketch Dailies was your Favorite Muppet. Mine is Fozzie. I love the way he enjoys what he does, and continues to work to make people laugh (even if he is unsuccessful most of the time!). Instead of doing "Fozzie and Kermit as _______ (insert favorite book/movie character)" I gave it some thought and wondered what Kermit & Fozzie's daily routine would look like when they weren't working on the Muppet Show or a movie. So I decided to portray them sharing breakfast at a café with Fozzie hogging the comics and reading them aloud much to Kermit's chagrin. Of course, he's stuck with the business reports and obituaries.

Inking was with Micron pens in my Moleskine, then scanned and colored digitally. My style has been going through major swings lately. Trying not to worry about it a whole lot, but I am going to focus more in the future on developing a more consistent method of working.

Well, more soon, but until then, "Wakka wakka!"

-Will

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black Chow - Charcoal Study


Today was a pretty difficult day. Just a lot of discouragement. In life, it's easy to lose your perspective and focus on things that don't particularly matter. Today was one of those days for me. I'm in the middle of a season of life where I am trying to find my direction as an artist. The danger in knowing what you want to do as an artist is the fact that you think it will come instantly. Of course,
that's never the case. What you will achieve will be the result of hard work and perseverance. 
So on days like today, when the art doesn't flow as freely out of my brain, my first reaction is to assume that I won't make it because a particular drawing isn't working. But that of course is nonsense. 

Sometimes you just need to reorder your priorities. And don't quit or give up just because it's not easy! There's something to be said for taking a break, but don't use that as an excuse to not work hard.
So, after some false starts, I finally knocked out this little drawing, and everything was okay again in Will's illustration world. (Haha).

Here is a study of a black chow for an illustration that I'm doing for an upcoming book project. Did this one in charcoal in my Moleskine sketchbook. I've been using charcoal more lately because I like the ease with which it creates deeper values, and the softness of the application.
Animals are so much fun to draw! It seems like every time I draw one I enjoy it immensely. ADs! Hire me to do your animal projects! ;)

And finally, I thought I would share this album with you. I've played it twice today, and it really was fantastic. I've never been a huge fan of Beck, but this latest album is great music to create to. Give it a listen:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sketch Dailies: "Selfie"


Today's Sketch Dailies topic was "Selfie". I chose to do a portrait in the style of Hergé, the creator of the Belgian comics series "Tintin". His work has a very flat, linear quality. I adored his books as a kid, and still do.

I completed this 100% digitally in Photoshop (CS6! Yay, I upgraded!) and the background is a scan from a vintage Childcraft book.

Be sure and pick up a Tintin book and read it sometime! You won't be sorry. Here, see for yourself: http://us.tintin.com/

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Sketch


At the risk of posting too much, and exposing myself to ridicule, here is a recent sketch I did.

I really want to start doing a drawing every day. To improve my overall drawing ability, especially in the area of figures, faces & hands. Of course, my lazy human self would rather gaze into an unending Twitter feed, or go eat junk food. But if I can manage to pull myself away from all the dreadful distractions of this modern era we live in, I sometimes manage to do something half decent in my sketchbook.

It had been far too long (shamefully) since I drew a portrait from photo reference. So I felt pretty rusty and (full disclosure) I stretched this one out over a couple of days. I would come back and adjust things here and there. Overall I liked it. Still not sure about that left eye though...

And if you're wondering why this thing isn't COMPLETELY RENDERED, then I'll refer you to my friend and colleague the great Mr. Gregory Manchess: "On Knowing When to Stop"

Hope to post more Daily Drawings in the future!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pecos Bill: Comic Book Cover Process



Right after Christmas I was invited to contribute a variant cover to the Pecos Bill kid's comic book series created by Brian DuPont. Brian's Pecos Bill series explores the possibility that the legendary Pecos Bill lived throughout the centuries, and still has tall-tale adventures in the modern era. Throw in a steam-powered jet-pack named Widowmaker (created by inventor Nikola Tesla), and you have a pretty exciting adventure series.

The idea really appealed to me, so I went to work on a cover for Issue #3. The style I ended up with was a lot different than the work I usually do, but I was pleased with the finished product. I painted it from start to finish entirely in Photoshop.

Here are some progress shots to give you a small taste of the way this thing was put together:

I started out with a really tiny thumbnail sketch or two, and a digital color comp (that's pretty important in any color work I do. Really serves as a guide when I go into the painting stage).


The linework, completed digitally. This was a new step for me, but digital comic art linework is actually pretty great, especially if you have a brush that has a bit of variance and texture in it to simulate a real pen. I used one from this set by Shaun Bryant: https://gumroad.com/shaunbryant 


This is a pretty big jump from the last image, but hopefully you sort of get the idea. I start out with painting large areas of flat color. Then I use those areas as selections in order to paint details, more color, and texture over the flat color. The background is made up of some gradients, spatter brushes (for stars) and hand-painted comets! (soft brush+texture brush for tail). Nothing fancy!

So there you have it! I had to complete the entire piece in about 3 weeks in order to meet the deadline, so that was a challenge. I look forward to exploring comics further in the future. 

In the meantime, consider contributing to Brian's Kickstarter campaign - you can receive a print copy of my cover if you donate a little more! Check out the campaign here: 


And you can learn more about Brian and his comics here: 


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fisherman's Song


As you may recall, last year I completed a new series of four new drawings to add to my portfolio. These were also included in the sketchbook "Drawing the Sword" which I also released last year. As part of that effort, I began coloring these pieces digitally. This was the only one I completed, but I really enjoyed the process, and I love the way the colors came out on it. I also submitted this piece, along with my Winter Dragon piece to the Spectrum Annual this year. It was my first submission to the publication.



Above is a bit of the progress that took it from basic idea to finished drawing. Unfortunately I don't have any WIP shots of the coloring process, but basically it involved large areas of flat color, then working my way up to the highlights and details with some various color adjustment layers over the finished color.

I wanted to convey sort of a carefree summer feeling with this piece. My brothers and I spent countless summer days exploring creeks and woods together when I was a kid. It's good to get out and explore your world. It makes you feel truly alive. That's what this Fisherman is up to with his turtle friend. They're just out there to enjoy the fresh air and to have a good time with each other!

Hope you like it!

-Will

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sketch Dailies: Sherlock


Hi everyone! It's been too long since my last blog post, so I apologize. Here is a quick thirty minute sketch I did today for "Sketch Dailies", a sketch challenge over on Twitter. Sherlock Holmes has long been a favorite of mine. I love A. Conan Doyle's stories, and I have several different volumes of Holmes' adventures. I will occasionally break them out and dive into the London Fog along with the sleuth and the ever faithful Dr. Watson (preferably on rainy, windy nights like tonight!) Anyway, this was just a super fast drawing in my sketchbook with some Photoshop icing on top. Also, you'd be surprised how much contrast and mood you can get using only 3 colors...

In other news, I've been working on projects that I haven't had time to post about (more soon maybe?). I just completed a variant comic book cover for an indie comic artist, which was a lot of fun. I'm in negotiations to begin illustrating a collection of short stories for a local author. I'll be doing some interior illustrations along with a full-color cover. It's going to be a bit time-consuming, and the deadline is in April, so I'm eager to get started soon. 

And finally, I submitted to Spectrum for the first time! It's doubtful that I'll be accepted into the annual book, but the act of submitting was a big deal for me. I submitted two pieces that I did last year. I'll keep you posted on any news about that.

Okay! Well, glad you stopped by! Hope to have more art up soon. Now, back to painting! 

Cheers,

-Will

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bird of Paradise - Experiment in Gouache

A quick color experiment in gouache from the other night. Didn't have a specific purpose in mind for this one, except to try out the new gouache set I got for Christmas! I absolutely love gouache. I think I'll be using it much more in the future. It's easy to achieve bold color with, and you can work in some cool textural effects. However, this style is certainly not original to me, and I don't know if it's a style I really have any business working in. Anyway, what do you think?

In other news I visited this amazing Donato Giancola exhibit in Huntsville, AL today. It was terrific, and I couldn't believe how nearby an exhibit of this caliber was! It was definitely worth the trip. If you're going to be in or around Huntsville before January 19th, be sure and check it out.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Year, and a New Outlook


This week has been filled with introspection and self-evaluation. I imagine you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who's week hasn't been filled with introspection and self-evaluation, but I guess that's beside the point. What I'm really getting at is that although last year was a huge year for me in artistic growth and progress, I feel like I have a huge amount to learn before I can even begin to do illustration for a living.


In 2013 I completed my first-ever printed sketchbook. It was a big accomplishment for me. As a project, it was primarily a study in conceiving and executing a project from start to finish. I was thrilled to have a printed collection of my drawings in hand. It made me realize that seeing my work in print is one of the things that really makes me happy. Just the fact that my pictures are getting out into the hands of people and making them happy was a huge accomplishment to me.


That being said, there were many things about the project that felt hurried. While the drawings represented my personal voice as an artist, there were still elements about the drawings that felt forced. Areas of skill that still feel shaky. Foundation work needed where there was none. Now I'm not saying this to completely shoot down my Sketchbook. But I want to make it clear that although it was a great accomplishment for me personally, I think it was a wee bit... premature.


In recent years, I've been forcing myself to create finished pieces. Planning full-scale works has been beneficial, but all too often I've found myself working through a piece and figuring out the basics as I go, simply hoping to come through at the end with a good piece.

What I find lacking in my work is mainly due to the absence of regular practice. Meaning, every time I do a finished painting, I realize that there are things that I am inexperienced at that are contributing to the difficulty of the piece. A finished painting is not the place to learn anatomy or color theory. Yes, I will come out of that piece knowing more about it, but I will actually be doing myself a disservice by putting pressure on myself to perform without rehearsing.


So, I feel like the last week has given me an opportunity to reflect and identify needs in my whole approach to art-making. While I still feel like I need to be creating new pieces, and building my portfolio, I definitely need to spend much more time improving my skills along the way.

Since I am primarily self-taught, it is up to me to find the best ways to practice skills like proper use of color, anatomy, image composition, and new materials and techniques. My question is: how can I consistently maintain a habit of practice in these areas? What are specific ways I can bring my work up to a standard that I'm pleased with?

I intend to start answering some of these questions myself, but I think I'll be also reaching out to other illustrators, art directors and you for answers! What are some ways you commit to daily practice? What skills do you find essential in your own work? Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook. I'm interested in hearing your ideas for goals and ideas for making 2014 the most productive year for illustration that we can!

As always, Onward and Upward, and I wish you all the best in your New Year!

-Will

________________________________

And finally: I offer these brief articles that I read today relating to this topic of New Year's goal-setting, improvement, and resolutions that I greatly enjoyed and benefited from. I hope you will too.

http://skinnyartist.com/some-is-better-than-none/ - A great article on using your time wisely to accomplish your artistic goals.

https://medium.com/p/1fc47dd4141 - "Do and Do Not" A pragmatic method for self-improvement by Lamp Post Guild co-founder Mark Johnson

http://eca-la.com/blog/23/12/2013/whats-in-store-for-2014 - Mike Yamada & Victoria Ying - I recently discovered their art and their informative blog. They are committing to teaching and mentoring through podcasts, blog articles, and Q&A's this year, and their theme is helping artists maintain their New Year's Resolutions.




Monday, December 23, 2013

Carolers Process: Finish! (And a Merry Christmas to All of You!)

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Here we are - the final! 
When we left off last post, I had just begun adding color to the painted elements that I had composed in the image. Now, many layers later, I've arrived at my finished piece. The basic process is just a lot of tweaking, color choices, adjustment layers (Overlay for the light areas) and texture brushes.

I hope it looks okay here on the web - I had some issues making sure that the color translated well to the web version (I painted it in CMYK, so I ended up exporting it as a PNG to make sure all the color information was intact.) I really enjoyed exploring this new method of working, and to be honest, I've learned a lot with this painting, and you'll be seeing much more of this process from now on!
 I'm really excited about this piece, and I look forward to exploring new territory in the New Year.


  So, I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases. I'm thankful for all of you and for this great gift of Illustration that we can share with each other!

 

PS: Today I opened my mailbox to find a lovely gift from illustrator Joe Sutphin! Inside were these beautiful signed prints and a kind note. Joe is a fantastic illustrator, and if you aren't familiar with his work, be sure and check it out here: http://joesutphin.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Carolers Process Part II: Digital Composition & Coloring

 Hey guys! So, I haven't had a lot of time to work on this piece since the last time I posted, but I made sure to take some WIP shots of the compilation stage. Basically, I'm painting elements of the image separately, and then compiling them into a composition that I am happy with. 
 So, let's jump into it!

In the image above, I've scanned in a page of painted elements. They were all done in watercolor. After I scan these into the computer, I open the image in Photoshop where I convert it to black & white (or, Image > Adjustments > Black & White). Then I adjust the Levels until I have mostly black and a completely white background. In the images here, I actually made my levels too grey, which forced me to go back and re-do a lot of my work because the grey areas became transparent. (more on that later).
Also, note the cluttered desktop, and the Cory Godbey desktop background :)

Now I'm ready to copy everything to its own layer!

 This is a slow process. It's a good idea to have some music on to keep you motivated! (I've been enjoying the new Sigur Rós album, some Christmas music, whatever helps me work!) At this stage, I use the Lasso tool to select the element I want. I then Command + click on the RGB Channels in the Channels palette. I then invert the selection (Shift+Command+I) and make a new Layer. I then fill the selection with Black (Alt+Delete). After all this is done, I select all and copy to a new layer in my painting, and then place the new layer on Transparency Lock (it's a little button on the layer palette).
This might sound like a complicated process, but it doesn't take too long when you get it committed to memory.

Now all the elements are ready to be re-sized and moved into position.

Now that each of my elements are on their own layer and on transparency lock, I can start arranging them into a pleasing composition. This step seemed to take the longest. During the process I referred to my rough sketch frequently to make sure things were where I wanted them. Also, you'll notice that everything is a bit too transparent. That's because I didn't get the blacks dark enough in the previous Levels stage. That's important! But you can see that I'm starting to lay out the scene like I want it.

Since my layers are on Transparency Lock, this means I can color them however I want without having to do any complicated selections, so everything stays neat and tidy. At this stage, I'm just laying down basic colors. I've also discovered how to make some decent texture brushes, which I'll be using to add more color and texture to the final image. The characters are being colored here with just a flat color layer underneath the line work.

____________________
So that's about it for this stage! My goal is to have this image finished by next Wednesday, so watch this space for the final image soon. Let me know if this tutorial-type stuff is interesting to you. I want to try to give you all a glimpse into what I'm learning in hope that you'll in turn learn something as well.

And finally, I want to thank Chuck Groenink for his kind advice that he's given me personally and through his blog. I have been very inspired by his work lately, along with many others. The new methods of working I've been experimenting with are largely influenced by his paintings. Be sure and check out his work here: http://cargocollective.com/greenink

Next Time: Final Color & Texture!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Carolers Process Part I: Thumbnails & Drawing

 
Here's a new personal piece I'm working on. I'm going to be chronicling the new methods that I'm trying out lately here on the blog, so I hope you'll enjoy following along as I get this one put together!

For this first stage, I started with a very quick thumbnail. I had one idea in my head, and it worked pretty good in the first sketch, so I went with it. I scanned this sketch into Photoshop, where I hastily added some values on top of it. This is what I'm referencing mainly as I work on the image.




On this piece, I'm going to be creating the image with separate "parts". So instead of just putting all the line work down in one drawing, then painting it, I'm painting and drawing elements of the whole image separately so I can rearrange and edit the final piece in Photoshop.

I did each of these main character drawings in about 40 minutes.



For the next stage I'll be scanning these into Photoshop, 
adjusting levels, and separating the line work!


Next Time:  Painting, Compiling and Adjusting!