Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all you wonderful blog readers out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
This is an illustration of a changed Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge and a grateful Tiny Tim that I did for a Christmas card this year. I was pushing it for time, and barely got it sent to the printers in time. But I managed to send several out to friends and family.
Here's a bit of the process I used to create it - I used this project as a chance to
apply what I'd learned from Cory Godbey's "Fox" demo (which I really can't recommend to you enough). I look forward to continuing to explore more digital/traditional techniques in the coming year. Here's a bit of how the project progressed:

 Final drawing, scanned, cleaned up, and levels adjusted.
 Linework adjusted to a warm color, sepia underpainting on the characters.
 Flat color added.
 Adding in some lighter colors.
 Pushing the light and dark colors.
Painted texture applied over the characters with a layer mask.

Texture applied over background.

Color balance layer applied over the background, with local color added to the background elements.
And Finished!


Merry Christmas everybody! Looking forward to sharing some new projects 
with you in the coming year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hobbit Giveaway!

Announcing: The one and only Hobbit Giveaway!

 I am giving away two, (yes two!) brand new Hobbit drawings.
How can you win them you say? Well, all you have to do is enter my drawing! Here are the prizes:

Prize number one:
1 (one) "Riddles in the Dark" original drawing - pencil on bristol


Prize number two:
1 (one) "Forest Goblin" original drawing - pencil on bristol

How to Enter:
There are 2 ways to enter. Here they are:
1. Leave a comment on this post saying something like "I have got to have one of these drawings" or "I hate these drawings but I just like to win stuff - count me in".
Or to make it easy, you could just tell me your favorite character from The Hobbit.
Make sure your comment profile has an email address, so I can contact you!
2. Send me an @mention on Twitter using the hashtag #hobbitgiveaway This way I can see that you want to win something, and all your Twitter friends will know that you are an official member of the Drawing the Sword Fan Club.
The drawing will end on Friday, December 21st 2012 at 11:59PM!
When I finally drag myself out of bed on Saturday, I'll select 2 winners. The first winner will be contacted via email, and they will get to choose their drawing. Then I'll contact the next winner, and they will get the last one. If the first winner does not respond within 12 hours, I'll move on to the next winner.
Good luck! And I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Riddles in the Dark

Riddles in the Dark
pencil on bristol 8.5 x 11"

"Now he drew it out. It shone pale and dim before his eyes.
'So it is an elvish blade too,' he thought; 'and goblins are not very near,
and yet not far enough.' ...
 Now Bilbo was in what is called a tight place." 

Drawing number two in my Hobbit series. Hope you like it. I think I'm getting a little better at this drawing business. I still think I fuss over a great deal too many things that don't need to be fussed over, and ignore quite a few things that need desperate attention. Ah, well. I shall keep pressing on. Until next time, here is an excellent video of J.R.R. Tolkien himself, talking about his Lord of the Rings trilogy (and Hobbits too if I remember correctly. Watch for the 1960's college kids talking about what a Hobbit is, and the red-headed girl who rambles on about the story. You'll know what I mean, you can't miss it. Enjoy! And stay tuned - next week, I'll announce the BIG GIVEAWAY. Don't miss it!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hobbit Month!

"Forest Goblin"
8.5 x 11" pencil on bristol. 2012

In approximately 26 days, Peter Jackson will release to the world his vision of Tolkien's first tale, The Hobbit. I am very excited to see this interpretation (as well as its two proposed sequels), but like many other artists, I have found myself wanting to get down on paper my own unique perspective on the story. For me, the book has a fairy-tale quality that is not seen in the Rings trilogy, and somewhat unfortunately, a quality that I fear will be missing from the film. It is a bit more rosy, full of rich imagery of smoke, firelight, laughter, hearty meals, wine, ale, coffee, seed cakes, maps, keys, gold, dragons, treasure, caves, secrets, and mountains. When I read "the pines were roaring on the heights" in Thorin's song in the opening of the book, I can directly relate that to my own experience with pines in a fierce wind, and it gives me chills. Tolkien & I have experienced the same thing, only in different places and times. So his tale instantly makes an impression on me.

Well, enough of me talking in intellectual circles. I hereby declare the next 26 days to be Hobbit Month here on Drawing the Sword. I'll be posting as many Hobbity sketches and drawings as I can in the next several weeks in anticipation of the film, and in celebration of J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful little tale.

And as an added bonus, toward the end of this 26-ish days, I'll be hosting a Hobbit Giveaway. I'll be giving away one (or maybe more) original sketches to a random winner. More details on that later! Also, if you'd like to join me in doing your own Hobbit-related drawings or artworks, let me know because I'd love to see what you're up to. And if you wouldn't mind sending me a link, I'll feature you here on the blog in a post!

That's all for now! Happy drawing and check back soon for more!


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Illustrator Grows Slowly as a Tree

Great Horned Owl
Prismacolor brown pencil on toned charcoal paper

Hello all. I am here to bring you an update from the frontier! The wild uncharted moors of Illustration Land! It is here that I, the intrepid illustrator, have fought many foes to create images that will inspire and uplift! However, in the recent weeks I have been in a slimy bog known as LIFE. Yes, my friends. It takes hold of you, and drags you away from your paper and pencils and paints and computers. It makes you work hard every day at a job that pays your bills but has nothing to do with making pretty pictures! It makes you sleep for a very long time. It makes you walk around in a groggy stupor saying: where am I? I am not an illustrator. I have never been one. 
And then, to your great astonishment, a large kneaded eraser hits you on the head, and something pops inside of you. You remember that you were made to make art, and you will stop at NOTHING to make more of it. The bog will not hold you! You reach! You Pull! You FIGHT! You shake off the mud, and start running across the moor - anywhere! You must find your work again! You must find some blue sky! You - run right into the phosphorescent Hound of the Baskervilles. GAME OVER.

Yes, friends this is me. The recent weeks have not been kind. Some of you have gone on to read more interesting art blogs. Some of you are ready to tie me to a stake and flail me for not finishing INKtober. Some of you do not care. That is fine. I will now continue to make art. And maybe even some great art. I want to make pictures for people to enjoy. And I will. So stay tuned. I HEREBY RESOLVE that I will make many more pictures, and put many more here. I want this week to be full of blog posts (hopfully not as dull as this). So prepare yourselves for what is to come!
NOW. Enough of this silliness, and on to some IMPORTANT things.

Please help fund The Lamp Post Guild! It's an exciting new learning platform that will teach professional art skills to ANYONE. That means you! And me! And it's a chance for someone who might not be able to afford art school to learn that they can make a living doing Illustration. And it's taught by my 3 favorite illustrators: Justin Gerard, Cory Godbey, and Chris Koelle! WIN.
The project is fully funded, but there are only 56 hours left in the Kickstarter as of this post, so you can still help out and fund some exciting stretch goals, like some new classes to be added to the list! I was the first one to back the project when it went live in October (pats self on back), so I've been taking it very seriously! Thanks in advance for helping out, and even if you can't back it, be sure and check out the courses. If you're even remotely interested in improving your illustration skills then these are most certainly the classes for you.

#2. Fox Demo by Cory Godbey!

     I wanted to quickly turn your attention to a video that I purchased this past weekend (and watched all last weekend). This is Fox, by Cory Godbey, a 1 hour video demo of Cory's digital coloring process that he recently made available on his new digital shop on his blog, lightnightrains. I am not being paid to say this, but let me say it's the best $30 I've spent in a long time. The video is extremely well done, and it's very easy to follow. I have seen Photoshop demos in the past that were insanely confusing (partly because they were so sped up, and partly because the commentary was terrible). NOT SO with Fox. Cory very kindly explains his process, things he finds useful, and encourages you to experiment with what works for you. I think that you will be highly rewarded, as I have for checking this video out. It just might change your approach to how you illustrate. 

And that's all for now. I'll be back very soon.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Inktober Day 22

A daring rescue is made by the members of the Victorian Explorer Society!
(And with the help of some flying friends of course.)
The pirates scatter in confusion, trying to defend their ship.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Inktober Day 21

This poor young lady was a member of another expedition to find the Lost Relic. But when she was captured by the Sky Pirates to interpret their map to the location of the Relic, she refused to help them. Of course, they didn't appreciate this very much, so they decided they didn't really need her help after all. This means a very nasty fall for our poor heroine. I hope someone will come along quickly to rescue her.*

*Someone probably will, I imagine.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inktober Day 20

My! What a lot of little rooms are hidden in that mountain. It must be a secret hideout.
Pirates love hideouts and secrets, so this is pretty much every pirate's dream.
Well, every SKY pirate's dream, that is.
But oh! Wasn't someone about to walk the plank last time? 
Let's hurry and find out what's going on!

Inktober Day 19

And it looks as though someone is about to walk the plank - but no watery grave for them. Something far worse. And what a strange little triangular doorway there below the anchor.
Perhaps next time we will see just what is in that door.
And soon we will see what the fate of the poor soul on the plank will be...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Inktober Day 18

Well, he's a SKY PIRATE, but he looks pretty level headed. However, his cool demeanor probably just masks an evil personality. At any rate, I'm running out of ideas for PIRATES,
and I think it's about time to get some action in here. We'll see.
Oh, and I'm almost caught up. If I can just do a few more drawings tomorrow!!

Inktober Day 17

Another disgustingly cruel and cruelly disgusting SKY PIRATE.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Inktober Day 16

Inktober Day 16

Today, we feature a portrait of a nefarious SKY PIRATE.
If you have made it thus far without vomiting or leaving this page to go look at cute kitten videos on YouTube, I congratulate you. Sky Pirates are not exactly known for hygiene or good looks. It seems as though Sky Pirates also have a taste for ancient relics. And apparently they are determined to get the Relic the V.E.S. is after at any cost.
Tune in next time to learn more about Sky Pirates. Trust me, it's not good.

(P.S. hopefully this weekend I can catch up on some overdue Inktobers, so that I will finally be able to post the correct drawing on the corresponding day. Whew.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inktober Day 15

A pretty fast drawing today. It looked really good in the preliminary sketch, but when I started inking it, I was like "meh". Well, you can't win them all. Hopefully I'll have something cooler to post tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inktober Day 14

Mel the little flying reptile has grown large very quickly by eating all the healthy fruits and nuts in the Peruvian jungle. But all the adventure has given him such a hearty appetite that he wants to share Doc's sandwich as well. Doc is not very pleased with this, as they only packed six sandwiches apiece, and Inca Indians aren't very good at making sandwiches. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Inktober Day 13

Inktober Day 13
They were being followed - by an Inca Chieftan and some of his warriors. 
Of course, the natives want to know what they are doing in their jungle. Overheated and exhausted, Arthur McGuire and his colleagues hope that they can talk the Chieftan into suggesting an easier route. But will the Incas turn out to be friendly? We'll soon see...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inktober Day 12

Inktober Day 12

The Victorian Explorers have no idea why everything is so HUGE in the Peruvian jungle,
but they do have another idea - to try and use this big fellow as a pack animal. 
He's as tall as an elephant! But he's pretty slow, and the V.E.S. have a suspicion that someone
or something is following them...
Maybe we'll see who or what it is soon. Stay tuned!

Inktober Day 11

Inktober Day 11 (a Few Days Late)

Our heroes have found some pretty cool animal life in the dark jungles of Peru!
Like this big friendly bird. Captain Nicholas wants to see if he can saddle-break him. It sounds like a good idea, but I just don't think it's going to work. Besides, they don't have time, they have to
find the Relic!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Inktober Day 10

I've fallen behind a bit on the Inktober posts, but I'm trying to catch up this weekend. This one was a lot of fun - I'm breaking a bit from the narrative of the V.E.S. for now. 
And that black background element is completely ripped off from Jake Parker - at least I'm an honest thief!
The nice thing about Inktober is that for me, it pushes me to come up with something new and solve creative problems every day. If you're like me, that's something you need to do more of. That's why I'm considering doing a creative exercise of some kind every day after Inktober is over. Maybe I'll share it on the blog. More on that later. Until now, I leave you with Mr. Arthur McGuire who uses bombs to blast open ancient vaults (and maybe a few mechanical menaces) to search for treasure.
He'll be on the lookout for more Inktober drawings to post soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Inktober Day 9

After escaping the dragons' flames (and seeing the Wise Librarian to safety) our heroes
return to their own airship to make the voyage to the next stop in their
quest for the Relic: Peru.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Inktober Day 8

 Enraged to find Westerners in his domain, the Khan sends his best 
Dragon Marauders to demolish the mountain Archive.
Their hulking dragons descend from the skies engulfing the slopes in flame and brimstone!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Inktober Day 7

An aged wise man has been guarding many ancient texts and records in his mountain castle.
Among them is the volume that the V.E.S. is looking for - a map to the location
of the relic that they are seeking. We'll see what that relic is soon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Inktober Day 6

Day 6.

And now, our group of heroes, having hired an Asian airship to ferry them to the remote 
Tibetan mountains, embark upon a search for an ancient map that will lead them
to a highly sought relic of a long-forgotten age.
Next time, we will see what that map looks like, and who has guarded it these many long centuries!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Inktober Day 5

This Friendly Flying Reptilian Creature has taken a liking to the members of 
The Victorian Explorer Society (well, all except Doc that is).
They like him too, but of course, they haven't met his parents yet.
I think they'll call him "Mel".

A really fast drawing today. Maybe we'll get a little more creative tomorrow, eh?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Inktober Day 4

Doc - He prefers a straight fight, 
but can use his brains in a pinch!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Inktober Day 3

Day 3! Here a member of the V. E. S. has discovered
a Very Rare Reptilian Flying Creature. It seems friendly enough,
but we haven't met his parents yet!
Also, I'd like to hold a little mini contest - can you help me name the explorer above?
Something old-fashioned and gentlemanly. Leave a comment if you have any ideas!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Inktober Day 2

And now, let's introduce a few of the characters. 
This is Arthur McGuire, adventurer

Monday, October 1, 2012

Inktober Day 1

The journey begins here!
I'll be sharing more information about the project in the coming days.

Meanwhile, go check out my INKtober drawings from last year:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stormcrow - The Wanderer

Stormcrow (The Wanderer)
Pencil on bristol 8.5 x 11"
Gandalf has always been a fascinating character in Tolkien's work. At one point in the Rings trilogy (I believe it's The Two Towers) he is referred to as "Gandalf Stormcrow". It's meant as a derogatory term, suggesting that ill winds and bad tidings blow him to Rohan like a crow, croaking out warnings that Mordor is on the move. In Silmarillion we learn that Gandalf is an angelic being who has taken on the form of a man to help to fight for good in Middle Earth. While I don't always agree with Tolkien's world-view, I have found many excellent truths to surface while reading his books. In this case, my mind goes to this passage from the Holy Bible, Hebrews 13:2 -

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained
angels unawares."   

The ones who mocked Gandalf with this nick-name were soon shown their foolishness by the great wisdom and influence he could offer in time of trouble. The idea for this piece was to show Gandalf in his lonely wanderings, his only friends the crows who seem to mock his steps. But underneath we know that he is ready to bring help and hope to the people of Middle Earth, a true hero who will be influential in the War of the Ring.


The original pencil drawing will be one of the first pieces to be available on my Etsy store when it launches, and I am considering making prints available as well. Stay tuned, I am aiming for a September launch of the store. At least that is the tentative goal. I'll be adding this to the gallery as well. 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Parliament of Owls - Pt. 1: Thumbnails and Color Sketch

For the next several posts, I'll be documenting the creation of my latest illustration "A Parliament of Owls", a scene from C. S. Lewis' book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. This is a project I've wanted to attempt for some time. The goal is to create a finished illustration for each chapter in the book, along with various sketches and drawings which could potentially be used for interior illustrations. My "process" is constantly evolving, but I thought that all my kind readers would benefit from seeing how I work.

Of course, before I start drawing, I'm formulating ideas. This usually accumulates into lots of random doodles, lines and bad ideas on a piece of printer paper or my sketchbook. I read and reread passages of the book to make sure I'm thinking about the character & settings right. It's all about memorizing how I see the scene and getting something on the paper that starts to concrete ideas in my mind. Then to work out the composition of the piece, I do thumbnail sketches. And in this case I did... 3. You should do a lot more than this, just to work out the best ideas. Some people do hundreds. I say that's ridiculous. I did three. I'll probably regret it later, but there you go.

This is where a great tool comes into play...


I often use this tool for creating thumbnails for several reasons. They are as follows:

1. I'm lazy. Too lazy to draw thumbnails on paper (okay, that's not really a good reason)

2. You can add grayscale value to your thumbnails and thus do value studies at the same time.

3. You can use the Lasso tool to quickly select and resize elements of your thumbnail to experiment with various compositions. This is the best reason I use Photoshop for thumbnails, and it saves me from having to redraw stuff over and over.

Okay, so in the sketches above I have limited myself to roughly 3 values - a dark, light and middle tone. I'm sure you fine folks have heard enough else about composition, size, contrast, and all that jazz, so I won't bore you (but if you need help with this stuff, leave me a comment, I'll go over it with you). After establishing basic value relationships, I move on to the next step...

This is a new step for me, but one that I have seen used with a great deal of success from some of my favorite illustrators, and that is the color sketch. This is again an area where Photoshop excels. Color exploration is certainly one of Photoshop's strong points, and you can use it to quickly lay in color, and manipulate it in a myriad of ways. Here, I laid down a layer set to Multiply over a copy of the original thumbnail sketch (#1). Eustace and Jill are in a tower late at night, having just been carried there by Glimfeather, a giant owl, to confer with the rest of the Narnian owls about a secret quest.

Nighttime scenes are difficult because the colors become desaturated and slightly blue. One great way I've found to explore color options for a piece is to paint in a "wild" color that you might not think would go. Then find the colors that complement it - color wheels are a great way to figure this out (but don't use them like a crutch). In this case I painted the whole thing in a deep blue. I wasn't sure what color would work for Jill's cloak, but by working off the color wheel I found that a desaturated reddish brown provided the perfect contrast to make her and Eustace stand out from the dark and shadowy tower and the Parliament of Owls.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that quick overview of this part of the process. Maybe you learned something. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you're ready to go to YouTube and watch cute kitten videos (please don't, go draw something instead). But at any rate maybe this has gotten you started thinking about how you can improve your next painting or drawing. Thanks for reading!

Next time: Character & Finished Sketches!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Act The Miracle - Desiring God Art Contest

"Act The Miracle" 
Photoshop collage 5" x 3.5" 

About a week ago, Desiring God (the ministry of John Piper) announced a graphic design contest to find posters for an upcoming conference on the topic of Sanctification. Thankfully I heard about this just in time to participate, and over the weekend I struggled through a rough start and eventually arrived at the final. The finished image is not exactly what I had originally planned, but I think I managed to convey somewhat of a "quiet struggle" within a man who represents you & me. The best part however, is the fact that there is not a lot of "me" coming through this image. Sure, it's infused with my own design taste and sensibilities, but I get the exciting feeling that God will send a message through this poster that I'm not aware of. Sort of like I didn't put my own message in, but it will speak for itself.
I was very thrilled to have the opportunity to use my artistic abilities to glorify God - the True Creator.

Onward, for His Glory.

 10 or so designs will be selected by the Desiring God team, and will be put up on the DG Facebook page. Voting begins Wednesday, August 15th 2012. If you're on FB, please go check out the gallery and vote (even if my design doesn't make it!). Go show these designers some love.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Drawing the Sword Business Cards!

"Does this mean I'm a professional now?!?"

Today the parcel man dropped (rather loudly, I might add) a pleasant surprise on my doorstep.

My new business cards! I've been wanting to show them to you all since I placed the order, but I figured that I should wait, and let them speak for themselves. And they look fabulous! The online card service I used was top-notch and fast. And the printing quality was excellent, as well as the affordability. If you're interested in getting some cards made up, give them a look;
It's a lot of fun to see your own artwork printed out at higher resolution (hmm, maybe that needs to happen more, more on that later!)

Anyway, I hope to be handing these out rather obnoxiously to everyone I meet and know. So hopefully I'll get to hand you one when I run into you at a con or on the street, or over a caramel macchiato! And of course I'll be including them in any orders I ship out in my hopefully-soon-to-be-opened Etsy Store! I'm still in the process of finding a reliable way of getting prints done and getting the store in working order. I'll also be doing straight-to-print illustrations, and if there is any particular illustration of mine that you like and would want a print of, be sure and let me know in the comments. I want to print stuff that you folks would like to have for your own, so be sure and put your two cents worth in.

Well, that's it for exciting weekend news, and I'll keep you all posted on more developments on the shop, as well as my latest drawing (which I can't wait to show you!!). Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little Bighorn

Just a quick sketch from this evening. Toned drawings are really too much fun.