Monday, July 29, 2013

Winter Dragon: Digital Finish

Winter Dragon - (watercolor & digital, 2013)

At long last, I have finished the Winter Dragon. 
What you see above is the result of close to 120 Photoshop layers, and much wrestling with color, lighting, pixels, adjustments, gremlins, and other adverse entities bent on making the life of a picture-maker total chaos.

It finally came to the point where enough was enough. There is only so much I can do to this image to make it successful. Ultimately, I felt like I was working very hard to offset the effects of a lack of planning in the early stages. This was a very uncomfortable feeling. 

Also, as layer upon layer began to accumulate in my palette, I began to ask myself: "why so many layers? Why is it taking this many layers to get this point across? Why wasn't there more color in the watercolor stage?" and on and on. A simple idea was requiring 20x the effort, layers, thought, and tweaking than it ever should have.

So to sum it up, I feel like in this painting, I won some and I lost some. In some ways it feels like it is succeeding, but in other ways it feels like it falls short of my original idea. But I'm ready to put this one behind me, and move on to bigger, better things.

Or maybe simpler things. If there's one thing this painting has taught me, it's this: Less is, more often than not, more.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Craft of Illustration: Character Studies

I haven't been posting much of my work from The Lamp Post Guild class I've been working through, "Craft of Illustration" taught by Justin Gerard, primarily because it's mostly been rough sketches and thumbnails up to now. But these are some character studies I just finished up to share with the class that I thought I would post here. The scene I'm illustrating is from C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair in which Jill Pole leaves the castle of Cair Paravel sailing through the night sky on the back of an Owl. I'll be sure to post more as I start to finish up the illustration.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Lamp Post Guild

 Just a quick post about some news: I'm thrilled to announce that I was recently asked to be a part of the Lamp Post Guild team! As a Community Manager, I'll be overseeing class forums, answering questions, and helping maintain various social media pages. It is a great honor and a privilege to work with such talented individuals, and I cannot wait to see where this amazing online art school will go next. I would encourage you to check out all of the classes that are available, and consider signing up. The Lamp Post Guild exists to provide an affordable online learning experience that teaches illustrators professional practices and how to be successful at doing what you love - and making a living doing that very thing!
Check out all The Lamp Post Guild has to offer here:
Hope to see you in a class soon!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Birdstaff Monk

Here's a quick sketch that I did last night. Sunday evenings are great for sketching. Anyway, the strange thing about this is how uncharacteristically well it came out. I wasn't really planning it, it just sort of flowed from my brain onto my sketchbook. I started drawing the girl. She turned out okay, but then it sort of felt like she needed a companion of some kind. So, I figured the Monk of the Birdstaff Order could keep her company. Now she can wander through goblin caves all she wants without having to worry about being eaten anymore. Because nobody messes with the Birdstaff and his hipster haircut. Nobody.
I guess that I'm improving somewhat, because I was able to draw the figures and faces directly from my head, without guessing too much. Hands, however, are another story. I need a lot more work to perfect my drawing of hands and faces. And this sketch signals a bit of a different direction for me. I think that I need to start developing more character sketches. I'll be doing a lot of that in the coming week - I have character studies to do for my Lamp Post Guild class. I'll post more about that soon.
Keep drawing!

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Here's a little piece I put together over the July 4th holiday. After all the winter stuff I'd been doing, I thought something a little summery would be nice. Just pencil in the Moleskine and Photoshop. Mostly focusing on tight drawing and good color lately. Trying to expand my Children's Literature portfolio, but really I think I just drew a beardless dwarf growing carrots. I mean look at this guy's legs! Anyway, let me know what you think.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Morning Warmup: Crusader

Here's today's morning warmup sketch of a Crusader from the ol' Moleskine in all its sketchy, unedited glory! (Well, I did adjust the levels a bit. But that's only for the scan, mind you!). Sketching has really been good for me lately. It's just like exercise - when you do it every day, it strengthens your skills, and makes you feel invigorated and ready to tackle the day.

Also, I should note that the recent warmup sketches I've been doing are from photo reference. Just didn't want you to get the idea I'm coming up with this stuff out of my head!

A bit of other news: I'm still trying to finish up my Winter Dragon piece, and it's going good, but still needs a lot of work to pull it to the finish line. Also, today I am doing rough sketches on my Lamp Post Guild piece. I'm doing a scene from Narnia! Looking forward to sharing some preliminaries from that here soon.

And for future reference, I'm going to be shooting for a Mon/Wed/Fri blog post schedule. Not saying I won't miss a post, but that's just to keep me on track!

More art soon!