Thursday, October 24, 2013

Zombie Fatigue

Just in time for Halloween, I finished this one today. It’s pretty much a metaphor for how I feel about the zombie genre overall. I think the moment I saw the trailer for the film Warm Bodies was when I decided that the whole zombie thing had gotten out of hand (I don’t suppose it bothered anyone that the protagonist’s status as a zombie technically made his love interest a necrophiliac, but whatever). Hopefully this illustration gets across the idea of the saturation of zombies in pop culture leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed or just tired of the whole damn thing.

As a side note, and to crystallize that jaded feeling, I finally saw the movie World War Z. I resisted for a long time, because the trailer looked like an utterly disappointing departure from the book. If you read the paperback, you’ll find my artwork inside the front cover. It was the first time my artwork saw a major publication, so needless to say I have a particular attachment to Max Brooks’ source material. I thought the movie was sterile, PG-13 garbage. Absolute drivel. I didn’t expect it to be 100% faithful to the book, but a zombie movie should at least have its share of blood and gore. When the hero brains a zombie with the curved end of a crowbar, not only do we see it off-camera, but he dislodges the weapon and we see there’s not a drop of blood on it. I audibly yelled “Oh, bullshit!” to my empty apartment. I almost didn’t make it through the entire film. I didn’t care about any of these characters, least of all the protagonist (fabulous scarf, by the way). I didn't care if he made it back to his family, or if his family even survived.

Perhaps one day they’ll do justice to the book and call do-over, making it into a miniseries (the scope is just too vast for even a 3-hour movie), but for now I think I’m just over zombies.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Zombie Fatigue - line art finished (mostly)

Christ, the line art took forever on this one.

Drawing crowds is difficult, especially if you want to maintain any level of detail in the faces and clothing. That’s the problem I ran into with this one; it took a long time to finish the line art. I also incorporated several faculty and students from the Illustration Master Class, which meant I had to at least try to capture their likenesses as best as I could. Again, quite difficult because I don’t exactly have a lot of photographic reference of my colleagues shuffling around slack-jawed from an overhead angle. But I’m a sucker for detail, and have always been a fan of Geof Darrow’s work. That said, an entire urban landscape with buildings and hundreds of windows would have been easier; geometric perspective is all you need for that.

At any rate, I’m ready to start coloring this. I realize there are a couple of places that need some fixing, and some legs that need to be drawn, and perhaps a few embellishments, but I’ll get to that. The good news is that the hard part is mostly finished; this thing is going to be a snap to color.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Inktober - Scout Mech

Well, this one didn't take nearly as long as Saturday's portrait. Just a concept sketch of a scout mech.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Inktober - Olenna Tyrell

I might be a few days late for Inktober, but here's my first offering. A slightly caricaturized portrait of Olenna Tyrell (played by Diana Rigg), one of my favorite characters from Game of Thrones. They gave her a lot more personality and attention in the show than she received in the books.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Stop, Drop, and Draw.

The other day I was stuck at work, making last-minute revisions for a client until about 7:00. After sitting in front of a computer screen all day I needed some fresh air. I just started walking the trail behind the vet med college and noticed this big electrical substation (if that's what you call it; help me out, engineers) that I had never really looked at before. It was magic hour, so the sun was casting interesting shadows on all the equipment. I suddenly got inspired.

I'm interested in making concept art, so what I've been doing for many years was take photos of stuff like this to save for later reference. However, what invariably happens is I take my camera home, copy files to my assets folder, and there they sit, almost never to be looked at again. This day I decided to try something different.

So I sat down on the grass, took out my moleskine, and started drawing this thing, whatever it is. I found as I completed the sketch I got so much more out of it than if I had taken a photo and moved on. The process of spending a half hour drawing this object helped imprint the shapes and connections onto my brain in ways that snapping a quick photo couldn't. So the next time you see something interesting and you're not in a big hurry, just stop, sit down, and draw the damn thing.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Perseus and Medusa - Final

It really is a shame that I haven’t been posting here as frequently as I should be. Selling my house and moving consumed a lot of my time, but that’s really no excuse. At any rate, I finished this painting last month. After some great feedback from my IMC peeps and excellent advice from Dan Dos Santos and Greg Manchess, I tweaked the bounce light and gave it some more polish. I hope I didn’t overdo the lens flare on his sword and shield, but I really couldn’t resist. At least I painted it in and didn’t use a filter, right?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Perseus and Medusa - first stages

I remember watching Clash of the Titans as a kid, and the scene in which Perseus fights Medusa, featuring brilliant stop motion animation by special effects legend Ray Harryhausen, scared the piss out of me. But I've always been fascinated by these characters, particularly Medusa, turned into a hideous monster for the crime of being a rape victim. Oh, you silly Greeks.

I took some reference shots and posed some models in Daz 3D to get them just so, and I was fairly happy with the characters. My first pass at the background, however, was not so great. The vertical columns are way too static and straight in contrast to the diagonal, flowing foreground action. With some great suggestions from my illustration colleagues I ditched this background and attempted a new, more dynamic composition.

The problem is that working with biologists and engineers for so long has the left-brained science nerd inside me yelling "No, no, no; Greek stone columns weren't designed to sustain an off-vertical angle; they would collapse under their own weight with unbuttressed support." So my right-brained artist is going "Shut up, science nerd. I just drew a woman with living snake hair; I don't need an engineering lesson. Give me your lunch money."

The new background silhouette, sketched digitally, turned out way better. I'm going to print this, break out the tracing paper, and pencil in some ruins.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sketchbook: Woman at coffee shop

I stopped at Dutch Oven Bakery this morning on the way to work and was going to work on some concept sketches for a game project. I decided to get warmed up by drawing people. This lady was sitting by the window having a conversation with her friend. She was lit from behind by this great natural light that cast some brilliant rim highlights on her hair and face.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Steampunk Jungle Explorers - Finished

I'm really happy with the way this one came out. The middle ground foliage was a bit difficult, but I didn't sweat it too much or else it might distract from the characters and background. I really think it's one of my best pieces ever. I really like this traditional pencil/digital color approach. But I think I might try the next piece in Corel Painter. Just downloaded the demo yesterday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Steampunk Explorers: Beginning WIPs

Here’s the initial pencil work, value study and color splash work for a new personal illustration. The idea started as an environment concept involving a skull cave entrance in a jungle, but I thought it would be fun to add some characters and a potential story. The pencils were done in three parts (hunter, scholar, and cave entrance/third guy) and scanned at high resolution.

With the pencil layer blending mode set to Multiply, I started laying in grayscale values. It took a while to achieve the look I wanted, and there were a few false starts with the temple architecture. I decided on a more organic Maya/Aztec style. It still needs plenty of refinement.

I added a color layer set to Overlay at 65% opacity to establish overall color tone. The whole thing is pretty close to what I want, so as soon as I finish some of the temple refinements I’ll merge the color and value layers, keeping the pencil art separate for now. I’ll of course have to add all sorts of jungle vegetation, leaves, snakes, etc.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Landscape Sketch: The Road

The weather is still cold and lousy, so I don't want to sit outside and sketch. This is a two-hour landscape/value study using a screenshot from the post-apocalyptic movie The Road as a reference. I'm a big fan of John Hillcoat's style involving raw, gritty environments and characters. This movie contains a lot of scenes of industrial decay and abandonment that stay with you for a while afterwards.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Iowa State University Pixel Town: Agronomy Hall

It's back! I decided for a change of pace I'd get back into my ISU pixel town project. I can see that this is going to be sort of an ongoing project for quite a while, seeing as this is the 7th building in a series of what will probably be 50 buildings, and I've already spent about 93 hours on the entire project. And I haven't even done any vegetation, people, vehicles, animals, etc. But anyway, here's Agronomy hall. Kind of a tough one, with that weird angle on the southwest wing. The greenhouse and glass staircase weren't exactly easy either. One good thing about pixel art is that once you make an object (lamp, trash bin, bike rack) all you need to do is copy/paste it. It's especially handy with all the junk on the roof that you don't think about but is part of the building.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One Hour Speedpaint - EAI Pond

A one-hour digital plein air painting of the frozen pond outside the office and the buildings across the way.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What I Did at Work Today: Hose, Bucket & Spigot

So in our illustration of streaming technology we're using some vector art of a hose filling a bucket drained by a spigot as a metaphor for the idea of a buffer. The spigot is actually from a very old project. I know the perspective doesn't exactly match, but I needed to wrap these graphics up and get to tying everything together.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What I Did at Work Today: Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder

We needed some more art for a work project involving music streaming technology, so I got the chance to make a nifty reel-to-reel machine to help illustrate old methods of recording. Notice that the volume goes up to 11. I also feel like this would make a great T-shirt.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Environment Concept: Sunset Keep

This is the first of many pieces I want to create for my concept art portfolio. I decided that I have very little (none, really) in the way of environment concept art. This took about 10 hours to do, but I want to get to the point where I can knock out something like this in less than 5. I am determined to get better at doing landscapes and environments, which I would argue is definitely my weak point. I’ll be doing a lot more plein air painting and outdoor sketching. Hard to do in February in Iowa, though. I need a change of scenery big-time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snow Skiff Concepts - silhouettes

Just some vehicle concepts design. Was thinking about a wind and solar powered snow/icemobile. I generally like the third one and would like to push that one a bit more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Veteran Knight Thumbnail #2

I think I'm a bit closer to nailing down the composition and values for this piece. I think the background will contain several more figures, and the castle of course will be a more interesting design.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Veteran Knight #1

Four thumbnail drawings for a new personal illustration. I had the idea of a shell-shocked veteran knight who has seen one too many battles and is just... done. In the third one, maybe he's seen something that even he, a jaded, grizzled veteran, has found shocking. I loosely based the character on Ser Barristan Selmy from Game of Thrones, but I'll make it my own.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Logo Drafts for a 50's Diner

I'm working on a new logo design project. It's a 50's diner. Not much more to say about that, so... time to get my retro on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Soil & Water Logo Treatments

Here are some logo treatments I did for a project a couple of years ago. Didn't think it was good enough to include in my design portfolio, but I thought I might share them somewhere.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Masquerade #1

One of three pieces I'm making for the upcoming Ames Poetry Revival Slam. 13" x 19"prints will go to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. I haven't decided which.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Diablo III Wizard - Finished!

Once Christmas was over and I got some downtime at work, I finally got some free time to really sit down and finish this painting. I went with the spider (Arachnid Horror) in the background, because I hate spiders. I added a large overall texture, painted in the detail and cracks in the wall and doorway, and finished it off by adding a gradient overlay layer of light blue to dark violet to give the composition some focus on the wizard's upper body. Then after some rubble and an airbrush glow I called it done.