Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Self Portrait

I read once that an honest self portrait is the hardest thing for an artist to make. I made one two years ago almost flippantly, but I actually drew this one from life in a mirror as a New Year's...thing. Being very awkward for me to just stare at...myself while drawing and painting this, it makes me a little uncomfortable to look at what came out on the paper. Without realizing it, it ended up being very similar to the pose of the one I did in 2012, but to me it feels much darker than the previous one, and it was a struggle to keep it from looking depressed or even downright evil-villian looking while painting it. Maybe I just look mean while I draw things? One would hope not.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reindeer Games

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

 This was loads of fun to work on. Characters and story are © The Rudolph Company, L.P. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Avalanche Callers

When I was a kid, we got to spend one week a year up a canyon near my house with a ski resort nearby. If it snowed, and you woke up very early, you could hear cannons going off. The cannons are intended to remove the threat of an impending avalanche while no one is out and in danger of being caught in it. The least dangerous type of avalanche is one that's already happened.

(From the sketchbook section of my website)

I've had the idea for a sort of alpine character who rides a big saber-toothed cat for a while, but never knew what to do with him. Then a few weeks ago I needed to make a painting. Nothing specific, just a cool, fantasy theme painting. I decided that that might be a pretty cool job for him: go ahead of trade routes in the winter, and clear the way.  I finally got to use my lion rider, and he finally got a purpose.

Coat colors
Initially, I felt like I wanted a pretty blown out image--dazzlingly bright snow, a clean white coat, and gold accents. Then I flatted it, and hated it. I decided on either ochre or blue, then asked a few friends which they preferred. The unanimous vote was for blue.  My friend Laura helped me name them, at this point, so meet Nils and his ice lion, Leaper. 

Shaded, mostly done.
I knew things still needed to be done, but by now, I had been looking at it for too long, so I went to a couple of trusted friends, and deviantART for critique and feedback. After a few days of fiddling, I decided it was finally done. 
Prints are available at my Etsy shop. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Starpaper Horse

I took the paper cut-out horse from two posts ago and spiffed it up a little. It's odd, but I think it's more apparent that it's cut paper now that it has been digitally altered. Remember that old 80's animated movie, the Last Unicorn? The unicorn gets captured by a circus, and the owner of the circus has to enchant a fake horn onto her, because no one can see the real horn. I feel like that's kind of what I did with this piece: took an actual paper cutout, then made it look like cut paper on the computer, because the scan didn't really look like it was real.

Lesson learned from this piece: You can get convincing cast shadows by using a filled in duplicate of what you want a shadow of, gaussian blur it, then erase with a soft brush the places where the actual object gets closer to the surface it's sitting on. For most of the shadows here, I used two layers in this fashion: one as a softer shadow, and the other harder and closer to the object itself.

Example: See that little piece of upside down paper on top of the receipt? The shadow is more blurred in the middle, because there would be a little 'bridge' between the two ends of the paper where it is touching neither the receipt, nor the envelope. The shadow is sharpest, closest, and smallest where the paper sliver touches the receipt, and envelope, on its two ends.

Moral: Stay away from Layer Styles if at all possible--they do things too uniform, too perfect, and it takes the humanness out of it.

Imperfection in small doses makes things look real. (Imperfection in large doses makes you look like an idiot.)

Scissors from…
Wood from…

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An announcement

I made this page the other day, and this seemed to fit almost as well as the dialog that actually goes on this page...

I've done ten pages now, going at about two or three per week. This isn't quite to the level they'll be when done, though I'm having fun with organic pencil lines, instead of reverting to my instinct to ink over things.

Also: car pinstriping for panel separating lines. Best thing ever.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Paper Starhorse

Did this several years ago from a picture of a galaxy I found somewhere. Normal scissors, pasted onto a craft paper envelope with a glue stick. I think I was on my mission in Uruguay when I did this--I found it in a journal from around that time a few days ago. 

There were a couple years (around sixth grade or so) when I did like, several of these cut-out animals or characters a day, including a seven foot mural that got put up in my elementary school's library that had every greek legend I could think of on it, with the exception of pegasus, who was probably on it at least three times... Cut out of printer paper, of course, probably when I was supposed to be doing math. 

I've been feeling this urge to cut up things coming back recently, and I'm feeling like it'll probably be a Thing again within a few years if it's going where I think it is.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shooting BIG reference

Well, if you're like me, you tend to compulsively 'reference shoot' interesting things in any given location 'just in case' you ever have to draw said thing somewhere down the line. 

So, what happens when you come across something that won't even fit in your viewfinder? 

This is something I discovered a couple years ago that I've found invaluable for recording things that are simply too epic for one little camera: shoot many overlapping shots of the same object, then use Photoshop's Photomerge feature, found under the File>Automate menu.

Browse for the photos involved, push go, and watch your spinny-pinwheel-of-death for about five to ten minutes. Either your computer will start smoking and explode, or you'll end up with something like this: 

If I had walked along side this and taken photos at an equal distance all the way down, it would have gotten rid of the distortion, but I rather like the fisheye effect, so all the photos involved in this particular merge are from a stationary vantage. I think this particular merge had six or seven photos involved.