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Vincent’s Vivarium

I can only imagine how touched my uncle would have been to see so many dear and familiar faces here today, to celebrate his life and mourn his tragic passing. No doubt many of you had your reservations about coming- I understand that Uncle’s singular personality rubbed some of you up the wrong way.

In his defence I can only say that Uncle Vince was a character- a unique individual. I myself still have strong feelings about some of his habits, exploits, and ventures- the otter-cheese farm, the mandatory zipline to the downstairs toilet, bear boxing- I never supported any of these. Now that dear Uncle is gone, I shan’t worry about having to wear pink stockings after nine pm, eating only with spoons, or only turning anti-clockwise in the presence of women.

We may never truly know how Uncle Vince passed away. We may never know how he wandered into the locked greenhouse in the middle of the night, without his protective bee “disguise”, stark naked and with two lamb chops and a pork loin taped to his forehead. We may never know how he came to be so riotously drunk as to do that, despite being teetotal. All we can say is that he will be missed, and as the sole inheritor of his massive estate I feel it is my responsibility to thank you all for coming. Cheers.

Now, who’s up for canapés?

A man in a bee suit lovingly attends to to his plants

Oculus Medium for concept art

About two weeks ago I bought an Oculus Rift. I’ve been extremely excited for VR for a long time now and so far it hasn’t disappointed at all. The games are incredible, Google Earth in VR is incredible and the potential of VR for artists is incredible.

I’ve been using Oculus Medium for concept designing, inspired largely by Jama Jurabaev. Here’s the rough sculpt inside medium:Then a bit of tidying in Zbrush and off to be rendered in blender Cycles:

The end result tweaked and over-painted in Photoshop:

There’s definitely plenty of room for improvement with VR tools, but also incredible potential. The ability to simply reach out and touch a point in the air where you want something to be, or the fact you can use all the space around you rather than just a monitor screen are completely game changing.

Museum of Unnatural History- Brief walk-through

To to curious the people from Reddit (and elsewhere) hello! Since I’ve been asked several times about how I do my work- and in particular how I did this piece-rather than repeating the same thing in the comments section I though it’d be better to put this rough walk-through together.

  1. Start with the idea- make a sketch or two just to see how it all might fit together.
  2.  Gather reference images for the tricky bits from google and elsewhere.
  3.  (Optional) make 3d reference models to help with the perspective.
  4. Make sketches to help flesh out elements within the picture.
  5. Paint!
  6. Paint some more.7. Done.A scene from the museum foyerHere’s a little time-lapse: 

Obviously there’s more to it than that, but each and every aspect could have a book of it’s own, so I don’t want to dive in that deep here. Also, I can’t recommend anyone paint like me. I’m pretty slapdash and undisciplined. It’s always been a matter of “feeling it out” to me.

Digital art FAQs

Q. What program do you use?

A. Photoshop

Q. Do I need special brushes/what brush do you use?

A. Short answer: No. It doesn’t matter.
Long answer. Being conscious of the effect you’re having with the brush is what’s important. Paint with intention. Craft the shapes while paying attention to areas you want to be sharp versus soft. Fancy brushes can add texture, sure, but they add it indiscriminately. There is no perfect brush. Maybe have a sharp one, a soft one and a medium, textured one. That’s really all you need. Also, a graphics tablet is fundamental.

Q. Do I need to use the fancy 3d software that’ll take me ages to learn?

A. No. But it undeniably helps.

Q. I can’t afford Photoshop. Is there a good alternative?

A. Yes! Krita (https://krita.org/) is a great open-source digital painting program that gets better all the time. I’d also recommend Paintstorm Studio (http://www.paintstormstudio.com/)- which though it isn’t free- it is pretty cheap and more than worth the price.

Q. How long does something like this take?

A. Ages. Maybe 3 hours a day for a few weeks. I’ve taken a week off it here and there but I think I started in February. You need patience I suppose. A lot of the time I didn’t really want to do it but I still wanted to see it finished.

Q. How long have you been doing art for?

A. Since… I was five maybe?

Q. How long have you been consciously practicing instead of Dunning-Krugering along?

A. Maybe five years.

I hope this is all useful or interesting to someone.
Cheers!

Tom

The Museum of Unnatural History

Here’s a picture I finished recently called “The Museum of Unnatural History”. It’s an idea that’s been knocking around in my head for a few years now but I’d been putting off knowing it was going to be a big, time-consuming job. Eventually I decided it wasn’t going to paint itself and got stuck in.

A scene from the museum foyer
Click to see a larger version. I didn’t paint those details for nothing!

Perhaps a little self-indulgent. Even by my standards! I’ve hidden a number of things from my past (and future!) work in there, alongside some popular characters some people may recognise.

Books

A couple of days ago I was delighted to receive a package I’d been eagerly anticipating. Books! With my art on the covers- the de-facto proof that someone else thought it was good.

The books in question are by the generous Mr Benjamin Mumford-Zisk. I’ve been reading and very much enjoying book one: “The Origami Man”. It’s always a delight to work with people that have some original creative vision.

If you’re interested you can read the first couple of chapters for free on amazon:
The Origami Man
A Farther Orbit

Cheers Ben!

General wisdom for artists No. 08

According to google analytics people are still reading these “General Wisdom for artists” posts. Alarmed by this- I’ve been back and read them again to see what bollocks I was sprouting several years ago to make me cringe in the present.

My current advice to anyone who reads this now is as follows: Relax. Enjoy life. Whatever you’ve done lately is fine. Be nice to people. All that Carpe Diem crap? It’s to make you spend money. We all die in the end. Enjoy the sunshine, and don’t take indiscriminate advice from blogs- You never know which idiot has written them.

I’m still working it all out of course. I might have some real hot tips later…

The Dragon Dentists

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a dragon in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a dentist.

You see- for all their bluster and burning- roaring and devouring- dragons have yet to invent the electric toothbrush- and consequently have very poor oral hygiene. One point to the humans I say. Indeed it’s a common theory that serious toothache is what makes dragons so narked off all the time. Thus it makes good sense to help them out with their gnashers just to ensure they don’t get all agitated and torch a primary school.

Dragon dentistry however- is not something for the faint of heart, nor the flammable of composition. It takes a special kind of expertise to look death in the mouth- and then fix his teeth with big tweezers. This is the job of Dr Earnest Pimm & Sons professional dragon dentists. Est. 1813

Dragon dentists remove a rotten tooth

Here we see routine operation to remove a rotten tooth.  Dr Pimm directs proceedings while second son Toby dons the asbestos suit (for safety) and operates the no 4 drill. Eldest son Arthur operates the saliva pump while 3rd son Anthony controls the nozzle. Of course the best way to placate a dragon while operating is to use sock puppets- a job which falls to the youngest Pimm- Maggie- who isn’t technically a son but isn’t worth changing all the branded stationary for either.