The Long Process

I’ve just finished my latest piece of personal work; The long Voyage, and its up in the gallery for all to see: here

On the left here you can see the process behind the image. I really wanted to do one with another with an airship in, preferably a more peaceful scenario than my airship battle picture.

The final artwork is a fair bit different to the initial sketch as my paintings so often are. I tend to paint things on different layers so I can move them about a bit and easily modify stuff. This of course means that because I can; I do. I started by blocking in the rough image in blues and greens to create a cold high atmosphere feel before deciding later I preferred the look of a warmer colour scheme even if it makes less sense, do what looks better I reckon, its fantasy art after all.

You may be able to tell I decided to scrap the airship halfway through and come up with a better design. I also wanted to ensure I got the perspective right, since I’ve got such extreme distances in the image. To do this I created a very basic airship design in Google sketchup (which I thoroughly recommend as a tool for artists) and then positioned it in the angle I wanted for the airship in my painting, before screen-shooting it and painting over it in photoshop.

Once I was sure I had the perspective and proportions of the ship right, I was free to paint all the details onto it and and work with the rest of the image. You can see the changes I made to the background in the final two images.

Nostalgia is a pain in the arse.

This collection of heads was drawn just last week to consecrate the beginning of a shiny new sketchbook. I just felt like drawing something, and so I went into autopilot and started drawing a head, it occurred to me that I’d unthinkingly drawn one of the characters from my old webcomic; The Box.

Since I’d already drawn the first one I decided I may as well draw all the others. The fact that I’d then gone and drawn all my old characters made me wish that I could start the old comic back up, after I suddenly dropped it midway through last year.

Technically I can start it back up, there’s almost nothing stopping me. Of course the problem is that I never really liked making the comic, and I never had the time to do it. One single (often sub-standard) comic page would take me an entire days work, which I could have devoted to all sorts of other things I’d rather do. I did however enjoy the reader’s interest in the story and the feeling of creating a whole ongoing fictional world to share. Comics are much more involving than an illustration, readers get attached to the characters and the places, and feel much more strongly than they would about a single piece of artwork. It was a great feeling, but It just wasn’t a strong enough drive to spend all that time on something I didn’t want to do. Instant gratification generation syndrome maybe?

The temptation is always there though, to go back and start again, or to redo something you’ve already done that you enjoyed, even it won’t benefit you in the long run or you know that you’ll get sick of it fairly sharpish. Video games are a great example of this. I absolutely adore the video game Morrowind, I played it when I was a kid and loved how original and open it was, especially the setting and the art design. I love it so much that I decided to play it again. I spent half an hour installing it, 2 hours playing it, 2 hours adding mods to it, and then I stopped and didn’t play it again. Because it’s shit.

Which is what I’m getting at, nostalgia is all very well so long as you ignore it. It so often turns out that the things you once thought were brilliant suddenly look upon re-examination; a bit disappointing. Time gets wasted and your naive wistful memories of something are corrupted by horrible facts. Even Banana Man is awful!? When did that happen? Maybe I’m simply getting more cynical as I get older, I do still love Morrowind, but that combat system is inexcusable.

Asian Dragon

Since posting a selection of my old uni work several days ago I’ve been playing around with the charcoal dragon image and have now coloured it and done it up in photoshop.

This isn’t my usual method of working, but I’m happy with how it’s worked out considering I was just experimenting. It didn’t take very long either, which I suppose is one the benefits of having a sketch that you stick with from start to finish. I never do that usually.

Originally I thought of it more as a Chinese influenced dragon, but since I put that big red circle there to add to the composition I may have to declare it Japanese.

Train station faces

I recently completed this page in my sketchbook of people I’ve drawn while waiting around for more important things to happen. A lot of them were drawn in train stations, where you always get a lot of opportunity to draw weird and wonderful people. Train journeys are also a pretty good provider of inspiration, where you get the rare opportunity to draw people who are generally guaranteed to sit still for a while.

The big problem with train journeys is that half the people are facing the other way, or obscured by the people and chairs in front, and since one is also expected to sit still it makes it hard to get a good look at the inevitable nutter with the fascinating moustache who’s just come in and sat at the other end of the carriage.

Another problem is that people on trains often notice you drawing them, (which no one is ever comfortable with) since you’re generally facing each other. A cunning way to avoid this is to draw their reflection in the windows, sadly they usually notice that as well.

A small taste of uni work

One more year has passed and so too has one more semester at uni. Some projects were good, some were bad, many were extremely time consuming. However, the work I’m showing off in this post is but a small glimpse of one of the more enjoyable projects. More enjoyable no doubt because I had the opportunity to slip lots of fantasy art into it!

The general gist of the project was to start with one drawing in one medium and then produce the next drawing (which had to relate to the first via word association) in a different medium. It was an interesting challenge, I started with platypus and ended with alien, as I am wont to do. I suspect this word association drawing game would also make for pretty good practice in future, If I get round to it.

Latest painting complete!

I’ve updated my gallery to include my newly completed cover illustration for the players guide of the yet-to-be-released rpg “Ellandria” I’d been working on it for a long time now, and it feels very good to finally have it completed.

I’ve posted some work in progress shots of the illustration on the left. The first wip is the top left and the newest is the bottom right. As you can see I painted most of the image in black and white first then added colour later. It’s an approach I don’t like very much I’ve decided since it complicates things later rather than simplifies them.

It shows the moment a group of ambushed soldiers fighting a “Feran” (a giant feral humanoid) start to grasp the upper hand. You can see the final picture by following this link

Also, if you look very closely you may be able to see a small cats face hidden in the picture, courtesy of my Auntie.

Imagine Fx Dvd

Three of my paintings have recently been featured on the DVD of issue 63 of Imagine FX magazine. To anyone who’s found their way to my site through that route; hello and welcome! I’ve even posted a screen shot for those of you who can’t contain their excitement until they get back from the newsagent’s.

For anyone with an interest in fantasy art I suggest you check it out, and not just because I’m in it of course, hehe. Of course they do have a website which has most of the stuff from the magazine in, and it is a lot cheaper…

Anti procrastination motivation

Try saying that title 5 times quickly.

I recently completed my latest uni project, the brief being to produce three elements of a visual campaign for or against an issue of importance to us. After some deliberation and sitting about not doing much I arrived at the idea of procrastination. It’s an issue that really is very close to my heart.

Anyway, the ultimate outcome of this project was three web pages designed to motivate the average internet user into doing something other than Facebook poking people or perusing pornography. The idea is that you set one of the pages as your homepage and every time you open your web browser are reminded that you should be doing something worthwhile with your time. I have no idea how effective it is to be honest since I haven’t got round to setting any of them as my homepage…

Do take a look:
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3

‘Indecision may or may not be my problem’

I’ve been fairly busy lately struggling over uni work. We’ve been given a brief to create a visual campaign for or against an issue we feel strongly about. My problem so far has not been anything to do with producing the artwork, but rather; what issue to choose as my campaign. I started like a good illustrator with a big mindmap of potential ideas that I made into a list, including:

  • creaky chairs
  • smoking
  • dog poo
  • religon
  • train conductors
  • tuna
  • procrastination
  • alarms
  • people
  • etc etc…

That’s a much shortened list, oddly it ended up only as a list of things to campaign against. No idea what that says about me.

In the end I decided to go with people. Yes people, and everything to do with them. Of course it was a strictly tongue in cheek idea, and I certainly couldn’t suggest a solution to the problem of people, save letting dolphins take over instead. This made it a wee bit difficult to approach seriously and objectively, it was just too silly. Much to my disappointment, and after producing several images, I was forced to change issues. My new issue is one I do feel very strong about, and one that occupies a lot of my time: procrastinating.

Alas, at the moment I can’t bring myself to do it, everything else looks so much more appealing. In the meantime I thought I’d salvage one of my obsolete “anti-people” ideas for your amusement. It’s an advert for a product I really wish existed…

Site re-design complete!

If you are one of the excellent and few people to have visited my site in it’s previous incarnation; you may have noticed that things have changed around here. Gone is the sombre black and dramatic fog that characterised the site before, look how squeeky clean and functional it is now! And with extra stuff! Admittedly certain parts are still being done up and populated, but for the most part it’s there/here. You get the gist anyway.

If you haven’t already, do take a look at the tutorials section where you’ll find my brand new tutorial on making a grass effect brush in Photoshop. Even if you can’t be bothered making the brush yourself (shame on you) you can still download mine! (you rotten cheat.) I plan to have a few more tutorials on the way fairly soon…

The downloads section is currently near completion and in the unforeseeable future I plan to have the shop section up and running so you can purchase prints of my work, should you desire to.