Monday, July 18, 2011

Gideon's Avenger

Magic 2012 has just released, and in it you'll find a new illustration of mine, called "Gideon's Avenger." And here it is:

Gideon's Avenger 16x20" Acrylic and oil
Usually, these posts will include a sketch, and then a grayscale study in which I've scanned the piece and applied gray tones using digital tools. Not long before starting this piece, I had a gander at The Art of Drew Struzan, at New York Comic-Con 2010. I still haven't actually bought it yet, but I will. Going through it, I fell in love again with Drew's preparatory studies, all wonderfully drawn, largely in charcoal. They really made me ask myself why I wasn't doing the same. I've already established that I enjoy detailed sketches.

The reason I went the digital grayscale route was for time's sake. I spent years doing my sketches in pencil--doing grayscale images in pencil takes a lot more time. But that's the problem--in illustration, it's very easy to get a system down for doing things, and to stick to it for so long that you can start to forget the other ways you can or used to do something. Years ago, I used charcoal more often. Primarily in college, but there were a number of studies and things done professionally, even some interior illustrations, which I rendered entirely in charcoal. The downside is storage--you have to be more careful storing charcoal drawings and handling them, since they smudge easier. That was the primary reason why I put them aside. Plus, early on in my career I did much quicker, sloppier sketches.

The other thing that impacted me was the fun I was having using charcoal and conte again in my museum drawing series. Put these two things together and I decided I'd go back to it for a bit. And so I did. For this piece, I produced two sketches, which after scanning I only had to do minimal tweaking to:

Shortly after that NY Comic-Con, I was in Columbus OH for the World Fantasy Convention 2010. For that particular trip I was a guest at Steve Prescott's house, where I completely overstayed my welcome and enjoyed every minute of it, all while putting them out something awful, I'm sure. Nevertheless, I had work to do, since my October had been insane with lots of events. I had done thumbnails and shot reference for these sketches, and my goal was to do the two drawings while there, among socializing, convention-attending, and trick-or-treating with Steve's lovely wife and darling little girl. Well, watching his daughter trick-or-treat anyway.

And so I had the pleasure of sitting in Steve's studio and working on both of these drawings from start to finish. Steve came in a few times to work on his own projects too, at other times he just went about his home life while I worked--as I said, I was there so long I had practically asserted squatter's rights anyway. It was great, and I greatly enjoyed the company and inspiration.

Since leaving San Jose 6 years ago now (!!), I have taken to marking each image with the location where it was done. This is because for awhile, we were moving fairly often, and even when not moving, I found myself doing art while traveling a lot, out of necessity. I've been in NYC for 3 years now, so it's a little less relevant to add that info. But you'll see both sketches marked with "Dublin, OH." So for anyone who picks up these sketches eventually, they'll get art done by me, in the studio of another talented illustrator. Doubleplusgood!