The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From the Collection of...pt.3

Having recently shut down Daydream Graphics, I thought it appropriate that this installment feature a piece of art I acquired through it, myself.

Drew Tucker is one whose art polarizes audiences. For my own, I felt firmly in the middle, loving quite a lot of his work while sometimes being left on the sidelines occasionally myself. Naturally, the stuff I liked I really liked, as evidenced by having him aboard Daydream. He was always very nice and friendly to work with, though we didn't develop a deep friendship or anything in the years we worked together. We tended to communicate mainly for business purposes.

At one point, he delivered to me a stack of original art for the purposes of scanning and putting up on his site. It was a little terrifying, since I typically didn't handle original art. Rather, each artist would usually send me scans. I preferred it that way. Still, I did love having a handful of his watercolors in my possession for awhile. I particularly enjoyed one piece, and when I had an opportunity, picked it up myself!

This one, then, is ~7.5x6" Watercolor on paper

I've rarely worked in watercolor, but it was neat to see how much gum arabic he uses, particularly to push his darks back. At least, I think that's what he was doing. Watercolor dries fairly matte, and it's hard to get penetrating blacks when they dry to a dark charcoal color. And you can't varnish watercolor since it runs. So those darkest areas around his neck have copious amounts of this medium which I'm assuming is gum arabic. It even has a little surface texture to it, which is slightly puckered from contraction during drying.

The art was painted for White Wolf's Rage card game, for the Legacy of the Tribes set. I can't find a scan of the card to include here, unfortunately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Entering Shadowfell

The 1.5-page chapter start I painted for this book was an exercise in masochism. Briefly, it's a piece in which some "pre-rolled" characters (ie., fully described in terms of race/class) enter into the Shadowfell. Throughout my Shadowfell illustrations, I tried to squeeze in some sunlight. The descriptions made it sound like this was going to be a set of all-gray skies, which can be monotonous as well as monochromatic, as well as sitting side-by-side dozens of other illustrators' gray skies. I asked if there was any way to get sunlight in--perhaps perpetual evening light, or always with oppressive skies, and was given the go-ahead.  In this case, I had fewer clouds as I wanted the impression of them leaving what daylight there was, entering into the foreboding realm which the book explores.

The landscape was generally described as gloomy, swampy. They also asked for skulls to be hanging from trees. Here is where the masochism began. Skulls hanging from trees are an ages-old fantasy device used to indicate, "Abandon hope, ye who enter in." I wasn't feeling the skulls this time, but they were indicated in the brief. So, I decided I'd one-up the concept, and have suspended in this swamp formations of giant skulls...made of a ton of skulls. Skulls made of skulls! A great idea, in theory. And so I did my sketch and value study to submit it:


Skulls made of skulls!!

Not long into the pencil drawing, I had the sneaking suspicion that I had just consigned myself to the poor house. I have a knack for doing that. I had already established that the size of the figures was going to require a larger than usual painting. This meant the individual skulls would be large enough to require them to have attention paid to them. The ones in shadow I could shortcut a bit, but by and large where I might've gotten by with a dozen or so well-placed individual skulls, I had just volunteered to paint a few dozen. Oh dear. Some tweaks were requested, which would include adding mist. And so I went to work.

I ordered a miniature ~3" skull off eBay, which helped considerably. As I painted, I'd just hold the skull in front of me and paint, then rotate it and move on to the next one. It was a little painful.


About to begin painting skulls

I'd forgotten about this photo I snapped part-way through. The top and right are completely washed out due to my overhead lamp reflecting off the surface, but you can get a sense of what's happening. Some things to note: The marsh is completely painted to match the value study above. Mist will go in on top of it (and has already been indicated in the background). The figure, who is wearing a red padded robe, is simply blocked in in red. You'll notice that red just extends into his flesh too. No particular reason, I wasn't intending to leave any of it showing.

And, the finish:


"Entering Shadowfell" 24x30 Oils on canvas

In this case, with the painting so large, I sent in a scan as I didn't want to risk damage en route or on return. I was asked for a couple more tweaks. First, to reduce the dappled light hitting the main gnarly tree. Second, to add in some heavy clouds, as the sky was lighter than they preferred. The dappled light I reduced in Photoshop. The sky, however, was a large enough swath that I decided that doing a digital paintover would look too obvious, since the canvas has a light texture to it that I wouldn't be able to match. So, I grabbed a 12x16" piece of canvas and simply painted a sky:

 
 This will be recycled one day into another painting, you watch.

This 12x16" canvas was basically the same size as the patch on the big painting, so I was able to scan it, and keep it at 100% size on the composite, which meant that there weren't issues with texture variance (where the texture looks larger or smaller than the rest of the area). I then masked out the figures and skulls, so the sky remains only in the bits between. It's a little hard to explain, so here's the printed final. I added in some rim-light on the figures digitally, too, since now the sun was lower. And anyway, it pulled the figures apart a bit more:

 

Whew, well it was a big piece with a few twists and turns, so it required a bit of dissection! The original painting is here, where you can zoom in to look at skulls, and the sketch is also here.

D&D Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond

I've been highlighting a few illustrations of mine from this book, which released today. This one is a pretty large release: a box set with the book, maps, tokens, cards, all kinds of stuff. It's been a long, long time since my last D&D game, so I admit I've lost the plot on all the rules upgrades and such. All I know is it's D&D, and it's got cool art in and on it. And hey, I even did a few pieces!

I'll have one more smaller piece to talk about here soon, besides the two posted so far as of today.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Exit Within, When You've Exited Without

I'm no Luddite, but I am very, very slow and reluctant to enter the world of mobile phones. Partially, because they're crazy expensive. I don't know how you people afford those plans. So, my wife and I share a quite old Treo 650. On a pay-as-you-go plan. That we basically never use. Yeah.

I have however surfed my website using an iThing or two. Happily, my site renders just fine on everything I've tried it on (minus the zoom feature, which is the only Flash bit I use). You could even browse and shop successfully on a Nintendo DSi web browser (!). Not so fun, though.

However, for those of you always on the go, which is like all of you now, when you visit this blog (as you might have just done), you will now be greeted by a mobile version, which means no more pinching and zooming. Just read and go. You can always switch to the web version at the bottom of the page.

If for some reason your not-so-smartphone doesn't auto-direct you, you can always bookmark the mobile site:

http://blog.gallegosart.com/?m=1

You could also browse that way on your actual computer. But that would be not so fun in the opposite direction. However you read, thanks for doing so!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Shadowfell: Thyrin Gol

I might have posted on this piece earlier, if I'd known that it had been shown on the D&D website a couple months ago! Nevertheless, here we go:

Thyrin Gol 11x14" Oils on Watercolor Board

This piece was as much about the place as the narrative (bad guys spying on passersby). I was to show the ne'er-do-wells perched high up in some rocky area, overlooking the travelers down below. Therefore, my early thumbnails were essentially location scouting--looking for interesting landscape compositions:
As you can see, I ended up coming back to #2 above. I went through another 8 or so of these, but these were the most presentable. Also of note--these are not digital thumbnails. I've been doing digital thumbnails for years now, but lately have been needing to get back to pencil for some reason (or ink brush and pencil, as above). No particular reason, just for a change of pace I guess--I certainly haven't abandoned them on other projects. Also of note on the bottom two is a grid system the sketches were built with. The lower-left one had the landscape built around it. The lower right doesn't look like it adhered to it as much--I may have put it in after, thinking I'd sketch the figures in using it. I don't remember. In this case, it's Loomis' grid system outlined in his "Creative Illustration" book, which I've discussed ad nauseum here, which has served me well when I need to squeeze out a few more concepts and am coming up with blanks.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Museum Studies, Pt.9

(L) Statue Color Study 6x8" Acrylic and oil on canvas
(purchase info)

These Museum Studies have comprised a number of things, from stuffed animals to carved images, to artifacts. This month, I confess, I didn't do any studies at the museum. I do however, have these studies which it seems appropriate to insert here. After all, this series includes things like statues. I figured it wouldn't be such a stretch to add these here. They serve the same purposes as the series, generally.

Gold objects are interesting things, and usually their palettes are quite straightforward. However, when a gold object is reflecting blue sky, and is in shadow to boot, well I wanted to investigate this a little. You'll have places where the sky color reflects almost exactly, large areas of dull gray, even a little green here and there. It's odd. So, to experiment, I just grabbed some photos in Google Images and did some small quick studies. I didn't want the blue of the sky to bleed into the alla prima application of paint, because if there was going to be green, I wanted to be intentional about it. So I dropped in the blue shapes in Acrylic, then quickly moved to oils on top. I was surprised to see how dull the color goes in many areas, only to be cued by the strong self-reflected light here and there.

(R) Statue Color Study, 6x8" Acrylic and oil on canvas(purchase info)

You may notice that these pieces are pretty brushy and loose. And they are--there was no drawing done done underneath, I just hit the ground running.  In truth, though built on the foundation of much tighter drawings, basically all my illustrations are handled this roughly at first. The main difference is that I'll inevitably bring out the blender brushes and knock down and reshape the strokes into mostly smoothness, leaving a few juicy bits here and there.

I've often considered bringing in this much looser and thicker style in my illustration work, wed to much tighter drawing than used here. However, it's really quite a bit different than my usual work, and surprising art directors is not good. As well, I'm just not sure that's the kind of painter I really want to be. I like detail. I mean, it can get tiring painting little things no one will see or care about, but there's a certain pride in my work that I have that I'd be missing out on to make looser work my bread-and-butter. But, I'll admit it's fun, and so I find times to engage in it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Don't Be Confused

As mentioned recently, Daydream Graphics is closing. Long-time visitors may notice that my site no longer has that grey navigation bar up top. No more notice about Daydream Graphics.

That's because today I've pulled the plug on the website. There was some warning ahead of time of the closure. You're here either because you're just casually reading my blog, or because you tried to go to daydream-graphics.com and were redirected here for a bit of explanation.

Daydream Graphics having closed, artists have moved or are in the process of perhaps building new websites. Terese Nielsen has begun rebuilding a new site. Jim Nelson and Matt Cavotta, too. Ben Thompson's had a promised site up for a bit. As for the others, I have no news to report.

Beginning today, visiting daydream-graphics.com will simply point you to my website, Gallegosart.com, as just happened.

So, welcome! Having run Daydream for 15 years, I am remaining here, flying solo. You can still browse and buy stuff as you always have. PayPal keeps your shopping cart details and when you're ready to checkout, most pages on my site have a little black "Checkout" button you can click to do so (my blog is the only exception, for now). As always, you do not need a PayPal account to complete a purchase--you can also use any major credit card or even an eCheck. Just look for that link on the checkout page. It's easier, faster, and more functional than it used to be.

Thanks for visiting. If you were interested in visiting another artists' works, I hope my links above are helpful. Have a stroll through my blog or check out my art before you move on, though. Either way, have a good day!