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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Haz Cat pt.8

It was 12 years ago this month that we brought our little hairball factory home.


These are still from that set of watercolors done back in '00, when he was not quite 1 year old.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Free RPG Day: Count Artius of Histaven

Really, making up fantasy names for characters and places must be half the fun of writing fantasy. This one was a spot illustration. Typically, especially if there is no background and this is just a character portrait, these move fairly quickly. Not so, this one.
The description had him as one who had seen too much war in his days. He was to have a haunted or weary look to him, while looking strong. It took 3 sketches to nail it, and by the time approval came, the comments had basically removed this psychological aspect from his visage and demeanor. All the better, as this hero-style image is more attractive in the end than earlier iterations.

It reproduces slightly different in the book, as after turning it in I was asked to change his stance to a more wide-legged pose. I printed out the scan in color, slapped some matte medium on the heavy paper, and repainted the legs. I rescanned that, got approval, then tossed it.

The painting, however, and its sketch, remain.

Commissioned together with the other Shadowfell illustrations recently posted, this one appears in a supplement available Saturday 6/18 for Free RPG Day, entitled, "Domain of Dread: Histaven." It's a supplement for the Shadowfell release from last month. Free stuff, gotta like that. I don't know what all is required to actually get the free stuff, but check the link right above and find out. It seems to have worked for Free Comic Book Day. Can we get Free Video Game Day, and Free Pizza Day, too?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Winter's Grip

It's always a little difficult to wait months to show you new work, but when that timeline stretches to a year or longer, it gets really hard. Mainly, it's because I paint work to be seen, and so having it go unseen for long periods of time is counter to my interests. Also, if it goes on too long, then when it is shown, it may not be as relevant. But often that isn't really anyone's fault--a project may get delayed or cancelled or whatever.

In this case, a project for which I did a couple of pieces got delayed, and having passed a year since doing them, the publisher (Imagine Ltd.) was very gracious in allowing me to show the work here. They'd previously allowed me to take the paintings to IlluXCon last year, so a few of you might've seen glimpses when I posted the photo here. So, today I'm happy to bring out the first of these.

I can't of course talk too much about the context for the illustrations, since the project is still in production, even though it's on a temporary hiatus of sorts. So, I'll just show some art!

Winter's Grip, 18x24" Oils on masonite

I painted it in the grip of winter last year, which certainly put me in the mood, though it meant I couldn't escape winter in or out of doors for awhile. As well, if and when the piece finally prints, there'll be some significant changes. There were a few elements in the final illustration that I didn't really want on the painting. Sometimes a painting can be harmed by what an illustration requires and benefits from. What I mean is, suppose the illustration had called for something gruesome besides what's here--that might be helpful in terms of illustrative narration, but as a painting might make it distasteful to hang on one's wall. So, since I paint, if something is requested these days that will make the painting unpalatable, I'll try to leave it out and then add it in digitally. This allows me to not need to pull back in paint in some sort of compromise. Thank you, digital tools.

I always begin the concepting with the full idea in mind, and designing the piece with all the elements in mind. As an illustration, the illustration must come first. Then, if necessary and if it's even possible, I'll think of how I can separate out the elements. Sometimes it's purely digital after scanning. Other times, I can paint a separate piece and composite them. Sometimes, there's no good need or reason, and I just paint the whole thing. Flexibility is key.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

"The Unknown God" Wins an Award

Realms of Fantasy magazine has just hit the Issue 100 milestone, an amazing feat given the difficulties the magazine has had. It's a survivor, that's for sure. Revealed therein are the results of the Reader's Poll for stories and art that were published in 2010. As it turns out, my illustration/cover art for Ann Leckie's story, "The Unknown God," has won the honors!

Thanks for all who voted, art director Doug Cohen, and Ann for her story which inspired the artwork.

If you like fantasy short fiction, from a very wide definition of the word "fantasy," and appreciate a nice glossy mag with full-color original illustration, then check it out. As with everything, it's also available for reading on-the-go in a PDF edition.

Update (6/16): Besides the kudos, the publisher also mailed me this nifty and substantial commemorative plaque! They printed the artwork onto the plate itself. Nifty!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Lightspeed Magazine #12, Cover and Interview

This month's Lightspeed Magazine features a cover by yours truly, as well as an Artist Spotlight. It also has featured stories worthy of being Hugo and Nebula-nominated, but for our purposes, there's art!

They licensed my painting "Embryonic" for use as their cover. I wondered how they might design the cover, but should not have been surprised to see the art flipped vertical; after all, I hung it upright myself for awhile!

The Artist Spotlight features a short interview, primarily on the subject of this painting, with a few other questions tossed in. They asked me for a selection of images to add for the article. I felt a little bad, since it was going to be primarily pieces already in my portfolio. That's great for new folks just discovering my work, but for you, dear readers, who have been following along, I was hoping to give you reason to look through as well.

I think I found how to do it. First off, the images are decently-sized so you can get some better views without my zoomified detail views. I'm loath to put larger images online simply due to rampant reposting and piracy, but I'm also not so naive to think it won't happen anyway. So, some bigger scans.

But then, I decided to contact a publisher about a couple of images, to see if I could get permission to show them before the product released. So, courtesy of Imagine, Ltd., I was able to give them 2 images to show that aren't on my site yet. Preview images! They were shown in the background of a photo a few months back, but here they are. So if you wanna check out two new paintings before they're even on my own website, go check it out! I'll post more details on the both of them here this month, so stay tuned.

The magazine releases serially over the course of the month, but if you'd like to purchase an eReader format, you can get the entire magazine at once. It'd be a nice $3 show of support, and you get some short fiction and articles as well.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Museum Studies, Pt.10

(L) Leopard Mask 6x9" pastel pencil on paper
(purchase info)
My first visit to the Natural History Museum was not to draw, it was a quick run-through with my wife to get the lay of the land, intending to return later to various sections to see them more in-depth. While these visits have certainly given me that opportunity, the missus hasn't made it back yet!

On that first visit, the Hall of African Peoples stood out. Within that section, ceremonial costumes of the most fantastic sorts are displayed. It's rather amazing, and you will often see people taken by surprise at the extremely odd and fascinating designs of some of these costumes. Surely, the concept designers and fantasy artists of the past, in Africa, still found expression. I told myself I'd come back and draw here sometime, but it only just recently happened.

This fella wears a leopard-skin hat much like our Davy Crockett's 'coonskin cap. The mask worn has this very explicit frown painted on, emoticon-like. And hanging from his mouth/chin is a loose young leopard skin, which just flows down. Very odd. Add in a grass skirt, grass arm decoration, and painted stars and you get a very interesting design.

It's great that the AMNH chose to display the "masks" as part of full costumes. Masks on their own are certainly interesting, as they are often meant to transform the identity of the wearer for purposes of ceremony. Yet, masks rarely were worn alone--it's not like masks wearers were naked otherwise. Rather, the aspect of the mask's personality was carried through the rest of the costume, and seeing the whole thing together gives a much more unusual picture. Imagine, for instance, if the following mask were displayed alone, divorced from the rest of the outfit:

(R) Zoe-Ba, 6x9" ink on paper(purchase info)

This tall carved mask, fascinating and alien-like on its own, if displayed by itself, would never suggest that it was worn with this giant shaggy outfit of various dried grasses.

There are a few other very interesting costumes that I hope to get back to sketch. It also happens that this hall is not one of the central ones, where summer crowds pack in and make it near impossible to sketch...which explains why I've yet to draw any dinosaur bones!