Thursday, October 29, 2009

Irony and the rookie freelancer

So I'm busy with some freelance work and polishing off my portfolio to be ready in a couple weeks when I go to the fantasy art convention:

I'm really looking forward to this convention, as it will hopefully be the springboard to making me feel like and actually be a full-time freelance fantasy artist. I'm sure to get energized meeting the other artists and getting inspired by the works of the best in the field.

One of the major aspects of these conventions is that new artists get to sit down and have portfolio reviews with the industry's top art directors, who are constantly looking for new talent to bring to their products. Suffice to say, this is often the 15 minutes in a new artist's year that he can make or break career momentum. You have to stand out, with both quality and professionalism, from the other 100+ artist who get their 15 minutes.

Now a funny thing happened today... as I'm sitting here roughing out an image for the portfolio I get an e-mail from the particular art director who I am most keen to meet and impress. I'm offered two images of the exact type of work that I'm putting all this effort towards! Now for the funny part (not)... At a quick glance, the assignment looks somewhat intensive, and the timeframe is pretty short to fit in to my schedule, considering I'll be travelling for a week to this conference right away. With an eye to ensuring quality and being careful that I manage the early stages of my relationship with this particular person, I request to take on one of the two images offered. I send the e-mail off in response, feeling great that I'm getting the exact work that I'm gearing for. A few minutes pass, and I get the Art director's response: he'd rather not split the job up and he'll get another artist to do it. Now I feel really stupid. I inadvertantly pass up my perfect job; being too careful and not mindful of the director's needs. The irony is that I'm working on my portfolio to get the work which I pass up because I'm busy working on my portfolio to get the work... Man, what a lesson.

So today I learned likely one of the key points in being a freelance artist (although I'm sure to learn more) DON'T SAY NO. The art director rightly needs an easy, passionate and reliable artist, and its your responsibility as an artist to make priority calls in developing your career. Until you've been around for awhile and are in high demand, do yourself a favour and take all the work... working harder and becoming successful through making smart descisions. I'm going to kick myself for awhile on this.

Anyhow, I started roughing this in today... an old Dragon Age drawing that needed finishing for my convention portfolio. Hey... maybe with a great portfolio, I'll get calls from top art directors... WAITAMINUTE!...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Busy week and workshop

Its been a very busy week for me!
I just completed a couple images for Dungeons and Dragons on Friday, and then spent all weekend teaching a small oil painting workshop at the Paint Spot in Edmonton. While I won't be able to show the illustrations off until they are published, here are some shots from the weekend workshop.
It was a great success and everyone learned an immense amount of painting knowledge in 2 days. I found being in a small room with 4 other people over many hours proved to be a very intimate and effective way to transmit an incredible amount of information. In the end, all the students produced successful works, and were eager to continue their painting studies at home. Most of the students immediately bought the table top easels they used, and they all felt very satisfied with making a large leap forward with their artistic studies.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Skull drawing and process

I went for a walk in a snowstorm the other day, and drunk a bunch of beer that night. The combination weakened me and now I'm pretty sick.
Since I'm just up to easy stuff today, I sketched the head for my undead dragon out...

Concept art with markers
Chartpak cool grey markers #1-5, warm grey #1
Pad of marker paper, pad of manilla paper
2-3 black ink pens of various thickness
detail brush and bottle of Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Artists Ink: white
Col-Erase Light blue Prismacolor pencil
Kneaded eraser

I use either white marker paper (prevents bleed-through) or plain yellow colored manilla paper. The marker paper is cleaner and more precise, but the manilla gives you a nice mid-tone start.

Using the white marker paper, start your drawing with blue pencil; I use Col-Erase Light blue from Prismacolor. This soft, light pencil allows you to erase easily and draw loosely without getting messy or overly dark. You may not really know what you are drawing as you begin, since you are experimenting with new shapes and letting the form evolve. Being loose and making many changes is easier with the blue pencil and your design never feels overworked because it remains light and malleable. Think of drawing the underneath structural forms before you add details and costuming. “draw through” and construct the forms so that everything is solid and the 3-d construction is understood.

Using the manilla paper, I draw directly and immediately with a warm grey#1 marker, which is basically the same yellow as the paper, only darker. This marker will optically “fade away” and you won’t notice this part of the drawing after darker, cooler tones are established, and since the color is similar to the paper.
The blue pencil and warm #1 marker beginnings achieve the same goal: of a forgiving starting point that never gets messy and is unnoticeable in the end, allowing you to both think and draw from the ground up.

After establishing your drawing with one of the methods above, use the #4 cool grey marker and flatly block in the “shadow shape” and cast shadows. After this step, the drawing should look quite graphic and full of light and contrast.

Using a thin black pen, re-draw the concept and add line details. Using a thicker one, establish the very dark black areas, undersides and heavier line weights. Concentrate on cleaning up the design and enhance the lines using a line weight which indicates the light direction. (thin lines on top, thicker underneath, thin in the distance, thicker coming forward, etc…)

Next, use the #2 or #3, or better yet a maker that is drying out and fades with the stroke to round the forms in the light areas, thus adding the mid tones that gradate from the dark to light side of a form.

Lastly, add any final highlights or make corrections with the white paint and brush. Avoid putting white into the flat shadow areas if possible, and use the paint sparingly for crisp details.

Friday, October 9, 2009

elemental dragon

I havent done anything on the dragon mentioned previously, but here's a dragon made a couple months ago for the Art Order earthquake dragon challenge.
It could have been more earthquake-y, but I just made it up as I did it and didn't really think about it much...anyhow the judges liked it.
After a few of these challenges, I've now "gotten the call" and am doing official paid work for Dungeon and Dragons, which I'm happy about. Hopefully I'll have stuff to show at the end of the month...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Undead Dragon thumbnails

Recently began exploration for an undead Dragon concept for a project I'm working on. Below are sone thumbnails to experiment with different body types and some marker sketches to play with some skull variations. Stay tuned as it develops!