Saturday, May 29, 2010

IMC podacst

My pal, Aaron has just released the latest installment of his "drawn today" podcast. This is an in-depth interview with Rebecca Guay, the founder and organizer of the Illustration Master Class. After listening to this, I'm even more excited and convinced this is going to be a special experience!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Illustration Mater Class planning

I'm now starting my preparation for the IMC assignment. (read my other post if you don't know what that is)
I've chosen to do a "Magic The Gathering" trading card image, which was one of the assignments. I figure since I'm already doing Warcraft card art, this will be a logical step (not too big) to move towards using oil paints for my practice instead of the computer. If I chose a book cover assignment, then there would be a distinct danger of not finishing such a complex scene, and thus not getting the "finishing" experience I need. The final image will only be 11x15", so that's not too scary.

The topic of the card image is a "Frost Titan"; basically a cool and badass looking giant with an axe of ice, representing the cold elements. Below are 2 concepts for him... I think getting a good character design is half the battle for this image, as it'll essentially just be him looking cool, with minimal other scene elements, as card art is usually somewhat simple and reduced to the size of trading cards.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

top 5 attributes to becoming good in the field of illustration

A pal of mine just asked me what the top 5 attributes to becoming good in the field of illustration are. Here is my opinion and answer...

  1. Consistency and perseverance: build yourself over time. Don't be worried about instant results. Experience trumps skill. Art is a lifelong journey.
  2. Hard working/ work intensity/ concentration: take tasks to completion and challenge yourself. Be professional and have high personal standards to work towards.
  3. Mindfulness/ thoughtfulness: work smart, consider the essence of each part of the approach and be focused. Always be cognitive and refine your understanding of your methods. Think your approach and theories through as if you are teaching them to others; this will help you organize and edit your thoughts.
  4. Experimentation and risk-taking: search out your best practices and dont keep doing the same things.
  5. Balance: consistency, intensity, thoughtfulness and experimentation require balance and rest to work efficiently and be called upon. The brain is a muscle that needs rest and variety. Art-making is more physical than people realize, and good health feeds good performance. Exercise and be vigorous in all aspects of life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Its funny because its true: part 2

For your viewing pleasure today: another cartoon I've been saving...

The computer is a curious beast that has had a hold on much of my art-making. It is increasingly influencing the next generation of artists and illustrators for both benefit and harm.

Some benefits and drawbacks of the computer as an art tool:
  • Pro: Allows for the immediate creation of images unbound by the "ground up" necessities of traditional media. Artists can go straight to color and tone without preparation, both of the material and the subject. Con: The loss of a slower, more cerebral process including planning, drawing and using purposefully-chosen tools may lead to a less controlled, succinct and focused result.
  • Pro: Allows for unlimited malleability and change throughout the creation process. Undo and global changes whenever needed. Con: This forgiving nature of the tool can lead to indecision and a weakening of the need for planning in the creative process. Results may be unexpected (pro and con), or lose the essence or original focus of the idea.
  • Pro: Allows for detail and refinements not easily obtained through traditional tools. You can zoom into an area for increased detail, unbound by physical size. Con: you can lose sight of the "whole effect" and composition as a balanced, focused and unified statement.
All of the above essentially address the same dichotomy: complexity and flexibility versus simplicity and purposefulness. For this reason, there is a noticeable and understandable split in the use of digital or traditional media in concept art and illustration.

While not absolute, there is a definite preference for digital tools in concepting; where experimentation and uniqueness are aimed for. Concept artists can work fast and without preconception for the goal of finding new designs and unexpected approaches. Their work is expected to be re-made (into a model, set-piece or illustration) so this early visualization need not excessively worry about perspective, construction or animation.

Illustrators, on the other hand need to provide their client with an expected product, and need to create imagery that has specific needs (tell a story, show characters or elements in a descriptive and accurate way.) balanced and controlled for communication and attention. This work will be looked at by a broader audience for a longer period of time (as a cover, etc) so needs to hold up to scrutiny on its foundations.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Illustration Master Class

Next month I will be attending the
Illustration Master Class in Amherst, Massachusetts. (facebook page)
Now in its third year, this major gathering of leading and aspiring fantasy illustrators is fast becoming a "must do" in the schedule of the young illustrator. Last year at Illuxcon, I heard the buzz about it and decided to book it for this year. The format of this week-long workshop is a split between lectures, demonstrations and working on a project. Students are given the choice of a number of themes one month beforehand, and arrive at the class with their design and reference prepared, and proceed to work throughout the week on their illustration under the guidance of the instructors. The instructors are a who's who of the worlds top fantasy artists, including Donato Giancola, Boris Vallejo and James Gurney. In addition, representitives of publishers will be on hand to offer input and lecture on business aspects as well as advise students on their portfolios.
One of my virtual studio mates, Aaron Miller, has gone for the past 2 years and he has just made a podcast with some other alumni that goes into some detail on what the experience entails.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekend meet and greet...

This weekend I will be at The Paint Spot in Edmonton showing some work and talking to people about art instruction ideas. See you there!

Paint Spot Logo

What media, style or technique interests you the most?

"Art is now so much more than traditional art materials." The kinds of art made by recreational artists last year: 30% were multi-layered (mixed media collage, handmade books, cards, scrapbooks or 3D Art); 23% were drawings; 17% were paintings; 18% were digital art. From the Artists & Art Materials Study 2009. Which means almost half the art created last year was not just watercolour, acrylics or oils.

We're networking with art instructors, various clubs and organizations to embrace this new era of creative expression. To this end The Paint Spot is inviting over 25 instructors to promote themselves at our store on May 15. See below for more details, and look for a greater diversification in our art workshops classes and new products coming this fall!

your partner in art-making,

Kimberly Fjordbotten

Meet the teachers

Meet the Instructors

Saturday May 15

FREE, Noon - 5 PM

What if you could meet and choose between 20 professional artists willing to share their time and expertise to help others start art and expand their knowledge. Here is a confirmed list of attending art instructors that will be on-hand to offer workshops information and display their specialities.

Angel Baldinger

Maurade Baynton

Summer Bozohora

Jason Broatch

Nancy Corrigan

Juli Drew

Frank Haddock

Wendy Hodgson -Sadgrove

Susanne Lamoureux

Sara Norquay

Michael Sass

David Shkolny

Jean Pederson

Erik Visser

Laura Watmough

John Zacharias

(I have room for just 4 more instructors. If you are interested in participating, contact me ASAP

Art Instructor Appreciation & Networking Event

Saturday May 15

5 PM - 7PM

Are you responsible for workshops schedules for your art group, association or art centre? Are you thinking about teaching art? Join us for a glass of wine and discussion on new instructors, trends and opportunities. (RSVP will help me buy enough wine.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Planes of the head model

One tool I have used for years is a "planes of the head model".

I bought mine a long time ago on Ebay from someone who had made copies of an old plaster model into foam. As the website says..."The Original Planes of the Head model is designed as a tool for learning in an effective and orderly progression how to draw and paint the human head. The model is applicable to both sexes and all races, with variations arising only in proportion. The left side shows the basic structure of the head's planes as seen in a rounded and or younger face. The right side shows a more complex structure characteristic of a thinner and or older face."

All heads have these planes; even if they are smoothed over by flesh and fatty tissue they are still there and visible to some degree. I use the model for informing flat/unclear reference photos and I often prop it up beside my monitor to look at the facial structure of a pose I am working on that may be in a difficult angle to draw from memory.

Because the model is white, you are easily able to see the directional changes in the surface, and thus the effects of light and reflective color on each part distinctly; to better grasp what is happening environmentally and affecting the head.

Looking at this picture of Arnie, we can see the planes pretty clearly. Notice in the middle shot how there is a slight blueness on the planes of the head facing the upper left. These subtle cues tell us about the things going on in the scene, like the sky color being reflected there, and thus it should be on all other surfaces of the scene. The redlines quickly show the divisions of the head as comparable from the white model, and we can more clearly observe distinct patches of value, color and form.

The new model for sale comes with a hole in the bottom so that it can be mounted on a tripod and held in place at any angle. The above picture shows an artist using the model to remind him of the distinct changes that should be happening over the surface of his portrait; telling him to make sure he has mixed unique and separate areas of value and color for the planes, however subtle they may appear.