Saturday, August 28, 2010

Log monster

something just for fun... a log monster to get my drawing warmed up again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More equipment, finally.

I fully admit to being a little cheap when it comes to buying supplies and equipment which I could otherwise borrow or do without. As mentioned in my last post about lighting, I'm now finally getting around to purchasing some necessary things for my studio. One can only use poor reference and deal with the morons at Staples for so long.

My lighting set arrived a few days ago, and so far I think what I got should do the trick. I bought the bottom end set, which is a bit smaller and less powerful than my friend's, but the basic function it serves is the same. I got the H30088 kit mentioned in the other post, and its a nice, simple package that comes with all you need to get started. If you already have an SLR camera, this kit will make the big difference between average and great reference photos.

A quick test shot below shows how you can have 2 independent lights. One is a wide, soft output using the included softbox or umbrella and the other a bright rim-light. The color filters also allow for colored light, so you can get lots of effect going if needed.
In the below photo is a life-sized wooden posing dummy I've had for years. This prop helps when you are arranging fabric that needs to go on a human frame and stay in position for a long time. I've also used "Woody" to lay upside down in awkward and painful poses that would be next to impossible for a model.

This past Sunday we did another portrait painting session at my studio. My usual nemesis in portraiture is making the head too wide, and having problems getting initial proportion. I experimented this time with another tool I've had lying around: a gridded window card.
I duct taped this to one of my light stands, and had an instant measuring tool for flattening the space and getting the proportions down. It worked great.


Lastly, I broke down and finally got a 13X19 large format color photo printer. A common tool for fantasy illustrators, these printers allow you to make large, sellable-quality prints to leverage your artistic efforts. Another main use is the ability to print your rough drawings off at a fairly large size to mount on Masonite, seal, and paint on top of. (another common process thanks to Donato Giancola)
Below are some links to various large format printers. I went with the Epson 1400, as it was at the bottom end of the price spectrum with Epson's recent rebate. I've heard the B8550 is better, though.


The reason I went with the cheaper model is that I've heard that larger run prints are better off being done by a printing service, due to the time and cost of ink if you do it yourself. Some online printers are below:


Now to make some art and make it all worthwhile!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Photographing artwork

I had a chance a couple weeks ago to take proper photos of my newest paintings, and I thought I would show the great setup we use. My pal, Scott has researched and become a proficient photographer in the last couple years, and he has a great method for photographing artwork that gives you no glare.

"Polarizer gels are used on flashes in conjunction with a polarizer (linear or circular) on your lens to decrease specular highlights. This is primarily used when you want to photograph flat artwork. The most common setup involves 2 flashes positioned 45 degrees (relative to artwork surface) on equal distances from either side of the piece. Each flash (light) has a polarizer gel on it aligned in the same direction. The polarizer on the lens of the camera is aligned so it's axis of polarization is perpendicular to the polarizer axis on the flashes. This will eliminate unwanted specular highlights in the artwork."

In the below photo we are using 4 lights, but the more common (and affordable) setup would have 2.

Another tool that can be used is to photograph a printed color matching card with the painting to use to color correct in photoshop. Looking at some pure color boxes, just tweak the photo to match the sheet rather then trying to judge shifts in your more complex artwork.


Below are photos take seconds apart in the exact same lighting conditions as shown above. One quarter turn of your camera's polarizing lens filter makes the difference below.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High school confidential

I'm teaching a fantasy art workshop for teens next week and thinking about what to present. I think the best thing I can do for the students is to give them some perspective and hope to motivate them for long-term self-learning.
Being a good artist is a lifelong journey of continual improvement. There is a misconception among non-artists that "talent" and ability are innate and an artist is just a person with inborn abilities. We all know that's "total crap" (see previous posts), so I'm going to show my students my own work when I was their age to demonstrate that my current skills have been a slow climb from the same place that they are in.

When I was in school, I always had the expectation that every year I would get better. The yearly routine of going through successive grades provided me with obvious signposts to my development. I expected to be better in grade 11 compared to grade 10, etc. I kept all my work from grade 7 through college, and its fun to pull it out once in awhile to see exactly how "bad" I was at a certain point and the slow progression that took place. I was no prodigy, but I was quite a consistent worker and was experimental with different media and techniques. (probably because I didn't really know any sound procedures) Even early on, my love was in the finishing, shading, and coloring and not so much with the drawing. That is consistent with my current skills.

Digging into my big box of old art, I've taken out a few pieces from high school to show my students. They can compare this to their own work and see that they are fundamentally the same as me, with the same potential. In hindsight, I can point out things I wish I knew then and show them how the work could have been better. Time permitting, I'm going to do some sketches this week to show how I currently would have tackled my high school art for comparrison. Here is the first I just did...

Grade 9 Spiderman

Suggested drawing method: 2010


Students today have many more resources for learning then I did in the 80s. All the books, DVDs and websites out there are making todays young artists learn much faster than was possible back in the day. Hopefully this perspective and comparison of student to professional in my work will breed some confidence and hope.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Character: Steampunk Dwarf


Here's a new character I just finished for some clients. There is a party of 3 adventurers and a bad guy to do. I will do the others next month after some more pressing work.

For this guy, I looked at tractors as inspiration for his armor. He's got some "Ghostbusters" type equipment including his green-goo-gun and his remote control baddie-sucking device. I made his warhammer like a blacksmith's hammer, as that seemed to make sense.