Monday, December 30, 2013

Dragon's Prophet

Well, its been awhile since I have updated this blog!  I have been working regularly, but the past year has been a bit strange in that most of the projects have been done to sit for a year till release, and all the stuff I did last year was released quickly, so I'm in a long period where nothing can be shown.  That will change soon, and we will get back to a more regular schedule of posts, so thanks for any patience.

A couple months ago I was contacted by the CEO of the Sony-published game, Dragon's Prophet to partner with them to design some dragons for their online RPG. Here's the first one...


They are making 3-d game versions of them and selling them thru their free-to-play RPG.  Its nice to be sought after and trusted to provide some visions for this product, and I hope its successful for them.

This is cool!  (Store page)


Sunday, August 25, 2013

First (and last ??) Warcraft card oil paintings.

I was just informed that I can now show my first oil-painted card illustrations I did early this year.  These were for the World of Warcraft card game, a product I've been consistently working on in digital paint for the past 3.5 years.  Unfortunately, things have been quiet on the WOW front and it comes as no surprise that the game as its currently published is no longer: http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/267188-world-of-warcraft-trading-card-game/

Its really a shame.  WOW has been one of my 3 steady clients since I started freelancing.  I had a blast doing these images in oils and was excited to continue doing more.  WOW has been great to work on, being one of the top-paying clients for this type of work and a natural fit for my aesthetic.  Also, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jeremy Cranford, the AD, and have found him to be a positive, nurturing influence.  Hopefully this is not the end of all Warcraft work, but just a shift to new products or publishing arrangements.  

Anyhow, here are my first 2 card paintings in oils.


Tauren Paladin





Orc Shaman

In a couple weeks I will be at Illuxcon again, but this time as a main-show exhibitor.  I'm very pleased to have cracked the lineup after only one year of oil painting my illustrations.  Unfortunately since I have not been doing this long much of my work is still tied up in NDA so I cannot bring most of 2013's product. Nevertheless, I look forward to a great time catching up with my extended art family.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Trying some new THINGs out

So I've been using oils for my illustration work for about a year and a half now.  Its going fine, but each picture and the overall process is slightly risky trying new things on the fly.  Since I haven't been doing this too long I'm still experimenting with materials.  I have a pretty set process for my palette and medium, but have changed surfaces a few times, and I have an idea of some workflow aspects that can be improved.  Without getting into too much detail why or what, I basically just wanted to take a day and try some things out, and not change my process on an important client-work.


My underpaintings are usually the color of the scene, done in acrylic washes.  I wanted to try a warm oil underpainting. Also, I wanted to try a new medium, particularly one that contains Venice turpentine, a honey-viscous resin that adds thickness and enamel-properties to the mix.  The reason for this is that I am painting on a very smooth masonite board and am looking for a medium that sticks to it better.


My normal palette setup is informed by my academic training and is great for matching colors in front of you. For workflow of creative subjects, however I am feeling its not optimal. (I have had to un-learn as much atelier info as I have utilized, but that's another blog-post.  Basically you need to not be a robot with your process and supplement from best-practices of those making the work you aim to emulate)

Anyhow I have been wanting to try a pre-mixed palette for various reasons, so made these colors up for this quick test...



I think I still need to try these things in a more thorough manner... I'm not sure if the medium made any difference.  But I had fun... I also just wanted to try a minimally-planned comic themed image, as I have a feeling the future may contain pursuing that avenue.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New podcast: About Illuxcon and selling original paintings.

Want to know all about Illuxcon and selling original fantasy art? Give our awesome new podcast a listen!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finishing up some old stuff...

Taking a few days in between projects to put the finishing touches on some of the Paizo half-pagers I did last year.  These are part of the 6-book, 24 illustration job I did, and have only shown the ones I did in oil up till now.  Those big, multi-image freelance jobs can be a killer... cranking out complex compositions fast... and can be frustrating to not have the time to give them finishing love.  



Anyhow, just got the call yesterday for my next assignment, so I'll have to wait awhile to fix up other worthy images!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

A successful workshop.

Well, the week is over and our workshop finished.  It went perfectly, and everyone had a great time.  The models were amazing and the vibe really relaxed.  I didn't take photos every day or document this religiously, but here are a few more shots of what we did...

After the drawings or underpaintings were finished, they were all scanned and I reduced them in the computer and printed everyone out a small cropped face for the next lesson.


These reduced drawings were then traced down onto small pieces of canvasboard.  This step had the students produce a small color study of the portrait to practice mixing and analysing the colors.



Marty did a quick demo of blocking in the main tones...


After the small study, it was back to the large canvases and onto the painting of the portrait in color.


Students generally proceeded from the top down, rendering away to a finish on each area.  There were numerous demos on hair, glazing, etc.


The week went by fast and it seemed like the right amount of time for the tasks covered.  Along with working, there was also a big 17-person Chinese food supper last night and many boxes of donughts consumed.  The group was a great mix of people and having 12 people in a garage didn't seem like too many.  Now to clean up my garage and get back to routine and "real" work.


This is the headstudy of Sara that I painted..


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Atelier portrait painting workshop day 3

No update for day2... we went and saw Star Trek last night.  It was good, regardless of what Marty thinks.

Stage 2 of our workshop has the students moving into the painting stage once an accurate drawing is made.  First, a toned canvas is prepared with burnt umber and the drawing transferred by rubbing charcoal on the back of a copy and tracing down the outline.

Many of the drawings were first scanned so we could enlarge or shrink to an optimal size for painting.  This step also allows for a perfect centring and placement on the canvas.


Using lead white for a good foundation layer and for enhanced drying properties, the students then scumbled white over the face to start the modelling process.  This stage allows students to gently move into the painting stage and start to see how they will render within the linework.

The addition of some darker umber and a background tone starts to bring the face into relief.  This stage is an in-between stage to drawing and painting as students are still able to concentrate on drawing with paint before color problems are introduced.
(painting by Andrea Lane)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Atelier portrait painting workshop day 1

Today was the first day of our portrait painting workshop, taking place at my home studio.  This is the first time I've been able to use the big garage space below my office for an event.  It took a bit of tidying up, but has so far worked perfectly as a teaching space...



The main instruction for the class is being done by Martinho Correia, the former instructor at the famous Angel Academy in Florence, Italy.  We've been friends for quite awhile, and since he stays in Canada a few months a year we decided to hold a class at my place this spring.  Its a great opportunity for this knowledge to come to us rather than having to travel to Italy for classes.


 Day 1 started with an overview of the entire process and a demonstration on how to accurately draw the model from life, using a "Bargue drawing" method of plumb lines and comparative measurements.


The students are drawing on paper first, then transferring their drawings to canvas for later painting.  I sat out day one and worked upstairs a bit on another image that I just started, but thinking again, I might as well jump in on this opportunity and do a painting too.  How often does one get to paint from a live model for an extended period for free and at home??  I'd better jump in on this tomorrow and get caught up!


Everyone's drawings are progressing nicely.  The models are great and the class is running smoothly... fingers crossed for the rest of the week.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New podcast

After 5 months we finally have a new podcast up: http://www.drawntoday.com/podcasts/DT_podcast_ep042.mp3

I'd personally rather listen to podcasts than make them, but I do feel enthusiastic once in awhile to make these and put some thoughts down for posterity.  I'm actually pretty proud of the job we have done on these podcasts; I think they are informative and interesting, but that could be just because we are talking about people and things that are familiar.  I really don't have a clue if others actually listen to these things; I don't host or have access to any stats.  Its hard to be motivated to do this free public-service-educational stuff without feedback or thanks, so if you've ever listened to them, pleas let me know if they are appreciated... otherwise we might not bother.

Anyhow this episode is on "advice for graduating students".  Its an attempt to provide a path for illustration students to travel upon graduation.  We try to bring some perspective from a standpoint of 20 years after graduation to students entering today's challenging professional environment.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stuff


Been home for a few days from the Calgary Expo. It was a good time again this year. I didn't make as much money as the first year, but I think that may be due to the crowds being dispersed into more buildings this year for less traffic by my table. My table was in the exact same spot as last year so that was good for continuity and people getting familiar with me. I didn't get to meet too many new artists, so a little dissapointed at that fact, but it was great to chum around with the ones I knew from before.

I still have 2 spots left for the portrait painting class on May 20th-26th. (see earlier posts) I dunno why it didn't fill easier as we have posters at all the local art stores, etc. If anyone still wants to attend, let me know ASAP.

I am starting to clean up my garage studio space, and Marty is coming up next Wed. to help me set it all up for the class. I am also likely meeting with my 2 models tomorrow. If all goes well, I think they will work great. There is the possibility of some great red hair to paint! It will be nice to take a week off from routine and have some real human contact. The students I have met all seem very mature and serious so I think there will be alot of stimulating art-learning happening.

Anyhow, spread the word for me as we still have 2 spots in the class, as its coming up fast!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gif

Found an old gif I made of the process of a daily painting still-life (from life)...



Thursday, April 11, 2013

New art, blog design, store, facebook page...

Just released this week is the World of Warcraft card game "Caverns of Time Treasure Pack", featuring some art I made last summer. Here we have a thieving orc prying the weapon from an unsuspecting human. 



 I don't mind getting the humor cards, but often they fall into the "transparent glowing wolf wearing a sombrero" category, and are sometimes better off not being shown...
Rawwrrrr!!! 


Also new is the design of this blog, and a shiny new facebook page for my illustration work, which I will be trying to direct folks to whom I am not actual, real-life "friends" with.  Hopefully this will make it easier for me to avoid spamming family and non-artists with useless self-promotional braggery. Please go and "like" that facebook link for future art-related news in your facebook feed.

One of the main reasons I finally decided to make the facebook art/fan page was because I was able to integrate my new store into it.  The store is also linked right on the facebook page through this icon:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Sass-Illustration/211285165564460
Now that I am working in oils and have an increasing stock of originals to sell, this seemed like the right time.  Its also convention season, so hopefully I'm set if people want to know where to see more product.  I'll be populating the store as I photograph stuff and new images are released.

Re-designing the blog, creating the facebook page and adding a store was quite easy and I'm happy that the 3 distinct sites can be branded visually and linked to provide a seamless portal to information and product.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

"What brushes do you use?"

"What brushes do you use??"

Ahhh...that age old question that is often asked of artists, as if the tool is the only difference between amateur and professional work.

 Well, dear reader, it does matter!  Having good brushes wont make you a good painter, but the right tools surely help everyone achieve their potential without unnecessary hindrance.
There are alot of bad art supply stores out there that either have limited selection or have selection based on maximizing profit and catering to the hobbyist. (Michaels... you #@%&* suck!)  So in service to the students taking our upcoming portrait workshop I put together a sample sheet of the brushes I use and that I want them to have.  This is based on what the stores in my area carry, so brands are unimportant.
 I have a pile of brushes I bought in years past that never get used, and when painting I always seem to go for the same few brushes that never fail; so to help people not waste their money, here is what I use and suggest you try.


And here is the table beside my illustration drafting table where my supplies sit:

  1. Medium jar with lid.  Available at Michaels (yuk).  Nice to close the lid when not dipping.
  2. Jar of odorless mineral spirits for cleaning brushes while painting.
  3. Brush organizer.  Place brushes here when in use.
  4. Jars of brushes, organized by type: detail brushes, blenders, soft filberts, bristles etc.  
  5. Jar for dirty/discarded mineral spirits.
  6. Mediums: one bottle oil, one bottle mineral spirits, used 50-50%. 6a is cobalt dryer for medium.
  7. White plastic palette with lid to keep paint from drying while I eat supper.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

Upcoming portrait painting workshop

This May I will be hosting a portrait painting (oils) workshop at my studio in Edmonton.  This week-long course will be taught by my friend, Martinho Correia.
Martinho was the former painting instructor at the famous Angel Academy in Florence, Italy.  I personally consider this school the best place to learn the technical skills of classical realist methods and have taken many workshops on the processes they teach.

With a class limited to 10 students, we'll have 2 models set up with 5 artists around each model.  Students will go through a thorough process to produced a painted portrait from life.  Martinho will be the main instructor, but I will also be available to help, and you will have access to my studio for the week to witness my oil painted illustrations and process up close.

Click for info from Martinho's site.


We are excited to offer this course and I think it will be alot of fun.  I just want to underscore the opportunity this workshop provides, especially for Western Canadians who have limited exposure to this type of instruction and experience.  Both Martinho and I have traveled and studied extensively in artistic hotbeds at great time and financial expense.  To spend a week at my studio studying with us is a fantastic opportunity to absorb our knowledge with a small class size and in the inspiring setting of my working studio.  I would have killed to go to a workshop like this 10 years ago, but had to make many costly trips to build my knowledge of this craft.  For anyone interested in travelling to this workshop, I can help you with logistics like hotels, so just ask.


I have created a Facebook event for this workshop. Feel free to join this page for future info or to discuss and ask questions.

Contact my personal e-mail: msass@telusplanet.net for questions or to register.  Hope to see you in May!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Final Pathfinder oil for 2012

Just released this month is the 6th and final book in the Pathfinder RPG "Shattered Star" adventure.  This concludes a 6-month, 24 illustration project that I had a great time doing.

In the previous books, I was juggling doing multiple oil paintings each month, but for this last book I decided to focus my efforts on doing a single painting, leaving the other 3 to do digitally.  Its been difficult to get to a finished state doing so many at once, so I thought best to pick the coolest of the commissions and do a 100% job where I wouldn't have to finish after it was sent off.

Here is the final drawing.  I do the drawings in photoshop for speed and to visualize values simultaneously.



Below we see my reference.  For those unfamiliar with best practices in using photos, you can see the limbs and parts have been "frankensteined" together to get positions that match my sketch.  No one photo will be the perfect shot, so you need to adjust and piece them to get what you want.


Below we see the printed out drawing mounted and sealed onto masonite board.  I have gone over the lines with umber acrylic paint so they will be darker and seen through the underpainting.


Some acrylic washes for an underpainting serve to provide relationships to judge colors and provides opacity as I paint each object in one finished layer.


Progress on the painting showing how each part is finished at once.


The final painting.  12X16"  This looks cleaner just due to it being a proper photo using flash equipment whereas the shots above are just snapshots of the work on my table.  The shot below has no retouching.


Anyhow, it was nice to not rush so much with this one.  It took about a week.  

I still have a load of digital ones that I probably won't bother to show as they fall under the category of "git 'er done" art and don't really have final quality details. If I get the chance to make another detail pass at some of them I will post in the coming months... but in the meantime here is one that is more or less finished...


This 6 month Pathfinder job was great in forcing volume from me, and I'm looking forward to using that experience for bigger and better results.