Monday, July 16, 2012

grist in the artistic mill

Over at Tor there's a lovely write up of what artist Dave McKean has been doing lately: Science, Belief, and an Origami Crab. (via his panel at the SDCC titled: Dave McKean: My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ, and a Small Crab Called Eric:)

So many reasons to like this artist, but this excerpt in particular caught my heart: 

“I’m not a scientist and I’m not a believer, but I’m fascinated by belief.” For [Dave McKean], it’s all grist for the artistic mill."
Yeah, that pretty much sums up my own grinding process, too.

And now, here, a lovely ink piece by Dave:
winged, by Dave McKean

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Storytelling with Ian Mccaig.

Today over at the Inkpunks blog I posted about what Ian shared at the Illustration Masters Class on how to take a character idea and flesh it out into a whole storyline:
"The very first question Ian asked, for every character idea I pitched to him. was: “What does your character WANT”. (A bit of a tricky question, I found.) Once we had established what my character wanted Ian used a three act structure to help me nail down the plot line with pivotal steps strategically placed along the way.* He used Star Wars as his example (of course) and so I’ll do like wise.
Okay. Here we go... " (read more)
(Meanwhile... I really haven't had much chance to go and revisit the story I started there. I'm working on exciting stuff coming up in other places: Currently finishing illustrations for issue 2 of the Fireside magazine and art for the Geek Love Anthology. Gearing up to do the internal art for Dark Depths by Wendy N. Wagner. And I just got new fiction from Lightspeed to work with. Loving all of it. But aiming to look at ways to make sure I carve out time for little start of a something that happened at the Illustration Masters Class.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cairn at Slater Woods.

One of the things I loved about the IMC was everyone working from the same handful of assignments.  Innumerable ways each could be interpreted, everyone bringing their own particular skill set and working method to the project. Several people working on the same story but with incredibly diverse outcomes.

The story that I picked, Our Human, was also tackled by quite a few very talented individuals at the IMC (like Nick Kay, for example) and was illustrated for TOR by John Jude Palencar.

One of the other assignments was The Cairn in Slater Woods. (A story involving a red-headed ghost, a cairn, and a forest with bottles hanging from trees.) Here is Marc Scheff's version, a work in progress look at Lauren K Cannon's interpretationPaige Carpenter's take on it, and also Mark Williams.

And here is the version that Irene Gallo commissioned Eric Fortune to do.

It got me thinking.  About finding "my ways" of doing things. "My Style."  Just something that's been on my mind a lot lately.  So, on a whim, I tried my own hand at Cairn in Slater Woods:

Not displeased with this first try. I may do another couple of versions. For diversity. for practice? I may try my hand at all of the other IMC assignments. For diversity. For practice. For portfolio building.
Just a thought.
(In my copious spare time, yah?)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I recently started going to the local life-drawing session, to brush up on some rusty skills. Initially I was just using a ball point pen on paper. But that got boring after a while, so I started playing with mixing pen and watercolor pencils, then, finally, I decided to break out my old (long unused) fold-able travel sized watercolor palette.

I'd forgotten how much I miss this.

Last night was the session where they do one long pose with the model in costume.  She was wearing this amazing wide pleated green skirt that hung in heavy folded drapes around her legs. After a few initial pencil studies, I started painting, aiming for artistic interpretation and exaggeration rather than realistic rendering. 
Here's what came of it:

I am not displeased, and looking forward to doing more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

illustrating Ghost River Red.

Ghost River Red by Aidan Doyle just went live over at lightspeed magazine. It is a stunningly rich story: when it showed up in my inbox with a request for an illustration I could hardly contain my self. Every part of the story is lush with incredible imagery and symbolism. And COLOR. Oh the color. (Read the author interview here for more about it). Many thanks to John Remy who helped me with some image reference for the story.

Here's few snapshots of how the piece came together:

I started out sketching in the forest setting and experimenting with various iaido sword fighting stance:

I really wanted to show the fact that Akamiko was elderly (an awesome aspect of the story),  so I  tried several variations with gray or white hair:

I ultimately went with a dark haired Akamiko for design purposes. And finally limited myself to one sword as well (that was also hard: the story has some pretty powerful symbolism linked to the various colored swords):

Halfway through, I realized the image would be stronger if I flipped the whole thing:

A bit further along I realized the image would be stronger still if I flipped Akamiko:

And, finally finished. 

created in Photoshop, cs3, with an intuos 4 tablet.