Cover Updates 3, 4 and 5

And the painting continues on.  Here I’ve started to block in the closest figure.  I want to keep the back figure more as a graphic shape and let the contrast of the nearer figure really pop against the back one.

As I paint, not happy with collarbone region and the mouth is a bit off.

I have moved the collarbone up, getting the value structure in, although eventually, I will want the skin color darker as I’m shooting for a more Mediterranean skin tone.  I also start to darken behind the figures, waiting for some areas to dry so I can paint and glaze on top.

Now this step did not photograph well.  The tones are much closer to the step above.  But I am still working the background a bit as I start changing my mind on the arm wrap ) the blue in the original is too close to the sword blue.  Also, changed the loin cloth to a darker color.  I am getting the collar bone minimized and reading a bit better.  Worked back into the background figure, delineating some shapes and veins.  Also, grayed out that giant’s beard and hair to fall in line more with the description.  Tonight, I still want to darken the skin on the front figure.

Cover Update 1 and 2

I had the distinct pleasure of working alongside Steve Ellis, in his studio, as we both worked on our covers.  Steve is a great artist and the conversation never wavered and a couple of brews were imbibed.  I transferred the painting from my sketch, eliminating the palisade in the back and substituting mountains.  Andrew pointed out that a lot of stuff happens in the mountains in the novel and I agreed.  After the transfer, I tightened up the sketch on the gesso’d canvas board.

Knowing that I wanted a very wintery, cool  background, I wanted to keep my figures fairly warm to pop forward.  I got most of the background done in the 5 hours I was over in Steve’s studio.  I just started to block in Rotos, the giant.  The below was shot with my iphone and it came up fairly dark (compare to the next iphone shot in my studio).

Then I worked a few more hours on last Sunday, getting more into Rotos.  I think I over did his hair in value range.  He is supposed to be shaggy and gray.  I will have to knock back the dark in that hair, don’t want it to read as black hair.  But this is all a process and the preliminary color and values are holding places well into the painting time.

Looks like a totally different painting, especially the background.  Shooting this in MY studio, so much lighter.  I am blocking some of Kien, not happy with his values, but I can build on what I got down.  He is supposed to have a bit of Mediterranean skin tones and I’m not close yet.  But the structure is starting to happen.

Again, don’t forget to check out Andrew’s writing.  Andrew Luther and his writing here:   www.andrewjluther.com

Cover Choices

I got a chance to work with Andrew Luther on his new book, The Soldier and the Slave (I’m 3/4s through it and it is really good sword and sorcery stuff with interesting characters that make/forced into unusual choices.  Not sure where the book it going and I love that!).  Check out Andrew Luther and his writing here:   www.andrewjluther.com

I came up with 3 pencil sketches for Andrew.

And while we all liked #3, #2 was chosen.  The reason, which I think is solid reasoning, is that this is the first time we see these characters and Andrew wanted the more traditional choice of showing the 2 protagonists on the cover in a fairly readable way.  I will show the painting, in steps as I go along my merry way, in a little bit.

In the meantime, here is a blurb from Andrew:

I want to talk a little bit about The Soldier and the Slave.

This is my first novel in the series to take place entirely outside of Ythis. There’s a whole Empire outside of the walls of the capital city, and an even larger world beyond. In this book, readers will get to see the mountainous northern region of the Empire, and will encounter the Imperial Legion for the first time.

The Soldier and the Slave is a story that’s been in the back of my mind since I first started writing about the Undying Empire, but it wasn’t formed enough to commit to paper (or pixels). But it’s finally time to escape from Ythis and to explore some of the history that lies behind the formation of the Empire.

This is a story about doing the right thing, even though it may cost you everything you hold dear. It’s about strength in the face of failure, and refusing to give up.

Here is the official back cover copy for The Soldier and the Slave:

Kied Leele is a traitor to the Empire.

Unable to follow orders that he knew to be wrong, Kied was convicted and imprisoned in a slave mine for betraying his commission as an officer in the Imperial Legion. With the executions of his subordinates who followed him weighing heavily on his soul, Kied expects the remainder of his life to be full of darkness, toil, and suffering.

The Legion—occupying the mountains in the north of the Empire—has rounded up all local civilians while a special team searches for a long-forgotten, buried object of power desired by the Emperor himself. But Kied’s mysterious new cellmate, a dangerous giant of a man named Rotos, seems to know a great deal about this hidden object.

Kied believes that together, they might just be able to stop the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians at the hand of the Imperial military and deny the Emperor his prize. However, they must first escape the slave mine, reach the mountain valleys where the Legion awaits, and contend with the Legion’s new Commander.

And Kied doesn’t know if he can trust his companion, a man whose terrible secrets may herald the return of ancientbeings long thought dead.

Cover Fire

So.  I am working in dribs and drabs on a cover for a novella written by my brother from another mother, Rick.  It is one parts sword and planet, one part science fantasy and a bit on noir.  I wanted to give a sense of the urban setting and its place on the bay.  Hint at the investigative nature of the first novella.  Make sure the reader knows that there is going to be a sword fight or two.  Lastly, magic is something that might be on the menu.  My first attempt at this cover was really bland, really flat.  I wanted more depth, yet still retain a decently large central figure who is readable at postage stamp size when you are looking at it  on a kindle or some other ebook.

I think I succeeded.  That brief has a lot of masters to serve.  I’m going to show some of the process here.  First up is the sketch in my sketchbook with a tan ground.  I like working in the lights.  By having the character kneel with a bird’s eye angle, I get a head to toe shot of our main character, but keep him fairly large in the frame of reference.  And I get to have a lot of room up top for Title block and trade dress stuff.

I liked the sketch and wanted to keep a lot of it.  But I wasn’t sure if my hasty perspective lines were all that accurate.  So I scanned it in and played a bit more in Manga Studio 5, which has a great, simple perspective tool.  Turns out that my sketch perspective was pretty damn good, only a few lines had to be adjusted.  Also, I got to do my rune circle and lay it out in perspective.   Also could extend my frame of reference to 16×20 painting and get that title block space in nicely  Moved our hero over juusst slightly.  Made sure his scabbard made sense.

Then I printed it out sized up to the 16×20 in 4 sheets and spliced them together and transferred to the 16×20 canvas board.  Which I had prepped with gesso and for the first time, used a squeegee to get a really smooth surface that I prefer.  And I started the underpainting with Burnt Umber and white.  This is about 2 hours of underpaint in.  I’m trying to find the value structure.  I will post the completed underpainting when it gets done.  This is a vanity project and is not constrained by deadline, so it is my project in between paying work.  So who knows when the underpainting will be completed.

 

 

Inspiration from Gaming talk

My friend sent a post out this morning from the Goblin Punch blog site.  Which was about tribes of humanity living in the shadow and scraps of Dragons.  It was a cool post.  And it made me want to play a character from that background.  Link here: Goblin Punch Dragon musings  Here is what I wrote Judd:

“Very cool.  Now I want to play a dragon prince barbarian who somehow has the wool lifted from his eyes and is now out in the wider world trying to reconcile that his master and god is nothing but a manipulative, oppressive, 3 tons of acid spitting (thinking black dragon, why not?) Machiavellian brilliance.  I love me a fish out of water story.”

Now, I don’t really game much anymore.  But this got my juices going.  Judd likes it and writes back:  “I see this dragon-prince drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith.”

I write back; “Fuck that.  I see this dragon-prince drawn by me!  (Although, BWS is a huge influence on me and I would love to see that too….)”

And then the discussion devolved into truck loads of awards on BWS laurels and not mine…all in good fun.

But all morning the dragon prince barbarian lurked in my brain til lunch time.  I had to sketch him.  Snarfing my lunch down in record time, I put a few scribbly lines down and now I get to share it with y’all.

Still wanna play this guy in a cool Dungeon World campaign or something.

 

Battle Royale

Here is a private commission that I got to do.  This is, I think, the 3rd time I’ve drawn Clorton (the red bearded one, natch).  It is nice to return to a character that I’ve drawn before because of the new things you can draw out of the concept and freed up from the need to show a D&D character head to toe.

I have been doing a lot of reading on painting of late.  Thank you Patrick Jones, James Gurney for your wonderful books.  That, and getting to do action, well, I think this painting might be my best technically in some time.  It felt like a step forward.  I was really playing with trying to make it readable and still not be as delineated or as crisp as I usually am (a leftover of doing some much superheroes of solid black line)… this time I felt like I was more painterly and really thinking about where I wanted the focus to be.

It is unusual for me to like a painting after I am done.  I hope y’all like it… and if you don’t, let me know why, so I can continue to grow and learn.

 

Playing with ground, pencils, markers and white pencil

Working off of some of the sketches lately, I decided to try my hand at more of “finished” illustration, but still trying to keep some grit of pencils in it.  I found a Neutral toned paper I’m really happy with Kona Classic Premium Toned Artist Paper.  Made form repurposed coffee bean bags.  It has a lot less fibers, oddly enough, from some other neutral ground books I’ve found.

I was also inspired by a project that I’m doing some art work for, although this was not commissioned by the client, I was just messing around in that vein/genre/vibe.  I call this “Downed Pilot” and is decidedly space operatic, but I think with an old school feel.

Hope y’all like!

More Sketchy

I did another from the Figure and Gesture drawing website:  Figure & Gesture Drawing Site The site spits out random pics, which is great for when I am at work and want to spend a little time at lunch doodling and noodling.

I spent more time on this than I am “suppose” to, as it is really no longer a gesture drawing but a full blown study.  But, hey, once you know the rules of art, then you can break ’em.  <g>.  This was 20 mins and I spent more time, because I am trying to work on my folds, especially when I have to put a figure in some action pose than no once can pose for.  So, the more I can put in my visual memory of how fabric falls, the better.  I used to hate doing folds and clothing, having cut my teeth on super heroes in my younger days.  But now, I absolutely love doing cloth and folds.
So my advice to young artists, do what you DON’T like to do…. if you avoid hands, or horses, or cars or perspective… tackle those subjects!  Make it fun for yourself, learn from it and you might then find a weakness is slowly becoming a strength.

I might color this one up for my fantasy clip art series.  What do you guys think?

 

Sketchy

Someone on facebook, I forget who, but thank you very much, pointed out this website:  http://artists.pixelovely.com/practice-tools/figure-drawing/

So, here are a couple of sketches I did, each are 10 mins, during lunch break. Well, guy with gun was more like 11 mins, I cheated just to hit a couple of details.

 

Putting it out into the universe…

So, tomorrow I move into Millie and my new house.  After Thanksgiving, I will have my studio up and running.  And while I am working at Ehrhart Energy as a marketing and customer service rep, I do want to do illustration on the side, but lean more towards passion projects.  I am *REALLY* missing doing work in oil.

One project that I came up with is because I have been reading some old sword and sorcery stuff.  Just finished the first collected volume of Kane by Karl Edward Wagner available as a ebook.  I was also reading some of Lin Carter’s sword and planet stuff this summer.

I have never really had any huge desire to follow in other’s footsteps, but I have been thinking a lot about doing a series of paintings… each painting would be the great character(s) of sword and sorcery.  So, obviously, Conan, Elric.  And I would be stepping into the shadows of Frazetta, Buscema, Whelan, Boris, Schultz and so many others.  Very daunting.  But perhaps at this time in my career, I should do a series like this.  Would folks want to see my Tarzan (which is blurring the line for sword and sorcery I admit) or my Belit or my John Carter?  Maybe I could do a gallery show in a couple of years?  Maybe folks would want prints?  Can I put my stamp on these characters that would be interesting to others?

Some of the ones I thought of really wanting to do:  Of course, Conan, Elric.. especially Elric, who might be my favorite fantasy character…. here are some others:  Tarzan, Jane, Deja Thoris, Red Sonja, Thoth Amon, Kull, Kane, John Carter, Fafhrd and Grey Mouser, Corum, Hawkmoon, Erekose, Eric John Stark (especially! never thought he was correctly depicted, he is dark skinned, not white!). Conn, (I always liked Conan’s son too).  What others would be fun to have done?

I finished this pic awhile ago, but kept forgetting to put her up.  The underpainting was posted in this blog back a few posts.  I think this series of “Maori” inspired characters also got me thinking of the Sword and Sorcery vibe.