Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fantasy Geneticists popping up everywhere!

Wow, did I have a wonderful 2013!!  Fantasy Genesis has been seen in Michael's stores all over the Sphere,  but I've been so busy with a special series of Magic the Gathering paintings, 21 oil paintings for Heroes Cards made for their new THEROS world, that I've been rather negligent with my list of blogs.  However, I've drawn in the nets from the Fantasy Genesis FB page, have turned out a loovly little clutch of Creations flopping about for me to Like and Share, AND would also like to give big propers to my only mentorship of last semester, PNCA Illustration graduate, and amazingly skilled artist, Tori Meader!

Let me say from the start, that although these wonderful illustrations could be seen as creations from my book, Fantasy Genesis had little to do with Tori's thesis process, as the line of illustrations she developed for her thesis were focused on very specific aspects of the Zodiac.  It's called ZODION.  Tori inventivley assembled a cast of 12 bio-mechanical animal totems re-imagined from the signs of the Western Zodiac.  In addition, Zodion is a brilliant collection of SF&F animal creature concepts, and the sketches on her site underline her passion for conceptual work.  Check out the whole series at the Zodion website, look up your sign, and check out Tori's fun Commission deals, and extras coming out of her FB blog, Etsy, and StoreEnvy shops!

Well, it's always a brilliant surprise when I find all the different paths we Creatives will take with a couple simple word association exercises, and make it their own, and this group of examples were no exception.  They all really gave me a double take on how my game is influencing artists and creatives, and in a real way.  Thank you all so much for taking the game, and just swimming with it!

First there's Emily Wendland Krueger.  It turns out Emily and her husband Steven play Fantasy Genesis on a regular basis, and they were kind enough to post these great creations up on Facebook.  She's just a wickedly talented young illustrator, with a bend towards animals and typography it seems, and anyone looking for new editorial work with those qualities, would do well to give her a holler.




Next up is Ethan Myerson, who I met through the Fantasy Genesis FB page.  Ethan is a great photographer out of Tucson, that's used Fantasy Genesis to play with some SF&F concepting as well. Great plant life, and Turtle/Newt warrior seen here, but check out Ethan's site for more.


Last but not least, is Ian Strandberg.  I met Ian way back in I want to say, 2004 or earlier when I would do GenCon Indy every year.  I was working on concepting the Band of Orcs characterizations and mask designs at the time, Ian came by the booth, and I remember him having a lot to say about the benefits of puppeteering with anything theatrical.. He's definitely one of the hardest working men in show business types, and I could tell he was very driven when we first met.. =)  Ian not only does visual effects work, 3D and 2D, but does Creature and makeup sculpts, and gives live Zbrush tutorials on Twitch tv in his spare time!?!


Wherein one of these tutorials, he did this Frog+Bull sketch up on Zbrush.. Love those bifurcated toes!  Check him out at his Website, but also check out Ian (VerbalProcessing) for his tutorials and otherwise Mad Genius on his YouTube Channel!

Bowing to your collective inner LightPushers!!  Be good to each other, and stay tuned!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wicked Fantasy Genesis Creations

Haven't had a lot of time for showcasing the awesome creations that have been rolling in from across this brilliant Sphere of ours, but lemme tell yah Lords and Ladies, they have been rollin' in at a steady clip!

Tea Time at the end of the World
by rsek off of DA
Cactus Cow-Ram
by Myth-Dragon off of DA
So, here's another great showing from the Fantasy Genesis gallery on Deviant Art, including work from Steve Huczek, Heather Kreiter, and also a couple of brilliant pieces I received with a nice email from Karen G!  Thanks Karen, and be sure to send me more  in the future!!  You're really running with the original spirit of the game, and not just replacing parts.. =)

Bee Pirate Newt by Racingspoons
(Steve Huczek) off of DA
Steve has also started the first couple pages of his comic called Cornman!!  Check Steve out on the FB page and keep a look out for the Kickstarter to begin fairly soon for Cornman.. Can't get enough of this Cat's wildly inventive and brilliantly cynical writing style, and I'm sure Cornman will be every bit as funny and satirical as what I've come to expect from Mr. Huczek over the years..
Kitsune by Heather V. Kreiter 
Recently found this piece by Heather Kreiter, fellow freelance Lightpusher, and among the folks I'd see when I did GenCon.  Heather runs Shaman Soul Studios, and on top of illustrating for L5R and other RPGs, also makes loveably evil, My Little Demon toys, plushes, temp tattoos, and a host of more product with your favorite Pony-like bringer of mayhem.. =) Thank you so much for including the FG born Flora in your L5R painting, so many cool textures and that Kitsune (hope I'm getting the right Japanese Mythos) is so lush.. Glowing fur!!
3 Awesome Creatures by Karen Gosselin
(I especially love the Pine-Stag here)
Turtlekeet Mech by Karen Gosselin
I'll have more in the months to come, but in the mean time if you'd like to see some of my charity portraits, and an upcoming story with Cmdr. Sisko actor Avery Brooks involved, visit Portland Stink-Eye and as always, Stay Tuned !!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Workshop in Estacada

Lecture on brow structure
from Fantasy Genesis
I miss teaching..  There, I said it..  Straight away, no qualms, no regard hitherto stated evidence against, case closed without recourse from judge or jury!  Granted, not every day teaching is a successful, or even mildly pleasant day (especially mornings on deadline) and I doubt any particular mode or method one chooses will bring results to everyone, even if you're the most brilliant educator the Sphere's ever seen, but you can, and Do have an effect on some folks in a quite rare and magical time in their lives, and that's something few of us can predict or quantify.  It's simply the best! (bettah than awl the rest!)  Even though my freelance work has never given me time to completely focus on teaching, my inner LightPusher would love to start up again in the future, and the opportunities to teach seem to appear from time to time. =)
Couple of in class sketches showing Staggered & Aggressive brows
Although between recently being invited back to Focus Week by a couple of my students to finish out the school year at the PNCA, and giving a workshop/demo to three great groups of high school students at the Tri-Valley Art Conference, one thing has been revealed to me.  The fact that there are times we all can be teaching without a gig, without even being aware of it?  Like a chaotic ink wash, perhaps it's those serendipitous moments that are the most informative or inspirational, when we are at our most genuine state?

After all, a Compassionate action is never a one way road, both folks or groups need to bring something to the table to empathize or to understand.  This was the case in every class I taught at the PNCA, and it was the case at the Tri-Valley Art Conference in Estacada put on by Janice Packard a couple weeks ago.  I gave some sketched demos, had some great one-on-one time with art students from three different high schools, and generally had a blast!  What an awesome bunch of kids, and I hope to do more one-day events like this, but I got a sense of what kind of skill sets students are capable of nowadays, at such an early age?  A real baptism of fire, that!  I've always thought that if students were young enough to have been raised with the internet and it's exponentially growing supply of photographic reference, then you definitely had an advantage over my generation of beta-max video recording and library reference, and moreover this was the main reason for the quickening in skill sets; The more access to cleaner and more infinitely diverse photographic reference picturing this Sphere we're livin' on, and all it's wildly diverse Cultures and History, the more accurately one is able to document it all?  Of course it's more than any one reason, but you can tell the skill sets are just getting better and better from when I was in high school, and I can't wait to see what those students have to offer when they graduate?  Goot Lawrd!?!  =)

It was also fun to observe what modern tech doesn't necessarily teach at all, and the kind of things that will spring from an individual's personality traits or archetype, regardless of the tech around at the time of development?

I think there's a theatrical bug in most illustrators (especially the one's who might also want to be musicians, or spend a portion of their youth in front of a mirror) and I've noticed this leads to them/us mimicking and documenting emotions through facial expressions earlier than most.  Since Facial Expression & Anthropomorphism was the subject of my workshop, it was interesting to see who gravitated to the emotional aspects of the face, or who might have a better grasp on documenting realism, or who might veer towards expression in gesture and pose, or for those most skilled, who had a really good start on all of the above.. =)

More to come on Focus Week at the PNCA next post around,
and gracious thanks to all the talented young folks that attended
my short workshops at the Tri-Valley Art Conference!
Keep in Touch & Stay Tuned !!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Forging Games - Part I


On finishing any big project, it's remarkably easy to kick back, become one with the closest comfy chair and watch period detective series'  for hours.. or weeks.. But as any freelancer will tell you, the time you can take to rest on your accomplishments is usually no time at all.  While you were working quite diligently on the biggest looming deadline, the host of; meetings, promised work for friends, personal work, and all the focused self-promo to carve your way into the next big project, sit smoldering there in the corner, bent up and in states of neglect.

To my amazement, (and thankfulness, as I didn't teach one class) the whole of last year was miraculously filled back to back, with nothing but big projects, and I rode the awesome wave, just hoping that all that other opportunity didnae stick me hand in warm water while I was sleeping!  Opportunity is tricky that way. =)

The Warden in all her 3D modeled
and action packed glory, not your
run of the mill tank character.
One of those big projects came in the way of an email from; wildly skilled digital illustrator and visual problem solver, Adam Cook, and the wickedly brilliant and fun team of creatives at SuperGenius (additional links to your right).  Adam brought me on board Paul Culp's do-all video production house in Oregon City, SuperGenius just around this time last year.  Can't really describe the honor it was to work on the design and concept team for their video game Forge.  It had been a long time since I worked on any team, let alone one with so many Super Geniuses (Genii? Geniui? Genieye?Gene Kelly? I dream ah Genie?) but the results have been double down rainbow in the sky, all the way; working on my World Development skills, Characterization, the slow but interesting progression of my Digital Chops, and above all, being a visible and solid part of FORGE; a brilliantly fast paced and fun game that is now out on the Steam game engine, using some of the very latest in animation and visual tech.  It's a bloody romp of hack, slash, and arrow nocking melee strategy, with massive fiery explosions, and magical burst of mayhem stashed away in every corner.  For the sake of your inner-viking I would defo check it out!! =)

The Warden's Bear and Ranger's Wolf.  Belly tattoos, shaved knot
work, spinal and tusky protrusions, and bands of forged armor. 

I'm pretty proud of the work I did, and what seems fairly unlike a large majority of gaming studios; Dark Vale, Digital Confectioners, and Super Genius gave all Forge's concept artists the ability to show this work shortly after release, so here it comes my friends, in a three part series!

Final Bear Modeled
The Warden character was Forge's "tank" character and from the beginning she was to be something of an anomaly in the video game status quo.  I can only hope that we were able to do so in even a small way.  The Warden character was a task in balancing strength, body type, posturing, costuming and the myriad other things that make up the tank, while still having her remain feminized enough to read as such on screen.  Her shield took on many different shapes and forms, as did her helm and weapon, but the final 3D models took on all the right elements, while remaining in the ancient Nordic period we were after.  The weapons I designed for the Warden were especially fun, and although I only really had time to design out the top half of the shield, the Warden's shield attack features a ring of shields lit up something like golden lanterns!! just beautiful to watch, and brilliant to see some of my imagery make it to game play!

Final Wolf Modeled
The idea of familiars or spirit animals for each character was being tossed around throughout all waves of development, and here I had the chance to develop some fun ideas that were developed further as the initial 2 weeks were drawing to a close.  The Warden's familiar was to be a Bear, as was the Ranger character's to be a Wolf. The Thief/Assassin's familiar was to be a Panther, and the others were to become awesome ghostly and pyropocolyptic beasties


The Ranger character began when I didn't really have a great grasp on how some of the aspects of modeling and animations would actually play out, or the process that was to be followed.  Portions of his costume, and the blue lit Celtic cross chest plate remained, but the Ranger character gained largely from a couple different folks joining in on design.  The Ranger did help me understand how being ignorant to portions of any process might be a blessing in coming up with combinations that wouldn't be attempted, but also how they remain a curse.  Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I learned throughout Forge, was that very few of the tricks illustrators use to direct the viewers attention two dimensionally, actually apply when designing for games or film, where it's all about the 3D all day.  Thinking about function and mobility in real time 3D while you work, is utterly different than thinking about the very same things as they're required for only a split second in time.  =)  I'd like to think by the time I finished the last character I designed for Forge, that I had a better handle on the specific hassles any particular material, or body part, or structure might pose, because of the growing pains in the first character.  =)

 Fun to see all the ways in which simple shapes, or the mention of words during the ideation process can effect outcomes, it's just an amazing thing to take part in, and much like the free association or improvisation that happens when I use Fantasy Genesis, so was working with such a creative team of folks.  Stay Tuned for Part II !!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Portland Grand Prix

What a great event!!  The Con Center was packed with Magic the Gathering players, and the front line of illustrators were the likes I've nae seen!!  RK Post websiteMark Tedin website, Anson Maddocks, Mike Dringenberg, Steve Argyle websiteMike Daarken Lim website, and myself; sketched, signed, told lightpushing tales of old and new, and otherwise sold our artistic souls to the fans of the greatest collectible card game done placed on this here spinnin' Sphere!

One of the highlights of the show was having a great dinner with fellow LightPushers Mike Daarken Lim, and his wife Kat.  Daarken is of course a name synonymous with most brands at Wizards, and a long list of publishers and vid game companies, but in my research for an upcoming interview, I also found all the brillos work Mike has been doing in the form of tutorials & reviews on his Enlighten site. Quite an artist, and I can't wait for the chat!

Sad to see her go, but Barrington Forge Tender is sold and off to a new home!
I had the great fortune of selling the original painting for the Barrington Forge Tender during the Grand Prix as well..  There was an interest at the show, I started a haggle that I would've followed through with, if there was a decent offer, but in the 11th hour when I got home for the night, an email collector snatched it oop!!  Crazy timing on that one.  I've used BFT at school as an example of professional process, at shows as an example of the multi-layered wash technique and how an original glows in ways a print simply cannot, and at home this painting has been off and on my walls in both Detroit, as it has been in my apartments in Portland for the last 7 years.  After all that, I'm torn, but I'm also happy that the BFT will be framed up and enjoyed, instead of stuffed away in the closet as well.. =) Cue Sting..

The best part of any Magic show is sketching and sharpie markering up cards and playmats with weird and fun alterations, and this show was no different.  It was every bit as weird and wonderful as the last, and like the theory behind Fantasy Genesis, the most creative wig bubbles seem to come from limiting yourself to only one or two words in association. After all you don't want your skeletal robots getting too complicated on you, nor should you give too many fans playmats crabs.. =)
One of the many highlights of Portland
GP, was giving a fans playmat crabs.. =)
Now it's straight on to the Grand Prix Las Vegas in June, and a whee further bit on to the new Theros World dropping in Sept.!! Stay Tuned !!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Content of Ones Character

 Saw the trailer for Pacific Rim at the cinema when Pam and I saw The Hobbit the other night, and I was reminded of how successful; snub-nose, truncated, foreword sloping Cro Magnon facial features can be when used to indicate insane strength and behemoth scale in any characterization.  The first couple of times I was really impressed with this, were with the Dragons of Michael PhillippiPaul Bonner, and Todd Lockwood.  

All three of these brilliant illustrators create amazingly meaty creature heads, by giving them small but detailed orbits, and a brow to jaw line with only one or two surface planes to it. The unconscious mind will read this as a skull structure so dense and solid, that any attack will surely just recoil from the weight.  There's many other ways to achieve this, but for giant creatures, it's a great technique, and works every time.

After seeing the trailer, I remembered this sketch floating around on the sketchbook I used in my classes at the PNCA.  Done from the Fantasy Genesis role to the left, and revisited on more than one occasion, I thought I'd have another go at this Triceratops Rhino looking fella.  I threw some more masculinization into the pose and facial features, but also shrunk his head by giving him bigger limb proportions.

Another double Mammalian role that took a couple tries, but could make a nice protagonist or antagonist when he grows up?  Keep sketching, and stay tuned !!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Deviant Art Creations - Round Three

My Pop used to say, "If it's important, you make time" and although nowadays that statement sounds like, "Oh crap, you mean now I've gotta build a time machine, on top of my deadlines?" when I was young, and had all the time in the World, it was simply a statement meaning, "Make this important enough to actually plan for it".  So in that spirit of giving propers, and making time for the folks who have been finding Fantasy Genesis an outright blast to flip their wigs with; I give you Round Three of the Fantasy Genesis contributions from the Deviant Art page!

Space Crab by Belthazubel - Meant to get this one in on the
last round, but what a nice digital piece!

A couple weeks ago, after finishing a series of Magic the Gathering paintings, I flipped through what folks might be up to, and was blown away with how many great pieces, and brilliant creations had been  brought to Light!  This first piece, Space Crab especially stood out with all that contrast and cool color. I tell my students, Insects and Deep Sealife is the model for so many great ships and Mechs.  There's a history of our brains associating Insects and Sea Creatures with that of Alien life to begin with, so when you use bits and bobs from them in your Spacecraft and Space Alien design, even if it's just the simple replacement of limbs, it always works well! =)

Dew Rat by Nythrant - Very nice subtle color in the
background!  Really one of my favorites with a
Mineral/Element based Creature from FG!
Companion by Nythrant - JadePlant, Bear
seen here, in another great creation!
A great spotted Frog Shaman Humanoid
by jm665 - Way to go, designing the limbs!
SanchaySquirrel rolled a Flytrap Scarab Duck, and did a
brilliant job with the extra head view!  Difficult thing,
to make a duck look sinister, great job!
Eelan by MythDragon - This piece makes me want to try
my hand at an Eel based Humanoid.  Very nice, indeed!
Creature Thing by MythDragon
Looking like another duck creature,
but this time with deep sea fish lure
and tail, excellent work!


Hope to see more soon from these Lightpushers, and hope to
be back teaching in the next school year at the PNCA.

So until then, have a Prune Faced
and a brilliantly creative
2  0  1  3
Stay tuned !!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Subtle Epiphanies

It will never cease to amaze me, the ways in which we monkeys are inspired?  What makes us, "get it" or go that next level.  What is the combination of Content & Technique, if there is one?  Word association (although Fantasy Genesis has driven me for decades), quite often takes a seat to historical influence, or rather if I see what makes a great design, or texture, or series of marks behind a Cornwell, or Robinson, or Wyeth, I'll attempt to make a mash-up of those parameters in the next painting.  There's Comedy, Theatre, and facial expression, Mathematics and Natural geometries, all out one-up Hunger Games with other illustrators, and even hitting absolute bottom again and again can inspire me to go the distance and create something different and new.  Then sometimes it's an email from a fan, or a simple note telling you that you've changed someone's perspective with your work.. =)  They've reminded you of the things that have always been there, and perhaps you've momentarily forgotten?  This has been the case with the last couple of emails, and messages from the FaceBook page, and a nice note from Haley Johnson, who sent this wicked Fantasy Genesis creation; an Australian Frilled Lizard!  This chap reminds me a bit of my Auntie Rooster, but I can't say I've ever seen reptilian features on a rooster, which is saying something. =)  Thanks Haley, let all those creations spill out of that brilliant mind of yours, and thanks to ayebody for all the subtle epiphanies, keep em coming !!


I think comedy would had to have played a roll, when I rolled up Mudskipper : Plasma : Pinecone.. Could've made a cute creature, but I took the harder path.. They're kind of like Ducks, or Pandas or Frogs, hard to make menacing, but found a vid for Mudskippers and spent about 5 hours on a digital painting.. I dunno.. I was headed for a Leviathan, but the scene turned almost Lovecraftian in the end, with villagers blowing him oop and all.. =)  In any case, I hadn't done one of my own exercises for so long, I'd almost forgotten how fun it is !!  =)

If you're not already on it, please take a minute to sign up for my Mailing List.  What, what.. Free prizes are involved!?!  Indeed!  I straight up pick a raffle winner from my list every quarter, you pick one of my four charities that I give to, and I give away Magic the Gathering or Fantasy Genesis collectibles and swag.. =)  Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grimm Pilot - take two

Life goes by so quickly sometimes, I shiver with the thought of it.?  This small bit of work I did for the pilot of Grimm unfortunately didn't see too much screen time, but here's the rest of the story..  The show's been through a whole season, and picked up for another, but I've been so busy with teaching and freelance, moving my studio again, and acclimating to a new work flow, I've been completely delinquent in watching it..  Perhaps I can have a marathon when the new season starts and catch up on all the episodes missed?


©NBC/Universal
In any case, my students love the show, and every episode I've seen has been proper acting, and fast but extraordinarily creative effects and props.  Before I went into the Grimm lot studio to work, Elisabeth had me do a couple treatments of the directors chair logo (shown previously), and a couple sketches for pages what would appear in the book.  I was super geeked about this potential, as being the "guy who sketched the Grimm book" would've been the newest height of this thing I call a career?  Not having seen the graphics for any monsters, and going off the ideas of the show that were given to me,  I sketched these two characterizations; one of Rumpelstiltskin, and one of the Old Crone of Hansel & Gretel fame.  
©NBC/Universal
 The Crone character was actually in the pilot script and described to me a bit, but the Rumpelstiltskin was basically me spit-balling some ideas of how the mythos could be delivered in a new horrible way.  Then after my first day, I got a look at the script, a better idea of what they wanted, and they had me sketch up a couple mock ups of what the pages of the book might look like.. The script at the time said the book should be a sketched archive of the 2-3 monsters that would appear in the pilot; Wolf, Snake Guy, and Crone, wherein one page would be a likeness of the person in human form with something like a police form attached; stats, criminal encounters, notes, etc., and the other would be a likeness of the beast within, and what they look like to the Grimm. At first I thought this was something that, over the ages the Grimm Family would've developed, or perhaps a universal system of documenting in some way, where pages from 100 years ago, might look something like they did for the grandmother Grimm, but this changed, and a couple times. The nature of television perhaps.. =)

©NBC/Universal
©NBC/Universal
The book was a massive tome, so I did my samples actual size but in graphite at first. These two samples, with all the different "hands" of nonsense filler script I could think of, were shown to the director, and although the smoking guy was closer to what they wanted, the direction quickly started to change into a scrawled "untrained" hand and more primitive skills, rather than my "too illustrated" "too good" work.. So that day I tried my best to dumb down my skills, and perform on command, with the already "aged" paper they'd ordered for the book.  Bringing in thicker tools; pens, brush markers, graphite sticks, charcoal, conte' and fixative, I sketched about 6-10 sheets of characters, scrawled script and in every different way possible.

©NBC/Universal
I remember a beaked character with hooks, that turned out looking quite 40's nazi-ish, an orge, also this Blutbad in conte' that looked older, matching the paper quite nicely, but also the two portraits of a Blutbad, and Crone straight from the 3D models the design team had done at that point.  Neither made their way on to the screen, even after limiting myself to 10min. sketches, and really working at aping a less skilled approach.  Alas, I've not seen any of them appear in the pilot or show so far, and didn't get phone pics of them either.

Funny thing, being inadequate for anything you're truly geeked about, jobs, relationships, or otherwise.. but when what's needed is, loosing your skills and not developing new ones, it's especially odd?  I was basically trying to reverse my skill set, desperately scrawling to give them what I was used to doing when I was 12?  Hell, I probably didn't do an "untrained" look when I was 12?  I even tried sketching with my opposite hand, in a balled fist, and I couldn't imagine having my name attached to it, even if it was what they wanted? So, could be a blessing, could be a curse.?  I've a pretty impressive new client on my client list, and with some luck this won't be the last television has seen on this Lightpusher.. =)  Stay tuned !!