Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grimm on NBC - Part I

A while back I had the pleasure of doing my first work in Television, for a great new NBC pilot called Grimm, which has just aired.  Filmed here in Portland, the story runs something like this; younger cop in a detective team finds out he can see monsters among us, and his daily criminals. He starts to see folks faces shift into hideous grotesques more often, and it's revealed to him that he's of the original Bros. Grimm family line, and Grimm's Fairy Tales turns out to be a group of case studies for these monsters across history.. The real book is passed down to the newest generation of Grimm seer, and as fate would have it, most of those monsters in the tales are not only real as life, but are after the Grimm's!

Logo I created for the directors chair, and lot
passes, along side a couple of the show's logos.

Watch the show for the action filled fantasy, as it's far cooler than I can describe.. =)  In my short couple of days working with Props Master Todd Ellis and his team (including Paul Eads, Elisabeth Burhop) I definitely learned some of the ways in which that world works, and what remains constant is that it works Fast.. They get some amazingly creative things done as effectively and quickly as you could imagine.  Didn't get to meet them, but David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) wrote this great script, and I can't wait to see the season of campy and bizarre ideas they come up with..  Everyone I did meet was brilliantly abuzz, a cacophony of phones constantly blowing off, and Stumptown coffee addled conversation about this movie or that shoot. It turns out that the insomnia of Freelance transcends all forms of creativity.. =)  

Concepts for the key shown above.  I thought either
the ideas of a maw opening to reveal the key, or perhaps
claws as the teeth of the key might look cool.
The most impressive thing is, that they work in a state of not knowing.. Let me try to explain..  There's so little time, that if someone's given a prop to start designing, they're simultaneously creating metaphors or a specific look or feel that no one really knows will fit yet?  Nor does the Prop Master know if that prop will be changed at any time during that day, or shoot or if it might be cut just after completion? (and no, "Cut After Completion" isn't a name I danced under =)  Perhaps this is the way all office situations work, but I found it fascinating!  Still don't know how they do it.? =)

Scythe blade (which actually sent the Props Master
in for stitches) started out a bit more proto-German
with animal symbols
The few things I contributed to Grimm were created in less than a week, and done alongside grading projects, and freelance.  I researched language, and mythology inasmuch was applicable, and as is the case for every project, I threw my back into getting them what they needed.  A macabre children's book feel, with some knowledge of Ancient scripts was what I was brought in for (I think), but needed changes in direction seemed to happen on the hour, along with script changes which unfortunately excluded most of the sketch work I did.  So, all the drawings you see in Grimm's pilot aren't mine, but I'm going to show you a couple of the things here that I thought were pretty good that we may see in future episodes.. =)  Stay tuned for Part II.. =)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Facebook Fantasy

 A couple months back, I received a FB message from Mark A. Nelson (legendary comic and SF&F illustrator) telling me a student of his brought Fantasy Genesis into his class for a drawing assignment.  Mark and I exchanged books, he gave me this brilliant chiaroscuro drawing of a beetle that will remain a treasure to me beyond words, but I gave his student a silly little sketch for bringing Mark and I together, for a potential tutorial book project.  In any case, Mark's student, Vi Nguyen not only rolled and sketched these beautiful couple of Creatures from Fantasy Genesis, but she took that silly sketch of mine and did a Brilliant digital piece from it!!

Gracious thanks Vi, so glad you were able to have fun with my Drawing Game, and with Maestro Nelson as your Professor, the world would do well to look out for you when graduation day comes around.. =) Stay Tuned !!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A good days Creating..

There are days when I'm sketching or painting, that I'm so caught up in the work, there's little that can distract me.  I'll look up at the clock, it's nearing 4am, and even though I'm desperate in wanting to finish alla prima (or alla weeka), I'll look down at the piece and reluctantly sigh at putting in a good day of creating..  Now that I'm teaching, it's a bit different, and a bit of the same..  Most of the sessions when I'm working with students interactively on their projects, things need to be done in that session, in order to give them enough time for final execution.  The other day after getting back to the apartment, shedding all the apparatus of modern life, thankful that I'm paying rent, and looking down at my day, I noticed the two Tombow pencils I'd brought with me staring up; Reliable, Trusty and blunted stubs.. I sighed at a good days creating, before I re-sharpened to start again..  and  no, "Trusty and Blunted" isn't a name I danced under.. =)  Stay tuned..

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shadowcore Illustration

Opportunity is an odd thing.. Rare, wonderful, but can hold a shock to it that takes a while to dissipate. This element of surprising opportunity has been crawling up the sides of me wig lately.  We're never quite sure when or if certain opportunities will be flipped our way, or whether or not we'll be able to flip them back to others, but there seems to be a constant of surprise when it does come around?  I like to think of this somewhat familiar sensation, a combo of both fear and joy, as Shunryu Suzuki's "Beginner's mind", like the very first time you ever experienced something..

There's yet another constant in that opportunity can snowball in sequence like big clumps of snowflakes that collect as they fall, Opportunity snowflakes.? Well, in any case, that's what has been happening this week!  Along with passing an opportunity from the PNCA on to my buddy Arkady Roytman, I've started contributing to a new Illustration Blog!  Mr. Craig Spearing; excellent digital SF&F illustrator, good friend, and creator of this wickedly rendered creature (influenced through Fantasy Genesis) has recently formed a team of illustrators for a blog called SHADOWCORE.  I'm proudly part of this wild group of talent, and encourage you all to check it on out !! Stay Tuned !!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sketching Dragons

Dragons are somewhat of an anomaly to me. I love the Myth and the Art, and the Artists that develop them to their most beautiful and ferocious. So much so, that I can critique them quite harshly at times. When the true believability comes out in a piece, my highest praise is just to study the work incoherently, perhaps catching flies with my mouth. It's just like seeing one for the first time, beginner's dragon mind. There's just so many intricacies in their Mythos; Literary reference, Cultural differences, Habitats, behavioral and structural differences.. Dragons give us about as wide a range of play that any of us could ask for. On occasion, I get the opportunity to "talk Dragon" with fellow light pushers, and when I got my copy of Sketch Dragons in the mail today, it felt like one of those conversations!!

In 2007, I was lucky enough to hitch my wagon to the likes of Jim Pavelec, Chris Seaman, and Thomas Manning to create a tutorial called Wreaking Havoc. Recently, some of the step-by-steps I did for Havoc appear in a new tutorial from Impact, entitled Sketch Dragons! Low and behold it's filled with a ton of artists that take Dragons as seriously as I do; Maestro Tom Kidd (aka Gnemo), Dracopedia's Bill O'Connor, Dreamscapes, Myth, & Magic's' Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, and MechaForce's E J Su !!

Can't explain how cool it is to be amongst these illustrators, and let me be the first to say, this book is filled with great Dragon tutorials! Now that were done with lighting fireworks, (some of us) let's draw a Dragon lighting the night on fire !! Pick up a copy of Sketch Dragons !!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Norman Rockwell

This is a tin that my birth Mum gave to me long ago. It's been the place that I keep many of my miniature things, like a small coin & stamp collection, little plastic toys and random bits of my life, past and present.. It was the first Rockwell I'd ever seen.. It was also the first painted illustration, where in that magical pre-digital moment, begged my young mind to determine whether it'was a photograph or not as well.. It remains on my desk as encouragement to strive for my next level of skill.. Last month, on encouragement from Vinod & Emily, Pam and I had the pleasure of viewing a Norman Rockwell exhibit in Tacoma,WA. Over forty original Rockwell paintings, Prints of the famous Freedom Posters, and every cover Rockwell did for the Saturday Evening Post. I'm so very glad we went the distance, as after seeing these masterworks, I can't rightly say that I'll experience anything quite like it again? I've talked to other ADs and Artists who've seen Rockwell originals, and we're all a bit overwhelmed by it, we all share in that common sense of observing something of Greatness..

In terms of Technique :: I simply can't cover it all? There were points at which Rockwell pushed my digital mind so far back into my unconscious, that I was actually able to recollect the reason why I got into this odd business of illustration. Scale was of course at the forefront of every experience, as they are enormous canvases. Even the tiny B&W newspaper ad I saw for a brake pad company was around 28in. wide, approximately the width of my full color cover work?? I remember
Donato Giancola saying at a convention how much painting larger changed his perception, and now I can see why.. The use of type painted right on the illustration has all but gone the way of the dinosaur, so to see experimentation, and serendipity within the same piece was amazing.. I'm convinced Rockwell's eyes saw nothing but light and color, and he painted so deliberately with that light, it made me jaw sink more than a couple times. (they didn't make me wear a drool cup, which was nice on the curators part.) I saw underpaintings that ranged from dark blues to what looked like diluted india ink red. Some paintings came up from a series of washes, where others were so caked on, wet-on-wet that it looked as though Rockwell was painting with a roller.. Through most of his metallic surfaces, you'd see his sketch, letting the slight graphite glare add to it's shine.
Although, more than anything else that stood out that day was Rockwell's use of textural relief.. There's really no describing this, and they wouldn't let me take pictures (even after I offered to wash their car) so let me say that this element gave each illustration a "museum" feel..?? In "Christmas Eve in Bethlehem" detailed above, there was canvas left just bare so that the head dress and army uniforms would feel more like cloth.. The rippling aura of the electric light is created with 1/4in. thick titanium white that's been carved with a pallet knife.. Makes it look like the light is actually shimmering.. It's not perceptible on any print or pic because of the scale, but in just about every painting, Rockwell backs up his surface with textural elements coinciding with the material at hand.. The bubbles that form around the finger tips of the boy and girl being dunked under water are about an 1/8 inch on top of the canvas.. In the famous painting of the wall in "The Problem We All Live With", that grout line has actual sand inclusions scraped into it, making the original canvas as stone like as actual stone..

In terms of Content :: Rockwell's humor is both as subtle and deliberate as is the case with his technique. With so many amazing portraits; simple, complex, expressionistic, anthropomorphic and stretched as far as they'd go before looking inhuman, it's hard to imagine the man ever being fooled by someone's intentions. I'm positive Rockwell was the kind of observer who'd of read your face within the first three seconds of meeting you.

Unlike the way I tend to direct attention quite blatantly with levels of detail when I'm composing a painting, Rockwell instead kept a similar level of detail (insane amounts) on everything around the focal point, not forcing your eye, but letting it come around to it eventually, and leaving the individual to find favored areas of the painting on their own.

Although I'd always thought Rockwell and his photographers, were known for a certain squeaky clean portrayal of a sort of dreamed up, unachievable America. It turns out that he was more a realist and protesting old curmudgeon than I expected! The story of philosopher Will Durant, and Rockwell's Four Freedoms paintings shows us that Rockwell even fought the Military establishments ideology, and in many ways taught us more about the philosophy of Peace, Tolerance and Unity, than simple reminiscence of youth, humor and patriotism... far more..

If you get a chance to visit the Rockwell Museum, or if the traveling show is in a nearby town, do yourself a favor and go experience these masterworks.. Stay Tuned !! =)

Fabled Earth

Fellow SF&F illustrators, stalworth animal rights advocates, and good friends Vinod Rams & Emily Fiegenschuh, have
not only moved out to the beautiful PNW, but Emily has brought a brand new art tutorial to the Sphere. From Fantasy Genesis' publisher Impact books, Emily has written and illustrated, The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures! I couldn't be happier for her, as Emily's work has always been brilliantly rendered traditionally in gouache, and by the looks of the book so far, her style has grown into one somewhat reminiscent of the more detailed oil work of Patrick Woodruffe. With a number of years illustrating for D&D, Children's and Tween's series from Mirror Stone, I'm sure there is a ton to learn from in this tutorial, so by all means step to following Emily's Blog
Fabled Earth for updates and releases, and more importantly get your mitts on this brand new book, Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures!
Stay tuned !! =)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another First Class Class!

Teaching at the PNCA has simply been one of the greatest things I've done so far in this odd career of mine, and a year of working with such skilled students has taughtme a lot about where I might be headed. I used Fantasy Genesis yet again for extra credit, and although not too many had the time for any extra amongst the harried final deadlines, the ones who did participate came up with some fantastic wig bubbles indeed!! Illustration student, Lily Drubetskaya's version of Ganesha, broken tusk, sacred syllable OM, and all ranked quite high. As did 3rd year Illustration student, Justin Hall's Insect/Mammalian creature roll. Check out both of their blog sites, both Justinand Lily are wildly skilled, and were a joy to see grow throughout the semester.

There's also been quite a lot of activity on the DeviantArt gallery page in the last couple of months, as well. Included in these
creations from Fantasy Genesis are; a Brilliant Gullaffe and Cuttle Turtle, by N.Moore, Earthworm Naga, by Kellygraybeal, BioMech Soldier and Crystal Gator by LionSilverWolf, OwlFlies by Wyrmaster, SeaElephant and Donkey by Steve Huczek, Hexapod by PostalNik,
HammerheadCrabWhale by BananazGorilla, and Dying Pineapple by way of All Swans Are White. Hope you find them all as creative and oddly spectacular as I do.. There are so many different pathways to our inner Creative, but they can be hard to find at times. I couldn't be a more Rippled Coral Sparrow to have found a couple more pathways to all these glorious wig bubbles.!! Just Beautiful.!!

Breaking NEWS :: There's been some good chat back and forth from a web designer who I'm currently working with to make a Fantasy Genesis "Random Roller" application for the near future! So, stay tuned for instantaneous fun word association at the click of button !!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fantasy Genesis Game Sheet

I've been getting so much positive mail from across this beautiful Sphere, I think it's making the Sun come out here in the Portland! Gracious thanks to all of you for all the kind words, the massive amount of creations you've used Fantasy Genesis to draw and paint, and the helpful suggestions for a more compact and digital game sheet.. Ask and ye shall receive.. a blank Game Sheet! If you've no way to copy the individual game sheets provided in the book, here's an 8.5x11 sheet with all the games and their rolls in one. Don't forget to visit my FaceBook page for more art and updates, and look for another slew of FG born madness from readers coming soon! Stay tuned.. =)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Congratulations Raffle Winner :: Dan Kelly

The list was amassed, dice were rolled, the winner was contacted, and one of my charities was picked for me to give to! This quarter my prize for signing up to my mailing list and blog, goes to someone across the pond; Mr. Dan Kelly! Thanks Dan for following my illustration career, and picking the environmental protection group, Defenders of Wildlife as being worthy of a small contribution in 2010! You'll receive a print of my Werewolf, in honor of the hundreds of Gray Wolves recently put in jeopardy by short sited Republican influence and ranching lobbyists.. Taking the less than 2500 Yosemite Grays off the endangered species list after 30 years of protection is just short of genocide, when you conceder what little needs to be done to coexist throughout the mountainous regions of the West. Dan will receive a signed and sketched collectible Magic the Gathering whiteback card as well, and I can't thank each of you who've signed up for my mailing list enough as we enter this new year !! Tell your friends and family that they too can be eligible for free raffle prints and collectables, and I'll keep on picking winners!! Stay Tuned.. =)