Sunday, December 21, 2014

Zom-B-Q in Hades

Some have an insatiable need for cheese.
I hesitate to even begin where my illustrative career has taken me over this last year?  There's been about as many wig bubbles cold flippin' outah me lid, that I need a lid tapper to come and tap up some of those holes to keep em all up in there!!  I've been teaching Character Design with some fabulously creative Portlandians at the PNCA again this year, and the brilliantly dedicated team of creative directors at Wizards of the Coast.  Both Magic and D&D have given me some absolutely wonderful opportunities, including this painting for the 5E Dungeon Master's Guide.  I brought the painting to class to show students professional practice, and the importance of AD/Illustrator relationships, but after going through the history
©2013 Wizards of the Coast

of the painting, there was still a tiny regret which can visit all professional artists in one way or another.  The fact that; the image and content that you have set in your mind to paint, won't necessarily be the image and content you end up painting.  Simple, selfish, stupid, but rather hard to shake.  I think from being a student myself, throughout my 30's it became less a hinderance, but it's always been a bitter pill?  Emotionally, it's expectation that does it.  The Buddhists & Taoists tell us we should quell expectation of both past and future, by emptying our minds, remaining in the present, concerning ourselves with what Master Yoda explains, "where you are, what you are doing!"

Now this would be easy, were it not for my delinquent 20-something buddy Expectation.  He comes into town from Burning Man unannounced, drinks all my good Scotch Ale, looks at my sketchbook and says to me, "DUDE! This one, is the ONE, this [idea/sketch/composition/specific or complex aesthetic] is AWESOME!  You should do that!!  You gotta %@king do that!!  You should be so proud of that, and get attached to it like it was your child, man.. or your favorite shirt you refuse to throw away.. or an adorable little kitten, or something..!!"  My normal reply being, "You're a completely reckless @!ck-weed, you owe me money and years of my life, but YOU ARE SO RIGHT!" ..and so the stubborn anchor of disappointment takes foot.. =)

©2013 Wizards of the Coast
I love the fact that most of the ADs I've worked with at Wizards have given me a fairly long leash when it comes to ideation and briefs, as was the case with this piece as well.  It's really a luxury I've not seen in other markets, who really don't have half as many specifics to contend with, so I'm wildly grateful.  At the beginning of this project, the brief was just that open, a Lich using a crystal ball, and since I worked on concepting a couple Lich characters, I pitched two thumbnails with those characters, and the 2nd Edition illos of Michael Kaluta and Wayne Reynolds in mind; One human male Lich in a lab with gilded Frankensteinish, bubbling tubed canisters surrounding his crystal ballishness, and one being a Tiefling female in Hades using the crystal ball, (as you do) surrounded by a horde of black robed Witchy Hags who were holding squirming worm larvae.  Oh yes, the sweet smell of baking larvae in Hades!

Now it's at this point, while I was waiting for approval, that my buddy Expectation lost his blinkered mind about the sheer and utter grossness of the gooey cool hued larvae, contrasted by both the dark robes, and all those reds and oranges from the pits of Hades!?! "DUDE, they gotta dig it !!!.. It's the most evil and disgusting image that's ever crawled up the sides of your skull!!"  I fully agreed, and even worked up a couple color schemes so the hot gamut of all those reds would print correctly.  Well, they did end up picking the Tiefling female in Hades, but as is sometimes the case, a revision was called at the 11th hour.   I was bitten by my old buddy again, wanting that horde of witches so badly, any revision seemed silly, but there was something that sated my buddy Expectation's rattling, as what was going to replace the witches were bloody Zombies !!  So, my inner 15 year old, who is over joyed to still be working on this kind of imagery no matter the revisions, gave Expectation a couple concessionary pats on the back, booted his deadbeat arse out the door, and I stepped to painting zombies.. =)

After living through this process with me (and liking the zombies a bit better I think) my brilliant Partner deemed this one, Zom-B-Q in Hades.  I'll toast a couple buns for ayebody, grab a copy of the brand new 5E Dungeon Master's Guide, and enjoy!

©2013 Wizards of the Coast

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!!